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2 years ago

Google Maps updated with 'critical bug fix'

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We're not sure exactly what's involved in the 'critical bug' that's just been fixed in Google Maps for Android, but if you're a Maps user (and we're guessing most of you are), you'd best head to that apps list and get updating. The new Google Maps version 6.5.1 offers just a single bullet point in its change list -- "includes a critical bug fix." It seems whatever the issue is, it affects both tablets and phones alike, as we're seeing the update on our Honeycomb devices too.

Head to "My Apps" list in the Google Play Store to grab the new version of Maps. And be sure to shout out in the comments if you've noticed anything different in this new version.

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2 years ago

The Best Android Apps

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Are you looking for the absolute best Android apps, utilities, and games, the Play Store has to offer? You've come to the right place.

There are a lot of Android apps out there, and we've rounded up the very best across each of the Play Store's major categories. Keep in mind that these are our subjective choices, and are always welcome to hear about what you're digging in the comments, so don't be shy!

Best book & reference app for Android: Kindle

Amazon's Kindle remains the de facto standard for e-reading and offers the widest marketplace for books and reference materials. The app includes a wide range of features, including definition look-up, text scaling, contrast adjustment, and location memory. You can even load Mobi and PDF files to be read in the Kindle app (though not ePub).

Best business app for Android: Splashtop

Splashtop is a remote desktop access app that allows users to get access to everything they need on your home or work PC. So long as your computer is on, the desktop client is running, and you have an active subscription, you can use your Android device to click around your desktop, open applications, browse files, and make use of touch shortcuts to get more done faster. Encryption is enabled for business customers concerned about security.

Best comics app for Android: Comics by Comixology

In no uncertain terms, Comixology made comics on mobile popular. Issues are made available to purchase the same day they’re out on print. There are a bunch of free issues available, and the selection spans major publishers like Marvel, DC, IDW, and Disney. You’ll also find related news and podcasts tucked away in there.

Best communication app for Android: Hangouts

It seems like an easy pick since it’s baked into Android, but really, nothing comes close to providing consistent, quality communication than Google Hangouts. The tie-in with Google+ allows for easy access to your wider social circle and group chat. A status bar in the chat log shows you how caught up participants are. Location and pictures can be easily shared. Cross-platform support means nobody’s left out, plus having it all cloud-based means you can easily reference your chats later. Handling SMS is handy, since it puts all of your conversations in the same place.

Best education app for Android: Lynda.com

Lynda remains a top source for current, high-quality instructional videos. Though the bulk of the service relies on a hefty $25/month subscription fee, there are a lot of free videos available. Many of the areas of subject matter are technical and surround certain types of software, but you’ll also find photography, music, art, and other major topics covered.

Best entertainment app for Android: IMDb

IMDb is an invaluable tool for figuring out which films and shows actors are from, digging up obscure quotes, and seeing which shows are topping the charts. After watching an HD trailer, you can find showtimes at theatres near you, or mark it on your watchlist to catch it later. Between the full photo galleries, recent news, and information on every movie under the sun, IMDb is insanely useful.

Best finance app for Android: Mint.com Personal Finance

Mint.com is an outstanding organizational app to stay on top of your budget. It plugs directly into your existing bank accounts and identifies transactions across broad categories so it can visualize the information in helpful way. You can set monthly budget limits for different types of activities, and manually add in transactions that aren’t using any of your bank cards. Investment totals made through your bank are displayed here as well.

Best health & fitness app for Android: Endomondo Sports Tracker

Endomondo is still one of the best all-around fitness trackers available on Android. You can track speed, distance, and time for running, walking, cycling, or any other overland activity and share the results to your friends on Facebook. If you’re willing to go with the pro version, you’re able to enjoy goal setting features, an audio coach, and view detailed graphs for your progress throughout a workout. You’ll also find that a wide range of popular fitness bands and accessories will feed data into Endomondo.

Best lifestyle app for Android: Tinder

Tinder is a hugely popular location-based dating app. Users log in with their Facebook credentials, which populates a Tinder profile with all of their interests and a profile image. You’re then presented with a stream of potential matches based on those nearby and with overlapping interests and common Facebook friends. With a swipe, users anonymously decide if they like someone or not, and they get a notification when someone they picked has picked them as well. Then it’s just a matter of using the chat system to taking things from there.

Best media & video app for Android: Plex

Plex is a widely-respected media-sharing app that helps you get content on your Android device from your PC. Just run the media server software on your computer, and you can access music, video, and pictures from anywhere. Extra features, like Chromecast support and cloud saving, are available with a PlexPass subscription.

