Five to Try: Star Wars: Puzzle Droids activates, and Google Classroom opens up to everyone

Need some new Android apps? We've got a few for you.

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Credit: Andrew Hayward/IDG

Another week nears its end, and that means there’s been another week of big Play Store releases that you might have missed. Seeking some exciting new apps and games to toss onto your Android phone? Look no further.

Star Wars: Puzzle Droids pairs the likes of BB-8 and R2-D2 with Candy Crush matching, while Google Classroom can now be used by anyone to assist learning experiences of all sorts. Adult Swim’s very weird Robot Unicorn Attack 3 is also out this week, along with a well-timed Gorillaz experience app for the virtual band’s new album, while Invert is an intriguing indie puzzler. Clear a little space and hit the Play Store for some fresh downloads.

Star Wars: Puzzle Droids 

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Puzzle Droids isn't ambitious, but it is nicely presented.

May 4 is Star Wars Day (“May the fourth…”), and fans are still buzzing from the first The Last Jedi trailer at the recent Star Wars Celebration. If you too love Star Wars, then here’s something else you might want to try: Star Wars: Puzzle Droids. There’s really no beating around the bush here: it’s a Star Wars version of Candy Crush Saga

Puzzle Droids mines the same kind of match-three formula as you create sets of like-colored items on the board, create and utilize power-ups from larger matches, and attempt to satisfy each level’s demands before you run out of turns. It’s not a very inspiring creation, admittedly. However, if you like this kind of straightforward puzzle gameplay, but have exhausted the Candy Crush series or don’t love its aesthetic, then Puzzle Droids might satisfy. It currently has 50+ stages featuring characters and settings from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but more will likely come.

Google Classroom

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Create your own virtual classroom to keep everyone connected.

Google Classroom has been available on Android for a couple years now, letting teachers and students stay connected and organized online. However, until recently, it was only usable by those with a G Suite for Education account. Last month, Google opened the service up to all of its users, and now this week, anyone can also use the app to create their own classrooms. 

What’s the point? Well, Classroom may have been designed for connecting to traditional learning environments, but it remains a smartly organized tool for collaboration and learning of all sorts. So if you’re running a club or want to share knowledge as a mentor, you could use the app to keep everyone connected and on the same page with announcements, assignments, notes, and more. It can be a pretty handy tool for educators and learners of all stripes.

Robot Unicorn Attack 3

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Adult Swim has the market cornered on absurdist unicorn games.

One of mobile gaming’s most confounding and delightful experiences is back in action with Adult Swim’s new Robot Unicorn Attack 3. In case you missed the previous entries, the game really is as strange as it sounds: you’ll command a mechanized unicorn as you gallop and leap across floating fantasy platforms and smash through giant star gems and enemies, all in the hopes of setting a new high score. Oh, and the song “Always” by Erasure plays on an endless loop.

Robot Unicorn Attack 3 keeps the basics from the last entry, albeit with more of a zoomed-in, 3D look, but there’s a lot more freemium stuff between runs. Now you can build up a citadel for your robotic steeds, build stables, and sacrifice collected unicorns to upgrade your favorites. It’s all still funny at first blush, but we’ll have to see whether this familiar gag remains entertaining over the long haul again in RUA3.

Gorillaz

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Move your phone to look around freely—or switch to VR mode.

Cartoon band Gorillaz—created by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett—are back with a brand new album out today (Humanz) and an impending tour, and they’ve also released an odd little Android app. Exploring the personalities of the four virtual band members, the app lets you look around their living spaces and interact with various objects.

Unfortunately, a lot of what you’ll find are just links to external content: Spotify playlists generated for each member, video interviews, or the Gorillaz’ online shop. In some cases, you can watch external content and then answer questions to unlock further things in the app, but the constant back and forth is annoying. Still, the atmosphere is intriguing, plus it has some augmented reality elements and a VR mode for anyone who has a Cardboard viewer around. 

Invert

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Tap along the edges to flip entire rows, columns, or sets of tiles.

If Star Wars meets Candy Crush won’t satisfy your puzzle urge this week, maybe Invert ($3) can do the trick instead. This calmer indie puzzler is built around flipping tiles to solve puzzles, with each level giving you a grid of shapes split between two colors. Tapping one of the little markers on the outside of the grid can flip an entire row or column of tiles to the other color, and you’ll have limited moves to turn the whole thing into the same color.

Before long, you’ll also encounter buttons that flip certain groups or patterns of tiles, which really changes up your thinking, and then the square tiles give way to triangles and hexagons in later stages. It’s a serious brainteaser, but Invert won’t prod you too hard thanks to its play-at-your-own-pace design, along with a minimal aesthetic and some tranquil background tunes.

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