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2 years ago

Five podcast apps for Android now that Google Listen is dead

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Google Listen is officially dead. It was fun while it lasted, but the app's demise hardly signals an end to podcast listening on Android. See, much like the Nexus line of phones and tablets, Google Listen appears to have existed as an example to developers of what to do and encourage them to build upon it. The community responded positively and now Android has a plethora of podcast apps. Some are good, some not so good, but the bottom line is that developers are being aggressive in the podcast space, and that’s a good thing.

Here we present five podcast apps that we like in case you’re wandering around after being a loyal Google Listen user. Admittedly, there are many more podcast apps on Android, many probably very good, but these are five that we like in particular. Let’s get started, shall we?

And don’t forget to check out the Android Central podcast, which can be found on all of these.

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2 years ago

Current Caller ID - would you like some Facebook status with that incoming call?

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After getting a short preview at Mobile World Congress, we’ve now got a chance to try out the latest Android app from WhitePages. It takes the usual caller ID utility, and ties LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to contacts so their latest status pops up with every call. You can also see their local weather and news when checking out their contact details.

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2 years ago

IM+ Pro review: All your instant messaging in one place

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Shape Services' IM+ Pro client has been around on Android for a few years now. Essentially, the application is an all-in-one instant messaging client which integrates a whole range of services, and in addition to working on Android smartphones, it also has a tablet mode. In this day and age where many of us now rely on using data for communication rather than good old fashioned SMS, the number of instant messaging services out there has grown massively. So if you are going to be running instant messaging apps on your Android smartphone it makes sense to me to combine them into one neat and tidy application.

The services that are supported include Facebook, Skype, MSN/Live Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, RenRen, Jabber, mig33, SINA Weibo, Fetion, Mambu.Ru, VKontakte, Yandex, Odnoklassniki.Ru and Mail.Ru Agent. That's a lot of messaging. IM+ also has their very own IM service called Beep, which is ideal if your friends also use IM+. If not then, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

We've got a complete breakdown of IM+ Pro for Android after the break.

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2 years ago

Online Backup tool is pretty awesome, as long as you have some time to spare

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The Internet's been talking about a new tool from Ameer1234567890 over at XDA that allows you to run a Nandroid backup without booting into recovery. It's a novel idea, and we've taken a closer look at it to compare it to the current method of just using recovery to generate a set of system images. That's what a Nandroid backup is -- images that can be used to restore your phone or tablet to a specific date and time. It certainly works as intended, but probably isn't for everyone. Read on.

There are a few pre-requisites for using Online Backup, but they are ones most people who want to use this tool will already have in place. You'll need to be rooted, have Busybox installed, ClockWorkMod recovery (or a CWM-based recovery) installed, and either a terminal client or one of the front ends available in Google Play. For our test purposes we used the Online Nandroid Backup client from Thomas Otero as well as testing from a terminal.

The application and the backup binary both were easy enough to use, with the nod going to the app, simply because tapping a button is always easier than typing. When you launch the app, it checks for the latest version of the Online Backup program and will install it if it's not present. This works exactly as advertised.

On the terminal side, one simply has to get root by typing in su, then run the program by entering onandroid. You have a few parameters like a custom folder name (careful to only use "legal" characters) and time settings, but you don't have to do either. Just type and go.

Then you wait. And wait. Sure enough, the program collects all the files and converts them into a handy Nandroid package, which you can use to restore from ClockWorkMod recovery. Like all dinosaur neckbeards, I have a bit of healthy skepticism about backing up a live file system (like the /data partition) but Ameer says it has been tested, and so far there haven't been any issues. The only ding is how long it takes. It took well over a half-hour, during which my Galaxy Nexus was pretty unresponsive. Thinking it may be the front end I was using from Google Play, gave it a go through the terminal. Same result -- at least a half hour of slow, laggy Android reminiscent of the G1. 

