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What I’m playing this week: TA: Little Red Riding Hood

TA: Little Red Riding Hood

A twist on the classic tale, with beautiful graphics and excellent game mechanics

I can’t stop playing this one. TA: Little Red Riding Hood (the TA stands for Twisted Adventures) is a great mix of platformer and runner style games, one where you hop from rotating sphere to rotating sphere, hitting the good things and avoiding the bad things.

There are no complicated commands or rules to memorize. You tap the screen to jump. As you jump from sphere to sphere, you’ll want to collect the flowers and apples you see along the way. When you see a caged rabbit on a sphere’s surface, touch it to free it. Shadow monsters, like wolves, hornets and birds, will kill you and send you back to the beginning of the level if you touch them. The levels get progressively harder, and some are maddeningly difficult to get a perfect score on — just the way we like them to be.

While the game physics and mechanics are really good — there’s even a different gravity factor based on how fast or slow a sphere is turning — it’s the graphics that send TA: Little Red Riding Hood over the top. Done up in the popular art-style you see from titles like Don’t Starve or Badland, the graphics are beautiful, and gameplay is fluid. 

It’s not the perfect game — there’s no Google Play games integration, and the lone soundtrack is a little repetitive — but it’s definitely one worth downloading if you’re into casual games on your phone or tablet. It’s also on sale for 99-cents for a limited time, so you’ve got even more incentive to give it a spin. 

The Google Play link is above, and you can watch the official gameplay trailer after the break.

    



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First look at Gubble Vacation Rush from Apps World

Gubble Vacation Rush on Android at Apps World

Back during the era of the original Playstation, an arcade-style game called Gubble migrated from PC and Mac to Playstation. It starred a little purple alien who hopped around in a pogo stick-like vehicle and solved puzzles with simple tools like hammer and screwdriver. Several years later, developer Actual Entertainment released the first Gubble on iOS (Android hadn’t caught on so strongly at that point).

At Apps World in San Francisco last week we met with Actual president Franz Lanzinger  to learn about Gubble’s upcoming trip to Android. The hammer-loving alien will soon star in Gubble Vacation Rush, a 3D endless running game. What has Gubble been up to all this time, and what will he bring to the (work)table in Vacation Rush? Find out in our hands-on video!


A change of perspectives

Gubble Vacation RushEarly screenshots

Gubble has been away for a long time, and the new game’s story acknowledges his absence. Our protagonist went into hibernation following his last adventure. Now he’s awake and vacationing on new alien worlds. But they’re not the safest places to visit.

The first Gubble game used a top-down isometric perspective similar to classic arcade games Pac-mania and Crystal Castles. Now that Gubble is on vacation, his new game uses a 3D camera set behind the character’s back – just like other 3D endless runners. Technically Gubble doesn’t run so much as he floats along in his hovercraft.

Dangerous vacation

Although Vacation Rush’s controls work similar to other runners (swiping to dodge left and right or jump), the typical coin collection works a bit differently here. Gubble can attach three different tools to his craft: hammer, screwdriver, and wrench. Each of these tools can then be used to collect the appropriate fastener (nail, screw, bolt) for points. The fasteners fly away towards the camera when collected, which looks pretty cool.

Besides collecting nails and such for points, Gubble has to deal with threatening landscapes, enemies, and objects. The ones we saw in our preview included stationary structures that will crash Gubble, force fields that knock his tools away, moving robots, rolling gears, and pits of lava.

Actual Entertainment hopes to publish Gubble Vacation Rush on Android sometime around May. It will be free to play. Stay tuned for more Apps World coverage!

    



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Apps of the Week: Plane Finder, Boxed Wholesale, The Great Martian War and more!

Apps of the Week

Check out the apps we’ve been using on our devices this week

It’s been another big week of news, so now it’s time to sit down and talk about some apps. Each Saturday we take up a spot on the site to highlight an app that each of the writers here at Android Central have been using lately. Whether it’s a popular (or not so popular) game, new utility or just something random that’s been on our phones and tablets, we’ll talk about it here.

Read along with us after the breaks and see another solid collection of apps from the team — you may just find a few apps to install for yourself.


