Headlines

2 years ago

Foursquare brings back Nearby Friends feature

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The Foursquare app for Android has been updated to bring back an old feature called Nearby Friends. As you might expect, it showcases which of your friends have checked in nearby recently, and what they think about the locations you've been checking into. All you have to do is scroll all the way to the top of your news stream, and use that tab selection bar that pops up at the bottom. 

Though it's only really the one feature (in addition to the usual performance tweaks), it's a pretty significant one, and those that are active on the network will be happy to see Nearby Friends again.

How often do you check in to locations using Foursquare? Do you have a lot of friends on there from out of town? Has Facebook proven to be more far-reaching, or do you see all location check-ins as excessive and useless information to share? 

Source: Foursquare

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2 years ago

YouTube for Android updated with new UI for Froyo and Gingerbread, fresh Watch experience

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Thanks to a YouTube app update that just rolled out today, anyone with a Froyo or Gingerbread device can now enjoy refreshed UI and preloading mechanism. Google has also made a few tweaks to the Watch screen, though there's nothing particularly dramatic. This update added the ability to move videos to your personal YouTube TV queue - a great touch for those of us that want to watch videos in their full glory on the big screen. Finally, a few more channels have been added to the Channel Store. The skippable YouTube ads we've been waiting for are also live in this update.  

Combined with an updated in March which enabled HD video playback on Gingerbread and Froyo devices, it's great to see Google's not leaving the older phones behind. Additional YouTube TV support is a nice touch, and something of a necessity for those of us with Google TV set-top boxes.

Are you guys finding anything particularly nice about this update? Maybe a small tweak that didn't make it to the changelog?

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2 years ago

AT&T Xperia Ion officially receiving Android 4.0 update

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We noticed just shy of a week ago that some users were reporting that an update was available for their AT&T Xperia Ion. AT&T has spilled the beans now, and announced officially that the Ion has an Ice Cream Sandwich update ready to go. Along with the entire host of usual Android 4.0 improvements such as an improved lock screen, redone browser and new home screen folders, AT&T notes that the update will "provide faster Mobile Hotspot and Wi-Fi speeds" on the device.

This update won't be coming OTA (Over the Air) to your device, so you're stuck downloading Sony's PC companion software to download and apply the update (seriously, just push it OTA please). Check out the source links below to see the official statement from AT&T, as well as the Sony support page to hep you setup the software for the update.

Source: AT&T Consumer Blog, Sony Support

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2 years ago

Google Maps Street View dives under the waves

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Do you ever have that moment where you're scuba diving in the south Pacific, and you're wondering "Was I supposed to turn right at the coral reef to get back to the resort, or keep swimming straight?" It happens to me all the time. Luckily Google, as ever, has us covered. The Google Maps team has just released a handful of new Street View locations that are underwater. Various spots along the coast of Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii can take you down to see some of the wonderful aquatic landscape, wildlife, and flora in the region. You can find some of the more spectacular shots in Google's Street View gallery for the ocean

Looking at stuff like this, it's hard to imagine how iOS or Microsoft intend to outpace Google's progress in the mapping world. Sure, the underwater Street View is more for sightseeing than anything else, but the lengths Google is willing to go for completeness are pretty crazy. 

Any divers in the house? Ever wish you had a waterproof phone with you? 

Source: Google Lat Long

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2 years ago

Google Play celebrates 25 billion app downloads with 25 cent app promotion

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Google has announced that its Google Play app store has delivered its 25 billionth app download, up from the 20 billion figure quoted at Google I/O in June. To celebrate, it's launching another app sale, where this time you'll be able to pick up a selection of popular titles from developers like Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Rovio, runtastic and Full Fat for just 25 cents over the next five days. In addition, Google is promising special collections of content in the near future, including "25 movies you must own, 25 banned books and 25 albums that changed the world."

Google Play, which launched a little under four years ago as the Android Market, as grown considerably in the past year, adding movies, TV, music and magazines, and becoming a fully-fledged content platform. And in under twelve months, it's gone from a total of 10 billion downloads to today's 25 billion milestone. The total app count now sits at 675,000, up from 600,000 in June.

Right now we're not seeing any 25 cent apps on Google Play on our devices, but we'll keep you posted when they start to appear. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if you spot any bargains.

