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3 years ago

GroupMe v4.0 exits beta with new design and tablet support

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Group messaging service GroupMe has had an invite-only beta program going for its latest update -- v4.0 -- since early November, and has now finally released it to the Play Store. This latest update brings a complete redesign to the app, with new fonts, colors and layout. It's now easier to send direct messages and access your chats from anywhere in the app with a new slide-out drawer on the left.

Version 4.0 also adds proper tablet support with a distinct UI, which should make many users happy, and GroupMe says that the overall app performance for every type of device should be improved with the latest update. If you're interested in checking out the latest version, head to the Play Store link above.

More: GroupMe Blog

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3 years ago

Finger Army 1942: A whack-a-mole game worth your 99 cents

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We're all familiar with the arcade classic "whack-a-mole" type games, but how does that translate into an Android app? Pretty darn well in Finger Army 1942. Sometimes the most simple games are also the most fun, and it's a recipe that works well here. You basically have a whack-a-mole clone set to the theme of a 1942 battle field, but the second twist is that soldiers are... fingers. Right. Trust us though, it works and is extremely fun.

You progress through levels with increasing difficulty, tapping on the finger soldiers to gain points. As the levels get tougher, more variety of military units are deployed, adding to the variety and fun of the game. Hit the soldiers with metal helmets twice to knock them down, but don't touch the medics or white flag wavers! It only takes a few minutes before you're frantically mashing your fingers on the screen. The game doesn't have any settings or menu really to speak of, lending credence to the idea that this is a true casual screen-masher. Finger Army 1942 brings a bit to the table for all ages, with easy gameplay from the start for younger users and harder advanced levels later on for the more serious player. 

The graphics, sound track and gameplay are all high quality, which just add to the overall game experience. You're not distracted by messy animations or slow performance anywhere in the game. You can tell that the developers (Tin Planet) put a good bit of work into every aspect here. Although it is certainly compatible -- and runs just as great -- with phones we find it the most fun on a tablet (it ran great on a Nexus 7) because you have more screen real estate to work with.

Stick around after the break to see an official gameplay trailer of Finger Army 1942, and if you're interested in the game it can be found for $0.99 in the Play Store at the link above.

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3 years ago

New LagFix application promises to fix mystery lag on some devices

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LagFix is an app (rooted phones only) with an unimaginative name that uses a standard Linux tool to help fix "lag" on Android devices. Lag is a term that gets thrown around pretty liberally, without any real definition attached to it. In this case, I'm familiar with the tool being used so I know what this app attempts to address -- times when your system is stopped, waiting on the memory controller to be told which storage blocks are free and which are in use, so it knows where it can write data to the device storage. While this is happening, the system is halted until the memory controller gets the answer it needs. This is a standard process in every operating system, and in reality is a lot more complicated than I've explained here. For our purposes today, this covers the important things to know.

This can be done on the fly (and this is how stock Android does things) or it can be done using a Linux utility called Fstrim. When a stock Android system does it on the fly while data is being written, sometimes some folks (this is important, and we'll talk more about it later) see their device slow down while the memory controller is waiting to know which storage blocks are in use, and which are free. People call this a form of lag, and lag is universally hated. 

A solution, one often used on Linux desktops, is to use the Fstrim utility. It goes through the storage and tells the memory controller which blocks are really free, and which are in use. The memory controller doesn't have to ask, because it has just been told. Eventually, this all changes and the memory controller needs told again. On the desktop, people set up Fstrim to run at a specific interval to keep things in sync. 

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3 years ago

Deer Reader walks the line of appealing to casual and power RSS users

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Deer Reader, a Google Reader client for Android, has a great design and set of features that has the ability to appeal to a wide range of users. News reading apps usually fall into either the "casual user" (think Flipboard, Google Currents) or "power user" (GReader, Press) category, and Deer Reader is taking a shot right down the middle with its client. Integrating with Google Reader instantly pushes you towards a more involved setup, as most "normal" users aren't keeping curated news and podcast RSS feeds, but what Deer Reader does with the presentation of these RSS feeds is what makes it more user-friendly.

Stick around after the break for a video walkthrough of the UI on both phones and tablets, and to see if Deer Reader is a good choice for you. 

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3 years ago

More Sense 5 screenshots spotted on a Droid DNA

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Following today's leak of an unreleased version of Sense 5 running on the Droid DNA, we're now seeing more screenshots from users claiming to have their hands on the software as well. Member mdeejay at XDA has just put up several screenshots of what is said to be a stable build of Android 4.1.2 with Sense 5 running on the Verizon phone, as ported from -- wait for it -- a Sprint version of the rumored M7.

We're not sure if that answers more questions than it creates, but it certainly gives us a lot to think about. This probably isn't the last leak (or purported leak) we'll see in the coming weeks, as HTC is likely set to show off a number of new devices at MWC in February. You can take a gander at several more screenshots at the source link below.

