Five to Try: Kickstarter finally hits Android, and Mimicker Alarm wakes with games

Here's a look at the week's biggest new Android apps and games.

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With a large chunk of the country being inundated by snow right now, what better time to cozy up for the weekend and enjoy some new Android apps and games? Kickstarter’s official app leads our latest Five to Try column, finally offering an elegant way to browse and contribute to crowdfunding campaigns, while the updated CBS Sports app is showing the NFL’s AFC Championship game this weekend—on tablets, at least.

The week also brought us a couple of intriguing games to savor, including craft-and-survive role-player Crashlands, as well as The Westport Independent, a game about making tough journalistic choices under a fascist regime. And then when the weekend is over, Microsoft’s new Mimicker Alarm might be just the thing you need to wake up on time on Monday.


fivetotry jan22 kickstarter

Find cool proposed projects and help fund them—now on your Android phone.

Jeez, what took so long? Kickstarter, the service that added crowdfunding to our everyday lexicon, has finally launched an Android app for browsing campaigns, tossing money at exciting things, and managing your account. And it’s definitely an upgrade over using the web version, as our iPhone friends discovered when they got the app three years ago.

For the unaware, Kickstarter lets you peruse a wide array of ideas—across gadgets, media, and many other categories—and put your own cash behind intriguing campaigns, usually in return for some sort of reward. The app makes browsing categories and editor’s picks a pleasurable experience as you look for the next exciting idea to help bring to life, plus you can get alerts when friends back projects and read messages and updates on the go.

Mimicker Alarm

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Microsoft’s Mimicker will analyze your photos or voice to ensure you’re awake and alert.

Imagine being startled awake and immediately given a task—sounds horrible, right? Maybe, but if you’re struggling to wake up in the morning, it could be the difference between making it to work on time and slamming snooze until you’re scrambling. It’s the premise behind Mimicker Alarm, the latest project from Microsoft’s Garage initiative. Essentially, once you’re pulled out of slumber by the pleasant tune, the app gives you a game to play to prove you’re awake.

You might be asked to speak out a tongue twister, snap a photo of an indicated color in the world around you, or even take a selfie with a certain expression. It can pick a game at random or stick with one that works best for you, and Mimicker Alarm seems to find the fine line between being effective and being overly annoying. 


fivetotry jan22 crashlands

You’ll need the materials first, but building a base is as easy as dragging your finger around the map.

Tired of the daily grind? Here’s a more colorful one to consider: Crashlands is a crafting-centric action role-player in which your purple-suited space trucker must try to survive after smashing onto an uncharted planet. You’ll do so by surveying the surroundings, using raw materials to build a base and tools, and generating armor and weapons to help create a new existence on this odd planet. And then the storyline takes over, potentially powering dozens of hours of action. 

Crashlands is similar in ways to the popular Don’t Starve on PC, and may scratch the crafting itch of Minecraft and Terraria fans, but it stands alone in large part due to its zany tone. Like studio Butterscotch Shenanigans’ previous game, Quadropus Rampage, the characters here are silly and the dialogue is frequently hilarious, giving the game a really distinctive hook.

CBS Sports

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Come Sunday, you’ll be able to stream the AFC Championship game on tablets.

The end of the NFL season is near, and that means the biggest games will take place over the next couple weeks. This Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship games will decide who plays in the Super Bowl, and come February 7, we’ll have a new overall champ. If you’re eager to watch the games but won’t have a TV nearby when the action is going down, just grab the CBS Sports app—it’ll have the AFC Championship and Super Bowl streaming live and free.

There’s a catch, unfortunately: it’s limited to tablets, as Verizon has phone streaming rights sewn up (and held behind a paywall). But if you’ve got an Android tablet, grab the updated app and get ready for Sunday’s big showdown between the Patriots and Broncos. It even has Chromecast support, in case you do want to fling the game onto a larger screen. 

The Westport Independent

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Serve readers or protect your staff and career? The Westport Independent is full of tough quandaries.

As a writer and editor, I’m predisposed to think a game that dramatizes my job is interesting—but The Westport Independent seems potentially intriguing to more than just me. It’s all about managing the tone and content of a newspaper under a fascist regime, which gradually applies pressure and threats as you try to balance censorship with personal and professional survival.

Each news brief that crosses your desk must be looked over: do you remove the sensitive info to keep the government hounds at bay, or serve your readers and the resistance by publishing what’s really happening? There are many moving parts, including the opinions and concerns of your writers plus reader interest levels, and it seems like a game that can be played multiple times as you explore varying paths and moral approaches. It resembles the excellent Papers, Please (sadly not on Android) in concept, but has its own compelling slant.

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