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3 years ago

Android Quick App: Pinball HD for Tegra 2

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One of the first apps I downloaded on my tablet was the TegraZone, a special app browser developed by NVIDIA to showcase applications that were optimized for its Tegra II chipset.  Sure, I have my tower defense games and angry birds, but I wanted to see what an "optimized" game would look like on my Tab's massive screen.

Pinball HD was published by NVIDIA to show off the graphics power of their Tegra 2 processor, and it shows.  The colors are vibrant and there are a ton of little animations shown in that seem to exist just because they make the game nicer to look at.  My favorite board is the Jungle, because if you can aim the ball just right, the Gorilla will pick it up and pound his chest before throwing it back on the board.  Each board has a special animation to fit the theme, but I like "Big Kong" the best.

As far as actual gameplay goes, it performs how you would expect it to.  You tap the right side of the screen to move the right toggle, and do the opposite for the left.  Response time was fast, and the sounds seemed in sync with what was happening on the screen.  One nice feature is that if you swipe with two fingers, the game will zoom out to show the entire board instead of following the ball with a camera.  I found it a lot easier to play this way, though others might enjoy the added detail that the camera view provides.

Much like a regular pinball game, I found myself greeted with the game over screen a lot faster than I expected, but this was due to my lack of skill more than any problems with the controls.  When a game ends, you're given the option to input your name so that your score can be listed on your devices high score board as well as a leader board for other players who have the game installed.

Pinball HD is a fun game with great graphics and pretty addictive game play.  At $2.99, it's also one of the least expensive optimized games for Tegra 2 devices.  If you're looking for a great time waster, or if you're training to be the next wizard, give Pinball HD a try.  Additional screenshots and download link after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Quick App: Sheep at Stake

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Our latest gaming excursion from the fellow who brought us Magic Cuts is Sheep at Stake, a cutesy, colorful game that hides its insane difficulty under a facade of an adorable flock of sheep.

Sheep at Stake's whole purpose is to stretch your abilities of multitasking to the point of breakage, demanding you do more and more complex tasks simultaneously lest you let your sheep go astray. Lose three sheep in a level and it's game over. You can track your progress till a level ends by looking at the orange bar at the top of the screen. The more sheep that successfully reach their destination, the more the bar fills up. Once it's filled, you've won the level. You're awarded a star for every sheep not lost (to a maximum of three).

Gameplay takes place over four levels and three unique environments. There's also three levels of difficulty, ranging from easy, to normal, to difficult. That being said, I can't even fathom how hard difficult is, based on what I experienced on the easy mode.

Sheep at Stake has a great premise, but it's not without it's shortcomings. Frankly, the learning curve is a bit too steep too early on. With so many levels ahead of you and four environments each, I think there could have been a bit more gradual ramping up of the challenges, to ease the player into some of the harder puzzles.

That being said, the game also does a lot of things well. The music is nice as are the sound effects and the game runs smooth. It's colorful and nice, and the cartoonish sheep are always fun to look at. It's solidly built, even if it's too much too soon.

Overall, Sheep at Stake seems like the kind of game only a glut for punishment would enjoy. Fortunately for everyone else, it's free, so you're not out anything if you realize it's a bit more than you bargained for. If you're up to test your multitasking or just need to kill some time (even if, like me, you can't pass Level 3), Sheep at Stake is at least worth a gander.

A few more pictures and download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

EVO 3D tip: Adjust your 3D pictures and help your eyes [from the forums]

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before                                                   after 

If you're not into the 3D features on your shiny new HTC EVO 3D, and it's because those darn pictures just hurt your eyes or give you a headache, this tip is for you.  Android Central member Jerzyiroc has a great little tutorial in the EVO 3D forums showing you how to make adjustments to the 3D effect for stills using the tools built right in to the EVO 3D gallery.  A lot of folks are saying that the 3D videos they shoot look great, but the pictures aren't aligned very well and cause some strain on the eyes.  Looks like HTC has given us the tools to fix this, and now we can learn how to use them.  Be sure to have a look, and thank him in the forums!

Source: Android Central forums. Thanks, Jerzyiroc!

