So we're less than a week out from the launch of Google Currents, the Flipboard/Pulse competitor that presents your favorite websites in an easy-to-read magazine-type format. And we were lucky to get in on the ground floor. Question was, would anybody be using it?
I posed the question to ol' CrackBerry Kevin. "How many subscribers do you think we have?" I asked. "Oh, I dunno," he said. "Maybe 4,000."
Try 80,000, Mr. Michaluk, according to the tally in the app. That's 80,000 and counting. We'll all have to see how much of an effect Currents has on our analytics before declaring it a success, of course. Subscribers are one thing. (Scratch that, they're 80,000 very awesome things.) But we've still got to see how much everybody's using Currents to actually read content.
So for now, be sure to subscribe. Be sure to read. And be sure to tell your friends. Hit up the link below to subscribe.
The folks over at Lookout have warned us about a new malware threat, this time targeted at users outside of North America. The RuFraud malware will sign up users in Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Czech Republic, Poland, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Estonia, Great Britain, Italy, Israel, France, and Germany to a premium SMS service by hiding inside apps that pretend to be download helpers for popular games and utilities, or wallpaper apps from movies like Twilight. This particular bit of malware does not affect users in other countries.
While most of the affected applications are found on file-sharing sites and unofficial markets, some have appeared in the official Android Market. The first batch were removed by Google after Lookout contacted them, and having only a "handful" of downloads they did not affect very many users. Unfortunately, 13 new apps were later uploaded that had been downloaded over 14,000 times before they were pulled. Lookout has been updated to remove and clean these apps from your phone if you downloaded them, and we expect other malware scanning applications will have followed suit.
A quick tip: It really sucks when popular applications (or Nexus phones) aren't available in your location. We understand. But any app that claims to be a helper to download an app that's otherwise unavailable is definitely suspicious. Don't use them. If the apps are free, ask your friends. Ask on forums. Root your phone, or use an app that disguises your location and opens the Market. I'm not condoning piracy here, but I'm a realist -- if you're going to circumvent measures that keep these apps from you, do it the smart way.
Adobe has updated Flash Player for Android to version 126.96.36.199, which fixes video streaming issues on the Galaxy S II, adds support for 1080p video on Tegra 3 devices like the Transformer Prime, and generic fixes for video decoding and playback. It's a recommended update, even if you don't own one of the aforementioned devices, so hit the market and update or grab the link after the break. Adobe did promise to keep supporting the Android Flash Player, and while nobody doubted them, it's still nice to see them hold true to their word.
Unfortunately, this update doesn't yet enable Flash on the Galaxy Nexus or any preliminary ICS build for other devices. We still expect to see that soon, and we'll let you know as soon as it's available.
Make no mistake -- Android is multimedia-centric, and it does a darn fine job of it. Whether you want to copy media to your device's storage, or want to stream from the cloud, Android, especially since the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, can turn your phone or tablet into a great media player. We're going to have a look at using Google Music, Google's storage-locker style streaming music application.
Read on for a walkthrough of how to use Google Music on the web and adding media, as well as playing it back on your Android device.
Bad news for fans of the Bolt browser for Android -- it's been discontinued follwing the split of its parent company, Bitstream. The message at boltbrowser.com says it all:
The free BOLT mobile browsing service will be discontinued. Unfortunately, the economic circumstances prevent us from running a free service going forward. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your loyalty and support.
The BBC have come out today with some information regarding a future update to their Android offering, which will finally bring 3G streaming to the application.
With 1.2 million downloads on Android alone, the decision to bring 3G streaming to the iPlayer will prove to be a popular one. The BBC have been working alongside British carriers to introduce the feature while keeping the viewing experience of a high quality. They're not quite finished with the Android version yet, as there's still work to be done "to improve the video playback experience." They expect to launch the updated app in the new year.
2012 is a big year for the United Kingdom, with London playing host to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. According to a French newspaper, Google might also be along for the ride launching Google Wallet in the UK in time for the games.
