Sonic the Hedgehog Launches on Android

Sonic 1_Screenshot 1The 16-bit masterpiece that stole many hours of my childhood is now on Android. Sonic the Hedgehog can be had for $2.99 on Google Play; it is still available for that same price on the App Store.

The classic has been remastered for mobile devices, complete with 60 frames per second graphics. The memorable characters are there, as the gameplay is virtually the same with touch controls rethought for mobile devices.

Given the game’s excellent reception it furthers the mystery as to why Nintendo has not jumped on board with a mobile edition of its popular games. Super Mario Brothers would likely garner millions of downloads, as Sonic has done rather well on iOS with multiple four- and five-star ratings from users. [Read more...]

Facebook for Windows Phone Beta Ready for Testers

Microsoft wants to make sure as many people as possible like the new Facebook app for Windows Phone. The newest beta of the Windows Phone Facebook app is available in the Windows Store for anyone who wants to try it out.

Instead of going for a specific Windows Phone-style interface, this app, which is built by Microsoft, appears to have much in common with the iOS and Android versions. The goal here is likely to unify the Facebook experience across platforms and make new converts to Windows Phone comfortable with the interface.

Users can share feedback to Microsoft inside the app by going to Settings < About. The app is getting pretty rapid updates, as the most recent change went live today.

Facebook for Windows Phone can be downloaded directly from the Windows Store.

Image credit: Microsoft

Source: CNET

Swype Now in Google Play

Swype, the keyboard that pioneered gesture-based typing, is finally available in Google Playswype-google-play. It is being offered for $0.99 as a promotion.

Previously users had to purchase the app from the company’s Web site and then load it into their device.

With Swype one can slide their finger across a keyboard instead of tapping out early key. The Swype software then will offer autocorrrect ions to increase the typing speed.

This typing method has been rather popular, as Google has implemented this technology in the stock Android keyboard. SwiftKey recently introduced SwiftKey Flow as an option in version 4 of its Android keyboard.

At $0.99 Swype is a good enough deal that many people may want to try it out. I did the same, with mixed impressions. I like the number of predictions offered for each word and the interface choices. Swype also does a good job at offering words that minimize the amount of typing, or in this case “swyping,” that one must do.

However, I find the predictive power in SwiftKey to be superior to Swype. And if gesture-based typing isn’t your thing then SwiftKey is the way to go without hesitation.

MyGlass App Live in Google Play

google-glass

Google Glass is almost here. To help fill out the experience Google has pushed the MyGlass companion app to the Play store. It requires an Android device running version 4.0.3 or higher.

The MyGlass app is designed to serve as a tool for getting one’s Glass device up and running. It provides information about your specific device along with some configuration settings.

There is a disclaimer on the app’s Google Play page about the utility of the application for those who do not have Google Glass:

If you don’t have Glass, then downloading this will be a waste of time. Sorry about that. But if you swipe the screenshots to the right you’ll see there’s a picture of a puppy in pajamas. So not a total waste of time after all.

Google has announced that its Glass devices should be shipping soon to those who were selected through its Glass Explorer program. It has also released API details and information about initial apps.

Google Keep for Android Review

2013-03-20 21.06.56If there has been one major hole in Google’s ecosystem it has been the lack of a native note-taking app. Google Play is filled with the likes of Evernote, Catch, and others built around idea saving. It would appear that Google saw a lot of information that was going to other services instead of its Google Drive.

Enter Google Keep - the company’s effort at recording one’s thoughts or short lists. The content in the Android app syncs in real time with Google Keep on the web (full integration isn’t there yet, but Google says it is coming). It has a clever interface that is built to mimic post-it notes without the excessive skeuomorphism of the iOS Notes app.

What I like best is how it is built for rapidly launching a new note. It is perfect for that confirmation number, address, phone number, or other snippet of information that you quickly need to take down. For example, when opening the app it is only one tap to begin writing a new note.

Another clever trick – when you click “show check boxes” it will transform the current text into a list with boxes. Feel free to tick them and clean out the to-do list.

Change the color of notes by tapping the color palette icon on the top right corner. Also, tap and hold a note to rearrange its position within the application. Each app can also be shared with Android’s excellent sharing feature, deleted, or archived. [Read more...]

Follow The Conclave With These Apps

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The process of selecting a Pope may be centuries old, but mobile apps are helping send the message as soon as smoke leaves the chimney. A number of developers have updated existing apps or cranked out new ones in order to keep the public informed on the selection of the next pontiff.