Now anyone who hacks their Galaxy Nexus knows that it takes forever and a half to run a Nandroid on it. So we wanted to compare it to the next easiest way, which is to install ROM Manager and just click the button to backup the current ROM. Nine minutes later, I was rebooted and playing games back to work. 

We're not knocking the development work Ameer has done here. In fact, I'll go on record saying it's totally freaking awesome and something that deserves a ton of respect and love. When something is new and novel, you have to appreciate it, ya know? To top it off, he has the full source of how he's pulling this off available for anyone to have a peek at (its simplicity is pure genius) and is constantly working on improving things. In the end, you're left with a full backup that restores as intended, it just takes longer than the current method. We tip our hat to you Ameer, and hope you keep up the good work!

Of course you'll want to have a look at this yourself. Hit the source link for instructions and downloads, and be sure to show some appreciation while you're there.

Source: XDA-Developers

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2 years ago

Google adds real time traffic data in maps to 130 new U.S. cities, expands global coverage, too

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Real time traffic information is a real day saver, and todays news from Google brings the service to a further 130 U.S. cities within Google Maps

These smaller cities such as Kalamazoo, Michigan and Portland, Maine, will now benefit from traffic information and estimated travel times around the arterial routes within the cities. Hit the source link below for more information on which cities have been added.

The United States isn't the only place to see expanded coverage either. Panama City, San Jose (Costa Rica) and Bogota all join in for the first time too. Additionally, the coverage is being expanded throughout parts of Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Good work, Google.

Source: Google Lat Long Blog

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2 years ago

Spotify on the Amazon Kindle Fire

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It's Spotify. You know, for streaming music. And it's on the Amazon Kindle Fire. And you can download it for free here. (And I got a $1 credit after buying it. So, really, it paid me to download. Sweet.)

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2 years ago

Scope review - the all-seeing eye of social networks

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Scope is the current incarnation of a venerable social networking app that gives users quick access to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Instagram.  I’ve been registered with SocialScope since its early days on BlackBerry, and was pretty surprised not only by how much it has changed, but also that it is yet again in a closed beta format.

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2 years ago

Jazz: Trump's Journey review - a platformer wrapped in a music history lesson

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Jazz: Trump’s Journey has found its way into the featured section of Google Play following on a successful launch in the spring. The platformer game puts players in New Orleans around the birth of jazz, following a musician who’s chasing after love. Besides having a sincere and well-written story based on the early life of Louis Armstrong, Jazz: Trump’s Journey has a whimsical cut-out art style and classic soundtrack that suit the setting to a tee.

The platforming action itself is equally polished, and has a variety of deep gameplay elements, including hidden items, wall-jumping, and freezing time with jazzy trumpet solos.

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2 years ago

New Orbit review - gritty outer space living minus the oxygen shortage

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New Orbit: Episode 1 landed precariously on Google Play late last month. The screenshots of minimalistic outer-space fare and gravity-based gameplay weren’t much to look at, but after playing for only a short while, it was easy to get pulled into a gritty story about surviving on the edge of civilization where even air is a precious commodity.

New Orbit follows the unlucky journey of a stranded engineer trying simply to find his way back home after his ship was blown up. With little more than an escape shuttle to get around, he has to deal with some of the nastier characters that inhabit the fringes of an intergalactic empire to get back home.

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2 years ago

Now might be a good time to check out the NASA app for Android

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Mars. Pictures of Mars. Video from Mars. You know, that planet next door.

Now, we don't wanna get all up in your business here, but if you've yet to download the NASA Android application, perhaps this is the time to do so.

See, there's this red planet out there. It's called Mars. And there's this little robot guy who touched down on the surface last night. We'll call him "Curiosity." And he's currently snapping some pictures and basically casing the joint. And 14 minutes after the shutter snaps, NASA's looking over the pictures -- and uploading them for the rest of us to see. (And that's a damn sight faster than NBC can manage to get news out of London. Just saying.)

