Context-sensitive interfaces like Aviate and Google Now are on the rise in the Android world, and Cover is taking advantage of that spotlight by releasing its dynamic lock screen on Google Play as a public beta. The updated front end works much as it did in the invitation-only test, automatically changing app shortcuts and settings as you move from place to place. It's also easy to peek into apps or switch between them. Most of the improvements lie below the surface, Cover says -- the new version maintains an app's exact state while peeking, improves KitKat compatibility, includes tutorials and offers more customization. Whether or not you're a Cover veteran, you're now just a click or two away from trying the updated software for yourself.
Source: Google Play
It can be tough to leave in-game voice chats -- step away to walk the dog and you may miss an important strategy session. You'll stay in the loop with Razer's new Comms for Android, though. The free app improves on rival clients from Steam and Teamspeak by supporting both voice chats and text while on the road; you won't have to miss out on either team banter or private messages. Comms for Android is also useful if you're still sitting at your desk, as it lets you respond to SMS and turn down calls through its Windows equivalent. The mobile software is available now through Google Play, and Razer promises that iOS users will get Comms sometime in the first quarter of 2014.
Source: Google Play
Borderlands 2 is attempting the Herculean task of exciting people about QR codes. With its new LootTheWorld mobile app, Gearbox Software (Borderlands, Brothers in Arms and, er, Aliens: Colonial Marine) is turning any barcode or QR square into in-game gear like acid-burst armor or a flame-spewing sniper rifle with a 12x-zoom scope.
Whether you bought the game last year or just downloaded it for free from the PlayStation Store, this app could be one of the more useful mobile companions on your phone. Perhaps best of all, it's free and available right now from iTunes and Google Play. We've reached out to Gearbox for info on how the loot is determined and will update this post if we hear back. You should hurry along though, Mercenary Day is almost upon us.
Following last month's update to enhance locations and photos, the folks in Mountain View are rolling out version 4.2.4 of Google+ for Android today. Added features this time around include the ability to search everything from the same box and content browsing by category from the What's Hot stream. Notifications get a tweak as well, allowing users to control who's able to buzz them immediately by adjusting "Who can notify me" in the settings menu. Finally, to show you're in the proper seasonal spirit, shaking your device now adds animated snow to an open photo via Auto Awesome. A second shake will save the image for posterity. The updated software is making its way to Google Play "gradually," so check back later if it's not snowing... er, showing up just yet.
12/12/2013 - Latest SwiftKey beta brings over 500 emojis to Android, makes your texts even more precious
If you've been aching for more emoji on your Android device, the SwiftKey team has something right up your alley. The popular Android keyboard's latest beta brings over 500 of the adorable symbols to your device of choice and can even autopredict emjois, just like it does for regular ol' words. What's more, the test-version also adds a dedicated number row in case you're one of the long-press averse. Of course, this is still a beta and your experience may vary once you side-load the APK. We tested the app on a Nexus 4 and found it was laggy to the point of being almost unusable, squashing our dreams of recreating Katy Perry's "Roar" video like a grape.
Via: The Next Web
Many workers are about to leave on holiday trips, and Google is more than willing to help them avoid the office with an updated Gmail app for Android. The new release includes a vacation responder that will let fellow employees know that you're off the clock. If you're running Android 4.4 KitKat, you can also print email to avoid checking your phone during family gatherings. And if you simply must deal with that company report right away, you'll be glad to know that Gmail now supports file attachments of all types. The new app is gradually rolling out as of this writing, so don't be disappointed if you have to wait a little while for an upgrade.
Via: Gmail (Google+)
Source: Google Play
There's a good chance you've already gotten Android Device Manager as an OTA update or checked it out via the web version, but for the rest of you, the device-tracking app hit the Play store today. Using the app, you can find your devices on a Google Map, ring to locate or add a lock screen or system reset for dire circumstances. Peep the source link below for the download.
Google just made it easier to transfer virtual libraries to Play Books, now that you can upload digital tomes straight from Android phones or tablets. Thanks to the software's latest update, there's no need to go the Play website to add EPUB or PDF files to your account. Simply click an ebook through an Android file manager -- or download it if it's attached to an email -- to get the "Upload to Play Books" prompt. The refreshed app also promises to open files more quickly and smoothly, although we didn't notice any significant upgrade in speed when we tested it out. Other than these two changes, the latest version lets you read any book in landscape mode and comes with the ability to dismiss recommended titles. Finally, you can now take the reader's brightness down a notch to make reading in the dark easier for the eyes.