Conclave: This app was jammed together by the developers to serve as a resource, or something. It is a small piece of a larger Logos Bible Software company, which creates Bible software for all major desktop and mobile operating systems. (iOS) (Android)

The Cardinal bios section is rather interesting, with a trending list of the candidates supplied by the NewAdvent.com buzz meter. If you feel like checking out the previous 2,000 years of church history, hit up that section as well. Nearly all the links are to desktop web sites, so browsing can be kind of a pain. However, there are plenty of great historical snippets, especially stuff about the antipopes.

The Pope App: While less imaginative, this is the official application of the Vatican news agency. When a new Pope is elected, this will serve as the official mobile application. (iOS) (Android)

Radio Vaticana: The Vatican has a surprisingly robust multimedia presence, and this app offers the official Vatican radio network along with its other sources of media. 
[Read more...]

ESPN Bracket Bound Feeds March Madness

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Anyone who is a dedicated or casual fan of college basketball should grab the 2013 edition of Bracket Bound. While it had a few too many bugs for my taste, it offers a great resource for staying on top of the season as we head towards the NCAA tournament.

For maximum performance log in with your ESPN credentials or via Facebook. I had to restart the app to get my ESPN account to take and had similar difficulties getting Facebook Connect to work on my Nexus 4. Once this works, any of your favorite schools saved elsewhere with your ESPN account will appear within the application. You can then

Bracket Bound 2013 also includes access to the Tournament Challenge, which is a pick-em style event for those who want to test their college tournament prediction skills.

By default push alerts will notify you of important game scores and down-to-the wire events. It may be overkill for some, but I appreciated the updates on a recent Saturday to how the Top 25 were faring against the competition.

My only lament is that it took all season for ESPN to update a dedicated college basketball app. While the college football app was ready for the entire season, college basketball again only seemed to pick up interest as the tournament approaches.  [Read more...]

ClassDojo for Android Launches

ClassDojo Android AppClassroom behavior management app ClassDojo has arrived in Google Play. Like its iOS counterpart it allows teachers to award points or demerits based on a customized list of student behaviors.

By all accounts it should work across a wide range of Android devices. It does not have a native tablet version, but should work fine on smaller devices, such as the Nexus 7.

ClassDojo for Android is a very stable and solid release, allowing me to easily award the little monsters, complete with the same sounds found in the desktop and iOS versions. If you want the app to stay silent, simply turn off the sounds in the settings.

The main screen lists your classes – just tap on the one you want to use. The search bar can be used to find any of your classes faster is there is a larger list.

Also, like many Jelly Bean apps just slide to the right from the left edge to pull up the sidebar menu. Other options include sharing the app with others or changing how student names are sorted. There is no ability to edit or begin a new class – those must be handled from the desktop view. [Read more...]

SnipSnap for Android in the Works

snipsnap-ios

The popular digital coupon-sharing app SnipSnap is coming to Android. I have been testing the beta for a couple of weeks, which has made me eager for a final, polished version.

It was one of the few apps I missed when moving from iOS to Android. For those unfamiliar with it, SnipSnap digitizes paper coupons, eliminating the need to carry most of them out shopping. While not all grocery stores or other retailers have jumped on board with scanning your phone, a number of larger retailers have done so. This makes redeeming coupons just as easy as paying for that Starbucks drink by showing your phone.

SnipSnap has also evolved into a coupon-sharing social network, with users able to share deals and connect with social networks. SnipSnap CEO Ted Mann said the social community has grown exponentially with a large amount of sharing happening.

“People are snipping and sharing coupons like mad. The idea of a coupon community has really taken off,” he said.

The iOS version of SnipSnap also exhibits deep integration with Apple’s Passbook feature, which helps alert users with location awareness. The app pings you with coupon reminders when entering specific stores. [Read more...]

WeVideo Launches Beta Android App

WeVideo Android

Online video creation tool WeVideo is using Mobile World Congress to debut its Android app.

The beta version emulates some of the basic features found in the desktop tool, providing a simple-to-use interface for video novices. It does not have the extensive polish of more established video editing apps, but this is an impressive debut for a tool with large ambitions.

WeVideo has the potential to become the app of choice for Chromebook users, as it has built what it calls a “full featured” subscription option for those who want to do more extensive video editing in the cloud.

I am being treated to a preview of the full suite courtesy of WeVideo. My impressions will be available in a later, more extensive, review.

Installing the beta on an Android device is pretty easy, even if you have not yet done this before (note: it currently only works on a Samsung Galaxy Note, Note II, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Nexus or LG Nexus 4). Head to the Launchpad site which hosts the WeVideo apk (Android Package file). Be sure your device is set to install non-Google Play applications. [Read more...]

SwiftKey 4 Launches for Android

swiftkey flow through space

Fans of SwiftKey can rejoice. SwiftKey 4 is now available, bringing the gesture-based Flow system and other improvements to the excellent Android keyboard.

