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4 years ago

Action Launcher now available - improves on folders with 'Covers'

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We brought you the first look at developer Chris Lacy's "Action Launcher" a couple of months ago, and today we're happy to announce that it's now available in the Google Play Store for $3.99. (Actually, that's in Google Play is a "Pro" unlock code -- you'll download the launcher itself from within the app after you purchase.)

The basic premise, as you'll recall from our Action Launcher preview, is that the idea of the app drawer is just too slow. In Action Launcher, the drawer is moved to a list view, and the "main" home screen shifts to the far left. So all you have to do to open it is slide left once more. (Or hit the apps button in the top left, or your home button from the home screen.) From there you've got a an easy list of your apps. And new from our preview version are letter shortcuts, so you don't have to scroll all the way through the list.

Also customized is how you add widgets, apps and wallpapers -- all in one place, just long-press on the home screen.

But that's still not the really cool part.

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4 years ago

Top Gear Stunt School Revolution now available from Google Play

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"Some say he never blinks and that he roams local woodland foraging for mouse meat. All we know is, he's called The Stig."

BBC Worldwide released an Android title back in October, known as Top Gear Stunt School Revolution. Back then, the title was exclusively available from the Amazon Appstore. An unusual tactic for launching the game, especially considering that at the time the UK launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire was still three weeks away. That exclusivity period is now at an end, and the title is available to download from the Google Play Store. 

There's two flavors available for download, one free, one paid. The free version doesn't come with all the stunts unlocked, but the paid version does along with 300 free permits -- the paid version is linked at the top of this post. The price for the paid version is £0.69/$0.99, which isn't a lot for what we found was a fun, if basic driving game.

One word of caution. The Play Store version seems to have to 'set up' before playing. This seems to be a potentially lengthy process for some, so something to bear in mind. Before downloading though, be sure to head back and check out our hands on video.

More: Hands on with Top Gear Stunt School Revolution

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4 years ago

New accessibility features coming to Kindle Fire and Fire HD 7-inch

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We take time to applaud companies whenever they bring new accessibility features to their devices. Amazon has just announced today that it will be bringing two new features for visually-impaired users, "Voice Guide" and "Explore by Touch", to both the original Kindle Fire and the new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.

Voice Guide lets the user tap on any part of the screen and receive an audible description of that item, which is supposed to be more in-depth than regular text-to-speech. Explore by Touch lets the user swipe across the screen to receive menu names, allowing a second touch to actually do the intended action, hopefully reducing accidental launching of apps or opening of menus.

These two features were already available on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch, but its great to see them come to the whole line. Amazon expects them to head out to devices in early 2013.

Source: Amazon; Via: Engadget

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4 years ago

Gameloft's Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour hitting Android 'very soon'

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Gameloft is quickly expanding on its popular "Modern Combat" game franchise with the latest revision: "Zero Hour." The game has just launched on the iOS platform, but Gameloft assures us that the developers are putting the final touches on an Android version and "expect it to launch very soon." Games this big can never come too soon, so we hope to see it go live in Google Play very shortly.

You can get a taste for the gameplay in the latest version in the trailer above. (Spoiler alert: you shoot guys in the face.)

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4 years ago

Spotify adding new music discovery features, and entire Metallica catalog

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Today is a big day for music streaming service Spotify and its users. They're introducing a whole bunch of new music discovery features, some of which will eventually go 'cross-platform.'  But, they're also introducing the entire back catalog of one of the most well-known rock bands in history. Spotify users, say hello to Metallica. 

We'll start there, because this is huge news. There have been noticeable holes in Spotify's library since day one, some of which have been filled, but the Metallica shaped hole ever remained. The drought ends today with the addition of 30 years worth of music from the legendary rockers. Every single album, every single song. This one's going to keep us going all through the weekend. 

With that out of the way, the new discovery features being rolled out are pretty interesting. Initially we're looking at desktop only features rolling out in the coming weeks, with a full 'cross-platform' upgrade in 2013. There are two main portions to it, so we'll take you through them one at a time. 

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4 years ago

Amazon sees 500 percent growth in Appstore downloads in one year

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There's no doubt that Amazon is trying to become a strong competitor in the Android tablet game, and a big part of that is the success of its own Appstore. There's always been an issue with properly quantifying the success of Amazon's products though, as the company is intentionally vague about sales and usage numbers. As part of a press release about A/B testing in its Appstore today, however, it announced quite a few interesting statistics.

Amazon has seen a 500 percent increase in app downloads from its store in the past year, which is a huge number. Additionally, apps making use of its GameCircle (centralized gaming platform) have more than doubled. Developers making use of in-app purchases doubled in the third quarter of 2012 as well, and 23 of the top 25 grossing apps are now using them.

