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3 years ago

SPC Music Sketchpad 2 [Android App Review]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Music is something really close to my heart. It's what I'm majoring in (Go Bobcats!), something I've been involved in for years, and my other great passion besides writing about Android. When I'm lucky enough to find an app that combines music and Android, I'm in hog heaven. While SPC Music Sketchpad 2 (whew, that's a mouthful!) isn't as abstract as say, Plasma Sound, it's still really fun to use and powerful enough to create some really cool beats.

Once you open SPC 2, you're greeted with a grid of prepackaged sounds. Tap a sound and it starts to play, over and over. Each sound has a different pattern (and usually plays at a different time), so out of the box you've got some solid variety.

When you hit the pencil button you go into sound editing mode. When you touch a sound, instead of it turning on, you're taken to another grid where you can change when your sound activates, add more sounds, or turn it off completely. Then, you can save your edited sound so you don't have to remember how you changed it and redo the whole thing later.

There's also a cool effects panel where you can mess with things like distortion and reverb. Some of the effects are passive (just turn up their amount and they'll do their thing), but others you need to manually hit an effect button to have them work. (Distortion works this way.)

Finally, when you realize you've hit musical gold, you can record your sick beat onto your SD card, preserving it forever (or until your SD card fails). Assuming you get it onto a computer or other media device in a timely fashion, know that many dance parties will be had as the result of your musical ingenuity and tech-savvy nerdiness.

SPC Music Sketchpad 2 is $4.99 in the Google Play store for a limited time. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

UK property search site Rightmove launches new Android app on March 19.

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Rightmove is one of the biggest websites in the UK. Its property listings cover the length and breadth of the country and over 20000 estate agents and property developers. It's also how I found the house I currently own. Until now all that was missing was an Android app. As of March 19, Rightmove's first Android app will be live in the Google Play Store to cater to all your house-hunting needs. 

There was an iOS app released from Rightmove way back in 2009, followed by a Samsung SmartTV app last year. Quite why it has taken so long to come to Android is a mystery, but they got here which is the important thing. 

On the face of it, we're getting a full experience too. By hooking into your Rightmove account, you can share listings with other people, and look at your favourites on the go. It also takes full advantage of Google Maps by offering street view options. Seeing the street is almost as important as seeing the house, after all. 

Full-screen floor plans and photos are also promised, as is the ability to contact agents from within the app. On release Rightmove will be free in the Google Play Store. You'll find a quick walkthrough video after the break.

Source: Pocket-lint

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3 years ago

CyanogenMod 9 makes root access an option, not the default

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Since the earliest days of unofficial Android ROMs, root access and custom firmwares like CyanogenMod have gone hand in hand. However, future versions of CyanogenMod will take a step back from always-on root, disabling root access by default but allowing users to easily enable it through a menu.

In a statement on their official site, the CM team says that having root access enabled by default represents a "major security risk," one which can be remedied by introducing four user-configurable root options. Root access will be disabled by default, while three additional options will let CM users enable it for ADB only, apps only, or both. So there's nothing to panic about -- your root access will still be there if and when you need it, but your device will be more secure by default as a result.

A good analogy is Android's "unknown sources" option, which allows applications to be loaded directly from an APK file rather than the Google Play Store. It's there for those that want it, but disabled by default for security reasons. As CM matures and its audience grows more mainstream, it makes sense that there's a renewed focus on security.

There's more technical info about exactly how this configurable root access works over at the source link.

Source: CyanogenMod

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3 years ago

OverSkreen [Android App Review]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

It seems Android folk are always looking for ways to make their tablet experience more desktop-like. Services like OnLive Desktop aim to carve out a large niche for themselves, and desktop streaming services are almost as old as Android itself. OverSkreen might not simulate the entire Windows experience, but it does give you something more akin to a true desktop browsing experience, and that's something I've not seen before.

Simply put, when you open up OverSkreen, you're given a floating browser window on top of whatever you were previously looking at. Much unlike the browser (or any other Android app), OverSkreen exists in tandem with everything else; it doesn't bother to fill up the entire screen. The window is completely resizable, and you can even have multiple windows open at once, all at different sizes.

OverSkreen uses the 'always on top' rule by default, always floating above your desktop at large. Fortunately, aside from resizing the window, you can also minimize it (it'll go down to your notifications area) and come back to it later. Of course, if you're totally done, closing the window is as simple as tapping the red button in the top-right corner of the screen.

