4 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for May 28, 2011


Apps on apps on apps on apps. Just can't ever seem to get enough of great applications on your device can you? Well us either, and that is why we love to share with you, our favorite readers, some of our very own favorite applications. Hit the break and let's take a look at what we've got this week.

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4 years ago

Amazon Appstore receives minor update -- compatibility fixes, two step purchasing


The Amazon Appstore is pushing out a minor update this evening, brining it to version 1.14.  Besides a few compatibility fixes and the ever-present "stability improvements," they have implemented a new system to help prevent accidental app buying.  Now to purchase an application users will have to verify their choice, instead of the application purchase and download happening immediately after a mis-click.  This should cut down the number of accidental purchases -- all those $0.99 apps really do add up.  I've done this myself, so I welcome the change.

If you don't get the push notification about the update, you can manually initiate it by pressing the menu button, then opening the Amazon Appstore settings, where you're given the option to manually check.  It's clicktastic!

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4 years ago

Bootloaders: More than you ever wanted to know


We're all pleased as punch that HTC has decided to shake things up a bit and stop locking the bootloader on its Android devices.  Cheers to the manufacturer for listening to the vocal minority, and for realizing the value that this will bring to its brand.  We'll get the full details, as well as answers to questions like when this policy goes into effect, as soon as we can.  In the meantime, there's a lot of questions about exactly what all this bootloader noise means. 

We're going to try to answer those questions, in as non-geeky a way as possible.  Hit the break, and have a read.

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4 years ago

EA kicks off their Memorial Day sale today at 4 PT


EA has announced it will be having a sale on iOS and Android titles, starting ... now!  The list of games and prices (with Android Market weblinks):

EA makes some outstanding games, and getting them on sale is a great way to have some fun with your Android phone.  I'll be grabbing Worms in a few hours, what games are you guys looking forward to trying?  Sound off!

Thanks, Rene!

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4 years ago

Swiftkey X is here, making text prediction even more personal


TouchType this morning announced Swiftkey X, the latest iteration of its on-screen keyboard which is now in public beta status. Long known for its word-prediction capability, Swiftkey's got a new look, and new features.

First and foremost is the setup process. Swiftkey's new guide will walk you through downloading a language pack, installing and enabling the keyboard, and then the option of tying into your Facebook, Gmail or Twitter accounts.

Wait. What? Yes, you can choose to give Swiftkey access to Facebook, Gmail or Twitter. Why on Earth would you want to do that? Swiftkey can now use API calls to analyze your sent messages to determine your typing pattern, frequently used words, etc. Remember that you are the one who gives access to this. If you don't want to use it, you don't have to, and you have to give Swiftkey specific permission to do so. (TouchType's privacy policy can be found here.)

Swiftkey has also seen improvements to its "fluency" engine, specifically with the addition of "Personal Input Modeling," which adjusts the touch-sensitive regions of the keyboard depending on how accurately you type.

Pretty cool, eh?

Now the important part: Swiftkey X is available on any smartphone running Android 2.x or above. It's a free upgrade for current paid users, and it's downloadable in the Android Market. We've got video with the Swiftkey folks as well as the full press release after the break.

Download: Swiftkey X

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4 years ago

HTC: No more locked bootloaders


Break out the bubbly -- HTC CEO Peter Chou just announced via Facebook that they have heard everyone and will no longer be locking the bootloaders of their devices.  We're assuming (and hoping) this will start with the EVO 3D and the HTC Sensation, and users buying these new HTC phones will no longer depend on luck and skilled hackers to get them more open.

Said CEO Peter Chou, via Facebook:

"There has been overwhelmingly [sic] customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we've listened. Today, I'm confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience."

No word on exactly what this will mean for current models that have shipped with bootloader restrictions, or exactly how the new bootloaders will be "unlocked."  We're reaching out to HTC, and as soon as they give us a statement, we'll let you know.

Source: Facebook

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4 years ago

Netflix adds support for three more phones


Netflix just got itself a little update in the Android Market. First and foremost, new phones are officially supported, with the LG Revolution, Motorola Droid and Casio G'zOne Commando getting access. That brings the total number of supported devices eight, including the Droid Incredible, Nexus One, EVO 4G, T-Mobile G2 and Samsung Nexus S.

