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3 years ago

SF Launcher Alpha brings a little piece of Google Now to the homescreen

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Back at Google I/O last year, our very own Phil Nickinson posed the question -- might Google Now become an Android home screen? Well, a new custom launcher in the Play Store brings a little taste of that to life. SF Launcher Alpha comes from the same developer who brought us the Fixed 4.2 Clock Widget, and integrates the now familiar Google Now images with a card style layout for apps and widgets. 

The top image is currently limited to that of San Francisco, London or the generic Google Now image, but will change with the time of day from dawn through day into dusk. Below it sits a widget 'card' and while only one widget is on show at any time, it scrolls so you can add as many as you like. Below that sits your favorite apps, the number displayed is customizable and you choose from scratch -- when you first start the launcher this card is empty. 

Scrolling in from the left brings up the settings menu where the theme can be chosen along with numerous different visual setting tweaks, as well as controlling the behavior of tapping on the clock and top image. This can be customized to launch search, the stock clock app, quick settings, among others. 

Scrolling in from the right brings up your full app drawer, all the while maintaining the top image and clock. It's a simple idea, and a simple launcher, but is definitely something different to other launchers we've seen. It's still in the early Alpha stages, but is available to download for free from the Google Play Store now. Click on past the break for a quick walkthrough video.

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3 years ago

Quento turns basic math into a fun time-waster

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Look, I'm not a math guy. Ask anybody. My wife. Any one of my grade-school teachers. My first-grade daughter. My 2-year-old daughter. They know I don't do math worth a damn. So what am I doing playing a game all morning that involves adding and subtracting? Moreover, why am I still playing it now?

Fresh off a successful launch of iOS, Quento has come to Android.

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3 years ago

Temple Run 2 - a notable update to a fantastic game

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Temple Run 2, a sequel to the vastly popular original, sticks with the same format and proven gameplay but makes notable improvements across the game. If you somehow avoided playing the original game, it's a pretty simple concept to get ahold of. You're running away from some scary beasts down a complex level of twists and turns, and you are trying to collect as many coins and perks as you can along the way. Swipe up to jump, down to slide, across to turn and lean the device left or right to stay out of trouble.

Temple Run 2 has the same set of controls as the original, but the levels are spiced up a bit, breaking free of the original combination of straight runs and 90-degree turns. There are rope zip lines to use, and more sweeping turns and curves to navigate through. All of the extra flare helps keep the game interesting, which is important for something that can usually become quite repetitive. The settings menu has a bit of a visual overhaul as well, with easier to use buttons and a better character selector. The store is still here to buy coins (via in-app purchase,) but the game is still free to play and the purchases aren't completely necessary if you want to keep things cheap.

This game is a worthy successor to the original, building on what seems like a classic platform less than a year after its Android release. I've been playing quite a bit on both a phone and tablet with absolutely no hiccups or issues, even at max graphical settings. The animations, sounds and gameplay are all top-notch and set a standard for what every game should feel like when you play it.

Stick around after the break for a video walkthrough and some gameplay of the new version.

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3 years ago

Latest Chrome Beta allows tinkering with experimental features

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The Google Chrome Beta for Android has once again been updated, this time with a singular but interesting change. The new version 25.0.1364.47 enables access to chrome://flags, a hidden menu page that allows all sorts of experimental, work-in-progress features to be switched on (at your own risk).

Among these, as Googler Brandon Jones points out on Google+, is support for WebGL, a JavaScript API for rendering accelerated graphics. Many of the features on the list aren't supported on the Android branch yet, but there are quite a few that may be of interest to web developers and the hacking/tweaking crowd.

If you're already running Chrome Beta, you can grab the latest version from the Play Store app. If not, you can find it at the Google Play link above.

Source: Google Chrome Releases

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3 years ago

Skype update adds portrait calling on tablets, rest of the app locked in landscape

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The latest update to Skype improved the UI and added a much asked for feature in portrait calling, but unfortunately the rest of the app is locked in landscape. The portrait calling seemed like a no-brainer fix, especially considering many smaller tablets -- like the Nexus 7 -- have camera setups meant for portrait orientation. The unfortunate bug (or at least we hope it's a bug) is that for now the rest of the UI is locked into landscape orientation. This means that browsing your contacts and initiating calls is all in landscape, then you have to rotate the tablet to hold the call.

