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2 years ago

Chrome vs. Safari - Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S

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Check out our Chrome for Android Walkthrough!

The race for the best mobile browser is just about dead even. Android's browser has certainly competed with its Webkit cousin in mobile Safari for several versions now, partially from borrowing bits and pieces of Chrome code. (Anybody remember this demo from Google IO 2010?) But while the browsers might have been fairly level under the hood, Safari's definitely had the edge in what the end users see, with scrolling and zooming that's buttery smooth.

With the introduction of the Chrome browser on Android (currently available in beta form), the mobile browsing playing field has been leveled that much more. Behind the scenes, things are running as fast as ever. And out front, on the display, the Android's browsing experience has taking another evolutionary leap forward.

We've got a quick comparison video and some more benchmarks after the break. We're not looking for the most scientific of results here -- though the benchmarks speak for themselves. Really, it's the feel of the Chrome browser on Android (and, again, remember that it's still a "beta" product, for what that's worth) that we're most interested in.  

Click on through to the other side, and be sure to check out our pals from iMore.com for their thoughts on the Chrome-Safari showdown.

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2 years ago

New SwiftKey X Alpha now available with improved punctuation

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SwiftKey X has a new Alpha now available for download to VIP members. This release looks to address user concerns with punctuation in certain languages with French, Arabic, or Greek be some of the key focal points. As noted on their forums, users should be on the look out for the following changes:

Closing brackets: The space before } ] ) is removed and a space after the closing bracket is added. So if you write SwiftKey) by selecting SwiftKey as a prediction, the space between SwiftKey and ) is deleted and another space is inserted after the closing bracket.

Closing quotes: If you type "I like SwiftKey" by selecting SwiftKey as a prediction the space between SwiftKey and " is deleted and another space is inserted after the closing quote. This behaviour is adjusted for quotation marks used in other languages such as « », „ “, etc.

You can access the various quotation marks by long pressing the " key in the 123 panel of the keyboard.
French: There is now a space both before and after ! and ?

So if you write Bonjour ! by selecting Bonjour as a prediction, the space between Bonjour and ! remains and another space is inserted after the exclamation mark.

Notice that typing another ! gives you Bonjour !! (without a space between the two exclamation marks).

No space is added after : and ; to allow you to write smileys without having to delete this space.

Arabic: Arabic inverted comma, semicolon and question mark now behave like their English counterparts.

Greek: The Greek questionmark now behaves like its English counterpart.

Those changes aren't all that is involved with this release, there are a few others but those are the highlights. As always, if you're joined up for the Alpha testing make sure you offer feedback to the developers. Apps get better with feeback and that's what alpha testing is for.

Source: SwiftKey

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2 years ago

Vonage Mobile for Android available now in the Android Market

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That other VoIP company, Vonage, have launched their new mobile offering with Skype firmly in their crosshairs. The app listing in the Android Market even goes as far as name-dropping the Microsoft owned competitor, while advertising their own service including free worldwide texts and calls.

Vonage Mobile promises high definition audio calls over WiFi, 3G and 4G worldwide, and cheap-rate international calls to people not using the application. You don't have to be a current Vonage customer to take advantage of the service either. Credit can be applied to your account via your Android Market account and it uses your existing phone number and contacts list. Any of your existing contacts using Vonage Mobile will be indicated, leaving it straight forward to take advantage of free communication. 

As a launching offer, all calls to any phone in the US, Canada or Puerto Rico are free from anywhere in the world for a limited time. Terms and conditions naturally apply to this so be sure to check them out first. You'll find a handy promo video after the break, along with download links if this looks like something you want to try for yourselves.  

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2 years ago

Kindle for Android updated to v3.4.0 - Reduced app size, page numbers and bug fixes

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The latest Kindle for Android update is now rolling out to users, giving the app a bump up to version 3.4.0. The latest release has of course some bug fixes included in it but more importantly it addresses the size of the app as it is now a smaller download for all.

In addition to the size adjustment, Amazon has also included page numbers so that users may keep track of reading progress using numbers that match the real book. Why that took so long to implement we may never know but it's there now and that's pretty groovy. Hit the break for the download.

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2 years ago

Expensify updates with greater on-device reporting, sharing features

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Expensify is a must if you have to track and report your expenses, and it just got a pretty major update to Version 3.0. 

New in this version is the ability to view and edit all of your expenses, view scanned receipts and zoom in to see details, organizes expenses into reports, and the ability to create, rename and submit reports -- all from your phone.

If you haven't given Expensify a shot yet (fair warning: It's a free app, but some of the features will cost tad extra), it's absolutely worth a look. We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Aquarium for Google TV [Google TV app review]

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Most people have at least one TV in their house, and while you're not watching it it's just an ugly, black window.  If you're the proud owner of a Google TV unit of one sort or another, it doesn't have to be this way.  I stumbled across this one in our forums, and I'm glad I did.  It's called Aquarium for Google TV, and it does exactly what you would think it should do -- displays an aquarium scene on your television screen.  It's serene, it's beautiful, and it sure beats an ugly black box hanging on the wall of your living room.

You have the choice of five different scenes, ranging from goldfish and a whimsically bubbly castle, to a computer generated bit of magic that has fish big and small, even sharks.  You can choose to play some soft new-age style background music while the app is running, or just leave it silent.  Unfortunately, and this is the only drawback I can think of, you can't play Google Music in the background while running the app.  I've a feeling that this is a Google TV limitation, because I've not run across any applications that will allow it.  So no pretty fish on the screen while Foghat roars through the speakers for Jerry.  I'll get over it, and I think the wife is sort of happy about that.  