There also are a few bugfixes, including:

  • Fixed application failure on startup when phone's embedded storage space is almost full.
  • Removed check that prevented attempt to playback on unsupported devices.

And we've noticed that the volume's not as low as it used to be, so that's nice, too. If you've got one of the supported phones, get your download on in the Android Market. We've got links after the break.

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4 years ago

Google Wallet a reality: Brings real purchasing power to your phone


Google today officially announced Google Wallet and Google offers: The search giant's foray into mobile payments. Teaming up with MasterCard, Sprint and Citi -- and using MasterCard's PayPass system -- Google Wallet is being put into beta mode starting in San Francisco and is scheduled for full launch later this summer.

The concept is pretty much how it sounds -- turning your NFC-enabled smartphone into your wallet. Credit cards use several layers of encryption, and you'll basically tap to pay using MasterCard's PayPass system.

Google debuted its Wallet services on the Sprint Nexus S 4G (the Nexus S is still the only smartphone in the United States with NFC). Launch the app, and it asks to connect to your account. Then you'll have to enter a PIN. You'll then enter your card information, again, a Citi MasterCard, for now. Note that this is different than merely storing your credit card information on the phone -- it's provisioned through a third party.

Don't have a Citi MasterCard? And don't want one? Google's also including a prepaid card that will let you add funds from other credit cards. But that's not to say you won't be adding other companies' cards in the future -- Google Wallet is an open platform.

More on security: If the phone's screen is turned off, NFC is turned off. And NFC also is inactive until the Google Wallet App is launched. It's got a tamper sensor as well, and will withstand laser attacks. Really. Google said so.

Google also announced Google offers -- deals done through Google, naturally.

Source: Google
More: Google.com/wallet

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4 years ago

Samsung Mobile announces 'Kick it with the Band' winner


Today, Samsung Mobile announced the grand prize winner of their "Kick it with the Band" contest, which challenged Sidekick 4G owners to promote their music using nothing but their phone via social networks.

The winner was chosen by vote, and after everything was tallied, the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Champion artist is 18-year-old Jake Miller, from Weston, FL. As a result of his victory, Jake scored some marketing budgets as well as being invited to participate in some music videos that will be posted on Facebook.

Full PR is after the break.

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4 years ago

Android Quick App: WSJ


The Wall Street Journal Android app is heavy on news
— as long as you're a member of the club

Fans of the Wall Street Journal -- WSJ is what the kids call it these days -- take note: an Android app is finally here. And with it you can get all of the stories, video, photos, podcasts and stocks info you've come to rely on in more traditional (ie: old) formats like computers and that ancient newspaper thing.

And the WSJ app is a pretty darn good one. It's easy to navigate, with the sections clearly labeled. Stories are easy to read, though we'd prefer to see some spacing between paragraphs. (Yeah, we're picky about our formatting.) And photos are vibrant, with easy-to-read captions.

One catch: If you're not a WSJ subscriber, you might as well go elsewhere. You're basically dead in the water if you're not logged in, and even then there's a mountain of content you still can't access without some higher-level subscription -- and possibly a secret handshake.

So that's that. A nice news app from a great news organization -- just make sure you're a subscriber. The app itself is free; download links are after the break.

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4 years ago

Sprint Navigation now available for the Nexus S 4G


We all love the fact that the Nexus S 4G came free of carrier bloatware and foolery, but there are a great many of you who prefer Sprint's branded version of Telenav to Google's navigation.  And you're in luck -- Telenav and Sprint have released Sprint Navigation for the Nexus S 4G, and dropped it in the Android Market to make it easy to install.  Just hit the "Sprint" tab in the Market app on your phone, and you'll see it in the list.  We wish there was a place where all carrier apps were done this way, but even Sprint Navigation can't find one.

Thanks, Richard1864!

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4 years ago

HTC: 'We're reviewing our bootloader policy'


To everybody up in arms over HTC's locked bootloaders (most recently the completely unsurprising news that the EVO 3D is locked), we hear you. And know what? HTC hears you. And while there's not yet any sign that we'll soon see carrier phones as open as developer phones, HTC -- for the first time we can recall -- has publicly said it may be considering a change.

