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4 years ago

Taking Android back to school -- apps every student should have

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Going back to school! 

It's that time of year again, when young men and women everywhere are packing their things, filling out student loan forms, and heading off to the hallowed halls of higher learning.  While those of us who are shipping off their kids can enjoy the lower utility bills and the freedom to wander naked to the kitchen for a midnight snack, for the students this time of year sure can be stressful.  Maybe we can't help you get the schedule you want, or tell you how to cope with that certain professor who let's you know "nobody gets an A in my class," but we can suggest an application or two that you might find useful.

Go get your microwave from student services, get your password from IT, and follow after the break to see Android Central's staff application picks for back to school!

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4 years ago

Lookout -- a full security solution for your Android phone

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 lookout security 

Here at Android Central, we don't just report the Android news and review the new gear. We actually use Android phones, so we're always searching for apps and tools that make our own phones work better for us. Lately, it seems like security issues (or overblown non-issues) are crawling out of the woodwork, so the search was on for a solution that takes care of any concerns, without getting in the way.

After all was said and done, Lookout seemed to rise to the top.  Not only does Lookout address any concerns you may have with malware, it turns out that it's an excellent backup and tracking solution.  Follow after the break, while I take a good look at Lookout and even put it through the paces a bit.

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4 years ago

Google responds to app piracy primer

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 piracy bad

Google has responded to an article written this week by Android Police that teaches how to subvert the new Android Market licensing server, issuing a quick acknowledgement, and a promise to revisit the situation soon.

The story clearly stated that it wasn't intended to show how to pirate apps, though it included directions (and even a video) telling how to hack your way around the new application security measures Google enabled in the Market recently.

Here's want Google is saying about the subject for now, as written by Tim Bray:

  • The licensing service, while very young, is a significant step forward in terms of protection over the plain copy-protection facility that used to be the norm. In the how-to-pirate piece, its author wrote: “For now, Google’s Licensing Service is still, in my opinion, the best option for copy protection.”
  • The licensing service provides infrastructure that developers can use to write custom authentication checks for each of their applications. The first release shipped with the simplest, most transparent imaginable sample implementation, which was written to be easy to understand and modify, rather than security-focused.
  • Some developers are using this sample as-is, which makes their applications easier to attack. The attacks we’ve seen so far are also all on applications that have neglected to obfuscate their code, a practice that we strongly recommend. We’ll be publishing detailed instructions for developers on how to do this.
  • The number of apps that have migrated to the licensing server at this point in time is very small. It will grow, because the server is a step forward.
  • 100% piracy protection is never possible in any system that runs third-party code, but the licensing server, when correctly implemented and customized for your app, is designed to dramatically increase the cost and difficulty of pirating.
  • The best attack on pirates is to make their work more difficult and expensive, while simultaneously making the legal path to products straightforward, easy, and fast. Piracy is a bad business to be in when the user has a choice between easily purchasing the app and visiting an untrustworthy, black-market site.

We have to agree here.  While the current system is not perfect, it's far better than no protection for developers at all.  And as Bray points out, the GLS is a place to start and a framework that developers on which developers can improve. Software piracy is always going to be a big concern for application developers, and tutorials about how to circumvent it will only keep the big software houses away from the Market.  

Make no mistake -- we promote and encourage hacking your phone, provided it's the "good hacking" we're talking about.  But unlocking, rooting and customizing hardware you paid for is very different from software theft.  We applaud Google for facing this one head on, and look forward to their follow up.  [Android Developers Blog]

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4 years ago

Android App Review: Galcon [video]

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Before switching to Android, Galcon easily was my favorite game on the iPod Touch. The developer has been hard at work and has finally released a full port of the game for Android. To play, you use your single starting planet to launch ships to expand and fight opponents for control of the map. Basically, "all your planets are belong to us" sums it up nicely.

You get five game types in single player; each has its own twist on the gameplay. A scalable AI difficulty means you will always have a challenge. The real meat of the game is in the multiplayer, which works great over Wifi and 3G connections. You get up to four player free-for-alls along with 2v2 or 1v1 servers, if that is more your thing. The game also features full leaderboards and forums on the devloper's website.  

Galcon is out now on the Android Market for $2.99 and is quite honestly a steal considering how much time you will spend on it. Check out my video review past the break to see internet spaceships in action and the usual market links. 