Source: Google Play Books
Sprint already has a few devices that support its extra-fast Spark data service, but one of its hottest smartphones -- Samsung's Galaxy S 4 -- has been "stuck" with ordinary LTE. That won't be a problem for much longer, as the carrier has revealed a Spark-capable version of the Android flagship. The upgrade won't do much more than introduce support for the tri-band wireless technology, but we doubt that owners will complain when they're downloading at a brisk 50-60Mbps. They may balk at the price, though. While the regular GS4 currently sells for $100 on contract, Sprint will offer a 16GB Spark edition for $200 when it ships in the next few weeks -- you'll have to really, really want that extra bandwidth (and live in a Spark area) to justify the premium.
The image you see above is the rumored Nokia Normandy, which Twitter leakster @evleaks revealed at the end of last month. While not much was known about the device at the time, the lack of hardware shutter button, capacitive buttons and LED flash indicated that this mystery phone was likely an Asha device intended for emerging markets or budget-minded users. Yet, if a report from The Verge's Tom Warren is accurate, there may actually be a lot more to the Normandy than what we had originally assumed. Warren has checked with multiple sources who claim that the phone is an Android-based device due for a 2014 release.
This may seem like a stretch, given the fact that Nokia's device division is currently awaiting an acquisition with Microsoft, but Warren offers a few points of clarification. First, he says, the Normandy is meant to be a low-end Asha equivalent that features a forked version of Android that isn't associated with Google services, which means Nokia would be able to fully customize it however it wants, much like Amazon does with its Kindle Fire. Doing this would still give Nokia full control over the device ecosystem, while giving users the chance to enjoy full smartphone apps -- something the company has had a difficult time figuring out how to do on the Asha line. The question is, would Nokia rely on a third-party app store or try to set up one of its very own? That's still an unknown, but this is assuming the Normandy even sees the light of day; if the rumor is true, our guess is that this project was already underway before Microsoft's acquisition, and will probably be released before the merger is complete -- if it gets released at all.
Source: The Verge
Well, it's not quite the dramatic redesign Twitter experimented with then largely scrapped, but today's update to its mobile apps still packs a pretty decent punch. For one, you can finally share images via direct message, which has until now been a text-only affair. The DM feature is also much more prominently displayed in the navigation bar, rather than buried in an inconvenient place. It's hard not to see the move as a response to Snapchat's growing popularity, which is built around securely and privately sharing images and short videos. It may also (for better or worse) put an end to scandals centered around publicly tweeted body parts. The iOS version is also taking a cue from its Android brother and moving to a more swipe-friendly UI. Now you can simply flick your finger across the screen to switch between your home, discover and activity timelines. The notification options have also been given a significant overhaul that adds plenty of flexibility. The Android version even lets you turn on notifications for individual users by starring their profiles. Hit up the iTunes or Google Play app stores now to download the update.
Firefox 26 has exited beta at last, and it includes a few big treats for Android users. The mobile browser now includes a promised home screen with quick access to favorite pages, bookmarks and the Reading List. There's also new optimizations for Intel-based devices, and searchers can switch to Bing or Yahoo if they'd rather not rely on Google. Desktop users aren't completely left out of the update parade, mind you; the full-size software no longer launches Java plugins automatically, and Linux users can play H.264 video with the right add-ons. Whichever new Mozilla client hits the spot, you can download it today through one of the source links.
The Microsoft Research team launched Socl in beta form a little over a year ago -- and yes, it is still very much alive. Now, Redmond's experiment could potentially have a more extensive reach, thanks to newly launched applications on iOS, Android and, of course, Windows Phone 8. These mobile apps bring many features to the mix, including the ability to create/share collages and "funny memes," as well as being able to network with different people on the social site, among other things. For those unfamiliar with Socl, the service was known internally as Tulalip during its early days, a time in which Microsoft dubbed it as a project that was meant to help folks "find what you need and share what you know easier than ever."
Eventually, Tulalip became what we now know as Socl, a search-based social network that relies heavily on images and videos you collect from across the internet. Don't think Socl is aiming to compete with the big players, however (at least not yet); Microsoft Research believes it is "actually quite complementary" to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. Either way, we'll leave you with all the necessary links below, just in case you're interested in getting involved with yet another sociable environment on the web.
Since Google bundling text messages into Hangouts, it's had its share of quirks, and the Android app's latest update addresses a few of them. If you were aggravated by the application converting group messages to MMS by default (and the possible upcharge to your mobile bill), then maybe the power to disable the function will fix that. What's more, you can now import existing SMS into the app, and Mountain View has added APN tweaks for those rocking certain unlocked handsets. The update is currently rolling out, but, if you're the impatient type, you can grab it from Android Police right now.
