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2 years ago

Google Voice Search adds 13 new languages

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International Voice Search users rejoice! Google's ever-evolving search service has been updated to add another 13 languages, bringing the total to an incredible 42 languages supported. The list of new languages should make a lot of European Android users happy. It includes Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, European Portuguese, Finnish, Glacian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak and Swedish.

With this update, Google claims another 100 million people will be able to use the service in their native tongue. Voice Search can only get more accurate over time with additional users, as Google uses the search queries to improve the service. This is simply a cloud-side update, which means that no additional action should be required to start using the new languages -- outside of possibly changing the device's default language.

Source: Official Google Blog

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2 years ago

Bank of America update adds mobile check deposit

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Bank of America has finally updated its Android app to include a couple features that iOS users, as well as Android users with other banks (all the way back in late 2010, we might add), have enjoyed for a while now. The app has generally had a good and usable UI, but has lacked both mobile check deposits and notifications. We're happy to report that both of these features are now available and ready for download in the form of an update from the Play Store. Unfortunately, the tablet version of the app has yet to be updated with the same features.

Additional functionality is nice, but what we would really like to see is Bank of America choosing to follow Android style guidelines and remove the legacy menu button from the app. There's really no reason, almost a year after the release of Android 4.0, for any developer -- let alone one of this size -- to keep coding their app without an action bar and overflow settings button.

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2 years ago

Twitter bringing changes to API access that's bound to affect Android developers

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Twitter has announced that they will be bringing some pretty big changes in version 1.1 of their API, and these changes are something that will affect just about every third-party Twitter client . In a post today on the official Twitter blog, they explain things a bit, but there's really three major changes:

  • authentication is now required on every API endpoint
  • there's a new per-endpoint rate-limiting methodology
  • changes to our Developer Rules of the Road, especially around applications that are traditional Twitter clients

The first two deal with how often third-party applications can query Twitter, and whether they can do it anonymously. Come March 2013, all developers are going to have to use something like OAuth when making API requests, instead of the current methods that allow an anonymous grab of things like Tweets on a current trend, or with a certain string of text embedded. This really only affects scrapers and aggregators, so it's not that big of a deal for app developers. The rate-limiting will adjust how often apps can use the API, which currently sits at 350 times per hour. With the new changes, different types of API calls will have different limits. The example limits given by Twitter have 60 calls per hour, per endpoint listed. That means that you can send 60 Tweets, look at 60 user profiles, and refresh 60 times in an hour. These changes will be live in "the coming weeks". On the surface, these changes make sense, and developers should be able to work with them in most cases.

The last change is the big one. Twitter is tightening the rules for unofficial clients, in ways that isn't likely to go over very well with developers. The three "Rules of the Road" changes they have highlighted are new display requirements, pre-installed mobile applications must be approved by Twitter, and requiring developers with a large amount of users to work directly with Twitter. The new display requirements dictate how Twitter apps will look and feel, and cover things like @ links and re-tweet formats. The approval of pre-installed apps means folks like Samsung and HTC who build Twitter into their software will have to get approval if they continue to bundle in the service. If developers ship a product without this approval, Twitter may revoke the applications use of the API. The last portion, which affect popular clients like Plume, spells out that apps with more than 100,000 users will have to work with Twitter. This isn't immediate, as apps that currently have more than 100,000 users will be allowed to grow another 200-percent before they will get limited functionality from the API. 

At a quick glance, none of these changes seem too drastic. But the real stickler will be what Twitter will and will not approve. Twitter has been accused of not playing fair in the past, even leading to a probe from the FTC. Developers and Twitter power-users are rightfully concerned, as most of the third-party applications both on iOS and Android offer more than the official clients do. We can't say for sure that these changes will be a bad thing until we see them, but there's certainly plenty of ways things could go wrong. The Internet will be watching to see how this all plays out.

Source: Twitter

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2 years ago

Trainyard review - when painting trains gets confusing

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The free version of Trainyard was recently launched on Android, which was our queue to get up close and personal with the full version. The premise of laying down tracks so trains can get to their destinations seems easy enough, until you start factoring in switches for overlapping tracks, merging trains into single entities, and crossing them over one another to change their color.

