3 years ago

Exoplanet Explorer [Android App Review]


YouTube link for mobile viewing

With all the talk of building a base on the moon, I started thinking about space travel, other planets, and eventually retiring on Mars. I understand that Mars will probably be a hot commodity in the future, so I'm willing to settle on a distant exoplanet, if need be. Picking the right one looked to be a real challenge, but then I discovered Exoplanet Explorer, by the same gent who made Solar System Explorer.

Let me tell ya, if you're looking to know about every exoplanet we've discovered since we started discovering them, this is the app to have. Exoplanet Explorer uses the same gorgeous 3D models that Solar System Explorer uses, the same tranquil, ambient background music, and the same overall layout, but because we're talking exoplanets and not just the solar system, things are much, much larger.

For starters, Exoplanet Explorer gives you all sorts of cool buttons to toggle on and off when you're checking out one of those far, far away exoplanets. You can overlay our own solar system's planets and their orbits, what would be considered a habitable zone (based on where our own Earth is), and compare the size of your exoplanet of choice against all of the planets in our solar system.

Aside from all of those visual goodies, there's also some fairly in-depth search options. You can use a standard search filter to find what you're looking for or pull up a grid loaded with different categories (or classifications) of exoplanets. Want to see only the warm terran exoplanets we've discovered? Too bad! There are none! Cold Jovian, you say? We've got 157 to oogle. Hot Neptunian? Well, you get the idea.

I'm telling you, the deep space retirement bidding war is only going to intensify as time moves on, and the only way to make a smart decision is to be well informed. With Exoplanet Explorer, there's no way you won't be. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Most of all, do it for the future.

Exoplanet Explorer is $2.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

Nokia Maps web app on Android now provides voice navigation, but only if you're walking


Nokia have been trying to perfect their maps web app for some time now. They've just flicked the switch on the latest addition to the service, which Android 2.3 and above users can take advantage of. Voice guided turn-by-turn navigation is now included, but only for walking routes. 

Taking advantage of voice guided navigation requires downloading a 2MB data file before you're good to go. Nokia say that this feature is only available on walking routes, as the web app itself is targeted at urban use. Live traffic and public transport map views are two other features that put themselves into this category. 

A couple of questions do come to mind. Firstly, how good is it? But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, why would an Android user choose this over the native Google Maps application? 

In answer to the first question, it's very good. Nokia -- once Ovi -- maps have long been a killer piece of map software. I tried the voice guided navigation this morning as I took a walk around a town I don't know very well. It didn't miss a beat once, and with a headset plugged in there's no chance of missing that vital "turn left" notification. 

The answer to the second question is much tougher. On the face of it, Android comes with Google Maps and the excellent Google Maps Navigation -- which of course you can use in the car. Google Maps is pretty much the industry standard. And of course, it isn't a web app. 

If Nokia were to release this as a native Android application -- and brought their excellent Nokia Drive satellite navigation with it -- then it would definitely be a serious contender to Google Maps. As it stands though, it's very good, but it's not quite enough. To try it out for yourselves head on over to m.maps.nokia.com from your device. 

Source: Nokia Blog

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3 years ago

Super Monkey Ball 2 for Android delivers primates, transparent spheroids


Building on its ever-growing back-catalog, SEGA has just released primate-based puzzler Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition for Android. Monkey Ball, which rolled its way onto iOS months ago, joins SEGA classics like ChuChu Rocket and Sonic CD on the Android Market Google Play from today.

So here's the deal with Super Monkey Ball -- you've got a monkey, which is sealed inside a ball. You've got to roll around eating bananas, because that's what monkeys do, and being encased within a hurtling transparent spheroid isn't going to change that. Like on iOS, controls are primarily tilt-based, as you guide your chimp of choice to the end of the stage with as many bananas as possible. Yeah, we're not exactly dispelling any monkey stereotypes here.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition is out now for devices running Android 2.1 and above, promising 125 levels of ape-based antics. The current price is just $0.99, which SEGA says is a special introductory offer. We've got the usual Google Play links after the break.

