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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for Sept 10, 2011

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Here we are back again to bring you, our favorite reader, another edition of some of our favorite applications. Hit the break with us as we take a look at some of them, and be sure to hop into the forums for even more great application discussion!

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2 years ago

Android App Review: SlideIT Keyboard

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

SlideIT is currently in its fourth iteration, and with that comes the introduction of skins. Scoff as you might, customization and aesthetic appeal are important to lots of people out there, so I've got to tip my hat to the SlideIT developers for making that so easy to do.

How does SlideIT function as a line-tracing keyboard, though? On its own, alright. If there's one thing SlideIT has going for it, it's that it's fast. I'm not just talking a little quick here and there. It feels like as soon as you're even thinking about being done with a word, SlideIT is ready to toss it out there. It's kind of uncanny and hard to describe what makes it feel so instant, but it does.

As far as word prediction goes, this is where I think SlideIT has room to improve (at least when compared to Swype). Word that are a couple of letters long (three to five), no problem. SlideIT has no problems spelling "it" or "that" or "looks," but it felt like once I got past words of five letters, accuracy went out the window. No, I meant to spell "fantastic." Was my trace so far off that it really deserves "??" as a prediction?

Other than that, there's not much to say. SlideIT is a keyboard, and a keyboard's for typing things out. Long-pressing works fine, and auto-spacing is all customizable via the settings menu. There's also a whole slew of language packs that can be downloaded from the Market, which is a good alternative to having to pick between all languages supported or just English and Spanish.

Overall, it feels like SlideIT is on the right track. There's a lot of good ideas there (ones I wouldn't mind seeing Swype eventually adopt), but until the prediction is better, it's not something I'd use normally. There's also the price to consider. SlideIT has a 15-day free trial, but after that, you're laying down $6.40 for the whole package. Again, language packs and skins are free.

We've got download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Android App Review: HD Widgets

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It seems us Android folk can't live without our widgets. Be it Beautiful, Android Pro, or any other that doesn't come to mind, they're one of the more aesthetically pleasing and practical parts to being on Google's team. For those who're always looking for the best clock and weather combo on a tablet (a title usually defaulted to Beautiful Widgets), say hello to the newest kid on the block, HD Widgets.

HD Widgets is a tablet-only app that looks to bring some of the visual beauty and slickness most people are accustomed to from Beautiful Widgets. Everything is optimized for the tablet's larger screen, and the results really speak for themselves.

HD Widgets comes with a large selection of sizes to choose from, ranging from full screen to header, half-page, and even weather by itself. Some options also have a "small" choice, as well, which usually means the clock isn't taller than the rest of the widget.

There's also a pretty good selection of clocks to choose from, although the extent is mostly what color and what kind of frame. There's a couple of options as far as font, but if you're not interested in either a traditional digital clock font of a Sense clock, you might be wise to look elsewhere. You can also opt for shortcuts instead of the weather, which includes airplane mode, wi-fi, Bluetooth, screen rotation, and brightness. To top it off, you also get to pick the background.

Once you've got your widget customized and placed, you needn't worry about anything else. It'll automatically determine your location (in my case, via wi-fi), and you're good to go. If you're curious about the weather, you can tap the weather icon, and similar to Beautiful Widgets, a full screen weather detail is brought up.

This is where HD Widgets really shines, as it can fully take advantage of the tablet's large screen. Large weather icons are bright and gorgeous, and you're shown really detailed information like sunrise and sunset as well as wind direction and pressure. Your weekly forecast is there, too, with icons and temperatures, just like you'd expect. It's good looking, plain and simple.

The only downside of HD Widgets as of now is that you can't download user-made clocks or weather icons, but honestly, with how slick the built-in icons are, I'm not sure you need to. And even then, that's my only complaint. Fortunately, the developers have their emails public and are taking feature requests and ideas, so I know what I'm going to say.

