Jumat, 31 Agustus 2012

Android App Video Review: Call of Mini - Zombies

Call of Mini - Zombies is the first Android port of a Triniti Interactive game, and the company chose well in making their first impressions, bringing us this colorful and action-packed, if somewhat shallow, third-person shooter. Yes, in the end, this is just another shooter with zombies in it, but the charming and unique visuals kind of make up for that fact. It's not a very deep game, but it's packed with content and a perfect way to get your action fix on the go.

There isn't really much story other than, you know, zombie apocalypse, so I'll jump right into the gameplay. Each level is represented by a new day, and each day you get to choose from a few different levels to enjoy, from a junkyard to a church to a parking garage to a burning village, and more. This is strictly an arena shooter, and your only goal is to survive against the waves of undead. The battlefield will usually be littered with pick-ups, from ammo to money, and you'll need every bit you can get to survive. As the days go by, new zombies enter the fold, and you'll need to head into the armory to upgrade your arsenal.

You can either upgrade your old weapons, increasing damage, accuracy, and fire rate, or unlock brand new ones. They start out pretty standard, with machine guns and a chainsaw at your disposal, but before long you'll have rocket launchers, laser swords, and the most crazy world destroying guns imaginable. You can also improve your armor, or buy fun costumes with various perks. If you want to enjoy this mayhem with a friend, you can play cooperative survival or gun each other down in the versus arena over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can also play against random people in quick-match. Like I said, there really isn't much to this game, but it's a frantic action title that you can enjoy at any time, kind of like a bloody and violent snack.

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Winemakers and wine lovers should uncork these Android apps

Last week, we brought you a list of apps that are perfect for beer fans and homebrew enthusiasts. This week, were turning our attention to the humble grape and offering you a selection of handy Android apps which will not only assist the aspiring winemaker, but also help you find the best vineyards and wine near you.

Wine - List, Ratings & Cellar (Free)

Before you even consider making your own wine, its valuable to analyze what you are already drinking and keep taking notes and data on your favorites. Wine - List, Ratings & Cellar can help because it enables you to keep a journal containing data like quantity, vintage, drink by date, and location. You can also read wine reviews and picks that others have shared or add interesting wines you'd like to try to your wish list. Wine Notes Free performs a similar function and is worth a look, too.

Hello Vino - Wine App (Free)

One of the most popular wine apps on Android, Hello Vino is a valuable resource if you find yourself in a local wine store and dont know what to purchase. The app helps you pick the perfect wine for various occasions, whether it be dinner, gifts, holidays or simply personal taste preference. There are also numerous wine and food pairings, holiday gift ideas, wine reviews and ratings.

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Winerypedia Winery Locator (Free)

Now that you have been keeping notes and discovering your favorite varietals and vintages, its probably time to visit some local wineries and see how the pros do it. There are plenty of apps for specific wine-growing areas (like Napa/Sonoma in California or Victoria in Australia) but Winerypedia provides real-time distances via GPS to wineries all over the world, or you can simply search for them. Winerypedia contains an ever-expanding database of 5,800 wineries so far across more than 13 countries.

WineMaking Forum (Free)

The Wine Making Talk website and its related forum are popular spots for winemaking enthusiasts to read-up and discuss their art. This straightforward app brings the forum directly to your Android device. It could prove very useful if youre out in the garage away from your laptop, or at a local store looking to purchase the necessary items you require to make your winemaking exploits a success.

Winemakers Toolbox ($1.99)

For two bucks, Winemakers Toolbox offers an awful lot, and will be invaluable to the home winemaker or even the professional vintner. It allows you to make all the calculations and conversions necessary, directly from your Android device, including potential alcohol, required sugar, fortification formulae, sulphur dioxide additions, acidity calculations and more. Check out the free Winemakers PA Calculator app if you only want to estimate the amount of alcohol in your wine both pre- and post-fermentation.

New Android apps worth downloading: PayPal update, Granny Smith, Horn

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy going into the weekend. The Android PayPal app got a significant update the other day that was more than just skin deep. Weve also got a couple of fun games in contrasting styles: Granny Smith is a casual, endless platformer which is addictive and cute, while Horn is a sprawling, epic action/adventure game with console-quality production values.

PayPal update (Free)

Whats it about? The popular digital wallet and payment service just got a brand new app refresh complete with some useful extra functionality.

Whats cool? The newly redesigned PayPal app has much improved navigation and a fresh look and feel. It now matches Androids design standards to offer a better user experience. Your profile is easier to access, and the account section shows a transaction log of account activity. But more than just aesthetics, PayPal also added some new functionality like the ability to scan a credit or debit card and add it to your account as a funding source.

Who is it for? Current users of PayPal will appreciate the new redesign. Admittedly, I use PayPal quite a lot on the Web, but Ive never felt the need to download the dedicated Android app. This new refresh and increased functionality might convince me.

Whats it like? Other payment/finance and digial wallet apps are out there like Google Wallet, Pay With Square and Lemon Wallet, amongst others.

Granny Smith ($0.99)

Whats it about? Granny Smith, from the makers of Sprinkle, is a fast-paced platformer with some fun physics and dazzling visuals.

Whats cool? Help this old lady as she skates through cityscapes and farmland in pursuit of a thief who has been stealing apples from her garden. Our fearless heroine, despite her advancing years, is happy to crash through anything to get her apples back and there are 36 levels to enjoy. The touch-controls are intuitive and simple, and Granny can sure pull off some amazing stunts.

Whos it for? Fans of endless runners will like Granny Smith. There are power-ups to collect along the way and alternative characters with which to play to keep things fresh. If youre fortunate enough to own a Tegra 3 device, expect additional breakable objects, dust particles, flowers and more detail.

Whats it like? With numerous endless runners in Google Play, Granny Smith is hardly the most original game around. But its charming graphics, smooth gameplay and high level of polish make it a cut above many of its peers.

Horn ($6.99)

Whats it about? Horn is a visually stunning third-person action-adventure. Its appearance on Android follows hot on the heels of the iOS release which topped our iPhone Games of the Week.

Whats cool? The game tells an engaging fantasy story and features some impressive 3-D graphics. Horn is controlled completely by touch gestures, yet it wouldnt feel out of place on a powerful console system. Theres also plenty to explore and lots of action as you use your sword, crossbow, trusty musical horn, and wits to explore the lands, defeat enemies, and solve puzzles.

Whos it for? For now, Horn is only compatible with Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 devices, so that excludes a lot of gamers, unfortunately. With elements of role-playing, action and adventure, Horn should please those who want console-quality games on their handheld. By the way, the game is a massive 1.8GB download, so watch that storage space!

Whats it like? Its rare to find games like Horn with such impressive production values on Android. But imagine traditional Nintendo games like Legends of Zelda meeting iOS favorite Infinity Blade, and you get the idea.

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Kamis, 30 Agustus 2012

SkyDrive leads Android Apps of the Week

This week, Android users happily welcomed SkyDrive onto their devices. Microsofts cloud storage solution took its sweet time arriving on the platform, but now its here. Also this week, Google Play welcomed Grooveshark back into the market after a long hiatus and we saw a cool new video-editing app in Magisto, a nice way to follow the U.S. Open tennis tournament and a fun photo collage app called Muzy.

SkyDrive (Free)

With its presence on iOS devices and Windows 7 phones (naturally), it was only a matter of time before Microsofts cloud storage solution emerged on Android. The app works on Android 2.3 and above and allows access to all your files and those shared with you by others. If youve never used the service before, signing-up with SkyDrive will net you 7GB of free storage as Microsoft go after other popular players in the market like Dropbox and Google Drive.

Grooveshark (Free)

Back in April of 2011, the original Grooveshark app was yanked from the store by Google with very little explanation, but now its back. Apparently, Grooveshark still faces issues obtaining proper licenses for the music it streams (as well as litigation from major labels), so were not sure how long it will last. Grab it while you can: a free 14-day/50 song trial is available or its $9/month for the full service which offers unlimited streaming, offline listening and unlimited playlists.