Source: Official Android Blog

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2 years ago

Now playing: 10-Pin Shuffle

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I'm a sucker for bowling games. Always have been. (It's part of the reason I've kept the Zune HD around for so long.) This week I've been playing 10-Pin Shuffle, which as the name implies is a shuffle-bowling game. The app itself is free, but it's limited to just one poker-style game until you cough up a few bucks via an in-app purchase.

Game play is simple enough -- flick the puck forward. It's also plenty smooth, and the graphics are decent. Not great, but good enough for some quick play. Give the free version a shot before paying, though, and see if this one's up your ally.

Also available on Amazon and Nook.

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2 years ago

Indestructible brings free multiplayer demolition derby to Android

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Glu has just launched a free-to-play multiplayer game on Google Play called Indestructible. It puts players in the driver's seat of some dangerous vehicles, and pits them against others online. More often than not, they're just cars with all manner of dozer blades, laser cannons, and armor plating riveted to them, but you'll also see armored personnel carriers, hovercraft, and semi trailers. game modes include the good old-fashioned deathmatch, capture the flag, and a collection game type called recover the charge. As you play through, you earn experience points, level up, upgrade skills, and unlock new gear for your various cars. 

Those of you that are worried that this is a pay-to-win scenario, don't be. I hopped into a game last night, and came out on top even though I was using the bare-bones entry-level vehicle. Some of the upgrades are really sweet, and the four-player action ran nice and smooth on my Nexus 7. 

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2 years ago

Samsung reportedly developing its own mobile browser, just as it always has done

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The Internet's in a bit of a tizzy this morning over reports from a Korean news that Samsung has begun development of its own WebKit-based mobile browser, to be used in future smartphones. ETNews reports that Samsung's browser will be offered as an alternative to Google Chrome on mobile. WebKit, of course, is the open-source software at the core of many mobile and desktop browsers, including Chrome, the native Android browser, and Safari. Today's report says Samsung has recruited several "WebKit professionals" in order to accelerate its browser efforts. The project is said to be based out of the Samsung Information Systems America R&D Center in Silicon Valley.

While this would be a fairly noteworthy development, it's not as big a deal as you might think. Google has been pushing Chrome as the default browser for Android for a while now, and it comes pre-loaded on upcoming phones like the RAZR M and RAZR HD, as well as Samsung's own Galaxy Camera. Samsung's already shown that it wants to foster its own ecosystem rather than relying on Google's. Competing Samsung and Google services are numerous -- Music Hub versus Play Music, Video Hub versus Play Videos and TV, Samsung Apps versus Play Store. So with Google taking the initiative to push Chrome center stage, a reaction from Samsung was only natural.

But today's news is only a natural progression of the work Samsung's been doing on its own native Android browser for the past several years. If you examine the bundled browser on a Samsung phone, you'll find it's quite far from the stock Android browser. Samsung was the first to introduce tiled rendering on Android in the Galaxy S2, and on the Galaxy S3 it offered its own unique tab control and power saving options. Other Android OEMs have done the same, so in a way they all have their own mobile browsers. And with Chrome replacing the stock browser as the default on Android handsets, we wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the likes of HTC and LG follow a similar path.

It's possible Samsung might be developing its browser from the ground up, based upon WebKit, though today's article is light on technical details like this. What we think is more likely is that we'll find Samsung's own S Browser, based upon the speedy stock Jelly Bean browser, made available alongside Chrome on future Samsung Android handsets. And really, that's not all that different from the way things work right now.

Source: ETNews, via SamMobile

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2 years ago

Google Play Books updated with new tools, highlighting and notes

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Google has updated their Play Books application, bringing a new set of tools such as definitions, maps integration, translation, and text highlighting. The new feature set brings along some great options that we've seen in other popular e-book apps, as well as some that we haven't.

With today's update, users can select a named place and have a card with a Google Maps view displayed, with the option to find out more via a Google search or from Wikipedia. Similarly, when you come across a word or term you're not familiar with you can tap it for a quick definition. 

Taking things a bit further, you can also select a word or phrase and use the button in the action bar to translate it into other languages, presumably using Google's translate engine.

Last but not least, readers can now highlight sections and insert notes, which sync across the cloud to all devices running the app. 