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3 years ago

NOOK for Android - v3.1 update brings access to Barnes & Noble’s collection of comics, graphic novels and manga titles


The latest update to NOOK for Android has bumped the app into v3.1 and aside from having the normal bug fixes and stability improvements in it, you can now also have access to Barnes & Noble’s collection of comics, graphic novels and manga titles.

With exciting graphics in stunning color that virtually jump off the page, NOOK Comics enables customers to explore favorite super heroes and characters in landscape and portrait and pinch and zoom to dive into even the tiniest details of the action. Barnes & Noble’s vast selection of NOOK Comics features the largest digital collection of Marvel’s graphic novels available through a third party, as well as titles from other leading publishers including Archie, IDW, Dynamite and Dark Horse.

The v3.1 update also includes NOOK Shop enhancements that allow folks to easily add or edit the default credit card associated to their account, as well as  un-archive content with a single tap in NOOK Library. The update is available now in the Google Play Store and you'll find the download link, past the break.

Source: Barnes & Noble

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3 years ago

The Telegraph to launch new Android application


The Telegraph, long respected British broadsheet newspaper, have announced they are to launch a new application for Android. 

Not content with just pushing their printed content to a mobile app, The Telegraph's offering will also bring with it breaking news, live financial data, picture galleries and video content. 

Perhaps the best feature though -- well for soccer football fanatics like myself -- is how The Telegraph will be handling their football coverage. Live scores, tables, fixtures and results are a given, but subscribers in the UK will also be able to access Premier League highlights courtesy of ESPN. Goals can even be viewed when a match is still being played. 

The usual social network sharing options are on board, so your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter can see the news stories you want to share with them. A customizable homepage is also thrown in for you to tailor the content you want to see.

Print subscribers -- and iPad subscribers if you're into that sort of thing -- will be able to take advantage of this application free of charge. The rest of us will have to pay a subscription fee, but The Telegraph are offering a free one month trial before you commit. No launch date has been given as yet, but is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. 

Source: The Telegraph

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3 years ago

Nova Launcher Prime [Android App Review]


YouTube link for mobile viewing

The first time we took a look at Nova Launcher, I could only pine away for the day I'd actually have a phone that could run it. Finally that time has come, so after consulting the Google+ populace to make sure I was making the right choice, I installed Nova Launcher and upgraded to the full, Prime-laden version. Let me tell ya, it was so worth it.

If Nova Launcher by itself is a completely superior launcher to the stock Ice Cream Sandwich launcher (and it is), Nova Launcher Prime takes it up to 11. When you upgrade to Prime you unlock swiping gestures for your phone, app hiding in your app drawer, dock swiping, and a whole host of cool scrolling effects.

Nova Launcher by itself is unbelievably awesome because it's so darn fast. Scrolling is fast, menus are fast, screen previews are fast. It's like the Speedy Gonzales of Ice Cream Sandwich launchers. And on my Galaxy Nexus, Nova Launcher Prime absolutely screams.

Nova Launcher Prime is also incredibly customizable. You can change how many homescreens you have, change the amount of icons on the dock, change the screen transitions, the folder background shape, how many docks you have, well, the list goes on and on. If you're a bit OCD about how your launcher operates (or just about what size your grid is), Nova Launcher will help you keep everything in check.

Last but not least, there's also a backup and restore function included, so in the event you lose everything (or get a new phone or do a ROM wipe or something), you can easily restore all of your settings that you so painstakingly put together once and save yourself both the heartache and time. It might seem like a small thing, but once you restore a launcher once, you'll wonder why you ever bothered to manually set one up again.

My final verdict? Nova Launcher Prime is the real deal. It's easily the best launcher for Ice Cream Sandwich that's out right now, and if you're rocking a phone with Android 4.0, at the very least, Nova Launcher (free) should be installed. It's that good. TeslaCoil Software knows how to produce great Android apps, and with Nova Launcher, they've kept their streak going.

