We want to know what games you’re playing!

What games are you playing on your Android phones or tablets? We want to know!

We’ve started a thread in the AC Forums as a place to share your opinions on games you think more people should be playing. Look out for posts by me (Marc Lagace) and say hello! You can also comment below!

Updated February 10: In this week’s edition, we shine a light on a handful of casual games: BBTAN, DDTAN and EETAN, and Nebulous, Orborous and Rebelious!

Submit your gaming reviews and opinions!

BBTAN, DDTAN and EETAN

Whether you know it as Arkanoid or BreakOut, there’s few video games more classic than the old paddle-and-ball-brick-breaking game which has been remade and reimagined over the years in countless ways.

AC user BeeVee23 pointed us in the direction of a great collection of BreakOut-inspired games published by 111%, which add new wrinkles to the classic gaming style while retaining the retro graphic style straight from classic arcade cabinets.

BBTAN is closest to the classic BreakOut gameplay, combined with a little bit of Space Invaders. You launch a series of balls up and try to destroy as many bricks as you can, but after each turn the bricks move down and a new row appears at the top of the screen. You gotta be strategic and keep clearing the bricks before they reach the bottom of the screen.

Download: BBTAN (Free)

DDTAN combines the BreakOut formula with billiards, where you launch the ball around the play area trying to destroy the bricks as fast as you can. You’ll need to be strategic with your shots so you can set yourself up for another effective shot. There are 30 balls to unlock that offer different power ups, offering tons of replayability.

Download: DDTAN (Free)

Finally, we’ll also recommend EETAN, which combines BreakOut with a top-down shooter. You play as a superhero whose superpower involves busting bricks with balls launched from his fist. You must break through walls and avoid faster falling bricks from ending your run. How far can you fly?

Download: EETAN (Free)

There’s even a fourth game, CCTAN which you play as an elephant. It’s definitely the weaker game of the collection, but worth noting if you fall in love with the gameplay here.

These games have bizarre names, but the gameplay is so fun that they’re definitely worth checking out.

Nebulous, Orborous and Rebellious

This recommendation came from the forum thread via Don Nichols:

If any of you have ever played Agar.io, Slither.io, or Diep.io on your PC browser, Simplicial Software has recreated those three with loads of content the originals don’t have. Money and XP systems, multiple game modes, tournaments, pvp arenas, user-created servers, unlockable skins, and they’re still sending updates to all three of them regularly. Nebulous is effectively Agar.io, Orborous is Slither.io, and Rebelious is Diep.io. The money system (which is referred to as plasma) spreads across all three, so whatever you earn in one, you can use in the other two. They’re all free with IAPs, support Bluetooth controls and they have cloud save as well. I personally like these better than their PC equivalents just due to how much more they have in them.

After checking them out for ourselves, we have to agree. Last year around this time, Slither.io took our Winnipeg offices by storm, so I’m already well addicted to this style of game. And he’s absolutely right — the features that Simplicial Software have added to the mix make these way better for mobile users, especially the option to play with a Bluetooth controller.

Download: Nebulous (Free w/IAPs)

Download: Orborous (Free w/IAPs)

Download: Rebellious (Free w/IAPs)

Let us know what you’re playing!

We would love to see this as a regularly occurring column but that will only happen with your help! Check out the forum post and start discussing your favorite games, or you can email me directly with your questions or reviews.

Submit your gaming reviews and opinions here!




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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

The next best thing to being in there.

Nothing is better than spending Valentine’s Day with the one you love. It’s a day like any other day, but it’s also been traditionally set aside for couples to do those things couples like to do with each other. But life being what it is, sometimes it’s impossible to be with each other and make some private fireworks.

We’re not saying even the best app can be a substitute, but using your phone as a tool for a little long-distance fooling around with your special someone has to be one of the best things you can do with it.

Get chatty but keep it private

We imagine the first message ever sent from one phone to another was some sort of test. And the second was probably a little naughty.

