Adobe pushed out a new update to its Android Flash Player today. In addition to a host of bugfixes, the new version also features several important security updates. Nothing major is listed, but security updates and bug fixes are always a good thing. If you have flash installed on your android, be sure to grab this ASAP.
As I rolled out of bed at the crack of dawn noon, I noticed an e-mail from the Android Market team in my inbox telling me that paid applications and access to merchant accounts will be closed for an hour this afternoon for planned maintenance. What it boils down to if you're a shopper and not a developer is that you won't be able to purchase any apps between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. PDT today while they upgrade something. If you are a developer, you also won't be able to log into your Merchant account during this time.
Conspiracy theories aside, everything should be back to normal by 5 p.m. PDT and you can start buying apps again. We've got the full text of the e-mail after the break.
If you've been wondering when you'll see an official version of the Netflix app for your beloved Droid X, today is your lucky day. You'll need to have updated to Gingerbread, but since it's now all official-like there's no more hanky panky involved to get it up and running. Just grab it from the Android Market, sign in and start streaming movies on that big screen. You can find the download link after the break.
Back during Google IO we were able to score the above video demo of Lightbox for Android, and it was pretty awesome. Moving forward to today, the app is now available in the Android Market for all download.
Similar to Color that was released not to long ago, LightBox for Android pulls in photos from all your social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and synchronizes them with your device. It also allows you to share any images you have taken to those same social networks.
In addition to the synchronization options built-in, you also get a photo editor which allows you to select from different photo filters and adjust your images before sharing. Lightbox is available for both Android phones and tablets -- give it a run through and let us know what you all think in the comments. Download link can be found past the break.
Lookout has announced a new feature to their premium service, called Safe Browsing. What it does is spread protection from malware beyond installed applications, and into your browser. If you've ever used the Chrome browser, and spent any time on the Internet, you've surely seen sites blocked because of malware or phishing -- that's what the new Safe Browsing feature does. I spent some time talking with Lookout's Marketing Director Alicia diVittorio, and Senior Software Engineer Anbu Anbalagapandian and got a little explanation of what to expect, and then spent a little time going through the paces and testing it out.
First the technical details. Safe Browsing sits idle in the background, listening for the "intent" (think of that as a command) to open a web URL through the browser. It checks that URL, and if it comes back clean, it goes back to sleep. If not, you get a message pop-up with a warning. This means it works with website addresses from any source, including Twitter and Facebook. Since the necessary evil of URL shorteners is now pretty commonplace, this is a pretty nice way to be sure you're going where you think your going. In the usage department, it's simple. Open Lookout, go into the settings, and turn it on. If you stumble across a website that's acting a little suspicious, it tells you. If not, it sits quietly out of the way. Anbu told me they tested the battery life and performance impact, and found no issues at all. While one day is hardly a perfect use case, I didn't notice any more wear and tear on the battery than normal, and saw no change in the way my phone performed, so my short test agrees.
In addition to the new Safe Browsing feature, Lookout also announced that they are partnering with Sprint, making Lookout available directly from the Sprint Zone, and the Sprint tab in your phone's Android Market page. This should make it much easier to find for those new to Android, and especially those new to smartphones and the most susceptible to the dirty tricks out there in the wilds of the web.
Safe Browsing is a premium feature. We've went over the other premium features pretty well when they were released. You need to look at what's offered, then decide if you need to go premium. If you do need the pay services, it will cost you $2.99 per month, or $29.99 a year. To celebrate the launch of Safe Browsing, Lookout is offering $5.00 off the price of the subscription for the next seven days. Just use the code BESAFEAC when you purchase your subscription via the app and you'll save enough money for lunch. You'll also wanna jump past the break and read the press release, watch a short video of Safe Browsing in action, and find the download link.
Sweet mother of all things caffeinated -- the Starbucks Android app is finally in the Android Market. And it's everything our jittery hands could have dreamed of.