Via: Android Police
Source: Google Play
One of Android KitKat's new features is a way for developers to easily make video recordings with the SDK, but what about every day users? After previously demonstrating display streaming software, CyanogenMod developer Koushik Dutta has released a new beta app in the Play Store (join the Google+ Community first for access) that simplifies the process. It does require users to be on one of the latest nightly builds of CyanogenMod 11 to work, but once loaded it can make recording a video of one's screen just as simple as taking a screenshot. As demonstrated in a video (embedded after the break), users can even activate it with the volume up + power combo on a Nexus 5, just like the volume down + power button that takes a screenshot. If you're not on CyanogenMod there is hope however, as Dutta revealed over the weekend that it's able to work on any rooted device running Android 4.4.1, and may be able to work even on hardware that's not rooted. Koush has been a busy guy lately, also revealing that Google may add Android-to-Chromecast mirroring soon and releasing a new version of his media streaming AllCast app, we almost feel bad about hoping the Cast SDK adds on a few new opportunities.
Source: Koushik Dutta (Google+)
Short-range location services are all the rage these days, but they're nothing without the Bluetooth beacons that make them possible. Qualcomm is fulfilling that behind-the-scenes need today by releasing its Gimbal proximity beacons. Both the tiny Gimbal Series 10 and the weatherproof Series 20 let shopkeepers offer area-based discounts and information to customers as they wander through stores, with position accuracy down to one foot. They only support Apple devices for now due to iOS 7's native iBeacon feature, but Qualcomm also promises that Android support is on the way. Stores may not mind the limited utility, though, since the beacons are so cheap. Series 10 beacons cost as little as $5 each when bought in bulk, while the Series 20 costs $10; either way, they're trivial costs if they lead to a few more impulse buyers.
Android users worried that the government is spying on their smartphone now have a new privacy option: CyanogenMod. Starting with today's nightly 10.2 build, the custom firmware will encrypt SMS and MMS messages sent to any device using the TextSecure protocol, including fellow Cyanogen users. Users won't have to do a thing; the cryptography runs automatically in the background, regardless of the text messaging app. The encryption won't reach CyanogenMod 11 or other releases until the company is confident that everything is running smoothly, but it shouldn't be long before many Android users can chat with a greater level of secrecy.
Via: The Verge
We knew it was only a matter of time before Qualcomm came out with its own chipset capable of supporting 64-bit, but we figured it'd be in something a little more... high-end. The Snapdragon 410, however, is a 28nm SoC that seems to be focused more on lower-end devices and emerging markets instead. Announced by the company today, the new Snapdragon is expected to sample to manufacturers in the first half of 2014, with it reaching consumer devices during the second half.
The chip also comes packed with plenty of extra feature support. First on the list is LTE, which Qualcomm says is a feature it wants to bring to all product tiers. In particular, this next-gen connectivity comes with multimode and multiband support, ensuring that many devices carrying the chip will work on LTE networks around the globe (a feature we assume will be up to the OEM to enable). In addition, the Snapdragon 410 will feature an Adreno 306 GPU and offer support for dual- and triple-SIM devices, with 1080p video playback, up to a 13MP camera, GPS/GLONASS, WiFI, NFC and Bluetooth. It'll also be compatible with Android, Windows Phone and Firefox OS, and is geared toward "high-volume" devices in emerging markets which sell for under $150.
Of course, even though a lower-tier Snapdragon is the first Qualcomm chipset with 64-bit support, we strongly suspect that it won't be too long before the company comes out with new higher-end SoCs that offer the same capability. After all, CES and MWC are not too far away.
So far, the ability to wirelessly stream the display of an Android phone or tablet to your TV has been limited to solutions like Miracast, but information spotted by Cyanogen Inc. cofounder Koushik Dutta suggests that will change soon. Dutta, who has been working on a similar feature (embedded after the break) for CyanogenMod 11 with AirPlay support, posted notes from the Android 4.4.1 patches showing APIs related to the capture of video output from the device. Currently mirroring from a Chrome browser tab on a PC to Google's HDMI dongle works, but so far on mobile devices it's been locked down to just supported apps. Unfortunately, what he's seeing also indicates this API will keep things locked down to approved devices, so setting up receivers for other hardware like an Apple TV or Roku might not work. Between this feature, the Cast SDK that we hope will open up access to more developers and services, Chromecast support for the platform formerly known as Google TV and rumors of a Nexus TV set-top box, our list of most-anticipated TV announcements from Google is starting to get full.
Source: Koushik Dutta (G+)
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