Chatting with your boo is fun. Something about typing the words or reading them can seem a little more risqué than whispering them into each other’s ear, and there is no shortage of apps designed to do nothing more than chat with someone else, complete with pictures and video and everything short of actually dialing a number and talking.

But you need to play it safe. Make sure the private conversations you have with the people special to you stay private! There are plenty of choices here, too. Apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp offer extra security with encryption, as does Google’s Allo Messenger and BlackBerry Messenger. That means the only person who will be able to see anything you send is the person holding the phone you’re sending it too. Unless they want to share it. #NotJudging 🍆

If you want to go the extra mile, we recommend Signal as the best app that offers encrypted messaging. Check out what we have to say about Signal and other secure ways to stay in touch at the link below.

More: Privacy matters more now than ever — these apps will help

Keep your eyes on the prize

We’re visual creatures. 🍆

We’re visual creatures. We can learn better when we see an example, we learn to recognize faces long before we understand any of the sounds around us and the things we see can stimulate us in all sorts of ways. So there is a lot of fun to be had if you both have a space where you can turn on the cameras and make a little eye contact. Luckily, there are all kinds of ways your phone can connect and share video in real time. You might already have one installed that you use and like. But if not, we’ve got you covered.

We have to start with Google Duo. Not because we’re an Android blog and all about everything Google, but because it has outstanding video quality. It’s a simple app with none of the extra features you might find in other video calling software. You can call anyone in your address book with Duo installed (you can invite someone right through the Duo app) with a simple tap. The app does the rest and the whole conversation, both audio and video, are end-to-end encrypted to keep everything between the two of you.

Install Google Duo

Things change a bit if you have a tablet or a computer at hand. You’re now in big screen territory and an app like Skype or Hangouts is the way to make video calls unless you’re a full-on Apple couple. And in that case, you FaceTime each other until you need to come up for air.

Both Skype and Hangouts offer full-screen video with audio on a Windows or Apple computer. But if only one you has one, Hangouts is your friend. There’s a dedicated Android app that’s feature rich and will work for messaging, texting and video calling and anyone with a Google account can use Hangouts on the web. Skype is available for your Android, too and can also be a great messaging app and can make calls over the internet.

You need to know that neither Skype nor Hangouts offer encrypted conversations in case that’s a problem. And both can get a little invite-spammy so take a good look at who wants to chat before you start clicking things. Unless you’re into bots. Again, #NotJudging 🍆

Oh, Snap!

Snapchat videos or messages don’t offer end-to-end encryption and there is an entire cottage industry built around finding ways to save everything right through the phone. Got it? Great.

That’s kind of a shame because Snapchat can be a pretty good all-in-one way to communicate. You can message anyone with the app and you can make live video calls to anyone with the app. Snapchat also offers what they call a Story, where someone can post a series of pictures or short videos to a timeline for someone else to watch. If you fancy putting on a show, it’s a pretty cool way to do it and that can give you plenty to talk about when the show is over. More than one person can check out a story, so keep that in mind when you’re posting anything in public.

Download Snapchat for your Android

The next level

If things are serious enough that you’re ready to share a calendar, Between is something you should take a look at.

It’s a messaging app designed for you and one other person. You are their only contact, and they are yours. The chat background is customizable to the nth degree and there are plenty of stickers, you share a calendar as well as a photo album and you can create a slideshow using the photos.

Between is secure, with all the data shared between phones encrypted from end to end, and anything the app stores on your phone is also encrypted and can’t be found by any other app. It’s also very well laid out and isn’t terrible to use — a tough feat in an app that can do so many very different things.

Download Between for your Android

Your 🍆 of choice

What do you use to keep in touch with your ❤️? Let us know in the comments!




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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

The things you may need to do to protect your privacy in today’s world is interesting and terrifying at the same time.