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3 years ago

Android Market now has more than a quarter-million applications

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Just 48 hours since Google announced a major update to the Android Market, Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of advertising, announced during today's second-quarter earnings call that the Android Market now has more than 250,000 applications, with more than 6 billion downloads.

By comparison, BlackBerry's App World just passed the 1 billion mark.

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3 years ago

Google+ private beta has more than 10 million members

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Google CEO Larry Page just dropped a few numbers on the new Google+ social network, which technically is still in a semi-private beta.

"The Growth on Google+ has been great," Page said during Thursday's second-quarter earnings call. He explained:

  • More than 10 million people on Google+
  • More than 1 billion items shared and received in a single day.
  • The +1 button is being served more than 2.3 billion times a day.

Still a way to go to hit Facebook's 750 million members. But for private beta, that ain't too shabby.

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3 years ago

Google+ app updated in Android Market, brings UI changes, new features, and bug fixes

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The Google+ app has just received a pretty major update that brings bug fixes, some UI changes, and new features to Googles new social media venture.  From the changelog in the Android Market:

  • Customize the main stream view to show streams from individual circles
  • Fixed some issues encountered by users with the Swype keyboard
  • Set permissions for who can start a huddle with you (Anyone, Your Circles, Extended Circles)
  • If someone you've never huddled with before invites you to a group huddle, you can now dismiss the invitation
  • New UI allows adding multiple people or entire circles to a huddle
  • Set photo as wallpaper
  • Performance improvements and bug fixes throughout the app

This addresses the biggest gripes I've been hearing about the mobile app -- a way to add entire circles to a huddle, and a way to customize which circles are visible in your main stream.  I'm sure the Google+ team is still hard at work and things will only get better.  If you don't have your Google+ invitation yet, be sure to hit the forums and sing out -- invites seem to be wide open.  Download links for the Market are after the break.

If you don't have an Android phone, you don't have a Google+ app. 

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3 years ago

Android Quick App: dealnews

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If any of you are as gung-ho about saving money as I am, I'm sure you've heard about dealnews. Their slogan is "Where every day is Black Friday" and as such, they 're constantly trying to give you the biggest and best discounts on anything they can find. Fortunately, for the bargain hunters on-the-go, they've just unveiled their latest offering, the dealnews Android app.

The dealnews app is a fully-featured, mobile dealnews experience. There are four tabs up at the top of the screen: Deals, Saved, Find, and More, respectively. Deals is where the action happens, obviously. Saved contains all of your saved deals, Find is a general product search, and More gives you four more options to find discounts and deals.

When you find yourself on the More tab, you're greeted with Twitter, Facebook, mydealnews, and their Black Friday App as options. Clicking on either Twitter or Facebook opens up a wrapped version of their mobile Twitter and Facebook feeds, respectively, without ever leaving the app or asking you to login. Pressing the back button on your phone brings you back to the app proper.

Mydealnews takes you to a non-mobile version of the dealnews website called mydealnews (big surprise!). It's populated with the standard information about dealnews and what they do and is essentially trying to get you to subscribe/register/join their website so you can have tailored deal suggestions sent to you. While back on the More screen, if you press the Black Friday App link, you're taken to the Android Market install page for the Black Friday App. As of now, too early to be useful, but definitely worth nothing once November rolls around.

Moving off of the top-most menu, you'll see there's categories of products, ranging from Newest and Hottest to Computers, Electronics, and even Office & Supplies. Clicking on any specific category hones your list of items down to that particular thing. At first I couldn't tell if it ended at electronics (you'll notice it cuts off the word a few letters in), but after a couple of attempts, I discovered you can scroll left and right on the category menu, exposing a whole plethora of things to choose from. It's intuitive once you notice it, but I would have liked something more indicative than a word being cut off in the middle.

You can also force refresh the deals via the menu button. The menu button brings up that option as well as your sole way of getting to the (as of now) meager settings menu. Once you find yourself on the settings menu, you'll notice your only two choices are Twitter and Facebook, and the app only gives you the option of automatically posting deals you've found to those two accounts.

Something else I would have liked to have seen is support for landscape mode. Even when you rotate your phone, the app is locked into portrait, which isn't terrible, but is definitely limiting, especially if you want to see more categories to choose from without having to scroll incessantly.