  • Plex ($4.99, $29.99/year)

Best medical app for Android: Medscape

Medscape is a rich medical reference library that allows users to pour over thousands of procedures, drugs, and news articles. Specialities can be tagged so that relevant information can be made more prominent. The data is pulled in through WebMD, which is highly reputable in the sphere. One of the more useful sections for everyday users is a drug database and cross-referencing for potential interactions. For those really into medicine, there’s an educational section where you can read up on the latest research and catch embedded videos going over the content.

Best music & audio app for Android: Songza

Songza is a wonderful free music service where users can pick their mood from a selection based on the time of day and year, and enjoy expertly-tailored playlists. The sheer number of hand-curated playlists is boggling, with one being available for just about every conceivable occasion. Users can cook up their own playlists, even though they can’t listen to them on-demand. For $0.99/week you can ditch the pre-roll video ads, though they’re very quick, and the banner ads aren’t awful either.

Best news & magazine app for Android: Flipboard

Flipboard has become the new way people take in web content on their phone. Users build up a list of subscriptions, and content is fed into a beautiful interface. Swipes cause each page to turn smoothly, and a single tap on the header image takes you into the full text of an article. Though reading through your favorite sites is great, you can build your own magazines built from web content and share them with the Flipboard community at large.

Best personalization app for Android: Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is widely regarded as the most popular launcher available on Android. It has tons of customizability available for icon sizes, home screen transitions, app drawers, gesture recognition, and lots more. Icon packs and additional UI graphics can be downloaded to change all of the system defaults, and there are plenty of color pickers available to change accents. For those that want full control of their Android experience, Nova Launcher will provide.

Best photography app for Android: Snapseed

Snapseed is a highly polished photo editing app built smartly for touch input. Tapping navigation buttons along the bottom allow users to switch between tools, such as rotating, cropping, color correction, and filters. Then, swiping up and down on the picture lets you select the type of adjustment, and going left and right changes the amount of adjustment. It’s a great interface for smaller screens, and provides all the major editing you might need to do.

Best productivity app for Android: Trello

Trello is a task app the can scale as large as company-wide project handing, to as small as grocery lists. Set reminders, add labels, organize in collections called boards, assign other members, attach pictures and documents, and much more. Trello has a very good-looking web client too, making it easy to manage your tasks by PC as well.

Best shopping app for Android: Amazon

Amazon is the grand-daddy of online retail. If you’re shopping for anything at all, it’s worth checking out to see what Amazon’s offering. They have crazy deals all the time, just about every physical object you could possibly want to acquire, and with Prime, you’ll get it on your doorstep lickety-split. A separate price check app can help by scanning barcodes of physical products and seeing if you can get it any cheaper on Amazon.

Best social app for Android: Facebook

Like it or not, Facebook is the most ubiquitous social network out there. Everybody’s on it, sharing everything they do. With the Android app, you can quickly post status updates, share links through the browser, upload and tag pictures, send instant messages, and leave likes on your friends’ status updates. On many devices, Facebook information is tied to your address book, ensuring that their information is up-to-date and the image is their latest profile pic.

Best sports app for Android: theScore

theScore remains a high-quality, broad-field sports app that helps you get all the news you could possibly want. NFL, NBA, NHL, EPL, UFC, and more are covered with news, scores, pictures, and video clips. Users can mark teams or players as favorites so they can track what’s up more easily.

Best tool app for Android: Tasker

Tasker lets you set up a wide range of tasks to execute automatically given certain circumstances. You can set antenna to go off when you leave a certain location, turn on an app after tapping an NFC tag, or mute your ringer after connecting to a specific Wi-Fi network. With the help of third parties plugging into Tasker, you have a ton of options for if/then statements here.

Best transport app for Android: Uber

Uber has become such a force in the sphere of transportation that it has displaced the entire taxi industry in many major cities. Uber acts as the go-between for pedestrians looking for a ride and a legion of private drivers. Uber drivers are vouched for by users to ensure security, and thanks to GPS, you can find the closest one easily. Prices are dictated by supply of drivers, which means you can get some very reasonable fares, though there are occasionally surges in pricing during busy periods. Payments are made through Uber, so there’s no need for cash at any stage. If you’re lucky enough to be in a city with Uber service, this is hands-down the way to get around.