Source: XDA

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3 years ago

1Weather adds tablet, lockscreen support

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Popular Android weather app 1Weather slipped in a pretty major update over the weekend, adding a new user interface along with proper support for tablets. The radar section has been "optimized," you also get better notifications, and there's a new lockscreen widget for those of us running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Hit the link above to get your update on, or download it for the first time for free.

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3 years ago

Captain Clumsy is a fun and free time-waster game

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Anyone with time to kill or a public transit daily commute can always find use for a quality one-handed casual game, and Captain Clumsy fits the bill. The premise of this game is basic -- and purposefully so -- as a "falling" style game with simple controls. You're a clumsy pirate (you would be too with 2 hook hands) trying to steal his booty back from the angry gulls that are holding it captive. Your character barrels down through pirate-themed levels, collecting coins and avoiding the bad gulls along the way. The controls are simple -- tap on the left of the screen to go left, right to go right -- and that's it! It's easy to pick up and play casually, but if you want to do well you have to put some time and effort into it. The game keeps you entertained regardless, with a fun soundtrack and gameplay sound effects.

The game follows the "free to play" with in-app purchases model (or "freemium," if you prefer,) which many games are going nowadays. You can play through the whole game without spending any money, but if you get stuck on a certain level or want to progress quickly, you can pay for power-ups in the store. Purchases of "coins" range from $0.99 to $14.99 for general purchases, and there are some specific perks you can buy too. There are still ads in the game -- both banner ads at the bottom of the screen and post-level full page ads for other games -- but once you make a single purchase in the store they go away. It still would be nice to have an up-front paid version of the game to not have ads from the start, but we understand this goes against the free-to-play nature of it.

If you need a fun time-waster that appeals to a whole range of ages and skill levels, Captain Clumsy is definitely worth your time to check out. And as a free to play title, you can't go wrong with trying it out. Stick around after the break to see the developer's trailer for the game, and head to the link at the top of this post to grab it from the Play Store.

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3 years ago

The best alarm clock apps for Android

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The days of the standalone bedside alarm clock are numbered, with the simple inclusion of a “clock” app on every smartphone taking over. But there are so many options out there, why settle for the app pre-loaded on your phone? Your alarm doesn't just have to be a bland beeping sound that makes you want to throw your phone across the room. Read on after the break and see the best alarm clock apps available for your device.

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3 years ago

Press for Android updated with performance fixes

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Popular Google Reader app Press has been updated with new performance improvements, as well as various bug fixes. The second update for the app brings it up to version 1.1.1, and since updating we're noticing that the app does seem a good bit nippier -- especially when syncing large numbers of unread articles.

If you'd previously tried out Press but had been put off by issues with speed and responsiveness, now might be the chance to give it another try. You can find the download link above; as always, it costs $1.99 and is limited those running Android 4.0 and above. Existing users can update by heading to the "My Apps" section in the Google Play Store app.

More: Press: Google Reader done right, or just different?

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3 years ago

Capture the essence of the Ubuntu lockscreen with Ubuntu Live Wallpaper

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I don't use live wallpapers traditionally. I find that too often there's a trade off in device performance and or battery life to make it worthwhile. I've made an exception to try this one out, and I'm pretty happy with it. Ubuntu Live Wallpaper tries to capture some of the feel of that great looking lockscreen on Ubuntu for Phones, in a live wallpaper for your Android device. And, while it isn't an exact replica, it's pretty close, and looks great. Currently still in beta, the developers describe it as their "hobby." But for a beta product, it's very well done. 

One of my biggest annoyances with live wallpapers as I mentioned is performance and battery life issues. Even on high end devices, too often things become jerky and the battery life has just been sucked dry. So far, on the Nexus 4 at least, this hasn't been the case with Ubuntu Live Wallpaper. Battery life doesn't seem to be any less than usual, and scrolling through the homescreens -- in my case with Action Launcher -- is as smooth and speedy as ever. 

There's a couple of features baked in too worth mentioning, and some due to arrive in future updates. A double tap anywhere on the wallpaper brings up the option to display either time, or remaining battery percentage. Coming in the future will be the ability to switch between 12 and 24 hour clocks, repositioning the circle, scaling and color change. 

Remember though that this is still a beta product, and the developers are all to aware of performance issues affecting some devices. But, it's free, and worth a look if you're looking for a little flavor of Ubuntu for Phones without getting too deep. You'll find it in the Play Store at the link above, and click on past the break for some screenshots. 

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3 years ago

Opera bringing the Ice browser to Android and iOS

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Opera is said to be bringing a new WebKit based browser to Android and iOS. Named "Ice", it presents a radical departure from what we're used to seeing with the stock Android Browser, Chrome, or even Safari. Shown off in an internal meeting right before Christmas, the folks at Pocket-lint got their hands on a copy and now we all can have a look.

