Another week, another barrage of new apps and games flooding the Play Store—but which of them are actually worth your time and money? That’s where our Five to Try column comes in, and we’ve got another fine selection of new releases to check out. Heading up this week’s list is Drupe, which offers an innovative approach to contacts by letting you drag one to an app to initiate a conversation.
Also spotlighted this week is Beatport, a slick (and free) electronic music streaming service, and Nuzzel, which spotlights the stories your social media pals are chatting about. And on the gaming side, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper reimagines classic role-playing battles with a free-to-play design, while the dazzling Fotonica delivers gripping first-person running in a minimal, wireframe world.
Tired of digging through menus and different apps to contact the same handful of friends and colleagues each day? Drupe offers a solution: an interface that lets you create a list of your go-to contacts, then drag and drop any name to the way you’d like to get in touch—whether it’s by phone, SMS, Facebook message, WhatsApp, or other options.
This free app is an effortless way to cut down the time it takes to reach out to your core contacts. Drupe docks a small group of dots on your lock screen, home screen, and even atop apps—just swipe it open and you can initiate a conversation with a pal in a second. You can even create groups and pull everyone into Skype, a calendar invite, or anything else with ease. Drupe is a smart solution to contact clutter, and it should make everyday communication a lot easier for many users.
We’ve seen numerous ports of the early Final Fantasy games, and those classic role-playing entries have all made the transition to Android fairly well. However, attempts to create original mobile games from the iconic series haven’t been so successful to date. Record Keeper might turn the tide on that, drawing from pure, unadulterated nostalgia to create a new kind of free-to-play Fantasy.
Essentially, you’ll compile a team of warriors and mages and enter the classic worlds of past Final Fantasy games, battling the same enemies in familiar locales and unlocking iconic heroes to join your squad. It has a freemium energy system, and the gameplay is limited in scope, but it looks like there’s a wealth of content for series die-hards to dig into. And franchise favorite Final Fantasy VII gets a big spotlight here.
If you love thumping bass and pulsing beats, then you can’t miss this week’s release of the official Beatport app. Beatport started as a go-to digital store for electronic music makers and fans alike, but it’s taken on a new shape as a streaming service—a completely free one with millions of tracks available for your listening pleasure.
Beatport’s app takes that side of the service mobile, letting you stream an endless array of dance music, house, electronica, and much more. Major artists are interspersed with the lesser-known stuff, and top charts and curated playlists can point you in new directions. Beyond the ample audio, the app itself is expertly designed, with plenty of fluid animations to complement the sleek Material Design.
Fotonica may have started on PC and Mac, but this one-thumb first-person runner proves a perfect fit for mobile—and six months after its iOS launch, it’s finally on Android. Ultra-minimal in design, Fotonica ($1) sends you sprinting along wireframe paths that appear as you push ahead by holding down your thumb. Every so often, a gap will appear: that’s when you lift your thumb to leap, only pressing back down to land when the ground takes shape again.
Despite the very basic graphics, the trippy aesthetic looks amazing in motion and is well complemented by a thumping soundtrack. Several short (but challenging) stages are included, plus there are multiple endless tracks to try and set high scores on. Grab headphones and sink into these tense trials.
It’s easy to gloss over links when scrolling through your Twitter stream or Facebook feed, but you might miss some truly interesting stories in the mix. That’s where Nuzzel comes in handy. Simply log in with those social networking accounts (no Google+ for now, unfortunately) and the free app will curate story streams based on what your friends shared.
The feeds are all customizable: you can sort by the number of people you know that shared the same link, contract or expand the timespan, and even see what your friends’ friends are sharing. Nuzzel also has featured streams from notable people and personalities, giving you a look into what’s new and interesting in some other social circles. It’s straightforward in design, yet totally useful, and may well become part of your daily reading routine.