Welcome to the 210th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
Pokemon Go might get some new features soon. The developers acknowledged that playing games on AR is rough. You spend all your time looking at your phone. The new feature could include audio cues. That way you know when Pokemon are around, where Poke Stops are, etc. There is talk that it might be a hallmark feature in the follow-up game to Pokemon Go.
The classic infinite runner Into the Dead is getting a sequel. Into the Dead 2 is launching to the Play Store on October 13th. The new game will contain 60 levels across seven chapters. Most of the mechanical elements should be similar to the first game. It’s available for pre-registering on Google Play right now.
Chainfire released a new website this week for root users. The site is a spot for devs, root users, etc to find stock boot and recovery images. It’s mostly stuff for Google Pixel and Samsung phones. It should expand over time to include more devices. It should also make finding such files easier for beginners and advanced users alike.
Google Assistant is getting some new features. At least we think so. During an APK tear down, it revealed some new information. Included is an Active Edge feature that may be similar to HTC’s phone squeezing feature. There are also hints of features like customizable short commands for Assistant. These may or may not be real, but it would be cool if they were.
Minecraft’s long awaited Better Together update is out. The game allows for cross-platform play between console, PC, and mobile. Namely, it works on Xbox, Windows 10, VR, and mobile devices. In addition, they added a bunch of other items to the game. They also announced that the game is coming to the Nintendo Switch.
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Codex of Victory is a new strategy game. The game is a hybrid of a classic strategy game and a kingdom builder. You build bases, upgrade units, and conduct combat against the enemy. It features a story-driven, single player campaign mode. The developers also boast 20 hours of single player campaign, over 25 units to build and upgrade, and more. The levels are also randomly generated. That means no two playthroughs are alike. It runs $4.49, but has no in-app purchases or advertising.
Reverse Dictionary is a simple dictionary app. It helps you figure out a word that you can’t think of. You simply type letters of the word, a phrase describing it, or synonyms of the word. The app then attempts to tell you what word you were looking for. It features a light, simple design. The app also does work pretty well. Otherwise, it’s a simple little app that shouldn’t take up too much space on your phone. It’s completely free with no ads and no in-app purchases.
Stormbound: Kingdom Wars is an indie strategy-puzzle game. You play battles on a checkerboard. Your goal is to make to the other side and assault your enemy’s stronghold. It features card-collecting mechanics as well. You collect various units to use in battle. It features single player options, multiplayer options, a bunch of cards to collect, and more. The art style is a little typical of indie games. We’re not going to complain because that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is a freemium game, though.
Mint Browser is a newer browser app. It boasts a heavy emphasis on privacy and security. That includes an Incognito+ mode. It allows you to keep a separate (and encrypted) set of notes, bookmarks, and browser history. The app also includes fingerprint scanner support. Tor support, local weather, and an Opera-style Speed Dial feature. In terms of browsing, it does good enough to be good. The base app is free to download. The pro version runs for $1.49 as an in-app purchase.
Terra Battle 2 is the latest game from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. It features a deep and prominent story line. There are also various improvements from the first game. It features a unique puzzle-style battle system, a world map to explore, and you can even move the bad guys around. The game is suffering from some control issues and the occasional bug. However, we assume fixes are coming sooner rather than later.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about them in the comments! You can also hit me up on Twitter if you want to suggest an app for this segment. Thank you for reading, we’ll see you next week!
In this episode of cinema5D ON THE GO, we meet high-octane automotive director Avi Cohen, and discuss his work on the famous car show Top Gear.
With a portfolio of work focusing mostly on automobiles, we knew that fast cars were nothing new to Avi Cohen — we were sure he was going to feel right at home in our ON THE GO Mustang.
Avi’s is the kind of life story many out there would envy. With a late start in filmmaking in his mid-20’s in San Francisco while taking a few film classes in community college, he experienced an instant connection and understanding of the visual language.
After moving to Los Angeles, Avi Cohen picked up a Sony EX1 to shoot content that he found interesting in order to put together a reel. Not having the usual network of actors, directors and other contacts that film school offers, Avi’s subjects consisted mostly of skaters, dirt bike riders and snails.
However, it was during this experimental stage that he honed his skills in shooting cars, and developed his own vision which eventually landed him a role as a director on Top Gear. Check out the trailer for the upcoming season below!
Avi Cohen also tells us about the work dynamics of shooting Top Gear,his interaction with the writers, and how it all comes together.
Stay tuned for the second half of our chat with director Avi Cohen! In the meantime, head over to Avi’s website to see more of his work.
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Not so much theatre shows as exercises in tedium, these new pieces from Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh would never have seen the light of day if they didn’t have his name attached. An audience expecting the skanky wit and vim of Trainspotting will be disappointed by this duo of tired and clumsy plays.
Performers, written with Dean Cavanagh, is potentially the more interesting of the two. Apparently, when making the 1970 movie Performance, which starred Mick Jagger and James Fox, directors Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell wanted to hire real villains to play the gangsters. Their quest for authenticity sees low-life criminals Alf (Perry Benson) and Bert (George Russo) turning up at the production offices. But with slack direction from Nick Moran, it has all the tension of a used teabag. The comic tour de force that is supposed to ensue when a pretentious young assistant director persuades Alf to take off his clothes is embarrassingly limp.
