On-demand highlights and news available even without cable subscription
What some would call a long-overdue update to the WatchESPN app has finally arrived, and it seems to have been worth the wait. While the previous version was certainly functional, it was far from attractive or a joy to use. The new version takes things to the next level, with a completely redesigned interface. You now have a new main interface with simple lists and sliding tabs to choose between live TV and other on-demand programming, as well as a new slide-in drawer.
You'll use that left drawer to switch between content on specific sports or channels, separated first by "featured" and then alphabetically and by channel. Streaming seems to kick in faster in our experience, and the app even properly hides all navigation elements to put the video in completely full screen on the Nexus 5 — a nice touch.
Altered Beast and Golden Axe characters return for a SEGA 25 year anniversary cameo
Sega’s Kingdom Conquest games are well-liked for their mixtures of action, strategy, and MMO gameplay. The latest entry: Kingdom Conquest II features a variety of gameplay styles all thrown into a pot and cooked together. One of those styles involves collecting monster cards to send into battle against monsters in neighboring lands.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis videogame console, SEGA has just released monster cards based on its classic franchises into Kingdom Conquest II. The special cards feature artwork and characters from Altered Beast and Golden Axe, two arcade hits.
Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress login options also in testing
Updated 9:49 a.m.: Whoa. Feedly has announced that it's in fact not going to force users to Google+ and will keep traditional Google login. Here's its official update:
The fact that this changing is forcing users to create a Google+ profile and that Google+ is not available in some companies and on some Google Apps domains outweighs the benefit of being about to login more seamlessly across devices. So we are going to rollback this change later this afternoon - Friday 1:00pm PST. We will try to make it optional in the future for some users who like Google+. Thanks for the feedback.
Original post follows:
With the death of Google Reader earlier this year, Feedly emerged as one of the major players in RSS, and since its inception it's been using Google's OAuth authentication service to sign in users. With the gradual shift towards Google+ sign-in across Google properties however, Feedly is following suit and introducing G+ sign-in. The transition will take place "this week" on the web and "later this month" through the Feedly Android and iOS apps.
The move to Google+ sign in, Feedly says, allows for easier sign-in on mobile devices and opens up more sharing possibilities, on which it promises to divulge more over the next couple of weeks.
But if Google+ isn't for you, Feedly is also testing Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress login options, with the aim of rolling them out over the next seven weeks.
Get a deeper look into the many features of Samsung's latest Note
Ever been curious about using a Note device, but never given one a try? Well Samsung is hoping that an app in the Play Store called the Galaxy Note 3 Experience will help you discover all of its great features. You get a chance to watch some promo videos, and live interactive full-screen tutorials showing how features work on the Note 3 on whatever device you currently use.
Things like Air Command, Multi Window, Scrapbook and more are all on display, and they actually look pretty good considering that everything is just running in an app. You can also see how interactions work between the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear, although that implementation is a little clunky to our eyes.
The app also does you some good even if you already have made the choice to go with a Note 3. If you install it on your device, you'll get tutorials on all of the great features at your disposal that you may not have discovered on your own. If you're at all curious about the Note 3, you may want to take a look.
New version lets you use Google's IM app to send and receive texts
As promised at last week's Google+ event, the new version of Hangouts capable of sending and receiving text messages is now rolling out through Google Play. The update to brings things up to speed with the version of Hangouts on the Nexus 5, which is the default SMS app on that device. When you first load up the updated Hangouts you'll be presented with a fullscreen message asking if you want to enable SMS support — tap yes and your messages are imported into the app, and you'll receive future SMS notifications through Hangouts instead of your preloaded SMS app. Tap "Maybe later" and things will stay as they are.
For the most part, the texting experience through Hangouts 2.0 on any other device is the same as it is on the Nexus 5 — SMS conversations are shown in a list alongside your other, and you can choose whether you want to communicate over Hangouts or SMS when starting a new conversation. Want out? At any point you can go to Settings > SMS > Turn on SMS to enable or disable SMS in Hangouts.
As usual the update is being rolled out gradually across the Android user base, so don't be surprised if you don't see it immediately. If you're updating today, be sure to hit the comments and let us know whether you're opting into SMS in Hangouts or not.
A little KitKat style on any device running ICS or above
The Google Keyboard is getting a nice update that brings it right up to speed with the latest KitKat features and styling, offering what was only available on the Nexus 5 for a few days. Now any device running Android 4.0 or above will see the newer black and grey look (no more holo blue here), along with a few new features. First up, the long-press menus have been revised and you now access emoji rather than just basic smilies if your phone supports it.
The update also adds "space-aware gesture typing," which is just a fancy way of saying you can swipe over the space bar rather than lifting your finger between words. You'll also see a better punctuation layout across phones and tablets of different sizes, making the best use of the real estate at hand.
New platformer arrives today on Google Play and Amazon Appstore
Platform veteran Rayman returns to mobile today with the launch of Rayman Fiesta Run, a new running game that follows on from last year's Rayman Junge Run. Like that title, Fiesta Run features fast-paced platforming across a range of colorful worlds, with a total 76 individual levels. The concept isn't new — run around cartoon worlds tapping the screen to jump, collecting glowing critters as you go. But Rayman Fiesta Run seems nicely polished, with slick visuals and new ways to play including "invasion mode," which can be unlocked by beating stages, and three boss battles to contend with.
Rayman Jungle Run is available now on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, priced at $2.99 in the U.S. and £1.99 in the UK. For the price, it's definitely worth a look if you're a platformer fan. The game is also available on iOS from today.
As part of Google's ongoing effort to spin off certain software features into Google Play for easier updating, the company has today launched the Google Text-to-Speech engine as a standalone app on the Play Store. The will push out automatically to those using an older version (not you, Nexus 5 owners, you're already up-to-date out of the box). If you install it on a device that doesn't have it already, it'll appear as an option alongside whichever manufacturer-loaded text-to-speech service is currently in use.
The only major change we're seeing compared to the older pre-loaded version is the addition of Korean as a supported language. However the ability to update text-to-speech without requiring an OS upgrade presents the possibility of Google introducing more advanced TTS features through future app updates.
You'll likely be using two apps to manage your pictures on Android 4.4
If you're lucky enough to have picked up a Nexus 5 this week, you may be puzzled by two of the apps on your new phone. Not necessarily by the apps themselves, but rather the existence of both at once on one phone — Photos and Gallery. Two pre-installed apps that have many overlapping functions between them. You can tap either one to get to your photos, and in either case you'll have access to your automatically backed-up Google+ photos as well.
So why does the Nexus 5 have both a "traditional" Gallery app and this new Photos app at the same time? There are a few reasons. Let's dig into this somewhat bothersome phenomenon after the break.
There's no shortage of Cut the Rope games out there, I know. But maybe you've been thinking that's not enough. You need more physics puzzlers to play on the go. I've been there, man.
One of my favorite games in that style has long been Spider Jack, which comes from a Russian developed called MaxNick. Their latest physics puzzler Green Jelly (not to be confused with Jelly Bean or that rock band) plays a lot like Cut the Rope, but it also has some clever gameplay mechanics of its own that make it worth a look.