Overall the new UI is great and pretty well mirrors the styling of the phone UI, but the perpetual landscape really puts a damper on things. Let's hope Skype pushes out a new update to add back in the portrait support, and in the meantime we can at least enjoy portrait video calls.

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3 years ago

T-Mobile Galaxy S2 receiving small OTA update, still ICS for now

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The T-Mobile version of the Galaxy SII (S2) is receiving an update today, either via OTA or Samsung Kies, that keeps the device on Android 4.0.4 but brings a few needed fixes. The update, which can bring you to baseband version T989UVLI1 or T989UVLH1, is just 11MB when downloaded OTA and has a few fixes on board. Apparently a Qualcomm fix is included, along with other security enhancements and Vlingo S Voice improvements.

When first seeing that an update was available for the Galaxy S2 we instantly jumped to conclusions, thinking that this may be the Jelly Bean update. The update started rolling out for the international S2 yesterday, but unfortunately T-Mobile's model is on ICS for just a while longer. Have you received the update via OTA or Kies? Head to the forums and chime in, as some users are already reporting seeing the update arrive on their devices.

Source: T-Mobile Support; More: T-Mobile Galaxy S2 Forums

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3 years ago

G Cloud Backup isn't made by Google, but does a pretty good job at backing up your Android device

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Don't let the name confuse you, this isn't another app from Google. Despite the tenuous naming link, G Cloud Backup is made by a developer known as Genie9, and sets out to backup all your personal particulars on your Android device. We're not just talking about files and folders, or simply being a cloud locker in which to dump things either. SMS messages, contacts, external SD cards, call logs, all in addition to such items as photos, videos and music. And, root access isn't required for anything, so this one's for everyone. The cloud part is Amazon's S3 cloud storage.

There's no shortage of options when it comes to backing up, or indeed cloud services, on Android. But the cliché still applies -- choice is a good thing. No doubt at first glance, some of the offered services Google already takes care of, but does G Cloud Backup have enough to make it worth a look? Stick around and we'll find out.

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3 years ago

Vine for Twitter, and what it means for you on Android

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There's no Vine app for Android just yet, but that doesn't mean you can escape its 6-second video onslaught

Twitter and Vine today announced that (1) Vine is now available for iOS devices and (2) has been purchased by Twitter. If you hadn't heard of Vine before today, we're not too surprised -- it's been in limited beta testing until now, and it's not available for Android. But, seeing as how all roads (eventually) lead to Android these days, we're taking a quick look at it here.

The oversimplified version is that Vine is to video what Instagram is to pictures. In actuality, it's a fairly simple app that lets you take up to 6 seconds of video that might well be mistaken for a really good animated gif. It doesn't have to be 6 consecutive seconds, though. You can do two 3-second clips strung together. Or three 2-second clips. Or, if you hate your friends, six 1-second clips.

You're going to start seeing a lot of these, even if there's no Android app.

Rene reviewed how Vine for iPhone works (or doesn't) over on iMore.  More of my thoughts, after the break.

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3 years ago

Big News - a simple and well-designed news widget

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There are plenty of news readers and widgets out there, but not many do their job as elegantly as Big News Pro. Since moving to a new design language with Ice Cream Sandwich, we've been looking to fill our homescreens and app drawers with as many properly-designed holo apps as possible. Big News fits right in with this design, and actually has a nice feature set hiding behind its simplistic exterior. 

Read on past the break and see what Big News has to offer as a news widget.

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3 years ago

Pebble smart watch app for Android now available

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For those of you who have one on the way, Kickstarter-funded smart watch maker Pebble has released its Android app onto Google Play today. The app allows the Pebble smart watch to connect to your Android phone over Bluetooth, showing information like weather, email alerts, incoming calls and messages. In addition, it acts as a "dashboard" for the watch, notifying you of software updates, allowing you to install new watchfaces and assisting with troubleshooting.

The watch itself is now shipping to Kickstarter backers on a first come, first served basis. If you've got one coming, be sure to shout out in the comments.

