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I’m slowly resurrecting this blog. If you want to check out my technology writing head to my home page.

2K Mobile Games Sale Begins Today

2kmobile sale

Get ready for some impulse purchases. 2K Mobile is discounting many of its top games beginning today with the sale price available through August 5. Titles such as NBA 2K13, Civilization Revolution and Sid Meier’s Pirates! are all getting some heavy price slashes.

The sale is only for iOS titles. The following is the complete list – links will take you to their download site on the App Store:

 

A Wish List for Android 4.3

HTC1_BestofGoogle_final_revThe long wait for an updated version of Android may soon be over. With a Google press event scheduled for next week and some 4.3 leaks, many sites are reporting we will see an updated version of the Nexus 7 and a bump to a refreshed version of Android.

As someone who spends a lot of time with an HTC One and Nexus 7 (although the latter is clearly close to giving up the ghost) I have a few hopes for what Google will put forth in the newest version of Android.

  • A better stock messaging app: Yes, there are plenty of third-party alternatives, but those running stock Android have the best messaging that 2007 can provide. It does not handle MMS well and jumps and flashes far too frequently during intense messaging sessions. It is one of the reasons I have stuck with Sense on my One – the messaging app is far better. [Read more...]

Editorial: iOS 7 Good for Some, Terrible for Others

iPhone5-3up-Pyramid_iOS7_PRINT copyApple’s  iOS 7 was the revolutionary overhaul that had been rumored for months. Gone is the stitched leather, faux notepad and other elements of the now infamous skeuomorphism. Apple has redesigned iOS to be minimalist with pastel colors and translucent effects.

For developers the changes to iOS are largely positive. Full multi-tasking capabilities and 1,500 new APIs will give plenty of ways to strengthen applications. The App Store got some tweaks to better highlight different apps, including offering suggestions based on the user’s location.

The visual overhaul, however, feels rather elementary. While the excessive mimicking of real-life objects was getting out of hand, some of the new icons are equally unappealing. The pastels combined with the translucent smudges feels almost child-like. Where Windows Phone is overly modern and Android too utilitarian, iOS now looks like one’s first smartphone operating system. And the idea of live information on the home screen, even a working clock, seems like a dream worth surrendering. [Read more...]

Flayvr Brings Order to Chaos of Photos

Flayvr Image 4Organizing and editing photos are quite the rage these days. So before you give them all to Google, take a look at the more independent-minded flayvr.

The iOS/Android app attempts to sort your images into albums, making them easier to share with others or look back at for those fond memories. It is designed to eliminate the constant scrolling and hassle that comes with trying to find that particular image.

“flayvr redefines the way we consume and share our favorite life moments by magically organizing photos and videos. flayvr is instant, hassle-free and allows for a seamless shareable interactive experience across all Android devices,” said Ron Levy , flayvr’s Founder and CEO, in a statement. “Launching on Android is an opportunity for us to share the best of what flayvr has to offer with new audiences across the world and help them bring back to life millions of photos and videos that are stuck on devices.”

While many of these tools can be found in other applications, flayvr does a good job of creating a pleasing interface. It also may be a welcome replacement on Android devices for some of the rather annoying add-ons that manufacturers add to the gallery (I particularly dislike how HTC Sense wants to fill your gallery with Facebook photos). [Read more...]

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...]

Follow Google I/O 2013

The rumors about a music streaming service from Google and a “Google Edition” Galaxy S4 are already swirling before the annual I/O developer conference gets started.

Find out what happens by watching the keynote here:

Nova Launcher Prime Review

nova-launcher-primeDespite’s Android’s work to clean up its interface with recent versions hardware manufacturers continue to ship flagship devices with custom User Interfaces. The two newest Android flagship devices, the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, both run the company’s latest custom skins.

While some of the add-ons are helpful (there is much about Sense 5 I actually like) they all carry some annoying baggage that can muck up the Android experience. So what to do?

Sure, you can root your device. Yet that path isn’t for everyone, and is fraught with potential issues for those not experienced enough to manipulate the inner workings of their device. A stock Android experience can be found in the Nexus 4, yet that means sacrificing LTE and dealing with abysmal battery life.

Nova Launcher is the right fix. It brings a Holo-like feel back to your device, along with an extensive list of customizations. Users can add in specific gestures, customized icons and folders, along with unique themes to put your own stamp on the device.

For $4.00, the Prime upgrade brings worthy enhancements. While some (wrongly) may balk at the cost, it is well worth paying for something that will optimize your device.

After downloading Nova Launcher, your phone will ask which launcher to use when accessing the home screen. Set Nova as default and you are ready to go. [Read more...]

Flipboard Magazines Arrive on Android

flipboard-android

Flipboard’s magazine feature, which unleashed some creative personal magazines on iOS, is now available on Android. The 2.0 update brings this along with other improvements to the app for Google’s mobile OS.

Android users can now add content throughout Flipboard into their own customized magazine. By hitting the + button on an interesting article it becomes one of the posts inside your customized publication.

