As a reviewer of Android apps, it's my role to sniff out what's hot and interesting on Google Play. I make it a point to try out apps old and new, as well as big-name apps, apps from startup shops, and everything in between.
Among these, it's not uncommon for me to find a few apps that are just so attention-grabbing that I feel compelled to share them with the masses. They may not necessarily be the best apps of all time -- or even the best apps available right now -- but they are fresh and interesting titles that I just can't keep my hands off of.
This is a roundup of those apps. As I encounter new ones, I will continue to update this post with my recommendations, so be sure to check back regularly. And of course, feel free to chime in with your own hot apps if you have any.
Editors' note: This post was updated on July 3, 2013, with new apps.
Kingdom Rush ($1.99)
Long considered one of the best tower defense games on iOS, Kingdom Rush has finally made its way to the Android platform. In it, your job is to fight off waves of soldiers, orcs, trolls, and other medieval fantasy monsters by plopping a variety of towers down along their path. To start, there are four basic towers available. But once you get to the later levels, you'll unlock eight specialized upgrades so you can truly have a well-rounded arsenal. But perhaps my favorite part of Kingdom Rush is the Hero character. There are nine available, and you get to pick one to bring with you on your missions.
You can also get Kingdom Rush for iOS.
Songza is not your typical streaming-music app. It offers a different take on radio, as it tries to match the perfect playlist with your mood or whatever activity you happen to currently be engaged.
While other music apps start you off with a search bar, Songza gives you a Concierge screen, where it presents you with choices of different activities (e.g. working out, doing housework, or taking the day off). Here, you can either pick the one you're currently engaged in, or bypass the choices to look for more. In the end, Songza will serve you up a playlist that the company's curators deem appropriate for the given activity.
You can also get Songza for iOS.
Whether you're a die-hard music buff or a casual listener, Vevo should be on your radar. It's an app (and Web site) that is completely dedicated to music videos and live performances, and because the company has struck all the requisite deals with record labels and publishers, you can be confident that its entire catalog is legit. The app is free to download, but because it is ad-supported, you will see the occasional commercial play before your video. To sum it up, I would say that Vevo is an even better destination than YouTube for music videos and music-related content.
You can also get Vevo for iOS.
With Google Reader now officially gone, Feedly might be your best bet as an app that lets you access your RSS feeds while on the go. It looks great, works well, and in many ways even surpasses the functionality of the late Google Reader.
Compared with other RSS readers out there, Feedly is exceptionally visual. It makes use of large images and incorporates magazine-style layouts. But if a more visual experience isn't for you, it also offers a List view and a Title-only view, both of which are more economical with the space.
If you do decide to try Feedly, you can expect a wealth of features that enhance your reading experience. The app comes with themes and other customization options, integration with bookmarking tool Pocket, and more. The app even offers suggestions for interesting sites that you can subscribe to with a single tap.
You can also get Feedly for iOS.
With its curated lists and connections with your social networks, Showyou offers a unique take on streaming video. It aggregates content from a number of sources around the Web, and serves up videos that you otherwise might have missed.
What makes Showyou a valuable tool is its connections to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and Vimeo accounts. Once you sign in to them, it aggregates just the videos that are shared by your friends and cuts out all the boring status updates and snarky tweets.
You can also get Showyou for iOS.
Right now, Auralux is one of my favorite strategy games on Android. While on the surface, it appears to have a dead-simple concept, there's no question it takes plenty of practice to master. When you start the game, you get a single blue sun that produces armies of blue stars every second. With your armies, you need to conquer neighboring suns and eventually destroy enemy armies in the process. If you do decide to try Auralux, I suggest downloading the Speed Mode upgrade for 99 cents. It speeds up the pace of the game, and you will probably never want to disable it once it's on.
You can also get Auralux for iOS.