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2 years ago

Weather Here [Android app review]

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Your Android smartphone is your go-to device to keep current on just about everything, so it's no wonder that weather applications have become so popular. There's an abundance of weather apps on the various Android markets out there, but many of us are looking for something simple, that sits in the app drawer waiting for you to need it versus something that's more in-your-face with widgets and animations. I think I just found the one I'm looking for. 

Weather Here does only one thing -- display the weather for where you're located. There's nothing to set up, it just checks to grab your location (it uses Wifi and cell tower location first, keeping the GPS off unless absolutely needed) then tells you the current weather, a forecast, and a local radar map. Using NOAA/National Weather Service data, it seems fairly accurate, and the application is fast to load and doesn't bog down your phone with fluff. If you like the fluff, I can understand and Weather Here probably isn't for you. Think of it as a no-nonsense approach to show weather data on your phone, but done well and great looking.

Just because it's lean, doesn't mean it's lacking in features. It's warm(ish) and windy here today, and I get a weather warning alert about wildfire dangers with just a tap. Tapping on any day in the forecast list gives me the details, and Menu>Radar shows me the animated precipitation radar map for my area. Again, with nothing to set-up -- just install, and go. The free version has mobile ads and a timed dialog when opening the radar screen, but the full version for $0.99 removes both. Add in no goofy permissions, and you have a hell of a nice, simple, app that does exactly what it says on the tin. Hit the break for a couple screenshots and download links.

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2 years ago

Put a little Ice Cream Sandwich in your computer with Roboto fonts

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We're all frustrated at the wait for Ice Cream Sandwich on our phones and tablets, but maybe a little Roboto on your computer can help fill that void. The Android design team has popped out some official Roboto fonts that can be installed on just about any device that can display True Type fonts, and they look great on your desktop or laptop. Getting them is easy, just download them from the Android Design page, and install according to your OS specifications.

They'll give you a fresh, clean look that's easy to read and scales great. The best part is that they're absolutely free for use and "without restriction" for use in applications, so developers can use them in things like Web apps and desktop widgets. Sure beats the Comic Sans look. See the source link for downloads and the specimen book.

Source: Android Design; via +Android

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2 years ago

Get Google Play up and running on your Logitech Revue [How-To]

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Ask anyone who has a Logitech Revue, and they'll tell you it can be a temperamental son-of-a-biscuit every now and then. Most of us still love the Google TV experience, but owning a Revue means you'll need to get familiar with work-arounds. Here's a simple one to get the Google play update running on your Revue if you got stuck in the "update available/updating" loop:

Pull the plug for 10 seconds.

In fact, pulling the plug and counting to 10 before you re-power your Revue solves a lot of problems. I found myself with the Market update waiting, and nothing I could do would fix it until I just powered the whole damn thing down. When it came back, I had the shiny new Google play service ready and waiting. If it would only work for Hulu plus...

Source: Android Central forums

Hat tip to ryanfoley613 for reminding us of the trick!

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2 years ago

Google Maps updated with simplified Navigation menus

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Google Maps for Android has received a minor update today, bringing it up to version 6.4.0. The new version introduces some minor changes to Google Maps Navigation on ICS devices. Gone is the large, unwieldly vertical list activated by the menu key -- in its place is a more accessible grid-based setup. And as part of Google's ongoing war against the menu overflow key, those pesky three dots are no longer present in Maps Navigation in ICS -- they're replaced with a completely different menu key a few pixels above your virtual buttons.

In the unlikely event that you're not currently using Google Maps, we've got the Android Market Google Play Store link after the break. We've also got a screenshot of the new Navigation menu, if you're into that sort of thing.

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2 years ago

Flying to SXSW? Get your Android device online at 35,000 feet free through March 16

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Just a quick heads up for you folks flying to Austin, Texas, for SXSW -- GoGo Inflight Internet is free if you're flying on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines or Delta Air Lines to Austin from March 10-16. That means you can use the GoGo Android app to keep reading Android Central while you're at 35,000 feet. And that's a good thing.

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2 years ago

Solar System Explorer [Android App Review]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

It's not often I come across an app that both humbles me and causes me to have an existential crisis, so when I find one, I know it's a keeper. Solar System Explorer caused me to go through both of these things simultaneously, and apart from making you question your tiny, insignificant self in this grand universe, you're also treated to a gorgeous layout loaded with more information about our solar system than you probably knew existed.

First thing you'll notice when you open up Solar System Explorer is how great it looks. This is a seriously polished app, with beautiful 3D models of every planet in our solar system, the moons of each planet, and each satellite the United States has launched. There's full pinch-to-zoom on all of the models as well as swiping support so you can change your perspective, too.

You move from planet to planet (or moon to moon) using pictures along the bottom of the screen. All of our planets are there, ordered from closest to farthest from the sun, and on the very end, you can get to the satellites. When you pick a planet, the pictures at the bottom of the screen change, and if the planet has any moons, images of those moons appear so you can see models and read up on them, should you choose to.

Aside from all of that, there's also an incredible treasure trove of information at your fingertips, all of it a button push away. When you've got a heavenly body selected, you're shown its general information by default, but should you leave this screen, tapping the eyeball will take you back to it. The little bar graph looking button shows you stats for your planet, all in relation to Earth.

