Google Play App Roundup: Xcerpt for Twitter, Thumb Drift, and Rocketfella

By Ryan Whitwam

Drifting rocket twitters.

A new week has dawned, but you can ease the transition with some new apps and games. You've come to the right place, too. This is the Google Play App Roundup, the weekly feature where we tell you what's new and cool in Google Play.Just hit the links to zoom right to the Play Store.

Xcerpt for Twitter

Twitter is rumored to be planning a feature that will let you tweet more than 140 characters, but that's currently the limit. So what if you want to tweet something a little more detailed? Xcerpt has an interesting take on that. With this app, you can use a screenshot to build a custom image that is embedded in your tweet, giving you space to talk about the content too.

To start, you fine a page that you want to share and take a screenshot. Then, head over to Xcerpt and use it to choose that screenshot. You want to make sure the screen has the text you want to share clearly visible. The next step has you crop the screenshot down to get rid of all the extraneous elements possible around the text. Xcerpt uses OCR (I believe) to process the text and insert it into a clean little frame.

You have the option of selecting and highlighting text to add emphasis or call attention to a choice quote. This interface has a second tap at the top where you can modify the source for the image. The app is very smart about pulling that automatically, but you are also able to paste in a URL if it gets it wrong.

When you've assembled all the pieces, you'll have to log into Twitter to send the Tweet from Xcerpt. What you get is a post with a link to the source, the image with the text you've framed, and whatever you what to add to the body of the tweet. You should have about 100 characters left after the two links. Because most Twitter clients automatically show images in the stream, it makes your Tweet much more eye catching. You can also just save the image to your gallery if you want to Tweet it from another app.

Not everyone will have a use for Xcerpt, but those that do will find it gets the job done quite well. If you find yourself bumping into the character limit when sharing links, you might want to give it a shot.

Thumb Drift

Driving games usually have at least a few controls, but Thumb Drift has just one. Just tap and drag to careen around corners and make it as far as possible. You don't have to use your thumb, but it's just a single-finger game.

Thumb Drift is essentially a cross between a racing game and an endless runner. Your car moves forward at a constant speed without any interaction from you. All you have to do is drag back and forth to angle your car left and right. The vehicle in Thumb Drift is tuned to (of course) drift very easily. More than a little one way or the other and you'll start sliding. This is what you want to make it around corners, but it's very difficult to correct for an over-steer. If you have a good run, you can rewind and watch a replay of it.

It's going to take some time to get used to the feel of driving in Thumb Drift, but it's no big deal if you hit a wall. I mean, the car explodes and pieces of it fly everywhere, but you can start over in a few seconds. You just have to drive as far as possible before that happens, while also collecting coins. The coins are used to unlock more cars. The developers joke there are more than 50 completely unlicensed vehicles in the game.

There are only four tracks, but they are all technically endless. You could say there are unlimited tracks and four different themes. The environments and cars are all done in the same low-poly style that we've seen in a few games lately. Even the smoke is made up of little polygons. Thumb Drift is colorful, and the clean design makes it easier to identify the locations of obstacles as you fly around corners.

Thumb Drift is by no means the most complex or deep game on Android, but it's fun to play for a few minutes at a time. The simple controls and portrait orientation make it really convenient to play on a phone while you're standing around waiting for something.

Rocketfella

You might remember Downwell from a few weeks ago. Well, Rocketfella is a very similar game, except it goes up instead of down. Above you is an infinite shaft of blocks, enemies, and powerups. All you have at your disposal is a jetpack, a few weapons, and a Super Mario level of block smashing head power. That's actually not bad.

There are three control schemes in Rocketfella. The default has left and right arrows and the jetpack button at the bottom of the screen. There's also a full touch and tilt mode, but they aren't as good in my estimation. To play, just launch yourself upward, paying attention to the fuel gauge. You need to land to refuel, and falling off the screen is an insta-kill.

You can smash right through all the standard blocks you come across, dispatching any enemies that are standing on them. You can also fly over enemies and use the exhaust from your jetpack to torch them. Eventually, you'll find ammo crates, which will give you a few bullets when broken. Your character will automatically shoot at enemies when you're lined up (i.e. standing or hovering on the same level). One of the most interesting things for me is that you only have four hit points, and as you lose them, your jetpack becomes less reliable. When you're down to your last one, you're slow to accelerate, and thrust will cut out at random moments.

While each run in Rocketfella is randomly generated, the difficulty ramps up at about the same rate. Early on there are a lot of healing booths that restore all four of your hitpoints. You'll encounter more challenging foes as you climb higher as well. There are faster enemies, snipers, and even other jetpack riders.

The game has a very similar retro pixelated look to Downwell. And just like that game, there are different unlockable color schemes. The "resolution" of the graphics is a little higher in Rocketfella, but both games have their strong points visually.

You earn coins from playing, which can be spent to unlock more jetpacks, weapons, music, and color schemes. You'll have to upgrade to the pro version of Rocketfella for about $2. There are no other in-app purchases.