Phil Nickinson - Plane Finder

Plane Finder

Ever look up in the sky, see a plane and wonder where it’s going? Congrats, you’re quite possibly an avgeek. And as such, Plane Finder will take care of those musings. Just fire it up, find the plane that’s nearby, and get all the info your nerdy little heart desires. You can bookmark various locations, set filters for airlines, aircraft types, airpots, squawks altitude and speed, get info on planes and change all sorts of options. And you can blow your kids’ minds when they ask “Daddy, where do you think that plane’s going?”

Download: Plane Finder ($1.99) or Plane Finder Free (erm, free)

Jerry Hildenbrand – Boxed Wholesale

Boxed Wholesale

You have one roll of toilet paper left. Your mission is to make sure you don’t run out. Boxed Wholesale just made it easier.

It’s like having a Sam’s Club or Walmart on your phone, where you can buy everything from toothpaste to tampons, and have them sent direct to your door overnight. I’ve been playing with Boxed for a bit (we’ve had like 3,000,000 ice storms in the past month and I refuse to go outside) and I think it makes a great addition to Amazon or other mail-order services. Sometimes, you won’t find the best price, but other times exactly what you need is on sale and you can order with one click once you’ve setup your account. It’s convenient, and I dig convenience.

The app and the account are free, so it won’t hurt a thing to try and see if you can save a few pennies buying in bulk from your phone.

Download: Boxed Wholesale (Free)

Simon Sage - The Great Martian War

The Great Martian War

The Great Martian War is an endless runner set in World War I where players have to sprint through European battlefields while avoiding martian threats. Though the gameplay itself is pretty much exactly in line with Into the Dead, complete with power-ups to pick up, upgradeable equipment, achievements, and evasion based on swipe and tilt controls, there’s still a creepy charm to avoiding alien walkers abducting soldiers and generally laying waste. If you’re looking for some new scenery in your endless runners, this is a good start.

Download: The Great Martian War (Free)

Alex Dobie – WatchNote for Pebble

WatchNote for Pebble

A basic but useful phone-plus-smartwatch app, WatchNote connects to your Pebble and allows you to view notes and memos on the go. There’s the option to sync with Evernote for easy note management on the web, too. After installing the Android app, you’re prompted to download the Pebble app to your smartwatch, From there, simply enter your notes into the app, or bring in stuff from Evernote if you’ve got an account.

Notes can be found on your watch within WatchNote app on your Pebble, and by default you get six lines of text on the watch at a time — though sizing and fonts can be changed through the Android app.

WatchNote won’t be for everyone, but if you need to quickly refer back to notes or lists without fumbling around with papers, tablets or smartphones, it’s worth a look.

Download: WatchNote for Pebble ($1.66)

Richard Devine – Snapdragon Glance (Beta)

Snapdragon Glance (Beta)

This week Qualcomm dropped its own lock screen replacement app on us. Known as Glance (Beta) it’s another attempt at the intelligent lock screen. To use it, you do have to be running the Snapdragon Batteryguru app as well, since it uses information gathered on your behavior in that app to operate Glance.

It actually crams quite a lot of information into the lock screen. Up top you get a big old clock and the current weather information. Down the bottom you retain quick access to the camera, and a bunch of suggested apps or contacts based on what it thinks you’ll want to do or who you might want to talk to.

In the middle of the display you see whatever has arrived in your notification tray. At all times you can directly access the apps featured. The only issue so far is security; from Glance you just hit back or home and you’re into the phone. So it’s more a proof of concept than something you should be using every day right now. But it’s pretty cool to see someone like Qualcomm trying something new. 

Download: Snapdragon Glance (Beta) (Free)

Andrew Martonik – NBC Sports Live Extra

NBC Sports Live Extra

Love it or hate it, the one place to go for comprehensive live coverage of the Olympics in Sochi is NBC. While for some sports you need to authenticate that you pay for cable, NBC is giving you live streaming video of all of the events for free during the Olympics. The app has made some strides in performance and quality as of late, and if you’re an Olympics buff there’s really no better place to go if you can’t get to a TV.

Download: NBC Sports Live Extra (Free)


Happen to miss previous editions of our weekly app picks? You can check them out right here. Our continuing weekly app coverage can also be seen right here as well.

    



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Flappy Bird developer ‘cannot take this anymore’ and is taking down insanely popular game

Flappy bird taken down

Developer Dong Nguyen will keep making games, but Flappy Bird will be no more by the end of the weekend. 