Magisto - Magical Video Editor (Free)

While there are numerous video editing apps available out there, none offer the same kind of automation as Magisto. The technology behind it is pretty clever Magisto analyzes the footage youve shot and splices it together to create a good-looking movie which is then easy to share with friends and family. It even adds effects, transitions and can recognize faces. You can add your own soundtrack, or take advantage of the music the company has already licensed. While Magisto doesnt offer the hands-on experience some editors crave, its still fun to see what it creates.

US Open Tennis Championships (Free)

The U.S. Open started on Monday in New York. The official Android app is a great accompaniment for people who need to keep up with all the news when theyre away from the TV or computer. As well as constantly-updated live scores, the app will be streaming live tennis action on Labor Day and during Finals Weekend. We would have loved to have seen live streaming throughout the event, but maybe that will come next year. The app also offers all the usual stuff like news, photos, schedules and video highlights.

Muzy (Free)

This app has been seeing a lot of attention and downloads in Google Play lately. Muzy offers a great way to edit your photos and its fun to make collages of your images. You can frame your photos with dozens of layouts, add special effects and write messages using neat-looking fonts. Muzy is great for bringing out your creative side and its simple to share your final product on Facebook. According to the apps description, 10 million people already use Muzy, so its certainly popular and must be doing something right.

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CVS/pharmacy Android app is a must-have for regular shoppers

Regular shoppers at CVS stores will definitely want to get the free CVS/pharmacy app for their Android devices, especially if they have prescriptions in the pharmacy. This smart app is the mobile way to manage your prescriptions. You can refill and transfer prescriptions using the CVS/pharmacy app. No more calling and waiting on hold forever! And, customers can access their prescription history, which can come in handy during doctors visits.

A new feature of the app allows you to print photos directly from your Android device to the nearest CVS store. Its a same-day photo service for free with same-day pickup. Now that is convenience!

The CVS/pharmacy app also gives shoppers direct access to the stores weekly flyer full of deals so you can manage your shopping list. Your store loyalty card can also be synced to the app so you never have to worry about having the right keychain with you or carrying around another card in your already-stuffed wallet. Who doesnt have more store cards in their wallet than actual money these days?

Of course, you can also shop CVS.com with the app. And, there is QR code scanning function included in the app so you can scan items while shopping in store to get more information and potential savings. The app also includes information for CVS Minute Clinics including locations, hours, services and insurance types accepted.

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New Android apps worth downloading: Magisto - Magical Video Editor, Zite & Firefox updates

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. Magisto is a clever little app that can turn the videos you shoot with your Android device into something special, with no extra effort on your part. Weve also got the lowdown on two significant app updates: Zite, the personalized magazine, should see some performance increase with its latest update, and Firefox is now compatible with Android tablets.

Magisto - Magical Video Editor (Free)

Whats it about? Magisto offers a simple and easy way to edit the videos on your Android phone or tablet automatically.

Whats cool? While it may not truly be magic, the technology behind Magisto is still pretty neat. The app is clever enough to automatically edit your video for you. It analyzes the footage youve shot and splices it together to create a pretty spiffy-looking movie which is then easy to share with friends and family. It even adds effects, transitions and can recognize faces. You can add your own soundtrack, or take advantage of Magistos library of licensed music.

Who is it for? Not everyone is a video editing expert, so Magisto is a useful app to have on hand. Whats more, its quite a lot of fun to see what it comes up with from your footage. Its not ideal for people who want total control, but perfect for most casual video shooters.

Whats it like? There are plenty of other great video editing solutions out there, but none are as automated as Magisto. Still, apps like VidTrim, AndroVid and AndroMedia offer plenty of useful editing features and a bit more control.

Zite update (Free)

Whats it about? Zite is a free personalized magazine that automatically learns what youre into and gets smarter every time you use it. The app just got a welcome update.

Whats cool? The new update is the first since its initial release and most importantly, users should see performance increases on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and 4.1 Jelly Bean. As well as various bug fixes, font size changes are persistent throughout articles and the share menu UI and icons have been improved. While Zite is optimized for handheld devices rather than tablets, the app should still function nicely on smaller tabs like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire.

Whos it for? Appolicious Advisor, Kate Currin, reviewed Zite back in April and found it smart and savvy. Zite offers an interesting, personalized way to consume news articles and helps to cut out the information overload that other apps often produce because its more tailored to your interests.

Whats it like? While Zite doesnt offer the same pretty browsing experience as Flipboard and Google Currents, its personalization and learning algorithm make it worth downloading.

Firefox update (Free)

Whats it about? To go alongside the new desktop version (Firefox 15), Mozilla also updated its Android app (also version 15) with some significant extra features.

Whats cool? Support for Android tablets is probably the most exciting feature of this update, including quicker startup and a sharp, new design. Other new updates include a find in page feature, the ability to quickly switch to desktop view, more intuitive tab control (including swipe to close), and Firefox can now import bookmarks and history from the stock Android browser.

Whos it for? Clearly, Android tab owners who love using Firefox on their desktop computer will be happy to see that the browser now works properly with their tablets. Also, folks whove been using Firefox on smartphones for a while will enjoy the bug fixes and extra features.

Whats it like? If the stock browser that shipped with your current device just aint cutting it, Firefox is a worthy alternative, as are Chrome, Dolphin Browser (and Dolphin Browser Beta), Opera Mobile and Maxthon and many, many others.

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Rabu, 29 Agustus 2012

Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Lori Roth, Director of Mobile Products at WhitePages

Top people search company WhitePages is attempting to put an end to the fragmented user experience of switching from app to app to stay connected. They recently launched an Android app called Current Caller ID. It combines social networking with call and text ID into a single free app.

Alongside their existing WhitePages and Localicious apps, the company continues to be a leading provider of contact information for people and businesses in the U.S. In this installment of Developing Minds Want to Know, we talk to Lori Roth, Director of Mobile Products for WhitePages about the inspiration behind the companys suite of apps, what inspires and motivates her, and what the future holds.

Key Company Facts:

Name & Title: Lori Roth, Director of Mobile Products

Company: WhitePages

Location: Seattle, WA, and New York, NY

Size (Revenue and/or Employees): 100 employees, 15 of whom are on our mobile team.

Primary Apps/Platforms: WhitePages has a Top 50 mobile website and popular apps on Android (including WhitePages and Current Caller ID), iOS, BlackBerry, webOS and Windows 7 that have been downloaded more than 25 million times and have over 8 million total active monthly users.

APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?

LORI ROTH: WhitePages is the largest online provider of contact information on the web, providing consumers with access to 300 million landline and cell phone numbers. While certainly there is a strong use case for accessing this information on a desktop (as 40 million unique users do each month), we realized early on that there was perhaps an even bigger one in mobile, where calling and/or texting is one click away.We expanded into the mobile world in 2005 and have continually built off our core web offering to create unique experiences. The possibilities are endless, which inspires our team to conceptualize, create and build, build, build!

Heres a video showcasing Current Caller ID by WhitePages:

APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?

LR: We were in the iOS App Store from the very beginning in 2008, and that same year became one of the first brand-name publishers to develop for Android when it was still quite small. The evolution and improvement in both the iOS and Android app stores has become key factor for developers to distribute and market their apps at mass scale. The next big leap came when platforms allowed in-app billing which gave developers the tools to monetize their apps, generating a rich revenue stream for all platforms.

In addition, the recent emergence of mobile platform APIs such as Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, etc. has opened doors to endless possibilities for developers, as well as consumers. Finally, the evolution of operating systems has allowed for apps to become considerably more focused on providing a great experience for users. As an example, we have always loved developing for Android because of the openness of the platform and the ability to plan and execute a marketing strategy. With the launch of Ice Cream Sandwich, we were thrilled by the huge leap forward in design and UI introduced by Google, which we then leveraged to develop Current Caller ID.

APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?

LR: Inspiring apps are innovative, have a clear value for the user, limit barriers to use, and ALSO have a beautiful user interface. Developing an app that is successful with all of these is incredibly difficult. Some apps that we view as innovation leaders are Glympse, Pocket, Flipboard and Instagram.

APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?

