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3 years ago

AC on the Road: A couple days with GM, Chevy MyLink and a wealth of Android potential

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Image courtesy of General Motors and Wieck Media Services

General Motors wants you to use your phone in the car. No, really. And it's got a way for you to do so more easily. With the addition of MyLink system, using your Android smartphone in a vehicle has never been better -- and that means safer, as well.

A little background: We spent a couple quality days several weeks ago at GM's proving grounds in Milford, Mich. (Full disclosure: We were there on GM's dime.) On the agenda: A look at the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and, more important, its new Chevy MyLink "infotainment" system, which integrates damn near perfectly with Android. Plus, more from OnStar, and some eye candy in GM's wind tunnel and a quick spin around a test track, plus a test drive of a Chevy Volt.

But it was the 2013 Malibu and MyLink -- and the apps -- that were the stars of the show. Yes, the apps. Apps in the car, and apps on your phone. We explain after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Market gets another update, brings PIN locking, +1ing

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

Another update to the Android Market is pushing out to your smartphone, and we're liking what we're seeing. There are a couple of new features you need to know about. The first is that you can now +1 apps from within the market on your phone. That's a good thing, and you should practice on this one. The other is that you can now set a PIN lock on market purchases. That means you'll have to enter a code any time you want to buy an app -- but it'll also keep someone else for charging things for you, too.

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3 years ago

Swype release new keyboard beta; version 3.25 brings new gestures, dictionary, more

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The uber-popular Swype keyboard just got a new beta version dropped on us, and it's a doozy. Version 3.25 brings new gestures -- like go from the Swype button to x to copy text -- plus shortcuts to Google Maps, Twitter and a personal dictionary.

Check out the demo video after the break, and hit the source link (if Swype's servers are up) for the download.

Source: beta.swype.com

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3 years ago

Android Game Review: Pocket God

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Pocket God, I'm not sure where to place you. You're definitely a well-made game, but your lack of purpose makes me feel powerless to accomplish anything. That's a sad irony, because Pocket God is all about making you feel powerful.

If there are any questions about what Pocket God is about, look no farther than the name. You're the big man on campus, with near unlimited powers and a whole civilization of pygmies to save (or destroy). Really, it's all up to you

There's various locales you can jump around using the map, each with its own special perks. Underwater, for example, you can create whirlpools to torture your pygmies or skewer them with a harpoon. In the graveyard, you can turn them into ghosts, zombies, or have them get eaten by a spider. There's a lot of little goodies slipped into Pocket God that you'll totally miss if you don't just try and touch everything.

The game settings are fairly thorough and unique to each location on the map. Most of the things you'll be looking to do (ghosts, zombies, etc.) are revealed to you through these settings because you can turn them on or off. For things like items, tapping the item "on" will drop one on the play area. These can range from baby T-Rex eggs to spears (to defend against said T-Rex).

The one issue I had with the actual game (besides wondering what I was supposed to do with it) was the consistent force closing. Maybe I just wanted to add some pygmies too quickly, but when I went to town on the + button, I force closed out. It didn't necessarily need to be spam-fast, either. Sometimes I'd take my time, sometimes I'd rush it, but despite the speed, I'd force out. Only niggle I had, but still irritating.

Pocket God still escapes me as far as Android games go. For what you can do, it's fun. I'm not a "microgamer" and I don't really geek out on hidden/endless minigames, so besides being able to zap pygmies with a lightning bolt, Pocket God didn't really do it for me. However, for those of you ready to try your own hand at being a supreme being, it's only 99 cents in the Market.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Android App Review: Android Pro Widgets

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If that widget looks familiar and you're not using HTC Sense, chances are you've been acquainted with LauncherPro Plus and the Sense-like widgets that are bundled with it. I'm a big fan of LP+ and all, but the only thing keeping me tied to it were the awesome widgets. Thanks to Android Pro Widgets, however, I'm free to move on.

Android Pro Widgets is a free Market download that looks to replicate the Sense/LP+ widget and make it usable on any launcher. Android Pro Widgets does just that, and it does it well. Widgets scroll nicely, and there's a good variety.

