Tired of staring at your smartphone's wallpaper, but can't bring yourself to change it? Microsoft is remedying what is surely the most first-world of first-world problems with an update to Bing for Android. Version 4.2.0 of the app not only gets a redesigned user interface, but will now, like the Windows edition, swap out your home screen background for Bing's image of the day. That means you can get back to devoting your time to your grand project -- petitioning Starbucks to keep the Pumpkin Spice Latte as an option all year round.
Source: Google Play
Fresh off its world tour, Google Play Music is making it easier to store, shuffle and share your mobile tunes. For starters, Mountain View's music streaming-and-locker service now lets KitKat users with SD-equipped handsets put cached tracks on their removable storage. If you want to listen to your favorite band's songs out of order, Google has you covered there with a minor new feature that mixes an artist's All Access catalog into random playlists. What's more, there's a new option that lets you share songs, albums and acts via typical Android methods too. In our tests, however, non-GPM users get "album not found" error messages when they click through the links, our friends just may think this is a gift from Google -- guarding them from our incessant Katy Perry spam.
Source: Google Play
Having just wrapped up development on its Android Jelly Bean-based 10.2 software, the CyanogenMod team is already pushing out a "Milestone 1" release of the upcoming Android 4.4 KitKat-based version 11. How can this happen so quickly? For now, CyanogenMod 11 M1 is only available for "actively AOSP-supported Nexus devices", which it expects to have few device-specific issues on, since their hardware code is provided by Google. That means it will be accepting bug reports from those devices right away, and have already been tested to make sure they work properly. If you're already bored of the stock Google-provided KitKat experience on your Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (all versions) or Nexus 10, downloads of the new software are available here for you to test out. Android users on other platforms (including the Galaxy Nexus Google apparently felt it had to leave behind) will soon see nightly releases roll out as usual, however a rapidly changing codebase and possible device-specific bugs means they won't be able to submit bug reports right away.
To date, Google's mobile voice search has been limited to English speakers -- not very convenient if you're looking for coffee in Cologne. Thankfully, its vocabulary is expanding today. The Google Search apps on both Android and iOS now recognize voice commands in French, German and Japanese, and they'll respond in kind. There's no mention of when other languages will be available, but those speaking in supported tongues just have to run Google's latest software to get started.
Via: The Next Web
We may have called the Nexus 5 "the best phone $350 can buy," but its camera didn't exactly impress. The latest version of the Android OS, set to roll out in the "next couple of days," is aimed at fixing those issues. In an interview with Dave Burke, Google's Director of Engineering for Android, the Verge reports that Android 4.4.1 will address issues with autofocus, white balance, exposure and more by increasing camera speed. No word on a specific date, but Google assured us that it's coming soon.
Source: The Verge
Foursquare gave its iOS check-in app a makeover just a few months ago, but it's already back with a redesign that takes fuller advantage of Apple's platform. The version 7.0 app has a more compact layout that puts more information up front -- you'll see more of your friend feed and a carousel of tips. It also refreshes with each launch, so you're more likely to notice what's going on nearby. You won't necessarily have to open the app to see what's going on, though. In sync with the 7.0 refresh, Foursquare is rolling out its push recommendations to all Android and iOS users; you'll only have to visit a new town or a friend's favorite eatery to get advice. iPhone-toting travelers can grab the new client at the source link, while the expanded notifications will automatically appear on their own.
Source: App Store
Quip's built-for-mobile word processor has at last reached Android. The newly available app mirrors much of what we've seen in the iOS version, including adaptive documents, cloud syncing and deep collaboration tools that include messaging and image sharing. However, Quip's Android release isn't just a quick-and-dirty port -- it takes advantage of the OS through Google account integration, stacked notifications and optimization for third-party keyboards like Swiftkey and Swype. There's still no mention of native Word support, though. As before, the app is free to use for your personal documents. You'll only have to pay $12 per person if you're using Quip for business.
Source: Google Play
As much as Google's search business revolves around the web, the company knows that mobile apps sometimes have more relevant info. Accordingly, Google has updated Android's native search app and its web-based search to take you directly to content within certain apps -- an actor's biography in IMDB, for example. Only a handful of titles support the feature, although more are on the way. You won't have to worry if you don't have the software just yet, though, as the update also puts Google Play app shortcuts in result pages. Both of the app-savvy search features are available today.
Via: The Next Web
Microsoft may have NORAD's blessing for its Santa Claus monitoring, but Google has a few tricks of its own this year. The search giant's latest Santa Tracker centers on an updated Android app (launching mid-December) with Chromecast TV streaming support -- you'll soon get to follow St. Nick from the comfort of your living room. If you'd prefer to keep tabs on him from the web, the company is promising both daily game and scene updates as well as a refreshed Chrome extension. Head to the source links if you'd like to explore Google's take on the Christmas spirit.