How practical OverSkreen can be is yet to be seen, but in my brief time using it, I definitely enjoyed it. Sure, you have to re-train yourself to use your tablet, but I dare say it's for the better. Granted, switching between applications isn't all that difficult in Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich, but if you're looking for a browser that's a bit more customizable and closer to your desktop experience, aside from streaming, OverSkreen is it.

I guess the best way to frame it is like this: Novel but niche idea or the future of how we multitask on our devices? That's definitely yet to be seen, but if MBFG can continue to build on the already stellar app they've produced, I imagine we'll be seeing more of this in the future.

OverSkreen is $1.49 in the Google Play Store for a limited time. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

Google Play Store updated, new tabbed My Apps UI and app review features

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An update is beginning to push out to the Android Market Google Play Store bumping it to build number 3.5.15. With it comes a change in the UI to the "My Apps" area, and some handy new features built into application reviews that bring it more into line with the desktop version. For us outside North America we also seem to have been renamed from "Play Shop" to the much better sounding "Play Store." 

The change to the "My Apps" area is the most obvious change brought with this latest update. Gone is the single -- and incredibly long in some cases -- list of old, and in comes a new tabbed interface in the same vein as the main store.  The installed tab is now split into two parts, the updates still showing at the top but the remainder are now labelled as "up to date" below. 

Swipe left and we now get the "All" tab. Handily this contains all the applications you've ever installed. Gone are the days of scrolling all the way to the bottom of your installed apps list to find your not installed paid apps selection. This also contains all the free applications you installed before but don't have currently. Everything is here. This tab also has a handy dropdown box at the top listing all your Google accounts, providing a much smoother and easier way of switching without having to go into the menus. 

Heading out into the main store, further changes can be found in the app reviews. Now the device on which the app on the device which the reviewer was using. Reviews can also be filtered by "most helpful first" or by "newest first," and also for the latest version of the app and for your type of device only. This last one could be particularly handy for anyone running Ice Cream Sandwich, since we still seem to have compatibility issues with some applications. 

One final thing to note. When I first started trying to download apps after the update, everything kept flashing up with "Error 941." Force stopping the app, clearing cache and starting again seemed to do the trick. Not great, but seemed to fix the issue at least. 

For a few screenshots hit the break. If you find any other features worth noting, shout out in the comments below.

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3 years ago

World of Goo [Android Game Review]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

The fleeting feeling of nostalgia, a quick virtual swipe of the credit card, and everything is new again. Well, that's not quite true. World of Goo has still been out since November on Android (and even longer on desktops, iDevices, and the Wii), but that doesn't mean I can't have some fun with those delicious little goo balls and their crazy, physics-based antics.

If you've ever played X Construction (or any other physics-based building game), you'll immediately see the inspiration that was (probably) drawn from World of Goo. Instead of using steel beams, you're stretching out sentient goo-beings, trying to create a structurally sound contraption that the other goo-beings can move along to a suction tube. (Yeah, you read that right.)

World of Goo is pretty forgiving on the whole building front; lines appear when you're placing a new goo, showing you how it'll connect to the rest of the structure. Thicker lines mean the connection will be a strong one; thinner lines mean you're going on a date with destiny. Still, that's no reason to shy away from the tough moves. If you're fast enough, you can piece together something before the entire tower comes crashing down.

The whole point of all the building and the goo-beings and the suction tube? To get the goo-beings sucked up, of course. Each level has a minimum number of goos that need to be sucked up, so you can't be wasteful with your placement. As a reward for being stingy (or can we say efficient?), you're awarded bonus points for every goo that gets sucked up over the required minimum.

Combine genre-defining gameplay with gorgeous graphics, excellent controls, and the online leaderboard to build the biggest tower in the history of the Goo World, and you've got a recipe for success. But we already knew that, seeing as how World of Goo has been wildly successful on just about every platform it has been unveiled on. Point is, you should play it.

World of Goo is $4.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

EA Sports launches FIFA 12 and NBA Jam on Google Play

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EA Sports has released two long-awaited titles on Google Play in Europe and North America today -- FIFA (Soccer) 12 and NBA Jam.

