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2 years ago

The best alarm clock apps for Android

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The days of the standalone bedside alarm clock are numbered, with the simple inclusion of a “clock” app on every smartphone taking over. But there are so many options out there, why settle for the app pre-loaded on your phone? Your alarm doesn't just have to be a bland beeping sound that makes you want to throw your phone across the room. Read on after the break and see the best alarm clock apps available for your device.

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2 years ago

Press for Android updated with performance fixes

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Popular Google Reader app Press has been updated with new performance improvements, as well as various bug fixes. The second update for the app brings it up to version 1.1.1, and since updating we're noticing that the app does seem a good bit nippier -- especially when syncing large numbers of unread articles.

If you'd previously tried out Press but had been put off by issues with speed and responsiveness, now might be the chance to give it another try. You can find the download link above; as always, it costs $1.99 and is limited those running Android 4.0 and above. Existing users can update by heading to the "My Apps" section in the Google Play Store app.

More: Press: Google Reader done right, or just different?

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2 years ago

Capture the essence of the Ubuntu lockscreen with Ubuntu Live Wallpaper

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I don't use live wallpapers traditionally. I find that too often there's a trade off in device performance and or battery life to make it worthwhile. I've made an exception to try this one out, and I'm pretty happy with it. Ubuntu Live Wallpaper tries to capture some of the feel of that great looking lockscreen on Ubuntu for Phones, in a live wallpaper for your Android device. And, while it isn't an exact replica, it's pretty close, and looks great. Currently still in beta, the developers describe it as their "hobby." But for a beta product, it's very well done. 

One of my biggest annoyances with live wallpapers as I mentioned is performance and battery life issues. Even on high end devices, too often things become jerky and the battery life has just been sucked dry. So far, on the Nexus 4 at least, this hasn't been the case with Ubuntu Live Wallpaper. Battery life doesn't seem to be any less than usual, and scrolling through the homescreens -- in my case with Action Launcher -- is as smooth and speedy as ever. 

There's a couple of features baked in too worth mentioning, and some due to arrive in future updates. A double tap anywhere on the wallpaper brings up the option to display either time, or remaining battery percentage. Coming in the future will be the ability to switch between 12 and 24 hour clocks, repositioning the circle, scaling and color change. 

Remember though that this is still a beta product, and the developers are all to aware of performance issues affecting some devices. But, it's free, and worth a look if you're looking for a little flavor of Ubuntu for Phones without getting too deep. You'll find it in the Play Store at the link above, and click on past the break for some screenshots. 

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2 years ago

Opera bringing the Ice browser to Android and iOS

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Opera is said to be bringing a new WebKit based browser to Android and iOS. Named "Ice", it presents a radical departure from what we're used to seeing with the stock Android Browser, Chrome, or even Safari. Shown off in an internal meeting right before Christmas, the folks at Pocket-lint got their hands on a copy and now we all can have a look.

Besides the UI, which we'll get back to in a moment, it's important to recognize that "Ice" won;t be using the same Presto rendering platform that Opera's current Android apps use. With Ice, Opera has moved to WebKit, the same engine that Chrome and Safari, as well as the stock Android browser and all the custom browsers in Google Play, are using. This should give Ice an edge, as most mobile pages and web apps are designed with WebKit in mind.

The new Opera Ice browser will be based around hiding the technology as much as possible and embracing rich applications. It will ditch all buttons and instead use gestures to control key elements like forwards and backwards. "This is a full touch and tablet-focused browser," said the product manager in the video we've seen. "Most are taking a PC browser and squishing [it] into a tablet, or they are taking a mobile browser and blowing it up to fill the space."

Yes, the UI looks very different. I'm not sure how I feel about "hiding technology" from the end user in favor of gestures and big icons, but I'll have to give the finished product a look before a final judgment.

Ice is not set to replace Opera mini, the small browser that compresses data to save time and bandwidth, but we expect that it may push the standard Opera Mobile for Android browser into retirement. Word is we'll know more at Mobile World Congress, which is coming right around the corner. We'll be there, and keep an eye out.

Source: Pocket-lint

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2 years ago

Celebrate the opening hockey weekend with NHL 2013 Live Wallpaper

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After a lengthy lockout, the NHL season is finally starting this weekend. If you’re a puck head like I am, you’re going to want to check out the NHL 2013 Live Wallpaper app. Whether you want to show support for your team or just give your devices a little hockey makeover, this app is for you.

The initial download is free. But if you want it to do anything more, you’re going to have to pay for add-ons within the app. We're not really keen on this sort of business model ourselves, but it is what it is. Here are the prices:

  • Live wallpaper only: $2.49 (1 team)
  • Score clock only: $1.49
  • Ringtone only: $0.99
  • All Access Pass (unlocks everything): $6.99

The live wallpapers have an optional interactive puck, Winter Classic Mode,  arena ticker, game events and sounds. You can also customize the flag style and what kind of arena you would like to see, whether it be a 2013 version or an older version from last year.

