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2 years ago

Android Theme Review: Frost

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I think once you've got the theming fever, the only prescription is more cowbell theming. Returning back to my initial obsession with monochrome and minimalism, I'd like to present another theme by Sonny Sekhon (the creator of Tangerine): Frost.

Frost takes your status bar icons and turns them black. How will black show up on your bar, you might ask? Well, your notification bar is transformed into a brilliant, frosty silver. Same as Tangerine, the battery percent is put inside the battery by default, so you'll always how much time you've got before you need to swap in a spare battery.

The pulldown notification bar is similarly themed, with a transparent background and silvery-white text and icons. The bottom of the bar is a sort of metallic rectangle with a slice cut out of it. Your notifications are also on metallic rectangles too.

The dialer is relatively unchanged, with just some transparency added. The phone icon is now silver, people's frames around their pictures is a slightly darker grey, but otherwise, it's the same app you've come to know and love.

Icons and widgets have been heavily themed, with many of the apps in my drawer sporting some new, silver threads. A number of widgets have been skinned, too, like the analog clock and the Google search widget.

As a matter of fact, everything in Frost is themed or skinned in some form or fashion. Check box buttons, the settings menu, field highlights, and toast notifications are all cold, frosty, and monochromatic. There isn't a part of your ROM that won't have been themed, and it all comes together in one very convincing package or total frosty immersion.

If you're on the hunt for a brightly colored theme (like me!), then look no further than Frost. It's bright, steely, and very eye-catching. And for only $1, it can be yours.

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

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2 years ago

New Google Music and Google+ apps found in Ice Cream Sandwich build

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The fellows at Android Police have their hands on a couple new apps from the Ice Cream Sandwich build that's floating around out there (how 'bout a dump for the community, Mr. Anon?), and with it comes with new Google Music and Google+ apps.  The new music app has a bit of a UI makeover, with more sleek (and less screen real-estate wasting) controls, most noticeable in the "now playing" screen, and a search button has been included since ICS has no dedicated search key.  It appears that everything we know and love about Google Music is there, but in a more refined package.

The Google+ app at first look appears much like the current version in the Android Market, until you look at the Huddle Messenger portion.  Once again, it's been renamed, this time Google is calling it "Chords."  While that may be confusing at first, it's probably less confusing than having the same name as other applications (Facebook, iOS, etc.) that are using the word messenger.  Or it may be something that Google it kicking around, and not even final.  We'll only know for sure when ICS is available for everyone.  For more pictures, as well as a download link for the Google Music app, check out the source links.

Source: Android Police (Music) (Google+)

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2 years ago

Android 101: Clear your Android Market search history

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Tired of seeing the same apps you've already searched for show up over and over when you search the Android Market? You can easily clear your search history and get rid of the usual -- or incriminating -- list of apps.

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2 years ago

Android App Review: Musicnotes Sheet Music Viewer

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It was way back in January when we first reported Musicnotes would be bringing their sheet music viewer over to Android and I'm happy to say that it has finally arrived. Meeting at the intersection of music and tech, the Musicnotes Sheet Music Viewer doesn't promise much, but for what it advertises, it does really well.

When you first boot up the app, you're given the option to sign in with your Musicnotes account. If you don't have one, you can register from this screen, but if you do, sign in. The app will automatically start syncing music you've purchased onto your device for your viewing pleasure. In the event you don't have anything (like me), you'll probably be given something for free, like Toccata and Fugue by J.S. Bach.

Once you've logged in, you'll notice there's five buttons at the bottom of the screen: My Sheet Music, Sync, Shop, Settings, and About. My Sheet Music is just what it sounds like; music you've already purchased and synced to your device.

The sync button allows you to decide what music you own to your device. This is done through flipping switches to on and off positions. Flip the switch to on and your music will be synced. And yes, the buttons and switches look like iPhone images.

The shop button is pretty cool, as it opens up the Musicnotes website in a browser within the app so you can browse and buy without ever having to get on a computer. From what searching I did, the website is both fast and functional, letting you search by instrument, song name, or keyword and letting you purchase as soon as you've found what you're after.

