Among our many game demos at GDC 2014 was Gates of Osiris from indie developer Fenix Fire. Players mount up in a rover to patrol their base and precious resources and blow away any alien life forms that may be threatening your continued existence on the post-Earth planet. Resources are used to expand your base, repair your vehicles, and otherwise make it another day without getting sucked into the vacuum of space.
The sci-fi survival game was inspired in no small part by the aliens from Starship Troopers, but manages to steer clear of any mid-90s-flavor hoakiness. The graphics are fantastic thanks to deep integration with Unity and Qualcomm, complete with varying visual filters, powerful baked-in shadows, and stellar lighting effects. The game is still a work in progress, with a release on Android due this summer. Expect to see this gritty survival title in the Play Store for around $4.99. In the meantime, hit up Fenix Fire for screenshots and status updates.
One of the big issues with Skype on mobile devices, battery life, is expected to be improved dramatically today with the latest update to the Android app. According to Skype, after installing version 4.7 of the app you should be able to keep the app running all day "without noticeably affecting battery life." The savings come from a complete reworking of how Skype runs on mobile devices, but also from turning off group chat notifications for now.
A new beta version of popular keyboard app SwiftKey has been released today, adding the ability to bring in personalization info from Google+ and Evernote. (That's in addition to the emoji support added to SwiftKey beta late last year.)
A fresh, easy-to-use design and universal search coming later this Spring
Sonos is completely refreshing its Controller app for Android with new features and design, and its giving Android users an early look as part of a beta test. The first notable change of this update is a complete design refresh — you'll navigate the app between three different modules to choose between currently playing music, what rooms the music is playing in and discovery for upcoming music. And the entire interface is a simple and modern design that's primarily black and white with small pops of color and uses of transparency.
Under the hood, the new Sonos Controller app integrates universal search for all of your music services in one place. Just plug in the details for every music service you're a part of, and the Controller will search each one so you don't have to hunt through each one to find what you'll listen to next.
If you're a Sonos user and want to get an early look at the app while it is in the final stages of development, you can apply to be in the beta testing group at the link below. Those who want to wait for a finished product (or plan to use it on iOS) will have to wait until later this Spring, but considering the leap this app is making it'll surely be worth the wait.
Four more APIs get rolled into Play Services for easier access by all developers across devices
Version 4.3 of Google Play Services is now rolling out to devices, bringing with it a new set of APIs, refreshes of other existing APIs and improvements related to the Google Play Games announcement from this morning. Entirely new to Play Services are Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Drive and Address APIs.
Google Analytics and Tag Manager are previously-standing independent APIs that are now being rolled into Play Services — this means developers can interact with these APIs much in the same way as they did, but they can be updated independent of the OS and easier accessed by developers. Both of these APIs let developers have better insight into how their apps are performing (Analytics) and have better control over assets in their apps (Tag Manager) so that changes can be tracked and made on the fly.
The newly-introduced Drive API is also being brought into Play Services, and the latest version includes the ability to pin files, let apps create folders and give apps notifications when files are changed. The Address API is also new, and allows developers to request to view addresses — for example when a user is filling out a delivery or online order form — without having to request the device's actual location.
Flyne has seen a pretty major update today, bringing a new Tablet UI, changes to the standard interface, and a handful of new features. If you're not familiar with Flyne, it's an offline reader that can aggregate popular feeds, and with a 99-cent in-app purchase it can tie into your Feedly or Twitter accounts. Made by the developer of Falcon Pro, the app is polished and well designed.
A quick heads up, folks, that the Chrome browser for Android has gotten an update today. The changelog is vague in the usual ways, noting "stability and security updates." But for those who are using an HTC One, you'll need to download this new version right away, as it fixes a pretty annoying audio bug that would cause the phone to launch straight into speakerphone mode when placing a call — damned near deafening, thanks to that Boomsound thing.
Actions speak louder than words, of course, but WhatsApp today used a few hundred to promise us that it has "respect for your privacy" and that having been bought by Facebook for umpteen-billion-dollars (it was $16 billion) won't go to its head, leading it to steal all your personal data. "If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it," WhatsApp's Jan Koum wrote in a blog post.
The Angry Birds franchise just keeps getting bigger, and the latest release is a full-blown RPG called Angry Birds Epic. Rovio claims this new free-to-play game will be a complete and extensive RPG title with an extensive campaign, turn-based gameplay, end game content, item crafting and more, all set on the fantasy world of "Piggy Island." Being free-to-play we can expect some in-app purchases to make an appearance, but details aren't known just yet.
Two Motorola apps — Active Display and Motorola Care — are getting updates in the Play Store today, but the changelogs aren't all that interesting. Active Display gets the standard and nondescript "bug fixes" in the changelog, and Motorola Care seems to be the exact same app as before, but has been renamed to Motorola Help (which frankly makes more sense).
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