Best travel & local app for Android: Foursquare

Foursquare originally made its name as the way of sharing where you are, but over time has become the place to go to find out which restaurants are highly-regarded among friends, tips for shopping from knowledgeable locals, and discovering events happening in unfamiliar environs. There’s a to-do list baked in so you can line up destinations for your trips, or view publicly shared lists of locations.

Best weather app for Android: Yahoo Weather

Yahoo Weather is a beautiful, functional weather app complete with resizable home screen widgets and tracking for multiple locations. Hourly and weekly forecasts are readily available with wind and pressure information, precipitation, and meteorological maps. It hauls in geo-located Flickr images for backgrounds which align with the time of day and weather, which is just a nice touch overall.

Best widget for Android: Beautiful Widgets

Beautiful Widgets is a full complement of home screen widgets, including weather, time, and battery. Though Android includes many of those natively, the real selling point with is that Beautiful Widgets has a whole store full of styles to chose from. Combination widgets which include multiple data types, such as weather and clock, can use different themes together to create a really unique look.

Best live wallpaper for Android: Muzei

Muzei is a simple, gorgeous way of livening up your wallpaper rotation. By default, the background is blurred, and with a double-tap, it leaps into focus. You can set how long it takes for a new wallpaper to come in, or decide to leave the wallpaper permanently in focus. An open framework allows other extension apps to find and pick wallpapers for you, either based on your location, social network, cloud collection, and many other sources.

Best keyboard for Android: Swiftkey

Swiftkey has established itself as the leading virtual keyboard on Android thanks to its smart usage-based prediction engine. There’s a custom tablet-optimized feature that allows users to split their keyboard in two, which is great when typing with thumbs in landscape orientation. It has evolved to include swipe-based typing and a handful of color schemes to suit your tastes, but at its core remains a highly accurate, comfortable typing experience for any Android device.

Best podcast app for Android: Stitcher

Stitcher is the easiest way to catch podcasts on Android. There’s a vast library of shows, split up by category. You can listen to live streams, or store locally, and mark episodes to listen to later. If you have to duck out mid-show, your spot is remembered in the app. A player is built into the notification tray so you can see at a glance what you’re listening, and make use of playback controls.

Best arcade & action game for Android: Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon is in all likelihood the hardest game you will ever play. Players tap left and right to rotate a triangle around a central shape to avoid walls that are perpetually collapsing inwards. The spinning, bouncing perspective and intense speed make this a particular challenge, especially once you start getting to the higher stages. Simple, elegant controls, thumping soundtrack, and intense pace make Super Hexagon a classic.

Best brain and puzzle game for Android: Dots

Dots is a casual, easygoing and sharply-designed puzzle game. Players very simply have to draw lines connecting same-colored dots on a grid in order to collect them. Those dots can then be spent on power-ups which can help further in the dots-collecting endeavor. Bonus dots are awarded for completing full loops, and there are game modes available with limited time and limited number of moves.

Best cards and casino game for Android: Zynga Poker

Fans of Texas Hold ‘em will likely be familiar with Zynga Poker. Sporting full online support, players enjoy custom stakes games, tournaments, and banter over the built-in chat. There are even fun virtual gifts you can send to fellow players. More in-game currency can be bought through in-app purchases, or you can hold out for a free spin at the slots to get some starting funds once you’re out.

Best casual game for Android: The Sims FreePlay

Sims FreePlay puts players in charge of a whole town full of people. You need to tend to their basic human needs, manage relationships, build careers, and outfit a home. Over time, you can have kids, watch them grow up, and in turn guide your first Sims through old age. Though freemium elements such as premium currency and timers are employed, for a laid-back game like this where just about every measure of progress is an issue of vanity anyway, it feels well-balanced and appropriate.

Best racing game for Android: Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8 is an over-the-top, white-knuckled racing game for Android. Power-ups litter the fantastic courses set in real-world locations, which can help you launch off ramps for amazing (and physically unlikely) stunts. Hopefully in the process you can trash some of the competition in explosively cinematic crashes. Some freemium elements are employed, such as purchasable currency and premium power-ups, but on the whole, the game is entirely playable without spending a cent.

Best sports game for Android: FIFA 14

FIFA 14 offers all of the excitement of a live footie match to your Android device. Teams work their way through leagues, players progress, and managers upgrade their home stadium and sponsors. Controls include the standard virtual button and joystick layout, or you can try out some great finger-friendly gesture controls. No doubt soccer fans will appreciate the top-notch graphics and real player models.

Your favorite Android apps?

Those are our picks for the very best apps for Android, but there are a lot of apps out there and new ones are coming out all the time. Leave a comment with your favorites!

