1 month ago

Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings revamped 'Flappy' Easter Egg game


Multiplayer options and refreshed Marshmallow graphics

With the arrival of the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system images for Nexus devices, we've got our first look at the new Easter Egg game for the latest version of the OS. Marshmallow continues the tradition of hiding fun stuff behind multiple taps of the Android version number under "Settings > About device", and this years is a refresh of Lollipop's ridiculously tricky Flappy Bird-style game.

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1 month ago

BBM gains Sticker Club, PayPal account integration and more


The latest BBM update for Android brings a number of new features to the cross platform messaging app. You will now be able to send BBM contacts money through a conversation by connecting your PayPal account. Additionally, BlackBerry is introducing a new BBM Sticker Club, which will gain you access to hundreds of sticker packs.

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1 month ago

Twitter names co-founder Jack Dorsey as new CEO, will remain as leader of Square


Twitter has found its new CEO, and it's a name from the past. The company's board of directors have named Twitter's co-founder Jack Dorsey to return as its permanent Chief Executive Officer. Dorsey was named as Twitter's interim CEO in June while the company searched for a replacement for its last leader Dick Costolo, who served as CEO from 2010 to July 2015.

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1 month ago

AC editors' apps of the week: Ski Safari 2, The Martian, Snapchat, and more!


Our weekly app picks

You walk through the door of a dimly lit hole in the wall, and as you head to the bar at the far end of the room you notice shady characters all around you. The man behind the counter is polishing a collection of phones and tablets from all over the world, and as he sets down the second to last slab of plastic and glass you catch the word Nexus in the reflection from the mirror behind him.

"What can I do for ya, stranger?" the man asks is a gruff, tired voice. It's clear from his casual expression and the lack of any sort of response from the rest of the people in the room that these people are accustomed to all sort of travelers wandering through here. It may be worth sticking around to hear a good story or two, but for right now you've got one thing on your mind.

"I need apps. Good apps, not the crap you find out there on the corner. What would you recommend?"

The man behind the counter smiled, and all at once the shady characters from around the room stood up, pulled their phones from their pockets, and took a stop forward. "Oh, I reckon we've got somethin' for ya." he said with a sort of twinkle in his eye, and one by one the people in the room start to tell their tales.

Read on for our Apps of the Week!

Phil Nickinson — Ski Safari 2

I'm a big fan of time-killing games that don't require a lot of thought. (Sometimes it's nice just to shut down the brain for a little while.) So I was pretty stoked to see the sequel of one of my old favorites. And Ski Safari 2 mostly picks up right where it left off. That is, you're headed downhill, with penguins, the Yeti and eagles in front of you, avalanche coming up from behind. You jump and flip your way as long as you can, collecting coins and meeting challenges while you go.

But that's just the start this time. There are new animals. New levels. And new tricks to be done. That also means there's a little more headspace required (though you certainly can play just like you did before — nice and easy, both skis pointed downhill). But it also means there's a lot more gameplay than in the previous version. Graphics are updated, too — though I'm on the fence whether that's actually an improvement. Regardless, you'll find yourself with a good time-wasting game that's easy to play. Give it a shot.

Download: Ski Safari 2 (free with in-app purchases)

Jared DiPane — Snapchat

Hold on, before you judge, let me explain why I think Snapchat is worthy of my weekly pick and how I use it. Snapchat is known by many, and most tend to think it's a place to do naughty things, but it can be (and is) much more than that. Snapchat is perfect for those times you want to send someone a picture that doesn't necessarily need to live in your camera roll forever.

I tend to use Snapchat to send random pictures, videos, and even add my own drawing or text to an image easily. It's so easy to open the app, snap a picture, make a few customizations and send it off to your family and friends. This works for me, I don't have a camera roll full of random findings from Target, or funny things that I see on a daily basis. Those pictures are sent, and then they disappear. Some of the new filters are fun to use, and it's a quick and easy way to keep in touch with your friends.

Give it a shot, and if you don't have anyone to send snaps to, you can add me (jareddipane).

