Balloon, the game hidden in the Play Store and only accessible offline

Balloon, the game hidden in the Play Store and only accessible offline


Google Chrome is famous for including a nice easter egg accessible only when an active internet connection is not available, the well-known Dino Game. Did you know that even in the Google Play Store it is possible to play while waiting for the connection to work properly again? Mongolfiera is available on all Android smartphones that can access the Google app store!

Since smartphones are designed to stay connected to the internet at all times, via Wi-Fi or data network, you will hardly have had the opportunity to discover this little hidden gem inside the Google Play Store. Also because if your smartphone is offline, why should you open the Play Store?

Balloon is not as famous as Dino Game in Google Chrome but it can be just as fun and can entertain you in moments away from the internet, such as for example by plane!

To try Hot Air Balloon you will first need to take your smartphone offline, the fastest and most comfortable way to do it is by activating the airplane mode. Once this is done, just open the Google Play Store and a game should be displayed, called precisely Mongolfiera, next to which there should be a Play button.

In case you don't immediately see the nice easter egg just try to browse the various categories of the Store until it realizes you are offline.

When the game opens, you need to tap the Start button to start playing. The goal is to collect as many bubbles / coins as possible while avoiding obstacles. Dragging your finger from left to right changes the path of the balloon. The highest score is saved and shown at the top of the screen.

Did you know this nice mini-game? How did you find out?

For those looking for a smooth smartphone and who don't like curved edges, you can find the excellent OnePlus Nord 5G on Amazon!

Cuba censored the Internet amid protests. Florida leaders want Biden to respond with balloon-based Internet.

a man and a woman sitting on a bench talking on a cell phone: Women use their phones in Havana on July 14. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images) © Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images Women use their phones in Havana on July 14. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)

As Cuba’s authoritarian government clamps down on Internet access, a handful of U.S. lawmakers are pointing to a possible countermeasure to keep protesters online: sending high-tech balloons that operate as makeshift cell towers for the island.

That’s one proposal several Florida politicians are pushing in the aftermath of historic protests that harnessed the power of social media to draw thousands to the streets.

“The Biden administration could enhance the WiFi from the Havana embassy or from Guantánamo, and this can be done in minutes,” Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) testified at a Congressional hearing Tuesday, adding to a chorus of voices from Miami urging the Biden administration to help activists in Cuba stay connected.

Floating Internet balloons or broadcasting mobile Internet from the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base could work — at least in theory — but the realities of physics, technology and diplomatic cooperation make them largely non-starters, multiple experts told The Washington Post.

“It’s a Hollywood scenario,” Doug Madory, who directs Internet analysis for the network monitoring company Kentik, said of the balloon proposal. “It certainly has never happened, and there have been a lot of Internet outages where this would have been useful.”

Cuba’s Internet comes back on — and reveals scenes of a crackdown

Authoritarian governments are increasingly using Internet blackouts and slowdowns as way to squash protests, with multiple recent high-profile incidents in countries such as Myanmar.

The recent protests in Cuba were no exception: As demonstrations spurred by fast-spreading news on social media broke out, the communist government moved to block Internet access. The demonstrations, mounting frustration and a deep economic crisis pose perhaps the biggest challenge to the country’s one-party system — started over six decades ago by Fidel Castro at a time when phones were only used for talking.

According to Netblocks, a London-based organization that monitors Internet access, several of the most popular social media platforms were restricted on state-run Internet provider ETECSA in the days after the demonstrations, what activists called a blatant attempt to hinder more protests. As Cubans began getting back online days later, their cellphone videos revealed both the enthusiasm of protesters and the violence that transpired at the demonstrations.

“What these protests show is that people are able to overcome their fear, and that’s why the government has refused to reestablish the Internet service,” Guillermo “El Coco” Fariñas, a prominent Cuban dissident, told The Washington Post. “They’re the ones who fear that people will take to the streets again after being able to connect, inspire one another and lose their fear over social media”

Even before the Cuban government blocked popular messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram, those living on the island had already grown accustomed to poor service. In a survey by, a group that analyzes global Internet speed metrics, Cuba ranked 179th out of 181 nations in a global review of broadband speeds.

Internet access in Cuba can be described in three words, said Ted Henken, a sociology professor at Baruch College in New York: “Slow, expensive and censored.”

Yet despite its deficiencies, the Internet has “revolutionized” the way Cuban society works, Henken said, because the access to information has changed the power dynamic between an authoritarian government and its people. Cubans can now easily call loved ones in Miami through Facebook. And they can read independent news articles shared via WhatsApp.

“The government has exercised a monopoly control on media for the last 60 years. The Internet has blown a hole in that monopoly,” said Henken, who has extensively studied the impact of access to the online world in the long-isolated nation.

Like the mid-century cars that rumble through the streets of Havana, Cuba’s Internet is vintage by American standards. Cuba had highly restricted Internet access before 2008, expanding slowly over the next decade in government-run cyber cafes, public WiFi hotspots and pricey home access out of reach for the vast majority on the island.

An important shift came in late 2018 when the government enabled cellular Internet access — datos móviles — with 2G and 3G connectivity.

“After 2018, Cubans could use the Internet anytime, anywhere to broadcast live,” Henken said.

Real-time access became a tool for government accountability, helping jump-start groups such as the San Isidro Movement, an organization composed of artists, intellectuals and journalists who led a groundbreaking protest in front of the Ministry of Culture in November. New grass-roots digital news publications popped up. And Cubans of all walks of life began sharing their realities online.

“That’s what happened Sunday,” Henken said, referring to the large protests July 11. “People could communicate in real time to other Cubans on the island” so they could know not just “what was happening but act on it.”

In Cuban exile community in South Florida, all eyes are on their homeland and the sea

Alfredo Martínez, a Cuban activist and collaborator at Tremenda Nota, an LGBTQ independent magazine, called taking away the Internet a violation of people’s rights. The United Nations affirmed Internet access as a human right in 2016; since then, web connectivity has increasingly been tied to free expression — and guerrilla Internet solutions a democratizing force.

“How twisted is it that the government shuts us all out, mothers don’t even know where their children are, and the politicians just go on TV talking about the [U.S.] embargo when people are being beaten up in the streets,” he told The Post by phone.

In his letter to President Biden, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) noted that after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in 2017, the U.S. government deployed “emergency connectivity through balloon-supplied Internet.” At the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Salazar also chimed in on the idea, expressing frustration that the United States had not yet helped restore at least basic access to Cubans.

“We're not talking about Netflix-quality video; we're talking about just the ability to lift the videos that show how they're being beaten on the streets,” she said.

The Biden administration contends it is taking action on Cuba through a multipronged approach of international pressure, sanctions against the government and buoying Internet access, a senior administration official told The Post.

“We will be actively collaborating with the private sector to identify creative ways to ensure that the Cuban people have access to the free flow of information on the Internet,” the official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters not yet public.

a group of people holding a sign: Demonstrators hold Cuban and U.S. flags in support of Cubans demonstrating against their government, in Hialeah, Fla. on July 15. © Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP/Getty Images Demonstrators hold Cuban and U.S. flags in support of Cubans demonstrating against their government, in Hialeah, Fla. on July 15.

Left unsaid by both the Biden administration and its critics is whether the goal of enhancing Internet access is not just ambitious but even feasible; Internet balloons in particular can’t create Internet infrastructure, but can augment or supplement an existing one, experts said.

Among telecom specialists and those in the high-altitude Internet balloon industry, reactions to the proposals were mostly skeptical.

In the past few years, a handful of start-ups including Project Loon from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Starlink from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, have sought to bring Internet to places fiber and cell tower signals can’t easily go.

In 2019, Project Loon partnered with a major Kenyan telecom provider to launch solar-powered balloons that brought 4G connectivity to mountainous villages. It successfully brought LTE service to Peru after an earthquake in 2019 and to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria using surviving terrestrial networks, the balloons acting as relays from towers that were out of range for cellphones.

Cubans are using social media to air their grievances — and the government is responding, sometimes

Yet cost and leveraging a consumer base large and wealthy enough to afford the products have remained stumbling blocks. Project Loon shuttered in January, citing the long and risky road to commercial viability.

Madory, of Kentik, said that even if it was possible to set up an Internet base for the balloons in Key West, Fla., 90 nautical miles from Cuba’s coast, or even closer — say, from an aircraft carrier anchored in international waters near Cuban shores — there’s also an issue of end-device compatibility.

In the United States, for instance, a person with a Verizon SIM card in their phone couldn’t access an AT&T cellular network for mobile Internet, Madory said.

“So if I’m sitting in Havana and I want to connect to a balloon, it’s not going to be WiFi, it’ll have to be 4G to travel that many miles,” he said.

Using the U.S. Embassy in Cuba or the Guantánamo Naval Base — the latter of which is largely cut off from the rest of the island — as a kind of mega-WiFi hotspot could work, Madory said. But there are major caveats: Access would extend to people within 50 yards. “It would also make it obvious to Cuban security services who is making use of this service,” he said.

Even if the technology aligns, Madory said the last hurdle is a diplomatic one. Currently, every sovereign government regulates the telecom environment in its country. Without carve-outs for taking action against authoritarian governments, transmitting renegade Internet without a country’s consent could be a violation of international law.

“If I start providing telecom services without permission, say if Starlink or one of these services wanted to operate without a license, they’re doing something illegal,” he said.

At least one member of the Federal Communications Commission said it wouldn’t be a deterrent.

Brendan Carr, the senior Republican commissioner with the FCC, said last week during an appearance with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that he did not care about that.

Back in Havana, Martínez, the activist and journalist, said that in a remarkable stroke of luck, he was one of the few able to stay online in the days after the protests. He speculates that may have been because of his proximity to the state security department.

He used his online access to track down information on people who have gone missing since the protests — many of them young Cubans detained after going out to march.

“Now we have a spreadsheet of almost 400 people,” he said. “I was able to work on that because of how close they are — the irony of it all.”

María Luisa Paúl contributed reporting.