Another week, another massive pile of new Android apps to sift through. Luckily, our Five to Try column makes your task easier, pointing out the week’s most interesting releases. Metamorphabet is an edutainment wonder (for all ages) that we’ve been waiting on for a while, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Also new this week is Guides by Lonely Planet, which can help you navigate numerous worldwide destinations, plus Spotify just added video to complement its streaming music library.
It’s a great week for Android games, as well, with frantic arcade shooter Downwell leading the charge. New puzzler Twofold Inc, by contrast, is a much calmer experience worth savoring at your own pace. Whatever interests you, clear a little space on your phone and grab these apps and games for an entertaining weekend ahead.
Perfect for kids yet still mesmerizing for adults, Metamorphabet ($4) is a delightfully interactive exploration of the alphabet. Each letter is given an individual spotlight and gradually transformed into various terms that start with it—and often in a creatively absurd manner, too. “B,” for example, sprouts a beard when tapped, followed by a beak… and then the beak opens and loads of bugs fly out before a large butterfly dominates the view.
It’s an incredibly charming app, and not a game so much as an educational toy and great little diversion. Metamorphabet is also very easy to understand, so much so that my two-year-old son has been playing it on iPad for months. Now, thankfully, it’s on Android too.
Guides by Lonely Planet
Planning a big trip? It’s best not to go it alone. If you don’t have an expert companion riding shotgun on your next vacation, turn to Guides by Lonely Planet, the handy new app from the notable travel resource. It launches with comprehensive guides to 37 major cities around the world (with more coming), including domestic hotspots like Boston and San Francisco, as well as distant destinations like Dubai, Paris, and Singapore.
Each guide can be saved offline and features striking imagery, with recommendations on where to eat, sleep, shop, visit, and explore in each locale. It’ll point you towards interesting things, but also help you get around and manage both your budget and expectations, thanks to a built-in currency convertor and general daily cost estimates for every city.
One of last year’s most engrossing iPhone games is now on Android, as Downwell ($3) is here to dominate your time. As the name suggests, your hero quite literally goes down a well—only he’s equipped with bullet-spewing gunboots that not only blast the enemy creatures below, but also help slow his descent.
Downwell is quickly challenging, not only because you’re falling into unseen hazards, but also because your boots usually have only a few rounds to fire before they must reload. Finding a balance between aggressive action and self-preservation is key as you try to push further and further down the hole, seeking out upgrades and weapons and unlocking perks along the way. The lo-fi look and pulsing chiptune soundtrack only help reinforce the illusion that this is a tough-as-nails, old-school gem.