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2 years ago

Pinterest for Android review - mobile scrapbooking for fashion enthusiasts

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Pinterest finally launched an Android app, offering all of the scrapbooking appeal of the growingly popular social network in a mobile format. Right off the bat, it’s clear that the Pinterest guys took their time and made sure that experience was as smooth and reliable as the web version.

Just like the site, users can browse through boards of items surrounding themes they’re interested in, post pins to their own boards, repin items from others, leave comments and likes on specific items, and share pins out to other social networks.

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2 years ago

Instagram 3.0 adds photo maps, new profile pages and speed

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If you've been itching for a new Instagram update, your wish has been granted. Instagram 3.0 has now landed in the Google Play Store and it brings along plenty of changes. A new feature called photo maps allows you to showcase where you’ve taken your photos and check out where others have taken photos. In addition to that, new profile page changes are in effect and various other bits within the app have changed as well. Nothing drastic but it cleans the app up nicely.

Finally, the most welcome change for me and likely others -- speed. Instagram has been updated to allow for faster, endless scrolling and overall browsing of the app has picked up the pace. Users should notice less jerkiness in the app and images loading relatively faster. Instagram has dropped a new video highlighting the changes; you'll find it down below if you're looking for a walkthrough. Otherwise, go ahead and fire up the Google Play Store and get to downloading Instagram 3.0.

Source: Instagram

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2 years ago

Google Wallet users can now save their Discover card

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If you've got a Discover card and want to get in on the Google Wallet action, you'll be happy to hear that you can now save your card for easy access on your Android device. Just head on over to the Discover page to link your card, and before you know it, you'll be tapping, paying, and earning rewards from your phone. This is the first public partnership to use the Save to Wallet API, which helps keep rewards consistent, plus the Discover card shows up nice and identifiably within the app. 

I'm in Canada, so Discover cards and Google Wallet are both entirely foreign things to me, but gawrsh, do they sound exciting. How many of you guys have been using Google Wallet since the update earlier this month that allowed users to add whatever credit card they wanted? Are there a lot of stores in your area that support it?

Source: Google Commerce

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2 years ago

Ubi plug-mounted Android device gives your phone eyes and ears in the home

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A Kickstarter project out of Toronto called Ubi recently reached its funding goal for a tiny Android-powered computer that plugs directly into a power socket. It's riddled with sensors and hooks up to the local Wi-Fi network so it can push out notifications to your phone about the room's conditions - lights, temperature, sound, movement... Even humidity. It's got a full-sized USB and headphone jack and RF and Bluetooth capabilities for added connectivity. There's an LED light on the back plus speakers so the Ubi can do some communicating of its own, plus a decent amount of horsepower under the hood to keep things running (800 MHz processor, 1 GB of RAM). The unit itself will ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and is going to have its own app ecosystem with a handful launching with the device.

  • Voice-enabled Internet search
  • Speakerphone
  • Indicator light (light changing based on events, e.g. weather, stock, email)
  • Home speaker system with sound piping
  • Virtual assistant (audio calendar, feed reader, podcast etc)
  • Voice memos
  • Alarm clock
  • Intercom system
  • Baby monitor
  • Noise pollution monitor
  • Controlling the climate of your home perfectly (through web enabled thermostats like Nest) 

It's a pretty sweet little device by the looks of things. In some ways, I prefer Belkin's Wemo, since it has the ability to power on or off home appliances within a wide range of criteria, but maybe these two home accessories could work in tandem (especially if Ubi has support for IFTT). The main use case here is going to be making voice-activated web searches without even having to pick up your phone, but no doubt developers are going to find all sorts of other fun things to do with the Ubi. 

The funding campaign is ongoing, so if you want your own unit, you'll need to pitch in $189. They should be hitting retail in early 2013 for $199. Who's biting?

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2 years ago

ESPN Goals updated with soccer video streams

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ESPN UK announced an update to their Goals app for Android with a bunch of new features for soccer football fans. Here's a run-down of the major changes. 

  • Fans can watch video from selected ESPN studio-based programming, such as its pre- and post-match studio analysis around its live televised football coverage, and video previews of upcoming matches featuring ESPN’s line-up of football experts.
  • Introducing in-app social media functionality: video highlights can be shared with other ESPN Goals users and friends who do not have the app
  • Enhanced video quality and design across all platforms: a new club personalisation tab allowing fans to track all videos, fixtures, news and scores around their clubs
  • Goal and video alerts including half time, full time and weekend round-up clips
  • Key season stats – top scorers, assists and discipline
  • New Android version plus widget on home screen displaying live information when games are on

They also announced another Android app to go along with their new ESPNFC brand, though details on that are a bit skimpier.  Anyone in the UK will be able to download the latest version of ESPN at the Google Play link above. Any football fans in the house? Which apps do you use to keep tabs on the latest matches? 