The settings menu houses information like what account is signed into the app as well as when your music should sync (or resync). The most important settings are at the very bottom, called Paper Type and Page Change. Paper type is purely aesthetic, letting you choose between white, old, crumpled, rough, and recycled "paper" to view your music on. (Why you would ever want to read music off of crumpled paper is beyond me, but, I digress.)

The page change is the best option, letting you pick between swiping or tapping the screen to advance a page. Personally, the tapping makes more sense because it takes less time, but if you want to truly simulate turning a page, knock yourself out.

It'd be really killer if Musicnotes could eventually integrate a player into the app so you can play along with a MIDI recording of your music in real-time, and better yet would be if the music could listen to you play and turn the page accordingly, but none of those features were promised, so I'm not too torn up about it. Like someone said earlier today, pipe dreams are dreams, too.

The Musicnotes Sheet Music Viewer is free in the Android Market and requires you have Adobe AIR installed on your device to run. It's optimized for tablets but works one phones, too.

More screenshots and download links are after the break.

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2 years ago

Nuance said to have purchased Swype for $100 million

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What do you get when you combine the best in voice command with one of the best touchscreen keyboards? We might be about to find out, as Uncrunched reports that Nuance -- that's the company and technology behind the excelent "Dragon" line of programs -- as well as the iPhone 4S' "Siri" new voice system -- has purchased Swype, the excellent on-screen keyboard that lets you swipe from letter to letter, or type normally. Nuance has the popular T9 keyboard, but Swype would certainly be a coup.

Nothing official has been announced yet, but the deal is said to be worth in the neighborhood of $100 million. Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

Source: Uncrunched

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2 years ago

Taptu Reader app debuts on Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Color

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While many have been making use of the Taptu application available in the Android Market, the folks from Barnes & Noble and Taptu have npw annaounced the availability of Taptu on the NOOK Color.

“Taptu on NOOK Color just makes sense. Our goal is to provide the best way to consume media on-the-go and Barnes & Noble provides an incredible canvas for people to access and read what matters most to them—a perfect match,” said Mitch Lazar, CEO of Taptu.

Taptu of course allows you to, as they say DJ the news -- mixing topic-based stories, publications, blogs, RSS feeds and social media posts and updates from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn into customized streams.

Instapaper and “Read It Later” integration for saving articles and themes to choose from to avoid eye strain, Taptu's services are a unique way to consume media. The Taptu app is available now on the NOOK Color, you'll find the press release and the download link past the break.

Source: Barnes & Noble

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2 years ago

Amazon updates Appstore Developer Portal FAQ for Kindle Fire

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Amazon has added their developer FAQ with a section specific for the Kindle Fire, covering requirements and the submission process for those who are getting ready for Novembers big launch.  For the most part, it's a pretty standard read -- an overview of the process, the device specific requirements (they even tell developers how to set up the Android SDK emulator -- 600x1024 px display, 169 LCD density, API 10 and 512MB RAM), and content guidelines.  If you have any plans to develop and submit apps to Amazon for the Fire, you should hit the source link and have a read.

For the rest of us, let's have a look at a couple highlights from the "infamous" Amazon developer agreement's Q&A about the Fire:

Amazon will be reviewing each app in the appstore for compatibility with the Kindle Fire.  This will be done automatically, and if any issues are found during the testing, developers will be contacted with more information.  They say app approval for new apps will "generally take a week", but some apps will take longer.

The have a list of no-nos, which your application can't require (as in, need for correct operation) to run.  This list includes a gyroscope, camera, WAN module, Bluetooth, microphone, GPS, or micro-SD.  In addition, if your app uses Google's mobile services, like cloud to device messaging, they need to be removed "gracefully".  Amazon gives us an example of graceful as "an error message such as "This feature is not currently available on this device".  There's also a notice that Google's in app billing won't be supported, but they're working on their own solution.

There's also two interesting notes about content in addition to their normal guidelines.  No themes or wallpaper apps will be allowed, or any app "that manipulates the user interface of the device", and that the "Kindle Fire does not support apps that require root access".  The former, while a little surprising, makes a lot of sense -- they want Amazon content to be front and center.  The latter is a bit less clear, as there are already apps on the Amazon appstore that require root access.  These may be blocked from the Fire, or it may just be confusing wording.  We'll have to wait and see.

