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3 years ago

Walmart improves Android app to help holiday shoppers

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Walmart has made some subtle updates to its app -- now v1.4.1 -- that should help customers looking to ease the headaches of shopping this holiday season. Now in addition to online ordering and shopping cart management, you can view the localized ads for specific stores in your area. After letting the app view your location, you can see the newspaper circular for each store, and see if there are any special deals. You can swipe through the pages casually, and if something catches your eye you can tap into a certain page and get a simple list of the items on it.

The app with the updated UI is out now, and can be downloaded at the Google Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

BBC iPlayer app updated with new UI, higher quality video and Android 4.2 support

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Also BBC Media Player improvements, including background audio playback

Yesterday the BBC detailed exactly what it's planning to do with its iPlayer app for Android over the next few months, highlighting the importance of tablet support, feature parity with iOS and improved video quality. Now it seems the first of those improvements have arrived, as the Beeb is now pushing out an update to version 1.5.0.666 of the TV and radio streaming app.

New features include better video quality over Wifi connections, a re-vamped UI more in keeping with Android's "Holo" design guidelines, and support for Android 4.2. Previously, it had been possible to use iPlayer on an Android 4.2 device, but only if it was installed before applying a 4.2 update. Today's app update means iPlayer has full support for the latest version of Google's OS, and can be directly downloaded onto newer devices like the Nexus 4. There's also support for Gaelic-language TV channel BBC Alba, which may be of interest to viewers in Scotland.

Alongside iPlayer, the BBC Media Player companion app has also been updated. That update brings similar improvements in video quality over Wifi, along with background audio playback support, including ICS lock screen controls, and "currently playing" info in the notification bar. This makes it possible to listen to radio content without keeping the app in focus and the screen switched on. The Beeb cautions that there are still issues with the Sony Xperia Arc running Android 4.0 on this version, however, so owners of that device may want to hold off updating.

Readers in the UK can hit the Google Play link above to grab the new version of iPlayer, or here for the BBC Media Player app.

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3 years ago

Google Calendar adds more actionable notifications, location improvements

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Google has updated the Calendar app to improve notifications, location entry and event creation today. We were very happy to see Google break Calendar out of Android and make it available to everyone (provided the device is on 4.0.3 or higher) in the Play Store back in October, and now we're seeing the fruits of that decision because updates can be rolled out independent of the OS.

Now when you create an event, the app will suggest proper locations as you type. For example when I type "Starbucks" in the location field, it will suggest specific addresses of store locations, much like the location field in Google Maps does currently. Additionally, when you receive a notification for the event, you can act on it by either snoozing or going directly to a map view of the location in the event.

This is a great update and we're glad Google is improving even on its most basic apps. It is an interesting update, however, because this is functionality that's already included as part of Google Now, which will alert you of upcoming events and even adjust the alert time based on traffic or other appointments. This is a good stopgap for devices that are on Ice Cream Sandwich and can use the new Calendar but not Google Now, but that group of devices will only be getting smaller as time goes on.

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3 years ago

Facebook finally releases a native Android app

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After what seems like an eternity of dealing with a sluggish web view Facebook app on Android, the social media behemoth is finally releasing a new and improved version written in native code. Everyone got their hopes up when an improved, native app came to iOS a few months ago -- but the status of the Android version was still "coming soon."

The new version will drastically improve performance in critical areas such as load/resume times, navigating the timeline and loading of photo albums. Because much of the computation is now happening quickly on the device, there's no more waiting. Facebook's main descriptor when talking about the update is "fast," and keep stressing that this is a complete rebuilding of the app.

The update is now live in the Play Store at the link above. We're just getting through the features initially here and things are looking good. This one is definitely going to be a worth-while update for any Facebook users out there.

Source: Facebook; (2)

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3 years ago

Google introducing confirmed clicks into all mobile advertising banners

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Mobile ads are sometimes really, really annoying, but they serve a purpose -- devs got to get paid. However, perhaps the most frustrating  thing of all is when you accidentally tap on an ad banner, soon finding yourself nowhere near the app you were in. Google is putting an end to that today, with the announcement that confirmed clicks are to be implemented into all in-app image advertising banners on smartphones. 

It's incredibly simple, but sure to delight users around the globe. From their research, Google has deduced that the biggest majority of accidental clicks occur around the outer edges of the banners. So, going forward, taps in these areas will prompt a confirmation button to appear before heading out to any related websites. Google claims it will be good for the companies that are buying advertising, as they will be getting valuable clicks for their money instead of a number of people who didn't really care much for the advertised product or service. 

