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2 years ago

Hands on with Huawei's Emotion UI

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Huawei recently announced its new interface layer for upcoming Android phones, dubbed the Huawei Emotion UI 1.0. Despite being announced a couple of months back, so far it's only been available in Chinese. But at IFA 2012 today, we tracked down the new UI running on an Ascend P1 at the manufacturer's booth. It's a fairly drastic departure from the way Android normally works, as there's no traditional app drawer, with all app shortcuts being displayed on the device's homescreen instead.

Huawei's also introduced a host of modular, customizable widgets to display personal info, contacts, weather forecasts and other pertinent data. And as far as visuals go, the Emotion UI ships with several skins that completely change the look of the UI, including one inspired by stock Android 4.0.

Check out our video for a quick preview of what to expect in Huawei's new Emotion UI software.

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2 years ago

Hands on with Moleskine for Android on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2

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One o​f the announcements at the Samsung Unpacked event on Tuesday night in Berlin, was of an updated SDK for the Note devices with a view to better third party integration of the S-Pen. One of the apps that will be getting on board with the Galaxy Note 2 is Moleskine, you know, those nice -- and somewhat expensive -- paper notebooks that so many seem to adore. 

Moleskine has recently announced an integration between their paper notebooks and Evernote with the 'Smart Notebook', but this is something entirely different. This is a native note taking application, that will be exclusively available on the Galaxy Note devices for six months after launch. 

So it's a note taking app. Samsung includes a perfectly good note taking app themselves on the Galaxy Note devices already. While Moleskine here at IFA may only be a demo version, there's certainly a lot to like about it. It's really nicely done, and makes full use of the S-Pen and the pressure sensitive technology within the Note 2. 

The main home screen displays all of your various journals on a book shelf, and the actual journals themselves can be customized with different colored paper, lines, grids, you get the picture. There will be a selection of pre-created templates, which in this demo version was for recording information about your dog. At launch there will be many more though. 

As we already mentioned, this version is only a demo, and there will be more features available when it comes to launch such as the pocket that can be found on paper Moleskine notebooks. It's really well done though, and the future success of the Note line will depend on developers bringing quality apps to market that take advantage of the technology within the devices. The emphasis seems to be on creating the same experience of writing in a paper Moleskine notebook though, just in digital form. 

Moleskine will be available through Samsung Apps at launch, but the developers did confirm to us that after the exclusivity period with Samsung has expired, Moleskine will be available through Google Play. 

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2 years ago

Former BlackBerry user? Check out the free CrackBerry Forums app for Android!

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Greetings citizens of Android Central! The Mobile Nations World Tour continues, and I confess I have been slacking.  My BlackBerry duties pulled me away. I have a couple more quality posts due to hit the blogs here before I move onto my stint with Windows Phone. But I wanted to chime in quick to let you know about a new app that just went live minutes ago in the Google Play Store... the CrackBerry Forums App for Android!

Yes, there is a story behind this one. We wanted to get an interim CrackBerry forums app up and running for the BlackBerry PlayBook quickly while we continue to work on our upcoming native BlackBerry 10 app. We found the easiest and best way to do this was to have our friends at Tapatalk port over their Android client. We launched that version yesterday in BlackBerry App World. As a byproduct of those efforts, we had the .apk in our hands so figured it wouldn't hurt to get it live in the Google Play store as well. Judging from the comments to my previous posts here, I know a bunch of you are former BlackBerry users and CrackBerry members. It's all good. 

The app is of course free. So if you have a soft spot for your old BlackBerry, want to keep in touch with CrackBerry friends or want to keep up to date with all the chatter surrounding the upcoming launch of BlackBerry 10 phones, be sure to give the CrackBerry Forums app a download in Google Play. The app makes it easy to browse the forums from your Android device. Just remember, if you're going to post, don't be a troll about it. Nobody likes trolls. Be like Phil and Jerry who have already downloaded the app and given it a 5 star rating along with some awesome reviews. ;)

The next move is yours Phil. I can't wait for you to come on CrackBerry and announce the launch of the Android Central app in BlackBerry App World.

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2 years ago

Blood and Glory: Legend brings back gladitorial mayhem to Android

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Glu has launched their sequel to Blood and Glory on Google Play today, offering a remastered experience of one-on-one tactical combat. Say what you will about this being Infinity Blade in ancient Rome - gladiators are badass, and I really can't wait to get my thumbs on this one. Here's a quick run-down of the features. 

  • Motion comic storyline: Journey through the Empire, leaving blood-thirsty bosses in your wake as the all new animated comic story unfolds!
  • Stunning & award-winning AAA graphics: Perfect your skills and unleash stunning Special Attacks, Super Combos and the all new Glorious Strike!
  • Daily bonus: Come back every day to earn free money and equipment!
  • New arenas and enemies: Battle new towering Giants and seductive Claw Vixens to the death in the new Snake Den, Viking Ship, and Neptune Temple!

Of course, Glu is all about free-to-play, and that means in-app purchases. If you can deal with that and dig the trailer below, you can get Blood & Glory: Legend over here in Google Play.