Via: Google Lat Long
04/12/2013 - mSpy: A Terrifying Smartphone And Tablet Spying App
If you want Android-powered eyewear that's readily available, you won't have to wait for Glass' commercial launch next year; Vuzix has already beaten Google to the punch. The company's M100 Smart Glasses have started shipping to developers, and the general public can now pre-order the eyepiece ahead of its expected December release date. Do be prepared to pay for the privilege of seeing your Android and iOS apps on a heads-up display, however. The M100 will officially sell for $1,000 -- about twice as much as Vuzix predicted in January.
KitKat may be the new kid on the Android block, but it's already faring quite well. Google's latest OS dashboard reveals that 1.1 percent of active Android devices are running the new platform roughly a month after it became available. Not that its arrival is slowing down Jelly Bean's growth, mind you. The older software now represents 54.5 percent of all Android use, thanks in part to a two-point surge in devices running Android 4.3. However well Jelly Bean is doing, we expect KitKat adoption to rise quickly -- both the Nexus 5 and the first official KitKat upgrades have only been around for a few weeks at most, and there are more updates on the way.
Source: Android Developers
Android fans who've been waiting for a stable edition of CyanogenMod 10.2 can finally start their downloads. Cyanogen has just released its final version of the custom firmware, giving the curious a (relatively) safe way to try the company's take on Android 4.3. Don't expect future support from Cyanogen beyond the usual bug and security fixes, though. The stable 10.2 release marks the formal end to development of Jelly Bean-based ROMs -- after this, the coding team is shifting its attention to CyanogenMod 11, the first release based on Android 4.4 KitKat.
Oppo promised that its swivel camera-toting N1 smartphone would arrive in December, and it's making good on that promise today by offering international launch details. An unlocked HSPA+ version of the 5.9-inch Android flagship should be available through Oppo Style and other outlets on December 10th, when it will cost $599 in the US and €449 in Europe. The company hasn't said whether this is the 16GB or 32GB model. There's also no mention of whether or not N1s with CyanogenMod pre-installed will arrive on the same day, although those who get the ColorOS-based phone should have a relatively easy time loading Cyanogen's firmware. You won't have to wait until the 10th to find out if the device is worthwhile -- our colleagues at Engadget Chinese have just reviewed the N1, and they believe that it competes well against many of its global rivals.
Source: Oppo (Google+)
Even though it is a pretty populated world already, Quechua wasn't going to let that interrupt the (rugged) vision for a smartphone of its own. The company, which is known for selling mountain sports gear and equipment, has partnered with Archos to introduce the Quechua Phone, a 5-inch handset with Android 4.1. Aside from packing ruggedized traits such as IP54 certification, Quechua's Phone also features a Qualcomm 1.2GHz, quad-core chip, 1GB RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), a 5-megapixel rear camera and one rather beefy 3,500mAh battery. Other details like the screen's total pixel count or when/where it'll be up for grabs are still mum -- but we do know the Quechua Phone will be priced at €230 (around $310) once it eventually becomes available.
Via: GSM Arena
LG G2 owners may have to wait a while to get the Android 4.4 KitKat software that their Nexus 5-toting counterparts already enjoy. A spokesperson for the company's Canadian branch informs MobileSyrup that the G2 should get its KitKat upgrade late in the first quarter of 2014 -- in other words, March. While that will disappoint early adopters, LG does note that every local carrier will receive the update at about the same time. Whether or not Americans will see the new OS any sooner is another matter. We've asked the company about its US upgrade schedule, and we'll let you know if it can provide some details.SlashGear
If you were bold enough to buy a Developer Edition HTC One or its unlocked sibling, today is your lucky day. HTC's US division has announced that it's rolling out an Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade to both One variants, weeks ahead of the expected update for carrier-locked models. Sense 5.5 should also be a part of the package. While the KitKat upgrade isn't reaching these units as quickly as it did for the Google Play Edition, it's safe to say that many One owners will have another reason to celebrate this Thanksgiving weekend.
Source: HTC USA (Twitter)
It took a while, but Virgin Media has finally brought its TV Anywhere service to Android. Already available on the iPhone and iPad for more than a year, the app comes to Android smartphones and tablets with nine new UK TV channels including Alibi, Dave, Drama, Good Food, Home, Really, Watch, Yesterday and CBS Reality. That takes the total number of mobile channels up to 67, with up to 90 available online. Virgin Media boasts it now offers more choice than rival service Sky Go, but like it's competitor, some might be frustrated by the patchy support for Android devices. Although you'll find support for Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note, HTC One, Sony Xperia Tablet Z and Google's Nexus tablets, you might experience issues if your device is running Android 4.4 KitKat. While you won't be able to install it on your Nexus 5 just yet, Virgin says more Android devices will join the line-up "in the very near future."