Overall though, the dealnews app is a strong first push into getting an app out there that isn't seasonal. While there's definitely room for improvement, it's free and still fresh (as of today), so I'm sure it'll mature as time goes on. If you're interested in bargains, consider checking it out, as it's one I wouldn't want to go without.

Oodles of pictures and download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Googlers to host 17 sessions at OSCON 2011

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Anyone interested in open source development with the means to attend should check out Portland on July 25 to July 29, where O'Reily Media's annual open-source convention will be held.  This year, there will be 17 Googlers hosting sessions, with a variety of subject matter ranging from AppEngine development to programming Android apps with App Inventor.  Besides the popular development breakout sessions, Chris DiBona will be hosting two "Ask Google Engineers Anything" sessions on the 28th, one in the morning and one in the evening.

The conference is being held at the Oregon Convention Center, and be sure to check out the source links for the full listing of sessions and more information about OSCON.

Source: Google Open Source; OSCON

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3 years ago

Facebook for Android updated to v1.6.1

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If you are a Facebook lover who has yet to desert to magic of Google+, you will be happy to know that they are hard at work behind the scenes to continue to bring additional features to the mobile world. The application has been updated to version 1.6.1 which brings better pages support, tag pages in updates by using an "@" prior to the name, as well as viewing all pages that you like, and pages that you are an admin of. Be sure to check the market and ensure that you are on the latest update, as they also have implemented various bug fixes in this build as well as the other changes. Download links available after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Quick App: Kona's Crate

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Every so often a game comes around that makes you stop, take pause, and admire it's design. As the hardware we're using continues to improve, I think we'll be seeing more of that, but until we do, there is Kona's Crate.

Kona's Crate is a game about delivering stuff. What stuff, you ask? A crate, undoubtedly! It's not just any crate, however. It's filled with stars (you know, for points) and you give it to Chief Kona, the guy with the terrifying mask that you'd otherwise avoid. But hey, he's the one dishing out stars, so you have to do it. Just remember, if anyone ever offers you stars to get in their van and give you a ride home, the answer is no.

Anyway, because Kona is a jerk chief, he's opted for a less-than-conventional method of getting his cargo shipped to him. Instead of the standard fare, you've got to move a jet-controlled delivery platform to wherever he is on any given level. If it sounds simple, it's not.

Yes, the controls are simple. A left tap on the screen powers your left thruster, and a right tap powers the right. You've got the option to invert the controls, but regardless, a tap on the screen gets your engine purring. From there, this game turns into a split-second hating, reflex-challenging, make-you-want-to-throw-your-phone-in-agony kind of experience, but you won't be able to stop.

Gameplay starts off in a tutorial. As you advance through the laughably simple tutorial stages, you'll notice difficulty starts to ramp up. At first, where you needed only to nudge the crate over to the left, now you've got to navigate curvy freefalls and float over tricky walls. This is only the beginning of the challenge, as the farther you progress, the more intense gameplay gets. Falling blocks, TNT and physics are there to derail your next-day delivery shipment, and you've got to use your catlike reflexes to overcome it all.

A speedier delivery nets you more stars (maximum of three) at the completion of a level. If you can't hit your goal, the game tells you what time you need to have delivered in to reach the next tier up. Unique to Kona's Crate are the vines that wrap around your stars. Vines are your reward for not running into any obstacles like walls or ceilings, or in later levels, debris. I think this is more for the completionists in all of us, so be aware that it's there.

Kona's Crate contains more than 60 levels in three campaigns, with superb graphics and OpenFeint support. With OpenFeint, you can see how you stack up on the leaderboards for time, stars and vines earned, and even publicly post your bests on Facebook and Twitter (but not Google+!). There's also achievements to be had, like New High Score and Safe Landing, plus a plethora more I've not yet been skilled enough to unlock.

Overall, Kona's Crate is a solid game on Android. It's combination of beautiful graphics, challenging, unique gameplay, and high replayability factor are all reasons to invest in it. There's a free version as well as a paid version, but for a scant 99 cents, you can buy yourself the whole package as well as support a developer who is wholeheartedly deserving of it.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Spotify now live in the United States

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Take just about every feature from every streaming music service available, and you you get Spotify. But until today, those of us in the United States were left on the sidelines. No more. Spotify's now live. Create playlists, share music, search from millions of songs, play offline. And, most important, play on your Android phone.

