Looking for new things to do (and play) on your Android phone? We can help: our latest Five to Try roundup spotlights the most enticing new and updated apps and games of the week. Facebook’s mobile app might be a known quantity, but its new Marketplace feature is a big addition, helping to connect local buyers and sellers of all sorts of goods.
As far as totally new releases go, Giphy Cam offers a fun way to concoct and share your own strange animations, while Stash smartly sorts your saved links and articles for later. Meanwhile, the free-to-play Micro Machines is a fun blast from the past, and Peter Panic’s frantic action takes the unexpected form of a musical. Load up on some fresh apps to explore over the weekend ahead.
Given Facebook’s 1.7 billion active users, we probably don’t need to recommend the social network’s mobile app—but you might have missed a new addition this week. Marketplace is the company’s attempt to put its stamp on Craigslist-like item sales and service offers, which are already happening all over the site within groups. Now, however, there’s some welcome structure to it.
Simply tap the middle button in the navigation bar and you’ll find a grid of images and price tags of things for sale nearby. Tapping each brings up more details and lets you make an offer or message the seller. Listing your own item is a breeze, although payment and meet-up details are left entirely up to users, so be careful when finalizing any transaction. While not a mind-blowing advancement in any way, Marketplace provides a convenient way to shift some stuff or find a sweet deal.
If you love animated GIFs, but wish your face could be plastered into a lot more of them, give Giphy Cam a download. The latest app from the GIF repository service shifts the focus from picking GIFs to making your own with ease. Simply record a few seconds of video (or a stuttering photo burst), tweak the animation cycle, and then go nuts adding things like special effects, frames, and stickers.
There’s all sorts of weird, gross, and silly stuff in the toolbox, plus Giphy is plugged into Internet culture and the meme scene, so you can put confused John Travolta from Pulp Fiction atop your footage, or border it with a classic Star Trek frame. It’s fun, it’s goofy, and it’s pretty effortless to boot. Spice up your social media feeds or chats with your own custom GIFs.
Got a sweet spot for Micro Machines, the tiny toy cars and other vehicles that were popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s—or maybe the great video game adaptations of the era? Codemasters and Chillingo are counting on it, as they have exhumed Micro Machines as a free-to-play racer. It’s similar in style to the classic 16-bit versions, with top-down races in comparatively super-sized environments pulled from our everyday lives.
Micro Machines offers up live online four-player races and weapons-based battle events, with an expansive campaign progression that spans 18 courses and 77 vehicles. Even G.I. Joe cars make an appearance. It’s a pretty fun Mario Kart-esque racer, and also surprisingly friendly for anyone who doesn’t want to spend money, although you can pour in cash for perks.
Any web browser will hold onto your bookmarked links, and services like Instapaper and Pocket do a fine job of collecting the long-reads you want to save for later. But Stash, now available in open beta via the Play Store, finds a middle ground between both apps while adding some smart extra benefits.
Find a link via Twitter, email, or while browsing around? With Stash installed, you can share that link directly into the app, which automatically analyzes the content and categorizes it for later. Is it an article, a recipe, or a video link? Stash can sort it out, although you can tag links for your own purposes too. And within the little pop-up, you can even set a quick alarm for when you want to loop back on the link, whether it’s with breakfast or when laying in bed at night. You’ll need to opt into the beta to snag Stash, but it’s a free download.
Lastly, here’s something delightfully offbeat that’s well worth checking out. Peter Panic is an original game from Adult Swim, and it’s essentially a collection of speedy mini-games in the form of a very goofy musical. You play as Peter, a pixel boy with a song in his heart, who despairs to find his local theatre shut down. Bringing it back to life means working a slew of odd jobs in the city for some very odd people.
Peter Panic takes its strongest core inspiration from Nintendo’s great WarioWare series, zipping you through a series of quick-hit games that last only a couple seconds apiece. It’s all about quick reactions: tapping a button at the right instant, sorting papers, or catching falling vases with a box of packing peanuts. The frenzy is fun, but the game’s personality adds a lot to the experience, with several songs written and performed by real Broadway talent. Peter Panic is free to play in full, although saving progress requires the $3 premium upgrade.