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3 years ago

Cloud storage apps - what are they and how do they work?

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Dropbox and Box.net have been in the news recently, updating their apps and giving away tons of free space, so it's understandable that a few of us are wondering what the heck they're all about. Sure, you know you get Gigabytes of space, and great looking apps, but what exactly do they do, and how do they work? We're about to tell you! I'll focus on Dropbox here, because that's the service we use here at AC. I'm not recommending it over any of the others, but they are all similar and we've already got all our stuff uploaded there and we're too lazy busy to switch. 

Dropbox is storage space, reserved for you, on a computer somewhere in San Francisco. Other services, like Box.net or Ubuntu One may be in different cities, but they all are in big fancy data centers where nerdy people type in the command window all day and night to keep things running smoothly. They aren't just old Windows machines sitting in a basement somewhere, they are dedicated places designed to hold lots and lots of data. They routinely make backups, and have excellent uptime -- your data is going to be there when you need it to be there. They also use things like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and AES-256 encryption to make sure nobody can peek at your files without your login credentials. Your stuff is safe in these types of cloud storage centers. Things like file encryption and obfuscation are best left for another day, so we're not going to discuss that type of security -- just don't do anything illegal, OK?

Most of these companies offer a set amount of storage space for free, and have yearly plans for folks who need more. The amount is different from service to service, so be sure to read those terms before you sign up for one. This storage is yours, to put any files you want there, so you can get to them from any Internet connected device anywhere on Earth. You can do this at the company's website, or more importantly for this conversation, through a program on your smartphone or computer.

The program on your computer is usually set up to sync a folder with your online account. Inside this Dropbox folder are all the other folders and files you've placed in the cloud, and they stay synchronized -- change a file on your computer and it uploads the changes to your cloud account, and those changes are available from anywhere. You can also share these files or folders with other users of the same service, which means someone can make a change to a file and it will sync to their cloud account, through Dropbox, and into the shared folder on my computer. That makes collaboration pretty easy, and we share folders and files a lot here at Smartphone Experts (You should see Bla1ze's lolcat pictures!).

Things are different on our smartphones. We don't normally have tons of free space to sync everything, so it's a bit more selective. The data about each folder and file in your online account is sent to your phone when you start up the app, and you can see everything that's there without having to download it all. When you need a file, you can choose to download it to your phone's memory somewhere and access it through your phone. You can also upload files, which will then sync to your cloud account and any connected computers you may have. 

As you can see, there are all sorts of ways this could be useful. I have a folder in my Dropbox with names and phone numbers I may need in an emergency. If something happens, and I end up losing my smartphone while I'm out somewhere, I can still have access to them from any computer with a web browser. My wife likes to keep her shopping list in a shared folder, and either of us can add something to it from anywhere. Bla1ze likes to share his lolcats. I think just about anyone would find these services useful, and if you aren't using them yet you should give them a try. Links to Android apps for the three mentioned in this post are below, give one of them a shot!

Dropbox for Android | Box.net for Android | Ubuntu One for Android

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3 years ago

Third-party store uploading Android apps to BlackBerry App World without developers permission?

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The long awaited OS 2.0 update for the BlackBerry Playbook brought with it a whole host of opportunities for new apps. Now that repackaged Android applications are compatible with the PlayBook, and being accepted into BlackBerry App World, some well known names are starting to appear in the listings. 

One such name is Dolphin Browser HD. A highly respected Android replacement browser appearing on the BlackBerry Playbook. Impressive. Despite being a phone browser, Dolphin is absolutely superb on the PlayBook and many already prefer it to the stock browser. Quickly -- although not surprisingly -- it has become one of the top 25 free apps in the App World catalogue. 

Everything is rosy then yes? Well, no, not quite. The submission to App World wasn't made by MoboTap, the developers of Dolphin. The submission was made by Handster, a third party store owned by Opera. Someone else doing the work on the behalf of the developers -- a win surely? Turns out MoboTap were blissfully unaware that Handster had repackaged and submitted Dolphin to the App World for approval. Handster had already put out a statement prior to the OS 2.0 launch that they were to be uploading apps on behalf of developers. 