One of the best selling points about Android Pro Widgets is that it's actually free to use. The only things you miss out on by not buying the license are the skins, unlocking the timeline widget, and a few features unique to certain widgets (people, calendar, agenda, and bookmarks). There's fairly strong theme support already, and the "Holo" theme based off of the Honeycomb look is just too cool.

If you're looking for excellent widgets but don't want to have to be confined to Sense or LP+, I'd definitely take a look at Android Pro Widgets. For me, it means being able to use ADW EX again, and that's worth the $1.99, to me.

More pictures and download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Game Review: Robot Unicorn Attack

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I remember way back when in April, Adult Swim put Robot Unicorn Attack in the Market. I was pretty fond of the browser version, but for some reason convinced myself to not buy the Android game. Today, that changed.

For those of you that live under a rock aren't familiar with Robot Unicorn Attack, the premise is simple: jump when appropriate to not fall to your demise, dodge things in your way (or rainbow dash through them), and last as long as you can to get your score up. It's not any different from other games in this same genre (what to call it? "Move until you run into something" games?), but you get to play as a robot unicorn with rainbow hair, plus there's a kickin' soundtrack.

Gameplay is just what you'd expect. The robot unicorn runs forth, doing it's robot unicorn thing. You control the jump (and double-jump) with the button on the bottom-left corner of the screen. If there's something like a star rock in your way, you can dash through it with the button on the bottom-right corner of the screen. There's also pixies or fairies or something mystical along the way, and running through those nets you more points, too.

There's three "wishes" (your lives) per game, and once you run out of wishes, your game ends. The game totals your three individual scores for your overall score, which is the only thing you're trying to beat each time you play. Gameplay is smooth as butter, but I wouldn't expect anything less from Adult Swim.

The app description says tablets aren't supported, but it worked on my Thrive, just scaled up and pixelated. Point is, it still loaded.

Robot Unicorn Attack is only 99 cents, and for something so epic, I don't know why you wouldn't spend that money, especially to have your wishes come true. And remember, always I wanna be with you, and make believe with you, and live in harmony.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Verizon officially unveils Verizon Video - more than 250 TV shows for $10 a month

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Those of you with Verizon Android smartphones might have noticed a Verizon Video app pushed out over the past few days (yeah, we didn't ask for it either), and this morning Big Red has officially announced it.

Essentially, Verizon Video is exactly what it looks like -- on-demand streaming (powered by RealNetworks) of more than 250 television, and on-demand video from ABC, NBC, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Animal Planet, CNBC, Disney Channel, ESPN, PBS Kids and others. You'll also have access to NFL RedZone on Sundays, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" and the NFL Network.

Verizon Video is available "on select smartphones," (we've got it on a ThunderBolt here) and is currently in a free preview. After the preview ends, a monthly subscription is $10, or you can try it out for 24  hours for $3.

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3 years ago

Android Game Review: Spirit HD

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Holy moly. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I downloaded this game. I've got this nice, shiny Thrive to check out tablet apps on, and this was featured, so I figured "Why not?" Lemme tell ya, as far as Android games go, one of the best decisions I could have made.

In Spirit (HD optional), you control this little ghost-looking guy, presumably a spirit via touch. He's a deceptively powerful little guy, creating black holes/vortexes/scary holes that swallow stuff whenever he makes two points of his movement trail touch. This is the key to your victory.

The reason he can make these portals is out of sheer defense, because there's shapes (yes, shapes) of various colors and abilities that are out to hurt you. One touch, boom, you're done. It feels very Geometry Wars in terms of aesthetic, but fortunately, the gameplay differs.

What I noticed in my time with Spirit is that the levels are seemingly random. One level, I faced these terrifying, red triangles that came at you like a booby trap from an Indiana Jones movie. That same level (the next time I played) had green laser shapes shooting, you guessed it, lasers at me. That was pretty refreshing, because it keeps working through the lower levels from getting stale.

There's also three modes of gameplay. There's Classic, Extreme, and Pulse. Classic is just what you'd expect: Good, ol' fashioned shape-destroying via scary portal. Extreme ups the ante, sending more deadly shapes your way. Move quick, or your Spirit goes bye-bye.