For you laymen out there, having open access to the bootloaders and NAND memory are the lifeblood of custom ROMs. And while the vast majority of Android users are running virgin devices -- remember that more than 400,000 devices are being activated every day -- the modding community is a vocal one.

Said HTC on Facebook:

Thanks so much for providing feedback, we hear your concerns. Your satisfaction is a top priority for us and we're working hard to ensure you have great experiences with our phones. We're reviewing the issue and our policy around bootloaders and will provide more information soon. Thank you for your interest, support and willingness to share your feedback.

HTC followed up on Twitter as well:

Thanks for the feedback, we're listening! We're reviewing our bootloader policy.

This won't happen overnight, folks, and there's no telling if HTC actually will open things up and allow users to undo its customizations at will. (Hey, a lot of work goes into the Sense UI and making a smartphone.) But from where we stand, choice and openness are more often a good thing than not, and we welcome the discussion.

Sources: Facebook, Twitter. Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
More: Android Police

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4 years ago

Android Quick App: GRave Defense HD


Maybe I should be productive in some way on my Android tablet.  I could take notes about upcoming phones, or use the browser to pay the bills, but I don't.  Games are way too fun on these things for all that jive.  And since I'm a sucker for all things undead, GRave Defense HD is right up my alley!  It's a tower defense game, but a damn good one.  The graphics are amazing, and instead of fighting off endless strings of enemy vehicles or balloons, you must protect yourself from the hordes of zombies and assorted nasties using weapons ranging from machine guns, to lasers.

There's also a storyline if you're in to a more immersive experience -- you work your way through the ranks of the "Brotherhood of Steel" and you can follow and share your progress through Scoreloop.  Killing zombies is fun, and apparently is social, too.

The most stunning part are the visuals.  The levels are diverse, with things like a rainforest scene, the Bermuda triangle, even outer space -- you're not stuck in the same graveyard for the 20 levels of gameplay.  Of course, all this comes at a cost.  You will need a fairly high-end device to display this content.  The developers recommend a device with over 384 MB of free RAM, and a minimum display of 800x480.  Most phones sold this year will be just fine, but some of the more mid-range offerings just won't handle this one.  All things said, GRave Defense HD rocks on any Honeycomb tablet

You can find GRave Defense HD, currently on sale for €0.70 (about $1.00), in the Android Market.  It's for phones and tablets running Android 2.1 and higher.  We've got more pics, a video, and the download link after the break.

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4 years ago

Google mobile payment service rumored to debut May 26


If the muttering we're hearing through the Bloomberg grapevine is true, Google is planning to finally unveil their NFC mobile payment service on May 26. Google's system is going to be available on phones from Sprint, like the already-launched Nexus S 4G. (Not so coincidentally, the Nexus S is still the only Android phone in the U.S. with NFC.)

The NFC service will let consumers both pay and use mobile coupons with a swipe of their phone. However, Google and Sprint's offering will eventually see competition from ISIS, a joint effort between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Google does have a press event scheduled for May 26, but as of now, no one's talking. Guess we'll all have to keep our ears tuned to the latest and greatest coming out of New York that day.

Source: Bloomberg

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4 years ago

Microsoft's Bing Vision UI -- Google Goggles needs to step up its game


One of the coolest looking things in the new Windows Phone 7 "Mango" release (see all the coverage you can handle at WPCentral) is Microsoft's Bing Vision.  It's essentially a Google Goggles clone (great artists copy/borrow/steal and all that), but the UI is really cool.  Your search categories are visible while the camera is running, looking fancy and nice as a semi-transparent overlay while you're capturing the content you want to scan.  Of course, WP7's Metro UI and its typographic look is in full force here as well.

As for functionality, Bing Vision doesn't look like it does anything out of the ordinary.  No solving Sudoku puzzles, no translation built in, and the jury is still out about how it handles business cards.  But that's not what people will think when they see it.  I'm one of those "function trumps form" kind of guys, but the mobile market is growing like wildfire, and maybe it's time for Google to step up and revamp the UI and visual style of some of their apps so they look as good as they perform. 

I use Google Goggles a lot, mostly because I'm a geek who loves to play with cutting edge tech, and I've went "all-in" with Googles apps and services.  It works great, but visual appeal is lacking compared to the competition.  See for yourself -- there's a video after the break.

Source: WPCentral

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