The app's more than just that, of course, with video and mission profiles, among other trivial parts of blasting into space on top of a giant rocket ship. 

So, yeah. If you've yet to check out the NASA app for Android, perhaps now's the time to do so.

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2 years ago

Apple removes Youtube app in iOS 6, but it's not a shot at Google

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If you're connected to the Internet, you've probably heard that Apple has dropped support for their Youtube app in the upcoming version of iOS. You might have even heard that it's part of the vast thermonuclear nonsense that the late Steve Jobs started against Android, and other eye-grabbing headlines.

It's not.

Youtube has been one the the most popular applications for iOS since the beginning, and was even featured in the first round of iPhone commercials. Everyone loves Youtube, even Apple. We poke a lot of fun at Apple, but they would never remove a feature and user favorite from iDevices. This isn't part of the feud between Apple and Google, it's a way to provide a better experience with less work.

Previously, Apple wrote its own Youtube app and bundled it into iOS. And when compared to the Android version, it sucks. There was no monetization (ads), which means plenty of content was missing -- music videos from Vevo, for instance. As Rene mentions over at iMore, many users preferred to use Google's web player over the bundled app. If users (hey, that's you and me!) would rather use mobile Safari than your app, it's time for some changes. If those changes mean less work for the iOS development team, that's a win all around.

There is a bit of weirdness surrounding today's news though, and that's the part where Apple says they had to stop because their license expired. We aren't privy to what goes on between Apple and Google, and there surely is some sort of agreement between them concerning Youtube, but you don't need a license to make a Youtube app. A quick peek at Google Play will show you that anyone can build one using the public APIs, and plenty of folks with less resources than Apple have done just that. Apple is pretty hush-mouthed over this sort of thing, so we're not going to read too much into it, but they could make a Youtube app if they wanted to, with no strings attached.

Thankfully, they aren't. They're leaving it up to Google to make one and put it in the Appstore, where it can be downloaded by anyone who wants it -- which we're guessing will be everyone. A quick look at the Google+ app for iOS tells us Google can make an app that showcases HD content and looks beautiful, just like the latest Android app, and we're glad to see it happening. In the meantime, iOS 6 beta users can use Safari, and be glad that Apple did the right thing this time.

More: iMore

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2 years ago

Megatroid review - close enough to Metroid

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Megatroid came to Android recently, offering what will likely be the closest thing to a Metroid game we’ll ever see on mobile. There are a few things that make Megatroid much more than that though, including procedurally-created levels which ensure a fresh play-through every time, and a wide variety of high-tech weaponry than can be acquired through the course of gameplay or through in-app purchases.

For a free game, the graphics and action in Megatroid are excellent, rich with neon lighting and plenty of 3D models (despite the game’s side-scrolling nature).

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2 years ago

Pix’n Love review - a fresh take on retro platforming

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Pix’n Love Rush is currently being featured in the Google Play store, and it’s hard to ignore that delightfully retro pixellated devil in the app icon. The dead-simple platforming game has been available on Android for a long time now, bundling together a wide variety of mini-games in a distinct, slightly-warped pixellated package.

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2 years ago

Einstein Brain Trainer review - flex your frontal lobe

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Einstein Brain Trainer made the port to Google Play not too long ago in an attempt to get players to sharpen their wits with a series of brain teasers. The game keeps close tabs on your progress over time so you can see how much smarter (or stupider) you’re getting over time, and ranks you accordingly. 

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2 years ago

Apps of the Week - WeatherEye, Ski Safari, My Movies Pro and more!

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Let's all gather around the air conditioner, take few minutes and relax. Depending on your location the summer has been kicking some serious heat off this year, so let's spend a few minutes together and check out some of our favorite applications. Just past the break you will find apps like WeatherEye, My Movies Pro, Ski Safari, and a few others that we are greatly enjoying. Let's see what they are all about.

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