Google Play App Roundup: One-Handed Mode, Ready For Reddit, and Battlevoid: Sector Siege

By Ryan Whitwam

One-handed Reddit siege.

Well, your phone or tablet might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.

One-Handed Mode

Some Android phones come with a built-in mode for one-handed use. These features vary a bit in implementation, but they all aim to make it easier to use the phone by shrinking the UI down to a smaller part of the screen. The new One-Handed Mode app lets you do this on any phone or tablet, but it comes with a bit more setup than most apps.

One-Handed Mode takes advantage of a permission called "Write Secure Settings" that is usually only granted to system apps. If you're rooted, the app can be enabled automatically by granting it root access. For non-rooted devices, you'll have to plug the phone into your computer to enable the permission. The developers link to instructions for this, but it's only a single command in ADB. If you already have the Android SDK tools on your computer, it takes about 10 seconds.

With One-Handed Mode turned on, The screen shifts downward to place everything in reach of your thumb. The top section of screen is just filled with a solid block of color based on the app you're using. Some apps won't tolerate this change very well, but most of the apps I've tried behaved fine. The home screen is probably going to do some strange things due to the DPI scaling, though.

In the settings, you can adjust the size of the screen when the app is active. The default layout still spans the entire width of the screen, so you might want to adjust that to "justify" the screen to one corner or the other. You can also turn off DPI scaling if that's causing issues with an app you want to use with One-Handed Mode.

One-Handed Mode can be turned on by opening the app, but there's also a floating toggle. The toggle is only available with an in-app purchase of $0.99, though. If you're not turning one-handed mode on and off all the time, the toggle isn't strictly necessary. Let's face it, the app is a bit of a hack, but it works well enough to drop a buck on.

Ready For Reddit

Reddit has an official app on Android now, but the fact is the app is pretty bad. It can't come close to matching the feature set of third-party clients. What's more, it shows you ads unless you have a Reddit Gold subscription. If you're on the lookout for something better and the big-name clients are too spendy, take a look at Ready For Reddit. This new app is still in beta, but it's already robust and super-fast.

Ready For Reddit supports account logins out of the gate, so you can have it grab your personal subscription list. Scrolling through the app seems the same as other apps at first, but there are some cool extras here. There's a comment button at the bottom of each post card. Tap that, and the app expands a block of the top comments. That saves you from opening the full comment page much of the time. Items that are GIFs or similar quick videos can also be played in the feed without opening another page. These are both quite useful features. When you do open a comment feed or image, Ready supports the swipe back gesture to close it. Other apps do this as well, but it's still nice to see.

The default layout and theme will suit most, but I rather like the list view. You can see more posts, and the buttons are a little easier to hit. They're too close to the image/link in the card layout. Although, thumbnail rendering isn't as good in list mode. I also like the dark theme more than the included light one, but that's just personal preference. You also get an AMOLED theme if you want to take advantage of the pure blacks on your phone.

This app is still very new, but it's off to a good start. You can check it out for free. There are a couple ads inserted into the feed in the free version, but a $2.99 in-app purchase gets rid of them.

Battlevoid: Sector Siege

The last Battlevoid game has been one of my all-time favorite strategy games on Android, and I was quite hyped up for the release of the latest title in the series. Battlevoid: Sector Siege expands on the original with more structured gameplay and a ton of new units to command. As always, your goal is to save humanity from an onslaught of hostile alien species. It won't be an easy fight.

Whereas the last Battlevoid game placed you in command of a maximum of three ships throughout the entire game, this one sends you to different sectors where you must build and command a fleet of as many as eight or ten ships. You start from scratch in each sector, but so does the enemy. You must capture asteroid mining facilities to increase your resources and build up a fleet before the enemy can do the same. There can be a lot of back and forth in these battles, and random events like electrical storms or black holes can help or hurt your chances.

There are four or five different ships available at the start of the game, along with two different stations that can help hold captured asteroids. Each ship comes with a different assortment of weapon hardpoints, and some of them include hangars for fighters or drones. At the start of each level, you get to set crew allocations for different tasks. That determines how many ships, hangars, and research points you get.

The learning curve of this game is steep, so I'd recommend playing a few skirmishes before tackling the campaign. In campaign mode, you have to keep track of your captured sectors, occasionally defending them from counterattacks. Winning new sectors and defending the ones you've already captured earns you upgrade points that unlock new types of ships, stations, and even weapons. These unlocks carry over between stages, but you still need to research the upgrades each time. I wish there was a bit less of this busy work during the game, but I can see why it's designed like this. The developers don't want to unlock too many items too early, which would make your ships unstoppable.

Battlevoid: Sector Siege is played in a top-down perspective. Moving your ships is as simple as tapping to select and then double-tapping where you want them to go. The ships target enemies automatically, but you can direct fire to larger enemy ships manually. You can pause the game at any time to micromanage, or let things play out automatically. The battles look awesome in this game as well. There are super-bright lasers and explosions throwing out shrapnel. The variety of weapons makes for some very engaging visuals.

Battlevoid: Sector Siege is a standard premium game, so you buy it once and there are no in-app purchases after that. The $4.99 asking price is a little high, but it's twice that expensive on Steam. Speaking of, you can save your game online and pick it up on another device or platform.