Google just unleashed an update to Google Voice, introducing "direct access numbers" in hopes of speeding the process of placing calls. Here's how it's explained on the Google Voice Blog:
Until today, the Google Voice app had to make a request to the Google Voice server every time you wanted to make a call to send us the phone number you wanted to dial. Then the call would be connected via a Google Voice access number. With direct access numbers, we assign a unique phone number to every person you call. This means that we no longer need to use your data network to access the server each time you make a call, so calls will be placed much faster.
Ah, so. All you have to do is update your Google Voice app on your phone, and you should be good to go. (And Google Voice remains a U.S.-only venture for now, sorry, folks.) [Google Voice Blog] Thanks, Nighthawk700!
The summer is a time when many people travel to new places, whether for fun or work, and sometimes you land in a place where you have no idea what there is to do around you. TripAdvisor, a well known source of tons of great information about travel related topics that come in handy while on the go, has just released an Android version of their application to put all their information in your pocket. With over 35 million reviews of various places you are bound to find something exciting to do in the city you don't quite know so well. The application will give you easy access to reviews about hotels, restaurants as well as various attractions, and if there is no review you can easily add your own while on the go. Using the devices GPS you can find locations that are near you, as well as easily get directions to the location. Got any trips coming up, you will definitely want this free application traveling with you. Download links after the break.
Fring received a minor update today, which should address many user reported issues, but it appears the feud with Skype is still going strong. Some of the updates include:
"Significant" audio improvements
The echoing is fixed (fixed, fixed)
Supports new Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S using the front camera
Many more bugs fixes
Seeing support for new devices is great, and we always love to see bug fixes and better quality, but please Fring and Skype, bury the hatchet and work together, video calling is so much more viable when it can be used with a cross-platform desktop program.
LoKast has brought its proximity-based application to Android. Rejoice! Available for the iOther platform since March, LoKast allows you to find, connect and share with other LoKast users in your local (300-foot) area via 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth. Not only fans and users are getting in on the fun, but some familiar names in the music industry are behind the project. Shameless plug for Echo and the Bunnymen goes here. ♫♪ Lips like sugar....♪♫
Maybe the best part about LoKast coming to Android is that little thing we like to call "cross platform." You can freely connect with users on their iPhones as well as Android phones, and that kind of forward thinking can only help Android and the Market as a whole. Hit the break for the press release, a couple videos, and download links.
When it comes to installing Android applications, there are two ways of going about it. The most popular, of course, is directly through the Android Market. And that's how most of us do it. But from time to time we need to be able to sideload apps. Maybe you purchased it directly from a developer or some other perfectly legitimate method.
Or maybe *ahem* your phone doesn't allow you to directly sideload apps, for whatever reason. And that's where the Android Central Sideload Wonder Machine comes in. We've rigged up a simple Windows program that allows you to install any .apk file (that's the extension for an Android app) via your computer. It's completely legit -- nobody's going to track you down and take away your phone -- it's completely free (and open source!) and now you're back on the same playing field as everybody else, no rooting necessary.
Want to see it in action first? No problem. Video and download instructions are after the break.
We are always on the lookout for cool to apps to share with everyone, and this nifty Android live wallpaper caught our eye. It's called aSpiritBomb, and more than lives up to its name. By tapping anywhere on the screen, you create little orbes that swirl into the glowing center, which resembles a sun. The sun then grows and pulses as you continue to add more and more orbes to it. Dropping an application or widget cause numerous orbes to be launched from it, which is a really great effect.
Once the sun has grown large, you can tap on it and shoot out tiny specs of light. Double tapping will cause the sun to actually explode, shooting out orbes of every color in all directions. For any of you that have played Geometry Wars, it resembles a wormhole when they explode, which is fine by me.
The app was a blast to play with, and is available now on the Android Market for a little more than $1. Be sure to check out video and the download links after the break.
Shazam has moved to a "freemium" model, which basically means that Android users will have a choice between a more feature rich version called Shazam Encore, or can use the limited free version instead. This is what they have done on other platforms, so it comes as no big surprise. Shazam Encore will include goodies like unlimited tagging, song lyrics, ticket information, and a hook into Pandora so stations can be created based on your tagged music. New users of the free application will be able to upgrade to Encore, or have 5 tags a month for free. Put the tar and feathers away, they also note that "existing Shazam users on Android will be grandfathered and not required to pay for the upgrade to Encore in order to retain unlimited tagging. "Crisis averted.