Those are impressive numbers indeed, and we hope Amazon continues to give some information as to how well its Appstore and Kindle Fire platforms are performing in the future. (Like maybe some actual numbers of how many it's sold.) The company will surely continue to push its version of Android for the foreseeable future.

Source: Amazon

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4 years ago

Elements Battle RPG released on Google Play today

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There seems to be no shortage of RPG (Role Playing Game) titles on Google Play, but some really are better than the rest. Popular game developer Game Insight is throwing its proverbial hat into the ring today with Elements Battle. The game is set up as a mix of puzzle gameplay and standard PRG gameplay, with over 100 quests available at launch. Elements Battle spans 5 expansive worlds to explore as well, and is surely a title that's capable of being built upon for many updates to come.

Elements Battle is available now in the Play Store, and its free to boot. Check it out at the Google Play link at the top of this post if you're interested in a download.

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4 years ago

WordTag: It's like Draw Something, only with words

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Want to play a game where someone has to describe a word somehow, and you have to guess it? Not new, we know. But WordTag takes the the style of the old "Password" game with the new hotness of Draw Something, only minus all that pesky artistic necessity.

Here's how it works: You've got 120 characters in which to describe a word. And there are six "locked" words. Don't use 'em, unless you wanna "pay" for it. Your opponent has to guess the word, as quickly as possible. You know how it goes. Play friends, play strangers, earn badges as you go. You can sign up with your e-mail address, or through Facebook, if that's your thing. And WordTag is a cross-platform game, which is good. There's a free version (which we're linking to here), or a premium version for $1.99.

We've got demo video, the presser and some screen shots after the break.

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4 years ago

Soundcloud introduces new UI and features with latest app update

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Soundcloud has always managed to have a pretty respectable app across platforms, and the latest update to their mobile app keeps that tradition going. The app has been revamped with a new UI that uses the sliding panes we've seen in many apps as of late. It not only looks great but more importantly, it works great. Smooth and fluid describes it nicely. Aside from the UI change, Soundcloud did manage to add in a few new features as well that improve the experience as well:

  • Hear, favorite, repost and comment on sounds shared in your Stream
  • Record your own sounds with one touch and share to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr
  • Includes optional Record Widget for the home screen
  • Lock screen playback supported

The core features remain as well, they've just been improved. Searching for music, following artists and discovering new music with the app is better than ever. According to Soundcloud, over 10 hours of music & audio are posted every minute to their services so alas, you can take Taylor Swift or whatever it is the cool kids are listening to these days off repeat and go out and discover some new music.

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4 years ago

Snapseed for Android now available

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Snapseed developer Nik Software, now owned by Google, has released an Android version of its photo sharing app. The app has several filtering and tweaking options to allow photos to be improved, distorted or stylized. And of course there's a big Google+ button up top, so there's no doubt as to where Google wants you sharing your snaps.

Bundled image tools include basic stuff like cropping, brightness and contrast controls, as well as more exotic capabilities like framing, "grunge" and "drama" filters.

In addition to the Android launch, the iOS version of Snapseed is available for free from today.

Hit the Google Play link above to get downloading, and let us know how you're getting on with Snapseed down in the comments.

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4 years ago

Tasks update adds lockscreen widget for Android 4.2

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Tasks is a bit of a favorite in these parts. We all rely on Google's services immensely day in, day out, one of which is Google Tasks. In lieu of any kind of official application from Google, Tasks is the next best thing. Simple, excellent looking Holo UI, and of course, syncing up with Google Tasks. Today, the developers have pushed out a little update aimed specifically for users on Android 4.2

We're talking about a lockscreen widget. While the whole notion of widgets on the lockscreen is a point of debate for some, the ability to add something like a tasks list is potentially a great time saver. You get the same great widget as on the main homescreen, without the need to unlock your phone. 

Additionally, theres a bunch of minor bug fixes, and an updated app icon for anyone with a Nexus 10 and other ultra high density screens. Tasks comes in free and paid versions, and the updates apply to both. You'll find a link to the free version at the top of this post. 

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4 years ago

SwiftKey Flow now available – we go finger-on

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It's been interesting to watch the continued evolution of Android keyboards. Google's didn't start getting decent until the last year or so, but it lacked the excellent prediction of SwiftKey or the trace input of Swype. SwiftKey could read your mind, but Swype had -- well, Swype. The latter half of 2012 has seen parity come to your fingertips. Swype got itself some prediction. Google got itself some gesture typing. And SwiftKey found its Flow, which as of today is now available for download in beta form from SwiftKey's VIP forums. (More at swiftkey.net/flow as well.)

We've been using SwiftKey Flow for a couple days now, and our digits have been dancing ever since. Hit the break for our thoughts on the latest update to our 2011 Editor's Choice.

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4 years ago

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

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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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4 years ago

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

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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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4 years ago

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

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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 instagram.com 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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