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2 years ago

Google announces welcome improvements to Google+ are coming before the New Year

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Google has some great new improvements in the works for Google+, and today they let us know we'll be getting them soon -- as in before New Year's Day.  Starting to roll out in the "next few days", we'll be seeing changes to the way notifications look and feel, which posts are shown in your main stream, a new photo lightbox display, and changes to the way Google+ Pages are administered.

Notifications (that red box you see in the new Google bar) are being improved so that you'll have a preview of what's new instead of just a notice that it's there.  A welcome change, especially if you reply to posts from folks who quickly hit the 500 comment limit.

Google is adding a way to fine-tune what type of posts are shown in your main stream, with a slider for each user you've circled.  This should allow better control, and it's a great idea that many have been asking for.  Let's face it -- some users post a lot of content you just don't want to see.  It will be interesting to see how they pull this one off.

The photo lightbox -- the page that's shown when you click a photo from your stream -- has been enhanced, with a new look as well as the way comments and options are presented to users.  Since Google+ is a great way to share photos, making the way they are displayed to you and I is a pretty big deal.  Looking forward to this one myself.

Finally, Google+ Pages, accounts for businesses and websites like +Android Central, have had tweaks that webmasters and managers will welcome.  Up to 50 people will be able to administrate the account, a new notification system will help keep admins more in-the-loop about content, and new tools will be provided to see just who is interacting with your stream. 

These look like great improvements, and several of them should trickle down to the Google+ mobile app -- like filtering your stream.  The Google+ team looks to have had a busy fall, and we're about to see the results.  Be sure to visit the link to check out a couple videos and learn more.

Source: Google

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2 years ago

Android App Review: SeekDroid

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Keeping your phone safe and sound is a pretty big deal to all of us, I'd say. We cover our thin, svelte devices in cases, slap screen protectors on them, and make sure they're always in a pocket, purse, or holster. In the odd event you've misplaced your phone, or even worse, it was stolen, it feels like the sky is falling.

Important emails, financial information, texts, pictures, all of it is AWOL. You're freaking out, trying to retrace your steps, get your phone, and secure your information. It's no good for anyone. To alleviate some of the stress you feel in situations like this, I'd like to introduce y'all to SeekDroid.

SeekDroid is your one-stop shop for everything related to keeping your phone safe. It's a two-step process (installing the app, then controlling everything from the web), but once you see the total package, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Once you've installed the app, you have to sign up for SeekDroid's website with a username and a password. Make sure you never lose it, because if you forget your password, you need to uninstall the app, reinstall it, and sign up with a new name. There's no password recovery to speak of.

The app itself is pretty Plain Jane, nothing more than a settings menu. From here you can set SeekDroid as a device administrator, change your SeekDroid password, and enable a slew of security settings. This is where all the preliminary decisions get made, so make sure you choose wisely.

You can enable or disable call history retrieval, remote phone wiping, and remote SD card wiping, plus there's also SMS settings to control your phone in case you can't get to a computer.

First you set up your SMS pin, then select what options you're giving SeekDroid power over (similar to the web interface), but here, you'd text your phone your PIN and a keyword, like locate, to enable SMS location. You can also activate an alarm, lock your phone, wipe it, or wipe the SD card, all using SMS.

What else does SeekDroid have to offer? When you're on the web interface, quite a bit. You can locate your phone using GPS and get a pinpoint accurate location, conveniently placed on Google Maps for you. There's also the option to send an alarm to the device (with a custom message), and the alarm still sounds even if the phone is on silent.

You can also actually lock the phone, wipe it, or wipe the SD, barring you set those permissions earlier. The web portal is quite slick, well designed, and easy to use. I tested each of the options (except for wiping), and needless to say, they work like a charm.

If you're looking for peace of mind in the event your phone goes missing, SeekDroid is definitely where it's at. Yes, it costs $4.99, but for a one-time fee and the ability to track any Android device I install it on, I could not be more pleased. It's easy to set up on your phone, even easier to use the web interface, and that nets it a strong recommendation from me.