And because you don’t get enough notifications, count on some from Flipboard when others comment, like, or subscribe to your magazines.

Below is the full changelog from Google Play:

-Collect and save content into your own magazines, tap the “+” button to begin
-Your magazines are public, but can be made private
-Integrated Android share: add content from the Gallery & other apps to your magazines
-Bookmarklet to add items to your magazines from a browser
-Get notifications when people like, comment or subscribe to your magazines
-Share magazines via email or social networks
-Personalized recommendations for more to read
-Search is now front & center, with improved results

Gmail for iOS adds YouTube, Google Maps Links

2013-05-06 08.54.37

Google’s subversion of iOS continues. Today the company pushed out an update to it iOS Gmail app that will open links to YouTube videos and maps in those respective Google-built apps. This circumvents the default method in iOS, where links open in Safari.

Google previously had included the choice to open links in Chrome. While these options are turned on by default, they can be disabled. This would return one to the standard behavior of opening a link in Apple’s Safari browser.

This move comes after Google added its Google Now service to the company’s search app. It is another indication that while the Mountain View company would love to have everyone using Android, it knows that it has a large base of its users want to access its services on the iPhone and iPad.

Another minor addition is rather convenient. If you are signed in to multiple Gmail accounts, you can now just sign out of one instead of being forced to sign out of all of them at once.  [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

WordPress, LinkedIn Revamp UI

WordPress-for-android

Updating an app’s user interface has been rather popular lately. WordPress and LinkedIn are the latest to jump on the design craze, giving their apps a more consistent look across iOS and Android.

LinkedIn

For LinkedIn, the newest version brings a consistent design to its iOS and Android options.

Gone is the awkward home page that broke everything from the app into four different categories.

Outlook.com

Outlook.com has emerged as a strong alternative to Gmail. However, outside of Windows Phone its mobile component has been lacking, especially on Android.

The new UI in the latest update mirrors the Windows 8 interface and looks great on its own platform, but feels out-of-place on Android. Also the folders found on the desktop to not sync across to the mobile app.

While Outlook.com is a substantial improvement from Hotmail, Gmail power users who rely on labels and the strong integration that Google has built into its Android app are unlikely to be satisfied with Outlook. Nonetheless, grab the updated app to check out one of the alternatives out there in Google Play.

 

HTC One Available Today

HTCONESilver_Left_BIG

The HTC One is one of the most anticipated and best reviewed Android handsets to launch recently. Those who want to grab one of the devices can do so, beginning today.

The HTC One is available from a large number of retailers, including AT&T, Sprint, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Walmart, Target, Amazon.com, Costco, Car Toys, Sam’s Club, HSN.com, and HTC.com.

The device runs Android 4.1.2 and includes specific HTC customizations, such as HTC BlinkFeed, which streams content to one’s home screen. The One’s camera is lauded for its hi-res images and photo software HTC Zoe promises to create better organized photos. Reviewers have also praised the dual front-facing stereo speakers with HTC BoomSound.

More from the official HTC release:
[Read more...]

SwiftKey Stats Illuminate Trends

A world of SwiftKey - stats1SwiftKey has transformed our expectations of typing on a touch-screen device. SwiftKey’s keyboard has been one of the major factors in driving my switch from an iPhone to a Nexus 4 as my primary device (although that HTC One looks pretty amazing). 

The following post from Charlie Edmunds, Head of Consumer Insight for SwiftKey, looks at what the company’s data indicates about its usage worldwide. 

Last week we showed you what your SwiftKey stats mean; today we’re taking a look at the habits of SwiftKey users around the world. Based on our anonymous usage stats, we’ve got some very interesting insights about how different countries use SwiftKey and we’d love to share them.

Starting with size, the USA is the country with the most SwiftKey users – Google Play tells us that 42% of our users are in the States. But neighboring Mexico has the most productive typists, each entering 2,650 characters per day, compared to an average of 1,794. That’s enough to fill 19 tweets.

Denmark is the country with the most efficient typists – the average efficiency there is 37%, compared to 34% overall. Perhaps this is because Danish users love to use SwiftKey predictions – one in 15 of their words is chosen without typing a single letter (6.7%, vs 4.3% on average). [Read more...]

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.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution for iPad Review

civilization-iPadFor those looking for a game with more depth and strategy check out Sid Meier’s Civilization for the iPad. A product of 2k games, the traditional PC game is smartly recreated for the iPad interface. It offers an excellent array of strategy combined with the immediacy of a touch-friendly tablet game.

The goal is to take one’s tiny village and transform it into a mighty empire. The path to accomplishing this is a slow one, requiring skillful decision making and smart allocation of resources.

Single-player mode presents several options for beginning a game – either play through some prescribed scenarios or start a new empire from the beginning of civilization. The game allows one to choose a specific leader, such as Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth I, or Napoleon Bonaparte (the Queen appears to be wearing an outfit a bit more revealing than what was likely acceptable in her era).