Nova Launcher Prime is $4 in the Android Market Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

A number of European developers left waiting for Google Play payouts


Admittedly we're not all that versed on the ins and outs of how Google pays developers for apps purchased from the Android Market Google Play. But one thing we do know is an angry mob (editors are particularly good at spotting them), and one appears to be growing in the Google Checkout Merchant forums. In a nearly week-old thread with more that 100 posts, it seems a growing number of European devs have yet to receive payment for February. Almost worse is that they apparently aren't getting much in the way of explanation.

Developers are the lifeblood of any platform. (Perhaps you've heard.) Let's hope this gets straightened out soonest.

Source: Google Product Forums

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3 years ago

Android Central weekly photo contest: Photo filters and effects


With word that Instagram will soon be heading to Android, we all had better get ready for the invasion of photo filters and effects. It's not really new, we've been able to edit our pictures with hipster filters on Android for quite some time, but Instagram is sure to become hugely popular on Android -- Rene hits it right on the head as to why.

To prepare, this week's photo contest is all about the hipster effect. Grab a picture, grab an app, and get to work applying filters and/or effects -- or both. Some great free apps to do it with are PicsArt and PicSay from Google Play, and there are plenty of others -- I'm partial to LightBox myself -- so everyone can get in on this one. 

This week's prize is something new and cool that I want for myself -- the Smart Phone Sleeper. It's a universal stand that holds your phone just about anywhere, and would be perfect for a little night-time Netflix viewing or Youtube surfing. Winning one is easy:

  • Use an Android device to take a picture of something cool.
  • Use any method you like to apply some filters or effects to it.
  • Send it to pics@androidcentral.com, along with a name we can use and the model of Android you used to take it. Let us know what effects or apps you used, too. We like knowing this kind of stuff.
  • If you send in more than one, or send me a link instead of an attachment, your entry gets filed in the trash folder, so don't do that. I hate it when I have to do that.
  • Get me the pictures before the end of the night on Friday.

We'll pick the best 11 of the entries, then decide on the best of the bunch. We'll show you all of them Sunday afternoon. Now head down to the closest bodega, find something ironic, and take us a picture!

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3 years ago

Why privacy matters


Privacy is a hot subject across the Internet lately, and we think it's high time to dissect the mountains of information and pick out what's relevant amidst all the FUD and nonsense out there. You'll see a series here this week about privacy issues and policies, and the best way to kick it all off is to discuss why it matters in the first place.

The fact is, if you use and enjoy Google services you have to give up some privacy to get the most out of them. Things like Gmail and Google Voice don't cost money, but in order to make ads that are lucrative Google mines some of your data and can sell ads targeted at things you like. Advertisers love this, as it keeps big nerdy guys in West Virginia from seeing ads about women's shoes that they will just ignore, and instead shows ads about Android, computer parts, and fishing guides. Google has made this a huge business, and to keep it working, Google needs your data. Google does not sell mail or search -- it sells ads. For the most part, this isn't too intrusive. The data about you is kept in some odd string of computer generated numbers and is only used to display things you are likely to want to see. None of it is sold to anyone else, that would disrupt G's business model. That data is their cash cow. 

We trust Google to do the right thing with our personal information, and for the most part they have done so. But Google isn't the only game in town that's collecting data about you. Other ad networks, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and your cell carrier collect a good bit of information as well. We want to trust the big players, and don't think Facebook or Apple will sell your data away to some spammer (or worse), but when we get to the lower tier, where ad networks and smaller companies collect and store your information, things get a little muddy. If these can't be trusted (and we're not saying they can't) why is it important?

