Five to Try: YouTube Music and Apple Music put their own unique spin on the streaming formula

Music launches lead the week, but there are other Android app releases worth exploring too.

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It’s unavoidable: when it comes to new and updated Android apps this week, music leads the way. Apple got things started on Tuesday by bringing the burgeoning iOS and Mac streaming service Apple Music to Android, but then Google answered on Thursday with the debut of a dedicated YouTube Music app. Even Spotify got in on the fun by adding a concert recommendation feature to its app.

If streaming music doesn’t light your fire, we’ve got some other interesting picks this week. Shooty Skies puts an aerial twist on the Crossy Road formula, Evel Knievel pays tribute to the beloved stuntman with a tricky bike game, and Runtastic Results Training aims to keep you sweating during the cold months with its rigorous home workouts. Grab these apps from the Play Store and then check back in a week for another batch of releases. 

YouTube Music

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YouTube Music never lets the beat drop, even when you’re exploring through menus.

Despite its focus on video, YouTube has long been a haven for music lovers, especially as it replaced TV as the go-to source for music videos. As such, this week’s release of YouTube Music has been long anticipated, as the free app filters through the service’s massive wealth of content to focus solely on artists, videos, and songs. It’s akin to YouTube Gaming in that approach, and similarly impressive in delivery.

Presentation is a strong suit: start watching a video in portrait view and it’s cropped to take up more of the screen; start scrolling through the details below and it hangs around up top in traditional widescreen dimensions (flip your phone into landscape to watch in full-screen, of course). And when you exit back to menus, the video keeps playing in a small, unobtrusive bar at the bottom. YouTube Music aims to keep the music going by building an ongoing channel after you press play, plus it has curated playlists and recommendations for concert clips and other content.

It’s best experienced with a YouTube Red subscription, too: that kills the ads, allows offline and background playback, and lets you activate an audio-only mode that doesn’t load the full video. Red is $10/month, but if you aren’t already a member, you automatically get a 14-day free trial by downloading YouTube Music.

Apple Music

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Apple Music isn’t dramatically changed in the move from iOS, but it embraces common Android design tenets.

Apple might be a big fan of closed ecosystems, but it’s giving Android a serious try with this week’s release of Apple Music. Like other top streaming rivals, it offers access to many millions of songs for $10/month (no free option here), although there are unique perks as well. The Beats 1 streaming radio station delivers hot exclusives and great artist-hosted shows, plus you won’t find Taylor Swift’s latest album on Spotify.

The experience has been nicely reconfigured to look and feel like an Android app should, although it’s not feature-complete at launch: music videos are MIA, and you can’t create a family account. Still, given that a three-month free trial is available from the outset for all users, you might as well give it a shot and see if Apple’s take on the streaming service sways you away from a competitor.

Shooty Skies

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Swap to a different character and you might get a totally different look to the world.

As happens with every great mobile sensation, we’ve seen a lot of dopey clones of Crossy Road over the past several months—but Shooty Skies isn’t that. In fact, it was co-developed by a couple of Crossy Road’s creators, albeit under a new studio banner. And really, it doesn’t share any core gameplay elements, though it doe seem familiar: the blocky look, coin collecting, dozens of unlockable characters, and no restrictions on play attempts all feel very Crossy Road-like.

Instead of tapping to traverse streets and streams, Shooty Skies takes the form of a colorful shoot-‘em-up, where you’ll dodge waves of bullets while blasting an always-strange array of foes. Enemies include laptops, vending machines, and boomboxes, and the game never tries to make sense of the madness. That’s fine: this is a really fun little freebie, and the weirdness only makes it more deserving of your attention.

Runtastic Results Training

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Sharp, step-by-step video demonstrations—complete with slow-motion moments—are a highlight.

Ready to make a serious change to your health? Willing to give it 12 weeks and about $30? Well, Runtastic Results Training is ready to help, if so. This brand new app from the makers of the run-tracking platform delivers a customized 12-week program to help you burn weight and add muscle through strength and bodyweight exercises. No equipment is needed, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.

The app itself is free, but nothing is accessible unless you subscribe: it’s $10 a month or $50 a year. Luckily, it’s a pretty slick and comprehensive offering. The videos are well-produced and focus on maintaining proper technique to avoid injury, plus the app has bonus workouts, nutrition advice, and a social feed for community support. Avoid the winter slump! Runtastic’s app promises results, and if you follow its instructions, you ought to earn them before too long.

Evel Knievel

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Fabulous artwork helps Evel Knievel stand out, but the tricky challenges are plenty fun too.

Decades after his heyday, the late Evel Knievel remains an icon for his death-defying motorcycle jumps—and a new Android game honors his legacy with an entertaining recreation of several career highlights. Evel Knievel ($2) is a side-scrolling motorcycle game in which you’ll try to safely complete each jump and obstacle by varying your approach speed and then mid-air orientation before landing.

It owes a debt to Ubisoft’s popular Trials series on consoles, with a similar ebb and flow as you try to stay upright through to the end. But Evel Knievel benefits from its source material, with levels based on the daredevil’s top stunts and classic event posters within, plus a vivid art style inspired by his flashy leather jumpsuits. And it’s a proper premium game with no in-app purchases—so there’s no buying your way out of the tougher challenges. (That’s a good thing.)

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