From travel tips and running guides to puzzles and elephant stampedes, it’s a good month for high-quality new Android apps and games.
Here are 20 worth trying. Prices are correct at the time of writing, with IAP indicating that in-app purchases are used in an app or game.
If iPhone and iPad is more your thing, there’s a separate monthly roundup for that, which you can find here.
Detour (Free + IAP)
Available on iOS for some time, Detour is now on Android, too, and if you love wandering around foreign cities, it’s a treat. The app provides a series of audio-guided walks, initially for San Francisco with New York City, Austin, London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and Marrakech also supported.
Blue Plaques of London (Free)
More on-foot tourism here: this official app from English Heritage is a guide to the blue plaques scattered around London explaining where famous historical figures lived. The app will help you find the more than 900 plaques, and plan a route to take in the most interesting spots.
RunGo (Free + IAP)
Three’s a trend: another app designed to help you find your way around an unfamiliar city, although in this case, you’re expected to be running not walking. RunGo is a collection of jogging routes with voice navigation to make sure you don’t get lost, and tools to track your times and calorie-burning.
No, nothing to do with piracy, if you haven’t been following the evolution of BitTorrent (the company) in recent years. In 2016, it is using its tech to help to emerge musicians and filmmakers find an audience, with this streaming app showcasing the pick of the lot – and sharing ad revenues with the creators.
Gideon AI – Smart Home
It’s still early ideas for the idea of a “smart home” to become truly affordable and mainstream, but there are plenty of devices and technologies out there pushing in that direction. Gideon AI is worth a look if you’re ahead of the crowds: an app that aims to make it easier to manage your connected home.
Toca Life: Vacation (£2.49)
The latest app from children’s developer Toca Boca, this is almost like a virtual doll’s house: a collection of holiday-themed scenes, characters and items that children can play with at will, making up their own stories and even recording them as videos. An open-ended digital toy-box, and delightful with it.
Viridi (Free + IAP)
If the pace of modern digital life is getting you down, turn off your notifications and try Viridi: a virtual plant pot that you water and take care of, dipping in and out whenever you fancy a quiet moment. Admittedly, you could get a plant pot in the real world instead, but Viridi is peaceful and well-crafted fun.
These are worrying economic times in the UK even if you’ve been working for decades, let alone if you’re about to graduate. If you’re in the latter group, though, Debut may be worth a look: an app where you build your profile and try to get talent-spotted by dozens of graduate employers.
Live-streaming games footage has become a big thing on Twitch and other services. Mobcrush is hoping to popularise the idea on smartphones and tablets, too. You can use this app to live-stream your apps or games to the world, or simply find interesting streams from other users to watch.
Jiyo (Free + IAP)
Finally, the latest mindfulness app, complete with a famous name: Deepak Chopra. His app wants to “help you be your best self”, from analysing your activity data and providing tips to advice on relationships, finances and other life areas. No pot plants, sadly, but you can’t have everything.
Her Story (£2.69)
Her Story has scooped a hatful of awards for its iOS version, and deservedly so. It’s a mystery that sees you digging through an archive of police video interviews in order to solve a murder. Your job is to figure out what happened. Interactive video games have a bad rap, but this is brilliant.
CSR Racing 2 (Free + IAP)
The original CSR Racing was a popular and original driving game: short, sharp drag races rather than lengthy lap-fests. The sequel looks bolder and better, with absolutely spiffing graphics, lots of car customisation, and some well-thought-out multiplayer features to keep you competing.
Lost Frontier (£2.49 + IAP)
If you, like me, harbour fond memories of Nintendo’s Advance Wars, then Lost Frontier is well worth a look. It’s one of the mobile games inspired by that turn-based strategy classic: with a fun splice of western (as in cowboys) and steampunk culture, and a meaty challenge to get your tactical teeth into.
_PRISM (£2.47 + IAP)
Another critically acclaimed indie game makes its way to Android, with its original, inventive gameplay intact. _PRISM sees you manipulating 3D shapes to progress, with excellent visuals and suitably woozy music to lull you into its charms. A challenging – but never stressful – puzzler.
Rodeo Stampede – Sky Zoo Safari (Free + IAP)
Aka Crossy Rodeo, with visual inspiration taken from mobile hit Crossy Road, although the game itself is no copycat. You have to lasso and ride a range of animals, hopping from back to back and taming new ones for your “sky zoo”, which you can upgrade as you play.
Pocket Arcade Story (£3.99)
Developer Kairosoft had a cult hit with its Game Dev Story game, which simulated a games’ development studio. There’s no sequel (yet) but the company’s latest release is in similar vein. You run an amusement arcade, installing games, keeping customers happy and taking on rival arcades. It’s very addictive.
PKTBALL (Free + IAP)
A fun mobile take on air hockey, as you try to slam a ball past your opponent on the on-screen table, while earning coins and unlocking new characters. Again, Crossy Road is an influence with the unlocking aspect, but PKTBALL stands on its own feet as a game.
Transformers: Earth Wars (Free + IAP)
Can this be better than the (genuinely great) Angry Birds Transformers game? It’s certainly a faithful take on the universe of the Autobots and Decepticons, as you build a team of robots-in-disguise then send them out to battle, while building up your own fortress.
Sky Force Reloaded (Free + IAP)
You can’t beat a classic scrolling shoot ’em up, and Sky Force Reloaded is one of the best mobile examples of the genre. Crisp, clear visuals and a pulsating soundtrack accompany the expected barrage of bullets, with the ability to collect new planes and upgrade them providing the strategy.
Heroes of Loot 2 (£3.79)
Fans of good, old-fashioned dungeon crawler games will find lots to enjoy here, but also some twists on the genre. This sequel involves exploring dungeons with two characters, swapping between them at will, to solve puzzles, battle monsters and – the clue’s in the name – trouser as much loot as you can.
Farm Heroes Super Saga (Free + IAP)
Lastly, King is still going strong with its “Saga” games, although adding “super” is a new move for the Candy Crush company. This will be familiar to anyone who’s played the original Farm Heroes Saga game: swap colourful crops to make matches, while using boosters to help when you get stuck.
That’s our selection, now how about yours? The comments section is open for your thoughts on the apps above, or your recommendations for those we’ve missed.