Imagine how you would feel if you lost your Android phone and didn't have it password locked. I could find it at Five Guys, open it up and look through everything. Besides the horrible things I could do with your pictures and accounts, I'd also have access to your contacts, your Internet history, your search history, and message archives. Even if you have nothing to hide, you wouldn't want me rifling through all that data. When apps and services have the same access, it's the same thing. I do not want the ad company that is being used in my favorite Android game to look through my Internet history. They would be bored, and find nothing incriminating, but I still don't want it to happen. Nor do I want some rogue app developer to steal that data and send it off to China. It's my data, and I want to know it's being treated properly. When I imagine it happening to my daughter, I get a little angry. Thankfully, those types of scenarios are few and far between. But they do happen

Data collection isn't inherently evil. It's a standard practice in today's digital world, and we've come to terms with it in some ways. It does need to be done correctly and handled securely, though. That's where the real issue lies -- we know the data is being collected, so can we trust those doing the collecting? That's a question each of us has to answer for ourselves -- we just want to spark the conversation. 

Look for plenty more on security and privacy coming up this week.

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3 years ago

Facebook updated, presumably fixes something


Android's Facebook app got an update today. Presumably something has been fixed in Version 1.8.4. But just like the last update, there's no changelog to be found, and Facebook's Android page just redirects to the Android Market Google Play.

(Aside: Seriously, developers. Enough of that shit. If you update your app, you tell us what's new. And Google, perhaps apps that update without changelogs shouldn't get your "Editor's Choice" badge of honor.)

Anyhoo. We digress. Download links are after the break if you need 'em.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

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3 years ago

Official Roku app arrives for Android


An official Roku Android app has been in the works for some time and was finally released at the beginning of March. There have been many unofficial apps available but it's nice to have the one developed by Roku itself. The app is a remote for the Roku box that allows you to directly control it with your Android device, so if you ever lose the tiny remote, don't worry! In order to connect your device with the Roku box, both will need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It doesn't matter which Roku box you own, this app is compatible with all of them.

The Roku app boasts a large set of features, including:

  • Launch or rate any Roku channel with a tap of your finger.
  • Use a touch remote control. Includes instant replay, back and options buttons as well as a keyboard for text entry.
  • Easily browse hundreds of channels and games in the Roku Channel Store.
  • Quickly add and remove channels to/from your Roku player.
  • Control and switch between multiple Roku players.

The app is available for free from Google Play. Please find links and more pictures after the break.

Source: Roku


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3 years ago

NCAA Tournament Android apps - Basketball apps at their best


The greatest sports playoff system -- college basketball's NCAA Tournament -- is upon us. The games have always been played at odd times, particulalrly those in the first couple of rounds. And since so many of us will be stuck at work, it's a must to have great mobile apps to keep you up-to-date on how your bracket is stacking up or how your favorite team is performing.

We've put together a collection of some of the best Android apps to help you out during March Madness. There are a lot out there, especially scoreboard apps, but these are the few that we feel rise above the rest. Enjoy! By the way, if you don't notice from the screenshots, I'm a Syracuse fan, so go Orange! Feel free to sing out in the comments which team you're rooting for.

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3 years ago

Readabilty for Android now available from Amazon - we've got your full review


Readability is the latest app to address the double-edged sword that is the modern smartphone browser. When the iPhone arrived on the scene in mid-2007 it ushered in the era of (mostly) complete access to the world-wide-web from handheld mobile devices. Up to that point even the most sophisticated mobile browsers such as Pocket Internet Explorer 4 would present a heavily pared down view of web-sites.

However, the comparatively few people that actually did anything more than check email with their phones did so through old-school WAP browsers. Readability is now available for free from the Amazon Appstore. We've got your full review after the break.

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3 years ago

Review: Boid Twitter client for Android


YouTube link for mobile viewing

I've always got my eyes peeled for the next great Twitter client on Android. Ever since I discovered Plume, I was hooked, but that doesn't mean I'm not open to the next best thing. Carbon looks like it'll give everyone a run for their money, but in the meantime, folks running Ice Cream Sandwich on their phones might want to direct their attention to Boid for Android, a Holo-themed, Android 4.0 exclusive that looks to tear you from the clutches of your favorite client and bring you to the Boid Side.