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4 years ago

Flightview Android travel app updated, improves itineraries, battery life

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FlightView for AndroidFlightView for Android

Android travel app Flightview -- read our initial review -- just announced an upgrade, adding a trio of improvements. They are:

  • Manage Travel Itineraries - with the updated My Trips feature, users can save grouped flights together, record reservation information and personal notes, and sort saved flights by trip name or date.
  • Plan for Flight Delays – with the upgraded airport delay map, including the new “Low Traffic” indicator, users can get first looks at probable delays in departures or arrivals – ahead of airline announcements.
  • Conserve Battery Life – by optimizing FlightView’s servers, the new Android app allows users to track numerous flights at the same time, share travel information through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and quickly rebook when flights are delayed or cancelled – all without draining the smartphone’s battery life.

Still missing is support for automatic itinerary -- such as you get through Tripit -- but we're still expecting it at some point. Flightview has been downloaded by more than 40,000 users since its launch in late July, the developer says. It's in the Android Market for 99 cents. Download links after the break. [Press release]

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4 years ago

Twitter for Android updated to 1.0.3

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twitter for Android update

Late last night we noticed that Twitter for Android (the "official" Android Twitter app) was updated to 1.0.3 without a changelog. (Seriously? Changelogs should be mandatory in the Market listing, folks.) After some digging, I found a semi-explanatory post on Twitter (where else to best find Twitter client updates?) explaining that the new version was a patch for some bug fixes, and the client has been improved so that it now uses OAuth for signing in to Twitter.  And nothing earth-shattering or magical was seen.   Grab the update from the Market, if you don;t have Twitter for Android installed, you can grab it after the break.  [via Twitter]

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4 years ago

Google Earth updated to 1.1, brings the exploration of the oceans

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Google Earth for Android

Google Earth for Android has been updated to version 1.1, which allows users to explore the oceans in great detail. Now, you are able to zoom in underneath the surface and explore the terrain that makes up nearly 70 percent of our Earth. 

Included in the 1.1 update:

  • A layer called "Explore the Oceans," which features hundreds of photos and videos submitted by users 
  • The gold highlighted icons represent those submitted by the Mission Blue Hope Spot Initiative

There are also features only for those with 2.2 (Froyo):

  • Supports Flash in balloons, which means that you can watch videos directly in the balloons
  • Also, the application was made easier to navigate, with Google allowing users to roam around with two fingers rather than the on-screen controls

This update will work with most devices with 2.1 (Eclair) or higher. If you want to download it, links are after the break. [Google Mobile Blog Spot]

 

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4 years ago

Text message speed record broken on a Galaxy S using Swype

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Swype record text 

Mellisa Thompson, of Salford, England, has broken the Guinness World Record for the fastest texter, using Swype on a Samsung Galaxy S with a time of 25.94 seconds.  The previous record of 35.54 seconds, held by Franklin Page of the U.S. was also set using a Samsung phone (the Omnia II) using Swype.  We're glad to see this one come to Android :)

For all the aspiring record breakers out there, the "official" text used is:

"The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."

Punctuation and capitalization counts, so none of that ez txt spk.  Unfortunately, Swype is still in closed beta, so we can't help you there.  If you have what it takes, fire up the camera and send in a video -- we'll see that it gets to the right place if you can beat the record!  [Google News]

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4 years ago

Android Quick App: Worldmate

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Worldmate Android travel app

I might have just found my perfect Android travel app. Worldmate is now in beta for Android, and it pretty much combines every feature I need in an app to keep me pointed in the right direction while on the road.

You'll start by either signing in or signing up with Worldmate, which was painless enough. Then you sign into the app and are greeted by the screen you see above. Let's work our way down.

  • My trips: There's no manually inputting flights here. Like with some other travel apps, you'll e-mail your itinerary-- flights, hotel, etc. -- to Worldmate, which snags the details and forwards them to your phone. Once it's there, you have flight info, maps, ticket info, weather, the works. You can share your trips and get reminders all on your phone.
  • Book a hotel: Just like it sounds. Book a hotel from your phone through Hotels.com.
  • Weather forecast: Get the weather in your city, cities you're slated to visit, or search for a city's weather.
  • Currency converter: Figure out how much something costs between dozens of currencies.
  • Travel notification: Customize your notifications.

For me, it comes down to a few things: The ability to upload entire itineraries at once, maps, weather and flight info -- and the all-important confirmation number -- all in once place. I'm going to have to use this on the road to give it final judgment. But the early verdict is that, at least for me, it combines the right info with enough UI juice to keep me up to date but not overwhelmed. Check out more screen shots after the break, and get your beta copy now. [Worldmate]

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4 years ago

Developer: Android is a viable revenue stream, posts numbers to prove it

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Advanced Task Manager

Aaron La, the developer behind Advanced Task Manager, has opened his books and gives us some interesting insight into the Android Market, profitability and his own opinions of the market.We'll let Aaron break down the numbers for you, but some interesting points:

  • The free version of ATM can bring in as much or more advertising revenue monthly than straight sales of its 99-cent counterpart.
  • Aaron hasn't quit his day job, but an average of $10,000 a month is quite a lot of pocket change.
  • Google Checkout and the Market app themselves are a couple of big anchors holding back Android. (And that's a sentiment certainly echoed by a whole lot of people).
  • The 24-hour return policy isn't evil.

