5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week

AAW Newbie Life screenshot

Welcome to the 496th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week:

  • Google is disabling all links in YouTube Shorts. The reason is to get rid of link spam. YouTube is adding a new method to add links in September of 2023, so this is more of a temporary thing rather than a permanent ban on links. You’ll see be able to see links in comments, videos, and descriptions, but you won’t be able to click on them.
  • Gboard may let you use generative AI for proofreading and emojis soon. The latest beta includes a few generative AI features. The most prevalent of which is proofreading. Essentially, Google will store the text you write on Google servers for 60 days in order to provide proofreading suggestions. That’s a little much, but if that’s something you want, it may come to the regular version of Gboard soon.
  • Android 14 is adding some new security features that introduce two new changes. The first is preventing the phone from dropping to a 2G connection. The other is protecting voice and SMS traffic if the carrier doesn’t encrypt them automatically. It benefits end users because 2G networks in particular are fairly common for stealing information, and most carriers have abandoned 2G anyway. You can read more at the link.
  • Google Messages now encrypts all RCS chats automatically and by default. That includes group RCS chats. This is good news because one of the benefits of using RCS is its ability to be end-to-end encrypted, and now everyone gets it without needing to dig into the settings. Overall, though, it’s a minor change that many people may not notice.
  • WhatsApp is rolling out its screen-sharing feature to more users this week. The rollout is affecting Android, iOS, and Windows users who have the latest stable release of WhatsApp. This is part of WhatsApp’s push to be more useful for work environments, similar to Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Hit the link to learn more.

 

Dawnlands

Price: Free to play

Dawnlands is an open-world survival and crafting game. It plays similarly to other games in the genre. You wander around an open world where you collect resources, craft items, and survive against bad guys. This one also comes with multiplayer with up to four players as well as a variety of other things to do in the game world. It focuses a lot less on pure survival than some other survival games but makes up for it in other ways. It’s reminiscent of Genshin Impact and other, similar games when it comes to mechanics as well. The game had a bit of a rough launch, but with some optimizations, this one could be pretty good in the future.

Winlater is an open-source app that lets you play PC apps and games on your Android phone. It’s only available on GitHub for right now, and it does require a couple of extra steps from your typical APK installation, so we recommend you read the installation guide on the GitHub page if you decide to try it out. It’s a very impressive proof-of-concept app, but it does have its pitfalls. For example, you can play PC games, but they usually run at fairly low FPS, and using mouse controls is a bit of a struggle. Still, we like where this is going, and we hope it gets better over time.

Newbie Life

Price: Free to play

Newbie Life is a new idle RPG from Com2uS, developers of Summoners War, and several other popular titles. The game is pretty easy to play. You assemble a team of summoned characters and send them out into battle. Combat takes place more or less automatically. You essentially equip your team, level them up, send them out, and watch them go. That’s the gameplay loop. The game also features a few different game modes, a ranking system, and a light story for players to follow. It’s well done as far as idle RPGs go but the game suffered from connection issues at launch, hence its lower Google Play rating.

Touch the Notch

Price: Free / $0.99

Touch the Notch is a new app that lets you map shortcuts to your phone’s notch or pinhole camera. You would simply tap the camera and the prescribed command gets issued. You can have it do any number of things, including opening the camera, taking a screenshot, turning on the flashlight, and a lot more. You can also access those shortcuts in a few different ways so you can do more than one shortcut if you want to. It has a few bugs, as most new apps do, but it’s a neat idea. It’s like a simplified version of the Dynamic Island feature that a lot of developers brought to Android in app form last year.

Omniheroes

Price: Free to play

Omniheroes is a fairly typical mobile RPG with gacha elements. You already know where this is going. The game lets you summon a variety of heroes. You upgrade them and then use them to progress through the game’s story. Combat is automatic, which brings an idle component to the game as well. Unlike many games in this genre, the themes are more adult-oriented so prepare yourself for that mentally when you download the game. You can see what we mean in the character designs. Overall, it’s not bad in terms of mechanics. The rest depends on your preferences.


If we missed any Android apps or games news or releases, tell us about them in the comments.

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