Here's the part where I start bitching about open -- but not this time.  Amazon makes no bones about what they are, which is a for profit business.  They don't claim to be anything else (at least not at the retail level) so I'm good with these decisions.  They can, and should, curate their user's experience any way they see fit, and a lot of people will benefit from it.  Tight control will guarantee a level of consistency that a whole lot of people want.  They should be allowed to have it.

Source: Amazon

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2 years ago

Google Books finally lands in the UK

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Until now, only our friends across the pond have been able to purchase content from Google Books. That changes today as the service finally arrives in the UK.

The usual plethora of free public domain ebooks are available, as well as as content from some of the largest publishing houses in the UK. 

As with the U.S. version of the service, it's designed to be open with your content available to read on the web reader, Apple devices, e-readers from the likes of Sony and Kobo, and of course your Android devices. With the books stored remotely in the cloud, you can change device and pick up where you left off, much like Amazon's Whispersync. 

Google also claims to have been working with independent retailers, to allow the sale of Google Books through other bookstores in the UK. 

Check out the links below for more about Google Books in the UK, and to download the Google Books app. 

Source: Google

More: Google Books in the UK, Google Books Web Reader

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2 years ago

Android Theme Review: Tangerine

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My love affair with theming my CM7 install has taken a turn for the orange, or tangerine, in this case. MellowYellow served me well, but something about orange has just been piquing my interest as of late, so I sped off into the Android Market, looking for something that would suffice. After some unfocused digital sleuthing, I finally came across this excellent theme by Sonny Sekhon: Tangerine.

Tangerine takes all of the status bar icons and turns them orange. It also puts the battery percentage inside the battery icon by default, so if you're running the option where you have the percentage next to a vertical bar, you can go ahead and disable that.

The pulldown notification bar has also been themed, with unique icons taking the place of the standard widget button icons. The pulldown bar itself is transparent with an orange arrow at the bottom. To top it off, all your actual notifications are on a metallic silver background.

The dialer is pretty stock, with just a hint of transparency to it. There's also some nice icon theming that takes place, like most of the stock Google apps, for starters. Messaging has been rendered completely orange, for one, and Gmail's iconic "M" follows suit nicely.

Where Tangerine really pulls ahead in terms of theming is its detail in regards to things like buttons, check boxes, highlighting fields, and toast notifications. I know those all sound like really minor things and they kind of are (how many toast notifications do you get in a day, really?), but when you look at the sum of the parts, you'll come to realize just how much orange is peppered throughout this theme.

Overall, Tangerine is awesome. It only costs a dollar and has totally transformed my look from the yellow idea I had previously. It's fresh and very cool and definitely adds a bit of kick to your phone in a color most people wouldn't expect to see.

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

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2 years ago

Amazon working on in-app purchasing for the Kindle Fire

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Amazon's had quite the learning curve over the past 10 months, first with the Amazon Appstore (remember when AT&T phones couldn't use it?), and now it's taking another giant leap forward with the Kindle Fire tablet. We already know it won't have the Android Market on board. That makes sense. But what about in-app purchases? That's one of the more important features Google rolled out this year.

Never fear, as Amazon's working on it and indeed is planning on allowing in-app purchases. With the "Amazon Appstore for Android In-App Purchasing Beta Request Form," developers can sign up for the in-app purchasing beta SDK. It's invite-only, for now, and you have to answer a few questions, including:

  • Name and e-mail (natch), plus a company name.
  • Whether you're a current member of the Amazon Appstore Developer Program. And if so, how many apps you've submitted.
  • Whether you've used Google Checkout, PayPal, iOS or some other form of in-app billing.
  • The current number of apps you have that include in-app billing.
  • The kinds of in-app content you currently offer.
  • What kinds of apps you develop.
  • What kinds of devices you offer. (Interestingly, there are three choices -- handsets, tablets and Kindle Fire. That shows how Amazon's treating its product, no?)

Point is this: We're pretty sure Amazon has Google's attention now with the Kindle Fire. (Not that it didn't before, but still.) And it really presents an interesting conundrum. On one had, Amazon's doing exactly what Google wants to be done with Android -- using it as an embedded OS. On the other hand, it's quite the end run around the established Android ecosystem. And maybe that's just the -- ahem -- fire Google needs to have lit under it.

Source: Amazon; More: Kindle Fire Forums

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