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2 years ago

Hands-on with HBO Go on Nexus 7

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Oh, happy day! After a bit of a false start this afternoon with the first update on Google Play, HBO Go is finally available on Jelly Bean devices -- and more specifically, on the Nexus 7. That's the 7-inch tablet with thie high-resolution display Google released this summer, and we've been dying to give HBO's on-demand streaming a go.

The app is pretty stunning, visually. You're asked to log in through your cable provider at the outset (though you can browse shows as a guest, too). From there, you're greeted with a moving wall of thumbnails. Movies, series, specials -- everything HBO has to offer through the app is right there. You can browser traditional menus if you want, but that's not nearly as much fun.

Pick a show, and watch. It's that simple. And it's about time.

We've got some quick hands-on video after the break if you prefer.

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2 years ago

Regularly review - how to tackle fuzzy task management

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Regularly for Android is a fresh take on the usual task management app. Instead of setting hard deadlines, Regularly is an attempt to organize tasks that simply have to be done within a certain window on a recurring basis. Users can set the interval for reminders throughout the task’s period, and tasks that are approaching or past due are appropriately color-coded and bubble up to the top for increased visibility.

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2 years ago

HBO Go now supports Jelly Bean - and Jelly Bean devices [updated]

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Update 2: Everything's working now. Huzzah!

Update: HBO has removed that Jelly Bean line from the "What's new" section. So much for that.

The HBO Go app today got an update to support Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, as well as "performance enhancements and bug fixes." Unfortunately, it doesn't actually support any devices that are actually running Jelly Bean. Go figure.

As you can see above, you still can't install HBO Go to the Nexus 7 from Google Play. Or, on a stock Galaxy Nexus -- also running Jelly Bean. 

We're hoping HBO just needs to flip the permissions switch in Google Play to allow the devices that actually are officially running the version of Android it now officially supports. But until then, we're just gonna stick to Netflix, we guess.

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2 years ago

'Recommended for You' section shows up in Google Play

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The Google Play Store has quite stealthily started showing "Recommended for You" sections today. Tapping into the recommendation area (found inside Apps, Music, Magazines, etc.) you'll see a list of apps based on a factors described within each entry. For example if you're recommended a camera app, it may say that the app is popular with users of another camera app which you've purchased previously. Other recommendations come from the nondescript "popular with similar users", "+1'd by your friends" and "popular in your area". The exact metrics for recommendations aren't known, but if we had to guess we'd say Google has a pretty sophisticated algorithm working on this.

Thankfully, you can help Google define what you'd like to see in your recommended list by hitting the hide button on any app that you'd prefer not to see from that point out. It's yet to be seen whether or not that will permanently hide the recommendation forever or if it'll come back eventually, but it's nice to know what you can influence the selections a little bit. What it all comes down to is increasing app discovery, which is a good thing. There are a ton of really great apps out there in the Play Store that just don't get enough attention.

Thanks, Archit!

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2 years ago

Horn review - golem battles have never looked so good

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Horn has launched in Google Play and the Nvidia Tegra Zone today, offering a blend of 3D combat and platforming action in a very nicely-rendered package. The game’s story takes you through the quest of a young blacksmith that wakes up one day to find his world is in ruin and populated by large, grouchy golems. By sheer happenstance, the boy discovers these golems are actually people under a curse, and takes it upon himself to restore his friends and family to their original state and ultimately bring the world back to normal.

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2 years ago

Hands on with the new TomTom for Android satellite navigation app

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TomTom for Android has been an awfully long time coming. Having been available on iOS now for a number of years, the global satellite navigation giant has been somewhat tardy in bringing it to Android. But, it's officially official now, we're getting it on Android in October. The biggest question still remains the same though -- why buy this on an OS that comes with a perfectly good satellite navigation system built in for free? We went hands on at IFA 2012 in Berlin to see if maybe we could answer that. 

First things first, TomTom is a really nice looking application. The interface is well designed -- and by that we mean it's designed as if this were a stand alone TomTom device. One of the not so great points about Google Maps Navigation is that the in app menus are still designed like a smartphone app. TomTom has some really large, bold icons that make for simple use in the car. 

All the necessary information is present too, speed, distance to destination, arrival time as you would expect from an app such as this. Also available is HD traffic, which during the demonstration showed just how bad an idea driving in Berlin in the afternoon can be. Speed camera locations are also available in TomTom -- not that anyone at AC speeds anywhere, ever -- and the locations are community built. For example, if you drive past a location not registered and you come across a mobile speed camera, by tapping the relevant icon you can report this information back for inclusion in the database. 

The demo unit also shows the universal TomTom docking system in action. This is perfect for use with an Android smartphone, as it has adjustable arms to suit the differing sizes of devices. It also has a microUSB charging facility so there's still only need to have one device plugged into the cigarette lighter socker. 

We're going to have to wait until October though to really get to grips with TomTom for Android. No matter how good it may look on a show floor, real world performance is what matters here. There are definitely features in TomTom which is going to make it justifiable for regular drivers over something like Google Maps Navigation, but price is going to play a big part in that decision. 

And as yet, we still don't know that price. TomTom informed us that the pricing information will be announced at launch, but that it will be available in Google Play in markets around the world sometime in October. It does feel like a full on TomTom navigation system though, and with an application available for a smartphone, it makes you wonder how long the stand alone systems will continue to sell. You can find our hands on video after the break.

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