Looks like, if you're currently using Shazam and are happy with it, nothing need be done. If you would enjoy some of the premium features, you can upgrade to Shazam Encore for 2.99 GBP (about $4.99 US). The full press release follows the break.
The aptly-named MyVerizon application for Android always has been a pretty helpful way to keep an eye on your Verizion account. Whether checking data usage, monitoring text messages or keeping track of how many minutes had been used this billing cycle, the information has always been presented very easily. The application has been updated, giving it a UI overhaul along with bringing a data counter widget. Sure, we may have unlimited data for now, but who knows when they may follow suit of AT&T and roll out some new data options. Thanks 0mie.
Goby, a popular iPhone and iPod Touch application, has released an Android version of its application. For those who are unfamiliar with Goby and what it has to offer, it is basically a location based search engine that gives users ideas of things to do to fill their spare time. Currently they have more then four million geo-tagged locations that are easily searchable, so the odds of finding something that interests you is pretty high. The application offers users some great features in their initial release, including but not limited to:
Coverage of 350 categories of things to do, from hiking and caving to restaurants and galleries
Coverage of every city, town and region in the United States
User geo-location at start
Result lists complete with photos
Maps and phone numbers to connect users to activities and places
Ability to share things to do through Twitter, Facebook and email
Be sure to give it a shot and give us a shout in the forums if you are able to cure some weekend boredom. Download links after the break.
With the release of the Motorola Droid X and Samsung Vibrant today, we know there will be a lot of new owners looking for some suggestions of what to download. With a market that contains nearly 100,000 applications, the hunt can be overwhelming, especially for a new owner. Well, we know, you want the applications, so let's take a look at some after the jump.
If you have been keeping up with news in the tech world lately, you might have noticed something of a debate concerning signal strength. Antennas looks to do away with the simplistic "bars" measure of signal strength by letting Android users know what towers they are connected to, and roughly where they are. The app uses your phone's GPS along with data collected from the antenna and puts both up against Google's antenna database.
CDMA users (That's you, Verizon and Sprint) will have less succes, as the Android OS prevents connecting to more than one tower. This causes only one tower, the strongest, to be shown and requires Android 2.x to work. Everyone else in the world on GSM will have the best results by turning 3G off and allowing the app to run on EDGE/2G. [Panix via LifeHacker | AppBrain]
The first leg of Snaptic's challenge (earlier this year) was won by Peter Ma, who is currently enjoying his trip to TEDGlobal 2010. This time around, the prizes will be a MacBook Pro, and an Android Phone.
Prizes aside, it's for a worthy cause, and is a way for Android developers from all backgrounds to push innovation for good health. Snaptic is asking developers "What can you build to inspire movement?" Everyone here at Android Central is behind the idea, and hopefully some of you guys can polish up your coding skills, work towards a great goal, and maybe even win a killer prize. Check out the Health2.0 Dev challenge here, and learn a bit more about exactly what Snaptic is doing, read all the rules, and sign up right here. [Snaptic]
Just like the title says, you can now purchase apps from the Android Market if you're in South Korea. (There's a larger issue of being able to purchase paid apps in every international market, but that's for another time.) Google's Tim Bray explains:
As of today, Android Market is open for business to application buyers in the Republic of Korea. We hope that this will make the outstanding Android devices now available in that nation even more useful and fun. We welcome the people of Korea, acknowledged everywhere as one of the world's most-wired societies, to the world of Android.
The Android Market now has more than 70,000 applications, Google Senior VP of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg said during Thursday's second-quarter earnings call. That's up from the 68,000 count Andy Rubin announced in June at the Motorola Droid X event, and it's a good bit lower than the 100,000 number Androlib has been throwing around. As to which is more correct? We'll go with the guys who run the store. Now we just need to make developers some more money.
Vlingo has updated its popular Android application, and a new feature called SuperDialer makes a great app even better. What SuperDialer does is allow you to make calls, or searches, or get directions based on what you are looking for, not what's in your address book. Growing up, I had dreams about how mobile computing would be in the 21st century. While we're not quite where I had hoped, and I'm not working for Spacely Sprockets, this is a push in the right direction. We've got a video, some screenies of my own playing around useful testing, and a press release after the break.
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