Five to Try: DC Comics' Injustice 2 renews the fight, and Socratic does your homework for you

Don't miss this week's most intriguing Play Store picks.

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Andrew Hayward/IDG

Can’t decide which apps and games to grab from the Play Store? Our Five to Try column can help you sort through the glut and snag only the most enticing new releases.

Injustice 2 just hit Android, and it continues the fight between Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and more as you tap and swipe through super-powered battles. Meanwhile, Socratic uses its impressive A.I. abilities to solve homework problems, OK Golf is more appealing than it sounds, and Spaceplan transforms the freemium clicker genre into a surprisingly engrossing narrative adventure.

Also, Google’s official I/O 2017 app is out, in case you want to plan for next week’s big Android developers conference. In fact, this column is taking next week off, since we’ll be inundated with I/O coverage, but check out these apps for now—we’ll be back with more the week after. 

Injustice 2

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Assemble your top trio and go smash a few supervillain skulls.

DC Comics’ biggest heroes and villains are back at it in Injustice 2, the sequel to the popular Injustice: Gods Among Us. Like the original, this head-to-head brawler—from the makers of Mortal Kombat—pits your three-fighter team against another as you tap, swipe, and press buttons to unleash attacks.

The combat system is a lot more fluid and flexible this time around, more closely resembling a console or arcade fighter while still being approachable, while the graphics are significantly smoother and more detailed than the previous entry. It’s also packed with stuff to uncover, with a new Gear system letting you augment and upgrade your fighters in different ways. It’s very much a free-to-play game, though, with an energy meter, multiple currency systems, and lots of opportunities to spend on fighters and benefits.

Socratic

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Snap a photo, get an answer (and hopefully learn something too).

Homework: it’s the pits, right? While technology sadly hasn’t yet eliminated the need for homework, it has at least made it easier to find the information and solutions you need to get the job done. Socratic is the latest and perhaps greatest such tool, letting you quite literally take a picture of your homework and get an answer.

Yes, really! It’s not foolproof, but when Socratic works, it’s kind of mind-blowing. This totally free A.I.-driven service interprets the question on your homework sheet and can often spit out a correct answer, or at least an explainer page that helps you understand how to solve it. And you’ll often get a couple of companion web searches that provide additional info, as well. Socratic works with math and science problems, history, English, and more. I suppose there’s a moral dilemma here if students just take the answers and don’t bother learning anything, but you’ll have to let your own conscience be your guide.

OK Golf

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The chunky, diorama-like look is more than OK in our book.

The name doesn’t seem terribly confident (“Eh, it’s OK…”), but OK Golf ($3) is actually a pretty fun and attractive streamlined simulation. Rather than give you sprawling, realistic courses to putt around, each hole is delivered as a self-contained diorama, which you can freely rotate and examine as you make your way to the green.

OK Golf is decidedly very chill, with a minimal interface and no pressure as you play at your own pace around the courses. Swinging and putting are as simple as pulling back from the ball and aiming, but there’s still a bit of challenge in placing the ball properly—and incentive for taking smart risks. Right now, OK Golf has a half-dozen nine-hole courses included, with both local and online multiplayer available beyond solo play, and more courses are coming without added cost. 

Google I/O 2017

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The I/O app will be plenty useful next week, even if you're not onsite.

Google’s I/O 2017 is the must-follow Android event of the year—and the developers conference is happening next week, from May 17-19. We’ll be there following the action and bringing you the latest announcements and details, and whether or not you’re also attending, you might want to grab Google’s official app. 

It’s most fully-featured for attendees, naturally, letting them view schedules of panels and other events and create their own agendas; they can also reserve seats and view a map. However, it’ll be helpful for anyone following at home, as well, as it’ll offer live video streams of both the big keynote address and sessions, and the detailed schedule lets you plan your own viewing agenda ahead of time.

Spaceplan

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Tap, tap, tap—oh look, things are happening in space.

Most idle “clicker” games—in which you tap the screen repeatedly to play and earn rewards—are simplistic freemium affairs designed to push you towards spending real money. Spaceplan ($3) is different, and the price tag should be the first sign of that. However, what’s most interesting about this intriguing little indie game is the way it uses that oft-tedious tapping approach to pull you into its narrative.

Spaceplan finds you orbiting an unknown planet in space from your satellite home, and you’ll attempt to investigate it by building and launching potato-based probes. As your energy reserves build through taps and idle growth, you’ll be able to craft more and more items and upgrades to help your probes survive the trip and uncover the mystery behind each new planet you face. Funny dialogue, an intriguingly minimal interface, and pulsing tunes help keep things compelling as the tap-based tale builds.

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