When you first launch the app, you'll be asked if you want to log in, sign up for an account, or continue without an account. We logged in (as any good over-paying coffee drinking would do) and then were greeted with the option to enter any Starbucks cards. Your phone will then display the card's barcode, which you can have scanned in a store to pay for your coffee. (Who needs NFC?)
You can also check your balance, add your credit card information and refill your Starbucks card that way, check your transaction history, find a store on Google Maps, track your Stars in the My Starbucks Rewards program, and basically do everything you'd expect to be able to do with a proper Starbucks Android app.
A couple of caveats: U.S. only, for now. And you can only have a card on one phone at a time. If you want to reload someone else's card, you'll need to do it from a proper browser.
That's it, folks. We're off for a triple vanilla latte (and maybe a cinnamon twist, if we're feeling saucy). Download links and screen shots are after the break!
Kiloo, the folks behind the huge hit Frisbee Forever for iOS, will be partnering with PapayaMobile and launching their games on Android using the social gaming network. Using Papaya's social SDK, Killo games will have access to features like news feeds, leaderboards, chat, achievements, and custom avatars. There's also those 18 million existing Papaya users on Android, so it's easy to see the draw here. For users like you and I, the best part of this mutually beneficial partnership is more quality games for the Android platform. Everyone's a winner.
We don't have all the details, but expect to see Kiloo games, starting with Frisbee Forever, in the Android Market sometime later in the year. You can read the full press release after the break.
Riding a bike is one of my favorite pastimes -- my friends and I used to hop on our bikes and take off. But, sadly, at the end of the day none of us ever knew how far we went, how fast we went, or any other information about the ride. Previously I have driven the route that I rode to find out how far it was, but gone are those days as Strava has launched an application which solves all these issues.
Android owners can download this free application from the market and it will allow users to track their distance, speed, climb and much more in real time right from your device, no more uploading data to a computer to view it. Users can upload their information to the site to keep running records of their rides, but they can also compare and compete with others right from their device. So if you enjoy riding your bicycle and don't want to spend tons of money on a ride monitor, be sure to head to the market and download this today for free. Download links after the break.
News apps and RSS readers are a dime a dozen. While the content and interface can vary from app to app, the basics are essentially the same. You choose your news sources and interesting topics, and let the app pull articles it thinks you'll like and display them in a phone-friendly format. It's a great way to get a list of articles that you'll (hopefully) be interested in each morning. But if we want to find out what articles our friends like, we have to go to Facebook, twitter, or go through our email for those rare "FWD" emails that don't include pictures of funny cat faces.
Ninua is a new Android application that hopes to make your daily news stream more social. While the app still has a few rough edges, it's now my go to news source on my phone. Full impressions after the break.
Swype has announced the latest beta (version 3.0 for those keeping score at home) and one of the big changes that come along with it is a special WXGA version designed for Honeycomb tablets, which features a movable and resizeable keyboard layout.
Other changes include the way word correction is handled when you stop swyping and revert to tapping out the letters -- you can now mix and match and still keep word autocorrect and prediction intact. The pop-up for word choice when multiple guesses are presented gets an improvement, too, now an easier to read horizontal bar is presented versus that annoying dialog that used to jump up. To top it all off, it looks like the predictive text engine itself has seen a big overhaul, and should work much better.
We know that Swype isn't for everyone, especially when it comes to using it on a tablet. That's fine -- different choices are one of the main strengths of the Android platform, and Swype certainly is a different choice. For the huge numbers of you who love Swype, keep an eye on the source link (currently down for maintenance) and give it a whirl. Also, check out a short demo video showing it in action, after the break.
Update: If you've been refreshing the beta download page at Swype, you've probably seen the latest update on the status of this. If not, here's the latest from Swype:
BETA DELAYED BECAUSE:
a) We forgot to buy vowels
b) Our beta build server crashed
c) Upper management kept accelerating the beta schedule
d) All of above !#@$!&
No word on when to expect it, we'll tell you as soon as we hear something.