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2 years ago

TeamViewer for Meetings updated with VoIP support

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The folks at Teamviewer have pushed out quite the update for their TeamViewer for Meetings app, bringing some minor bug fixes, full hardware acceleration for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets, and VoIP support. VoIP support on top of the already excellent Teleconferencing application really opens up things on a Wifi-only Android tablet, and better hardware acceleration support for those same tablets means a better -- and more productive -- user experience. 

TeamViewer's apps and servers (they make an awesome Remote Desktop-style product as well) are 100 percent free for normal, non-commercial users. The Windows server has the ability to host meetings used with the mobile application, but as of yet the Mac and Linux versions do not, offering only the remote control abilities. We've got a mess of links below, and TeamViewer's press release after the break.

More: TeamViewer

Download the TeamViewer for Meetings Android app

Download the TeamViewer for Remote Control Android app

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2 years ago

Temple Run updated with Twitter integration and numerous bug fixes

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With 10 Million people having now downloaded Temple Run for Android it has given the folks at Imagni Studios something to work on for the past little while and now, they've rolled out the latest update to address some bugs and features in the game. As noted in the change log, the latest release includes the following bug fixes:

  • Fixed a bug with scoring that was making it harder to get points
  • Fixed a bug that made the runner accelerate too fast
  • Fixed a bunch of other bugs and some spelling mistakes

In addition to all those fixes, you'll find the latest update also has Twitter integration so that you may get your humble brag on when you get an epically high score in the game. If you happen to find any remaining bugs, by all means forward them on to Imagni Studios. In the meantime though, you'll find the Temple Run download link beyond the break if you've yet to give it a go.

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2 years ago

Google Offers updated with refreshed UI, faster browsing and improved notification control

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Although Google Offers still remains limited to the U.S. a new update to the app has now landed. With this release Google seemingly worked on getting the UI in line with that of its other apps as it now sports a fresh new look, faster browsing plus, they've gone ahead and corrected a bug where disabling notifications wasn't working properly for some folks. In addition to all those improvements, Google now supports 40 cities and has signed up to 30 different partners sites to help give you some great offers. You can grab the download link past the break.

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2 years ago

Shiprack Package Tracker [Android App Review]

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If you're used to getting loads of mail and you like to keep track of where it is as it's being delivered, Shiprack is definitely worthy of your consideration and time. Hot on the heels of Phil's review of Slice (okay, not really on the heels of), it's time to see if Shiprack is the less invasive alternative to Slice. (Hint: it is.)

Setting up Shiprack is an absolute breeze. Once you've got it all nice and installed, you have to set up what e-mail account Shiprack will be looking for emails from. Shiprack operates very similarly to Tripit; whenever you receive an email with a tracking number in it, you forward the email off to Shiprack, and they'll automatically start tracking it for you.

This is great (to me), because you can only track purchases that you want​ tracked. Shiprack doesn't automatically search your entire inbox, so if there's anything that isn't really pressing, you can simply omit it. Shiprack also doesn't tally your total expenses on things, so there's that small element of ignorance that can keep your shopping and package-tracking guilt free!

Once you've got a package tracked, you'll be able to see all kinds of cool information, namely your item's tracking number and when it's estimated to be delivered. Shiprack seems to update in near-real time, so you'll have a detailed log of whenever your package hit a new checkpoint.

If you're interested, you can also see a map (on Google Maps, of course), detailing your item's journey, with colorful lines and goofy looking thumb tacks showing each new leg of its journey.

In the settings menu, you can add email aliases that you'd also like to forward tracking information from, so if you get lots of tracking numbers across lots of accounts, Shiprack has you covered. You can also mess with the typical fare like notification tones and vibration options, but something unique to Shiprack is the ability to set quiet times. It's not life-changing, but it's cool to see it there.

Finally, you can pick and choose what updates you'd like Shiprack to notify you of. I'm pretty crazy when it comes to my goods, so I want to see everything, but you've got full control over knowing if your stuff is ready to ship, in transit, or delayed, to name a few.

In the world of package trackers, I think Shiprack really nailed it. What it lacks in visual polish, it more than makes up for in functionality, plus, you've got the freedom to choose what gets tracked. That might not seem like a big deal to some, but in a world where our information is becoming increasingly public, every little bit I can keep my hands on, I like to do just that.