And, of course, it's fantastic news for us, the end user. People still get paid, and we lose a big source of frustration. 

Source: Google Mobile Ads Blog

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3 years ago

Elf on the Shelf gets a new Android game

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The Elf on the Shelf is everywhere. That's kind of the point, right? It bounces around various spots in your home until Christmas, keeping an watch on who's naughty and who's nice, reporting back to Santa each night before staking out a new hiding place. You can't hop on Facebook or Instagram or walk through a store without seeing one of these things.

And, yes, the Elf has an app. A game, actually, with the slightly double-entendre'd title of "Slide n' Glide." (Remember, even Santa has a naughty side, too.) The premise is you move the Elf to determine how far a package will fly off a chute and onto a platform. Get all the presets loaded, and you move onto the next level.

More: See other Android kids games

It's a simple (and free!) game, and adults won't get much out of it. But your kids? Chances are we just found another reason they'll be fighting you for the phone. (Plus there are more than Slide n' Glide available.) We've got some demo video on a Galaxy S3 (the game apparently is having issues on some phones) after the break.

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3 years ago

Google reportedly not keen on building out apps for Windows

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Google is gradually building out its apps portfolio for non-Android platforms, notably iOS. In recent months -- and since being pulled from the platform at OS level -- we've seen Google release dedicated YouTube, GMail and now Maps applications for Apple's mobile OS. But, what about Windows? Windows Phone 8 is gathering momentum, and Windows 8 will eventually be on billions of machines worldwide, or so you'd think, surely the next investment of time for Google? 

Not so, it seems. Clay Bavor, a Google Product Manager, went on record speaking to V3 about where the future may lie for Google expanding their apps to the latest Windows platforms: 

We have no plans to build out Windows apps. We are very careful about where we invest and will go where the users are but they are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8. If that changes, we would invest there, of course

Ouch. It all makes perfect business sense of course, if there's no market, Google wouldn't target it. Both platforms are in their infancy, and we'd expect -- from Windows 8 especially -- increased user numbers to come with time. But, we all know the best way to get the best Google experience on our devices, right? 

Source: V3 via WPCentral

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3 years ago

Football Manager Handheld 2013 released into Google Play for $9.99

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Football Manager is the premier desktop soccer football management simulation game, with millions buying it every year. Last year, Sega brought the title to Android for the first time, in the form of Football Manager Handheld 2012. That was then, and this is now, and the latest version is here. And, it's called -- you guessed it, Football Manager Handheld 2013. The price isn't cheap, and as with last year will cost $9.99 or £6.99 depending where you are. 

With a new year comes new stuff, the first of which is in-app purchases. The very thought of in-app purchases in a game that costs $10 is difficult to get your head round, but the idea kind of works. In the same way as the real football world works, if you splash the cash, you can attract wealthy investors and improve your stadium quicker. There's also 'fresh challenges' available for purchase should you ever require them. It's still difficult to swallow though having dropped all that money for the game in the first place.

Other new features for 2013 includes additional leagues -- we now have leagues for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland -- media improvements, player photos, player comparisons and form updates, and of course the full licensed information for the 2012/13 season. There's no MLS included though, so American managerial wannabe types will have to make do with teams from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Wales in addition to the two new Irish leagues. 

Best of all, the file isn't huge -- although there is a first time download file you'll have to get -- and it's available to anyone using Android 2.2 and above. 

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3 years ago

Google releases its Zeitgeist 2012 'Year-in-Review' app

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There's just over two weeks left in 2012, and that means every major site and service is doing some kind of "year in review" feature. There's one company that has some of the most interesting data to analyze though, and that's Google. The search giant has packaged up all of its search data and insights from 2012 and released an app to let Android users have a look. The app itself is functional and works just fine, but what's cool is everything inside.

You can choose to view a "Global Top 10" or just United States lists, but in either case you get a breakdown of the top 10 searches in different categories. There's News, Pop Culture, Fashion, Lifestyle, Science, Tech & Gadgets (several Nexus entries here), Sports, Humanities and Cities available -- each having more granular categories within. There's also a pretty great video that gives you a look at the year all in one quick summary.

This is definitely worth a look in both the app and on the web. You can find the former at the Play Store link above, the latter at the source link below.

Source: Google Zeitgeist 2012

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3 years ago

Foursquare update improves 'explore' interface

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With the last update to Foursquare we saw improvements to the usability of the "Check In" UI, and now it is improving the "Explore" tab to follow suit. When searching a location or type of establishment, you'll be greeted with a friendlier UI that shows off pictures and a preview of the place right in the results. If you tap into a specific place, you can now swipe through user-submitted photos and relevant information like address and phone number as well.