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2 years ago

Dunkin' Donuts goes mobile with the release of payment and gifting app

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The daily grind can be tough on some folks. For that there is coffee. Mass amounts of coffee. Looking to keep up with competitors such as the infamous Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts has now gone ahead and launched a new app that will help caffeine deprived individuals get their fix a little bit faster. It's a combination app that allows you to process payments, send virtual gift cards, look up store locations and finally, check out the menu and nutritional facts.

  • Purchase, manage, and reload a Dunkin’ Donuts Card: Guests can purchase a new mobile Dunkin’ Donuts Card (selecting from multiple designs for many occasions), add money to an existing card, and view all previous card transactions. The Dunkin’ Mobile App supports American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and PayPal.
  • Pay right from the app using a virtual Dunkin’ Donuts Card: Guests can purchase Dunkin’ Donuts products with the Dunkin’ App by simply tapping the mobile Dunkin’ Donuts Card and presenting the screen to the crew member to be scanned. Balances are updated immediately after purchase.
  • Send an mGift: Dunkin’ Donuts Cards can be sent to friends, family, or colleagues via email, text, or Facebook. Dunkin’ Donuts is now the only national coffee retailer to offer people all of these options for sending an mGift. Dunkin’ Donuts Cards can be sent in denominations between $2 and $100.
  • Locate the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts: A detailed restaurant locator makes it easy to find directions to and information about local Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, including store hours, in-store Wi-Fi, drive-thru availability, and more.
  • Find nutritional information: The Dunkin’ App makes nutritional facts available for guests’ favorite Dunkin’ Donuts menu items.
  • Link to Dunkin’ Donuts’ social media communities: Dunkin' Donuts is actively engaged within leading social media channels, with more than 6.8 million Facebook fans and 160,000 Twitter followers. Easy links to “Like” Dunkin’ Donuts on Facebook or follow @DunkinDonuts on Twitter can be found in the “Social” section of the Dunkin’ App.

The app is available in the Google Play Store right now, though it does seem as though it's only available for folks in the U.S. and it doesn't appear to be compatible with any Android tablets. If you prefer Dunkin' over Starbucks, it might be worth checking out.

Source: Dunkin' Donuts via: CIO

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2 years ago

Gift cards likely headed to Google Play, APK teardown reveals

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Gift cards for the Google Play Store have been a much-requested feature for the service, and now it seems Google may be preparing to launch them. The Play Store APK (application file) was recently updated to version 3.8.15.

After finding that the new version was a few kilobytes heavier, the guys at Android Police decided to decode the APK and start digging around, and they uncovered a wealth of evidence in support of the existence of Play gift cards.

The new APK apparently intercepts links to the URL play.google.com/redeem (currently inactive). There are also code references to activities in the app associated with redeeming gift codes, as well as new art assets for the pages where they’re to be used. And a couple of enterprising hackers even managed to tinker around and open up the hidden gift code redemption pages, as evidenced by the shots above.

So we think it’s pretty much guaranteed that Google will be introducing this feature at some point in the future, and given that most of the code to enable this is now on consumers’ devices, we hope it’ll be rolled out sooner rather than later.

Source: Android Police

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2 years ago

Google Maps update brings improvements to Transit information

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Google Maps for Android has received a boost to version 6.10 today, bringing some pretty interesting improvments to the transit information in particular. In addition, Google is now boasting schedules for more than 1 million transit stops across the globe in nearly 500 cities. Impressive. 

The update brings some changes to the transit layer within the application. Now, a specific mode of public transport can be selected, and the others will be hidden. So, if you catch a lot of trains bus rarely use a bus, you can isolate the train routes and get rid of the buses. 

Station pages have also been tweaked to be more useful. They're accessed in the same way -- a simple tap -- but will show departure times, destination distances and lines serving that station. 