LR: There are many innovations taking place right now, from voice to photo sharing to social network integration. However, one of the most innovative areas has been location. When it was introduced, location was one of those new technologies whereby the technology itself became the holy grail and yet no one could really figure out how to deliver a great user experience with location silently powering it in the background. Remember that classic example of receiving a coupon just as you walk by a Starbucks? Its only been recently that app developers started flipping the paradigm, thinking instead about leading with a great experience, first and foremost, and then leveraging the technology to power it.

Foursquare began this disruption of thought within the app world, which led to an explosive growth in apps that have great value propositions supported by location technology - everything from mapping to traffic crowdsourcing, to family safety, social tracing, and nearby content. Location is now beginning to meet the expectation of the many years of hype.

APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?

LR: Incorporating location technology into our user experience has been a focus for WhitePages for some time. All of our search apps, including WhitePages and Localicious, were launched using location to provide easier access to maps and directions for people and business search results. Building on this notion, we launched our Localicious app on Android last year, which combined neighborhood data and Foursquare functionality to help users find all the best restaurants and shops in their neighborhood, or any other. We were really excited when this app was recently recognized as a Webby Award Honoree for Best Use of GPS or Location Technology.

Our recent WhitePages for iOS upgrade also focused on location aware features. Our Nearby feature makes a great example. Imagine you want to pick up a bottle of wine on your way to dinner at a friends house in an unknown city. You can simply search for your friend; find a nearby wine shop, and directions to both, with just a few taps.

For our most recent app, Current Caller ID, we incorporate location by surfacing the city and state where the caller is located and display news and weather to help users be in the know on topics relevant to the person they are communicating with. Going forward, we know there will be many other ways to evolve the use of location data within the app!

APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.

LR: We take a very integrated approach to marketing our apps. This includes public relations, social media, mobile advertising, PPC and app store SEO. We are fortunate we can also leverage our top 40 website WhitePages.com and our various mobile properties to promote our new apps and drive downloads.

APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?

LR: The two most predominant constraints that we run into are the closed functionality of iOS which limits the services we can offer on that platform and Androids fragmentation which makes it difficult to offer a consistent experience for our user base across devices. As an example, while we would like to provide Current Caller ID for iPhone users, we are unable to because Apple does not allow developer access to the calls and texts of phones, which prevents us from identifying calls as they come in.

APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?

LR: WhitePages has a great track record of making money with our free apps by offering optional premium features and through advertising. With Current Caller ID, we are hyper focused on user adoption and so are offering it for free. However, there are a variety of premium features that we can offer in the future to generate revenue once we grow the base of users.

APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?

LR: Three thoughts: (1) Think broad: In order to give yourself the biggest opportunity for distribution you have to think beyond a single app on a single platform. Start with the consumer need, and how you are going to meet that across multiple platforms including devices, sms, social networks, and mobile or desktop web. (2) Think distribution: Create your app with app store SEO in mind and incorporate ways for users to socially share or interact with each other using your app. These two things are the cornerstones of your distribution especially if you have zero or little marketing dollars. (3) Think money: Plan up front your monetization strategy even if you are launching a free app to gain distribution.

APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?

LR: In thinking back on how the app sector has changed since 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone, I would just say hang on for the wild ride ahead. Given the pace of evolving technologies including such things as tablet penetration, machine learning, cloud based storage, location, social, voice recognition, photo technology, and more, there is a wealth of opportunity out there. We at WhitePages are excited about taking full advantage of these technology innovations to help people find, be found and connect with one another!

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Avoid dysentery and disembowelment as you head west on the Organ Trail

Who among us in the younger generations can honestly say they don't fondly remember playing The Oregon Trail on the school computers when we were children and such? It was a challenging, educational and mostly memorable gaming experience. Organ Trail: Director's Cut is practically the same game, only zombified, and its extremely cool. It was developed by the cleverly-named studio, The Men Who Wear Many Hats.

Instead of heading west to settle down, you're heading west to find a supposed military safe haven from the undead hordes. You bring along your friends or family and head off in an honest-to-god wagon. A station wagon, that is! Instead of hunting animals for food, you'll be scavenging for food and goods while fighting off zombies. In between cities and landmarks, you'll have to deal with weather, large zombie hordes, groups of bandits, and even stampedes of zombified animals.

Once you get to a town, you can buy and sell, trade with people, take on jobs for extra resources, repair your car, rest up, and so on. For some reason, people still accept money as a viable currency, but I suspect it was kept more for game economy balancing than anything. You'll have to keep an eye on your supplies and the local zombie activity closely, and make sure not to do anything reckless. The further west you get, the harder things get, with food, ammo, fuel and car parts becoming more scarce while the hordes seem to get bigger. No doubt one of your group will be infected at some point, and you might just have to put them down.

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This isn't the only Oregon Trail experience on mobile, though there are very few. Gameloft also released two games with the property's name. The first, The Oregon Trail, was more similar to the classic, but ruined things with their mission systems. The second, Oregon Trail: Settler, was received much better, but was more of a FrontierVille clone than anything else.

This zombie filled adventure is the only game to really retain the spirit of the original, with similar design, great retro art, and the like. The splash pages for each town are even full of zombie media references, and I cackled louder than I should have when the first guy you meet gets a certain disease. This game is worth every penny, and I highly recommend it.

New Android apps worth downloading: Lyft: On-Demand Ridesharing, SkyDrive, Juggernaut Revenge of Sovering

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. Lyft is an app that enables ridesharing on-demand. While its limited to just San Francisco for now, its an encouraging development. SkyDrive finally found its way onto Android devices, and adds its wealth of features to the already-crowded cloud storage app market. As for games, weve got Juggernaut Revenge of Sovering, a hybrid RPG/action/fighting game with some pretty impressive graphics.

Lyft: On-Demand Ridesharing (Free)

SkyDrive (Free)

Whats it about? Microsofts cloud storage solution finally has a dedicated Android app. It took its time the iOS one emerged late last year, and naturally, its been on Windows phones for a while.

Whats cool? SkyDrive works on Android 2.3 and above and promises access to all your SkyDrive content and stuff thats shared with you. You can view recently used documents, upload multiple photos or videos from your Android smartphone, share your files easily, open SkyDrive files in other Android apps and manage, delete or move whats already there.

Whos it for? For signed-up users of Microsofts SkyDrive already, this app is a no-brainer. If youve never used SkyDrive, you might be interested to know that it gives you 7GB of space for free. Its cross-compatibility across multiple devices and operating systems makes it an appealing option.

Whats it like? Yikes, how long have we got? Theres a multitude of cloud services available these days like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Cubby, Hojoki and many, many more.

Juggernaut Revenge of Sovering (Free)

Whats it about? This action-packed role-playing games will see you venture into a 3-D world slaying terrifying beasts and embarking on perilous quests.

Whats cool? Well, for a start, those graphics are pretty sweet. Juggernaut is a fantasy/action hybrid and the fighting mechanics are unusual because you can use tap, swipe or combo-hit controls and battles are turn-based with plenty of unique twists. There are even in-fight mini-games. You can choose to play as one of six customizable warriors, there are 12 armor classes, four schools of magic and 12 fighting spells to employ.

Whos it for? It seems like Juggernaut Revenge of Sovering is supposed to appeal to fans of fighting/action games and also to lovers of in-depth RPG as it seems to contain elements of both. The developers claim 30+ hours of gameplay within 15 different locations, but like most freemium games, youre likely to need to fork out some cash to get the best weapons and armor.

Whats it like? The game has a bit of a Blood & Glory hack-and-slash vibe to it, but it also resembles RPGs like the classic Pocket Legends. Its a tad disappointing that the game isnt compatible with every device out there just yet. Hopefully that will be corrected with future updates.

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Selasa, 28 Agustus 2012

Slices for Twitter looks to curate your followers

Looking to be a cut above the dozens of Twitter apps on the market, OneLouders Slices for Twitter presents a Holo-themed application chock full of features. Like their previous social network app, Friendcaster, Slices attempts to differentiate itself from the competition with a well-designed UI and loads of tools for social network power users.

Along with tools Twitter users are familiar with (search, reply and direct messages) Slices main draw is the ability to let users create custom categories, or Slices. Slices lets you group together users for easy browsing, similar to the Circles on Google+. Its not at all groundbreaking, but it makes scrolling through your Twitter feed much more manageable, especially if you have tons of followers. The app even automatically categorizes Slices based on tweets.

