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2 years ago

Getting your apps ready for Ice Cream Sandwich [developers]

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With the release of Ice Cream Sandwich looming on the horizon, Android lead tech writer Scott Main has taken some time to talk to developers about how to get Honeycomb-only apps ready for the smaller screen.  When ICS is released, and going forward from that point, the Android code for phones and tablets will be the same, just displayed differently based on screen size.  Because of the different devices available, tools and methods were built into Android to handle how things are shown to the user.   Using fragments and the action bar, apps can be built that show information in one big view, or split into separate screens for devices with lower resolutions.

Scott goes over all the tecnical aspects well at the Android Developers blog (see the source link below), and gives developers a lot of ideason how to get started when the ICS SDK finally arrives.  What you can do right now if you've developed and app for SDK 11 or higher is make sure it's only available for large screen devices in the Android Market, at least until you can implement some of the new changes coming with ICS.  Now all that's missing is the update, which should be pretty soon we think.

Source: Android Developers

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2 years ago

Android Wallpaper Review: Mystic Halo Live Wallpaper

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I'm not sure what this wallpaper reminds me of, but it's cool. Maybe Tron? Maybe the last boss fight in Deus Ex: Human Revolution? A plane engine? It's hard to nail down, but I know I've seen something like it before, and like then, it intrigues me.

That's the essence of Mystic Halo Live Wallpaper. Rotating rings, glowing, responding to your touch, etc. It's all pretty compelling visually, and fortunately, it doesn't drag your phone down.

Mystic Halo Live Wallpaper has a pretty full settings menu, too, assuming you buy the paid version. From here you can change the fade scheme (linear, heartbeat, or none), changing little things like the center staying lit or even glowing.

You can also set the rotation pattern (random, alternating, or sync), and enable or disable touch events. Touch events are kind of interesting; swipe a finger or something the the wheels will go crazy. Tap the screen and they'll return to their normal speed. Kind of irritating sometimes, also kind of cool.

Mystic Halo Live Wallpaper doesn't have unique color picking yet, but it does support seven colors. If cool blue isn't your thing, you can also choose from: antique pink, magenta, red, crisp green, tron blue, and MagBlue. MagBlue is the only two-toned color of the whole set, but I'm hoping that will complete color customization (coming in a later update), the ability to choose two colors is also included.

On the performance side, I didn't notice any lag on my EVO 3D. Screens swipe quickly. Not sure if it's the beefy phone or a well made wallpaper, or both. The developer says his wallpaper truly stays in the background and doesn't interfere, and if performance on my phone is any indication, he's telling the truth.

There are both paid and free versions of Mystic Halo Live Wallpaper, with the paid version only costing 99 cents. If you do opt to go all-in and pay the buck for it, you'll open up the touch events, multiple fade options, rotation control and other "special effects." If you can live without that, the free version'll do you fine, but this looks like a really quality wallpaper, and it goes easy on the battery.

We've got more pictures and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Amazon Appstore looks to be rolling out internationally

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It looks like the Amazon Appstore for Android is finally rolling out across the world, following its US-only launch earlier in the year. Reports are appearing from a variety of sources in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and India suggesting that customers in these countries can now directly download the Appstore and use it to install free or paid apps.

There's still no official link to the Amazon Appstore on any international Amazon sites, but we found that visiting by visiting www.amazon.com/app-email on our phones, we could download the app and sign in using Amazon UK login details. From there, we were able to grab the free Kindle app and the paid Angry Birds app, as you'll see in the shots above. It should be noted that prices are still charged in US dollars, so if you're oversees then your card provider may charge an additional fee to handle transactions in a foreign currency.

If you're anywhere that's not the United States, then be sure to try directly installing the app from the link in this post (you'll need to enable non-Market apps first), and let us know how you fare in the comments.

Source: The Digital Reader

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2 years ago

Android Game Review: Greedy Spiders

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I don't like bugs but I do like puzzles. I'm not particularly fond of spiders, either (too many eyes and legs for my taste), so the idea of depriving them of their meal seemed like a good enough premise to give a whirl. The result is many an hour lost and homework neglected.

Greedy Spiders is a turn-based puzzle game where you (as some omnipotent, web-cutting force) are trying to outwit a spider (presumably a greedy one) and keep him from his meal of winged insect. This is done by touching a slice of web to cut it away and therefore keep the spider from getting from place to place.

Webs are set up in what I can best describe as a connect-the-dot format. There are points that webs connect to and it's at these points the spider can pivot around, change directions, and the like. You also take turns with the spider, with your move always going first. You snip some web, the spider walks, you snip again, so on and so forth.

If your bug gets eaten, you lose. If you manage to save your bug(s) from the spider, though, you win and advance to the next level. You're rewarded with stars for completing a level, Angry Birds-style, with one star being the utmost minimum and three stars for totally spaking some spider heiny.

The game also ramps up in difficulty, starting you off with only one bug to save and one spider trying to eat it. As you continue through the levels, you'll be tasked with saving more than one bug (I'm at four right now) from one spider. Once you're all buttered up and comfortable, however, you'll have to start contending with more than one spider trying to eat more than one bug. That's where it gets a bit stressful.

To ease your pain in the later levels, sometimes you're rewarded with some powerful options and abilities, but they're limited. You can sometimes wield fire to burn large sections of web away, put a dummy bug on the web to distract and fool a spider, or even "invoke a supernatural power" to teleport your bug off the web. The last one kind of escapes me, but hey, it's at your disposal.

Greedy Spiders is a pretty fun game. The graphics are well done, it's smooth, and there's a lot of content to explore. Just when you think you've begun to get the hang of things, another variable is introduced, and you're back to square one, fighting for your bug's survival.

There's both a free version and a paid version of Greedy Spiders, with the paid version running 99 cents. The free version only has 64 of the 128 levels, so if you don't mind starting over, you could play through the first 64 to make sure you enjoy it before spending a buck to get the rest of the game. In my opinion, it's another in the line of quality pseudo-puzzle games on Android and is totally worth checking out.

For those hankering to stick it to some spiders, we've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

The next generation of Reading Rainbow coming soon to Android with RRKidz

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Reading Rainbow is a renowned program for children hosted by LeVar Burton. For 25 years the show encouraged kids to read, exploring literature through themes, activities, and recommendations. Winning over 200 awards over the course of the show, it was sad to see it end in 2006, though now it seems it's making a comeback, in a different form.

RRKidz is the next generation of Reading Rainbow. Coming soon to Android, RRKidz will allow children to explore topics through voice-over books, videos, and games. LeVar Burton is the company's "Curator-in-Chief" and will be overseeing every detail of the project. The free app is not available yet, but will be soon on select Android devices. Full press release is after the break.

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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for Sept 17, 2011

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We know you love apps, and part of what makes us the best Android site around is that we love to share our favorite apps with you each week. This week we got a whole lot for you, so grab a snack, and a drink, and hit the break as we check out some of our favorites yet again!

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2 years ago

Android Game Review: A Space Shooter for Free

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I buy a lot of games. Some are just a buck, some are a couple of dollars, but sometimes I'm just itching to find a really sweet free game to try out and mess around with. I stumbled upon A Space Shooter for Free today, which takes the old, retro shooter genre and adds some over-the-top characters to produce a pretty fine little game.

You take the helm of the USS Eradicator as Commander P. Jefferson, a rough-talking, alien-thumping pilot who wants nothing more than to take out as many aliens as he can, anywhere. The Commander (and all the other characters you meet) are all voice acted, which is pretty unique for an Android game, and their voice actors all knock it outta the park.

Gameplay is just what you'd expect from a retro space shooter. You control a lone, tiny ship against hordes of other alien ships that want nothing more than to remove you from the map. Fortunately, most aliens of the grunt variety end up getting offed with only one shot from your ship, so you've got that advantage.

As far as graphics are concerned, this game is tops. Ship models are pretty detailed considering their size and there's a lot of variety on the screen. From the oodles of weapons you'll pick up to the oodles of weapons you'll try to avoid, there's lots of eye candy to keep you engaged. Add in a variety of different environments, some packing giant space rocks (meteors? asteroids?) and other environmental issues, and you'll begin to notice just how much detail was put into the game.

Controls are all done via the touch screen with no virtual joysticks. Move your finger along the screen and the ship will follow suit, shooting along the way. Being right-handed, I usually ended up getting exploded when I had to turn to my left thumb, but with a bit more practice, I'm sure I'll be fine.

A Space Shooter for Free is a pretty rad game, especially considering it's (mostly) free. You can unlock more bosses, difficulty levels, and weapons for $1.01 (what's with the penny?) using an in-app purchase you'll see on the main screen. A Space Shooter for Free is also OpenFeint enabled, so for the achieve-chasers in the crowd, there's more for you to do.

At any rate, get the free version cause it's awesome. We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Android Game Review: Emissary of War

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

First things first: I know the video says iDevices. Obviously I didn't make it, but it's gorgeous and really captures the game experience better than any video I could do. With that out of the way, know this: Emissary of War is one of the best games on Android right now and probably the best game in its genre right now.

