Five to Try: Exploding Kittens blasts onto Android, and The Movie Hop plans a day of flicks

Load up your phone with fun new apps and games for the weekend ahead.

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If you don’t have any big plans for the weekend, maybe some fresh Android apps and games can help fill some quality time. Our Five to Try column has the scoop on new Play Store releases worth scoping out, and it’s led this week by Exploding Kittens, the long-awaited mobile version of the Kickstarter smash card game.

The Movie Hop is another neat release, as it effortlessly plans a multi-movie day at your local theater, plus GIF repository Giphy gets a fresh start on Android, Loud on Planet X delivers rhythm-tapping fun, and Airtime links you up with remote friends for live media sharing. Grab a few of these apps and be sure to check back next week for more.

Exploding Kittens

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It’s a weird one, certainly, but Exploding Kittens is a lot of fun.

Assuming you’re a decent human, you probably don’t want any sweet, harmless cats to explode—right? If so, then you’ll need to play smart in Exploding Kittens ($2). The physical card game made nearly $8.8 million on Kickstarter last year, but now you can play it wherever you are on your phone.

Exploding Kittens is essentially a cute-but-demented take on Russian Roulette, as up to five players take turns drawing cards from a deck. Some of those cards, as the game suggests, will result in a kitten detonating, thus ending your run. Luckily, you can dodge that grim outcome by using a defuse card, should you have one, or by using the various other tactical cards that let you skip a turn, steal a card, peek at the deck, and so on and so forth.

It’s playable online or locally, with both Android and iPhone users sharing the same player base, and the games are quick, chaotic, and pretty hilarious. Exploding Kittens is also surprisingly strategic, despite the goofy premise, so there’s a bit more depth than you might expect. The app offers an optional deck add-on for a couple bucks, as well as premium avatars for sale.

The Movie Hop

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Three movies in less than six hours with only two minutes of waiting? It can be done!

Got a day off and haven’t been to the movies in a while? The Movie Hop ($1) can help you catch up on your cinematic backlog by smartly scheduling a series of movies with minimal waits. This ingenious yet super-niche app lets you map out a day at the theater by picking your location, selecting between two and five movies, and choosing a timeframe.

From there, The Movie Hop works its magic: it’ll pick the ideal ordering of movies within those constraints, if possible, and even offer options. Each agenda shows how much time you’ll be waiting between films in total, and while your experience will vary based on movie picks, number of showings, and timeframe, the app can sometimes serve up a schedule that ensures you’re never sitting around for more than minutes between flicks. And that’s well worth a buck if you ever plan multi-movie adventures.


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When you need the right meme in a moment, launch Giphy.

Animated GIFs have become part of our internet lexicon, whether you’re responding to a friend’s incredulous story or mourning the loss of an icon (R.I.P. Prince). But you don’t have to keep a rotating stockpile of GIFs on your device or frantically search the web every time you want a brilliant visual response handy: just use the new Giphy app.

Giphy already had a Facebook Messenger plug-in app for Android, but it has been transformed into a GIF repository that can share to various other apps. Send GIFs to Facebook, Twitter, emails, text messages, or Pinterest, or just copy them to your clipboard to send wherever else you please. The massive library of images is sorted by popularity, theme, and other variables, but the most useful may be the Reactions categories, which let you pick an image based on how you’re feeling.

Loud on Planet X

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Tap each lane to the beat of the song to fend off the creeping alien invaders.

Plugging in headphones and tapping right onto the device you’re holding tends to add a nicely harmonious feel to most mobile music games, and Loud on Planet X ($4) is one of the most interesting entries in recent memory. This charming indie game sees an array of licensed artists jamming out on stages as alien creatures approach, and you’ll need to tap each lane to the beat of the track to blast the invaders to bits.

It can be tricky to get a hang of at first, especially since tapping off-beat doesn’t help your cause, but there are special attacks available to help overcome your missteps. The soundtrack includes 28 tracks from 14 artists, including Chvrches, Metric, Tegan and Sara, and METZ; it’s a lot of synthpop in the mix, but also some indie rock and hip-hop. All told, there’s plenty of great music and ultra-adorable band artwork here, plus a fun rhythmic tapper built around it.


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Whether it’s to laugh, mourn, or catch up, Airtime lets you connect with faraway friends over videos and music.

Originally launched as a Chatroulette-like web service for making random connections via shared video interests, Airtime is now reborn as an app built to connect you with friends for remote viewing parties. You’ll sign up with your phone number and make an account, then add pals and sort them into rooms based on friend groups, shared interests, or whatever else binds you together.

From there, you can go live and invite up to five people in, all with a video feed of each participant—and then watch YouTube or Vimeo videos together, share songs from Spotify or SoundCloud, or even dump in Giphy GIFs (see above). It’s also handy for sharing photos or even just chatting, and it’s designed to allow shared experiences around media even when you’re miles away from your buds.

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