Phantom Probes is a physics-based psuedo-puzzle game that's all about using various probes (get your mind out of the gutter, guys!) to determine what shape an invisible shape actually is. If that sounds kind of boggling or confusing, you'll quickly understand why I included a reference video.
Despite the confusing description, this is actually a really fun game to play. Every level gives you three probes to use as well as three shapes to choose from when you think you've nailed the phantom shape's shape. The probes vary from level to level, as does the complexity of the shape's you're trying to predict.
From my experience (see: Level 2 in the video), the shape also is randomly chosen every level, so you can't just hammer your way through, guessing the shapes through a process of elimination to try and get a high ranking before moving onto the next level. To me, that's rather genius, cause it keeps you working to try and advance.
The attention to detail in Phantom Probes is worth mentioning, too, as some of the probes are absolutely brilliant for discerning what you're looking for. The weird, brown, wrap-around thing from Level 2 and the sonar wave from Level 4 both come to mind. Bubbles rising up from the bottom of the screen or paper clips and bullets bouncing off in all directions, it's really creative and keeps the game fresh.
There's a free version of Phantom Probes in the Market that lets you play the first 10 levels, and for a mere 99 cents, you're granted access to the full 50 levels this bad boy offers. If you're into mind benders and logic games, I wouldn't hesitate to hop on the Phantom Probes bandwagon. As always, download links and QR code is after the break.
Chompy's Dodgeball is a delightful romp in the world of fast-paced digital dodgeball, where it's man vs. beast vs. ninja vs. yeti in an epic, winner-take-all reminiscent of the movie Dodgeball (except for the beats and yeti).
The premise is simple: pummel your opponent into submission with dodgeballs and win. That's not the only way to win, though. If you have the most hearts when the clock runs out, you win. Lastly, if all the balls are on your opponent's side of the line, you win. (This is my preferred method of victory.)
Tap left and right on the ground to move, tap on your opponent's side of the line to throw, and, in the event you get hit, tap the screen repeatedly to get up. It's a pretty simple control scheme, but man, does it get the job done.
The folks over at Quicksilver Labs have dosed Chompy's Dodgeball with an insane amount of detail, from the large roster, full of characters with different and unique stats, to the various types of gameplay, levels, and mini-games included. To top it all off, it's all OpenFeint supported.
There's also DLC to remove ads and unlock the two ninjas and the cat lady. I can only assume as time goes on, they'll further enhance the roster and add more levels, as well.
Overall, Chompy's Dodgeball is an addicting, really fun game. It's the kind of game I'd pull out to kill a few minutes here and there and then find myself in the same position, thirty minutes later, a la Angry Birds. There's a lite version in the Market, but for $1.99, you get rid of ads plus you unlock Soba, the black ninja, so if feudal Japan is your thing, that's the price to pay.
Productivity apps, fun apps, gaming apps, whatever you need apps, they all exist, the trouble is just finding the ones that are worth using. Each week we like to bring you some of our favorite choices, in hopes that they could become your favorites as well. Let's hit the break and take a look at some of the choices from this week.
PlayerPro is one of those great music apps that does a lot of the tedious and menial things involving your music for you. For example, it automatically finds album art, but in addition, also has images for genre and artist as well. The album art thing should definitely come standard, but the other enhancements really help round out the package.
PlayerPro also supports a number of skins (all free on the Market) that you can use to customize the look of your player to your own tastes. All the included screenshots are using the stock skin that comes when you install, but chances are you can find something more your style if stock doesn't do it for you.
Probably PlayerPro's strongest asset is it's equalizer. You can pick from a number of sound effects as well as adjust individual levels, the volume, and the bass. I can speak from personal experience that the bass dialer works well, as evidenced by my booming car when I started playing music for the first time.
It's a bit pricey at $4.99 for the full app, but there is a trial in the Market that lasts five days. If you're looking for another solid music player and have a few bucks to burn, PlayerPro might be the way to go.
More pictures, QR code, and download links are after the break.
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