Five to Try: YouTube TV starts rolling out, and Archer, P.I. lets you play while you watch

Google's cord-cutting service leads this week in new Android releases.

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Credit: Andrew Hayward/IDG

Looking for some fresh apps and games for your Android phone? Well, look no further: our Five to Try column spotlights the most exciting new Play Store releases, and YouTube TV is easily the largest launch of the week. It’s only available in five cities right now (with more to come), but Google’s cord-cutting subscription service puts live TV channels on your phone and can save you a bundle over a cable or satellite plan.

It actually pairs well with Archer, P.I., a game that lets you play along with the FXX animated series by using your phone’s camera to pull clues in from your TV. Otherwise, this week’s top releases include Libby, which lets you tap into your local library’s digital content, as well as games Transformers: Forged to Fight and Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. Grab some apps and ensure your entertainment for this weekend.

YouTube TV

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Watch live TV wherever you are, or tap into your unlimited DVR.

Been waiting for Google to make its own cord-cutting TV play? Well, here it is… assuming you live in one of five current metropolitan areas. YouTube TV has finally arrived, but while the service is YouTube in name, it delivers the kind of premium content and live TV channels you’d expect from a pricey cable or satellite subscription.

For $35 a month, you’ll get just over 50 channels, including all four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) and many top cable networks, such as ESPN, FX, USA, Bravo, and Disney Channel. Subscribers can also add Showtime or Fox Soccer Plus for an extra fee apiece. You can watch any of those channels live, as well as check out an array of on-demand TV shows and movies in the mix, along with original series from YouTube Red.

However, YouTube TV’s greatest feature may be its unlimited cloud DVR, which lets you stash away an endless amount of content—and it stays there for nine months, as well. You can watch on Android (or iOS), as well as web and on TV via Chromecast, plus there’s no long-term commitment and you get a one-month free trial. Right now, YouTube TV is only available in and around New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, but more cities will be added in time. Find out more in our first look at the service.

Archer, P.I.

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Find the clue within the episode and it’ll be pulled into the game.

The raunchy, long-running animated comedy Archer is back with its eighth season, dubbed Dreamland, and it finds the private detective lead in a coma… but in his head, he’s solving cases in a noir-inspired Los Angeles in 1947. And you can help him with the new Archer P.I. game, which lets you play along with each episode of new season (airing on FXX) on your TV. 

Archer, P.I. provides a new mystery to solve with each fresh episode this season, and you’ll do a bit of sleuthing on your phone to find clues in the game environment. Once you tune into the show, you’ll find extra clues within the episode by using your phone’s camera. For example, there’s a dog in this week’s first episode that you can scan and bring into the game to help figure out the mystery. The camera recognition tech can be a bit fidgety; you’ll want to reduce light and glare, and potentially pause the show to capture any clues. Still, this is a neat way for fans to engage with the show on a deeper level, and it’s totally free.

Libby

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Tap into your local library’s digital resources with Libby.

Even in an era of go-anywhere devices that can access endless amounts of digital content, public libraries remain an incredible resource—and many of them aren’t just dealing in physical media anymore, either. Libby makes that plenty clear. This new app, from the makers of OverDrive, lets you connect to your local library using your existing card/account, and access its collection of ebooks and audiobooks with absolute ease. 

Libby looks great and seems pretty hassle-free, as you can browse your library’s digital selection, check out items with a few taps, and even try out samples before committing to borrowing. Both ebooks and audiobooks alike can be saved offline, while ebooks can be sent to a Kindle if you have one of the eReaders. And you can return and renew content directly from the app, as well. It’s a really handy tool for discovering and making the most of your library’s digital offerings.

Transformers: Forged to Fight

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Old meets new in this Transformers fighting mash-up.

Whether you’re a fan of the original Transformers animated series or you came into the franchise with the live-action flicks, Transformers: Forged to Fight is designed to please. This Android fighter packs in loads of robots from across the franchise’s output, including the toys and comics too, and lets you battle it out in head-to-head combat using taps and swipes.

The franchise-wise fighting premise sounds a lot like the recent Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, but Transformers takes stronger cues from the sharp Marvel: Contest of Champions, also made by Kabam. The fighting action is fun and approachable, plus it looks pretty nice too, although I saw performance hits on an Galaxy S6 Edge+ at times. This is a freemium game, however, so there are timers, energy meters, and plenty of opportunities to spend real money for perks and new fighters. 

Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]

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Don’t know Kingdom Hearts? Start here.

Kingdom Hearts, the pairing of Disney and Final Fantasy characters and worlds, has spawned several console and handheld role-playing games over the past 15 years, and now you can play it on your Android phone with the awkwardly-named Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. You may have already encountered a version of this game with last year’s Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, but now it has been rebooted with a multiplayer focus and added content.

For anyone unfamiliar with the console entries, Union χ[Cross] thankfully serves as a prequel and a first entry point into Kingdom Hearts, with simple tap and swipe based battles as your hero of light fights against the dark Heartless creatures. You’ll encounter Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and worlds inspired by Snow White and Beauty and the Beast, among other classic films, in this simplified role-player. It’s a bit repetitive, but for fans of the oft-convoluted series, this is another crucial bit of lore to soak in—and for newcomers, it might convince you to check out the full-bodied console games.

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