Pulse takes your normal system of gameplay and turns it on its head. Instead of being able to create portal by making circles, you need to fly into the circle pulse orbs that spawn. Hit one and you get a nice portal for a little bit. In the mean time, baddies of all color and variety are teleporting in, and it can get pretty hectic really quickly. It's incredibly challenging and definitely my favorite way to play.

Spirit is an awesome game, and I can tell why it did so well on iOS. What's really cool for us Android users is that if you buy Spirit, you get both the phone and tablet version with one purchase, so you can install on any device you have and you'll be able to play. Spirit is $1.30, and it's not priced unfairly.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for August 20, 2011

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Got apps? We do, and we love to share them with you. The market continues to grow, but we all know that it can add a bit of confusion to finding apps. Hit the break with us while we take a look at some of our favorites again.

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3 years ago

Android Game Review: Herman the Hermit

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Herman the Hermit is a strange guy. He lives up on a mountain, being all hermity, honing his mind and body for jumping from platform to platform. He's also totally insane. Plus, he can't ever actually die. This is the premise of Herman the Hermit.

The first time you open the game up, you're shown a tutorial on how to leap to-and-fro. You "slice" at an angle to plan your jump, and then Herman goes for it. You'll notice my slicing is pretty off the first time, but I definitely got better the more I played the game.

Your objective is to either jump over platforms to keep your time meter filled or pick up the clock power-ups to refill your time meter. The more time you have in your meter, the longer your game. You accumulate points for stringing together many leaps without falling as well as having your distance tracked. In all, you're shooting both a high score and a far distance.

Fortunately, if you fall or miss a platform, Herman simply uses his staff like a helicopter propeller and floats himself right back to the bottom of the screen, where you're free to slice your way back onto the platforms.

There's also a number of interesting power-ups, like a lightning bolt, a jet pack, and a rocket. Any one of these nets you a nice combo, as it hits every platform in front of you for a while, stringing together a nice combo. All of them are pretty self-explanatory, too. Grab the bolt and turn into a lightning bolt. Put on the pack and fly around, Rocketeer-style. And the big rocket? Let's just say it reminds me of Dr. Strangelove.

The graphics are really stellar and gameplay is smooth. I wouldn't expect anything less from a studio like Capcom, but the polish really shines through. Gameplay can get repetitive and I'm not sure it's necessarily skill-based so much as just flicking your finger around, but it's still good for killing time. Herman the Hermit is 99 cents in the Market, if you're interested.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Gameloft Launches UNO on the Android Market

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Playing card games, I can say was never at the top of my to-do list -- but one exception to that has always been UNO. It was one of those games I could always manage to sit down and play, simply because it's challenging.

Now, Gameloft has gone ahead and recreated UNO for Android and added some new twists as well.  Some new rules, online gameplay and tournament mode bring an experience to the old UNO classic that will you have you testing your UNO skills to the max.

UNO is now available in the Android Market, you can check out a video of the game in action as well -- find the download link and press release past the break.

*Update* Yeah, Gameloft issued the same PR for this release as they did when it was originally released --- this version adds HD graphics. Sorry bout that! Shoot the messenger? And by that I mean Gamelofts PR company.

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3 years ago

Android Wallpaper Review: My Stock Ticker Lite

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With the stock market being as volatile and uncertain as it is right now, I know some folks are going to want to be able to keep an eye on their investments without hassle. For those who are a fan of the real-time ticker style, there's My Stock Ticker Lite.

My Stock Ticker Lite is actually a live wallpaper, but functions more like a widget. From the wallpaper's settings menu, you can add up to five stocks as well as customizing refresh rates and scrolling speed.

You can also move the ticker anywhere on the screen (it's only in the middle of the screen by default) with just a tap, and then you can lock the position in from the settings menu, as well.  My Stock Ticker Lite does support tablets as well as custom launchers and didn't seem to have any issues in portrait or landscape mode, which is awesome.

Unfortunately, you can't get rid of the less-than-pleasing dollar bills wallpaper and the developer opted to not allow for upgrades in the Market version. There are some more fully-featured versions (unlimited stocks, near real-time pricing update) but they're only available from his website.

Overall, if you absolutely need to have your stocks scrolling on every screen of your phone, this app does that, and it does it fairly well. If you need updates faster than three minutes or check more than five stocks, you'll have to go outside of the Android Market to get it. The Lite version is free, however, so at least you're not out anything if you don't like it.

Download links and more pictures are after the break.

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3 years ago

Android App Review: Battle.net Mobile Authenticator

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If any of you are like me (or Alex), you like some of them Blizzard games. Be it World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, or the upcoming Diablo III, there's a Battle.net account sitting somewhere with your whole game stash on it.

How can you protect your level 85 Night elf Mohawk from the thieving, grubby fingers of gold sellers and account hackers out there? Say hello to your new best friend, the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator.

The Battle.net Mobile Authenticator works just like their separate, keychain authenticator. You attach it to your account, plugging in both the special serial number and one of the time-sensitive codes the first time, then just the time-sensitive code every time after that.

If your code gets out of sync, you have the option to resync it to fix things up. New to this version is the ability to restore an account if say, you wipe your phone without removing the authenticator. I had this happen to me a number of times when flashing ROMs, and while the support people will do it, it requires pictures of your drivers license and other annoying procedures.

The best part of it all is that it's free and ad-free. If you're an avid Blizzard gamer and want an extra level of security on your account, I'd head straight to the Market for this one.

More pictures and download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Pops for Android brings a whole new level of customization to your alerts

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Sure, you can have just about any custom sound you can think of for notifications on your device, but one thing you can't easily do is make the alerts themselves a bit more fun to receive. Pops, a new style of alerts for your Android device, does just this by allowing users to have different themes of notifications, they are cool animations that make it a bit more fun. They have a constantly expanding gallery of notifications that can be accessed, and users have the ability to create their own as well, making your phone even more personal. Be sure to hop in the market, and check this application out if you want to take your device to the next level. Download information available after the break.

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3 years ago

Android App Review: Pocket Casts

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I’m a big podcast listener. On a given week, I’ll probably listen to at least several hours of podcasts during commutes and downtime. Due to this, I require a high quality podcast app for Android that makes managing and listening to the content that I enjoy simple and easy. I’ve been a fan of Doggcatcher for a long time. While it is more costly than the average app ($6.99), the amount of use I get from it makes the purchase more than worth it for me. While I love the app, I’m always searching for alternatives that provide different experiences. Pocket Casts is the best alternative I have found thus far and for half the price ($2.99), it’s a really good deal. It doesn’t have all of the functionality that Doggcatcher offers but it does just what you need it to do and the UI is better in my opinion.

Once you open Pocket Casts, you’ll see the the homescreen with five tabs along the bottom. The options are, from the left:

  • Library: Displays all of the podcasts you have chosen to subscribe to.
  • Now Playing: Shows you the artwork for the podcast that you are currently listening to
  • Refresh: Will refresh your podcasts and display an aggregated list of all your subscriptions and the most recent episodes
  • Search: Allows you to search or browse for podcasts that you enjoy. Options include ‘search by podcast name’ browse ‘popular podcasts’, ‘podcast networks’, ‘categories’ and ‘import’ if you know the url.
  • Settings: The final button is where you can find the settings if you want to tweak the app to our liking. Options include the ability to set the amount of time the player skips ahead or backwards, whether to store the podcasts on the SD card or phone, and whether to auto-delete after you’re finished listening, among many others.

There is one more option up in the right hand corner when you’re in the Now Playing tab. The Playlist option allows you to create customized playlists if you know that you'll be listening to a variety of podcasts at one time.

Pocket Casts is a good podcast app with a very good UI. If you’re looking for an app that will manage your podcasts but don’t want to fork over $6.99, check out Shifty Jelly's app. Pocket Casts is available from the Android Market for $2.99. Links and more pictures after the break.

And don't forget to check out the Greatest Android Podcast in the World!

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