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4 nongame apps with Google's seal of approval 

Reach Across the Stars is an education app

Reach Across the Stars is an education app from the Smithsonian Institution that celebrates the achievements of accomplished women. Credit: Newsday/Smithsonian Institution

Pandemics, lockdowns and quarantines haven’t stopped the development of innovative apps that enrich our lives. These recently released nongame apps, which span multiple genres, were selected as the best of June by editors at Google Play’s app store.

Reach Across the Stars

(iOS, Android; free)

This education app from the Smithsonian Institution celebrates the achievements of women scientists, physicians, mathematicians, astronauts and other leaders through short-form stories (about two minutes) and longer journeys (about eight minutes). Using augmented reality, text, videos and audio, you will see the Earth and the universe and the women who make sense of them in a whole new light. Google Play’s editors noted this is a great way to “encounter the faces and stories of incredible female innovators.”

Grid Diary

(iOS, Android; free)

Grid Diary is aimed at those who want to start a journal but don’t know where to begin. The grid design helps you create entries by asking you some basic questions about your yourself and your day and the answers are turned into diary entries. Google Play editors cited the app’s “lovely design” that helps you effortlessly “record and reflect” happenings in your life.

IRL

(iOS, Android; free)

If you don’t know what “IRL” stands for, this app is probably not for you. Aimed at young adults and teens, IRL (“in real life”) is a “social calendar” — simply put, a full-featured calendar app (it syncs with your Google Calendar) with a built-in chat and messaging feature. College students get extra functionality when they validate their .edu email address, which lets them get updates on news about their school.

Speekoo

(iOS, Android; free)

A new entry in the language-learning category, Speekoo is starting relatively small with only six languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Speekoo tries to make language-learning easier with a gamelike interface: You travel the world, with each level representing a city where the language is spoken. As you explore a country and city, you will find yourself interacting and learning from native speakers.

FDA approves video game for ADHD

The Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates the sale of medical devices, has for the first time approved a video game as a medical treatment. EndeavorRx, developed by Akili Interactive Labs, was approved as a “prescription-only game-based device” that can be marketed as a therapeutic treatment for children ages 8-12 with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD affects about 4 million children in the United States.

— PETER KING

Open question

Twitter is testing a feature on its Android app where users are prompted to open an article or link before retweeting it. Twitter said the move was made because of the ease for links and articles to go viral, noting it can be “powerful but sometimes dangerous, especially if people haven't read the content they’re spreading.” Users can dismiss the prompt and still retweet content without opening it.

— PETER KING

Airbnb, NYC settle suit

Airbnb settled a lawsuit against New York City and agreed to hand over personal data on its hosts, helping officials track down those who rent properties in violation of city regulations. New York officials estimate as many as 35,000 of Airbnb’s listings break laws banning hosts from renting several apartments in the same building. The law is intended to crack down on people using Airbnb to run makeshift hotels.

— BLOOMBERG NEWS