From the moment you open Boid for Android, the Holo look is immediately evident. Unfortunately, there's nothing to guide you through setup, either. After staring blankly at the screen for a few seconds, I realized the icon of a person next to a plus sign was my ticket in.

Adding an account is the same as with any other Twitter client (login via your browser into the Twitter website, grant access to the app), and from there, all the accounts you've added will show up on the screen. When you want to access a particular feed, you just tap that account. From there, the fun really begins.

You've got the requisite Timeline, Mentions, and Messages, but there's also a Trends feed on the far right. You move from column-to-column by swiping left and right. It's all very intuitive, looks absolutely great with the Holo theme, and for an alpha, is pretty darn stable, to boot. Refreshing is done via the "Pull to Refresh" mechanic made popular by other apps, and as far as I can tell, that's the only way.

At the bottom of the screen are your main Twitter commands: New Tweet, Search, and Profile. Each one of them acts just as you'd assume, and the New Tweet menu not only lets you write, but also lets you attach a picture, take a picture, and tag your geolocation. Sure, these are all standard Twitter functions, but to see it all in such an early alpha is excellent.

Tapping on someone else's Tweet pulls up a different contextual menu. From there you can reply, re-Tweet, check out their profile, or star the Tweet. When you're on someone else's profile you can also mention them, direct message them, or block them. I don't think Team Boid has yet implemented marking something/someone as spam.

Overall, I'm very, very pleased with where Boid for Android is at. For a free app, it's polished, relatively stable, and has plenty of reasons to become your next Twitter app. The developers have big plans for the future, too. Says Team Boid:

Features coming soon: save position in lists, finished tweetcomposer (media and location attachment), font size customization, background notifications for mentions and direct messages.

And later: a paid version (donation version), home screen widget (in the paid version), Twitlonger API (for posting tweets that are over 140 characters).

Not bad, right? Boid for Android is free in the Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

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3 years ago

Instagram on Android - Why you want it


Rene Ritchie is the editor of iMore.com and knows a thing or three about Instagram on iOS.

Why do you want Instagram on Android? Because Android users have the right to take beautiful, modern, digital pictures and filter them down to look like bad 1960s-era Polaroids just like iOS users. I kid. Seriously.

Instagram isn't Facebook or Twitter. It's not big or as broad. It's smaller and more sharply focused. More important, it doesn't exist on the web at all -- it's a purely mobile network. Sure, you can see individual Instagrams on the web, but that's all you can do on the official site -- just see individual Instagrams.

To take or upload, filter or share, your photos with the Instagram community, you need the mobile app, and right now that only exists on the iPhone. And that's a pity.

I joked about the filters at the beginning of this article, but the community is no joke. It's filled with passionate mobile photographers fully in tune with the idea that the best camera is the one you have with you, and the one you have with you is on your smartphone.

Android has some great camera phones like most everything from Samsung in the past year (save for the Galaxy Nexus), as well as some great photographers. And HTC's upcoming line looks to impress. And right now, as an Instagram user, I can't experience and appreciate their photography. I can't interact with them in place where other, like-minded mobile photographers are interacting with them without the annoyance or distraction of Tweets about politics or Likes of Bieber videos (whatever those are).

There are many iPhoneographers on Instagram whose work has elevated the medium well into the realms of art. Androidographers (live with it) deserve the same access and Instagram deserves the greater talent pool.

Android is a serious platform that's not always taken seriously by developers. It doesn't always get the great apps it deserves as fast as it deserves them. Instagram has taken its time coming to Android, but that it's coming is important. It's not as big a deal as Twitter or Facebook, but it's a much sharper deal, perhaps sharper even than Path.

Plus, Android's got gallery and sharing hooks that make some iPhone users green with envy. (Being able to share a photo as soon as you take it in the stock camera app is something you all take for granted.) 

Mobile photography is a big deal. Having Instagram on Android isn't just great for Instagram or Android, it's great for us.

Now please, for the love of Ansel Adams, go easy on those '60s filters when you get 'em, will you?

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