A spokesman for MoboTap told Engadget that; "We do not condone Handster submitting our Dolphin Browser app to BlackBerry's App World for us and are currently working to take it down and assure Handster will not submit our app for us again. We will assess developing for BlackBerry when the time is right."

Even though Dolphin is a free application in the Android Market, the question still remains over why Handster are submitting an application to BlackBerry App World without permission. A quick search finds a pretty big selection of apps that Handster have submitted -- albeit a lot of them aren't that good -- including paid applications. 

In any case, it seems that MoboTap are doing everything they can to remove Dolphin Browser HD from App World. Questions have been raised, but more importantly we're hoping that there aren't any Android developers being taken advantage of. 

Source: Engadget

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3 years ago

AC picks: Apps from the world of rock music

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Everyone likes different music, so some of you out there probably won't find anything contained within that will whet your appetite. Personally, I love rock music. If there's guitars involved there's a good chance i'll give it a try. It's a pretty diverse category with so much different -- and killer -- music to offer. 

As more and more people get smartphones, we're starting to see musicians use apps as a new way to reach their fans. Everyone (well nearly everyone) uses Facebook, Twitter, Google+ to keep up with their idols. But what about an app? Like all apps the offerings vary in quality, but a lot offer some really nice features for fans to take advantage of. 

What we don't seem to have is just an RSS reader with a smattering of pictures and tour dates. Video catalogues, music clips, even notifications are all available from some of the biggest and best in the world of rock. We've picked out a selection of apps to get you started which you'll find linked below. 

If there's any that you guys feel deserve a mention, shout out in the comments and we'll build the list up. Lets rock!

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3 years ago

Chrome extension allows for downloading of Android apps from Market to desktop

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For those who know their way around the insides of an Android smartphone, pulling the apps off the device in their .apk form is a pretty trivial exercise. (We showed you how to do it many moons ago.) Now, thanks to a clever developer and a Chrome extension, you can download Android apps to your computer straight from the Android Market -- no smartphone acting as a middle man.

The trick is to install redphx's APK Downloader Chrome extension, turn off SSL error notifications, and then set a cookie for your Android Market e-mail and device ID. (Which means you need to be giving that sort of info up to the dev's cookie.) From there, you go to an App in the Android Market, hit the icon that now appears in the Omnibar, and download away. We've tested it out, and things work as advertised.

All that said, we've got no idea how Google's going to feel about this, but we imagine the Android Market doesn't have this sort of download capability in the first place.

We've got some demo video after the break if you want to see what you're getting into.

Source: code kiếm cơm blogThanks, redphx!

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3 years ago

Dropbox v2.1 now available in the Android Market, automatically upload photos and videos using WiFi

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Just in case you skipped out on testing the recent experimental builds of Dropbox from their users forums, you can now head on over to the Android Market and grab the official release. As noted in the change log, they've addressed some bugs from the beta and added some new features as well:

  • Allows you to automatically uploads photos and videos in the background using Wi-Fi or data plan
  • Up to 3 GB of free space for uploading photos automatically (in 500 MB increments)
  • Upload files of any size
  • Various performance improvements & bug fixes
  • We now store your Dropbox credentials in Android’s secure Account Manager. This means Dropbox can’t be installed on your SD Card and requires the “Your Accounts” permissions. These permissions only allows us to access accounts we create.

If you're a Dropbox user and haven't grabbed the latest release, now is a good time to do so and take advantage of that free space they're offering. Download link is past that for you all.

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3 years ago

Facebook users spreading Android malware, here's how to stay safe

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

The Sophos security website has reported a new bit of Android malware, and this time it's being spread on Facebook. If you watch the video above, you'll see how an unknown person on Facebook send you a link, which you dutifully click (because we all click random Facebook links from people we don't know, right?) and it downloads a malware ridden apk file to your phone. It's a trick folks have to use now that Google has a Bouncer at large in the Market.

Unfortunately, the video stops there and leads the viewer to believe that it's another cause for panic and that we need to be up in arms over this. The reality is far different, and this is a classic case of sensationalism. What happens after the part where the video ends is really the important bit.

After the file downloads, you'll have to choose to install it. This also depends on you having disabled the security feature that prevents third party apps from being installed, and failing to read the permission warning that pops up when you verify that you want to install this random file. Of course, across the Internet you'll probably not hear this part, because Android and malware in the same title generates hits. We've seen it before. 