Download Snapchat (free)

Jen Karner — Does not Commute

I'm a sucker for any game that can pull me in, and then make me compete. Double points if I end up competing against myself. That made Does not Commute right up my alley. You play as every character in a small town trying to make their way on their daily errands. One after another you'll need to drive their cars across town avoiding both buildings, and the cars you've already driven to their destinations. You need to make sure that you don't run out of time, since it's counting down as soon as the vehicle is in motion.

Each level has upwards of ten trips you need to make within the time limit, though you can get extra time by picking up coins along your way. The vehicles you'll drive include cars, trucks, ice cream vans and ambulances to name just a few. The game itself is free, but to start from checkpoints after closing the game you'll want to upgrade to the premium version for $1.99. It's an easy start that becomes more difficult as you progress and requires you to think ahead to avoid collisions down the line. It's a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out.

Download: Does not Commute (free with in-app purchases)

Richard Devine — Skymaster Pilot Watch Face

The trouble with Android Wear is that there are just too many watch faces to choose from in the Play Store. Granted, that's an awesome 'issue' to have, but it sometimes makes settling hard. Here's what I'm on right now though and I think it's going to stick around for a while.

I like the look of chronograph watches and that carries over into my preferences on Android Wear. The Skymaster is a digital recreation of what a pilot's watch may look like and it's pretty hot. With the latest version of Android Wear it got interactive, too, allowing you to customize what the little dials display or get rid of them altogether. You can also change the accent color, the thickness of the hands or even what the text says.

I'm using it on the Zenwatch and it looks fantastic, but it's such a great design and it'll probably look even better on something round.

Download: Skymaster Pilot Watch Face (£0.99)

Russell Holly — The Martian: Bring Him Home

I've read the book, interviewed the author, seen the movie, and now I'm playing the game. The Martian: Bring Him Home puts you in the hot seat at NASA, where you communicate with the one and only Mark Watney as he struggles with survival on Mars. It's a text-based adventure similar to Lifeline, which plays nicely with the way the book was laid out. As you communicate with Watney, NASA will occasionally send you emails with additional information to help keep him alive. If you're very lucky, or you've already read the book, or you're paying attention the way the story plays out in the game, you'll eventually get Watney home.

Like Lifeline, The Martian: Bring Him Home is broken up into story elements you don't control. Watney could message you at 2AM asking for help with something, or he could message you all day with questions about making adjustments in the HAB to increase his chances of survival. While it's a fun game now, the developer is promising Android Wear support in the future, which could make brief encounters with Watney a lot of fun.

Buy: The Martian: Bring Him Home ($2.99)

Andrew Martonik — ipiit - Scan Food Ingredients

While I don't have any abnormal food allergies myself, it's a good idea to be conscious of allergies your friends or family members may have. ipiit lets you scan barcodes of U.S. food products and find out just what's in them, and how that interacts with various food allergies.

If you're going to be scanning for your own benefit you can set your food preferences ahead of time — whether it's allergy-related or just ingredient preference — and every item you scan will be checked against those preferences, or you can just scan an item with no preferences if you're checking quickly for someone else.

It isn't the most up-to-date designed app out there, but this one's all about its functionality. And it seems to have what it takes to be a really useful tool.

Download: ipiit (Free, account required)

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1 month ago

Texture app review: The Netflix of magazines


The Next Issue magazine app recently revamped and rebranded itself as Texture. Though I'm not as nostalgic for the feel of paper and ink as the new name would like me to be, I was curious to see how print was adapting to digital standards lately. For those unfamiliar, Texture is basically billing itself as the Netflix of magazines. You pay a monthly subscription fee and get unlimited access to a wide range of publications. New issues come trickling in as they're published and are downloaded to your device for offline reading. You can go diving into archives and have an effectively unlimited amount of high-quality content to read.

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1 month ago

Don't trade features for familiarity with the Ultra Watch Face on Android Wear


Sometimes what you want from a watch face is familiarity. There are plenty of faces that offer new and innovative ways to tell the time on Android Wear devices. What can be more difficult is finding a watch face that looks like a watch face, without losing out on the features of a Smartwatch. The Ultra Watch Face takes a swing at blending familiarity with new features.

Check it out.