Shiprack is free and ad-supported, but if you'd like to simultaneously support the developer and​ remove the ads, there's an in-app purchase of 99 cents. We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Cogs [Android Game Review]

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Oh, Cogs. If ever I've had my noodle baked more from an Android game, I cannot say. In terms of sheer mind-bendingness, complexity, and demanding that the player stretch their imagination in many multiple directions, you take the cake. This is all aided, of course, by your incredible 3D models, which are some of the most gorgeous I've seen in any Android game. But enough fawning; let's get into the meat of what makes Cogs great.

For starters, lets just talk about the graphics. Not only does Cogs feature some insanely beautiful 3D designs, it does so without sacrificing performance. Animations chug along, buttery smooth, and with all the turning gears and cogs and steampunk goodness floating around, that's quite a feat to see.

So what's the point of Cogs, anyway? Well, there's one cog that spins all by its lonesome. It's your job to move tiles with other cogs on them in such a fashion that you make a cog on the other side (or sides) turn as well. It kind of makes you feel like a watchmaker, and watching the chain of cogs either come to life or grind to a halt based on your moves is strangely enchanting.

You're ranked on three things: moves used, time, and completion. (The last one seems a bit silly, honestly. You get a medal just for finishing?) Whenever you start a new puzzle, you're shown the optimal time and moves to finish in. Once the level starts, the timer starts counting down, and as you dwell, the color will shift from gold to silver to bronze.

The move counter acts much in the same manner, but consider this: you don't need to move single tiles at a time. If you want to move a whole row, tap the farthest tile and it'll shift everything in the row over one space, but it'll still only count as one move! You've earn yourself many a-more precious medal that way, trust me.

The levels get increasingly more difficult (duh), but as soon as the second or third level you're tasked with not only making a golden cog spin, but you've got to cross to planes to do it. To get around the potential issues with turning a 3D model, Cogs introduces the two-finger swipe. Place two fingers, swipe around, and you can see any side of the box-with-a-propeller on it. It's a cool mechanic that is implemented rather well and keeps Cogs both challenging and feeling fresh the whole time.

And that, in a nutshell, is Cogs. It's a beautiful exercise in excellent game design, a mind-bending puzzler, and overall, an excellent game on Android. If you're the puzzle-loving type, Cogs should be in your library, no doubt.

Cogs is $2.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' App Picks for April 14, 2012

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Tired of spending hours searching the market, only to end up closing it and having not installed anything new? Hit the break with us and let's check out some of our favorites from this past week together!

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2 years ago

Late-night poll: Do you use, or want to use, the FM radio feature?

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Tonight's poll comes thanks to our lovable forums Admin Cory Streater, who brought up a great question on episode 93 of the Android Central podcast -- I wonder how many people really use the FM radio? None of us were any help (we can't ever agree on anything) but you guys sure can be. 

I get why people use it. It's subscription free, doesn't use data, and has a bigger selection of music that you could ever hope to have in your personal cloud or on the phone itself. Maybe the best reason I've ever heard is that it's great for listening to the news while on the treadmill at the gym. The other side of the coin -- wired headphones suck, radio stations suck, commercial music sucks, etc. People have just as many reasons why they don't use it as those who do use it.

I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't use it, but I do see the appeal. And not everything on the radio sucks. But asking you guys is a much better idea, so tell us all in the poll, and fire away in the comments to let us know why you voted the way you did.

 

Do you use the FM Radio app on your phone?

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2 years ago

Google Wallet updated with improvements and enhancements across the board

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Google Wallet has seen another update, and this time Google has made all sorts of improvements and enhancements to the app. Per the change log in the Google Play store:

  • Prepaid Card top up forms more flexible
  • Citi Mastercard management improvements
  • UI improvements
  • Privacy enhancements
  • Bug fixes
  • Updated Terms of Service

The most interesting, on the surface anyway, would be the UI improvements. They must be very subtle, because we're not really seeing any. It's the same fluid and simple UI that has been there for a while, and while we're not complaining, we just don't see any improvements. We're pretty sure that some of this change log is just leftover from the last update. It's OK, Google. We all slip.

We can certainly get on board with improvements, though. Bug fixes are always welcome, as are privacy enhancements. Anything to keep our money safer is a good thing. You'll also be faced with the new terms when you update, and we suggest you read them carefully. There's nothing there you wouldn't expect, but it's always wise to stay informed. 

All the ballyhoo aside, we expect the biggest thing behind this update are new privacy enhancements and bug fixes, and we're glad to see them. You'll find your update in the market, or you can hit the link after the break.

Thanks, Beezy!

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