A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.
In this go-go digital world of ours, you're probably getting news and social content from multiple sources. It can be tedious to go to different apps and websites to make that happen, but Feedster might be the answer. It has a lot in common with a regular feed reader app, but it plugs into more sources and has a clean interface.
Feedster starts by asking you to log into your account on services like Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and Feedly. It pulls all that content in and turns it into a single feed. The feed is organized by some process that I cannot discern. It's not chronological, so it's probably some mix of popularity and timeliness. By default, it only shows you content you have not seen before, but you can change that in settings.
Each item in your feed tells you what service spawned it right at the top. You can tap on any of them to get an expanded view of the content, which varies based on what it is. Instagram posts load the full image and comments, by a news story from Reddit or Feedly loads the URL in a Chrome Custom Tab. You can always swipe to the right to get back to the main feed. There's also a floating button at the top of the screen to zip you back up to the top for quick refreshing.
In general, I'm very impressed with how well Feedster handles content from all these sources. You can actually interact with the content like you would in a native app. For example, you can view comments and up/downvote on Reddit posts. For Twitter, you can see the full conversation, reply, retweet, or like a post.
In the free version of the app, you get a light and dark theme. The paid version adds a number of other themes, though. The upgrade also removes the ads interspersed with your content. They aren't too annoying, but the upgrade is only $2.99.
Cat Tower is billed as an RPG that plays itself. I realize that doesn't sound particularly appealing, but it's more enjoyable than I expected. Cat Tower is the latest title from 111%, which has a knack for coming up with simple but compelling gameplay experiences. While the cat can do all the adventuring on its own, your careful intervention results in the best chance of success.
Cat Tower is your basic dungeon crawler, but the feline hero is not under your direct control. He makes his way from room to room, clearing out the enemies. The cat's health returns to full after each room is complete. When the entire floor is clear, it's on to the next one. Every few floors, you'll get a boss battle.
To help the cat along, you need to decide when to deploy his four special powers: whirl, blackhole, dash, and heal. They all have cooldowns, so you don't want to use them when they'll do more good in a few seconds. Each enemy slain awards gold, which you can use to buy upgrades for the cat that change his appearance and fighting skills. The cost of the upgrades increases over time, but so does the amount of gold earned from killing monsters. Just pop open the upgrade menu and make sure you use all the gold—gold sitting in your pocket won't do any good. You also earn mastery points that improve the cat's stats permanently.
Cat Tower strikes me as interesting because it's always ongoing. There's no pause button at all. Whether you're upgrading your cat or poking around in the settings, it keeps fighting monsters. You don't even have to pay attention to the game constantly. If the cat dies, it gets to start over at the beginning of the floor. Worst case, it earns a few coins and dies a few times before you look at the phone and buy some upgrades.
You will eventually hit a wall that's very difficult to get past, and that's when you can activate the ascension feature. It's like a "New Game+" version of Cat Tower. You don't keep your equipment or upgrades, but you do get all your mastery points. This allows you to come back stronger and hopefully bust through the wall.
Cat Tower uses simple graphics like the other 111% games, but it's a weirdly engaging experience. It's a nice, casual mobile game. There are in-app purchases, but I haven't found a reason to pay for anything yet. Most of them seem to be cosmetic upgrades that don't affect gameplay.
This is a game about shapes, and how they turn into other shapes. It's a puzzle game, but a very relaxed one. Your goal is just to put all the pieces in the right spot, but it's not always clear what the right shape is—you just have to get in the groove.
The puzzles in ▲ Shapes (henceforth referred to just as Shapes) can only be described as chaos when you first see them. They're just a jumble of fractured tiles with no relation to each other. Each shard is actually spinning around a point in space. Sometimes that's inside the fragment, and other times it'll be right next to it. Tapping on that spot rotates the piece one-sixth of a turn.
You don't know from the outset what shape you're supposed to create, and this is what I think makes Shapes interesting. The only rule appears to be that the glowing outline has the be continuous. So, you spin some pieces around, trying to find a pattern. You may end up with some fragments spinning around by themselves in space. That's a sign you have misinterpreted the pattern; time to reevaluate.
The game changes up the theme in each level with a different calming, colorful gradient background. I also commend the developers for supporting taller display aspect ratios. My only interface concern is that it's sometimes hard to tap the correct shape, and your fingers get in the way while you're trying to line things up.
Shapes is entirely free, as long as you don't mind an occasional ad. A single $1.99 in-app purchase removes them forever.