The Wall Street Journal Android app is heavy on news — as long as you're a member of the club
Fans of the Wall Street Journal -- WSJ is what the kids call it these days -- take note: an Android app is finally here. And with it you can get all of the stories, video, photos, podcasts and stocks info you've come to rely on in more traditional (ie: old) formats like computers and that ancient newspaper thing.
And the WSJ app is a pretty darn good one. It's easy to navigate, with the sections clearly labeled. Stories are easy to read, though we'd prefer to see some spacing between paragraphs. (Yeah, we're picky about our formatting.) And photos are vibrant, with easy-to-read captions.
One catch: If you're not a WSJ subscriber, you might as well go elsewhere. You're basically dead in the water if you're not logged in, and even then there's a mountain of content you still can't access without some higher-level subscription -- and possibly a secret handshake.
So that's that. A nice news app from a great news organization -- just make sure you're a subscriber. The app itself is free; download links are after the break.
We all love the fact that the Nexus S 4G came free of carrier bloatware and foolery, but there are a great many of you who prefer Sprint's branded version of Telenav to Google's navigation. And you're in luck -- Telenav and Sprint have released Sprint Navigation for the Nexus S 4G, and dropped it in the Android Market to make it easy to install. Just hit the "Sprint" tab in the Market app on your phone, and you'll see it in the list. We wish there was a place where all carrier apps were done this way, but even Sprint Navigation can't find one.
Maybe I should be productive in some way on my Android tablet. I could take notes about upcoming phones, or use the browser to pay the bills, but I don't. Games are way too fun on these things for all that jive. And since I'm a sucker for all things undead, GRave Defense HD is right up my alley! It's a tower defense game, but a damn good one. The graphics are amazing, and instead of fighting off endless strings of enemy vehicles or balloons, you must protect yourself from the hordes of zombies and assorted nasties using weapons ranging from machine guns, to lasers.
There's also a storyline if you're in to a more immersive experience -- you work your way through the ranks of the "Brotherhood of Steel" and you can follow and share your progress through Scoreloop. Killing zombies is fun, and apparently is social, too.
The most stunning part are the visuals. The levels are diverse, with things like a rainforest scene, the Bermuda triangle, even outer space -- you're not stuck in the same graveyard for the 20 levels of gameplay. Of course, all this comes at a cost. You will need a fairly high-end device to display this content. The developers recommend a device with over 384 MB of free RAM, and a minimum display of 800x480. Most phones sold this year will be just fine, but some of the more mid-range offerings just won't handle this one. All things said, GRave Defense HD rocks on any Honeycomb tablet
You can find GRave Defense HD, currently on sale for €0.70 (about $1.00), in the Android Market. It's for phones and tablets running Android 2.1 and higher. We've got more pics, a video, and the download link after the break.
One of the coolest looking things in the new Windows Phone 7 "Mango" release (see all the coverage you can handle at WPCentral) is Microsoft's Bing Vision. It's essentially a Google Goggles clone (great artists copy/borrow/steal and all that), but the UI is really cool. Your search categories are visible while the camera is running, looking fancy and nice as a semi-transparent overlay while you're capturing the content you want to scan. Of course, WP7's Metro UI and its typographic look is in full force here as well.
As for functionality, Bing Vision doesn't look like it does anything out of the ordinary. No solving Sudoku puzzles, no translation built in, and the jury is still out about how it handles business cards. But that's not what people will think when they see it. I'm one of those "function trumps form" kind of guys, but the mobile market is growing like wildfire, and maybe it's time for Google to step up and revamp the UI and visual style of some of their apps so they look as good as they perform.
I use Google Goggles a lot, mostly because I'm a geek who loves to play with cutting edge tech, and I've went "all-in" with Googles apps and services. It works great, but visual appeal is lacking compared to the competition. See for yourself -- there's a video after the break.
News360, the popularcross-platform news aggregator, is now available for Android tablets running Honeycomb. News360 takes a bit of a different approach, combining 1,500 global sources (yes, Android Central is in there, so no worries) and a beautiful visual style. If you're not familiar, the "360" view is a special treat, with article images floating in a spherical feeling cloud, hence the 360. The application makes great use of the new API's with the action bar and fragments, both in the search view as well as the article view. The developers have taken the time to really make a great example of a quality Android app, and we appreciate (and enjoy) that.
Besides the normal use of searching for tags, users can customize their own "feeds," and the developers say that future versions will analyze a your Facebook, Twitter, TripIt, and Evernote accounts to offer automatic personalization. That sounds like quite the feat, and I for one am very interested to see the result. In its current state, the application connects with your social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, ReadItLater, Instapaper, and TripIt) to share articles, and can filter results based on your location. Things are well on the way to a personal news channel.
And the best part of it all -- News360 is free. This makes it available for everyone with a Honeycomb tablet, and makes for a very easy way to download and evaluate the app for yourself. We've got the full press release, a series of pictures, and the download link after the break.
File Manager is one of the first Honeycomb-optimized file managers for Android. It's one of those utilities you have to have on your Android 3.0 tablet, no questions asked. With Android, you're not forced to use a separate program on your computer to add or move files around, so a file browser of some sort is awful handy. You can use it to keep track of and sort all your pictures, videos, documents, and anything else you can think of that you're keeping around in your tablet's storage space.
