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3 years ago

Testing the Google Now 'what's this song' feature



With the big update to Google Search today, there were a few really cool features dropped into Google Now. They're all pretty useful, but the "what's this song" feature is one we can have some fun with. Since Phil and I like really cool hipster stuff you've probably never heard of pretty crappy music, we decided to give it a test.

You might not know it to look at us, but Phil is a headbanger at heart, and I'm that guy from high school with the blue mohawk and leather boots. We like music that most well-adjusted people don't and decided to see what Google could do with it. The results were a mixed bag.

To get started on an experiment of your own, just fire up Google Now (yes, you need Jelly Bean) and tap the voice search button. Lean into the mic and ask "What's this song?" It will register for a sec, then tell you it's listening. Let it hear the music for a few, and it will come back with either an answer or tell you it has no clue what you're listening to.

On the surface, it looks like indy metal music and 1970s hardcore punk really trips up the service. We went about 50-50 with the less-that-socially acceptable stuff. After further investigation, it seems like it only finds music that Google sells in the Play Store. Makes sense, as they have all those tracks digitized for the "coming" music match style service.

We had a little fun with it, but really for the most part it's gonna find what you're listening to. Hit the break and see just how deep it can go if it needs to. Find a failure? Sing out in the comments.

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3 years ago

US Army launches SGT. STAR - a virtual assistant recruiter app


The US Army understands the value of intelligence before commitment. Whether you think they do a good job at it or not, they know the best informed soldiers are the best overall soldiers. In that sprit, they have released SGT. STAR: Army's virtual guide -- a virtual assistant app to answer all the questions one might have before they enlist.

I've been playing with it for a few here, and they did a good job with it. It provides the correct answer to valid questions, responds with a touch of humor at the silly questions (I now know the Army is not the place to find hot chicks with guns, that's what online dating is for) and keeps a straight face while dismissing the ridiculous questions. Yes, I had to try.

We're not sure how valuable this will be in the quest to find good soldiers, but it certainly can't hurt. If you're thinking of enlisting and have some questions, or are just curious, grab it from the Google Play link above.

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3 years ago

The Instagram - Twitter love affair looks like it's on the rocks


You may have noticed that Instagram pictures in your Twitter stream look worse than usual lately, with portions of the images cropped out or improperly scaled. This isn't a new hipster filter -- it seems that Instagram has decided not to follow the rules and they have stopped using the "Twitter cards" integration. Twitter cards is the name for the fancy way Twitter has been rendering multimedia since their visual refresh, and when services (like Instagram) don't use it, things get a little ugly. Or uglier in this case.

Officially a part of Facebook, a few weeks back Instagram updated their web presence with a clear eye on keeping people engaged on their own site. Millions and millions use Instagram to share pictures, so it's a natural progression. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom stated at the LeWeb conference in Paris, 

We want to direct users to where the content lives originally. Where do you go to interact with [an Instagram] image? We want that to be because that’s a better user experience.

The timing isn't all bad for Twitter either, who has been rumored to be building their own set of photo enhancements and filters. This would negate the need for any third party program to make pictures look horrible, as all the tools would be a part of Twitter. I can see this being a feature that only the "official" Twitter app can use, further locking folks into the official offering.

I've no idea how this will play out, but it's interesting to sit back and watch the drama unfold from an outsider position. I'll keep sharing my pictures on Google+ and watch these two slug it out.

Via: All Things D

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3 years ago

Google Voice, Authenticator, and Translate also updated today


Google Search (AKA Google Now for folks with Jelly Bean) isn't the only app from Google to see an update today. While not as forwards facing and glamorous, Voice, Translate, and Authenticator were also bumped up a version.

Google Voice promises a couple much needed bug fixes, notably to fix the delay in SMS notifications and make inbox syncing actually work across devices. We sure would love a fancy new UI to match the rest of Google's apps, but we'll certainly take the bug fixes. Grab it from Google Play.

Google Translate also received two very welcome changes: the addition of Chinese, Japanese and Korean text recognition from the camera, and recognition of a few new languages for handwriting -- Afrikaans, Croatian, Czech, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Welsh. The Asian language text recognition is a big deal folks. If Translate can successfully recognize the intricacy of something like Kanji or traditional Chinese, there's no telling what comes next. Install Google Translate from Google Play by clicking this handy link.