The latest version of SwiftKey is the culmination of several iterations of Flow user feedback and other improvements to the well-regarded SwiftKey system.

After using the Beta for several weeks I have found the Flow predictions to continuously improve to the point where it could be the default for some users. How much to use Flow depends on typing style. I found that Flow worked best for text messages or other short communication that did not involve a considerable amount of specific terminology. Even if the gesture-based style is not your preferred method, there are other behind-the-scenes improvements that keep SwiftKey the top keyboard for Android phones and tablets.

Along with Flow, SwiftKey 4 has a variety of other improvements designed to keep the keyboard in its position as the top paid app in Google Play. The number of supported languages is up to 60, including Javanese and Susanese.

There is also a nice improvement to the correction system, enabling users to tap on a word and quickly get two suggestions. The cursor also quickly moves to the end of the word. [Read more...]

Google Now Widget Disappoints

Google Now is one of the strongest components of the current version of Android. The read-your-mind service now includes a home screen widget which brings forth some of the information previously only available when launching the application.

The widget can expand to fill one’s screen or be reduced down to the 4×1 size. It provides quick updates on weather, stocks, traffic, or sports information.  [Read more...]

Facebook Pages Manager for Android Finally Arrives

Facebook page owners can finally control and manage their social network presence with a dedicated app on Android.

The Facebook Pages Manager app nearly matches the iOS version when it comes to features and speed. Page owners can post, comment, manage settings and view other data about their page’s performance.

This is, of course, not the only next big thing happening with Facebook. The company also announced its social graph search component at its headquarters today.

[Read more...]

Applorer Finds Free Android Games

While iOS gamers have Game Center and other third-party gaming community apps, the scene has been far more scarce on Android. Applorer wants to change this, churning out an update to its free game recommendation app.

Applorer wants to harness the power of your group of friends to find more games, using a player’s history, reviews, and what other friends have spent time playing.

The interface certainly takes inspiration from Google+, with friends added to circles and creative use of white space. Slide from the left to reveal groups. [Read more...]

Google Maps for iPhone Review

It has been the unending question ever since iOS 6 launched: when will a Google Maps for iPhone app arrive?

The question was finally answered late Wednesday when Google Maps for iPhone went live in the App Store. As many of the late-night reviews have noted, it looks great. The entire package is better than the former Apple created, Google-powered version of Maps that existed previously.

The interface makes use of white space and a minimalist font for a modern look. It shares the same design aesthetic as the new Gmail and the Google search app.

In many ways it is superior to the old Google Maps experience on the iPhone. There are sharper details and the capability to sync information with your Google account. Star an item, save a trip, or track location history while entering your Google account details.  [Read more...]

Swiftkey Flow Beta Rethinks Gesture Typing

Swiftkey Flow, the popular Android keyboard’s take on Swype, is launching today in beta. It seeks to combine gesture-based typing with the Swiftkey’s strong predictive text capabilities.

I have been using the beta myself for about a week and have been very impressed. As someone who prefers to thumb type on a mobile device, I found Swiftkey Flow’s predictive capabilities strong enough to make me use the swiping feature. The new version is available from the Swiftkey site for the company’s “VIP” beta testers. 

The beta launch includes what Swiftkey is calling “Flow Through Space,” whereby users can glide their finger across the keyboard amongst letters and the spacebar without needing to lift it for new words. A key component of this is Swiftkey’s predictive text technology, which attempts to learn what you are likely to write based on your past usage.

[Read more...]

Android 4.2 Breaks Starbucks App [Updated]

Starbucks Android app users who upgraded their device to 4.2 are getting an unwelcome surprise when trying to pay for a Starbucks purchase.

Galaxy Nexus owners who upgraded to the latest version of Jelly Bean (myself included) are reporting the Starbucks app repeatedly force quits.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the company is at work on a fix to the problem.

“We’re aware of this issue and working to resolve it,” she said.

Uninstalling and reinstalling the app also did not resolve the bug.
[Read more...]

SwiftKey Flow to Take on Swype

SwiftKey is challenging Swype for supremacy in typing without lifting a finger. The London-based maker of a popular Android keyboard announced SwiftKey Flow today, which combines its auto prediction technology with glide-based typing. [Read more...]

Find by Drawing with Gesture Search for Android

Google’s Gesture Search app for Android is is designed to let you search your phone or tablet by drawing letters or numbers on the screen. In certain situations it is a nice alternative to typing what you need to find. [Read more...]

Google+ Mobile Adds Page Support

Managing a Google+ page from an Android or iOS app is now possible thanks to a new update. Google+ version 3.2 for Android and iOS gives page managers the power to post, comment, and interact with followers.

Doing so is a little tricky: you must sign out of your account, then log back in as the page administrator.  [Read more...]