Much of the game centers on the discovery of technologies. You will often be presented with where to focus your energy; discoveries begin with relatively simple matters like fire before moving on to the more complex. [Read more...]

Sliding Messaging Pro, Chat Heads Liven Android Messaging

sliding-messaging-pro-update

Sliding Messaging Pro has become my favorite messaging app on Android. Despite some occasional glitches, developer Jacob Klinker has worked diligently on the project to improve the interface, which is now a far superior messaging experience than the stock Android messaging app.

The latest update is a rather radical redesign that places all of the conversations inside cards for better viewing. The original aesthetic of sliding is still there – just swipe any direction to go through the conversations or to get back to the main list. Each contact also is displayed at the top of the conversation (if you wish) for a quick glance at their information.

Unfortunately none of this will quickly take you to that profile’s contact card. This is a feature that would be a good addition in a future update.

Sliding Messaging Pro now handles MMS very well. The feature only came into being with the app recently, though it greatly improves it not only through the ability to send a picture but also as a way to send longer messages. You can set how long the message limit is prior to sending it out as an MMS. This prevents your contacts from getting several messages from you just because there was too much text.

Probably my favorite feature is one that is fairly inconsequential – Sliding Messaging Pro supports Emojis. So if you are chatting with iPhone-toting friends their green messages will at least be accented by those lovingly annoying picture messages. [Read more...]

Google Play 4.0 Continues Minimalist Design

google-play-mainGoogle’s newest redesign of its Play Store furthers its effort to create a cohesive, minimalist interface as its new branding mark. For myself Google’s design aesthetic has become more pleasant and properly blends real-world icons with a digital interface – a much preferable look to that of iOS.

This is a matter of preference, of course. The icon-based interface of iOS and its emphasis on the use of skeumorphism work well for many and serve as a useful link to the past. Also, whatever one makes of the UI of iOS, it still is the vast ecosystem of apps that make the iPhone and iPad worthy of paying attention to.

The new look brings larger icons, more content recommendations and less digital clutter. The top of the new home page contains links to the major content areas of Google Play; the icons have been tweaked to match the flatter look.

Gone are the panels which tried to squeeze too much information into a small space. The highlighted apps, movies and other features fit well inside the page; view them by scrolling down.

Those coming from the App Store may feel an instinctive pull to swipe through the promoted items. Instead you need to hit the “Read More” link to see further items from that category. Navigating is accomplished through swiping the sliding panels, which is one of the key UI characteristics of the Holo design. Watch the bar along the top to keep track of where you are. Fortunately more Android apps are beginning to use this design aesthetic, which is bringing some much-needed consistency to Android applications.

Each app page is essentially the same as the previous iteration of Google Play, save for the font changes and lightened background color. Also there is still that tight integration with Google+, which requires you have an account with Google’s social service in order to leave review or give content a +1.  [Read more...]

SnipSnap Suspends ‘Follow the Money’ Contest

snipsnap-iosCoupon-clipping app SnipSnap has nixed a contest designed to increase the social component of the network. Due to “significant mechanized entries, collusion, and fraud” the company sent an email to users announcing the suspension of the contest.

SnipSnap, a popular coupon sharing app, has been building up its sharing component and sought to use the contest as a way for users to gain additional followers. Those who gained 100 followers were eligible to win a $100 gift card.

Below is the text from the company’s email:

SnipSnappers,

We have been forced to suspend the “Follow the Money” contest (get 100 followers, win $100 gift card), due to abuse.

Over the weekend, the contest was compromised by significant mechanized entries, collusion, and fraud.

We are sorry to have to cancel the contest after just one short week, but we don’t have the manpower to investigate each and every claim, especially given the overwhelming number of false ones.

We will be reaching out to all individuals who already submitted a claim, and attempt to adjudicate accordingly. If you followed the rules of the contest and got 100 new users to follow you, you’re golden! However, if your follower count appears to be identical to other submissions, automated, or otherwise fishy, you will likely be disqualified. [Read more...]

Twitter for Android 4.0 Brings Holo-Friendly Design

twitter-for-android-update

Twitter for Android 4.0, available today in Google Play, vastly improves the Twitter interface and gives it a Holo-themed design aesthetic.

The app now includes many smooth animations, sliding panels, and larger text which pops out from the increased white space. While there is not yet a tablet-specific version, the app looks much better on a Nexus 7.

Users can swipe from one column to another instead of being forced to only tap the heading. Twitter for Android now also recommends Twitter user names and hash tags when typing a tweet.

Also I found it to be far more responsive when alerting me about @mentions or new follows.

It is another good sign for Android users, who increasingly less need to be jealous of all those applications running on the rival iPhone or iPad. Yes, there are still those current exclusives like Tempo, but even that and other apps that first debut on iOS have plans to make their way to Android.

Nonetheless, as operat
ing systems get more powerful and integrated, developers continue to respond with compelling applications that take a central role in users’ mobile computing.