Finally, the Google Authenticator app has been updated with "bug fixes in the account setup flow" and small UI improvements. It's nice to see work going into an app as utilitarian as Authenticator, which really doesn't have to look good to work well. Grab the update or install it from Google Play.

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3 years ago

Google Search update brings new features to Google Now, including post to Google+


Android's Google Search app just got a pretty good update, and that means we've got new features for Google Now as well.

Of note are improvements for travelers. If Google Now knows you're going somewhere (and there's a pretty good chance it will), it'll show you weather information for your destination. And if you're flying on United Airlines, you'll even be able to get to your boarding pass right from Google Now. (Of course, that might be the least of your worries on UA.)

Voice search is beefed up, too -- it can listen for a song playing in the background, find product info and post to Google+, all without typing a thing.

Hit the link above to get your update on.

Source: Google Android blog

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3 years ago

Dramatic point-and-click adventure Yesterday comes to Android


Yesterday, a dark point-and-click adventure game, was launched on Google Play today. Players follow three different characters that are trying to piece together a series of grisly murders while staying alive themselves. Puzzles litter the path to solving the mystery, but there's a hint system if things get tricky. Though Yesterday looks like it's mostly very grim and gritty, apparently there's some solid humor in there too. 

Yesterday enjoyed solid reviews during its stay on iOS and PC, and though I haven't given it a shot yet, it looks like a refreshing, adult experience with a strong narrative. There's a free lite version linked above, or you can get the ad-free version in Google Play for $4.99. Anyone interested? What's your favorite point-and-click adventure game to date? 

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3 years ago

Heroes of Order and Chaos brings lane defense to Android


Gameloft's much-anticipated lane defense game, Heroes of Order and Chaos, launched this morning on Google Play. The Dota clone is free to play with plenty of in-app purchases, and a very familiar gameplay style.

Two teams of five players each have to join waves of AI troops to take out enemy towers and ultimately a base at the end while the opposition tries to do the same. Maps are broken up into multiple lanes, and players pick signature heroes with highly-specialized abilities to do their part. Matches can be played against others online or with simple bots locally. Over the course of every game, heroes level up, unlock new abilities and weapons by slaying opponents. Between matches, you can develop specialized talents for particular roles of characters, such as fighter, mage, support, or guardian, as per your play style and unlocked heroes. 

I've been playing Dota 2 on PC off and on, and the formula is proven and polished. It will be interesting to see if Heroes of Order and Chaos can reach the same level of high-end competitiveness. I've only played a little bit of the iOS version, but so far it has yet to disappoint - so long as you can deal with the usual prodding to upgrade through IAPs. So, who's in?

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3 years ago

TomTom navigation updated, now supports 200+ devices


When TomTom for Android first appeared a couple of months back, support was limited to a few devices with WVGA displays, a move which excluded many of the most popular handsets. Today the app has been updated to version 1.1, bringing with it support for more devices, including those with higher-resolution screens.

The new version also includes the ability to save map data to the SD card rather than the app storage partition, and a redesigned driving view, which TomTom says is designed to make key information clearer and easier to read.

As devices go, we can confirm the latest version supports the Nexus 4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S3 LTE, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X+, RAZR i, Xperia T, RAZR/RAZR MAXX, Optimus 4X HD, HTC One X and One S, among others. TomTom says that more than 200 devices are now compatible with the app. Tablet support still seems to be a non-starter in this version, however, as the app refused to install on our Nexus 7 or various flavors of Galaxy Tab.

The update is live now on Google Play. Prices vary depending on where you live and which region you're buying, but typically each pack will set you back around £30 or $50.

Source: Google Play, Engadget

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3 years ago

Me In My Place web app update brings the sexy back to Android [#NSFW]


When we last left Me in My Place, the photography series had just launched a web app that ... was a bit lacking on our Android devices. Great for iOS. Bad for us. No longer. The web app has undergone quite the overhaul, and we're happy to report it's working beautifully on Chrome.

What's the big deal? It's tough to read through Esquire magazine without seeing shots from the series' semi-mysterious mastermind, Michael Edwards, and MIMP (as it's known on the street) has come to have quite the following over the past couple years.