HD Widgets is only $1.99 for now (an introductory price of ~40% off), so if you're rocking a tablet and looking for some absolutely stunning widgets, I'd hope on this sooner rather than later. It's an excellent app that looks like it's only got room to grow, and two bucks isn't bad at all.

We've got download links and more pictures (like way more) after the break.

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2 years ago

Android App Review: Media Converter

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Media Converter is a versatile application for converting videos, audio, images, documents, and e-books on the go. The app is easy to use. Simply select what category of media you are converting, choose the file and what format you want to convert it to, and click submit. With almost 50 different file types you can convert your files to in six different categories,  there is sure to be a solution for your needs. The speed of conversion was surprisingly fast, at least faster than I was expecting, and since everything is uploaded and converted in the cloud, your battery doesn't feel a strain.

Supported file types:

  • VIDEOS: Convert nearly any format to 3GP, 3G2, FLV, MKV, MP4, MPEG-2, OGG, WEBM, or WMV.
  • AUDIO: Convert nearly any audio format to MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC, M4A, or MMF.
  • IMAGES: Convert nearly any format to JPG, PNG, BMP, EPS, GIF, HDR, EXR, SVG, TGA, TIFF, WBMP, or WEBP.
  • DOCUMENTS: Convert just about anything to PDF, DOC, TXT, ODT, FLASH, or HTML.
  • EBOOKS: Convert ebooks between many formats such as EPUB, MOBI, PDF, LRF, FB2, LIT, PDB, TCR.
  • ARCHIVES: Convert files to archives, or convert between archive formats! Supports ZIP, BZ2, 7Z, and GZ.

I didn't have a problem converting any of the files I threw at Media Converter, but there are some important things you'll want to take note of. First of all, you have to be connected to the internet to convert anything. Files get uploaded to the cloud, converted, then downloaded back onto your device. Also, files must be under 100mb, and DRM and password protected files can't be converted. Also, to select files from your device, Media Converter will prompt you to download and install a free app called OI File Manager, otherwise you can only select files from your picture, video, and music galleries. With all that said, if you are looking for a versatile file converter, Media Converter is worth a look and is available for $3.99 in the Android Market.

Download links and screenshots are after the break.

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2 years ago

Android App Review: Gentle Alarm

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So, I've got to be up pretty early every week day of the week. Some of you might find yourselves in the same predicament. Maybe you've got to commute to school. Maybe you need to get everyone's lunches made before you head off to work. Whatever the reason, feeling refreshed when I wake up is a huge deal to me, because I don't stumble around for the next half hour as I wait to finally, truly wake up.

Gentle Alarm tries to remedy that issue by starting to play an alarm 30 minutes before your normal alarm goes off. The idea is that if you're not in a deep REM cycle, the softer sounding "pre-alarm" will wake you up before your normally scheduled alarm and you'll feel much better because you're not being yanked and startled from the snuggly confines of REM sleep.

Gentle Alarm has a couple of presets, like nap, workday, or silent. Depending on which one you choose, the lead-in time for the softer alarm will be different. You can also enable "safe alarm" on any alarm, which plays a loud alarm at the actual time your alarm is supposed to go off, so you don't accidentally sleep through everything.

On the presets page you can change initial lead-in volumes as well as tweak other sound settings. You can change alarm sounds based off of music you have on your SD card or the app can download a small sound package for you that'll open up your options even more. You're also able to adjust things like screen brightness when the alarm starts going off.

Having used Gentle Alarm for a few nights, I can say it works. Maybe I'm a light sleeper normally or maybe it's really gently nudging me to a full state of being awake when I'm not REM sleeping. Maybe I just always have to use the bathroom around the time my alarm goes off. I can't ever be certain, but I can say that I'm awake as the soft alarm is going off.

If you're part of the early riser crowd like myself, it might behoove you to give Gentle Alarm a try. It goes for $2.83 in the Android Market, but there is also a free trial version available, too.

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

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2 years ago

Google Maps updated, lets you see places you've rated 4 and 5 star and attach photos to your reviews

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Big G has updated Google Maps to version 5.10.0, and with the update comes two features that users might just love -- the ability to see places you've rated 4 or 5 stars right on your map view, and the ability to attach a photo to a place review.

Some of us just use maps for the awesome turn-by-turn navigation, or to find that little seafood place your brother-in-law told you about with the great clam chowder, but places and check-ins are another great feature we rarely mention.  With today's update, they get pushed a little closer to the front of the action, with places you like showing up right on your map so you don't forget about them.  Could be awful handy for the business traveler, deadhead, or anyone who often finds themselves jaunting across the country in a different bed each night.  And to help others know about those great places you visit, you can attach a photo to your review.

OK, so it's not the biggest update in the world, but it does offer a nice bump for the folks who use the places features, and is a good way to get more of us to use them.  It will be interesting just how Google works places and reviews from Maps into things now that they've bought out Zagat.  Grab the update from the Android Market, or we've got a handy link after the break.

Thanks, Jason! 

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2 years ago

Android Wallpaper Review: Digital Hive Live Wallpaper

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I'm a huge fan of Honeycomb. I think Google developed something really cool with the TRON-like aesthetic, plus all of the bee-related imagery appeals to me. By default, I use the included hive wallpaper that's built into Honeycomb. Since I stumbled upon the Digital Hive Live Wallpaper, though, I'm not sure if I can ever go back.

Digital Hive Live Wallpaper looks just like the standard hive wallpaper, except now the hexagons hover in the air and sort of pulse up and down. If you touch one of the hexagons, it will respond to your touch and move accordingly. It's totally pointless, but a cool touch nonetheless.

On the wallpaper settings menu, you've got a number of settings to mess with and perfect your digital hive experience. The first setting is line quality, with two settings. If you're on a tablet or a high-end phone, you'll probably want to opt for the high quality. Otherwise, there's the standard quality.

Next are all of the color options. You're able to save three colors of your choosing, and then you can pick one of them to be the color source (the actual color of the shapes on the wallpaper). Choosing a color is easy as can be. All you do is pick the color spectrum you want to be in, then drag the little circle to your preferred shade.

There's also a "battery level" option for the color. If you pick this, your wallpaper will change colors depending on if your battery is full, at 50% (or less), or about to die. If you leave it alone, they'll be green, yellow, and red, respectively, but you can mess with those, too.

There's also options for motion (pulsing and whatnot), enabling touch response, and amplifying motion (which looks great on a tablet's full screen).

Performance-wise, I'd say there might be just the slightest bit of hang when moving from screen to screen, but that might just be my own paranoia about having a live wallpaper slow down my screen swiping. Overall, speed is mostly there, so I'm not sure if it's a combination of the floating shapes and the orientation moving along with each screen, but be aware.

Digital Hive Live Wallpaper goes for 99 cents in the Android Market. If you're as big a fan of the Honeycomb design as I am, it's something I'd definitely check out.

Download links and more pictures are after the break.

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2 years ago

Citrix GoToMeeting now available for more devices, comes preloaded on the Droid Bionic

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Back when the Motorola Droid 3 launched, one of the pre-loaded applications on the device was Citrix GoToMeeting along with Citrix Receiver. Now, Citrix has released the app to more Android devices in addition to their announcement of it also being pre-loaded on the upcoming Droid Bionic. (Just as it did on the Droid 3.)

These days, more people are leaving the confines of their offices and handling business on the go from their mobile devices. Citrix GoToMeeting allows you to attend those important meetings no matter where you are.

  • Quick session entry: Join meetings in seconds by clicking a link in an email or clicking the GoToMeeting icon and entering the meeting ID.
  • VoIP integrated audio: Quickly connect to audio through the Internet using the built-in mic and speakers.
  • Audio controls: Mute yourself to eliminate background noise while on the go.
  • Zoom in on meeting content: Zoom meeting content up to 200% by pinching the screen.
  • Portrait or landscape view: Flip your Android device to adjust your view of meeting content.
  • See who’s attending: View a list of meeting attendees.

