One of the coolest little projects Google's been working on over the past year has been its translation features. And the Google Translate app just turned 1 and got a pretty major update with a bunch of UI improvements -- and one very cool experimental feature.
Conversation Mode is "optimized to allow you to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language." Basically you and whomever you're speaking to talk into the phone, and it translates both sides of the conversation in near-real time. It's only for Spanish and English right now, and is still in its infancy. But this is very, very cool, and is likely to save our butts in a month in Spain. Check out the dearly demo from the IFA conference after the break. [Google]
If you're getting tired of the standard Android look and feel and are looking for a new vertical sliding homescreen, Spark just might be it. It's a home replacement from HipLogic, and it brings a series of panels that include weather (Android users go crazy for their weather!), news, deals, and social feeds from Facebook and Twitter. We had a look when it was in the early beta stage, and HipLogic has made a lot of improvement in the speed and useability areas. Hit the break for a download link and a walkthrough of Spark.
LogMeIn is easily one of our favorite VNC applications available for Android. With the explosion of Android tablets we're seeing, it only makes sense for app developers to begin integrating unique tablet functionality and support into their applications. LogMeIn announced that it has released an update that brings optimization for Android tablets, and brings a few new features along with it. LogMeIn now supports Wake-on-LAN, remote sound, and my favorite; multi-monitor support. It's good to see the developer really stepping up to the plate to take advantage of the capabilities of Android tablets. The update is available immediately in the Android Market for free to existing users, and for $29.99 to new users. Check out the full presser and download links after the break. [LogMeIn]
MiniSquadron, one of our favorite games of 2010, is back in 2011 with a 99-cent special edition. New planes (and helicopters), new levels, and hours and hours of my workday spent "testing" the updated app. The game's on sale through Jan. 17. Download links are after the break.
Google Goggles is pretty damn cool, being able to nearly instantly recognize just about anything you can take a picture of. And in Version 1.3, it's gotten faster -- and smarter.
First off, scanning barcodes is much faster. Takes about a second now. Then there's the print ad feature -- scan the ad and it'll find search results about the product. And what's really cool is that you can scan a Sudoku puzzle and have the puzzle solved for your lazy butt get a little help. It's pretty damn cool. Video of it in action and download links are after the break. [Google]
Just a few weeks separated from its beta launch in the Android Market, the new Dolphin Mini browser has grown out of beta status and officially entered the Android Market, V1.0. Along with the release comes several new features and bug fixes, including a new data backup and restore feature.
New backup and restore feature
Refined UI and toolbox design
New bookmarks label
New flash plugin and updated flash settings
New address bar "quick options" by long pressing address bar
Dolphin Browser mini has quickly become one of our favorite browsers of choice, so be sure to check out this official release in the Market and let us know what you think in the comments section. [via Dolphin Browser Blog]
During Samsung's CES Keynote Thursday, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts spent a little time with the Xfinity application, both on a smart TV and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. We've been told this was coming, and it looks really cool. Not only can you change the channel on your cable box, you can find content and watch it right on your Android device. Social media and live TV playback are coming soon, so it's likely the app will launch without either.
Speaking of launch, no details about when, or OS requirements were announced. Hurry Comcast, we've waited patiently long enough.
Android users will be able to download apps through Amazon later this year
Amazon today announced its Amazon Appstore Developer portal -- an Android app store within the Amazon ecosystem. It's largely familiar, with the usual hooks for developers, though we'll have to wait a little while to judge its usefulness from a consumer standpoint. We spoke with Amazon's Aaron Rubenson, category leader for Mobile Services for Amazon.com, and Ameesh Paleja, general manager for the Engineering Division of Mobile Services for Amazon.com, for more details.
Today's launch is for developers. Consumers will be able to download apps through Amazon later this year.
Developers will upload apps through a self-service portal, developer.amazon.com, and include screenshots and metadata.
Developers keep 70 percent of the revenue, with Amazon getting the other 30 percent. That's in line with the other major app stores.
Developers will be paid once a month, within 30 days of the end of the month.
There's not mechanism for app refunds, other than for installation problems. That's much like Amazon's MP3 store. If you buy it, you buy it.
Amazon will screen apps to make sure they pass basic functionality. They'll test on a multitude of devices, on a the various versions of Android, to make sure it works and isn't malicious.
Apps may be rejected for content; guidelines will be publicly posted.
Amazon's not sure yet how long the app approval process may wake.
When the customer-facing store is launched, you'll be able to purchase phones from the website, or directly from the phone.
Amazon wants its app store to be available on as many phones as possible. Amazon was a little vague on how AT&T's ban on sideloading may affect this, but said "We're working with them to figure out the best way to resolve that."
There's a $99 annual program fee; Amazon's waiving it for the first year.
Given Amazon's size, this obviously is one of the larger competitors to Google's own Android Market. Will it take off? We'll have to see. A couple of major questions that remain are whether it'll be preloaded on phones, and just how easy it will be to install apps. Today's just about the developers. So get to downloading, and let us know how it works out.
We've got more screen shots and a Q&A chock full of questions and answers after the break.
TouchType online, the folks behind the amazing SwiftKey keyboard for Android (check out their development forum here at Android Central), has sent out an email to all their beta test program participants letting them know that open beta sign-up for the SwiftKey VIP program is ending Jan. 18. The SwiftKey VIP program gives access to testing builds of the application, as well as access to the confidential VIP discussion forum at SwiftKey's website. Anyone with software beta-testing experience, or who would like to get started should enroll while they can -- you can do that right here. Word is some great new features are soon to be tested, and you don't want to miss out on a chance to test them.
Joe Braidwood, Chief Marketing Officer at TouchType also reminds everyone that it's not too late to vote in the CES Mobile Apps Showdown, so check that out right here, and make your voice heard.
We've read enough books on the Samsung Galaxy Tab to say that e-reading's a breeze on Android tablets. But that hasn't stopped Amazon from wanting to improve its Kindle app, and today it announced it's working on a new version for Android tablets. Amazon didn't offer up much beyond that, though it's probably safe to say we'll see something along the lines of the iPad version. And that ain't too shabby. [Press release]
Opera's set to unveil its Android tablet-tweaked browser this week at CES, and they just unveiled a quick preview. Yep, looks like a slightly scaled up version to us, too. Check out the video after the break. [Opera]
Shopping apps are on the rise as smartphone popularity increases, and Winn-Dixie is one of the latest retailers to add their app to the pile. Right from their Android device, Winn-Dixie shoppers can now view weekly fliers, sales specific to their local store, and create shopping lists they can share with other users, and even sync with their computer.
Quick show of hands: How many of you use some sort of photo hosting service to get your pictures off your Android device, rather than grabbing your USB cable and transferring them manually? Or do you always have a USB cable/charging cradle on your desk, but you're too lazy to enable USB storage mode? Would you rather just browse the contents of your SD card (and root folder if rooted) via your computer's browser?
There are plenty of apps on the market that allow you to browse the files on your Android device via Wi-Fi, but I've never used one that does it as well as Browsix. More info and download links after the break.
Better late than never, it's our "Hey, it's the holidays, cut us some slack" edition of our weekly apps roundup. Many of you may be getting your first Android device, and we are sure you are extremely happy about it. The Android market is loaded with many great applications, but let us take you through some of our favorites of this week, and be sure to check out all of our other suggestions here.
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