The somewhat reclusive developer of inexplicable runaway hit Flappy Bird has announced that he “cannot take this anymore” and will be removing the game from app stores in 22 hours, as of 2:02 PM EST today. Dong Nguyen explained on his Twitter account that the takedown isn’t due to any legal reasons, and that he won’t be selling the rights to the game. 

Flappy Bird apparently is making $50k every day in ad revenue, which makes the take-down seem bizarre, but one can imagine that an indie developer that never sought the spotlight may be under a little too much pressure. He said earlier that the game has ruined his simple life, so he hates the game. Nguyen says he’ll keep making games though, and with any luck, they’ll experience at least a little bit of the success of Flappy Bird. 

Get downloading at the link above while you still can, and be sure to check out our tips and cheats if you need a leg up on this devilishly difficult game. 

I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

I also don’t sell ‘Flappy Bird’, please don’t ask.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

And I still make games.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it. — Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

Source: @dongatory

    



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Apps World: Hands-on with the new and improved Zeebox TV app

Zeebox for Android Apps World photo

Updated features expected to hit within the next few days

We travelled to this week’s App World event in San Francisco to learn about new and interesting apps coming to Android. One section of the show – TV Hackfest – specifically showcased apps relating to television and video viewing.

Inside of the TV Hackfest area, we met with Anthony Rose, Co-founder and CTO of Zeebox. Zeebox is a second-screen TV app that offers a customizable TV guide, news feeds for users’ favorite shows, discussion rooms for those shows, and more. The Android version of Zeebox is due for an update with exclusive features within the next few days. Check out our hands-on video to see how Zeebox can make watching the shows you like better and easier.


More about Zeebox

Zeebox is a free service that users can experience through the Zeebox website or by using the mobile app. Whichever platform you access it from, your profile, shows you follow, and other settings follow you on the cloud. The mobile apps are of course most ideal for the second-screen experience (using while watching), and provide some enhanced interactivity beyond what the website offers.

When you think second-screen TV app, you probably imagine using the app to chat or read about television programming while watching the show. Zeebox of course offers those features. Many program offer interactive content, such as polls to gauge how viewers feel about the latest reality show or news event. Or you can read more information about a topic that comes up – without having to search for it. Socially, users can chat in rooms dedicated to each program or comment via Twitter and Facebook.

Some shows like American Idol are tailored to that social experience, and their viewers like to discuss the show as it happens. Others require more viewer concentration; you don’t want to miss what’s going on in an action-adventure or drama by constantly looking away from the show itself. Zeebox still has something for people who just want to focus on the shows themselves. Whatever shows you follow, the app provides content and news to read about as well as opportunities for discussion after airing. The goal is to keep users engaged even while they wait for the next episode to air.

Not sure what’s coming on? The Zeebox TV Guide has a full channel listing. Once you find the show you like, follow it or interact with Zeebox’s content for it. You can even set up notifications for new airings of your favorite shows.

New Features in the update

Zeebox for Android

  • Google Plus login: All versions of Zeebox support Twitter and Facebook. But only the Android version gets Google Plus support at this time.
  • Rich notifications: Accept invites from friends to watch shows and even change the channel on your compatible television/box with a single click
  • Home screen widget: View a stream of information and news about the shows you follow directly from your Android home screen. See this feature in action in our hands-on video above!

A two-screen future

Zeebox for Android

Nobody needs a smartphone or tablet just to watch TV. But in this day and age, many of us love to look up information on actors and plot points or just tweet about the show as we’re watching it. Zeebox caters to those people and even people who love TV but don’t hold onto a device while watching. Check out the Zeebox website or grab the app for extra features – both are completely free to users.

    



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How to cheat at Flappy Bird for Android

Flappy Bird

Victory is just a root away — and anyone can cheat at Flappy Bird.

God I hate this game. Flappy Bird is simple, and you can easily cheat at Flappy Bird. I just want it to be done so it can go away. Hats off to the developer who figured out how to make a few dollars from endless frustration and a couple hours of coding, but Flappy Bird needs to die.

It hit me this afternoon — the best way to stop playing a game is to cheat so hard you’ll never be able to match the result by normal means. After that, you never want to play again and don’t care when everyone else talks abut playing it.

Luckily, Flappy Bird is as easy to cheat at as it is to die flapping.

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Google Now keeping you on top of the Sochi Olympic Games

Android Central

New card shows you the upcoming schedule and medal tables

If you’re taking an interest in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, then Google is giving you a convenient way to do it. This new card has started appearing in Google Now providing us quick access to the upcoming events schedule and current medals table. 