We've got pictures and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Glu gets its own set of Sprint ID packs, throws in Guitar Hero and Deer Hunter

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If you're a fan of Glu's stable of games on Android and are rocking a Sprint phone and are into the Sprint ID thing (that's a lot of qualifies, we know), Glu's now got its own Sprint ID pack. With it you get:

  • Guitar Hero & More: Download this ID pack and prepare to rock out to Guitar Hero 5 and Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock. As an intermission, check out the 10 additional Glu games available in this ID pack.
  • Deer Hunter & More: This ID pack is a bulls-eye for shooting fanatics with Deer Hunter Challenge,Deer Hunter 3D and Deer Hunter African Safari. Waiting to reload? This ID pack includes a dozen more Glu games to test your skills.
  • Free Glu Games: Thirteen Glu games at your fingertips for the best price: FREE! This ID pack features top franchises like Guitar Hero and Deer Hunter. 

You can snag them on your phone, or hit the link below for more.

More: Sprint

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2 years ago

Android Game Review: Stardash

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

For anyone who grew up with a big, chunky original Game Boy or played old NES and SNES games, Stardash was made for you. Designed in 8-bit of the highest quality, Stardash aims to tug at your nostalgic heartstrings while giving everyone the same challenges and satisfaction found in the oldest of oldies.

Gameplay is about as straightforward as it gets. You've got left and right arrows and a jump button, nothing more. This game checks the frills at the door and gives you one task: dash. So dash you do, traversing increasingly difficult terrain and jumping over chasms while also making sure to jump on any enemies you see. (Historical records dictate this is the most efficient way to kill them.)

Throughout your adventures you'll also come across coins to pick up, although this is par the course for sidescrolling adventures of this sort. If you're lucky (or smart), you'll also find the optimal "high road" to get across the level, thus enabling you to reach the coveted 100-point balloon at the end of the level.

Aesthetically, you're getting just what you'd expect from a game carrying on the legacy Mario and friends. It's monochromatic, pixelated, and has upbeat, friendly sounding 8-bit music to accompany the visual. The buttons are large and cartoonish, but look like the buttons from the controllers of years past. If you weren't playing this on a high-powered phone, you could almost imagine you're back in the 80s.

There are tons of levels and secrets to enjoy (40 levels and four unlockable temples) as well as achievements out the wazoo thanks to OpenFeint support. It's as social as old-school gaming gets, and gives a nice nod to things like the whistles, what with the keys for temples and all.

Other than that, there isn't much to say. Stardash is awesome. You want it. You need it. Take a walk down memory lane and enjoy the trip or see what you young whippersnappers have been missing these days, with those super photorealistic things you've been playing on those HD moving picture boxes.

Stardash is $1.99 in the Android Market. We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Tapatalk Android forum app updates for Ice Cream Sandwich

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Tapatalk is one of the more popular ways to use the Android Central Forums from your smartphone. One problem though -- it wasn't playing nicely with Ice Cream Sandwich. But we've been working with the developer for a couple weeks now and can happily report that the app was just updated to fix the crashes in Android 4.0. So now you can browse and post in the Best Android Forums Anywhere™ from the Best Android Smartphone Yet™. Huzzah!

We've got download links after the break. And be sure to check out Android Central on it.

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2 years ago

Beloved webOS Twitter app Carbon coming to Android

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Now that webOS is all but dead, we're starting to see not only the end users defect to Android, but developers as well. And one of the more popular webOS Twitter apps is headed this way, too. Carbon, which already is working its way to Windows Phone 7, is coming to Android, developer dots & lines tells Android Central. 

It's currently in the design phase, UX director Saleh Esmaeili tells us. And he also gives us a little bit of insight into why we're just now seeing Carbon come to Android. In a word (OK, three words): Ice Cream Sandwich. Says Esmaeili:

"It was a little daunting when we first looked at Android SDKs and the lack of fluid UI design in the past, all changes with ICS. We can now benefit from animations and transitions along with lots of UI elements that can make designing a good experience possible on Android." 

You can never have enough Twitter clients, and you can never have enough good Twitter clients. Carbon undoubtedly will be in that latter category.