Finally, the upside down peace sign tells you information about the structure of your planet and the 3D model changes to reflect said information. It's really quite cool seeing Earth broken up into differently colored layers and an explanation about what's going on in this beautiful blue-green ball we call home. (Plus, it reminds me of elementary school science class.)

Solar System Explorer also gives you the opportunity to just admire the solar system by hiding the information panel and zooming in and out. The full-screen experience is quite incredible, and at times like these, I wonder why I didn't do more to become something like an astronaut or work for NASA. This might "just" be an Android app, but it certainly instills a sense of awe in me.

If you're someone who has even a slight interest in our big, mysterious solar system, check this app out. It's great to just poke around in, but it's also chock full of such solid information, I don't see any reason why it couldn't be used as an educational tool, too.

Solar System Explorer is $1.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary 8th Edition for Android

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Oxford University Press -- the folks behind that big book full of words and defintions -- have just put out an android version of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 8th edition. It's geared toward those who are learing Englishi -- and let's face it, a goodly number of 'mericans might be able to take advantage of it, too.

It's got full-sentence pronunciations, more than 1,300 illustrations to explain words -- and more than 184,000 individual words, phrases and meanings.

The full presser and download links are after the break.

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2 years ago

Hands-on with the Onkyo Android app

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So I rearranged my living room over the past weekend and decided to retire my (gasp) 9-year-old receiver. Wasn't looking to spend a fortune, but surround sound is a must, Internet access is a plus. Ended up going with The Wirecutter's recommendation of the Onkyo TX-NR509. It's got a rear Ethernet port (if that's how you roll), or an optional Wifi dongle that plugs into the front USB port -- and an added bonus -- a companion Android application.

Let's really start off by saying that home audio is a pretty personal and finicky thing, and your setup will determine the usefulness of features. I've got an Xbox 360 and a Logitech Revue to handle most of my multimedia functions, so there's a good bit of what's the in Onkyo app -- specifically the music playback --  that I'll never use. You've pretty much got full remote capability, including switching inputs and sources. The app's layout's pretty intuitive, as are the settings. I'm not going to walk you through them as, again, your setup will vary from mine, and chances are you're a proper nerd and can do it yourself.

(I'll mention that the Onkyo has things like Internet radio and DLNA streaming, which is nice, but the on-screen UIs are so horrid that you'll likely not want to touch them.)

No, the one shining feature of the Onkyo Android app -- for me, anyway -- is the ability to change  the volume from another room. I've got kids. Two of 'em. The eldest is 5, and she can rock the Logitech Harmony One remote just fine to get her Dora on. But she's also going deaf, I'm convinced, because the TV will get louder and louder as she watches. Thanks to the Onkyo app, there's no more getting up from what I'm doing. No more arguing. I just turn the damn thing down, and no one's the wiser. (I can do the same thing with the Google TV Remote app, by the way.)

So that's what I'm rocking in the living room now, all connected like. (And it sounds good, too.) Onkyo says the app's compatible with all network AV receivers released since 2010, as well as the TX-8050 Network Stereo Receiver and the T-4070 Network Stereo Tuner. You may need to do a firmware update (mine took about 5 minutes) to get things going.

We've got screen shots and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Deep Trip [Android Kids App]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I don't have kids myself, but when I came across Deep Trip, well, it's fairly obvious which market's being targeted. It's a pleasant, cheerful game with a simple learning curve and cartoony graphics. That being said, if you find yourself spending time with it, too, don't be ashamed. It really is quite fun.

Deep Trip is designed in the tradition of games like Helicopter, where you hold the screen to ascend, let go to descend, and try not to crash into anything along the way. Instead of a helicopter, you're a long, orange sea snake (eel, perhaps?) who is trying to find your way home.

While the concept sounds simple, it's actually deceptively difficult, especially considering how winding underwater can be, loaded with all sorts of pointy rocks and wrecked ships and whatnot. To combat this, Deep Trip places powerups throughout the level that afford you some protection on your journey.

If you collect one powerup, your little snaky eel gets a helmet that's good for one crash into an obstacle. However, if you collect two powerups (collect a second powerup while still wearing your helmet), you're granted near-invulnerability for a time, madly careening about, smashing through anything that gets in your way without consequence.

Deep Trip is also Papaya-enabled, which is a social gaming service that looks suspiciously similar to OpenFeint. On Papaya you can see your best attempts, compare your results to other people playing Deep Trip, add friends, check out more games that are using Papaya, and chat with friends you've made. It looks like a pretty comprehensive social hub, despite it being kind of barren, friends-wise.

If you're looking for a game to kill some time or quiet your little one, Deep Trip looks like it'll fit the bill. It doesn't even cost a penny, so it's at least worth checking out.

We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Google Play Store Version 3.4.7 fixes link on Moto phones

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The Google Play Store has been updated to Version 3.4.7. We repeat: The Google Play Store has been updated to Verison 3.4.7. You folks on Motorola phones can now hit that secondary store link in your app drawer without fear of failure.

That is all.

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