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The Best Android Games of 2018

Gaming on Android

Gaming used to mean standing at a wooden cabinet with a giant screen that ate your quarters. Then it was sitting on your couch or at a desk playing console or PC games[1]. And now VR gaming is hitting the mainstream.

Still, people tend to gravitate toward the platforms most accessible to them, including their Android phones and tablets. Sure, you’re supposed to use your device for critically important Android apps, but there’s always time for some fun. Just make sure not to waste your time and money on a less-than-stellar game.

Our Favorites

Our roundup is by no means a comprehensive or complete survey of Android games.

A marketplace as vast and vibrant as Google Play has something for everyone: board games[2], word games, shooters, racers, runners, and even fantasy quiz RPGs[3]. What follows is a list of the games that my fellow reviewers at PCMag and I have played and thoroughly enjoy. Android gaming (and the Android app[4] experience in general) was once second tier, with all the top titles being either exclusive to iOS or launching months later on Android.

But Google Play has grown to the point where it’s as strong a mobile games marketplace as the Apple App Store. These days, it’s not unusual for great games to appear simultaneously on both platforms. One interesting trend in mobile games is that some developers are porting titles that premiered on console or PC over to Android.

The list of Final Fantasy games that you can play on a phone grows ever longer, and even a nearly forgotten classic like Crazy Taxi[5] now lives on Google Play. It shows that these games have solid concepts that can be translated across just about any platform, and it’s a testament to how far mobile devices have come as gaming platforms. It’s also super convenient to have your favorite games accessible any time you have a free moment, and anywhere you travel.

The Best Is Yet to Come

As with all of our lists, this story is a work in progress.

We’ll update and expand it from time to time and try to keep it fresh, too, by cycling out titles that have already had their moment in the sun. Hopefully, every time you check back, there will be something new and exciting to discover. Don’t see your favorite?

Drop us a message in the comments. Like you, we’re always hungry for new tappy time wasters and stress relievers, so we’ll take a look.

The Banner Saga[6]£9.99This tactical, turn-based strategy game was a hit on the PC and has finally arrived on Android.

Lead your party of Vikings through a gorgeous, mythic world and weave your own legendary story. Though the price tag is steep, the rewards are worthwhile (read: buy it). A sequel has recently invaded the Google Play store, but you should start your journey here.

The Battle of Polytopia[7]

Free The classic Civilization series does exist on mobile, but I’ve found the experience tedious and generally unenjoyable. Polytopia takes the strategy genre and boils it down to its bones, adds a layer of quirky, low-poly art, and polishes the result to a shine with addictive mobile play.

It’s a great way to turn a quick trip to the bathroom into a half-hour journey of conquest.

Blizzard Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft[8] FreeIf last year you had told me that in the year of our Lord 2017 I would be playing a collectible-card game based on World of Warcraft (WoW), I would have told you that seemed correct, since I’ve been obsessed with Hearthstone for several years now.

With endless variations on a simple game, Hearthstone jettisons the strife and ridiculous expense of collectible-card games and makes them fun again. Even as someone who isn’t a fan of WoW, I found the game to be both accessible and light-hearted enough to suck me in.

Clash Royale[9] FreeThe follow-up to the mega-hit Clash of Clans, Clash Royale combines elements of Dota 2[10], tower defense, and deck building into a shockingly charming package.

It’s a fun and addictive mobile experience that can be played with just a thumb. You can even complete all those in-app purchases one-handed, too.

Dots & Co[11]FreeTwo Dots was a breakout hit for mobile gaming, deftly combining simple, portable play with a stylish design. Dots and Co isn’t so much a sequel as it is a riff on the first game, introducing new special abilities and challenges.

It retains all the zen strategy of the original, with some new twists that make it feel fresh.

Kim Kardashian Hollywood[12] FreeCalm down, haters.

Regardless of what you think about Kim K or casual gaming, Kim Kardashian Hollywood is an enormously fun, cleverly written, and enjoyably addictive hit that is worth your time. I have nothing to add to our review’s excellent summation: “…basically, it’s exactly like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”

Miracle Merchant[13] FreeMiracle Merchant is a fantasy-inspired take on solitaire that requires a good deal of strategy to master, despite its simple potion-making premise.

All the more, the game features bright and inviting visuals that are sure to delight. It’s offline functionality and portrait-style interface make it great for mobile platforms as well.

Monument Valley[14] £3.99Monument Valley is an incredibly beautiful game, proving that a mobile game doesn’t need to be synonymous with cheap and shallow.

In this meditative puzzler, you have to use optical illusions to complete each gorgeous level. Meditative, mysterious, and intriguing, it’s a must-play Android game.