One interesting byproduct of a shift in the U.S. executive branch’s stance on border safety is seeing people actually concerned about their privacy and data safety when they need to cross those borders. No matter where you stand on the current administration’s ideas and potential policy changes (and this isn’t the place to argue those) you should be able to understand that they will have an effect on how your information is treated by three-letter agencies in the U.S. anytime you move in or out of the country.

This has some smart people — very smart infosec type people — talking about why you need to be concerned and what you can do about it. It’s fascinating to read even if you think it’s all hogwash and we should freely share everything with any government agent.

Experts tell us to cross borders and leave no trace behind, much like when hiking or camping. This is how James Bond must feel.

Two pieces in particular I really enjoyed come from information security researcher the grugq (conveniently compiled by Microsoft engineer Mohamed Mansour) and forensic scientist and penetration tester Jonathan Zdziarski.

As you would expect from the grugq, the information is laid out as fact, leaves no room for any alternatives and is direct to the point. It’s also undeniably true. That’s probably the reason I read anything and everything with his name on it. It’s a refreshing no-bullshit look at what’s going on and what can be done to protect our right to privacy when we encounter it. His series of short tweets tell you in no uncertain terms how you should travel if you are going to be crossing a U.S. border and don’t want anyone else having access to any of your private information without your consent. Bam, boom. There you have it.

Zdziarski expands and explains why and how as he tells you the things you need to do to keep any errant eyeballs away from your personal information. The measures are extreme, and a few extra words about why it’s beneficial to follow his advice are appreciated. Again, this isn’t surprising. Zdziarski has a knack for making the extreme seem reasonable when it actually is a reasonable response. Zdziarski is a reassuring voice for the times when you need a reassuring voice to help understand the scope of a situation and advice on how to react.

We all need to think of how we can use this information, and if we need to follow any of the advice.

The two resources read very differently and are from two very different people, yet they echo the same basic ideas. Throwaway accounts and even devices, that live completely separated from your vital information and always assumed to be compromised and hacked. Essentially, the only way to be sure you aren’t giving away more than you need to give away is to become a virtual ghost at any border crossing. This is completely James Bond level stuff, and while it may be saddening to think we need to worry about it, knowing that we really can exist with no digital footprint is fascinating. Make sure you take a few minutes and read both.

There is a lot of room here for further discussion. Ways we can use the tools and services available to us for Android and Chrome to lock away the data we give so freely to Google if we need to suddenly hide it from anyone else need to be explored. Let’s face it — using the digital devices we love from any company doesn’t lend itself towards anything resembling privacy. We’re OK with sharing everything with a company we trust and never consider how any of it can be used “against” us. It’s given me plenty to think about and I hope it gives you plenty to think about, too.

I expect we’ll be circling back to this a time or two as we move forward.




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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Updated 10 February 2017: We’ve streamlined the best Valentine’s apps, and made our list easier to read through.

Best for communication

Between

See at Play Store

We all live ridiculously fast-paced lives, which can make finding time with your sweetie can be difficult. This is especially true if you are afraid of a child, or someone else, accidentally stumbling across those hot and heavy texts you’ve been sending. That’s where Between, an app built to make communicating between couples easier than ever.

Between is an app specifically made for couples to chat, send pictures, and enjoy private communication with one another. It has a chat feature that allows you to send private messages that can only be seen by your partner from within the app. The calendar feature makes it easy to schedule out dates, or special plans in advance so that both you and your partner are aware of those special days as they come up. There is even a private photo album that will let you share private photos or videos.

Whether you’re aiming for a more private way to communicate with your honey, or you just don’t want anybody else accidentally stumbling across your communiques, Between is an awesome option.

Bottom line: Between offers a more private alternative to just chatting over Hangouts or Facebook Messenger. With private one-to-one messaging, and features like a calendar, and a place to share any risqué photos, it’s a great option for couples to enjoy each others presence.

One more thing: Security is definitely a concern with apps like Between, which is why you can lock the app to keep friends or children from accidentally stumbling upon private moments.