Give the entire blog post a read. It's a good one. [Aaronla.com via @romainguy]

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4 years ago

Android Quick App: Zune Home launcher

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Zune Home launcher replacement for Android

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued by what Windows Phone 7 will be bringing to the proverbial smartphone table in a few short months. And so when we ran across the Zune Home launcher replacement [via FrAndroid], I had to give it a shot. It's a 99-cent launcher replacement that roughly mimics the UI of the Zune and (even more roughly) Windows Phone 7. It's definitely not the same experience, though it has potential. Check out the video and download links after the break.

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4 years ago

Trillian multi-client IM app now in open beta for Android

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Trillian IM chat

Who has two thumbs, seven Android phones and has a hankering for some multi-client instant messaging on Android? This guy. The popular desktop IM client Trillian is now in open beta for Android for a limited time. With it, you can keep up with your pals on AIM, Gtalk, IRC, Mobile Me, Facebook, MySpaceIM, Yahoo and a handful of other protocols, all from a single app on your phone.

Along with the usual Trillian support, you get tabbed chats, landscape mode, and can sent emoticons, photos and send pings (oh boy) to your friends "to demand attention."

The beta period won't last forever, and the app will expire at the end of the beta (at which time we'll likely have to pay for it. So snag it now and give it a shot. [Trillian]

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4 years ago

From the Forums -- aHome 4 beta released

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aHome beta 4  aHome Beta 4

Whether you're getting tired of the vanilla look, or feeling like PhilBlur just isn't for you, or just ready to try something new, the good people at Mappn have delivered. We looked at aHome 4 a few weeks back when we got hold of some leaked screen shots, and now you can, too.  The developers are actively seeking feedback, and looking for some artistic types to work up some more themes as well.  Give it a look! [Android Central forums]

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4 years ago

Custom recovery for Droid X -- almost there

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Droid X recovery

Android hacker Koush has done it again, this time by creating a method to (almost) have his famous Clockwork recovery on the Motorola Droid X.  He does state that this isn't a "real" recovery, and there's a big list of caveats and issues attached. Frankly, unless you understand the cautions and warnings pointed out, wait another week before giving it a whirl.  I don't think this can brick your X, but it could leave you scratching your head and feeling helpless while it refuses to boot up.

The good news -- this is Koush we're talking about.  If anyone can work magic on a Moto, he can.  He already has plans to get this in Rom Manager, which will make things easier, and while the locked and encrypted bootloader may keep a full custom recovery from ever happening, you can bet this working method will be refined and made more usable in the near future. 

Moto, we love you.  We love your Android phones.  Do you see now that it isn't worth it?  As long as you make handsets we want to buy, we will find a way to open them up.  Save yourself the headache, and the money and stop locking down your phones, please.

We're not going to give any download links for this one, because each and every person who plans to use it needs to read the warnings from the developer himself.  You can find those, as well as download information in the source link.  [MyBrainHurts -- Koushik Dutta's blog]

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4 years ago

Symantec's latest -- Tapsnake: watching your every move?

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Tapsnake

Symantec has found more malware in the Android Market1, even going so far as to give the app it's own 'viral' name AndroidOS.Tapsnake.  Symantec states that Tapsnake sends your GPS data, and users with another application can read your location.  And they're right -- but read further and you'll see that calling this any type of threat is as silly as developing it in the first place.

In Symantec's own words:

"For the application to really be used maliciously, an attacker would need to have access to the phone to install the program. For it to work, an email address and “key” must be typed into the phone running AndroidOS.Tapsnake. This same registration information must later be typed into the phone running GPS Spy." 

In other words, you not only have to download a Snake game that tells you it's going to use your GPS data, you also have to enter a keyword, and the e-mail address of the person who will be doing the spying.

There are real threats out there, but this isn't one I'm going to worry about.  Watch what you download and use the tiniest bit of common sense and you'll be just fine.  [Symantec]

1. author's note: I tried seven different Android phones, and couldn't find Tap Snake on the Android Market.  Symantec says it is available, so your mileage may vary.

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