Free invites are going out fast and furious this morning, and there are deals that can get you bumped up to the premium levels pretty quickly. Or if you don't mind paying monthly, $4.99 a month gets you the basic service, sans advertising. For $9.99 a month "premium" (and this is the one most of you will be shooting for), you gain full Spotify access on your Android smartphone, offline mode, and better streaming quality.

We're right in the middle of deep-diving this thing, but so far, Spotify's living up to its expectations.

More: Spotify

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3 years ago

Swiftkey X comes out of beta for Android smartphones and tablets

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Swiftkey X -- the latest generation in what has proven to be an excellent predictive-type keyboard for Android -- exits public beta status this morning and enters the Android Market as a full-fledged paid app.

Available for 48 hours at $1.99 (it'll increase to $3.99 thereafter), Swiftkey X is the phone version of TouchType's venerable keyboard app. It combines the two major facets of an on-screen keyboard -- predictive typing and the skinning of the keys themselves -- for what has quickly become (yet again) one of our favorite third-party Android keyboards.

Also available today is Swiftkey Tablet X, designed for Honeycomb tablets and their larger screens. It's available for 48 hours for $1.99 as well, and increases to $4.99 thereafter. With Swiftkey Tablet X, you have the option to type in a typical keyboard design, or you can switch to the thumb layout (seen above).

If you've previously purchased Swiftkey, you'll be upgraded to the full version of Swiftkey X for free.

We've been using Swiftkey X in its various beta builds for the past several months. The key to its success lies in its Fluency 2.0 engine, which learns the way you type and adapts to better predict your next word. You also have the option (it's opt-in) to connect Swiftkey X to your Facebook, Gmail and Twitter accounts, where it can better learn your typing habits. Are you particular in your hunting and pecking? Or do you just kind of go for it, and rely on autocorrect to get your message across? Swiftkey X can work with both.

Other features: Swiftkey X now supports 22 languages and can interpret as many as three simultaneous for you tri-lingual typers out there. Look and feel are also greatly improved, and the long-press timing is as good as we've seen. And Swiftkey X now has three themes from which to choose -- dark, light and neon.

Check out videos of Swiftkey in action after the break.

Download: Swiftkey X (phones); Swiftkey Tablet X

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3 years ago

New Android Market allows you to choose your Google account

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Google just showed us the new updated Android Market client that brings a UI overhaul, as well as Google Books and Movies for folks in the states.  Not long after, we gave you a way to download the new Market for yourselves, and you guys got to work checking it out.  It has a lot of different features, including one that a lot of us have been wanting -- the ability to switch to any Google account on your phone for Market use.  You can even choose a Google Apps account.  This could be a pretty handy feature, but also opens up the possibility of abuse via shared account credentials.  We'll have to see how it all unfolds.

Source: Android Central forums

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3 years ago

PayPal unveils peer-to-peer NFC payment system

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PayPal has shown their new peer-to-peer NFC payment system at MobileBeat 2011 today, using two Android powered Samsung Nexus S phones.  The premise is simple -- open the app on both phones, enter the payment amount on one, and bump them together.  After the buzz, enter account details, and the payment is processed.  Afterwards, the normal email receipts are generated and sent out, just like we did it in the old days.

There's no firm date when to expect this, but PayPal says "late this summer".  Another compelling reason for manufacturers to put NFC capabilities in their new models, or just a security concern?  Either way, we'll find out soon enough.  Hit the break to see a demo video.

Source: PayPal

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3 years ago

Grab the new Android Market app while it's hot

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You might have heard that Google was rolling out a new Android Market, complete with book and movie rentals.  You also might have heard it would coming in the next few weeks.  Well thanks to an anonymous source (possibly with a time machine) you can grab it today.

Hit the download link, and install it from your SD card like any other app.  Fair warning -- we don't know if there will be any complications from doing this, but we haven't seen any so far.  Use your best judgement.  Discuss it in the forums!

Download: New Android Market

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