Via: Virgin Media
Source: TV Anywhere (Google Play)
28/11/2013 - KitKat arrives on Nexus One via feeble custom ROM
If you're still rocking a Nexus One, but are jealous of all the new devices running KitKat, you're in luck. The folks on the XDA Developer's forums have hacked together a custom Android 4.4 ROM for the three year-old device. Unsurprisingly, the patched-up build has some issues; namely, it's susceptible to a known bootloop error and lacks screenshot functionality. The camera doesn't work quite right either, but hey -- it's KitKat! On your Nexus One! In your face, Ice Cream Sandwich!
The World Series is over, and it's a long three months before Spring Training begins. What's a baseball fan to do until then? Well, if you're an Android user, you could pick up Franchise MVP, a new game released by none other than Major League Baseball. MLB's no stranger to apps, of course, with its popular At Bat programs for iOS and Android, but mobile gaming is relatively new territory. Franchise MVP isn't like MLB 2K13 though; instead of creating a team, you follow an individual player through his career in the majors. You can play any position on the field and for any MLB team, building skills like batting, pitching and fielding along the way and making key in-field decisions. The game is free to download, but if you want to hurry things along, you can choose to spend real money for in-game currency. So if your favorite team missed out on taking home the Commissioner's Trophy this year, you can at least console yourself by using Franchise MVP to become the baseball player of your dreams.Droid Life
Source: Google Play
28/11/2013 - AT&T's Galaxy S 4 starts receiving Android 4.3 (again), Galaxy Gear gets compatibility update
Earlier this month, AT&T began rolling out Android 4.3 to its variant of the Galaxy S 4, only to have it pulled in order to focus on "potential improvements." Here's the good news: the Rethink Possible carrier today started the process of, once again, bringing the Jelly Bean updates to Samsung's flagship smartphone. As a refresher, Android 4.3 brings a lot of improvements and enhancements that make the overall experience an even more pleasant one -- some of which include OpenGL ES 3.0 support, Bluetooth Smart technology and enriched notification access. What's more, AT&T's also releasing an update for the Galaxy Gear that makes it compatible with the GS4, which is great news for folks on the network who own both Samsung devices. Let us know in the comments how these updates are working out for you thus far -- and here's hoping this one is here to stay.
The CyanogenMod team made switching from your phone's original Android setup to its own flavor of the OS much easier with paired mobile and desktop installer apps, but now there's one extra step. In a blog post, CyanogenMod states the Google Play Support team contacted it and claims the installer app is in violation of their TOS. This, despite CyanogenMod's insistence that the app's only purpose is to enable ADB on the device, then guide users through connecting it to the desktop app. Despite "hundreds of thousands" of installs for its alternative Android experience, the mobile app is still usable via sideloading, and its installation guide walks users through the necessary steps. Going forward, the CyanogenMod team is submitting its app to Samsung and Amazon's alternative app stores, but interested Android users can download it right now.
Source: CyanogenMod Blog
Google has lately taken to highlighting tablet-native Android apps; it only makes sense that the company would devote the same kind of love to Chromecast owners. Accordingly, the search firm has just posted a Chromecast section in Google Play for those browsing from their Android devices. The selection is thin at the moment -- you'll find only Google's media apps, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Netflix and Pandora. Still, the section should be a handy one-stop shop for anyone eager to stream video on their TV.
Source: 9to5 Google
When we first spotted the decently spec'd Blu Life series, it seemed like a nice Android handset option for folks on a budget. However, the times they have a-changed, and the former KIRF company's latest device, the Blu Life Pro, is now looking decidedly less cheap. Spec-wise, it's packing a 720p screen, quad-core 1.5GHz MediaTek CPU, Android 4.2, HSPA+ 3G, 1GB RAM, 16GB of memory and a 12-megapixel BSI camera with 1080p video. At $299, it'll have to go up against plenty of similarly-priced and technologically superior rivals, but the one feature that distinguishes the Blu from the rest is its 5-megapixel, 1080p front-facing camera with a BSI sensor. Nevertheless, given the option between this and a much cheaper 720p phone like the spiffy Moto G, our vanity probably does know some bounds.
Source: Blu Products
If Grand Theft Auto V left you eager to spend more time in Los Santos, you'll be glad to hear that Rockstar Games is porting Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to mobile devices. Android, iOS and Windows Phone users will get to relive Carl Johnson's early '90s gangster saga this December, with more detailed graphics and touch-optimized controls coming to all platforms. Gamers will also get full controller support, including Made for iOS devices if you're using iOS 7. Rockstar isn't providing release dates and prices just yet, although the imminent launch suggests that we'll get more details in short order.
Source: Rockstar Games