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3 years ago

Android App Review: Pocket Casts

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I’m a big podcast listener. On a given week, I’ll probably listen to at least several hours of podcasts during commutes and downtime. Due to this, I require a high quality podcast app for Android that makes managing and listening to the content that I enjoy simple and easy. I’ve been a fan of Doggcatcher for a long time. While it is more costly than the average app ($6.99), the amount of use I get from it makes the purchase more than worth it for me. While I love the app, I’m always searching for alternatives that provide different experiences. Pocket Casts is the best alternative I have found thus far and for half the price ($2.99), it’s a really good deal. It doesn’t have all of the functionality that Doggcatcher offers but it does just what you need it to do and the UI is better in my opinion.

Once you open Pocket Casts, you’ll see the the homescreen with five tabs along the bottom. The options are, from the left:

  • Library: Displays all of the podcasts you have chosen to subscribe to.
  • Now Playing: Shows you the artwork for the podcast that you are currently listening to
  • Refresh: Will refresh your podcasts and display an aggregated list of all your subscriptions and the most recent episodes
  • Search: Allows you to search or browse for podcasts that you enjoy. Options include ‘search by podcast name’ browse ‘popular podcasts’, ‘podcast networks’, ‘categories’ and ‘import’ if you know the url.
  • Settings: The final button is where you can find the settings if you want to tweak the app to our liking. Options include the ability to set the amount of time the player skips ahead or backwards, whether to store the podcasts on the SD card or phone, and whether to auto-delete after you’re finished listening, among many others.

There is one more option up in the right hand corner when you’re in the Now Playing tab. The Playlist option allows you to create customized playlists if you know that you'll be listening to a variety of podcasts at one time.

Pocket Casts is a good podcast app with a very good UI. If you’re looking for an app that will manage your podcasts but don’t want to fork over $6.99, check out Shifty Jelly's app. Pocket Casts is available from the Android Market for $2.99. Links and more pictures after the break.

And don't forget to check out the Greatest Android Podcast in the World!

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3 years ago

Evernote acquires Skitch, releases Skitch app for Android

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The Evernote Trunk Conference is happening today and during that event, Evernote CEO Phil Libin announced Evernote had acquired the Mac drawing and screen capture app, Skitch. With the announcement, also came the news that Skitch will now be offered for free for Mac users. But that wasn't all -- Skitch has now unveiled their Android app which is available in the Android Market for free. As described on the Evernote blog:

Calling Skitch for Android addictively fun is an understatement. It’s the perfect way to quickly add your mark to any image. Take a snapshot of something awesome, draw an arrow and add a caption, then post the image on Facebook. When you’re at a conference, snap a picture of the people you meet, annotate it with their names and save it into Evernote. 

If you're looking for something new to try on your images, give Skitch a look. -- we'll get a better look at it later on but for now, check it out on your own. Download link is past the break for you all.

Source: Evernote Blog

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3 years ago

GetGlue for Android receives a facelift, new interface with the same great features

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GetGlue is a great social networking application for those of us who enjoy sitting at home watching movies, TV shows, and listening to various musical artists. The Android version of the application has been a bit behind in the looks category in comparison to the iOS version, but luckily they have not forgotten about us, just put it out a little bit later. Today GetGlue has released an updated that brings a great new interface to the same great application. Hit the break for some more photos and download links.

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3 years ago

Android Game Review: STAR BLITZ

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I like checking out what the featured apps are in the Market, because I usually assume it's featured for good reason. STAR BLITZ isn't one of those apps.

If you've played GUN BROS, seen any videos, or read our review of it, you've experienced STAR BLITZ. Glu Mobile could have named this one "Space Siblings" and that'd probably be a better name for it. At least it'd tip you off to how much of a GUN BROS clone it is.

And what a clone it is. The user interface is identical, just about. Same digital joysticks, same menus, same store, all of it. Yeah, the story is different. Instead of bad guys on a planet, now they're bad guys in space. You don't carry around guns, you fly spaceships. Oh, and it's a lady and a guy this time, hence why it should be Space Siblings and not Space Sisters or something.

The gameplay isn't bad, it's just uninspired. We've been here, done that. This is last week's hit song, dressed up in new clothes and paraded around as something new, original, and unique. And I just don't dig that.

The worst part? It's not even one of those cheap, weird knockoffs you find in the Market that might or might not be malware. It's made by the same group who made GUN BROS. That's just lazy, in my opinion, and if you're going to get featured in the Market, your game should actually be something worth featuring. (Fun fact: if you look at its app ID, they actually named it "Space Bros." What does that tell you?)

At least it's still free.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Wallpaper Review: Celtic Garden HD

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Some of you might remember DualBoot Games from our Spring Zen HD wallpaper review, and I was so impressed with what they'd done with that wallpaper, I decided to look into another. Today I've stumbled upon Celtic Garden HD, but to mix things up, I tried it on a tablet.

Celtic Garden HD gives us just that, a celtic garden. Surrounding it are various flora, and you can also choose to add fireflies or a butterfly, too. Similar to the other live wallpaper I reviewed, there is a "randomize" option, which will pick a random option from each category you can customize every time your screen loads.