Across the banner lies quick shortcuts to your tailored Slices, new tweets, mentions, direct messages, notifications and the ability to post a tweet. It may sound over-populated but thanks to the slick Holo-themed format, the layout is uncluttered and intuitive to use. It seems the developers followed Androids UI guidelines to the letter. Unfortunately theres a banner ad at the bottom of the application, though its a minor nuisance.

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Another great feature of Slices is its content discovery capability. The Slices Explore option lets you browse through categories such as news, local, humor, sport, music and other interests. This feature is separate from Slices and is meant to help you discover new users to follow.

Bottom line, Slices is among the top Twitter apps on Google Play. The only drawback facing the app is its lack of tablet support and minor bugs and crashes. Overall, these minor setbacks are easily overlooked thanks in part to great content discovery and user-generated Slices.

Android word games to test your spelling and knowledge

When it comes to word games, I am not too good at them. English, specifically spelling, was never one of my strong points in school. So, why do I play them? Because they are a challenge and they make me think. There are plenty of word games out there right now, but the ones below are all pretty good and you might not have heard of them.

Gravity Words (Free)

In Gravity Words, you need to spell as many words as possible within the time allowed. Letters will fall from the top of the screen, tap on the ones you want and they will be put in your tray. When you have a word, hit submit and then begin again. You keep going until time runs out. The game features some nice retro graphics and sound. There are three modes to the game, Classic mode, Challenge, and Multiplayer. Within the Challenge mode, you can play Word Completion or Word Match. Within the Classic and Challenge mode, you can adjust the difficulty setting. There are a number of in-game achievements you can strive for and share on Facebook. Overall, its a very challenging game. A paid version of the game is also available.

So You Think You Know Words (Free)

So You Think You Know Words is a very different sort of game. What you have to do is guess (and spell) three different words from the letters provided. Now the words are all somewhat related based on the topic or puzzle pack you choose. If needed, you can turn on the hints to reveal a letter in each word or even ask for help via Facebook. The game comes with five different puzzle packs: TV and Movies, Anatomy, Animals, Food, and Synonyms. Within each pack there are close to 100 puzzles. If you were to choose TV and Movies, one puzzle you can chose is Starship Captains. The game will keep track of your progress and indicates more puzzles are coming. A pro version is also available. This is definitely a thinking mans game, plus knowing some trivia does not hurt.

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Word to Word: Association ($0.99)

Word to Word is the one word game in this group that does not involve spelling. The object of the game is to find the connection or association between the groups of words in the list. The game is very simple to pick up and play. To start a game, simply choose the puzzle pack you want to play and go. The game currently has 11 puzzle packs and each pack has 40 levels. There is no time requirement and when you finish a level, it is marked with a star. Overall, it is a fun game but doesnt pack as much of a challenge compared to the others in this list. There is also a free version of the game.

Unolingo (Free)

Unolingo is a cool crossword puzzle but has no clues, only letters! Each puzzle is a 10x10 crossword containing up to 25 words in them. Since there are no clues, you need to figure out where the letters go to form the correct words. Now, there are some letters already filled in on the puzzle. If you get stuck, you can hit the hint button. There is also an audit button which will check your answers for you. The game has a nice tips area and a FAQ section to provide some guidance. The game comes with five sections with 30+ puzzles in each, providing plenty of gameplay. Unolingo will keep up with your statistics and does time you. If you enjoy this game, there are more in this series that you can purchase.

Dabble ($1.00)

Dabble is a spelling game where you race against the clock. You begin with five rows of letters, two on the top, then three, four, five and six in the following rows. You job is to figure out what word goes in each row. There are no hints or help: is it better to start with the largest word and then work your way down? Good question. As you play you will be forming words, but are they the words the game will accept? There are in-game achievements you can earn. Dabble is available as an award-winning board game and you can also play it on Facebook.

Iron Crusade is an obsessive tank battler

Some of the greatest time wasters on the PC involve sitting your digital tank on the side of a hill and trying to launch ordinance at the opposing tank on the other hill. Iron Crusade is one of those games, and it's a good one, and I might actually play it again someday.

As I said before, this is a game where you and the computer have tanks and take turns trying to blow each other up. You can move your tank for a better angle or to collect crystals (more on those in a moment). You aim your shot by dragging your finger along the path you want your shell to take. That sounds easy, but it's more challenging than you would think. Combat is fun and engaging, and while its not complicated, youll have to put in some effort if you want to win.

The hook is that as you progress from battle to battle, youll need to upgrade your tank with new guns and armor and stuff, and you do that by collecting them during battles or paying real dollars for them. They arent necessarily just laying around on the battlefield, though. Usually, you have to blow holes in the ground to get to them. So, fights become an attempt to balance gathering crystals and taking out your enemy. Spend too much time gathering and you might just find yourself blown up.

Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer in Iron Crusade. It would have been fun to be able to battle your friends as we did in similar games on the computer, but alas.

Iron Crusade is free if you dont throw down cash for crystals, and its definitely worth the space on your phones hard drive, because itll stick in your head enough that youll want to keep coming back to it.

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New Android apps worth downloading: CNN/Time Convention Floor Pass, TextGenie, US Open Tennis Championships

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. CNN/TIME Convention Floor Pass arrives just in time for political convention season, offering all the news and analysis you need to stay informed. TextGenie is a novel app that is capable of translating the jargon and slang many youngsters use in text messages into something more understandable. Last but not least, weve got the lowdown on the official app for U.S. Open Tennis championship as it gets underway in Flushing Meadow, NY.

CNN/TIME Convention Floor Pass (Free)

Whats it about? With the political convention season underway this election year, the CNN/TIME Convention Floor Pass app offers up the latest insight and analysis.

Whats cool? From Tampa for the Republican convention and Charlotte for the Democratic convention, the app offers a continually updated schedule. Theres also breaking news and commentary plus the latest social buzz from Twitter, foursquare and iReport. Key speeches will all be covered, and theres even a Bump n Find State Badge quest, but frankly, we have no idea what thats about.

Who is it for? Probably just as useful for people attending the conventions as much as for those who wish they were, the schedule of speeches is certainly handy for political buffs. The apps wholehearted focus purely on the conventions means your news stays on focus.

Whats it like? Both CNN and TIME have their own dedicated apps of course, with plenty of political coverage from convention season. The RNC has its own, dedicated Tampa 2012 app, as do the Democrats with DNC 2012.

TextGenie ($1.16)

Whats it about? If you cant fathom the jargon, abbreviations and acronyms youngsters use in their text messages, TextGenie is here to help!

Whats cool? TextGenie is an app that can help confused parents (and other adults) decipher exactly what young people are saying in their SMS when they use unusual jargon, abbreviations and odd phrasing. Drawing on a 1,500-word dictionary, the app will translate the text messages and make them understandable again, deciphering slang with aplomb. It even allows parents to build up their own database of additional words.

Whos it for? Naturally, its for old-fashioned folks like me who recoil with horror every time they see txt speak anywhere. At the same time, savvy parents could use this on the sly and perhaps even convince their kids that they understand everything theyre writing.

Whats it like? Ive seen a web-based translator, but not an app like this before. There is one called ReadItToMe Lite which vocalizes your text messages I wonder how itd do with the most heinous examples of txt speak?

US Open Tennis Championships (Free)

Whats it about? The U.S. Open began yesterday. Heres the official companion app to to the tournament so you can keep up with all the action.

Whats cool? The app contains constantly-updated live scores while matches are going on, so that could come in useful for tennis fans. Even better, if you happen to be around on Labor Day and Finals Weekend, the app will stream live matches right in the app its just too bad its not every day. There is also news, photos, the schedule of play, radio coverage, and on-demand video of completed matches.

Whos it for? The app is great for tennis addicts who are away from a TV when the matches air. If you find yourself out and about on Labor Day or during the finals themselves, being able to stream the matches live to your Android smartphone is pretty sweet.

Whats it like? There are a few other apps covering the U.S. Open. US Open Tennis Live Scores does exactly what you expect, while something like The Tennis App offers news, rankings and scores from all the tournaments, big and small.