MIMP is a fun and flirty series, with the occasional celebrity mixed in among the less famous (but no less gorgeous) women from throughout the U.S. -- and more recently from around the world. The photography is casual, but still extremely professional. The MIMP website (based on Tumblr) believe it or not is the tame version. The web app is where things get a little more NSFW, but still with the same amount of class and respect you've come to expect.

Why shell out $15 a year (or $4.99 a month if you're not into saving money) for access to the MIMP web app? For one, I like supporting semi-indy projects like this. For another, this is a really good web app update, showing what can be done outside of a native application. A slideshow mechanism has been added, along with forward and back controls, and the ability to share individual pictures on Twitter. Plus, you can view hundreds of exclusive pictures on your Android phone and tablet. So there's that. 

Check it out at

More: Me in My Place

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3 years ago

Etsy app now available for Android


The official Etsy app is now available for our favorite platform, and now you can shop for handmade trinkets without ever firing up your computer. 

The app itself is geared towards the shopper. The entire 17 million item marketplace is available, and you can easily browse all the shops or other members favorite items, then purchase directly from the app. With categories like seasonal and for her, shopping is easy, and the shops search feature works excellent.

The app itself is done well. It's very holo-esque, with no extraneous menu buttons or other design "mistakes", and is smooth and responsive. It's nicely done, and we appreciate nicely done apps around here. The app is free, and will run on Gingerbread or higher. Grab it from the Google Play link above.

More: Etsy blog

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3 years ago

Google Play Private Channel will host internal apps for your business



If you're a Google Apps for business, education, or government customer; there's a new update to Google Play that you'll probably want to check out. You can now host private internal apps right in Google Play.

Once it's enabled in the developer console, applications can be uploaded to the Play Store, and users who sign in with the same domain name will have a new section to browse, download and update internal applications without any sideloading. This is a great way to host accounting apps, a help desk, or anything your team might need, and a really easy way for the folks who need them to get them installed. It's great to see Google catering to the enterprise.

For more details about how to get started and set up your own Google Play Private Channel, be sure to have a look at the source link. 

Source: Google Enterprise blog

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3 years ago

Facebook Messenger nixing requirement that you actually use Facebook


Facebook today announced that it's opening up Facebook Messenger to folks who don't actually use Facebook. Going forward, all you'll need to use the Messenger app is a name and phone number, and you'll be able to hit up your mobile contacts. The obvious play is to get non-Facebook users to stick a toe into the water -- and not into the pools of cross-platform competitors such as Whatsapp. Whether the Facebook name remains too much of a deterrent, we'll just have to see.

Facebook says an update to the Android client should be rolling out today (it's not live as of this writing).

Source: Facebook

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3 years ago

Beautiful Widgets 5 released with a new look and full Jelly Bean support


Android app developer LevelUp Studio has announced the launch of Beautiful Widgets 5, a brand new version of its popular widget and application suite.

New features in the latest version of Beautiful Widgets include a visual refresh to many widgets and apps, and full Jelly Bean support, including rich notifications, as well as Android 4.2 features like lock screen widgets and new "Daydreams." 

Also included is a new forecast app and theme store, where as you might expect, there are endless widget customizations to be had. If you're a widget fan, there's certainly plenty in this latest version to keep you occupied.

Hit the Google Play link above to get downloading -- the app sells for $2.39 in the U.S. £1.90 in the U.K. We've got an official promo video after the break.

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3 years ago

Starbucks updates app with Android 4.2 compatibility


Starbucks lovers with a device running Android 4.2 -- quite a few of us now -- have been out in the cold waiting for an update to fix compatibility with the latest OS update. Some problem with the app in Android 4.2 caused a nasty bug that made the app crash almost every time it was opened. Thankfully, the wait is over and today's update fixes the issues.

Go grab that download at the Play Store link above and get back to paying for your latte (or quadruple extra hot venti caramel macchiato, if you're me) without a wallet.

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3 years ago

AT&T Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean update hitting Kies


Coming up on 3 weeks after the T-Mobile Galaxy SIII (S3) started receiving an OTA update to Jelly Bean, users in our forums are reporting seeing the update become available via Samsung Kies for their AT&T Galaxy S3s. There's no indication of when (or if) this will go out via an OTA package, but willing users that are impatient can always go with the Kies desktop software route.

Take a look at the source link below to our forums where the discussion about the update has already begun.

Source: AT&T Galaxy S3 Forums

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