So how do you stay safe? It's easy:

  • Don't interact with random people on Facebook
  • Don't click random URLs from random people
  • Don't install random apps that you didn't download

With Android, you get the freedom to install apps from anywhere, not just an official store where the folks that make the OS get 30 percent. You also get notified of what every app can do, and are forced to accept those terms. With that in mind, use just a little bit of common sense and you'll be fine.

Source: Sophos

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3 years ago

BlackBerry users get a Google+ app, here's how it stacks up against the Android version

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[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With the Google+ user base growing daily, we suppose it had to happen eventually. Yes, BlackBerry users now have themselves a Google+ app to make use of. It's not an official app mind you, it's one that was created by a company called Smarter Apps but it does indeed work for Google+ access.

Some features are still missing, most notably hangouts and messenger but the basics are there. Needless to say, the Android version is still better no matter how you swing it. Check out the video above to see the BlackBerry and Android version go head-to-head and don't forget to follow Android Central on Google+.

Source: CrackBerry

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3 years ago

Chrome for Android gets an update, appears to break support for some custom ROMs

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Chrome Beta for Android has received a mystery update over in the Android Market, updating the mobile version of Google's browser to version 0.16. There's nothing in the changelog to indicate what's new in this version, but we've noticed no new features, so we can assume it's just the usual mix of bug fixes and performance tweaks.

However, if you're using CyanogenMod 9, or another ICS-based custom ROM, you may want to hold off updating, as there are reports in the Market comments section of this new version breaking things for those on using custom firmware. If you're running a custom ROM and still want to update, we recommend backing up your current version of Chrome before proceeding. Hopefully Google will be able to issue a fix for those affected before too long.

We've got Market links for you after the break.

Thanks, edhe!

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3 years ago

Late-night poll: Do you use a third party launcher?

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One of the best things about Android is that the OS allows us to customize things that are built deep into the system. Things like keyboards, or the messaging application, or the home launcher. Using applications from the market, it's easy to make our Android phones look and feel like our Android phones. Before we got a little taste of Ice Cream Sandwich, a custom home launcher was a must for many a power user. But did that change with the stock Android launcher? It's the most customizable stock launcher yet, and for many the new folder system and launcher bar are just what the doctor ordered. For others, they need even more. And what about third party vendors, and their versions of Android? The TouchWiz launcher is pretty customizable, and the Sense launcher looks beautiful. Even Blur has come a long way and we don't have a lot bad to say about it any longer.

There's plenty of pros and cons either way, so which camp do you fall in? Let us know in tonight's poll.

Do you use a custom third party launcher?

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3 years ago

Nova Launcher now available in Android Market in free and paid versions

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Nova Launcher has made it's way out of the beta stage and into the Android Market. This Ice Cream Sandwich launcher is chock full of features you won't find in the stock launcher, and comes highly recommended by our own Android Central forums Super Moderator Cyber Warrior. A look at the feature list and we see why:

Custom homescreen grid
Scrollable dock
Scroll effects
Infinite scrolling
Custom folder icons
Backup/Restore
Custom app icons

The paid version offers up even more, like gestures, dock swiping, and the ability to hide apps in your app drawer. 

If you found the stock Android launcher in ICS a bit lacking, you should really give Nova Launcher a look. It requires Android 4.0 and both free and a paid $4 version are available in the Market. We've got a link to the free version after the break.

via Android Central forums

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3 years ago

Foursquare update brings bunch o' bugfixes

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Android's Foursquare check-in app got an update this evening, bringing a few bugfixes. They are:

  • Bug fixes for the 2-08 release.
  • In-line commenting on Check-in Details.
  • Updated language translations.
  • Android Beam now redirects to the Android Market if receiving user doesn't have Foursquare.

Snag it now in the Android Market or at the link in this post.

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3 years ago

Lookout launches Ad Network Detector, a new tool to manage privacy

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The folks over at Lookout Labs have released a new Android app today, and it's one that I think a whole lot of folks are going to love. Dubbed Ad Network Detector, it's an app that detects which advertisement networks are running in the other apps you've downloaded and installed, tells you what apps are using them, and lets you know a bit about what type of information they can be tracking about you.