You can really define your wallpaper down to a T, choosing everything from the basin type, flora type, garden life and leaf type, and even the pot type. You can also enable touch effects, so "special effects" happen when you touch the screen. In my experience, that was having the fireflies swarm around where I'd just touched.

In terms of performance, there wasn't the slightest bit of lag on the Toshiba Thrive I was running it on, so I'd assume everyone using a Tegra-2 device can expect similar results.

Per DualBoot's pricing scheme, there is also a free version available in the Market, but it restricts access to the well-thought out and comprehensive settings menu.

More pictures and download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Android Game Review: GRave Defense HD

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

The best part about my job is that I get to find great apps to write about to show you guys, but in the process, y'all introduce me to some great apps too. Let's take Fieldrunners HD, for example. I swore up and down about that game's awesomeness, yet some people said, "Josh, you're an idiot misguided! Try GRave Defense HD!"

Well, I did. And I liked it. Comparing it to Fieldrunners HD, though, isn't quite fair.

As far as tower defense games go, GRave Defense HD is definitely one of the best. The graphics are pretty strong, performance is great, and there's lots to do. Between the gold and silver campaigns plus the survival mode, you'll be busting mutant zombie tail all day long.

Sure, the story might be cheesy (nuclear warfare that turns folks into mutant zombies?) and the menus might look a bit childish, but this game is still all solid. You've got a large range of guns that you'll learn to use over the course of the game, plus a big variety of zombies to gun down.

Guns can be upgraded a maximum of five times (with the cost increasing each time), at which point they become instruments of terrible, terrible power. The double-speed option is awesome for when you just need to burn through waves, too.

The big gameplay difference from games like Robo Defense or Fieldrunners HD is that all the zombies in GRave Defense are on a set path. In some levels, they might start from two different places, but the game always prompts you to what their path will be before they spawn. This makes it relatively easy to plan out where you'll build your towers/guns/cannons every single time. For the other games, they're free-roaming (field-running, even), and that's a different mechanic in and of itself.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with GRave Defense HD and I can totally see why so many of you went to bat for it. It's a really well done game with a lot going for it. Sure, it's ~$3, but for something this polished, I'd gladly shell that out.

Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Doctor Who brings the Tardis over to Android

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It doesn't matter which side of the pond you're from, fans of The Doctor are everywhere. The BBC have now traveled through space and time to bring their iOS game, The Mazes Of Time to Android. 

The basic plot: The Doctor and his sidekick Amy are racing to save an innocent family attacked by a Dalek and flung into the depths of history. The graphics won't set the world on fire, and neither will the pricing structure. The initial install is free from the market, but via the in app purchasing system further downloadable content packs are available should you not feel satisfied after completing the initial levels. For the more competitive among us, the game also supports Openfeint.

If you're rocking 2.1 and above, and fancy being The Doctor for a while, head on over to the market and pick up your Sonic Screwdriver. Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket now available for more Android devices

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If you're an Android wielding NFL fan, this season just got a bit more interesting, as DirecTV has released the NFL Sunday Ticket application to a slew of new Android devices, including the Motorola Xoom and Galaxy Tab 10.1.  In the press release, The Xoom, Tab and all Motorola's Android offerings are listed, but a quick peek at the Android Market website shows it as compatible with all my devices listed, including the oddballs like the Kyocera Echo and the Android player on the BlackBerry Playbook -- you'll have to check and see if your device is listed for yourself (link after the break). 

You will have to be a NFL Sunday Ticket subscriber, and there's the matter of the pesky $50 "to-go" charge for on device streaming to contend with.  More information about that can be found at DirecTV.  Considering the cost of a frosty beverage at FedEx Field, it's a price many NFL fans are willing to pay.  Hit the break for the full press release and download links. 

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3 years ago

Google Reader updated for tablets

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Google Reader for Android just got a nice little update -- mainly that it's now optimized for tablets, too. You now have the basic two-pane system. Folders on the left, stories on the right. And it's all synced with your Google Reader account, just as it should be. Also noted in the app's changelog is that the "Mark Previous as Read" button is now a long-press function. Just FYI.

While Google Reader might not be the prettiest news reader for Honeycomb, but it's definitely one of the more useful ones. Download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Bing's Android app redesigned, brings a bit of the Metro with it

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Say what you want about Bing on Android -- and we've said plenty -- but it's always been a pretty visually stunning app, and darned useful, too. It was never the app itself we had a problem with -- it was a certain carrier (that might or might not start with a V) stripping out Google services on some top-shelf phones and replacing them with Bing.

But we digress. The standalone Bing app just got itself an update and is more beautiful than ever. The menus have been redone, bringing a bit of the Windows Phone 7 "Metro" user interface. All of the services remain -- they just look better.

Check out our quick walkthrough after the break.

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3 years ago

Android App Review: Pano

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For those who have been waiting for the opportunity to take panoramic pictures on your phone, the wait is over. Pano for Android is made by the same folks who developed the hit iOS app, and like the iOS app, it works really well.