"We're very excited and are going to be on it full steam," Esmaeili says. Stay tuned, folks.

More: CarbonwebOS.com

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2 years ago

Get Google Wallet on your Galaxy Nexus with no hackery required

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Yeah, yeah. Google Wallet is not officially on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. We get that. We don't like it, but we get it. And we've been able to hack it on there easily enough. But what if you didn't have to actually hack it onto the phone? No rooting. Just a simple app install. That's now a reality, thanks to lukegb at XDA Developers.  

The gist is that if you've got a Galaxy Nexus that hasn't had Google Wallet on it yet through the other methods, you should be able to simply install the apk, and everything's both hunky and dory. They're saying folks in the U.S. are having better luck with it than abroad, for whatever reason. And if the simple apk doesn't work, there's always the usual (and only slightly less easy) zip method.

There is, however, a slightly ethical gray area here in that once you've got Google Wallet on your phone, you've also got a free $10 prepaid MasterCard that you otherwise wouldn't have been entitled to. Just sayin'.

We've confirmed that this apk method works on both the GSM Galaxy Nexus as well as the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Find it at the source link below.

Source: XDA Developers; via Android Central Forums

 

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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for Dec 17, 2011

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Psssst. You, yes you! Hit the break with us and let's check out some applications for you to install because well, who doesn't love new apps?!

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2 years ago

Android App Review: BaconReader

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Not too long ago we mentioned a new Reddit app called BaconReader for Reddit. The screenshots looked so clean and slick I decided I had to try it out and give it the courtesy of a full-blown review. After having spent some time with it, I'm glad I did.

If any of you members of the Android Central nation are also Redditors, you know how hard it is to find a good Reddit app in the Market. Interfaces aren't intuitive, comment threads are a mess, and clicking links opens up your browser, which takes away time from more browsing.

BaconReader manages to remedy all of those things in a tight, beautiful package. The interface is incredibly minimalist, with white and grey being the dominant colors. The monochromatic look of it gives an almost metallic look, not overbearing on the eyes while also not being boring to look at. It's so efficiently tidy, it just works.

If you tap any thread, you'll be taken either to the link it links to or the text. If there's loads of comments on it, the comment thread is not only color-coded, but also optimized for your mobile screen. Long paragraphs are neatly arranged within the confines of your display, and that's a victory in and of itself.

You can also login to your Reddit account, and from there, post or change your preferred subreddits, all from the app. If you tap the "front page" button, you'll be given a dropdown menu of all the subreddits you're subscribed to, and if you tap the "what's hot" button, you can filter your results based on what's new, rising, top, etc.

Posting from BaconReader is also a breeze. Simply tap the top-right button (that looks suspiciously similar to a generic compose button), and you're taken to the submit screen. From here you can submit a link, type in text, or upload a picture, just like you would on Reddit's full site.

There's also the ability to both check your received messages and send messages, all from inside BaconReader. Add in a fully-featured settings menu that lets you define if thumbnails are loaded, if you open links from inside the app, or what domains are black or whitelisted (to name a few), and you've got what is probably the most powerful mobile Reddit experience available in the palm of your hand.

BaconReader for Reddit is by far the best Reddit app on Android right now, hands down. The clean interface, ease of use, and powerful rendering of Reddit all put this one ahead of the pack, and if you're even a light user of Reddit, I wouldn't go without it.

BaconReader for Reddit is free in the Android Market. We've got pictures and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Star and Pocket Legends ring in the holiday with new content, level cap

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For all of you mobile-MMOers out there, take notice: Spacetime Studios is spreading holiday cheer to their gaming base by unveiling a slew of new content for this time of year. Depending on which game you play will determine what content you see, and Spacetime says it best:

Star Legends

  • Biggest update yet
  • Level cap raise to 41
  • Solve the mystery of the missing Governor of Volaria
  • The Galactic Welfare Society is under attack from The Screwj. Can players save the holiday season for aliens and humans alike?
  • All new items, levels and adventures including a Bonus Capture-the-Flag map

Pocket Legends

  • Seasonal Quests and battle areas
  • New holiday-only loot
  • Brand new content and surprises for players

With this much new content, we might as well say Christmas came early this year.