The app is available now in the Android Market as a free download. You'll find the full press release and download link past the break should you need more info.

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2 years ago

Android Game Review: Destroy Gunners F

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

Giant mechs have always held a special place in my heart. Be it the Megazord from Power Rangers (only the Mighty Morphin' variety), Xenogears, or even Gundam, giant robots have always been awesome. For us Android lovers, Destroy Gunners F looks to fill the mech-themed void on our platform with an imaginative and well designed game.

Destroy Gunners F thrusts you straight into battle, via the Score Attack or Extra Play options. There's no robot customization, no picking your decals, nothing. Pick a gameplay mode and you're put in the game's one robot model, outfitted with a number of weapon and an even larger number of adversaries that're trying to take you down.

Movement is controlled via the virtual joystick on the left side of the screen and firing is actually controlled by moving your finger on the screen. For example, if you want to lock on some missiles, drag the targeting circle over the bad guys, let it lock, and release to fire. The same is true with the other weapons, sans the locking on. Also, be aware you can't move and fire the cannon!

The left and right arrows on the right side of the screen are used to pan the camera around, so you can move the camera without using up vital ammunition. Tapping on the weapon button changes your equipped weapon, so you can always pick the right tool for the job. If it sounds like a bit much, don't worry. Everything flows really well, and being able to strafe so effectively while firing is implemented really well. To top it all off, you've also just a jet (jump) button, but it's placement seemed so awkward to me, I never really used it.

Because Destroy Gunners F only gives you the one robot, you're only really competing for the highest score. Score is affected by enemies destroyed, life remaining, time, etc. If you get bored trying to beat your own scores, Destroy Gunners F is OpenFeint enabled, so you can try and best other people's scores, too. As a matter of fact, there's a marquee at the bottom of the screen giving you someone's "score to beat" in each of the game modes.

Destroy Gunners F definitely has an Armored Core feel to it, for those who played that series back on the Playstation. The graphics are well done, the mech fighting and controls are tight, and the weapons palette is fairly varied, considering you can't customize anything. Best of all, it's free, so if you want to relive your mech-loving days, Destroy Gunners F is definitely worth checking out.

Download links are after the break.

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2 years ago

Evernote updated to include better Skitch support, offline search and more

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Now that Skitch is a part of Evernote, we were wondering when we'd see some integration happening between the two apps and as luck would have it, Evernote already had a plan in effect. Available now in the Android Market is a freshly updated version of Evernote that includes better support for Skitch and deeply integrates the two applications. So what's new? Let's have a look:

  • Draw and Annotate with Skitch - When you create a note or edit an existing one, you’ll see Skitch’s heart logo in the toolbar. If you have Skitch installed (you really should if you don’t), then you’ll be taken into Skitch. In Skitch, you can draw and doodle, then send your sketch into Evernote by tapping the elephant icon in the top right.
  • Search when you’re offline - You can now search within your Evernote account when you don’t have a network connection. In the past, you were able to access certain notes offline, but searching for notes wasn’t possible. Now, Premium users can take entire notebooks offline and search within them. Free users can search within notes that they viewed or created on their Android device.
  • Slideshow View for images - Open a note, then tap on an image, photo or something you marked up in Skitch. This will open our new dedicated image viewing mode: Slideshow View. The image will take up the whole screen on a black background. Swipe left and right to view all the other images in that note. If your note contains an image and nothing else, then it will automatically open in Slideshow View.

The deeper integration with Skitch really shines when it comes to needing to annotate an already existing image. It's as easy as opening up that image, annotating it with Skitch and then saving it once again. That image will be saved with all the new annotations in place. Pretty awesome! Larger screened devices and tablets make use of this feature quite nicely, if you're looking to give it a shot -- the download link can be found past the break.

Source: Evernote Blog

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