It's great to see Google keeping their applications fresh and filled with new features, but it's even more exciting to see them moving outside the confines of the US into other countries. Google Play Books is available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Korea and Japan. Download it via the link above.

Source: Google 

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2 years ago

Netflix details their UI update for the Android application

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Following reported sightings, Netflix has gone on record and detailed the UI updates that are being pushed to the Android version of the Netflix application. No download is required, everything has been done on the back end, and users should be seeing it for themselves. 

Other than looks, there's nothing else to be found within. But, looks are important. The Netflix app has always felt like a means to an end rather than an enjoyable application use. These changes looks to go someway to changing that feeling, and follows changes to the iOS offerings. A pretty sweet addition is the ability to double tap on a title and have it beginning right away. If you're a Netflix user, be sure to hit us up in the comments below and let us know your thoughts on the new mobile experience. 

Source: Netflix (YouTube)

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2 years ago

Motorola XPRT update brings Gingerbread and bugfixes

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The Motorola XPRT, that BlackBerry-like keyboard phone on Sprint, has finally made its move to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Along with bumping up to the next platform version, the update brings a decent grouping of bug fixes for the device:

  • Email User Interface fixes.
  • Contact User Interface fixes.
  • UXD fix to color backgrounds (remove red).
  • Fix the ability to use Bluetooth car kits.
  • Improve EAS GAL (Global Address List) Search.
  • Improve EAS First Sync timing.
  • Fix Forward / Reply markers to original email. (this is if you reply or forward an email from your phone, it would not display in your EAS email account.)
  • SMS fix when using () in SMS body.
  • Bluetooth toasts when syncing contacts improved.

The latest software version, 4.5.1-110-kns-46, is available now and your device should prompt you to update. If you haven't been updated yet, a quick trip to Settings > About phone > System updates should remedy that. As far as Ice Cream Sandwich goes, we think this is probably the end of the road for updates on the XPRT.

Source: Sprint Support

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2 years ago

Samsung ChatON app with voice and video chat spotted

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Samsung continues to try and push its ChatON instant messaging service, and if the image seen here is to be believed they look set to push into the world of voice and video chat. Spied by SamsungMania.cz on a Samsung Galaxy Camera is the as yet unreleased ChatONV. 

Very little else is known about it at this time, other than the apparent support for voice and video chat. While seen here as a separate application, presumably Samsung could integrate the services into their existing ChatON application rather than offering it separately. 

Source: SamsungMania via Sammyhub

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2 years ago

Pocket Planes sets course for Google Play

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Pocket Planes, the adorable pixelated successor to Tiny Tower, found its way to Android over the weekend. Instead of building a massive self-sustaining skyscraper, players build out an airline, complete with a wide variety of aircraft, destinations, goods, and passengers to deliver. There are sets of missions that change regularly, and players that contribute deliveries to them are listed on worldwide leaderboards, as well as smaller ones in flight groups with your friends. 

I've played a fair bit of Pocket Planes on iOS, and it's a ton of fun, especially if you found that Tiny Tower lacked depth or complexity. The game is free, with the support of in-app purchases for accelerated progress on a handful of fronts. The Game maintains the charm of Tiny Tower, and puts a fresh twist on it.

Any Tiny Tower players in the house interested in giving this game a shot? Any other good business simulation games out there? The only other ones that really come to mind are Order Up!! To Go and the endless tide of Kairosoft titles like Game Dev Story.  

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2 years ago

So long, Verizon-exclusive NFL app: SiriusXM now streams NFL games

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Had a pleasant surprise during Week 3 of the NFL season. (Never mind that the Steelers blew it by letting the Raiders within a half-mile of the end zone, with ol' Sea Bass on the sidelines.) SiriusXM is now streaming NFL games live online. And that means you also can listen to them on the SiriusXM Android application.

And that means I no longer need the NFL Mobile app, which only officially works on Verizon phones, to listen to games that aren't on TV. (And, yes, that means no cracked versions.)

I've never been a fan of such exclusives. Now, it doesn't matter. You will, however, need an extra app to keep up with the latest news and stats, but that's no big deal. OK, and you'll also need a subscription to SiriusXM. But kudos to to the company for getting this one done. Why didn't anyone tell me before now?

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