In addition to the transit improvements, the following features have also been squeezed in for good measure:

  • Now, whenever you search for a city or postal code, the borders of that region are highlighted.
  • Under My Places you’ll notice we’ve added new tabs, which will help you access all your information from a single place; from your saved maps for use offline to your starred places and Custom Maps created on your desktop.
  • If you enable Location History, you’ll be able to browse the places you’ve been on a daily basis with an updated Location History dashboard.

It's been said so many times before, but if you're an Android user, Google Maps is an essential application. 

More: Google Lat Long Blog

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2 years ago

What the 'death' of Flash means for Android and the web

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Now that Adobe has dropped Flash for Android, it's worth a look to see how this will change things and what direction we may be headed. Of course, you can still sideload an older version, but that's far from an end-game solution. We're all thinking that Adobe has something in mind, but let's focus on the current state of Flash -- both on the web and in applications.

Contrary to what you might have read today, Flash is far from dead. Only the ability to see it in our stock browser on Android. Adobe still supports Flash on Windows and Mac OS X, and Google's Chrome is pushing it forward for Linux. Flash is alive and well on the desktop, and will probably remain that way for a long while. You might be asking why -- that's a reasonable question. Adobe made it really easy to create Flash content, that's why. The tools to build Flash files were fairly expensive, but as easy to use as a standard video editor. Professionals could tweak it and do wonderful things, but more importantly anyone could dump a few things together and create Flash content. When something is that easy, people will use it. And the cost was easily mitigated by about a million torrents of the software.

We don't know how long Adobe plans to support Flash on the desktop, but the content won't be going away any time soon. HTML 5 does a great job at some things, but it needs a company like Adobe to step in and build tools to allow the average Joe (or Jane) to do anything with it. You can bet Adobe has some ideas here -- making the tools used to create content is what they do best. As more developers use HTML 5, and companies start making it easier for non-techies to use, it will grow in popularity. That's a good thing. A thing we want to happen, and it will. 

Right now, there are plenty of games and other interactive media on the web that uses Flash. Slowly, that will transmute into HTML 5 content, but what about the immediate future? Eventually sideloading an old version of Flash will stop working, and we will still want to see and play with the content that's already published. That's where Adobe Air comes in. There's a good chance you're already using Adobe Air on both the desktop and on your Android device, and don't realize it. Air is a way to build Flash-style content into an application and run it independently of the browser or any install of the Flash player app. Programs on your computer like TweetDeck use Adobe Air (or the Flash enabled Chrome version). On Android, apps like Photoshop Touch integrate Adobe Air. It's fairly simple for developers to use Air to build an Android app around Flash content, and as we've seen, easy is what drives development. Developers can take their Flash content, and using Air and the right tools, create a stand alone app for Android. We expect them to do just that.

Sideload Flash, and install Adobe Air from Google Play. Enjoy the current content as long as you can, and trust that things will work themselves out. They usually do.

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2 years ago

Humble Bundle for Android 3 now up for purchase

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The Humble Bundle for Android 3 has just gone live, bringing five great games to the platform. A donation of your choice gets you Fieldrunners, BIT.TRIP Beat, SpaceChem and Uplink. Donate above the average, which is at $6.06 at the time of writing, and you also unlock a fifth game called Spirits. This really is a tremendous value, especially when taking into account that you receive Windows, Mac and Linux versions of the games for no additional cost.

If you're not familiar with how the Humble Bundle system works, it's a basic "pay what you want" structure. This means that you offer to pay what you feel the games are worth, and on top of that you get to choose what percentage of your donation goes to each of the sources. The great part about the Humble Bundle is the charity aspect, which this time around offers you a choice of donating to Child's Play Charity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Interested in getting some great games and donating to charity? Of course you are. Check the video after the break, and head to the source link below to make your donation.

Source: Humble Bundle

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2 years ago

Google+ updated with hangout improvements

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The newly redesigned Google+ app for Android just keeps getting better. This most recent update brings improvements to hangouts, allowing younger users to initiate them and all users to watch hangouts on air. Most notable when you first open the newly update app, you will see a grey bar at the top of the window with sharing options. This is a welcome addition that saves you that one extra tap when you want to share a post.

In addition, the new version has floating timestamps in photo view. For those of you getting frustrated with spam in the new "events" feature, the ability to report abuse straight from the app has been added as well. We've got a couple screenshots of the new UI after the break, and you can follow the Play Store link above to grab the update for yourself.

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