It’s time for our roundup of the latest, greatest Android apps and games.
Runtastic made its name as an activity-tracking app – hence the name – but now it’s turning its attention to your night-time health. This app aims to track your sleep cycles, complete with a smart alarm to wake you up at the right moment – translation: not grumpytime – as well as helping you pinpoint good and bad influences on your sleep.
Messenger is Google’s latest attempt to break out a feature of Android into a standalone app, which can then be updated more frequently via Google Play. In this case, it’s all about the messaging: SMS, MMS, group texts and more.
An essential download for winter sports folk, this provides maps and weather forecasts for pistes around the world; tracks your speed and distance while skiing and snowboarding; and has some inventive social features to challenge friends, or simply (virtually) yodel at them.
Rooster Teeth is one of the most creative studios making original videos for YouTube at the moment, and now it has an official app for fans to keep up with its output. From gaming Let’s Play videos to comedy, it’s a handy way to watch – albeit not one that’ll replace the main YouTube app for more casual viewers.
Home Design 3D
Having moved house earlier in the year, I’ve been building up a mountain of bits of paper with scribbled layouts. Home Design 3D is one of the apps aiming to take that process digital, as you quickly draw rooms, place furniture and then see how it all looks. A handy visualisation tool.
Forgotten that Facebook had groups? Apparently around 700 million people are still using the feature. This new standalone app – part of Facebook’s strategy to “unbundle the big blue app” – focuses on groups: creating new ones, joining existing ones and posting to any that you’re a member of.
There’s a growing community of cookery apps on Android, with this one aimed at a wide audience (translation: even kitchen liabilities like me) with more than 1,000 recipes to try. Step-by-step instructions, built-in timers and the ability to control the app with your voice when your hands are floury make it very useful.
A Hollow Body
Looking to fill time during the (long) wait between series of Sherlock? This app from the Museum of London is just the thing: a narrated walk starting near St Paul’s Cathedral, inspired by the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Note, they’re stressing it’s NOT just a guide: “You should imagine walking through a film, where you are the main characters…”
OurHome – Chores and Rewards
This is a good idea for parents grumbling that their children don’t help out around the home. It’s part family-organiser, so you know who’s where when; it’s part motivational tool to reward kids for doing chores; and it’s also a digital shopping list, kept updated in between shop/supermarket trips.
Finally, a simple but potentially-effective idea for charities to raise money through mobile donations. SnapDonate lets you take a photo of a charity’s logo, then donate to them in a variety of small-to-medium amounts.
Dots and its sequel TwoDots have been very popular on iOS, but now the latter is on Android too. It’s the perfect pick-up-and-play puzzler, as you connect coloured dots across 135 levels, challenging friends to beat your skills as you go.
Kingdom Rush Origins
Kingdom Rush is a rightfully-respected brand in the tower defence genre, and from what I’ve played so far, this is the best version yet. Pitched as a prequel, it’s an absorbing strategy game as you marshal your fantasy forces (and towers) to fend off onrushing enemies.
The Banner Saga
Thankfully spared a lawsuit from the Candy Crush people, this Viking-themed RPG is a carefully-crafted treat. Its battles and storytelling blend perfectly, as they did on iOS, with a tale you can happily lose yourself in.
If you’re more action-focused, you’ll love Turbo Dismount. It’s a “crash simulator” that sees you trying to causing as much chaos as possible with “Mr Dismount and the cars who love him”, with slow-motion replays making the most of the impressive physics engine.
Mark of the Dragon
Breeding dragons? There’ve been a few popular mobile games along those lines in recent years, but Gamevil’s new release looks like it’s putting a fresh spin on the theme. So yes, breeding and battling, but a community of guilds and multiplayer raiding looks to add depth too.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2
It’s not so long since the (excellent) Five Nights at Freddy’s game was released for Android, with its tale of a spooky pizza restaurant and creepy animatronic characters. The sequel looks equally impressive, as you track the characters through security camera footage, and fend them off.
Battle Worlds: Kronos
A good week for hardcore strategy gaming, with Battle Worlds: Kronos a turn-based tablet wargame with depth to spare. You can play alone – the promise of 50 hours’ solo play looks about right – or pit your wits against other humans in the multiplayer mode.
Kabam’s second entry in this roundup features more critters that you have to collect and train up for fights, with more than 200 to find, and a host of battles to harden their skills. It’s colourful, with a neat touch-friendly interface.
The almost Game Boy-style retro graphics will have gamers of a certain age salivating at the sight of Endless Doves, but its gameplay has much more to offer than old-school visuals. “Collect Doves, Don’t Crash” is how the developers sum it up. Miles more fun than Flappy Bird is how I’d put it.
Jet Run: City Defender
Finally, Jet Run: City Defender is one of the best-looking Android games this week: an into-the-screen action game that sees you whizzing through urban landscapes in a jet, letting anything in your path have it with both missiles. Like Temple Run meeting After Burner, it’s great fun.
That’s my choice, but what Android apps and games have you been using recently? Make your recommendations – or give your views on the picks above – in the comments section.