So whether or not you root for the Rangers, Penguins, Capitals or Sabres, the app has content to help you show off your fandom.

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2 years ago

Apps of the Week: NHL Gamecenter, Aldiko Sync, Candy Crush Saga and more!

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The app picks just keep on coming. Straight from the Android Central writers to you, the best apps we're using for the previous week are listed here. We've got some productivity tools and a few fun games for you to enjoy on your own phone or tablet this weekend.

Stick around after the break and see if our picks are up to par this week.

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2 years ago

Facebook borrows from itself, adds voice messages to main app

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A couple weeks after adding the feature to the Facebook Messenger app, voice messages are now a part of the main Facebook application. These aren't going to replace phone calls anytime soon -- and they're not really supposed to -- but they can be a fun little way to drop someone a note on Facebook, or to send voice messages when cellular calls aren't practical or available.

Perhaps even more surprising is that Facebook actually updated its changelog on the app with this latest version. Along with voice messaging, you should be able to open and view images a little faster, and share your friends stories to timelines, pages and groups. 

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2 years ago

Sky TV to offer local downloads of TV content through Sky Go

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I'm not a Sky TV subscriber, but this morning's news really make me wish that I was. According to a report from British broadsheet, The Telegraph, BSkyB is set to turn on local downloads of their content to mobile devices via the Sky Go app starting this week. It's been a somewhat turbulent relationship between Sky and Android users, with their apps not only late to the party, but notoriously incompatible with many popular devices at launch. Those sort of issues have been vastly improved upon in recent months, but now it seems that Sky is ready to take their service to the next level. 

As you might expect, this kind of service doesn't come for free. The ability to download content to your mobile devices will require a "Sky Go Extra" subscription, which costs £5 per month. For many this will be £5 well spent, as the majority of British carriers impose pretty tight data caps, including the new LTE network from EE, so local downloads is an extremely enticing prospect. Downloads will be active for a month, but there is said to be no limit to how much customers can download -- that limitation lies with your device, not with Sky. Up to 4 users can download content per subscription, and it seems to cover Sky's entire collection, including their Sky Movies 007 channel which offers every one of the James Bond movies. 

This move by Sky is sure to be a welcome one, and really takes the fight on the mobile front to the likes of Netflix, Google Play Movies, and Amazon's LOVEFiLM available on the Kindle Fire. Google may offer local storage of movies, but each incurs a rental price, whereas Sky Go will allow access to Sky Movies vast catalog plus the option to save it to your device. Netflix and LOVEFiLM while offering a pretty hefty selection of content, both still require a constant data connection to use. Competitors should take note, this is a huge move forwards from Sky TV. 

Source: The Telegraph

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2 years ago

Super Hexagon is ridiculously hard, ridiculously addicting

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We usually like to do our own demo videos of apps whenever possible. It's our job, for one, and it's always fun to see "the pros" occasionally suck at games on camera. But in the case of Super Hexagon, we're going to keep our shame bottle up deep inside, where it belongs. This game is that hard.

The idea is that you have to guide the triangle through the spaces of the incoming designs as they collapse in on the central hexagram. Cool 1980s-esque video game music helps keep up the pace (at least for those of us old enough to remember the sounds of an actual arcade). It's fun. It's addicting. And it's hard as hell. Literally. The three unlocked levels are "hard," "harder" and "hardest." Frankly, we're a little afraid to explore the other difficulties. Our pride has taken a beating here. But, still, we can't put it down. Another dollar well spent.

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2 years ago

PIC adresses Inaugural 2013 app's privacy policy concerns

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A couple days ago we told you about Inaugural 2013 -- a very nicely done app from the Presidential Inaugural Committee that had a pretty peculiar privacy policy, and on the surface looked like a nonpartisan app about the Inauguration. The folks at PIC (The Presidential Inaugural Committee) have clarified their privacy policy a bit with the Washington Post, and want to let everyone know you don't have to share anything with anyone.

Contrary to some concerns, the app only collects one sort of user data: cellphone numbers that users voluntarily share and can opt out of sharing, for use in sending texts to users – such as late-breaking changes and emergency updates. The app has no way to collect e-mails, names or other personal information from users.

The original privacy policy (since replaced in Google Play with a generic page from AT&T) still allows the sharing of any information, but PIC is saying they won't collect any unless you opt-in to use all the services the application offers. If you don't want or need to use any of the location or alert portions of the app, and instead only use the news and video portions, nothing can be collected and shared with third parties.

What's not readily apparent, but certainly notable, is that there are numerous links to the PIC website that encourages users to submit information that will be shared under the original PIC privacy policy.

It's a better situation than we originally thought, as the Inaugural news and video portions of the application could be useful. We're still not ready to recommend this one, but we did want to advise everyone of the Presidential Inaugural Committee's response to privacy concerns and criticism.