With File Manager HD, you really don't need to ever hook up the cable to your computer. It has a built-in LAN browser, so any shared files or folders from your computer (Windows, Mac and Linux) are available right from the comfort of your easy chair. It's full of other great features, too:
High definition (1280x800) support
3 sets of commercial icons for 60+ different file types, toolbar and menu items
There's no shortage of music apps out there these days but a new one called Ghosttown has just hit the Android Market and is looking for a new audience. Having tested it out a bit before writing this up, it's looking pretty promising for the most part. Use of Ghosttown is free, with ad support but in case you don't fancy ads it's just $0.99 for the full version without ads.
The concept behind Ghosttown is a simple one. Fire it up and search for music you wish to hear. Be it by song, artist or album. It'll go out and scour the web for you to bring you the best results possible and present them to you. From the music it finds, you can create playlists as well mark songs as favorites so that they are always easily found and ready for your listening pleasure.
Not all is perfect in Ghosttown though, since it uses the interwebs to track down music, I did find that once or twice it simply just found samples of songs I was looking for rather then full versions. No big deal but worth noting for those of you who may be looking to give it a go. Jump on past the break for some more screenshots and the download link.
Apps, apps and more apps! It's an appapalooza! And appstravaganza! It's appstronomical! OK. We'll quit while we're behind. But we're back with another week's worth of app picks, so slide on past the break and see what we've chosen this week.
Just a quick heads up that Riptide GP -- one of the coolest Tegra 2-optimized games we've had the pleasure of playing -- is now available in the Android Market. It's a sort of personal watercraft racing game, with stunning graphics and excellent gameplay. As we said in our review, it's almost too good.
Riptide GP is $6.99 in the Android Market. Download links are after the break.
The folks at Swiftkey just released a new beta keyboard this morning, with the following improvements:
Redesigned installer process
Redesigned settings menu
SwiftKey shortcut launcher on keyboard
New typing styles: Precise (identical to Classic), Rapid (similar to Rapidfire)
(Note: you can reproduce "Manual" with "Space will always insert a space" in advanced)
Text handling improvements (fixed doubledouble bug, etc. + general stability improvements)
Improved dark theme
Not in on Swiftkey's VIP program, where you can get the latest releases before everybody else? Not to worry, as they've opened up access for everybody today. Just hit the link below and use promo code #swiftkeyFRIDAY. Again, that's for use today only, so get it done.
Have 11 minutes? Wanna get Hulu streaming on your hacked Nook Color (or another Android device)? Android Central Forums member Huskermaina -- who also brought us the excellent Netflix on a Nook Color video -- is back for more.
The gist of it is that you'll be loading a modified Flash Player as well as Dolphin Browser HD. A couple other settings tweaks, and you're streaming away! As often is the case with Hulu, however, it wouldn't surprise us in the least if this method ceases to work at some point. But for now, get to streaming! Full instructions are in the forums (hit the link below), and we've got the instructional video after the break, too.
PayPal's Android app has just given us one more reason to skip the line at the bank and play with our phones instead. You can now use your phone's camera to scan a check, and deposit it straight into your PayPal account. Not exactly a new technology, but cool to see it added to PayPal. The company says it's been "uploading a million dollars a month" (how cool does that sound?) with its iPhone app. And now you can do the same with Android. Leave it in your PayPal account, or transfer to your bank account. Your call.
Also new for the PayPal app: You can move it to the SD card, and use the "local" feature to find nearby business that accept PayPal as payment.
Two thing need mention up front -- Google has already removed the apps from the Market, and this time around they only affected users in China, where they also originate from. If you're reading this story, you probably are safe and never were at risk. But this is still a big concern. A set of bad guys (that's my safe-for-work version) were able to de-compile apps from a legit developer, put in some code that sends SMS messages to a Chinese subscription service, and then took some really ingenious steps to keep everything hidden from the user. That's going to happen, because everything that's electronic and popular enough is a target. The part that is concerning is that these are making their way into the Android Market.
Allow me to have a few hundred words with you about it, after the break.
For many folks out there, the stock web browsing experience on Android isn't the best -- luckily, there are a lot of third-party web browsers to choose from. One that appeals to many is Dolphin Browser HD. Previously only available to a closed beta testing group, Dolphin Browser HD v5.0 Beta 1 is now available for all and has plenty of changes to it as noted on their blog:
Innovative UI changes: fresh tab color; more elegant and more modern settings interface, fantastic fluorescein effect of context menu as well as sub folder support.
Speed dial style new tab: access your favorite site easily, undo your previously closed tabs, and tell your most visited sites history at a glance.
Powerful bookmarks sidebar: all bookmark folders, quick menu to access feature settings.
Faster browsing experience and more stable performance: We have to admit Dolphin Browser HD v5.0 private beta is very unstable. However, we have fixed many random crash problems in this public beta version. Also, both launching speed and browsing speed get optimized in this public beta version.
Give it a run through if you're looking for a new way to browse from your Android device. You can find the download link past the break.
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