Best for flowers

1800-FLOWERS

See at Play Store

When it comes to presents for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, the traditional gift is probably flowers. But there are definitely plenty of other gifts that you might also want to send. This is especially true if you’re trying to make sure that your sweetie feels the love, even if you aren’t able to see them in person for this romantic holiday. That is where 1800-FLOWERS comes in.

While they definitely offer a variety of floral arrangements, that isn’t the only thing that is available. You can go ahead and order stuffed toys, chocolates and even fruit bouquets. When you make an order, you can track the delivery to ensure it gets where it’s going. For the Procrastinators out there, you can even arrange same day delivery for the arrangement you choose for your special someone.

Bottom line: 1800-FLOWERS offers more than just floral arrangements. You can send flowers, plants, chocolates and even fruit to the person you adore. You can even take advantage of order tracking, and same day ordering and shipping. With 1800-FLOWERS you can ensure that your loved one knows how much you care, even when you aren’t there in person.

One more thing: You have the option to ship internationally to over 195 different countries, making it easy to make sure your sweetie feels loved no matter where they might happen to be.

Best for restaurant reservations

OpenTable

See at Play Store

Valentine’s Day is probably one of the biggest nights for dinner out over the course of the entire year. Thousands of couples will be descending on restaurants all over the country — and the world — which can make finding a decent place to grab dinner a serious pain in the ass. Open Table is here to make reservations as easy as possible on you, so that Valentine’s Day is as stress free as is possible.

Finding reservations for Valentine’s Day can be a real pain, but rather than hopping from restaurant to restaurant on the big night desperately looking for a wait under an hour, take a peek at OpenTable instead. You can explore local areas, and see restaurants with open reservations in the area. At each restaurant you’ll be able to see the menu, and filter out whether they are good for larger groups.

Additionally, when you use the app to make a reservation, you’ll get access to special perks. These include special deals at participating restaurants, as well as promotions that can shave money off of your check the next time you come back. You can also share reservations with your loved one, and add reservations to your calendar. If you’re traveling for Valentine’s Day you can always use OpenTable to find an awesome place to eat in countries like the USA, Canada, Mexico, and many, many, more.

Bottom line: OpenTable makes it easy to find an awesome place for dinner whether you are at home, or traveling abroad. You can get special perks by using the app, pay from your phone, and share reservations with your partner.

One more thing: OpenTable gives you access to reservations at over 32,000 locations worldwide.

Best for Hotel reservations

Hotel Tonight

See at Play Store

Having access to a hotel room can turn a normal date night into something a bit more special. If you’re a procrastinator, or you just want to make Valentine’s Day better at the last minute, then Hotel Tonight is here for you. That’s because this app is specifically built to help you find an awesome hotel room for, like, now.

When you go searching for a hotel room, you have the ability to filter the type of rooms that pop up. The description for each room is fairly short, boiled down to the top three reasons that a hotel is awesome. That means that you don’t need to spend precious time going through pros and cons, everything you need is right there in front of you.

While Hotel Tonight is built for finding a room that day, you can also plan in advance to make your night super special. This includes giving you highlights of driving-distance getaways and other local perks. Certain hotels even offer special discounts, which can be found within the app. Best of all Hotel Tonight is built to make getting a reservation a fast, easy, and streamlined process, so that you spend more time with your sweetie and less time on your phone.

Bottom line: Hotel Tonight offers a great way to find the perfect hotel room, without stressing you out in the process. You can filter rooms, see nearby attractions, and even reserve an app when there are only a few short hours left in the night.

One more thing: If you have any issues with the app, customer support is available 24/7 with actual live humans.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to make Valentine’s Day special for you and your honey. While you definitely don’t need to use an app to make things amazing, they can help to make Valentine’s Day as stress free as possible. After all this is a day to share with your sweetie, not spend hunched over your phone trying desperately to make sure everything works out. Do you have a favorite app for making Valentine’s Day excellent? Be sure to drop a line in the comments and let us know about it!




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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |