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2 years ago

Official Formspring for Android application available now

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If you're one of the more than 28 million users of Formspring, you'll notice that there has been a lack of an official application from the social network. That all changes now as the official Formspring for Android application is available right now in the Android Market. 

It offers a pretty full experience, allowing you to ask and respond to questions from your contacts on the go. Sharing photos is also built in, and that pretty much covers everything Formspring is about. If there's room for one more social network on your Android device, hit the download links after the break. A word of warning though, it force closes at every time of asking on the Galaxy Nexus so you'll have to wait for an update to join in if you're using one.

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2 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest winner: Transportation

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The winner of this week's Android Central photo contest is August with his picture of a compact in a quiet street scene, taken with his Samsung Galaxy S II using Retro Camera .  This week's pictures were as amazing as last time around, and picking just one was no easy feat.  It's the kind of work we all enjoy though, so we love doing it.  Keep an eye on your e-mail August, I'll be contacting you about getting your battery shipped out.

With so many great pictures, even picking the 10 runners-up was difficult.  We finally settled on them, hit the break to have a look.  Don't forget, we're starting up a new round tomorrow, so keep an eye out.  

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2 years ago

Editorial: Google needs better user support in the Android Market

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We see Google working hard to provide better support for Android developers, and that's a great thing.  We want developers for our platform of choice to be well taken care of so it's worth learning to code for Android and releasing great applications.  Google's not perfect in this regard, but they keep improving, and that's the only way to make it better.  But el Goog needs to start focusing a little more on user support.

Recently, I stumbled across an app in our forums that I wanted to try.  It's an Aquarium screen-saver type app for Google TV on my Logitech Revue.  I'm an Android nerd, and an aquarium nerd (we had jackets made), so I thought I would give it a try.  Just so happens that I ran into some Market issues, and was in some magical diabolical limbo where I had paid for the app, but couldn't download it or pay for it again.  It's not the first time we've heard about this happening -- the cofounder of doubleTwist just ran into it as well when trying to buy his own app -- and it's not even the first time we've seen it happen on the Revue.  There's a chance you've read about someone with similar issues on the Internet somewhere.  Unfortunately, it's a fairly common issue.  

So I did what any self-respecting Android user would do -- tried to hack it to make it work.  Wipe Market data, clear cache, even a reset of the device.  All with no luck.  I couldn't make the Market know I had paid so I could download, but it knew I had paid and wouldn't let me pay again.  All that was left to do was click the support link.  

Clicking the support link of course sends you to an online form to fill out.  Tell it some transaction details, describe the issue, and submit.  Then wait.  And wait.  And now it's been two weeks and still no response.  I get that they're busy, and that this is only a buck.  Not exactly high-priority stuff. But to leave a user hanging for two weeks waiting on any type of response is just poor customer service, plain and simple.  I'm fairly well versed in all things Android-ish, so I eventually contacted the developer with my transaction code.  But my mother isn't, and would have not known any way to resolve this little issue.  A little issue that leaves a big impression, and not a good one.  Google has shown that they want to take Android mainstream in a big way, and introduced a really user-friendly version with Ice Cream Sandwich.  Now it's time they focus more on the little stuff.

That Aquarium app?  I got a copy to sideload after talking with the developer, and it kicks ass.  We'll be reviewing it soon but If you are looking for a beautiful app made specifically for Google TV, grab it and check it out.  

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2 years ago

Pure Music goes live in the UK, offers streaming to your Android device for £4.99 a month

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Pure Music's Spotify challenging subscription service has been on the horizon now for a couple of months. The service has now gone live, offering users in the UK unlimited music streaming for a very reasonable £4.99 a month. There is also of course an Android application that goes along with the service.

That's half the cost of a Spotify premium subscription, which at first glance is incredibly tempting. There are a couple of differences between this and Spotify though, with the most significant being a lack of offline capabilities. If you don't have an unlimited data plan, the ability to stream only on the move is going to prove pretty limiting. Suddenly that extra £5 a month for Spotify doesn't seem so bad. You do get a 1 month free trial, so you at least get a chance to play with it and see what's what before committing your cash.