Pokemon Go[15] Free2016 will be remembered for the deaths of many great entertainers, the collapse of Western democracy and, most importantly, for Pokemon Go.

By tapping into your location data and your camera, Pokemon Go puts the pocketable monsters in our world. It’s a lot of fun, and a great excuse to explore your community. While the fad has certainly faded, the game is better than ever.

Reigns[16]

£2.99Reigns takes the familiar swipe-right-or-left mechanic from Tinder and uses it to tell a strange generational story of palace intrigue. You’ll go through many kings along the way–sometimes very quickly–while trying to serve your people, respect the church, and fight off enemies. Oh, and Satan is after you.

With retro looks and simple but challenging play, Reigns is an instant classic.

Spaceteam[17] FreeSet Lustrous Prismneck to Maximum! In Spaceteam, you and the other people in the room work together to navigate a spacecraft through various mechanical disasters.

If you and your friends love the technobabble of Star Trek, then you’ll love this unique game.

References

  1. ^ PC games (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ board games (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ fantasy quiz RPGs (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ Android app (www.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ Crazy Taxi (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ The Banner Saga (play.google.com)
  7. ^ The Battle of Polytopia (www.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ Blizzard Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft (www.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ Clash Royale (www.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ Dota 2 (www.pcmag.com)
  11. ^ Dots & Co (play.google.com)
  12. ^ Kim Kardashian Hollywood (www.pcmag.com)
  13. ^ Miracle Merchant (uk.pcmag.com)
  14. ^ Monument Valley (www.pcmag.com)
  15. ^ Pokemon Go (www.pcmag.com)
  16. ^ Reigns (www.pcmag.com)
  17. ^ Spaceteam (www.pcmag.com)

Millions hope for lottery win to fund retirement

Over-50s workers are taking a gamble on their future plans, with the majority failing to actively save for retirement and 13% hoping for a lottery win to fund their lifestyle. Just one in five over-50s workers are seriously saving for retirement, according to research by Aviva, with a significant number relying on external factors to finance their later life. Which? looks at how prepared over-50s are for retirement and what steps you should take to safeguard your future income.

Over-50s gamble on retirement

Over 2 million workers over 50 are yet to put a retirement plan[1] in place, the research from Aviva found.

Around 42% of over-50s workers have not started to calculate how much they need to save to afford a comfortable retirement and 41% are unaware of how much they will actually need. Just 22% of over-50s workers say they have started to take their pension savings seriously. Instead, individuals are relying on external factors which are out of their control to bankroll their retirement.

Around 24% of workers hoped an inheritance would fund their twilight years. Worryingly, a staggering 1.3 million over-50s workers (13%) are depending on a lottery win to retire comfortably.

A quarter of workers over 50 are relying on making a profit from downsizing to a smaller home or relocating to a different area. The average amount of equity already or expected to be released from a property is GBP57,140, Aviva found – making the family home one of the biggest assets most people own.

But this strategy leaves workers at the mercy of the housing market, where prices can stagnate or even fall. Despite data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicating that over half of adults in the UK are confident their retirement income will give them the standard of living they hope for, Aviva’s research raises alarm.

What are over-50s spending on?

For workers in the UK, income levels tend to peak at the age of 51, Aviva found. This is broadly supported by data from the ONS, showing employees now aged 65 hit their peak earning potential at the age of 53.

Just over a third of older workers (34%) began to save up more during this period of peak earnings, while 12% have started a private pension scheme and another 12% plan to contribute more to an existing workplace pension. But a large proportion are giving priority to other financial demands. One fifth (21%) of over-50s workers say that they intend to spend on big one-off purchases such as a new kitchen, car or building an extension, while around 20% put spending on everyday living and enjoying themselves first.

For some workers, this could be less a choice than a necessity – one in three older workers reported being unable to save after paying for everyday living costs.

With CPI inflation rising to a five year high, more than half (54%) of over-50s workers agree that the rising cost of living poses the biggest threat to their standard of living within the next five years.

The gender savings gap

Women were found to be less likely to prioritise saving over other financial demands. Roughly 27% of female workers over 50 are yet to have taken a serious approach to pension saving compared to 19% of men. Almost half of female workers have not calculated how much they need for retired life, compared to 36% of men.

Scottish Widows’ annual Women Retirement Report also found that women are less likely to be saving adequately. On average women were found to have saved GBP64,000 for retirement compared to GBP125,000 for men. Key reasons for the difference include salaries for women not meeting the minimum auto-enrolment contribution threshold and being disproportionately affected by loss through divorce.

How do I kick start my retirement planning?

While saving for retirement can seem daunting, starting early and planning well are both key.

Aviva found that those who were prepared to face retirement had begun planning in their 30s and 40s.

Our interactive guide on retirement savings outlines what you need to do to make a savings plan that works.