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2 years ago

Sen. Al Franken gets answers from Carrier IQ, carriers -- 'still very troubled by what's going on'

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U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., didn't like what he'd heard about the whole Carrier IQ saga. And after receiving answers from the analytics company, he still doesn't like what he hears. On Thursday,  Franken, chairman of the Senate Subcommitte on Privacy, Technology and the Law, issued a statement on the reponses he received.

More analysis

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2 years ago

AT&T's use of Carrier IQ extends to its own analytics app, not just embedded on phone

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AT&T's responses to questions posed by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., over the use of Carrier IQ analytics software are probably the most interesting we've seen thus far. 

AT&T has been using Carrier IQ only since March 2011, with the Motorola Bravo the first device to have it integrated. However, AT&T has had its own analytics tool in use since 2009. Called Mark the Spot, or MTS, it differs from Carrier IQ in that it's a traditional application, downloaded and installed by the consumer and not preloaded onto the device before purchase. The idea is that if you experience a network hiccup -- like a dropped call -- you'd fire up the app and let AT&T know. 

Mark the Spot was released for the iPhone in December 2009, and for Android in June 2011. In February 2011, AT&T began packaging Carrier IQ code with the MTS application, first for BlackBerry, and a month later for Android.

Android devices that have Carrier IQ software installed include the Pantech Pocket, LG Thrill 4G, ZTE Avail, Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Motorola Atrix 2 and the aforementioned Motorola Bravo. 

AT&T says only about 900,000 devices -- or about 1 percent of the device on its network -- have Carrier IQ on board, either preloaded or with the MTS app. And of those devices, 575,000 report back to AT&T.

AT&T also says it does not share any of its CIQ data with "any other non-AT&T company." and that it has not shared data with any federal or state law enforcement. It does, however, comply with court orders, subponeas and other legal orders.

Data collected from AT&T devices is inaccessible after 60 days from being uploaded. AT&T says it has "three downstreem systems receiving personally identifiable CIQ data from the AT&T server." One of those servers stores data for just 45 days, another has data from September 2011, and the third data from May 2011.

Like Sprint, AT&T explained that it indeed collects phone numbers "in the ordinary cource of its business" and for "Voice Call Performance and Messaging Performance metrics." It does not collect contents of e-mails, URLs of websites visited, contents of search quereies, names or contact information from address books, and none of its CIQ profiles is set to collet the content of text messages.

More: AT&T's response (pdf)

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2 years ago

Google Music opens up to everyone ... if you're in the US

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Google Music has gone and gotten itself an update in the Market, and that Beta tag has finally been lost. That's right folks, invitations are no longer required and Google Music is open to all. 

Open to all though still only applies if you're within the U.S., so for the rest of us, there's still no official way of setting up an account. 

The application update also brings with it a host of bug fixes, and the seamless integration with the Music store in the Android Market. All your purchases will now automatically appear within the app. 

If you're about to start using Google Music for the first time, you'll want to check out our complete guide to using the service.

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2 years ago

Dark Incursion comes to Android, brings steampunk with a dash of Metroid

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If you're looking for yet another game to add to your tally, Big Blue Bubba has brought over Dark Incursion to Android. Their self-described "MetroidVania" styled title follows follows Anya as she looks to uncover a conspiracy in 1800s America during a world war.

Boasting pixel-based art and stereoscopic 3D (using the ol' red/blue glasses), steampunk art style, and the ability to tug at everyone's love of retro gaming, Dark Incursion looks like something worth checking out.

Video and download links are after the break.

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2 years ago

Adobe Flash Player updated, now supports Ice Cream Sandwich

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With many of you now armed with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus the folks at Adobe felt it was time to go ahead and update their Adobe Flash Player 11 to include support for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The notes in the change log confirm there is still some issues that need to be worked out but for the most things should be working fine.  If you're looking for the full change log, you can hit up the source link -- otherwise, go grab v11.1.112.60 from the Android Market. Thanks, Adobe, for not making us all wait until the end of the year.

Source: Adobe; Thanks to all who sent this in!

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