Apps of The Week: Material Goodness, Hacker News, Webmaking and Pac-Man!
Apps are at the front and center of any smartphone experience, and with over a million apps on the Google Play Store and new apps being submitted to our forums every day, staying up to date on the latest apps and games can be a hassle. At XDA we don’t discriminate apps – if it’s interesting, innovative, original or useful, we mention them. The XDA Portal Team loves apps too, and here are our top picks for this week.
It’s no secret that many Android enthusiasts hate the official Facebook application — battery drain, performance issues, and a mediocre design are just some of the things people often complain about. Metal for Facebook attempts to at least improve the aesthetics of Facebook by adding a Material Design to the web version. Sadly, this is just a wrapper based on Tinfoil, but it does have a nicer design and good performance, and promises of upcoming features make this development worth tracking. It also has notifications, surprisingly! If you want to check it out, join the Google+ community!
Cheddar for Hacker News [FREE]
Cheddar is a very lightweight and well-designed reader for Hacker News, a popular site where programmers and developers discuss technology-related news (of both computer science and entrepreneurship). Cheddar focuses primarily on the user experience, it has no ads, and it features a good implementation of Material Design. The app is intuitive and minimalistic, and it shouldn’t take anyone too long to master it. Well-designed social news readers of this caliber do not come very often, and that makes this a must-try for Hacker News readers.
Notify BETA [FREE]
This is another heads-up notification modifier app, but this one focuses on aesthetics rather than functionality. The app is in its early stages, but the re-design it brings to notifications is something that many themers will enjoy trying out. Notify makes heads-up notifications more colorful and rounded, making them blend in with the app icon’s color so that you can quickly identify the kind of notification you are getting. There are some downsides, however, as you need heads-off before you can use it, and there some basic functionality is still missing. Nevertheless, it is a good-looking alternative.
Mozilla Webmaker [FREE]
Mozilla Webmaker is a free and open-source application that aims to turn web users into web makers, and it’s now out of beta. It allows anyone to build their own new web content and learn its mechanics in a fun and simple environment. While this won’t help you make the world’s best website, it can help you learn the ropes and begin tackling web development from scratch. Mozilla Webmaker was originally a set of tools released in 2012, and now this mobile version brings the experience in a streamlined Android application. If you want to get started on creating web content, give it a try!
Pac-Man 256 [FREE]
All of you who love Pac-Man or endless runners will find a great game in Pac-Man 256. This new Pac-Man adds a new twist to the age-old formula by breaking the top wall and putting a glitch-fest at the bottom of the screen. The result is an endless runner in a never ending Pac-Man maze, where ghosts chase you down and you try to eat them every now and then (as you would expect). This game has charming graphics and was created by the team behind Crossy Road, so you should expect a similar level of polish and detail. Pac-Man 256 is free with IAP, as expected, but still a fun new twist on an old classic.
- Opera Max has been updated and it now supports compressed video solutions for YouTube and Netflix, helping you save data for when you need it the most.
- Android Marshmallow Developer Preview 3 is out, go get it for your Nexus!
- You can find the v1.2.large Google Now Launcher from the M Preview 3 here.
- Hulu is now free to watch on Android.
- Pocket Casts has introduced a Discover Nearby feature so that you can interact with users close-by and share cast suggestions.
- Microsoft’s Bing has introduced its own Google Now on Tap competitor.
- QKSMS is now completely free and open source.
- Samsung has joined other OEMs and is now pushing annoying notification ads as well.
- Many Cerberus free lifetime licenses are expiring soon, so beware.
That is it for this week. We hope that you might have found some of these apps as interesting, useful or entertaining as we did. Whether you are a student, a developer, a designer or a gamer, Android has you covered. We will try to reflect that each week with a variety of picks to spark your interest, and if you see (or publish!) any new apps that you think are worthy of a feature, be sure to send us a tip and we’ll give it a look. Until next time!