We’re not sure how exactly this is rolling out at the moment, though. I started seeing it out of the blue, and since I’m British (and Britain generally sucks at winter sports) I’m pretty sure it isn’t related to anything Olympic specific I’ve searched for. Anyway, it’s there, and now the games are officially under way it should start showing up for a lot more folks soon. 

    



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How to win at Flappy Bird for Android

Flappy Bird is an awesome game. No, really.

They say you can’t beat Flappy Bird. We say they’re wrong.

Flappy Bird is a ridiculously simple, mind-numbing, intelligence-sapping game that feeds off your boredom and pumps thousands of dollars into the hands of the sole developer through advertising.

Flappy Bird has become ridiculously popular in the past weeks, amassing between 10 million and 50 million total installations on Android. Flappy Bird is available on iOS. It’s eventually headed to Windows Phone.

And now, we’re going to show you how to win at Flappy Bird.

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‘Find Friends on BBM’ can now match your contact list to people using the service

Find Friends on BBM

See which of your friends are already using BBM and quickly send a PIN invite

BBM is introducing a new feature today that makes it easier to find your friends on the service. Just like you’ll often find on social networking and messaging apps, BBM can now look through your phone’s contact listings to see which of those people are already using BBM but aren’t yet able to chat with you.

You’ll then have the option to selectively — or completely — send out PIN invitations to those friends and get the conversation going on BBM. Naturally, if one of your friends isn’t using BBM you have a quick way to send them an email or SMS invite to download the app as well.

It’s a simple setting that’s usually part of the setup process on similar messaging apps, and one that can definitely help adoption of BBM if you realize that more of your friends are on it.

    



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Dayframe 2.0 refreshes UI, adds Chromecast support

Dayframe

Streaming, other features require $2.99 ‘prime’ upgrade

A quick heads up that Dayframe — which quickly became one of our favorite image viewers last year, showcasing photos from the likes of Faceook, Flickr, Dropbox, Google+, Instagram, 500px, Twitter and others — got a pretty major refresh today. 

In addition to the new user interface, you also get improved organization in the library, better playlists, easier shorcuts — and the all-important Chromecast integration. Some features are (and have been) part of Dayframe “Prime,” which has now become a $2.99 in-app purchase. You’ll also need the updated Google Play Services, so keep an eye out for that. (It’ll be version 4.2.x.)

The short, short version: A great photo viewing app gets even better. Give it a shot.

For those who previously had purchased Prime: Dayframe says all you need to do is drop them an e-mail, and they’ll whitelist your account.

For a look at the Chromecast integration, peep the video after the break:

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Plants vs. Zombies 2 brings back Dr. Zomboss, adds Snowball Power

Plants vs. Zombies 2

Guess who’s back, and not a moment too soon. Plants vs. Zombies 2 got an update this week, with Dr. Zomboss returning to the three existing worlds. In addition, there’s a new power-up — Snowball Power. Here’s the changelog in its entirety:

  • We have big news and even bigger news about our latest update. There’s a new power-up and an old “friend.”
  • The brain behind the zombie invasion is here! Dr. Zomboss is waiting for you in an all-new Ancient Egypt level. And you can be sure he’ll be causing trouble in other time periods soon.
  • Get your hands (or fingers, actually) on the new Snowball Power and chill zombies to the bone!

Download it at the link above. 

    



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Firefox shows off their own Android launcher at InContext conference

Firefox launcherMozilla may have their own operating system to work on, but they know that the eyeballs are mostly on Android these days. Since eyeballs mean money, they’re still all-in with the idea of pushing out their apps and services on our little platform.

Today, at the inaugural InContext conference, they showed what may be their most ambitious idea yet — the Firefox launcher. Branded atop the new EverythingMe launcher which came out of beta today, the Firefox launcher plans to “give people more smart, easy and innovative ways to personalize their Web experience and meet their needs in any context.”

What they’re talking about of course, is content discovery. The contextual engine behind EverythingMe should blend well with Mozilla’s deep hooks into the web, and there’s a good chance this app will stand out in the crowd of new launchers that help you decide what you see on your screen.

Mozilla says they’ll keep us updated while they finish development, and soon we’ll be able to have a go at this one ourselves. We’re always interested in what Mozilla can do, so this one is something we’re looking forward to.