A report in Les Echos suggests that Google is in talks with banks and retailers on our side of the pond to get the service up and running by March next year. Otherwise the article is pretty vague, and we've yet to hear anything from Google on the matter.
With 19 million downloads from the Android Market, it might be easy to get complacent. Not so in the case of ASTRO File Manager which today received an update to version 3.1, and brought a couple of big new features along with it.
The first of these are the new themes functionality, allowing you to download various different themes to customize the app with including the "classic ASTRO" theme from version 2.0.
The other big new feature is the ability to pre-register for a free ASTRO backup account. There's no further information at this stage on this part of the service, but registration is as simple as entering your email address from the splashscreen.
Other notable updates include Honeycomb support, various fixes, drag and drop capabilities and tablet users are now able to set the external SD and USB directories.
Check out a selection of screenshots along with the download links after the break.
With a case of bad communication now cleared up, YouMail has made its way back to the Android Market. As it turns out, T-Mobile was to blame for the pulling but it was all pretty much a misunderstanding and if nothing else -- a hard lesson for YouMail. As noted on the YouMail blog, here is what happened:
First, a subset of the YouMail Android applications have a real problem. It looks like 15,000 users who went straight from 1.8.3 (an old version) to 2.0.45 (the one that was in the market and was taken down) got into a situation where the app is polling our servers continuously (the polling time got set to zero). Of course, this leads to a host of issues for those clients, such as bad battery life, and a boatload of transactions, eating up network bandwidth. T-mobile saying that we disrupted their network is fair, though we were unknowingly causing that.
Second, T-mobile did try to reach out to us that they were seeing an issue. Unfortunately, it was in way that was almost guaranteed to be ineffective, and is probably not how businesses should communicate. As far as we can tell, one of their engineering team sent an e-mail to our free customer support e-mail address in early November, and one of the support team basically replied it’s fixed in next release and treated it as resolved, not reporting it to anyone else. With 1000s of e-mails/week from over two million registered users, random users weekly threatening to pull us from various stores, and lots of users with tmobile.com email addresses, it was easy for this one message to get lost in the shuffle.
Third, after almost 30 days with no response from us, T-mobile went to Google with charts showing the traffic our bad apps were generating, said we were unresponsive, and that the traffic was growing quickly. Google then immediately cut us off - without ever sending us an e-mail beforehand, or providing us anyway to contact someone at T-mobile. That left us wondering what the heck was going on - and having a hard time figuring it out.
So, as you can tell -- T-Mobile did have genuine concerns wth YouMail disrupting their network but they seemingly went about handling them the most uneffective way possible. Either way, lesson learned -- one for YouMail and potentially other developers out there and now YouMail is back in the Android Market where it belongs.
This one's for the giddy-little astronomer in all of us. Like a bunch of schoolkids, on Dec. 10 before the break of dawn, many of us will jauntily find our ways out and gazing at the open skies to watch the final total Lunar Eclipse to be seen for the next two years. But just in case 2:30 AM (EST) is too early for you to be waking up, a new app from Southern Stars is sure to be of some use to you. SkySafari, which is something like Google Earth but for the Universe (and with cool stuff like time-lapse tools and detailed info about various celestial beings), is coming to Android officially by the end of the month; but the developers wanted to celebrate the unusual event with a free beta release to interested users, and you're on that list.
The app, which has already found itself fairly popular in the iOS ecosystem, allows you to not only see what the night sky looks like at the current date/time, but will also show you the transitions of that sky through any time period. If you won't be awake to see the Eclipse for yourself, use SkySafari to select the date and time of the Eclipse (December 10th at 2:30 AM EST) and watch the moon virtually as its shape is transformed through the night. It will be a sight worth seeing that you won't want to miss, and now you don't even really have to.
Read the company Press Release after the break announcing how to get access to the beta app and see for yourself what all the hubbub in space is all about.
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