As we first told you last night, a developer test Market has surfaced, along with a new version of the Music application from Google. Here's your (and mine) chance to get some hands-on time with both, as they have been leaked out in the Android Central forums. Your're warned to have a full backup before trying these, and mentions a few different methods to install them. On stock Android 2.3.3, they both installed and overwrote the normal system apps, but your mileage may vary.
We also have a bit of new anonymous information about exactly what we're seeing:
"As for the test bed it is actually the android developers market related testing site for new versions of the market, security fixes, and the new in-app billing. Gallery 3D & Desk Clock are not available on gingerbread devices, Camera v12 is a redesigned camera that only has a different icon and background color inside the app. And the Android Music Store can only be accessed if you have an android music account."
As I said last night, it's pretty cool to get a peek behind the scenes of Google's closed-source stuff, even if most of it isn't that useful. You can find a link to both the Market and Music app at the source, with no guarantees how long either will work -- so hurry, hackers :)
We also have a couple more pictures of the Music player after the break. [Android Central forums] Thanks, Anonymous!
Domino Solitaire is a new puzzle game on the Android Market, and I, for one, am loving it. It's a great way to spend a little quiet time exercising your gray matter, and it's fun. Some puzzle games are too easy to offer a challenge, while some are too difficult to make you want to return for more. Domino Solitaire falls right into the in-between space that makes a great app. Paired with the big 10.1 inch display on the Motorola Xoom, and it's something we had to take a better look at.
The premise is simple -- a domino deck is used to draw a board, and you have to try to find out which domino is which. It's not as easy as it sounds, because each domino will fit in multiple places until you start getting some of them filled in. It sounds much more confusing than it really is, and in just a few minutes you'll have it down and be hunting dominoes like a pro. As a bonus, you also have the game Buccaneer Domino, which ramps up the difficulty a bit. The objective is to place the double tiled dominoes on the bottom of seven stacks. You can move dominoes from one stack to another, as long as at least one side of each matches. The trick is that each stack can only hold five tiles, so there's a lot of strategy involved. I haven't been able to beat this one yet, but I'm having a lot of fun trying.
Both games have clear and easy-to-understand gameplay, and should provide a lot of fun to anyone who is a fan of relaxed single-player games. Domino Solitaire is free on the Market for Android 2.0.1 and up, works on both phones and tablets, and will install to the SD card on Android 2.2 or higher. The download link, and a video are after the break.
This isn't, strictly speaking, just an Android issue. But enough of you Android peeps have pinged us over ESPN's text alert service no longer working on Sprint's network that we'll make an exception. It seems you're getting a text message that declares:
Alerts Unavailable Dear Sprint / Boost / Nextel / Virgin Mobile subscribers, ESPN Alerts are no longer available from your carrier. We apologize for the inconvenience, however, our service is available across most other US Carriers.
And that sucks. Because ESPN's also announcing this on its text alert sign-up page, We're willing to bet it's a money thing (when is it not?) and that it has nothing to do with your using an Android phone. (Which makes you a pretty awesome person.) And unfortunately it means Boost, Virgin and Nextel are caught in the crossfire. Let's hope they get this worked out soonest. But in the meantime, you could give a full-fleged ESPN app a shot. [ESPN] Thanks to everyone who sent this in.
Update: And just like that, we get a tip about what's really going on. Here 'tis:
It's not a "money thing" in the traditional sense. They didn't give us a real clear picture of what's going on, but ESPN offers these messages free of charge to ESPN.com members, and Sprint is going to start charging their customers for each individual text message, regardless of having an unlimited messaging package. ESPN really isn't going to put up with it being "free," yet not free.
I'll admit, coming from mostly a BlackBerry background I struggled when hopping onto Android in finding some apps that fit my needs. Not due to lack of apps, but mostly due to the fact there were so many to choose from. RSS readers, for example, was one genre in particular that stuck out as having plenty of options, but none that seemingly fulfilled my needs.
Luckily, I came across GoodNews Google Reader, which fit nicely into what I was looking for. Given that I maintain a lot of RSS feeds, GoodNews handles them and the sharing aspect of RSS feeds quite nicely. The ability to listen to and play podcasts from with the app itself was an added bonus. While in beta the app did have some rough edges but for the most part they are now a thing of the past. Jump on past the break for a full list of features built into the app.
The WWE's "Tough Enough" wrestling reality show returns to the USA Network tonight at 11:05 p.m. EST -- right after Wrestlemania XXVII and "Raw" -- and along with it comes a brand new Android application. It's designed to be used while you watch the show, with check-in features that allow you to compete against your friends, plus hidden features that will be unlocked during the show. You'll also earn points that can be redeemed through USA's Tough Club program, chat with your friends and other "Tough Enough" fans during the program.
Android and the WWE. Nice. Look for the app to go live this evening. We've got more screenshots after the break. [Tough Enough]
Widgets are a big part of Android, providing information at a glance without having to go through the steps of opening an application. Beautiful Widgets has been a long time favorite of both fan and Android Central staff alike, and when we heard that Levelup Studio had released a public beta of a tablet version, we had to go hands-on. It's not perfect -- beta software never is -- but it's stable, and lives up to the beautiful part of the app name. Having said that, the toggle widgets aren't 100 percent just yet, but the clocks, weather, and battery widgets work like a champ.
Hit the break to see a quick video of them in action on the Xoom, as well as a download link for both the public beta and the full, paid Market version (Android 1.5 and up) and a link to the wallpaper before you even have to ask. [Android Central forums]
Many people have a love/ hate relationship with the Android market, and often times it is understandable. While having tons of apps to chose from, sometimes there are too many of a certain type, and it is hard to know what is good, and what you should pass on downloading. Let's hit the break, and take a look at some of our personal favorites for this week.
We have discussed the battery life of the HTC Thunderbolt a time or two, and we have seen some ways to turn off the 4G connection, but none of them were as simple as a toggle on your home screen. The folks at TeamAndIRC were nice enough to go ahead and create a 4G LTE toggle for the HTC Thunderbolt, that allows for a quick and easy way to turn the connection on or off. Nothing overly fancy, a simple toggle that allows you to select whether you want the connection on or off, so head to the market, and grab it for yourself. Download information after the break.
4shared, the popular file sharing site, has released an Android application allowing users the same access to their 4shared account on their Android device that they have on their computer. You can manage (or create) your 4shared account, upload and download files, search for other files, and copy already hosted files to your own account, right from the app. There's also a picture viewer and video player built into the app itself, so you can check out any downloaded media without leaving the app.
While it's true that services like this quite often are used to share copyrighted material, they also can be used for legally distributable files as well. Many Android themers and modders use 4shared, so you now have a quick way to download those files right to your phone. If you're a 4shared user, you'll certainly find this useful. It's free for devices running Android 2.1 or higher, and download links and the press release are after the break.
If you're a parent with teenagers, then you'll likely know all too well that bullying amongst youths is something that is a severe issue and happens each and every single day. With bullying reaching new peaks as technology grows, so do the means of preventing it from happening. New apps are released daily in an effort to better assist in cyber bullying prevention and one of the latest to hit the market is Bully Block. While simple in its use Bully Block has some great features baked into it for Android smartphones.
Bully Capture - Bully Capture utilizes a stealth recorder to captures bullies within the act. When a bully approaches, the user pushes a button on the app and the cell phone will go into stealth mode and secretly record the bully. After the recording, the user can forward the audio as an email attachment or text message to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, Audio can be downloaded to the bully file to authenticate the bully’s voice for legal evidence.
Bully Blacklist - Bully Block has a unique blacklist feature that allows users to block all sms or mms messages from bullies. When the bully calls after being blacklisted, her or she will either hear a busy signal or pre-recorded message. All phone calls and text message from blocked list are automatically routed to the bully file thereby preventing any communication with the bully and storing numbers as evidence.
Bully File - Bully File captures all texts, pictures, and videos that the user copies to the file. The cyberbully incidents are logged on the user’s SD card to be used as evidence for parents, school administrators, HR departments, and law enforcement. The evidence collected in the bully file will provide enough info for law enforcement to charge bullies with crimes.
Instant Reporting - Bully Block allows the user to forward inappropriate texts, pics, or videos via text messaging or email. Teens can forward information to their parents or school officials in real time. Employees can forward information to their HR department.
Will Bully Block stop all bullying from happening? Not likely. But, prevention against it is a start in taking a stance. If you're interested in learning more, you can jump on past the break for the full press release or hit the source link for the full details. [Bully Block]
At it's heart, SPB Shell 3D is like any other launcher. You have a number of preconfigured home screens and widgets, and you can tweak things to your liking. SPB has designed Shell 3D with a number of slick animations, including the weather widget and world clock. And you can spin your way from one home screen to another with ease. It's pretty slick, and we could easily use SPB Shell 3D as our launcher.
Only real problem is the price. At $14.95, it's priced itself out of the consumer launcher market. There are just too many free and inexpensive options. On the other hand, SPB has made no secret that it's marketing its SPB UI Engine toward manufacturers, so don't be surprised if you see built in to upcoming phones.
SPB Shell 3D is available for Android smartphones running Android 2.1 and up, so long as they have an OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible graphic controller. If you can part with the cash, we've got download links after the break.
If you love using widgets and enjoy the look of a nice, simple, clean looking home screen you won’t want to delay the download of Minimalistic Text any further. This widget, which is really 11 different widgets in one, allows you to display a variety of different information on their home screen in text form. Whether you want to display the time, date, temperature, weather, or battery percentage on your screen you can do so easily with this application.
Minimalistic Text allows near-complete control of the design of the widgets, ranging from widget size, text direction, alignment, color, and nearly anything else you could think of. There are a bunch of preset designs layouts, but they don’t limit you to use only those, users can create a custom layout with the information of their choice and have that displayed instead. Once the widgets are set, simply clicking on them allows them to be changed again, so if you want to change the text size, color, background or anything else. For the amazing price of free in the Android market, this is an application that many will find use for, as there is a widget for just about everyone in it. Download links available after the break.
The mobile version has the same rendering engine as the desktop version of Firefox, with full HTML5 support. And you've got full access to add-ons, too. Plus there's the sync function that lets you take your bookmarks, passwords, log-ins and even individual tabs on the go.
Still need convincing? Video highlights and download links are after the break. [Mozilla]
Let's face it, these days not everyone has the time -- or desire to sit down in front of the TV and catch up on all the latest news. National Public Radio, or NPR if you prefer, has recently updated the Android version of its services, which allows you to listen and read news more, catered to your interests on the go. Some great changes took place within the app to make it easier than ever to take in the information you prefer most. They've updated the UI, added a new audio player and improved the whole user experience and now you can:
Read, listen, or create a playlist of your favorite NPR stories and share with friends.
Hear live streams from hundreds of NPR stations: search by location (GPS) or zip code / call letters
Listen to programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me More
The updated version is available now in the Android Market. If you frequent listening to NPR or have tried the app in the past and weren't impressed -- try the new improved version. Download can be found after the break for you all.
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