The Ultra Watch Face is an analog face with plenty of features. By default you get a black background with white lettering. There is both a digital, and an analog display for the time. You also get the full date with month, day of the week, and day of the month. On the right side of your Smartwatch screen you'll see the weather in Celsius. On the left of your screen is a battery icon for both your smartwatch and your smartphone.

There are plenty of options to fiddle with as well. Changing the background color will change the color of the hands on the analog face, or the battery indicator icons. You can also adjust your weather settings like the provider, unit of measurement, and how often it updates to your smartwatch. To access the rest of the options you'll need to pony up $1.99 for the premium version.

The Premium options include a variety of features. You can set 4 shortcuts to the bottom of your screen, allowing you to easily access the apps you use most often. There are also options to use animations, enable more infomation in ambient mode, and adjust the way that peek cards look when they pop up. Like many other watch faces, Ultra Watch Face puts all of your options on an app on your Smartphone.

The Ultra Watch Face is a great face that blends familiarity and features. It's available right now for free on The Google Play Store or you can get access to all those awesome features for $1.99. If you've been looking for a dash of technological nostalgia with your smartwatch features then the Ultra Watch Face is not to be missed.

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1 month ago

Nova Launcher can now shrink overly large icons with latest update


Nova Launcher, the popular Android home screen launcher from developer TeslaCoil Software, has received an update to version 4.10. Among other things, it now allows users to set up the launcher so that can automatically shrink larger-than-normal icons.

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1 month ago

Train your brain on Android Wear with Memory Feud


For a while now games built for Android Wear have been popping up on the Google Play Store. Now on top of a fun and simple game, you can hone your memory skills;. Memory Feud is a word game that's fun and easy to play.

We've got the details for you here.

Memory Feud is a pretty simple premise. See the word you are supposed to spell at the bottom of the screen and tap on the letters to spell it. The trickier part happens when the letters disappear and you need to remember which letters were where to spell it out correctly. The letters are contained within honeycombs, and you tap on them to spell out your word. Considering that your smartwatch screen is fairly small, it isn't difficult to remember where the letters you need are hiding.

When you're playing the game, first you'll see a honeycomb filled with letters, with a counter in the middle of the screen to tell you your current score, and the word you're meant to spell at the bottom of the screen. It will display like that for a few seconds before the letters in the honeycomb disappear, and a counter pops up at the top of the screen. As you tap the honeycomb corresponding to the correct letter it will turn green and fill with the letter again. If you mess up, the honeycomb will turn red and depending on your score end the game.

The Game Over screen will show your score, and high score, along with the ability to restart the game. Most of the words you'll be spelling are 3-5 letters wrong, but the game does start to increase in difficulty as you go along.

Teensy Studios did a great job with Memory Feud. It's fun, easy to play and good for you since it's a memory game. Memory Feud is available now and it's absolutely free which means you should definitely check it out. Does Memory Feud look like your kind of game, or do you have a different favorite for Android Wear?

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1 month ago

What you need to know about Stagefright 2.0


Additional issues have been found surrounding audio files and libstagefright, but Google's already got a fix underway.

The past couple of months have been filled with a lot of uncertainty surrounding a series of issues popularly named Stagefright, a name earned because most of the issues found have to do with libstagefright in Android. The security firm Zimperium has published what they are calling Stagefright 2.0, with two new issues surrounding mp3 and mp4 files that could be manipulated to execute malicious code on your phone.

Here's what we know so far, and how to keep yourself safe.

What is Stagefright 2.0?

According to Zimperium, a pair of recently discovered vulnerabilities make it possible for an attacker to present an Android phone or tablet with a file that looks like an MP3 or MP4, so when the metadata for that file is previewed by the OS that file could execute malicious code. In the event of a Man in the Middle attack or a website built specifically for delivering these malformed files, this code could be executed without the user ever knowing.

Zimperium claims to have confirmed remote execution, and brought this to Google's attention on August 15. In response, Google assigned CVE-2015-3876 and CVE-2015-6602 to the pair of reported issues and started working on a fix.

Is my phone or tablet affected?