To be clear -- this app is great.  We usually have it running here at château Jeri, and even the dog likes to watch it play.  But I want to take a minute and mention that the developers are just as awesome as the app.  This is the app I was trying to load when my Market account hung.  I fought with Google Wallet, I fought with Logitech, I fought with everyone involved except the developer.  I shot off a quick email with my order number and he sent me a copy to sideload and use until I got everything all straightened out.  Guys like the folks from Arrowhead Technologies make me wish I could give an app more than five stars.  

If you have a Google TV set top box or television, you'll want to give this one a look.  You can find it in the Android Market for just a buck.  We've got video action and a download link after the break.  

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2 years ago

Google to launch cloud drive service says WSJ

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Google is set to release their own shared cloud storage solution, says the Wall Street Journal.  Their insiders have said that Google will soon launch called "Drive" will rival Dropbox in functionality, being able to "store photos, documents and videos on Google's servers so that they could be accessible from any Web-connected device and allows them to easily share the files with others."  It sounds like it will have some overlap with Picasa, Google Docs, and Youtube, but at this time nobody has all the particulars.  

The new service, expected to launch in the coming weeks or months, will be free for most folks, businesses included.  Google will only charge those who want to "store a large amount of files", so there will be a premium service with more capacity.  If Google does release this one, we would certainly expect it to hit Android devices soon after.  Could this be the big thing at Google I/O this year?

Source: WSJ

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2 years ago

Google Wallet PIN security cracked - here's what you need to know

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Google Wallet's PIN security has been cracked, but there's a caveat -- this currently only is an issue if your phone is rooted. Not rooted? No worries. And with that said and done, here's the deal:

Your Google Wallet PIN (Personal Identification Number) is stored encrypted on your device, and a brute-force method was found to expose the SHA256 hex-encoded PIN information inside the database. This method, which was irresponsibly released to the public, can find the PIN without any incorrect attempts in the Wallet app itself, negating the five-try rule the application has for PIN entry.  (See it in action after the break.)

Now here's the not so sexy way to describe it all.  You'll need to have a phone with Google Wallet, AND have rooted your device, AND have not set a secure lock screen, AND then lose your phone. The person who finds it THEN can use the app the fellows at zvleo have made and since distributed to brute-force the PIN and THEN can use your phone to make payments, just like they could if they found your credit card, which likely would be quicker and easier than any of this.

Google has been notified and already knows how to fix the issue, but there's a problem. To make it more secure, Google will have to move the PIN information to be controlled and maintained by your bank. This not only will require some changes to the terms of service, but then we're relying on corporate banking institutions to keep our information safe. I'd wager that Citigroup's servers are easier to break into than Google's, and then you have the same issue all over again.

A better way to fix the problem would be to force users to use a better password. PIN information can be cracked so easy because it only uses four numbers. This means that there are only 10,000 possible combinations, and even a portable computer like your Android phone can pull off that sort of brute-force attack. Change the passcode to something like Fgtr5400&d77 -- using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols -- and it's far less likely to be broken, and even less likely to even be used because it's not convenient.  It's a Catch-22 -- a PIN is easy to use and remember, but it's also more easy to crack.

I'm not going to tell you to stop using Google Wallet, nor am I going to tell you to stop rooting your phone. I am going to tell you to pick it up, and put a passcode on the lock screen now, before you lose it.  

Source: zvelo

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2 years ago

Google+ app updated with 'massive performance improvements' and some UI tweaks

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If you're a Google+ fan and have an Android phone, you'll want to hit the Android Market because there's an update for Google+ that promises (among other things) "massive performance improvements" across the app.  The full changelog:

  • Massive performance improvements across the app
  • What's Hot!
  • View who +1'd a post or comment
  • Stream posts shortened to fit more per scroll
  • Infinite photos feed in 'From your circles'
  • Stream no longer jumps to the top for an automatic refresh

I never really noticed any poor performance from the app to start with, so I'm not yet ready to judge these massive improvements, but the rest of the list has a bunch of welcome changes.  The addition of What's Hot! and ability to see who +1'd a post or comment are things many have been asking for, and UI improvements like better formatting of posts and no longer bouncing to the top and losing your place when you refresh are always welcome.  Now let's focus on a tablet optimized version, shall we Google?  Maybe walk over and visit the cubes of the folks working on Currents.

Download link is after the break.

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2 years ago

Foursquare updated with better searching, recommendations and further Android Beam support

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Foursquare continues to improve upon their Android app making it better with each new release. This time around they've focused on searching places and recommendations as well as some fixes to improve scrolling within the app:

  • Smarter searching - Every time you search with Explore, we’ll show you results based on the time of day, places your friends have been or left tips, places on lists you follow, and places we think you’ll like based on the 1,500,000,000 check-ins on foursquare. Tap the top right filter button (bottom right on Android), to narrow your results by places you and your friends have been. Try selecting ‘New to me’ and ‘My friends have been’ to catch up on what you’ve been missing out on! With every suggestion, we show you which of your friends have tried that place, so it’s easy to get suggestions and see what’s popular.
  • Recommendations for anywhere - On your way to another part of town, or a new town altogether? One big new feature: you can now drag your map around, or enter a neighborhood, city or address to get recommendations for anywhere you want. Try pinching in or out, or double tapping to zoom quickly. It’s easy to focus in on where you want to go.

In addition to those changes, Foursquare has also added some more support for Android Beam on both the Venue page, and Me page. The update is live now in the Android Market so go get it!

Source: Foursquare

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