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Senin, 27 Agustus 2012

Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Airbnbs mobile platform lead, Andrew Vilcsak

Founded in August of 2008, Airbnb is a huge success. Its now the trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world, covering 26,000 cities in 192 countries. Whats more, it can all be done from your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. In June, the company reached the landmark of 10 million guest nights booked. With some $120 million in venture capital investment, Airbnb continues to grow from strength to strength, and the app was a welcome addition to our best Android Apps of 2012 so far.

In this installment of Developing Minds Want to Know, we talk to Airbnbs mobile platform lead, Andrew Vilcsak who offers insight about how Airbnb was created, what inspires him, how to succeed in the mobile sector and what the future holds.

Key Company Facts

Name & Title: Andrew Vilcsak, Mobile Platform Lead

Company: Airbnb

Location: San Francisco, CA

Size: 500 employees

Primacy Apps/Platform: Airbnb on Android and iOS

APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?

ANDREW VILCSAK: Back in 2008, Apple launched the App Store and I immediately saw an incredible potential. It was a distribution channel to reach an incredible number of people that simply didnt exist before. After hearing stories of dozens of developers striking it big and raking in millions, I set off to learn Objective-C, the computer language used for creating iPhone apps. I shipped handful of titles that got a few million downloads, but it wasnt until I joined Airbnb that I started working on more substantial products.

Heres a video that highlights what went into the making of the Airbnb app:

APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?

AV: My position at Airbnb has enabled me to work on genuinely impactful apps. Our iPhone app is used by hundreds of thousands of users every month. It enables our hosts and guests all around the world to make connections that simply wouldnt havent been possible only a few years ago. For hosts, this means opening up new possibilities with a new source of income, and for our guests, this means opening up completely new travel experiences that cant be found anywhere else.

APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?

AV: I think this recent wave of location-based social connection apps is fascinating Highlight (iOS) and Circle (iOS), for example. They did a good job, but its incredibly clear that nobody has yet figured out how a mobile device can help facilitate deep, meaningful offline connections in the real world. I believe the potential here is incredible.

APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?

AV: There has been a lot of cool stuff happening around mobile banking and payments with apps like Venmo (Android and iOS) and Simple (iOS). I think we see the most innovation when new companies arent just using apps as an afterthought or a secondary method of accessing information, but rather as a primary means of interacting with the product. In the case of something like Simple, their mobile app is an example of something thats attempting to disrupt a century-old industry.

APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?

AV: At Airbnb, were fundamentally unlocking a completely new, local travel experience around the world. Bringing this experience to the mobile platform means bringing a wealth of almost a quarter million incredible, unique accommodations that can be booked directly from your phone.

APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.

AV: You have one shot to get peoples attention. Make it great.

We wove together our skills as designers and developers and launched a great product. We won awards, we got great reviews both from the press and our users and weve continued to iterate on the experience as we use it ourselves everyday. This sort of attention and drive to your product is what naturally drives awareness and therefore downloads for our app.

APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?

AV: It might seem a little obvious, but an incredible amount of constraint in mobile devices comes from battery capacity in developing for mobile devices, there is a constant concern of how much computational power (and therefore, battery power) your app is using. Actions like turning on GPS sensors or running expensive graphical computations can burn a phone out in a matter of hours. Especially when traveling, its a constant engineering struggle to optimize ones work as much as possible to

APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?

AV: Our mobile apps are an extension of the Airbnb offering, so they make money in the same way our company does. Guests who book on Airbnb pay a small service fee for their reservation, and mobile accounts for about 25 percent of Airbnbs traffic across the entire site.

APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?

AV: Ship something quickly, but ship something excellent. As I said before, youve got one chance to impress when someone downloads your app from the store even a great idea executed poorly doesnt stand a chance.

APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?

AV: When the app store first launched, consumers viewed it as a source of amusing, transient content. It seems as though in the past year or so, people are now viewing apps as a necessary extension of their world: apps that help them stay healthy, manage their finances, explore the world and live a better, more efficient lifestyle. I think weve only scratched the surface of whats possible in a mobile device.

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New Android apps worth downloading: DriveOFF, Cosmic Colony, Stick Tennis

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. DriveOFF is an app that aims to prevent your Android smartphone from distracting you while driving. Cosmic Colony is a fun simulation game which sees you building an interplanetary society. Weve also got the lowdown on Stick Tennis, a fast-paced tennis game just in time for the U.S. Open which starts later this week.

DriveOFF (Free)

Whats it about? Mobile devices are distracting, especially when driving. DriveOFF from esure aims to curb this.

Whats cool? DriveOFF will prevent your phone from distracting you. Once your speed reaches 10 mph, the app will automatically switch off your Androids smartphone screen. In addition, it turns off all call and message notifications, too, while displaying a screensaver of your choice (the ones bundled with the app are amusingly dull). Its a neat idea, providing it works of course.

Who is it for? According to the apps description, a single beep of a phone diverts motorists gaze away from the road four times longer (2.30 seconds vs 0.48 seconds) compared to standard driving conditions even when unanswered. Clearly, thats enough time for an accident to happen and make this app a worthwhile download.

Whats it like? Your Android may have an in-built car panel app for use in your vehicle, which only shows a few apps with large icons. If not, an app like Car Home Ultra might work. But, while trying not to sound like a fuddy-duddy killjoy, Id probably suggest curtailing any phone use while driving.

Cosmic Colony (Free)

Whats it about? With this new adventure game from Gameloft you can create your very own space colony on a mysterious planet!

Whats cool? Its 2088 AD, apparently. You and your heroic space crew reach a planet called Mochwoi and explore this amazing new world. Youll create and expand a space-age settlement while completing missions and managing your resources so you keep everyone happy. Along the way, there are some exciting mini-games which will see you fighting off space pirates, and youll also face unexpected events like meteorite storms... oh my.

Whos it for? Fans of time- and resource-management games will likely get a kick out Cosmic Colony. It also has a social element (think Zynga games) because you can visit the colonies that your friends create to see how they stack up.

Whats it like? Its a bit like SimCity (but in space, of course) or Kairosofts recently released Kairobotica.

Stick Tennis (Free)

Whats it about? With the U.S. Open beginning today, why not work on your forehand with this free, fun and frantic tennis game?

Whats cool? The game has simple swipe controls so its very easy to learn. However, the opposition are pretty tough as it all moves pretty quickly. In conjunction with the U.S Open, theres a North American theme and you get to play as your favorite tennis stars. In addition, there are daily challenges to keep you on your toes and keep things fresh. An in-app purchase unlocks the World Domination and full Grand Slam modes.

Whos it for? Despite Stick Tennis being hard to master, casual players should enjoy it, though there is plenty of challenge for hardcore gamers. The controls are intuitive and it demands good reactions to succeed.

Whats it like? There are other cartoony tennis games out there like the old-school Gachinko Tennis and more in-depth simulators like Virtua Tennis Championship from Sega. The folks who make Stick Tennis also make the hugely popular Stick Cricket.

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Minggu, 26 Agustus 2012

Call of Mini - Zombies tops Android Games of the Week

This week we have a pretty decent list, with ports, clones, and freemium adventures in store. Topping the list is Call of Mini - Zombies, a third-person shooter with a unique style and fun gameplay. It's a great place to get your action fix. We also have a paper plane combat simulator, crazy tactical genre blending strategy game, a Glu Mobile sequel, and a simple but charming retro arcade title. Here are this week's top Android games!

Call of Mini - Zombies (Free)

The developers over at Triniti Interactive have just released their first Android title, in the form of this iOS port. This is an action packed shooter with an interesting blocky 3-D cartoon art style. On top of the frantic single player, you can enjoy a cooperative and versus mode online with your friends. Add to that the heavy metal soundtrack and more gore than you can shake a dismembered rotting limb at, and you've got a recipe for an awesome action game. Plus it's free, so I definitely recommend this as a dual time/zombie killing outlet.

Air Wings (Free)

The whole idea of an aerial combat game using paper planes has been done several times already, but when I saw the developer of this game, it had my attention. Developed by Chaotic Moon Studios, purveyors of such fine apps as Enigmo and Nanosaur 2, this game makes up for a lack in originality with a polished and smooth gameplay experience. It doesn't boast many features, but the battle mode is solid and the tilt controls work pretty great, though it's always nice to have alternative control schemes. You can also log-in to Facebook to play with your friends list, so that's fun.

