Those of you with Verizon Android smartphones might have noticed a Verizon Video app pushed out over the past few days (yeah, we didn't ask for it either), and this morning Big Red has officially announced it.
Essentially, Verizon Video is exactly what it looks like -- on-demand streaming (powered by RealNetworks) of more than 250 television, and on-demand video from ABC, NBC, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Animal Planet, CNBC, Disney Channel, ESPN, PBS Kids and others. You'll also have access to NFL RedZone on Sundays, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" and the NFL Network.
Verizon Video is available "on select smartphones," (we've got it on a ThunderBolt here) and is currently in a free preview. After the preview ends, a monthly subscription is $10, or you can try it out for 24 hours for $3.
Holy moly. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I downloaded this game. I've got this nice, shiny Thrive to check out tablet apps on, and this was featured, so I figured "Why not?" Lemme tell ya, as far as Android games go, one of the best decisions I could have made.
In Spirit (HD optional), you control this little ghost-looking guy, presumably a spirit via touch. He's a deceptively powerful little guy, creating black holes/vortexes/scary holes that swallow stuff whenever he makes two points of his movement trail touch. This is the key to your victory.
The reason he can make these portals is out of sheer defense, because there's shapes (yes, shapes) of various colors and abilities that are out to hurt you. One touch, boom, you're done. It feels very Geometry Wars in terms of aesthetic, but fortunately, the gameplay differs.
What I noticed in my time with Spirit is that the levels are seemingly random. One level, I faced these terrifying, red triangles that came at you like a booby trap from an Indiana Jones movie. That same level (the next time I played) had green laser shapes shooting, you guessed it, lasers at me. That was pretty refreshing, because it keeps working through the lower levels from getting stale.
There's also three modes of gameplay. There's Classic, Extreme, and Pulse. Classic is just what you'd expect: Good, ol' fashioned shape-destroying via scary portal. Extreme ups the ante, sending more deadly shapes your way. Move quick, or your Spirit goes bye-bye.
Pulse takes your normal system of gameplay and turns it on its head. Instead of being able to create portal by making circles, you need to fly into the circle pulse orbs that spawn. Hit one and you get a nice portal for a little bit. In the mean time, baddies of all color and variety are teleporting in, and it can get pretty hectic really quickly. It's incredibly challenging and definitely my favorite way to play.
Spirit is an awesome game, and I can tell why it did so well on iOS. What's really cool for us Android users is that if you buy Spirit, you get both the phone and tablet version with one purchase, so you can install on any device you have and you'll be able to play. Spirit is $1.30, and it's not priced unfairly.
Got apps? We do, and we love to share them with you. The market continues to grow, but we all know that it can add a bit of confusion to finding apps. Hit the break with us while we take a look at some of our favorites again.
Herman the Hermit is a strange guy. He lives up on a mountain, being all hermity, honing his mind and body for jumping from platform to platform. He's also totally insane. Plus, he can't ever actually die. This is the premise of Herman the Hermit.
The first time you open the game up, you're shown a tutorial on how to leap to-and-fro. You "slice" at an angle to plan your jump, and then Herman goes for it. You'll notice my slicing is pretty off the first time, but I definitely got better the more I played the game.
Your objective is to either jump over platforms to keep your time meter filled or pick up the clock power-ups to refill your time meter. The more time you have in your meter, the longer your game. You accumulate points for stringing together many leaps without falling as well as having your distance tracked. In all, you're shooting both a high score and a far distance.
Fortunately, if you fall or miss a platform, Herman simply uses his staff like a helicopter propeller and floats himself right back to the bottom of the screen, where you're free to slice your way back onto the platforms.
There's also a number of interesting power-ups, like a lightning bolt, a jet pack, and a rocket. Any one of these nets you a nice combo, as it hits every platform in front of you for a while, stringing together a nice combo. All of them are pretty self-explanatory, too. Grab the bolt and turn into a lightning bolt. Put on the pack and fly around, Rocketeer-style. And the big rocket? Let's just say it reminds me of Dr. Strangelove.
The graphics are really stellar and gameplay is smooth. I wouldn't expect anything less from a studio like Capcom, but the polish really shines through. Gameplay can get repetitive and I'm not sure it's necessarily skill-based so much as just flicking your finger around, but it's still good for killing time. Herman the Hermit is 99 cents in the Market, if you're interested.
Playing card games, I can say was never at the top of my to-do list -- but one exception to that has always been UNO. It was one of those games I could always manage to sit down and play, simply because it's challenging.
Now, Gameloft has gone ahead and recreated UNO for Android and added some new twists as well. Some new rules, online gameplay and tournament mode bring an experience to the old UNO classic that will you have you testing your UNO skills to the max.
UNO is now available in the Android Market, you can check out a video of the game in action as well -- find the download link and press release past the break.
*Update* Yeah, Gameloft issued the same PR for this release as they did when it was originally released --- this version adds HD graphics. Sorry bout that! Shoot the messenger? And by that I mean Gamelofts PR company.
With the stock market being as volatile and uncertain as it is right now, I know some folks are going to want to be able to keep an eye on their investments without hassle. For those who are a fan of the real-time ticker style, there's My Stock Ticker Lite.
My Stock Ticker Lite is actually a live wallpaper, but functions more like a widget. From the wallpaper's settings menu, you can add up to five stocks as well as customizing refresh rates and scrolling speed.
You can also move the ticker anywhere on the screen (it's only in the middle of the screen by default) with just a tap, and then you can lock the position in from the settings menu, as well. My Stock Ticker Lite does support tablets as well as custom launchers and didn't seem to have any issues in portrait or landscape mode, which is awesome.
Unfortunately, you can't get rid of the less-than-pleasing dollar bills wallpaper and the developer opted to not allow for upgrades in the Market version. There are some more fully-featured versions (unlimited stocks, near real-time pricing update) but they're only available from his website.
Overall, if you absolutely need to have your stocks scrolling on every screen of your phone, this app does that, and it does it fairly well. If you need updates faster than three minutes or check more than five stocks, you'll have to go outside of the Android Market to get it. The Lite version is free, however, so at least you're not out anything if you don't like it.
Download links and more pictures are after the break.
If any of you are like me (or Alex), you like some of them Blizzard games. Be it World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, or the upcoming Diablo III, there's a Battle.net account sitting somewhere with your whole game stash on it.
How can you protect your level 85 Night elf Mohawk from the thieving, grubby fingers of gold sellers and account hackers out there? Say hello to your new best friend, the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator.
The Battle.net Mobile Authenticator works just like their separate, keychain authenticator. You attach it to your account, plugging in both the special serial number and one of the time-sensitive codes the first time, then just the time-sensitive code every time after that.
If your code gets out of sync, you have the option to resync it to fix things up. New to this version is the ability to restore an account if say, you wipe your phone without removing the authenticator. I had this happen to me a number of times when flashing ROMs, and while the support people will do it, it requires pictures of your drivers license and other annoying procedures.
The best part of it all is that it's free and ad-free. If you're an avid Blizzard gamer and want an extra level of security on your account, I'd head straight to the Market for this one.
More pictures and download links are after the break.
Sure, you can have just about any custom sound you can think of for notifications on your device, but one thing you can't easily do is make the alerts themselves a bit more fun to receive. Pops, a new style of alerts for your Android device, does just this by allowing users to have different themes of notifications, they are cool animations that make it a bit more fun. They have a constantly expanding gallery of notifications that can be accessed, and users have the ability to create their own as well, making your phone even more personal. Be sure to hop in the market, and check this application out if you want to take your device to the next level. Download information available after the break.
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.
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.