The Android application has been in the Market for a while now, as a portal to their other online media content, mainly radio stations. With your subscription enabled though the very same application -- it hasn't been updated -- unlocks the music catalogue for you to browse at your leisure. The catalogue seems pretty deep as well, coming up with a number of albums from various, less mainstream artists I listen to. 

The UI on the app is very pleasing to the eye, and pretty easy to navigate. One issue is the apparent lack of the ability to create playlists within the app. This I found particularly frustrating as it seems the only way to create and manage playlists is through The Lounge website on your computer. 

All in all Pure Music is a bit of a mixed bag. If you can live with the limitations of the Android app and don't need offline capabilities then this could well be the one for you. It's a good initial offering, and if you own any of the Pure range of internet radios then you're even better off. It's not quite Spotify, but it is half the price. Hit the break for the download links. 

More: Pure Music Lounge

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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for Jan 28, 2012

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You want apps, and the Android market has plenty of them except at times finding what you want or something new can be a bit challenging. Don't worry, we have got you covered, so let's hit the break and check out some of this weeks picks.

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2 years ago

Sprint Galaxy Nexus official Google sign-up page now live

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The official Google sign-up page for the Sprint Galaxy Nexus is now live, waiting for all Sprint subscribers to register for "more information".  We've known it was coming since Sprint verified the rumors on January 9, and I know plenty of folks who are pretty darn excited at the prospect of an LTE powered Samsung Galaxy Nexus on the Now Network.  And who could blame them?  Ice Cream Sandwich on that gorgeous 720p display is a thing of real beauty, and pairing it with the last chance at unlimited data in the USA is a great idea.  

It should be the networks first LTE device, and we know it's coming with 32 GB of storage.  There's also a lot of rumors still going strong about features that may be different in the Sprint version.  Some think there may be a higher CPU speed (don't count on that one) because of an early advertisement that showed it with a 1.5 GHz CPU which may have been a misprint.  Also, because the folks at CES didn't want anyone to capture the back of the device on camera, many think it will have a larger stock battery than either the Verizon version or the GSM world version.  We'll have to wait and see, because at this point nobody has a clue just when we're going to see this one on the shelves.  Sprint's been cryptic, like smart companies always are, saying things like "soon" and "mid-2012".  Anyone who claims to have a date is just guessing for the most part, so we're not going to add to the confusion.

In any case, just about everyone reading this who uses Sprint is ready to get their paws on an LTE Galaxy Nexus, so proceed to try to crush the servers hosting the sign-up page with hope and love.  Then jump into the Sprint Galaxy Nexus forums and share your excitement with everyone in hopes that it makes the waiting seem shorter.

Source: Google; via  Android Central forums.  Thanks, DaEXfactoR!

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2 years ago

Steam mobile app beta invites now rolling out; we go hands-on

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As we reported on Thursday, Valve Software recently took the wraps off the Steam mobile app for Android (and iOS), as part of a limited beta. Steam users could register their interest by downloading the app and entering their details, and over the past day or so, the first beta invites have started to roll out.

Steam is a big deal in the world of PC and Mac gaming, which makes the launch of an official mobile app a big deal for Android. As such, we decided to take this initial beta version of the Steam Android app for a spin. We've got more words and pictures for you after the break.

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2 years ago

DoubleTwist updated, includes integrated podcast catalogue, for a price

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DoubleTwist has long been a favourite for those who like to sync their music and podcasts between iTunes and Android. Todays update among other things brings an integrated podcast catalogue. The catch, this particular part of the app is a 'premium feature' with a premium price.

In UK money, unlocking the podcast feature in doubleTwist costs £4.99 (about $7.85). It does, however, feature the worlds greatest Android podcast in its listings by default -- Google Listen we're still looking at you. 

Aside from podcasts, the update brings improved performance and reliability, fixes to AirPlay and AirTwist playback issues, an expandable and collapsable now playing screen with easier access to your queue, and design and interface updates many of which are designed for Ice Cream Sandwich.

It's a welcome update to an already very good application. Hit the break for the download links.