Besides the UI, which we'll get back to in a moment, it's important to recognize that "Ice" won;t be using the same Presto rendering platform that Opera's current Android apps use. With Ice, Opera has moved to WebKit, the same engine that Chrome and Safari, as well as the stock Android browser and all the custom browsers in Google Play, are using. This should give Ice an edge, as most mobile pages and web apps are designed with WebKit in mind.

The new Opera Ice browser will be based around hiding the technology as much as possible and embracing rich applications. It will ditch all buttons and instead use gestures to control key elements like forwards and backwards. "This is a full touch and tablet-focused browser," said the product manager in the video we've seen. "Most are taking a PC browser and squishing [it] into a tablet, or they are taking a mobile browser and blowing it up to fill the space."

Yes, the UI looks very different. I'm not sure how I feel about "hiding technology" from the end user in favor of gestures and big icons, but I'll have to give the finished product a look before a final judgment.

Ice is not set to replace Opera mini, the small browser that compresses data to save time and bandwidth, but we expect that it may push the standard Opera Mobile for Android browser into retirement. Word is we'll know more at Mobile World Congress, which is coming right around the corner. We'll be there, and keep an eye out.

Source: Pocket-lint

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3 years ago

Celebrate the opening hockey weekend with NHL 2013 Live Wallpaper

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After a lengthy lockout, the NHL season is finally starting this weekend. If you’re a puck head like I am, you’re going to want to check out the NHL 2013 Live Wallpaper app. Whether you want to show support for your team or just give your devices a little hockey makeover, this app is for you.

The initial download is free. But if you want it to do anything more, you’re going to have to pay for add-ons within the app. We're not really keen on this sort of business model ourselves, but it is what it is. Here are the prices:

  • Live wallpaper only: $2.49 (1 team)
  • Score clock only: $1.49
  • Ringtone only: $0.99
  • All Access Pass (unlocks everything): $6.99

The live wallpapers have an optional interactive puck, Winter Classic Mode,  arena ticker, game events and sounds. You can also customize the flag style and what kind of arena you would like to see, whether it be a 2013 version or an older version from last year.

So whether or not you root for the Rangers, Penguins, Capitals or Sabres, the app has content to help you show off your fandom.

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3 years ago

Apps of the Week: NHL Gamecenter, Aldiko Sync, Candy Crush Saga and more!

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The app picks just keep on coming. Straight from the Android Central writers to you, the best apps we're using for the previous week are listed here. We've got some productivity tools and a few fun games for you to enjoy on your own phone or tablet this weekend.

Stick around after the break and see if our picks are up to par this week.

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3 years ago

Facebook borrows from itself, adds voice messages to main app

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A couple weeks after adding the feature to the Facebook Messenger app, voice messages are now a part of the main Facebook application. These aren't going to replace phone calls anytime soon -- and they're not really supposed to -- but they can be a fun little way to drop someone a note on Facebook, or to send voice messages when cellular calls aren't practical or available.

Perhaps even more surprising is that Facebook actually updated its changelog on the app with this latest version. Along with voice messaging, you should be able to open and view images a little faster, and share your friends stories to timelines, pages and groups. 

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3 years ago

Sky TV to offer local downloads of TV content through Sky Go

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I'm not a Sky TV subscriber, but this morning's news really make me wish that I was. According to a report from British broadsheet, The Telegraph, BSkyB is set to turn on local downloads of their content to mobile devices via the Sky Go app starting this week. It's been a somewhat turbulent relationship between Sky and Android users, with their apps not only late to the party, but notoriously incompatible with many popular devices at launch. Those sort of issues have been vastly improved upon in recent months, but now it seems that Sky is ready to take their service to the next level. 

As you might expect, this kind of service doesn't come for free. The ability to download content to your mobile devices will require a "Sky Go Extra" subscription, which costs £5 per month. For many this will be £5 well spent, as the majority of British carriers impose pretty tight data caps, including the new LTE network from EE, so local downloads is an extremely enticing prospect. Downloads will be active for a month, but there is said to be no limit to how much customers can download -- that limitation lies with your device, not with Sky. Up to 4 users can download content per subscription, and it seems to cover Sky's entire collection, including their Sky Movies 007 channel which offers every one of the James Bond movies. 

This move by Sky is sure to be a welcome one, and really takes the fight on the mobile front to the likes of Netflix, Google Play Movies, and Amazon's LOVEFiLM available on the Kindle Fire. Google may offer local storage of movies, but each incurs a rental price, whereas Sky Go will allow access to Sky Movies vast catalog plus the option to save it to your device. Netflix and LOVEFiLM while offering a pretty hefty selection of content, both still require a constant data connection to use. Competitors should take note, this is a huge move forwards from Sky TV. 

Source: The Telegraph

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