Set in 1969, it would have looked dated and if it had actually been written that year, and – in their own quest for authenticity – Welsh and Cavanagh appear to have copied out a cockney rhyming slang dictionary lock, stock and barrel.
If Performers aims for comic grittiness and misses by a mile, Creatives is all bland, slick shininess; straight out of the Fame mould. It’s a musical, written with Don de Grazia, about a group of would-be songwriters attending a Chicago course run by former punk Paul, whose career has nosedived and whose personal life is complicated.
The students are all stereotypes, ranging from moody goth girl to (bizarrely) a redneck Trump supporter, and the entire thing starts to resemble an audition for the X Factor but with less convincing back stories, until a violent plot twist pushes it into outright melodrama.
The US cast are game, and Laurence Mark Wythe’s music and lyrics cry out for a better vehicle than this cliched attempt to explore the price of creativity and the pressures to sell out for a quick buck. One imagines that is exactly what Welsh has done with these abysmal efforts.
You can practically see it from here… ” Kenneth Branagh’s stoical naval commander is talking about “home”, the word that recurs throughout Christopher Nolan’s long-nurtured epic of wartime retreat. Yet he could equally have been referring to the Imax 70mm presentation in which I saw Dunkirk, and which was also probably visible from France – a jaw-dropping spectacle in which the picture for the most part stretched beyond my field of vision, both vertically and horizontally. “We have a big love for the big format,” says cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who works agile wonders with the bulky film cameras used to capture such stunning images. Available in a dizzying array of projection formats (digital, 35mm, 70mm etc), Dunkirk hits our screens with aspect ratios ranging from square to oblong and all points in between, depending upon which version you choose to see. But see it you must.
The story of the Dunkirkevacuation, which saw a flotilla of small civilian vessels assist in the rescue of stranded troops from France in 1940, has been addressed before on screen. As early as 1942, William Wyler’s Oscar-winner Mrs Miniver was painting a morale-boosting portrait of ordinary people volunteering to make the cross-channel crusade, while in 1958’s Dunkirk Leslie Norman (father of Barry) gave us John Mills and Richard Attenborough exhibiting British pluck.
More recently we’ve had the astonishingly choreographed beach scene of Joe Wright’s Atonement (2007), and the larkiness of Bill Nighy bumbling through a wartime film shoot (“Can someone please get Mr Hilliard out of Dunkirk!”) in Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest. Yet despite such diverse precedents, writer/director Nolan makes this land his own with a film that will doubtless become the definitive cinematic depiction of this remarkable chapter of history.
We open with a street skirmish, as Fionn Whitehead’s young Tommy scurries toward the Dunkirk seafront, dodging bullets and falling leaflets that threateningly declare “We surround you!” Intertitles tell us that British and French troops are “hoping for deliverance… for a miracle”, while the Bergman-esque spectre of death haunts the beach. Entitled “The Mole” (after the jutting stone and wood structure from which marine evacuation beckons), this land-based narrative strand is one of three. A second, “The Sea”, finds Mark Rylance’s determined Mr Dawson piloting his “pleasure craft” across the Channel, picking up Cillian Murphy’s shellshocked soldier en route. A third, “The Air”, follows Tom Hardy’s Spitfire pilot Farrier as he battles with the Luftwaffe.
Ingeniously, these strands play out over three different time periods; one week, one day and one hour respectively. As the stories interlace, with boats, boots and planes converging at Dunkirk, so time itself is variously compressed and elongated in Inception-like loops, conjuring shifts and reversals as complex – yet still crucially as clear – as those of Nolan’s 2000 psychological thriller Memento. For all its visual splendour, Dunkirk is a masterclass in dextrous temporal elasticity, a recurrent theme for Nolan, sparked by his love of Graham Swift’s novel Waterland and explored most recently in Interstellar.With its thunderous sound design, Dunkirk assaults our senses. Yet minimal dialogue means that large sections of the film play like classic silent cinema, owing more of a debt to Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927)than to Guy Hamilton’s The Battle of Britain (1969). As for the dogfights, they rival Howard Hughes’s 1930 Hell’s Angels in terms of audience impact, placing us right there in the cockpit amid breathtaking expanses of sky. It’s an utterly immersive experience that fulfils Nolan’s promise of creating “virtual reality without the goggles”.
Beneath it all is Hans Zimmer’s devastating score, a blend of regret, tension and expectation that rises like the tide, moving from metronomic staccato stabs through growling bass beats to ethereal elegiac suspensions that bizarrely bridge the gap between Elgar and Angelo Badalamenti. Even the most nail-biting sequences have a mournful quality – Nolan cites All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)as a tonal inspiration – with which Zimmer is perfectly in tune.
There are a few false notes. Although structurally immaculate, Nolan’s script requires former One Direction star Harry Styles to deliver a line about someone having “an accent thicker than sauerkraut sauce”, a challenge even for an accomplished actor. But such quibbles aside, I was left marvelling that a film of such scale was ultimately defined not by its action sequences, but by quieter visions – of a man walking hopelessly into the sea (towards home?), or the expression on Branagh’s face as he stares out into the lost horizon. These are the things that stayed with me and that will stand the test of time.