Source: Mozilla

    



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Google Drive updated with quick-scan widget and animated GIF support

Google Drive

Also a slick new video tutorial the first time you run the app

Rounding out today’s Googlicious updates is another small one, this time for Google Drive. The current version — which varies by device — includes just two changes over the ubiquitous bug fixes. namely animated GIF support and a new 1×1 shortcut to the document scanner.

The former you’ll find in any document you’ve embedded an animated GIF in (every doc here at AC ends up with at least one meme), and the latter you’ll find where you normally find shortcuts and widgets you want to place on your home screen.

Also pretty cool is the new training video you see when you first run the app. It’s very “new Google” and worth wiping data on Drive just to see it. 

Of course, the typical Google slow trollout means you’ll either have to wait for your turn or root around the net for a sideload. You can try your luck at the Google Play link above.

    



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Google Play Newsstand updated with a hot widget and mini card view

Android Central

Google has pushed out a few updates to its Android apps today, and after Search and Hangouts comes Play Newsstand. Having come together as an amalgamation of Play Magazines and Google Currents, Newsstand’s latest update brings us a couple of neat new additions including the pretty hot looking homescreen widget we see here. 

The default widget size is 4×3, and it’s pretty darn nice to look at. You just get one article at a time with a big old image, the headline and where and when it came from. To cycle through your most recent stuff, tap the down arrow in the bottom right corner and you’ll keep on going until you run out of things to read. 

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UPS Mobile receives a complete interface refresh, new map experience

UPS Mobile

An interface for managing pickups and deliveries that’s actually enjoyable to use

After hanging on to a tired-looking interface for some time, UPS Mobile was updated today with a completely new design. The interface now follows tightly to Google’s design guidelines, with an action bar serving duty for the search and menu functions, with all other functions placed behind a slide-in panel on the left that is now accessible anywhere in the app.

This makes a lot more sense than the older “home screen” model that put all of the functions on the main screen, having you jump in and out of menus. The in-app mapping experience has also received a facelift, making use of the latest available Google Maps interface to show you nearby stores and drop boxes.

The UPS Mobile app is an extremely useful tool for those who send and receive via UPS, and now it’s actually a joy to use when you manage your packages. You can grab an update to the latest version at the Play Store link above.

    



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Hangouts app updated with fixes for SMS and MMS

Hangouts

Users experiencing messaging bugs hopefully get their fix

Big G has pushed out a small update for the Hangouts app today, and while the change log is short, it looks to be exactly what more than a few have been waiting for.

What’s New (2.0.3)

  • More fixes for sending/receiving MMS
  • Fixed a bug that prevented some from sending SMS longer than 160 characters

Behind the scenes fixes may not be glamorous, but if you’re a user affected by the bugs that get fixed, they are the best kind. As usual, Google is doing their slow trollout of the app, so you may not see an update right away. Keep checking, or dig into the wilds of the Internet for that sideload.

Thanks everyone who sent this in!

    



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Google Search update also enables voice controls for UK English

Google Search

No more changing of your system language required

Today’s Google Search update may have a few more tricks up its sleeve than we know, but we have found that it enables voice actions for those using U.K. English on their device. Folks outside of the U.S. previously had to set the app’s language to U.S. English in order to get Google Now to respond to voice commends, but now our friends across the pond can get in on the action.

Better yet, you even have a response voice of a U.K. English speaker, which completes the entire loop. This is one update you’ll want to grab if you’ve been clamoring for voice actions in the U.K. and are tired of changing to U.S. English just to make it happen.

    



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SKIT! comes to Android to turn your photos into crazy little animations

blank

SKIT! today has officially launched on Android in the Google Play Store – and indeed the Amazon Appstore – to turn your photographs into hilarious short animated video clips. It’s a pretty simple yet effective idea, in that the app gives you visual effects like animations, text, graphics and the like to lay onto to your own photos and turn them into moving clips. 

Besides the creative element, SKIT! has a pretty solid social component baked in. It can pull in photos from Facebook to work on, as well as being able to share out your creations to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, or send an animated card to your friends and family through e-mail. All that on top of the actual SKIT! community itself. 

The app is free to download, and is available now from the Google Play link up top, and the Amazon Appstore at the link below. More information can be found in the full press release after the break. 

Download: SKIT! (Amazon Appstore)

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