FIFA 12 is the latest in the long-running soccer football franchise, and launched on games consoles and iOS last October. The Android version originally launched exclusively on the Xperia Play last December, carrying Sony's "optimized for Xperia Play" branding. Now EA's opened things up to anyone with $5 (£4.15 in the UK) to spare and an Android 2.1+ device.

Likewise, NBA Jam is another classic franchise which has finally made its way across to Google's app store. EA promises arcade basketball action featuring all 30 NBA teams, including head-to-head multiplayer over Wifi or Bluetooth. NBA Jam is priced at $5 in North America, or £3 in Europe.

We've got Google Play links for both titles after the break.

 

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3 years ago

Scramble with Friends now available in the Google Play Store

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Zynga has made some extremely popular mobile applications such as Words With Friends and a few others, and today Scramble With Friends has landed in the Google Play Store. Scramble with friends has been available on iOS for some time now, and it is equally as addictive as Words With Friends. The concept of the game is simple, connect the tiles you have to create words, the more letter the more points. Tokens are also collected as the game is played, and these can be used to buy help during the game, for example hints or the ability to free time if you wish.

The download is free, the game is addictive, so hit the break and download it today!

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3 years ago

IMDb Movies & TV app updated with Android 4.0 compatibility, improved tablet design

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When we hosted our 2011 Android Central Editors' Pick Awards we chose IMDb Movies & TV as the tablet app of the year. Now, IMDb is gunning for that title again in 2012 having just released a new Android 4.0 optimized version with a new home screen layout and more:

  • Improved design and experience for a variety of 7” tablets
  • We greatly reduced the size of the app by removing the “Scan DVD” feature (based on customer feedback)
  • The “Hardware Controls: Take Pictures & Video” permission is no longer required.
  • Improved showtimes

Having sat down with the app briefly before writing it up, it's certainly a worthwhile update. The new layout feels a little bit more intuitive and natural, making getting your around the app a whole lot easier. The update is available now in the Google Play Store, you'll find the link past the break.

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3 years ago

Amazon Prime Instant Video adds content from Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet and more

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For a while now, Amazon has slowly been adding content partners to their Amazon Prime Instant Video service and the most recent announcement makes way for plenty more. With agreements now in place with Discovery Communications, shows such as Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress and Animal Planet’s Whale Wars, will all be available for viewing on any device with access to the services, including the Kindle Fire.

“Discovery Communications has always been a leader in creating entertaining and enlightening programming for the entire family,” said Brad Beale, director of video content acquisition for Amazon. “With the addition of this great content from Discovery Communications, Prime customers now have more than 17,000 titles to choose from when watching Prime Instant Video—that’s in addition to the more than 120,000 titles that are offered to all customers for purchase or rent on Amazon Instant Video.”

With earlier content deals bringing ABC Disney, Viacom and 20th Century Fox to the mix, Amazon is really starting to add some additional value for the $79 a year you pay for Amazon Prime.

Source: Amazon

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3 years ago

Tank Riders [Android Game Review]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Tank Riders, you had such promise. You look beautiful, you run incredibly well, and you involve tanks. Tanks, I say! Made in the same vein as many a game before you, you offered an unprecedented level of eye candy and polish that truly made me proud to say you were on Android.

Then I tried to play you.

Man, on a tablet, those controls are rough. For starters, let's notice that the virtual joystick remains completely hidden until you decide to move it. Once you know it's there, there's no problem. The first time I tried to play, though, I was wildly moving my fingers across the screen, trying to get some sort of response. Finally, I landed on the joystick.

The virtual joystick is about as good (or bad) as any other one I've used. Move your finger, the tank moves. Because there's nothing physical, you run the risk of stretching your hand out too far, accidentally moving off of the joystick, and leaving yourself a sitting duck until you reorient your thumb. Pretty stock stuff.

The aiming, however, is atrocious. With your left hand permanently locked on the left side of the screen (you know, to control your tank), all your aiming has to be done with the right hand. If you only had to shoot to the right, that'd be fine. Sometimes you have to shoot to the left, though. That involves an awkward crossover (not unlike when you start beginning piano), covers up your screen with your arms, and generally ruins any fun you were previously having.

Maybe I'm inept. Perhaps I lack some sort of basic arm-crossing gene that renders me helpless in the wake of such a challenge, and that's why I was unsuccessful. Regardless, that one glaring issue was so large, it sullied the entire gameplay experience for me.