Emissary of War is epic. It takes the feeling or idea of a console or PC game and puts it on Android for us to enjoy. The first thing I immediately thought of when I saw the environments was World of Warcraft. Nerdy, I know, but that's what the open world and graphics and textures all reminded me of. It also kind of reminds me of say, Diablo, since you're walking around, fighting bad guys, and adding skills to your repertoire as you go along. Like I said, it's epic.

The story has got to be one of the best I've seen on Android, too. If someone decided to blow this out into an entire game, I wouldn't be surprised, and I hope more chapters are coming (eventually). You are Ghent, barbarian on a task to do some barbarian things and fight a bunch of bad guys along the way. Your companion is the trusty Hassock, a nice, bald-headed alchemist who gives you support via potions and has a bit of an issue with balance (he trips often).

Go from chapter-to-chapter, slaying baddies, picking up gold and runes, and upgrading your arsenal. There's an entire shop that has weapons for Ghent, potions for Hassock, and a slew of status upgrades for both of them. It's entirely up to you how you spend them, which is such an awesome thing.

Controls are all done via pointing. Tap a place on the screen, Ghent walks there and Hassock follows him. That's it. Tap on a bad guy to attack him. You can also control Hassock's potion queue by picking what order he'll throw things in. Ghent also has a sweet rage move he can use when his rage meter gets filled up. Depending on what sword he's got equipped will affect what rage move he does, though.

Graphically, I'm pretty blown away. There's real character models here and unique characters actually look special and unique. The legions of bad guys you take down all have the same face, but I wouldn't expect things to get that detailed. This game looks great, though. Environments, weapons, potions, everything. It's really a marvel to see something like this on Android.

Performance-wise, the only time my Thrive even remotely stuttered is when there were 15+ enemies on the screen and I was using a rage attack that hit everyone. Otherwise, this game runs well. There's no stutter, there's no lag.

Emissary of War is $1. Go and buy it, trust me. I think the entire story took me a couple of hours, but it was awesome. There were twists, there were turns. It's entirely voice acted, for cryin' out loud. This is truly a gem of a game and anyone who even remotely cares about Android gaming owes it to themselves to play it.

We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

FlightAware app now available for Android

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One of my favorite flight tracking websites soft-launched its Android App earlier this month. FlightAware is one of the most in-depth aviation websites around, with tons of content, tracking and information for those in the cockpit or sitting back in the cheap seats.

The Android app has all of the flight tracking you're used to from the website -- you can track by flight number, tail number or route. You can look up airport info (by name or airport code) as well, and see airport delays for the major hubs nationwide. If you're registered with FlightAware's website, you also can access your saved airports, aircraft and alerts.

The app is easy to use, but the maps could be a little smoother, and we'd kill to see Tripit support. FlightAware's not yet going to take over as our No. 1 travel app just yet, but it's certainly a strong showing for an initial launch.

We've got hands-on video, the press release and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Android Game Review: Age of Zombies

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Zombies, zombies, everywhere! In fact, not only are they everywhere, they're also every time. Such is the issue facing the world in Age of Zombies, thanks to a huge jerk named Professor Brains. (Don't worry, he gets his.) Enter protagonist Barry Steakfries, who quickly gets to what he does best: shooting things.

From there you begin your epic tale of bouncing around different eras in history, shooting zombies. You start off in prehistoric times with a brief tutorial, reduce a bunch of zombies to meaty pulp, and then move on your way. From there you'll encounter zombie cavemen, zombies who took that dumb time travel portal, and zombie T-Rex's. Yeah, you read that right.

Controls are done via two virtual joysticks (one on the left, one on the right), with the left controlling movement and the right controlling your gun. Both respond really well (especially on a tablet!), but if you're like me and end up moving your thumb too far off the joystick, prepare to get munched on by some zombies.

The graphics are really good looking (both on a phone and tablet) and while there's not full-blown voice acting, Barry does sort of mumble/grunt out whatever new weapon you've picked up. So picking up a 1UP sounds like "Hehhgstra life!" But he's Barry Steakfries and that's exactly how I'd expect him to sound (think Rocky after he'd gone the distance with Apollo Creed), so it works.

Gameplay is fun, if not a little repetitive. It's repetitively entertaining though, so it never seems to get old or boring. Just when you think you can get complacent, some giant samurai zombie is going to pop out and keep you on your toes until he's been reacquainted with the earth. Have your finger slip off of the joystick and watch the zombies come barrelling down on you from every side. It'll keep you working (and having fun), and that much is worth it to me.

Age of Zombies runs $2.99 in the Android Market, but for a game that runs on tablets just as well as phones, that's a steal. Keep in mind this game comes to us from the same team that developed Fruit Ninja, so if you're expecting anything less than awesome, you might need to up your standards. Age of Zombies is fun. And there's zombies in it. Isn't that enough for anyone?

We've got download links after the break.

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