Using Pano is simple: take your picture, line up the edge along the left of the picture, and continue snapping away until you're done taking your panoramic shot. When you're done, you click the check button and your images are merged. Simple. Painless. It's awesome.

Settings are pretty nonexistent in Pano. If you press menu, your only option is to enable or disable geotagging. On the main interface, you can only merge your pictures, take another, or rotate the orientation. And really, you shouldn't need to do much more than that.

A little niggle of mine (and maybe it's just me), is that the shutter button on my EVO 3D doesn't take a picture if I've got Pano open. Maybe it was designed for all of the button-less Android phones in mind, but now that I've got one, I want to use it, and I can't. Otherwise, Pano rocks.

Pano doesn't come free but it does come pretty cheap, weighing in at a mere $1.99 for unlimited panoramic pictures, cell phone-style. If you've been itching for this functionality and have been burned otherwise, it's definitely something I would consider buying.

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

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3 years ago

Android Wallpaper Review: Captain America Live Wallpaper

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We've briefly mentioned this one before, but I thought it was so awesome, it deserved a full-blown review. It's the Captain America Live Wallpaper, and while it looks good on a phone, it looks even better on a tablet.

It's as straightforward as they come, with no settings menu to speak of. You either use it as your wallpaper or you don't. In stock Captain America fashion, the shield repels bullets that you can activate by touching the screen.

Once you've picked it as your wallpaper, you can change the angle of the shield by swiping around your screens. When you're on your home screen, it's perfectly centered. Swipe left and right and the angle changes appropriately. Simple, but awesome.

Performance is fine, with the Tegra-2 never missing a beat, so there's no screen lag whatsoever. To top it off, if you tap on the Captain America icon that'll be added to your home screen, a menu pops up that allows you to set the wallpaper and buy the Sentinel of Liberty game, and it has some rockin', heroic music.

It's a free install, so if you enjoy the comic books, the movie, or just feel like being really patriotic, get to the Market and start downloadin'.

More pictures and download links are after the break.

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3 years ago

Google Maps updated with bubble buttons, Transit Navigation improvements

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Google has updated the Google Maps app for Android to version 5.9.0, bringing continued improvements to Transit Navigation, along with a new Labs feature. Here's a rundown of what you'll find in the latest version --

  • Voice and ring tone notifications for Transit Navigation (Beta)
  • Tablet support for Transit Navigation (Beta)
  • 'Bubble Buttons' Lab to add call and navigate buttons to results on the map (see above)

The Transit Navigation changes should be welcomed by anyone that's ever missed their stop on the train or bus, and we always like a new Labs feature to play with. Head to the Android Market to grab the latest update, or use the QR code after the jump.

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3 years ago

LinkedIn revamps their Android app - Faster, Simpler, and Better

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For some business users LinkedIn is a vital resource and in an effort to bring their online experience to the mobile environment, LinkedIn has gone ahead and revamped their mobile application. The new update, aside from getting a visibly better UI also has some great new features baked into it.

  • Updates: View updates from your network and top news from LinkedIn Today
  • Inbox: You can view your invitations and messages in one place
  • You: Access your profile, connections, share updates, and even more in the future
  • Groups & More: Browse and interact with your groups, as well as build your network through our People You May Know feature

While the previous version worked just fine, the new layout here and added features make the whole application overall just all that more functional -- if you're a LinkedIn user, make sure you grab the update.

Source: LinkedIn

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3 years ago

Android App Review: FriendCaster

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With all of the hubbub about how poorly Facebook's app for Android functions, I went on a hunt. A lot of people (both in comments here and on the Market) talked about using FriendCaster as a superior alternative, so I started my search there.

As you can no doubt see, the interface is strikingly similar to the traditional Facebook app. That's not a bad thing, as it keeps everything nice and familiar, which is what I was hoping for. The news feed is just about what you'd expect, and getting from screen to screen to comment or like is as simple as a tap or a long-press.

There's also the requisite "Places" option, (named Checkin here), that allows you to find places via GPS or coarse location, and also tag friends.

One of the features I was most impressed with was the picture viewing. While viewing pictures, the picture will take up your entire screen, by default, and there's a nice, slide-to-move dynamic that is very Android, and very cool. You can keep track of where you are in an album by looking at the string of dots at the top of the screen. The solid dot is where you're at, the empty dots are all of the other pictures.

There's also a strong settings menu, filled with all sorts of notifications options. I learned (by accident) that when someone "Likes" one of your posts, FriendCaster gives you a popup on your homescreen, instead of an icon in the notification bar. It's real-time (something not readily available on the Android version), so that's always a plus.

There's also a setting for tablet-sized screens that comes built into the app, so you don't need to worry about getting yet another app (or waiting for Facebook to come around and do it themselves).

Where FriendCaster falters, I think, is the price. There's a free version in the Market that's ad-supported as well as a Pro version for $4.99. The Pro version is definitely good, but unless you absolutely abhor the stock Facebook app, pushing five dollars seems a little steep to feed your Facebook addiction.

At any rate, more pictures and download links are after the break.

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