Source: Washington Post

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2 years ago

In town for the Inauguration? Metro Navigator (Metro 24) will help you navigate

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If you’re in town for the President’s Inauguration this weekend, you’re going to need a good app for the DC metro that will guide you around the city. While DC has a great metro system, it can be confusing for newcomers and those who don’t use it all the time. Having a metro map and schedules right on your phone is incredibly valuable and will make your trip less stressful.

Metro 24 is one of the top apps for navigating around different subways. It is a bit pricey at $4.00, but it is a general app that, once purchased, gives you access to a variety of city metros. The only US cities supported at the moment are Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC, but there are a lot of international cities available.

Once you open the app, you’ll choose which metro you would like to view and it will bring up a map of the entire system. Each stop is clickable and will give you a variety of options:

  • From Here: Gives you directions from the metro station selected
  • To Here: Provides directions to the metro station of your choosing
  • Favorites: Adds the station to your favorites for easy access in the future
  • What is nearby? Gives you recommendations for restaurants, tourist sports and more around the station
  • I’m Here!: Will make your phone remember all WiFi/GSM transmitters at the station selected so you don't have to go through the process every time
  • Next Train: Lets you know the next train from the station
  • There’s also a button on the bottom left side of the app that notifies you of the current status of the metro. It gives you a simple graphic as to whether the lines are delayed or running as scheduled.

Another useful button within the app is one that helps plan a trip. You choose which station you want to go to and it will provide detailed instructions as to how to get there.

For the Inauguration, here are details: The official swearing in will take place on Monday, January 21st at 11:30am on the National Mall.  There are a number of metro stations that you can get off at for the National Mall. Smithsonian (blue & orange), Federal Triangle (blue & orange), Archives (green & yellow), L’Enfant (blue, green, orange, yellow), Federal Center (blue & orange).

The National Mall is the area between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. You’ll be right at the Reflecting Pool and the major Smithsonian Museums. It is in a great location and is likely to very crowded this weekend and on Inauguration day.

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2 years ago

Second Carbon backup beta brings Dropbox support

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Let us turn now to the other Carbon app for Android (no, not that one -- this one), which today has seen its second beta release. This Carbon serves as a way to back up your app and, perhaps more important your app data, and move both between devices. 

This second beta brings Dropbox support, gives more control over what you can back up (more apps at once, or all apps), and you can choose to backup everything at once, if you want. This one's still a root-only thing, but Koush says that should change with the third and final beta release.

Source: @Koushik Dutta

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2 years ago

Chrome Beta update fixes issues, has a new icon

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Since a proper Chrome Beta channel app came into the Play Store, we knew we'd be in for some frequent updates. Alongside a new icon that has a black/white "BETA" tag on it, rather than the angled grey/white one before, this update brings many small fixes:

  • 165783 - Enable compositing scrollable frames on Android
  • 168368 - Chrome progress bar should be displayed as soon as the user clicks a link
  • 165244 - Text handler jumps or disappears when moving
  • 162486 - iframe scrolling broken

There are still some glaring bugs, as is the case with Beta releases, such as yahoo.com page links not working and some intense graphical glitches on certain devices. This is all part of the fun though, and we know what we're getting into when moving to the Beta channel of a browser.

You can't find Chrome Beta by searching the Play Store, so if you're interested in staying on the bleeding edge of browser updates you can install it directly from the link at the top of this post.

Source: Chrome Release Changelog

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2 years ago

A non-official XBMC build released, promises a new level of user friendliness

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XBMC, the well known open-source program that brings a set-top style media player experience to almost any device, has a new custom build tonight from the folks at XBMC for Android. This version is still filled with all the goodies you expect from XBMC -- things like the awesome meta data scraping XBMC is famous for -- and has a few twists that should make it easy to set up and use.

The biggest difference with this particular build is the way a third party media player can be integrated. As of now, XBMC built stock for Android does not support hardware rendering in the player. To fix this, the folk at XBMC for Android have integrated support for MX Player to handle all the heavy lifting, while still using XBMC's interface and options.

Take a look at the source link and give it a go if you've been waiting to try XBMC on your Android device. 

Source: XBMC for Android

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2 years ago

Ingress update brings UI improvements and performance fixes

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Everyone's favorite "walk around town and look awkward" game, Ingress, was just updated to version 1.18.1 today. It's a pretty mundane update overall, but with several improvements that should make users eager to update and get back out there. On the user-facing front, we're seeing UI improvements in various places, as well as enhancements in animations (Google specifically notes "XMP explosion animations.) On the back end there are many bug fixes included, along with improved memory usage and faster app resume times for any device with an Adreno GPU. Anyone who has played a lot of Ingress knows it can be a bit sluggish when resuming.

The changelog notes that there's still one big known bug, that portal shields are nearly invisible when viewing them from the map view. Hopefully that one gets squashed in the next update as well.

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