In one way or another, yes. CVE-2015-6602 refers to a vulnerability in libutils, and as Zimperium points out in their post announcing the discovery of this vulnerability it impacts every Android phone and tablet going back as far as Android 1.0. CVE-2015-3876 affects every Android 5.0 and higher phone or tablet, and could theoretically be delivered via website or man in the middle attack.


There are currently no public examples of this vulnerability ever having been used to exploit anything outside of lab conditions, and Zimperium is not planning to share the proof-of-concept exploit they used to demonstrate this issue to Google. While it's possible someone else could figure this exploit out before Google issues a patch, with the details behind this exploit still being kept private it's unlikely.

What is Google doing about this?

According to a statement from Google, the October Security Update addresses both of these vulnerabilities. These patches will be made in AOSP and will roll out to Nexus users starting October 5th. Eagle eyed readers might have noticed the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P we looked at recently already had the October 5th update installed, so if you pre-ordered one of those phones your hardware will arrive patched against these vulnerabilities. Additional information on the patch will be in the Android Security Google Group on October 5th.

As for non-Nexus phones, Google provided the October Security Update to partners on September 10th, and has been working with OEMs and carriers to deliver the update as soon as possible. If you take a look at the list of devices patched in the last Stagefright exploit, you've got a reasonable picture of what hardware is being considered a priority in this process.

How do I stay safe until the patch arrives for my phone or tablet?

In the event that someone really is running around with a Stagefright 2.0 exploit and trying to infect Android users, which again is highly unlikely due to the lack of public details, the key to staying safe has everything to do with paying attention to where you're browsing and what you are connected to.

Avoid public networks when you can, rely on two-factor authentication whenever possible, and stay as far away from shady websites as you possibly can. Mostly, common sense web stuff for keeping yourself safe.

Is this the end of the world?

Not even a little bit. While all of the Stagefright vulnerabilities are indeed serious and need to be treated as such, communication between Zimperium and Google to ensure these issues are addressed as quickly as possible has been fantastic. Zimperium has rightly called attention to problems with Android, and Google has stepped in to fix. In a perfect world these vulnerabilities wouldn't exist, but they do and are being addressed quickly. Can't ask for much more than that, given the situation we're in.

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1 month ago

Microsoft's Picturesque Lock Screen for Android adds search features and more


Microsoft's Android-exclusive lock screen app, Picturesque, launched back in February, offering users a way to access the many images that the company has posted on its Bing.com homepage. Now the app has received a major update to version 2.0, adding a number of features.

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1 month ago

Imgur improves GIF performance, adds search functionality and more


After bringing a fully native version of its app to Android, the Imgur team is back with yet another great update for everyone. This update brings along a new search functionality in the app, allowing you to quickly and easily find images and GIFs. Additionally, the team revamped profile designs and more. The full change log includes:

  • Search functionality inside the app, including searching within GIFs, one of the most popular ways Imgurians use the app
  • Improved GIF performance which will allow for faster-loading GIFs -- and more immediate laughs
  • A revamped profile design and streamlined notifications for comments on posts to let users know what other Imgurians are saying

You can grab the latest Imgur update from Google Play now.

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1 month ago

Samsung celebrates launch of Samsung Pay with seven city tour


Samsung is celebrating the launch of Samsung Pay with a seven city tour, in which you'll be able to try out the service while unlocking special offers. The tour starts October 1 at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and will continue to six more cities.

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1 month ago

Verizon launches its Go90 mobile video app and sharing service


As previously reported, Verizon has now launched its Go90 mobile video app and service. The free, ad-supported service is aimed at the 18-to-34-year-old market, offering them access to on-demand video from a host of cable TV and Internet content providers like Comedy Central, Food Network, ESPN, NFL Network, Discovery, AwesomenessTV, Vice, Tastemade and Machinima.

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1 month ago

Next Issue becomes Texture, brings a new look and a new mission


Next Issue, the magazine publisher-backed app that let you read all of your favorite magazines for a single subscription fee, has been updated with a new name, Texture, and a new look. Soon, Texture will also launch a number of new features in its Android app to make its experience more personal.

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1 month ago

Google Photos update arrives with Chromecast support and people labels


During its Nexus event yesterday, Google showed off some new features coming to Google Photos, and it looks like those features are now rolling out in a fresh update to the app.

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