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2 years ago

Latest Android Malware scare might be premature

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The folks at Symantec have tipped everyone off about a new piece of Android Malware, calling Android.Counterclank "a bot-like threat that can receive commands to carry out certain actions, as well as steal information from the device."  They note that starting one of the apps "infected" with the apperhand SDK package will show a second service running, and often places a search icon on the home screen.  They have verified this is in 13 applications on the Android Market and are calling it "the highest distribution of any malware identified so far this year."  Some reports on the internet claim it may have affected 5 million users.  That's 5,000,000 -- a huge and scary number. And it makes for a great headline.

But it looks like Symantec might have jumped the gun a bit.

Lookout, a competitor in the Android security field, says that the applications are not malware, and the apperhand package actually is a legitimate, but aggressive, advertisement component.  It's part of an advertising software development kit that's a modified version of the "ChoopCheec" platform” or “Plankton” SDK that was the focus of some privacy concerns in June 2011.  This newer version is cleaner, but it still has capabilities common to many ad networks. Writes Lookout:

  • It is capable of identifying the user uniquely by their IMEI number, for instance. But unlike some networks, this SDK forward-hashes the IMEI before sending to its server. They’re identifying your device, but they are obfuscating the raw data. (That's a good thing.)
  • The SDK has the capability to deliver “Push Notification” ads to the user. We’re not huge fans of push notifications, but we also don’t consider push notification advertising to be malware.
  • The SDK drops a search icon onto the desktop. Again, we consider bad form, though we don’t consider this a smoking gun for malware provided the content that is delivered is safe.  In this case, it is simply a link to a search engine.
  • The SDK also has the capability to push bookmarks to the browser.  In our opinion, this is crosses a line; although we do not believe this is cause to classify the SDK as malware.

We're not sure exactly how far is too far, but if the applications are using practices found in "many" other ad networks, we agree with Lookouts points listed here and have to call this one a non-issue when talking about malware.  On the issue of privacy and wanton sharing of user data, we're not loving it, but it's not malware.  

We're not security specialists, and we never claim to be.  We can tear applications apart and see what's hiding in there, but in-depth scanning and analysis is best left to the experts.  That being said, we are experts at catching bullshit, and this one reeks of it.  Nobody likes ads, but we can't just call them malware anytime we like.  They're a part of the ad-supported app model, and we should expect to see more than we like.  When they misbehave, call for someone's head, but not before.  

But that's not sensational.  Headlines like Computerworld's "Massive Android malware op may have infected 5 million users" cause controversy, and everyone loves a controversy.  Explaining that the 5 million mark is from adding the high end of the download counters, which allows for a 4 million-device margin of error, is conveniently forgotten.  And we'd like to think that if as many as 1 million devices on the low end had been infected, Google and the Android Market team would have said something.

The long and the short of it is, we're sleeping just fine tonight. Move along.

More: Symantec; Lookout

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2 years ago

Fly Delta Android app updated to ease international travel

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Delta Air Lines' Fly Delta Android app has long been one of the first things I install on a phone. It's well-designed, and has added a couple killer features since its release nearly a year ago -- mainly the ability to view upgrade/standby lists and check and change seats from your phone, and more recently they added the ability to track your checked baggage. Good stuff.

And now Delta's added even more functionality in Version 1.7. Here's the full changelog.

  • Check in for flights arriving or departing international locations
  • Discover Delta’s valued partners within the "Traveling with Us" section
  • Support for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwhich) [sic]
  • Fixes for many of the bugs reported by our customers, along with several speed enhancements

It's nice that Delta's added check-ins for international flights. (Though you'll presumably still have to get your boarding pass when you arrive.) The "Traveling with Us" section is a little bit of advertising (we've got a screen cap after the break), where so far we have promotion of Delta's American Express credit card and something from TED. It's pretty unobtrusive, though, so no big deal. Then there's the ICS support and other bug fixes, which is always good (though the app had been working just fine for us), though there's still a menu button down at the bottom, and not as an Action Bar "overflow" as Google's pushing everyone toward. (On the other hand, the app's design is otherwise very nice, so we'll overlook that.)

But what really gets us excited is the prospect of "several speed enhancements." With previous versions of the app, you needed to fire it up a few minutes before you could get to your itinerary and find your confirmation number or seat assignment or mobile boarding pass. Things definitely feel a little quicker; hopefully that's not just a placebo -- it really was a big gripe with the Delta app.

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