Lets get to the meat of the issue -- ads are not bad or evil. I've been known to wear a tinfoil hat on occasion, but even I recognize that advertisements are a great way for developers to offer apps for free, and make them accessible to everyone -- not just those with a credit card, who are willing to pay (or able to pay in their country) for them from the Market. Developers deserve to make money, I get it. But we also deserve to know what info these ad networks are collecting. Let's be honest, most folks don't bother to read the permissions screen when they install an app. None of these ad networks are going to do anything illegal or inherently evil, so there's no harm in knowing more about them, right? Here's an easy way to know all of that.

Just install the app, run it and let it scan the applications you've installed on your phone. You get a handy list of things ad networks can do (including the horrible trick of putting ads in your notification bar), and how many of each you might have installed. A quick tap opens the tree, and you see the names of the culprits ad networks that are using each type of ad. Another tap and you get more information about how it all works and the apps that are using this type of placement or collection. From there, you can decide what to do. I love it when power is put back in the hands of the user, and knowing is the most important part. This is one I'll recommend to everyone with an Android phone.

We've got the download link, and a few screen caps to see how it all goes down, after the break.

Source: Lookout

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3 years ago

Box for Android updated, new UI and collaboration features along with 50GB free for everyone

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Box have been on somewhat of a roll of late. They've been offering out free storage to LG and Sony Ericsson owners by the bucket. Today they updated their Android application bringing with it some new collaboration features, and for a limited time only free 50GB worth of storage for everyone who downloads the app and logs in before March 23. I didn't get an additional 50GB, so we'll say that it probably doesn't apply if you already got 50GB free out of them before. 

One of Box's stronger features is its collaboration tools, and now right from within the app you can invite people to collaborate on your files. They also put in support for commenting on individual files too. Pretty nifty. 

The UI also gets updated, and now makes use of the standard action bar. Another useful addition is the ability to batch multiple file uploads at once and the app will now support being moved to the SD card. 

Box are definitely going big, and while Dropbox is preferred by a good chunk of the market -- free desktop sync helps -- 50GB for free is too good to turn away. Hit the download links below to help yourselves.

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3 years ago

Dropbox experimental build updated, improved camera upload function

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Dropbox's last experimental build for Android brought some sweet new features, and free storage for anyone testing it out. Today they've gone and updated the build fixing some issues previously found, adding a couple of handy improvements in the process. 

Overall performance is improved in the camera upload feature. We also get bug fixes for issues where not all your photos and videos would be uploaded. Personally, I would appreciate the bug fixing that gave me 500MB of free storage, then took it away again -- hopefully I'm an isolated case. 

In any case, a useful feature that has been added is camera upload numbering. Photos taken in quick succession now get numbered properly and don't overwrite each other when uploading to your Dropbox account. 

As ever, this is an experimental build folks, so treat it with a degree of caution and shout out in their forums if you find any bugs. You can download a copy for yourself at the source link below. 

Source: Dropbox

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3 years ago

Privacy policies not exactly a new idea for Android apps

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So Amazon, Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft and RIM have all decided to hold hands and form a circle around the California attorney general and agreed to privacy principles designed to bring the industry in line with a California law" that requires apps to have privacy policies. Follow all that? 

It's privacy principles that the companies have all agreed to, as well as the need to conspicuously display them in the app somewhere. And chances are you'll see them all roll out some guidelines to developers in the coming months, rather than leaving the devs to come up with them on their own. 

Privacy policies aren't exactly a new thing for Android apps. Go all the way back to an Aug. 4, 2010 blog post from Nick Kralevich of the Android Security Team titled "Best Practices for Handing Android User Data." What's the No. 1 tip he had for developers? 

  1. Maintain a privacy policy.

The other nine suggestions really should be mandatory as well, including minimizing the permissions needed, giving users a choice regarding data collection, and using encryption. Common sense stuff. But it's wild world out there, no? Not every app has a conspicuous privacy policy -- that goes from Google to Android Central to, well, far more applications than we'd like to see. (You can find our site policies at the very bottom of this page.)

The proprietors of the major app stores coming together for a common set of privacy policies as well how to best present those policies to the us, the users is a good thing. A very good thing. Now we just need to see better implementation.

More: California Attorney General's Office; more at iMore.com

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