The interface is very user-friendly while remaining dense enough with information that you feel like you're getting what you want out of it. We have a couple screenshots of the UI for you after the break, and you can grab a download at the Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City now available on Google Play

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We knew it was coming and now after a slight delay thanks to a proclaimed early listing and some pesky XAPK errors, it has finally arrived. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has landed in the Google Play Store and is ready for download. Rather than a straight up port of the original, Rockstar Games has redone the game as part of their 10 year anniversary celebrations and as such have included high res graphics, customizable control layouts and improved targeting as well as a slew of other enhancements:

  • Massive campaign with countless hours of gameplay
  • Compatible with the MoGa Wireless Game Controller and select USB gamepads
  • Integrated with Immersion tactile effects
  • Tailor your visual experience with adjustable graphic settings

In addition to all of that love, supported languages include English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Korean, Russian, and Japanese so that people around the world can check out the mobile version. If you're looking to pick up Grand Theft Auto: Vice City the pricing is set at around $5 so be sure you check compatibility before you dive in. Also, check your storage space -- you'll need around 1.5GB available to make use of in order to run the game. Bring on the big hair and pastel suits!

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3 years ago

Field Trip updated with 'save cards' feature

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Field Trip has been updated today with some very notable improvements, first and foremost with the ability to save location cards for later viewing. When viewing a location or event card, you can drop a flag on the location, adding it to a favorites list. When adding it, you also have the option to quickly share the location to friends. This is a nice feature, because we don't always have enough time to stay and read through an entire card right when you're at the place.

Additionally, the update lets users report wrong locations, images and problems directly to the Field Trip group at Google. This version should also reduce battery drain -- important if you've used Field Trip much -- and several other nondescript "bugfixes." If you haven't checked out Field Trip yet, it's worth a look at the Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

Gameloft addresses Modern Combat 4 download issues, adds controller support

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Gameloft just rolled out its latest revision of the popular Modern Combat series just a few days ago, but unfortunately it was struck down with some major download issues. Users were purchasing the game -- at $6.99 -- and then either weren't able to download, or downloaded bad files that caused game issues on first launch. The issue is now fixed, and downloads should be working without a hitch.

Now that the bugs are out of the way, Gameloft is also letting us know that Modern Combat 4 supports the MOGA Mobile Gaming System controller from PowerA natively at launch. If you happen to have one of these controller contraptions available, it may be worth a look to see how it operates.

More: PowerA

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3 years ago

Sound Search widget now available on Google Play

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Sound Search (affectionately known as Google Ear to the Android faithful) has landed in Google Play, ready for downloading on devices running 4.0 or higher. In case you're unaware of exactly what this is, it's pretty much like Shazam -- let it listen to a song that is playing, and it will identify what song it is, and in the case of Sound Search, link you to Google Play Music where you can buy a copy. 

It's nifty, and can be useful at times. I'd not know who Nicki Minaj is without it, so there's that. But what most people will be interested in is how this works with devices that already have Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, but didn't have access to Google Sound Search before (looking right at you HTC). The good news is that most anyone in the US with ICS or higher can go grab it from Google Play at the link above, slap the widget on their home screen, and have some fun with it.

The bad news is that it is not showing up during an on-device search from the UK or the rest of the world. You can find it via a direct link, but the only device we've found that is compatible with a UK network location is the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX, a Verizon phone. This mimics a lot of the services and goods that Google offers, and something needs done to get a handle on the situation. Google wants your pound notes and Euros and Won as much as they want my dollars and cents, so hopefully they are doing something about it.

Of course, getting it installed on just about any phone will be easy enough once the files get into the right hands, but that's not the solution. Come on Google, #FIXIT

Source: Official Android blog

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3 years ago

Google Play Magazines now live in the UK

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We first saw magazines begin to appear in the UK Play Store just yesterday, leaving us sure that the additional content wasn't far away. Turns out that hunch was right, and this evening Google's selection of magazine content is available for purchase both on the web and Android applications. If you're not seeing the new section show up yet, you can always try the old trick of heading into Settings>Apps and then force closing, clearing data and re-starting the Play Store app. 

In addition, you'll need to grab a copy of the Magazines app from Google in order to read your content. Hit the download link at the top to grab a copy, but users with a Nexus 4, 7 or 10 may find an "enable" button in place of an install button on the app listing page. 

The good news for UK buyers is the UK-centric content available for purchase -- for the run down check out the list we posted yesterday. It's great to see more Google Play content arrive on British shores, and as it sits now we're only waiting for TV Shows before we have the full set. 

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