Play god. Drive safe. Flip birds. Search secret. [Awesome Apps of the Week]

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Apple Arcade delivers blasts from the past, but there's new stuff in the App Store this week as well.
Apple Arcade delivers updated blasts from the past, but there's totally new stuff in the App Store this week as well.
Image: Cult of Mac

Some classic iOS games got upgraded for their Apple Arcade debuts this week, but that’s just the start of this week’s roundup. A new iOS app gives you the chance to win prizes for not driving like a jerk. And a new Mac app lets you effortlessly declutter your presentations.

Plus, a couple of heavy-hitter apps got updates — one kind of serious from a privacy perspective, and one almost completely frivolous. Are you ready for your app upgrades?

Doodle God Universe

New Apple Arcade game Doodle God Universe lets you get ... creative.
New Apple Arcade game Doodle God Universe lets you get … creative.
Screenshots: JoyBits

It’s time to play god! In Doodle God Universe, one of three revamped classic games added to Apple Arcade this week, an empty planet is your palette. The puzzle/world-building game gives you four basic elements to play with, but crafting the universe is up to you.

“You will also have to use your intelligence and imagination as you combine air, water, fire and earth to create hundreds of new elements to make your planet come alive!” says developer JoyBits in the game’s App Store description.

The original Doodle God game, released in 2010, became a hit. This upgraded version includes new leaderboards, hints, music, achievements and more.

Price: Free with Apple Arcade subscription

Download from: App Store (iOS, iPadOS, Mac and tvOS)

TrypScore: Drive Safe & Win

Drive safe and win rewards with new driving app TrypScore.
Drive safe and win rewards with TrypScore.
Screenshots: Medidas Technologies

Sponsored: New app TrypScore wants to turn safe driving into a game, with winners receiving gift cards. But the ultimate prize is saving lives. The free app measures every “Tryp” you take, then gives you a driving score that takes into account your speed, acceleration, braking, cornering and smartphone usage.

Driving safely drives you up the TrypScore leaderboard — and prizes await.

“TrypScore was designed to be fun,” said Bill Bland, founder and CEO of Medidas Technologies, the app’s maker, in a press release. “Our users can challenge each other on our leaderboards, collect ‘Pyns’ at our corporate partner’s TrypStops, and enter contests such as our Drive Free for a Year Contest. We love the stories our users are sending to us, including families challenging each other for the highest TrypScore, incredible gas savings achieved through improved driving, and of course when they win a contest or one of our daily or weekly challenges for actual gift cards.”

Right now, TrypScore is rolling out in certain regions in the United States and Canada. But even if you don’t live in one of those lucky locales, you can sign up now and start racking up entries in the Drive Free for a Year contest. The winner of that gets vehicle payments for a year, plus cash to cover insurance and gas. (Also, you can grab that all-important user name so you don’t end up with something like “bobsmith2021.”)

Price: Free

Download from: App Store (iOS) or Google Play

Google

If you use Google's iOS app, it's easier than ever to take control of your search history.
If you use the Google app, it’s easier than ever to take control of your search history.
Screenshots: Google

Now the all-knowing (and all-remembering) Google app just gave you an easy way to lock down your search history. Some people scrupulously avoid using Google products because of the company’s habitual hoovering up of data. But really, nobody’s search results come close.

This week’s update to Google’s iOS app might help allay a few privacy fears. Now you can restrict access to your search history by hiding it behind a password or two-factor authentication. Plus, a new tool lets you instantly delete the last 15 minutes of your search history.

Price: Free

Download from: App Store (iOS, iPadOS)

Angry Birds Reloaded

Angry Birds Reloaded on Apple Arcade: Those birds seem angrier than ever!
Those birds seem angrier than ever!
Screenshots: Rovio Entertainment

There’s more than one way to flip the bird. Developer Rovio Entertainment reimagined classic 2009 iOS game Angry Birds “from the ground up” for Apple Arcade, Cupertino says.

Added to Apple’s subscription gaming service this week, Angry Birds Reloaded will feel familiar to anybody who ever wasted hours catapulting cartoon birds at pugnacious pigs. But the new version brings “refreshed graphics and sound effects, sweet power-ups, and on Eagle Island you’ll have new characters to slingshot, like the coffee-slurping pig, Garry.”

Whether you’re an Angry Birds vet or a total noob, it’s still a ridiculously fun way to waste some time.

Price: Free with Apple Arcade subscription

Download from: App Store (iOS, iPadOS, Mac and tvOS)

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger adds Soundmojis: You should really be using FaceTime, but whatever.
You should really be using FaceTime, but whatever.
Screenshots: Facebook

Like the venerable Google app, Facebook Messenger certainly isn’t “new.” However, this week’s update brought a new feature: audible emoji that Facebook calls “Soundmojis.”

As the name suggests, Soundmojis pair common emoji with sounds. Some are literal interpretations of the images (chirping crickets for the cricket emoji). Others serve up audio snippets from movies, songs and TV shows. If you like emoji, and you like the idea of giving them a sonic boost, here’s how to use Soundmojis in Facebook Messenger.

Price: Free

Download from: App Store (iOS, iPadOS) or Google Play

AppSwitcher ~ Clean App Switch

AppSwitcher makes Mac screen-sharing much less distracting.
AppSwitcher makes Mac screen-sharing much less distracting.
Screenshots: Aquarius Computer

Tired of multiple app windows cluttering up your Mac’s desktop? Aquarius Computer, maker of a new app called AppSwitcher, feels your pain — and is ready to deliver a solution.

With AppSwitcher running in the background, you can click between your other Mac apps and you will only see the most recent one you invoked. For instance, say you’re looking at a web page in Safari and want to check your email. Click the Mail app in the Dock, and poof — Safari disappears, leaving only Mail on your screen.

The app is designed for making screen-sharing prettier and less-cumbersome during presentations, but it actually looks like it could bring a touch of serenity to a busy day.

Price: $2.99

Download from: App Store (Mac)

Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City

Alto's Oddyssey: The Lost City. Get ready to sandboard your way to The Lost City.
Get ready to sandboard your way to The Lost City.
Screenshots: Snowman

A second sequel to 2015’s brilliant Alto’s Adventure, the third new Apple Arcade game of the week takes sandboarding to new realms. Specifically, to the The Lost City, which Apple calls “a vibrant, party-packed fourth biome.”

The updated game, called Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City, builds on Alto’s Odyssey, which came out in 2018. That game added “new elements including wall rides, vortexes that will propel you through the air, and aerial obstacles such as hot air balloons that you can propel yourself off,” as we wrote at the time.

With Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City, you get all that as well as the original’s “serene vibe and intuitive controls,” Apple says.

Price: Free with Apple Arcade subscription

Download from: App Store (iOS, iPadOS, Mac and tvOS)