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Boom Brigade 2 (Free)

This game is rather hard to describe, so I'm going to just use the developers words to start. It's a "line drawing action strategy top down shooter hybrid," and that's a fairly apt description. Developer 10tons is also responsible for Azkend and Sparkle, and while they haven't brought the original Boom Brigade to Android, the sequel is far superior anyway. It's packed with content, from unlockables and different game modes to the substantial campaign mode. You can also choose to play in real time, or pause the action for a more tactical approach. This game gets crazy, and is worth a playthrough.

Eternity Warriors 2 (Free)

Ah, Glu Mobile. Your never ending stream of Gun Bros. clones was pretty ridiculous at one point, but you settled down and started cloning other games, too. Now that you've revisited Eternity Warriors, you've also taken some new inspiration on to set the sequel apart from the original. Essentially, it's the same basic twin-stick gameplay, only with more of a Dungeon Hunter 3 twist added on. That said, I actually had a lot of fun with this one, and the new and improved visuals and gameplay easily trump the first game, which was just Gun Bros - Melee Edition.

Mars Patrol (Free)

This is an odd little title which encompasses everything that made retro arcade games great. It's got solid pixel art and exciting warbled sound effects, and is based on a simple and abstract idea, delivering a purely skill-based adventure. Your simple goal is to patrol the surface of Mars across several levels with two difficulties and an endless mode. As you drive along, you'll have to jump over craters or boulders and shoot the numerous alien ships that will be harassing you. It's a free game with somewhat obnoxious ads, but you can pay to get rid of those. Arcade fans should definitely look into this one.

Sabtu, 25 Agustus 2012

Hatchi makes for an unexciting virtual pet

I can only occasionally find myself enjoying a virtual pet game. One I do like, though, is Kawaii Pet Megu for iPhone, because that game lets you play with your pet and go for a walk and buy it a house and furniture and stuff. That game set a high bar, and Hatchi does not get even close to that.

The problem is that Hatchi doesn't really do anything. Yes, you can feed it and make it read a book and bounce a ball, but you don't do those things in any real engaging way. The reading activity just shows a picture of a book for about two seconds, and then it's over. The play activity just shows a ball bouncing for that same span. The Hatchi never actually moves.

I would guess that the appeal of Hatchi is that it will grow up in different ways depending on how you treat it. Yeah, that's fine, but it grows so slowly. I've been playing this game for about three days, and it still is a child. Its shape has only changed once, and then only slightly. How long do I have to pay attention to this stupid game before I get some payoff?

I'm guessing it will be a while, and unfortunately for my Hatchi I'm not sure I have the patience to keep feeding it. I just wish it would do something! Come on, man.

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Jumat, 24 Agustus 2012

Android App Video Review: SpaceChem Mobile

SpaceChem Mobile is a fantastic puzzle game from Zachtronics Industries, full of complexity and solid design along with a very unique premise. The entire game is about chemistry in space. But don't judge this book by its cover or description, as it's actually one of the most original puzzle games to come out in ages, and it's worth a try from any level of puzzle fanatic.

You take on the role as a Reaction Engineer on an alien planet. It's up to you to combine various elements using reactors, bonding and separating different elements to synthesize various chemical products before shipping them off. You do this with odd, train track like devices called waldos. You'll always have two of them: one red and one blue. You simply draw out the path of the waldos, leaving various nodes wherever they are appropriate. These nodes can bring up or send out elements in their proper zones, grab and drop elements, bind, and unbind them, and even sync the two waldos up with each other. Naturally, any solution that functions will work for a win, but if you want big points you'll have to build as efficient a reaction as possible.

Before long, you have to start using multiple reactors as you synthesize massive and complex products together, and that is where the game starts to really get crazy. This game may not be a completely accurate portrayal of chemistry, but it still feels very smart, whether you're looking at the periodic table provided to you or enjoying the smooth and streamlined art style. The soundtrack is hilariously epic too. It's an odd premise with a fairly steep learning curve, but if you can just push through it, you'll get to play one of the more complex and rewarding puzzle games of this generation. It may be a bit pricey, but it's more than worth it. If you're unconvinced, there is a demo version as well. Definitely give this one a chance.

New Android apps worth downloading: Pandora & Facebook updates, Eternity Warriors 2

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. Pandora Internet Radio got a significant refresh which did more than just fix a few bugs it completely refreshed the app. Eternity Warriors 2 is a great dungeon crawler game with plenty of action. Finally, Facebook received another update to improve its functionality yet further.

Pandora update (Free)

Whats it about? Pandoras personalized music radio service preceded the smartphone app explosion, but its still going strong as its latest update demonstrates.

Whats cool? In a world full of younger upstarts, the original Pandora Internet Radio app still demonstrates its relevance and charm with a completely refreshed Android app. Its new UI features better navigation and design updates. Listeners can now view their history so they can review or rate older tracks, and while music is playing, full lyrics can be displayed or bios of the individual artists.

Who is it for? Folks whove been using Pandora for a while will love the new enhancements. The app really feels as strong as its peers now, despite previously playing catch-up. If youve never used Pandora, now might be a good time to check it out.

Whats it like? Other streaming music and radio apps like Raditaz, Slacker, TuneIn Radio and IHeartRadio offer great alternatives to Pandora. Spotify, which is primarily a subscription service, offers streaming, personalized radio even for non-subscribers while Songza can match music to your mood.

Eternity Warriors 2 (Free)

Whats it about? Eternity Warriors 2 from Glu Mobile is a dungeon-crawling action game with stunning graphics and online cooperative multiplayer.

Whats cool? Following up on the original Eternity Warriors, this sequel sees the battle for Northern Udar raging on 100 years later. Youre tasked with destroying Demon Towers and defeating even deadlier enemies than before. The high-def graphics are impressive and theres plenty of real-time combat against dozens of different monsters. You can even join up with a friend and battle the demons with a fellow warrior!

Whos it for? Fans of fantasy adventure games and the dungeon crawler genre are sure to get a kick out of Eternity Warriors 2. While the game is free to play initially, at the higher levels, battles get particularly intense and in-app purchases will probably be needed to ensure you have the best armor and weapons.

Whats it like? The game improves on its predecessor significantly. Its similar to PC games like Diablo 3, and within the Android app world, older titles like Legends Arcana and Andors Trail offer a similar dynamic with less graphical flair.

Facebook update (Free)

Whats it about? The official app from the hugely popular social network received yet another update.

Whats cool? The latest update to the Facebook app (which continues to suffer massive criticism, rather like its iOS counterpart) includes the ability to batch upload your photos to the network, instead of doing them one at a time. In addition, its now possible to create an event directly from your Android device, including invites and attendee information. Finally, emoji characters are now available to spice up your Messenger conversations.

Whos it for? Clearly, heavy users of Facebook will enjoy this update, and now it offers some features that are not available via the HTML5 mobile site. Interestingly enough, the iOS version despite its brand new refresh, does not include the ability to create events yet, so thats another advantage Android users will enjoy.

Whats it like? Facebook is pretty much its own entity, but if the app still gives you trouble, Friendcaster for Facebook, Seesmic and Tweetdeck are viable alternatives to keep up on your social network activity.

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Kamis, 23 Agustus 2012

Dunkin Donuts tops Android Apps of the Week

Lookout Starbucks, theres a new app in town. Dunkin Donuts has just launched an Android payment app, looking to encroach on a mobile empire currently ruled by Starbucks. Now you have two options for paying for coffee with your smartphone, using the reloadable, points-tracking Dunkin Donuts app. Also new this week is the WWE app, finally finding a way to offer an official mobile experience. Falcon for Twitter also made a splash this week, debuting a full-screen Android widget for the socially savvy.

Dunkin Donuts (free)

The official Dunkin Donuts app has all the perks youd expect, with a payments option, store locator and menu. Rivaling Starbucks for customer loyalty, the app turns your phone into a payment card, which is scanned during checkout. You can manage and reload your DD Card from the app as well, see updates from DDs Twitter account and receive local offers. There is also an option to send gift cards to friends via text message, email or Facebook, which theyll receive in the form of a DD Card all their own.