If you think you've got what I don't, Tank Riders is $1.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

Angry Birds take to the track in this weekends Australian Grand Prix

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Ever wondered just how far the power of the Angry Birds franchise would take it? Forget space, Angry Birds are now heading to the racetrack.

Finnish Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen -- fellow countryman to developers Rovio -- has unveiled his new helmet design as part of the partnership with Rovio prior to this weekends Australian Grand Prix. The partnership between Kovalainen and Rovio also includes a range of co-branded merchandise and a forthcoming web game.

This one certainly stands out from the crowd. You can see Heikki's creation this weekend by tuning into the Australian Grand Prix when coverage starts from Friday. 

The question truly remains. Where else can Angry Birds go to?

Source: Heikki Kovalainen

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3 years ago

Google Offers expands to 4 new cities, with 11 new partners

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Google has expanded their Google Offers service with 4 new cities and 11 new partners, bringing the totals to 30 deal partners in 40 cities. Users in Austin, Houston, Philadelphia, and Miami will now be able to get more daily deals via the Android app or through their inbox, and the partner sites will get even more exposure now that they have aligned themselves with the big G.

The new deal partners look to expand things with deals for just about everyone.  8Moms, APDailyDeals, AT&T Interactive, Boston.com, DailyDeals.com, DoubleTakeDeals, Half Off Depot, Morgan’s Deals, Savored, Signpost and Urban Dealight are the latest additions, and should offer a varied mix to fit just about every taste.

I know many of us are deal-watchers. I spend more time and money than I should searching them out, and no day trip to downtown DC is complete without seeing what I can save while out and about. Now we all have even more partners to look forward to in our daily emails. And that dinner at The Cajun Experience looks artery-cloggingly delicious. 

Source: Google Commerce

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3 years ago

Beautiful Widgets: New update adds Web Skin Market and Multi-Forecast

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Widgets are a great feature built into Android and a ton of folks use them on a daily basis. One of the most popular widget apps in the Google Play Store known as Beautiful Widgets has now rolled out their latest release and it's looking to fill the demands of folks everywhere.

The update bumps the app into v4.0.1 and aside from the content already offered within the app, LevelUp Studio has added a new Web Skin Market where you can now download a ton of skins for your widgets to make use of, as well as mix them up using the Skin Mixer.

Another requested feature comes with this release as well and that's the addition of multi-forecasts within the weather application provided. Now, you can have multiple locations added, all of which can be viewed by simply swiping back and forth across your screen to see whatever locale you wish.

This update is available in the Google Play Store right now, it'll set you back a little under $2 but with the many improvements found in this release, it's an easy to swallow price. Hit the break, grab the download and start customizing your device how you want.

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3 years ago

Stealth Chopper 3D [Android Game Review]

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Every good mobile operating system needs a solid flight simulation app, and Android has found that in Stealth Chopper 3D. What else sounds more fun than flying the famous SEAL Team Six around four different environments, looking like a fool while controlling the chopper with your accelerometer, and shooting enemies out of the air and off the ground? (Well, I can think of plenty of things...) Nothing, that's what.

While I will admit, the graphics remind me of old N64 games (which are still awesome, by the way), the menus are pretty bland and hideous, and the on-screen controls look like they were made in Microsoft Paint, the game itself runs really well. Your chopper chirps along at a steady 60FPS, realistically swinging to-and-fro in the air, matching your every tilt, twitch, and sneeze you throw at it.

Aiming the chopper's guns is a pretty huge pain, a direct result of the incredibly small aiming reticule and the fact that you have to steady your hands and arms to near death-level stillness to keep your chopper from rocking. Changing between Air-to-Ground versus Air-to-Air doesn't make the aiming any simpler, but hey, at least enemies anywhere will feel your firestorm of bullets (assuming you can hit any of them).

As a pure flight simulator, I think Stealth Chopper 3D really excels. The throttle control is responsive, and while there's the potential for wonkiness, adapting to tilt controls doesn't take too terribly long. (I picked this up much faster than I did arcade racing games.) It's also fairly unforgiving; come in too fast or at the wrong angle and your SEALs will find themselves in a world of hurt as your chopper explodes into many pieces. So at least it's got that going for it.

Stealth Chopper 3D is $3.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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