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3 years ago

Third Carbon backup beta drops with Google Play release imminent

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A third (and probably final) beta release of Koush's Carbon backup app was let loose this morning, adding support for the Box cloud service, notifications, a cancel option and other features and fixes. Also new is a accompanying Windows desktop app that will let you backup and restore an unrooted device.

Koush, in his Google+ post, says the beta should stop working on Jan. 30, by which time we should see the app in Google Play, with free and premium versions.

Source: +Koushik Dutta

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3 years ago

Temple Run 2 for Android now available in Google Play

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Temple Run 2, the highly anticipated sequel to one of the biggest games ever, is now available in Google Play. It has all the twists and turns (and monkeys) of the original, but it's been completely redone with great new graphics, new environments, and even bigger monkeys! It's free to download (of course you can spend money via in-app purchases if that's your thing) and you can grab it at the link to the left.

I've not sat down and really played it yet, so holler if there's something we should take a look at. Of course, we'll spend some quality time sliding and jumping, then give this one a proper look. Hit the break for the official trailer.

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3 years ago

Jelly Bean OTA out now for HTC One X devices on Telus

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Canadian carrier Rogers started its OTA rollout for the One X earlier this month, and now Telus has started pushing it as well. Stated on the official HTC Canada twitter account, the update should start coming OTA (Over The Air) to users as of last night. It will be pushed automatically, but eager users can always check in manually and should have the update waiting at that point as well. These big updates tend to roll out in groups or phases, but usually don't take long to hit everyone.

One user in our forums, guyfrombc, has the update downloading on their device, so we know it's out there in the wild at least in some capacity. Are you seeing it on your own Telus One X yet? Head to the forums and let others know what your experience is.

Source: @HTCCanada; More: HTC One X Forums

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3 years ago

For better or worse, Google owns the mobile app space

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Google has captured five of the top six spots in the mobile app space, and it isn't likely that they will be slowing down any time soon. That chart you see above is the number of unique (as in you only get counted once) users of the top 10 mobile apps on Android and iOS for the month of December 2012, and as you can see Google is just tearing it up. In fact, according to Comscore Google would have also grabbed the number one spot were it not for the maps fiasco in iOS 6.

That my friends, is a whole lot of eyeballs.

We created Android in response to our own experiences launching mobile apps. We wanted to make sure that there would always be an open platform available for carriers, OEMs, and developers to use to make their innovative ideas a reality. We wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, where one industry player could restrict or control the innovations of any other. The solution we chose was an open and open-source platform. -- Google

Google has consistently stated that one of Android's primary goals was to put the Internet, and their apps, into as many hands as possible. With upwards of 75-percent market share alone, and close to 95-percent when combined with the Google-friendly iOS, I think they've succeeded in a very big way.

But while you're cheering and bumping bro-fists over Google's triumph,  I'm thinking of all the great alternatives we'll never get to see because they can't gain a foothold against these kinds of numbers. I'm not talking about Bing, or other apps like it that we already know and find pretty useless, but I think we all can agree that somebody out there has an idea for a way to do things that's better than what we have now. I'm not necessarily knocking Google. I use all of their services and appreciate the hard work and innovation that brought them to me. I just don't want to miss something better. I hope they can find a way to show it to us in this one-sided landscape.

Source: Comscore

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3 years ago

Zombies to invade Plague Inc. in coming update

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Ndemic has shown off a bit of the cool update we talked about late last year for everyone's favorite apocalyptic game Plague, Inc. The Necroa Virus update, tentatively slated for February brings a new style of play to the game, where you can branch out and reanimate the dead as a zombie like horde. 

The Necroa Virus is unclassified and unlike any other virus known to man. Early analysis shows that it has extreme regenerative abilities combined with aggressive metabolic demands but the majority of its genetic structure is a mystery

The update will cost $1.99, but you get what looks like a lot of bang for your buck(s). Along with the new name and zombie minions comes new gameplay where humanity fights back, and new abilities that can target specific countries and areas. Of course there is more, and the update also brings new events and achievements, more languages (French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish), some UI changes and the ubiquitous performance tweaks. 

We can't wait to see what Ndemic brings to the table. Hit the break for a few screenshots, and grab Plague, Inc from the link above if you haven't tried it yet.

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