WWE (free)

Better late than never, WWE has gone mobile with an Android and iOS app launch this week. Youll get all things WWE, including breaking news, video archives (current and classic), thousands of photos and pages for your favorite wrestling superstars. The goal with the WWE app, however, is to act as a companion during live programming. Theres exclusive in-app access to WWE content while watching events, activated during the Monday Night Raw broadcasts.

Falcon for Twitter (free)

Most Twitter clients have Android home screen widgets for quick access, but Falcon for Twitter takes things a step further with a full-screen widget that offers all the functionality of a Twitter management tool. Still in beta, the customizable Falcon widget lets you read your timeline without launching a separate app, open links, view images and videos and send replies. Scroll through your feed in standard list format or the Falcon grid, offering a fresh take on your Twitter activity. Of course, you can tweet directly from the widget as well and its easy to set up notifications for @mentions.

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OoVoo Video Call update (free)

Known for free group video calls, ooVoo rolled out a game-changing update to its Android app this week. You can now view four separate video streams concurrently while chatting, enabling you to share more videos with friends without interrupting your chat sessions. Its similar to Google Hangouts, and has also become a clever way to watch programming that isnt easily accessible (think Breaking Bad for Dish Network customers). Additional integration with Google services means you can now see missed OoVoo calls directly in your contact list, receive push notifications and access the app via a home screen widget.

Pops update (free)

Todays mobile user is all about personalization, and Pops takes things to the next level. The revamped app offers more than just personalized notifications with videos and animations, getting more social and more customizable with new features. Now you can attach a pop for each contact, which will aggregate your incoming messages around the people instead of the app. You can also personalize outgoing messages, so friends see a pop the way you intended. If the recipient doesnt have Pop, theyll get a URL that redirects them to an HTML5 video experience.

Shoparoo (free)

Back to school time is often a great opportunity for brands and parents to help raise money for local schools, and Shoparoo makes things easier with a new app that converts your store receipts into school donations. In turn, you earn exclusive rewards, bonuses and coupons. There are no restrictions on the types of products you can purchase, or the stores from which you shop, but donations will be doubled if you purchase a featured brand. To donate, take a photo of your receipt from your Android device camera and submit. Select the school or charity of your choice and help your local community raise funds.

Inspire your dream life with the Pinterest Android app

The Pinterest Android app is a place to plan your dreams. It is a mobile vision board. It is a living document of all your aspirations. Whether you are planning a wedding, a dream home remodel, or simply tonights dinner, the free Pinterest app has a suggestion for you.

You can pin from anywhere on the web or upload your own picture taken with your Android device. Your homepage feed shows all your pins plus pins from people who you follow. This makes it extremely easy to collaborate on big projects such as working with a wedding planner or interior designer. You can create a Pinterest Board to share your inspiration with them. Organize all your pins into custom boards so your dreams are all in order.

Just want to browse around? Pinterest has category feeds for just about any occasion. Need a new tattoo? Looking for an inspirational quote? You name it, it is probably on Pinterest. And these categories are super easy to browse on the Android version just hit the search button.

Pinterest is the only Android app that I can think of that simultaneously answers the questions: What should I wear and what should I make for dinner tonight? If you arent already addicted to the web version of Pinterest, you definitely have to test out the Android version. And if you already love the web version, what are you waiting for? Download it already its fabulous and so addicting!

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New Android apps worth downloading: TravelerComm, Pebble Universe, Flickr update

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. TravelerComm combines multiple elements of other travel apps (journaling, maps, guides) into one single offering. Pebble Universe is a cute and colorful physics/puzzler which requires careful timing to succeed. Finally, theres an update to Flickr which adds some much-needed functionality.

TravelerComm ($2.79)

Whats it about? TravelerComm allows people to share their travel experiences with friends.

Whats cool? TravelerComm is like having multiple apps in one because it offers distinct sub-applications for notes, a travel guide, maps and the ability to connect with friends. There are maps of cities and well-known locations, as well as recommendations for travelers based on the region or city they are in. 750 maps are included and they work offline. Its easy to connect with your friends, family and relatives if they are also using TravelerComm by sharing your notes complete with geotags.

Who is it for? With numerous apps out there that cater for different aspects of traveling, its nice that TravelerComm kills so many birds with one stone and offers multiple functionality. Theres a free version to try first if youre still on the fence.

Whats it like? Apps like Trip Journal are great for documenting your travels, and of course, there are hundreds of city guides out there alongside apps like TripAdvisor with thousands of reviews and maps.

Pebble Universe (Free)

Whats it about? Pebble Universe is a cute physics/puzzler that will test how good your timing skills really are.

Whats cool? Originally a hit on iOS, Pebble Universe sees a bunch of pebbles attacked by monsters who just love to eat pebble meat. Fortunately, the pebbles discovered their hats explode when smashed together. Now they can fight back, and thats where you come in. The game offers 25 increasingly complex levels for free (with more available via in-app purchase) as well as cute graphics and good production values.

Whos it for? If youre a fan of physics/puzzlers but are growing weary of the usual slingshot dynamic they often utilize, Pebble Universe is worth a look. Its a fresh take on the genre because of the timing element involved.

Whats it like? Though Pebble Universe takes some of its cues from classic physics puzzlers like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, it still offers enough originality to make it worth a look.

Flickr update (Free)

Whats it about? The official app from Yahoo!s hugely popular photo-sharing service.

Whats cool? Flickr just got an update to version 1.5 and adds some useful functionality. Now you can explore interesting photos like you can on the website and search has been improved. More crucially for heavy Flickr users, you can now edit details of existing photos and choose any camera app to shoot with. There are also a number of bug fixes. Its disappointing not to see support for Groups yet, but hopefully that will be added soon.

Whos it for? If youre a Flickr pro, the app offers a great way to interact with the site and upload photos directly. There are also filters and enhancements you can add to the photos you shoot before you share them, so the app has multiple functionality, even if its not as powerful as other similar camera apps.

Whats it like? There are numerous photo-sharing services available like 500px, Instagram and Photobucket. In addition, there are plenty of great photo-editing apps offering cool effects and filters like Pixlr-o-matic and PicsArt - Photo Studio.

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Rabu, 22 Agustus 2012

Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Sand Studios tech lead about AirDroid

AirDroid launchedon Android towards the end of November, 2011. This notable app not only found its way into our Apps of the Week, it also appeared in our list of Best Android Apps of 2011. AirDroid lets you access the content and apps on your Android device directly over Wi-Fi from a web browser. There are no extra hoops to jump through, or additional software to install.

Sand Studio is still in stealth mode so a little hesitant about offering too much public info, but we were fortunate enough to communicate with the Android Tech Lead there, known only as Camel for now. In this edition of Developing Minds Want to Know, Camel explains the thought process behind the creation of AirDroid, some of the apps latest features, how the team hopes to make money and what the future may hold.

Key company facts:

Name and Title: Camel (camel@airdroid.com), Android Tech Lead

Company: Sand Studio

Location: California

Size (Revenue and/or Employees): About 10 employees; no revenue yet.

Primary Apps/Platforms: AirDroid (Android only)

APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?

CAMEL: The iPhone and Android. We see dramatic disruptions and huge opportunities in the mobile industry from the rapid growth of the iPhone and Android.

Heres a video from the AirDroid team showing the app in action:

APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?

C: Ever since the introduction of the first generation of iPhone. We think user structure may have undergone the most significant changes. Several years ago, most users are more like "geeks", but now, more and more users are the people one may constantly interact with in daily life.

APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?

C: We don't remember there are one or two particular apps that have inspired us the most to create AirDroid. Frankly speaking, AirDroid is heavily influenced by iOS, though it's an Android app.

APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?

C: The consistent unique features of mobile devices, such as camera, speaker, microphone, always on, always physically nearby, etc. This doesn't exist on PCs.

APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?

C: We recently added a new feature in AirDroid to enable users to log in by scanning a QR code on web.airdroid.com. It's very cool and fast.

APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.

C: Mostly through word of mouth. Our principle is focusing on product and relying on our users to spread it to their friends.

APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?

C: AirDroid has a global user base and we think maybe the speed of mobile Internet connection is a biggest constraint. The connection speed is lagging behind the development of the hardware and software of mobile devices.

APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?

C: AirDroid is still in its very early stage and there are no business model yet - no paid version and no ads. The team is backed by well known VC and we have lots of patience. We are quite optimistic that a sustainable business model will follow if we can keep the growth rate and maintain the current high user satisfaction level.

APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?

C: Focus on the product, try to solve real problems and deliver a "WOW!" experience to the users. By the way, beautiful designs are greatly appreciated by Android users.

APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?

C: The diversity of user needs will continue to grow and there will be more opportunities for developers with different background to create great solutions to satisfy those needs.

Download the Appolicious Android app

Kairobotica Android game is an obsessive grinder

Kairobotica is part simulation and part RPG, but it's not really thoroughly in either camp. Well, it's more solidly an RPG than a simulation. Anyway, it has elements of both genres, but if you're looking for a game that is an RPG or a simulation, then this might not be what you're looking for. But it is awesome nonetheless.

In Kairobotica, you run a space ship that is home to a bunch of red and yellow robots who go down to the planet surface the ship is visiting and beat up bad guys, who usually take the form of food items. Those rice balls sure are tough!

It's a simulation in that you have to manage the economy of your ship's community. You can't grow the ship and produce more robots if you don't have money, and you make money by going on missions and getting tourists to come visit you.

It's an RPG in that you take your robots down to a planet and have them fight turn-based battles against the living food. If you win, then your stats improve. The fighting seems overly simple at first, as you only have an attack command, but as you progress you learn abilities and gain allies who can help in battle, and it becomes more complex.

The game is pretty simple altogether, but this is a grind that is mostly pleasing because it's not a terribly slow grind. The goals making your ship bigger so you can build more robots, getting planets to like you, etc. don't ever feel out of reach, and you don't have to play obsessively to feel like you accomplished something.

Download the Appolicious Android app

SlenderMan Android game is full of scares

If you're not familiar with the Slender Man mythos, you should definitely look it up, for an Internet-created thing, it's surprisingly well thought out and interesting. And it makes for a scary Android mobile game.

SlenderMan for Android is a lot like the game Slender on PC. You wander around the woods looking for notes, and when you least expect it, the Slender Man will pop up and scare the bejeezus out of you. The object of the game is to collect all eight notes without ever looking at the Man. It's a terrifying experience.

That is, if you're playing the real version of the game. This app includes a 2-D version and a 3-D version. The 2-D is so bad I won't even talk about it. Do not bother playing that one.

The 3-D version, though, is great, even if the world you have to explore is small compared to its PC counterpart. It's got pretty standard first person touch controls, and since precision is not necessary, they don't ever get in the way.

SlenderMan for Android is pretty much what it needs to be, but there is room for improvement. It would benefit from having a bigger world to explore, for one. As it stands now, the game is creepy enough that I can still recommend it. I yelled loudly the first time I saw the Man and I bet you will, too.

Download the Appolicious Android app

New Android apps worth downloading: ooVoo, Big Launcher, Echoer

Here are three great Android apps to enjoy. ooVoo Video Call got a big update to include four way-chat, BIG Launcher is a home screen replacement for Android devices thats perfect for seniors or the visually impaired, and Echoer is a new way to share messages with folks close by.

ooVoo Video Call update (Free)

Whats it about? ooVoo is a great way to make video calls directly from your Android device.

Whats cool? ooVoos latest update now lets you view four separate video streams at once when chatting, while you can still text-chat with up to 12 people. Theres also deeper integration with Googles services so you can see missed calls in your contacts list, helpful push notifications and a home screen widget.

Who is it for? ooVoo is fun for people who love to video chat and not use up their cellular minutes. It works over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi connections. The group video chat option is perfect for people who love to connect with their Facebook friends in real-time.

Whats it like? Alternatives to ooVoo include Skype, Tango Video Calls, fring and the hangouts in Google+.

BIG Launcher ($4.99)

Whats it about? BIG Launcher is a home screen replacement for the visually impaired or elderly. Its designed for readability and ease of use.

Whats cool? Though BIG Launcher has been around for a while, its latest update is significant. It now features unlimited screens, big battery and signal icons, buttons that can have any icon on them, an SMS editor and forwarding, plus some handy bug fixes. Theres a free demo version to try out first.

Whos it for? As BIG Launcher is controlled by single touches with no swipes and no long presses, its perfect for the elderly, those lacking mobility in their hands, or even kids. With big fonts and large buttons and an interface featuring TalkBack, its also ideal for the visually impaired.

Whats it like? There are other accessibility apps out there like Big Buttons Keyboard Standard and TalkBack from Google which provides spoken feedback for eyes-free computing. Even highly customizable launchers like Apex, Nova or Holo Launcher offer a cleaner layout than many standard Android skins.

Echoer (Free)

Whats it about? Echoer is a simple way to share the things you experience around you.

Whats cool? Echoer is based in Montreal. Smartly, they used the annual Jazz Festival to show off its wares. People leave notes about where theyve been, what theyve seen, where theyve eaten and it all shows up on a map so you can view peoples thoughts, events and discoveries. Its ideal for groups of disparate people to share what theyve experienced providing everyone else is using the app, of course.

Whos it for? Echoer is for people who love to share their thoughts and opinions with people in the same vicinity as them. It aims to elevate only relevant content above the noise, hence the ability to echo popular ideas.

Whats it like? Location-based check-in apps like Foursquare come to mind, but Echoer probably has more in common with other crowd-sourced services like Localmind or Pinweel (iOS only).

Download the Appolicious Android app

Selasa, 21 Agustus 2012

The perks and frustrations of Pinterest for Android

Pinterest took its sweet time creating mobile app versions of its popular pinboard website, and I wish I could say it was worth the wait. Theres certainly advantages to an official Pinterest Android app, but there are also some limitations compared to the full-fledged website (which can still be accessed via mobile devices) and the mobile-optimized website version of Pinterest.

Pinterest app perks

Lets start with the perks of the Pinterest Android app. The best feature, and one thats exclusive to the mobile app, is the ability to create pins from your Android devices camera. Once you log-in youll see an option right at the top to Create a Pin, where youre given two options: you can take a photo with your device camera, or upload one from your gallery. This makes it easier to combine your real world experiences with your Pinterest boards, as you can pin locations, store items and more. I even hope to see a barcode scanner incorporated into this feature one day, as it could automatically pull in product details and operate more like the Pin It browser button.

Another great feature is the option to browse by category, which are pre-set on Pinterest. This includes tech, fashion, home design, weddings, sports, food and more. Of course, you can also search by tag word, which will help you explore Pinterest beyond the boards youre following. And unlike the mobile-optimized web version of Pinterest, the app lets you browse more than one pin at a time, though its not as broad as the full web site version.

Download the Appolicious Android app

Finding and following friends is also an easy task on the mobile app, and manageable, too. If you pull up your followers tab, youll see a list of all the Pinterest users following you. From here you can follow them back or unfollow those youre in which youre no longer interested. Your following tab works in the same manner.

Missing app features

Whats lacking with the Pinterest app is the ability to select which board your new pin goes to, or the ability to create a pin via URL, which is where most pins come from. Even on the mobile-optimized web version of Pinterest, adding a pin via URL isnt an option. While its cumbersome to manually enter a URL on a mobile device, itd be nice to have the option (I know how to copy a link), especially since Pinterest doesnt offer a workaround for pinning directly from your mobile browser.

More surprisingly, theres no options for creating or managing boards on the Pinterest app. Similarly, pins cant be edited either. While Pinterest is a great way to save items youd like to reference in the future, its also a great organization tool, so without board and pin management, the Pinterest app offers little functionality beyond browsing existing pins and adding a photo from your devices camera.

Other differences between the mobile web and app versions of Pinterest include filtered search. Though the app offers categorized browsing, the mobile web version lets you filter searches by those youre following, pinned videos, popular pins and those tagged as gifts. And with the full mobile web version you do still have the option to add a pin via URL, even if it takes an extra step or two from a mobile web browser.

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