You can also find out how much you need for retirement.[3][2]

Find out the approaches other people have already taken for retirement and their plans for the future in our short video.

References

  1. ^ retirement plan (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ interactive guide on retirement savings (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ how much you need for retirement. (www.which.co.uk)

The Best Smart Locks of 2017

A Smart Approach to Security

A smart lock is arguably the most important part of a truly smart, connected home. Not only will it allow you to come and go as you please, it will also monitor who is entering and leaving your home while you’re away. Some models simply let you use your phone to open and close doors.

Some let you assign special privileges to friends, family members, or maintenance staff. Others can be activated using voice commands or triggers from other smart home devices[1] and services. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a smart lock, along with reviews of the top models we’ve tested.

What to Look For

One of the first things you’ll want to consider is how much it will cost to upgrade your traditional lock.

After all, a smart lock costs a heck of a lot more than the standard-issue lock you can pick up at the local hardware store. You can find a few smart locks out there in the £100 range (not many of which made the cut for this list), but if you want a lock that you can control from anywhere, with features such as voice commands, push and email notifications, and tamper alarms, expect to pay somewhere in the £200-£300 price range. Many smart locks offer a mobile app that allow you to lock and unlock doors with a simple icon tap.

Some offer a web app that lets you control things from your desktop or laptop PC. Most apps let you add permanent and temporary users and set access schedules for specific days and times.

If the lock is Bluetooth-enabled, you’ll have to be within range (around 40 feet) to communicate with it, while locks with built-in Wi-Fi circuitry or a Wi-Fi bridge can be controlled from almost anywhere as long as they are connected to your home router[2]. Make sure your smart lock offers activity logs so you can go back in time to see who has entered or exited your home and when the activity took place.

The latest smart locks offer things like voice activation, geofencing, and auto-locking features. With voice activation, locking and unlocking doors is as easy as it gets; simply tell your phone to “unlock the front door,” and the lock will disengage. With geofencing, you’ll never have to worry if you locked up before you left the house; just use the mobile app to set up a perimeter around your house, and use your phone’s location services to pinpoint your exact location.

When you leave the perimeter, you can have the lock automatically engage behind you. Similarly, an auto-lock feature will have the lock automatically engage after it has been unlocked for a specific period of time. Other features to look for include keyless touchpads for those times when you don’t have your phone or your keys, tamper and forced entry alarms that warn you of a possible break-in, and push, text, and email notifications that let you know who is coming and going in real-time.

Easy to Install

None of the locks we’ve tested are especially difficult to install, but some are easier than others.

If your new lock comes with both an interior escutcheon (the housing you mount on the inside of your door) and an exterior component (usually a touchpad or a keyed cylinder), you’ll probably have to completely remove your old lock, including the deadbolt mechanism and strike plate, before you can install the new device. This is simply a matter of removing the two bolts that attach the interior escutcheon to the exterior component and removing both pieces. The deadbolt is also held in place by two screws.

The good news is that most smart locks use the standard pre-drilled holes so you don’t have to worry about drilling new ones. Additionally, there are smart locks available that attach to the inside of your door and are designed to use your existing keyed cylinder and deadbolt hardware, which means you only have to remove the interior escutcheon. Either way, you can count on spending anywhere from 10-25 minutes removing your old lock and installing your new smart one.

Smart Home Integration

Some locks integrate with other connected home devices, like the Nest Protect[3] smoke alarm, and services, like Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and If This Then That (IFTTT)[4].

For example, you can have your doors unlock when a smoke or CO alarm is triggered, or have certain smart lights[5] turn on when a door is unlocked. Depending on your home automation setup, you can even pair your lock with a connected doorbell cam, like the Ring[6], so you can see who is at the door before you unlock it, or have an interior camera begin recording when a door is unlocked. Just remember: The more features you get, the more you can typically expect to spend.

Other Kinds of Smart Locks

Keep in mind, there are also smart locks out there that aren’t necessarily door locks.

Master Lock’s 4400D Indoor[7] and 4401DLH Outdoor[8] are both Bluetooth-connected padlocks, for instance. They’re built to be as tough as any standard lock, but use Bluetooth to unlock with the tap of a button when you’re nearby. They also let you grant temporary or permanent guest access on your terms simply by using an app.

For more in smart home safety, see our picks for The Best Smart Home Security Sytems[9] and The Best Home Security Cameras[10].

References

  1. ^ smart home devices (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ router (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ Nest Protect (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ If This Then That (IFTTT) (www.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ smart lights (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ Ring (www.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ 4400D Indoor (preview.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ 4401DLH Outdoor (preview.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ The Best Smart Home Security Sytems (www.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ The Best Home Security Cameras (www.pcmag.com)

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