- Swiftkey updated, introduces performance improvements and more
- Meet the Devs – Prince Studios
- Yo’s creator is back with Mirage, a simplified Snapchat alternative
- Shield Tablet shipping now, can be yours for just $299
- Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 16GB on sale for $280 at Best Buy
- ExaGear Strategies emulator brings classic PC strategy games to Android
- LG G3 will soon be offered in Moon Violet and Burgundy Red, starting in August
- Facebook reminds users to download its Messenger app, regular chat scheduled to go offline “soon”
- TouchPico – Android powered pico projector puts a touchscreen anywhere
- The Information: Motorola Nexus phablet is happening, Android Silver’s future uncertain
There’s a lot to like about Swiftkey, such as its excellent prediction engine and decent emoji. One area where it’s not so great is its tendency to lag from time to time. Thankfully a new update is rolling out that promises to improve this situation. In addition to improving overall performance, the update introduces plenty of other bug fixes and improvements that have to do with Yahoo personalization, forced closes and other issues. Here’s the full change log: * Improved typing performance * Improved translations * Improved keyboard loading time * Improved Flow performance * Fix for the bottom row being hidden in some devices * Fixed Yahoo! personalization * Fixed background disappearing issue in some themes * Fixed various other force closes and crashes So does the update really make a difference, like Swiftkey claims? It seems to depend on who you ask. A quick look around various blogs, forums and Reddit shows that while some folks say the lag is gone, others say its as bad as ever. For what it’s worth, I personally use Swiftkey as my main keyboard (not a fan of Android L’s keyboard) and have found that the whole experience does seem a little snappier on my Nexus 5. The keyboard also seems to load up quicker than before. In addition to bringing us plenty of improvements, Swiftkey also has added new themes to its store: Spotlight Purple, Edge Green, Pulse Yellow, Pulse Pink and Hazy Pink. Swiftkey is also holding a sale that applies to many of its existing themes, bringing prices down 33% for a limited time. To grab the latest version of Swiftkey, you’ll want to head on over to Google Play. For those that have downloaded it already, what do you think? Has the speed and overall lag improved for you?
Welcome back to our Meet the Devs segment! In this piece we take a little time to get to know the people who really make Android what it is today and that is the app developers. In this week's developer interview, we are talking to Prince Studios. NAME: Kirk Prince DEVELOPER NAME: Prince Studios COUNTRY: South Africa WEBSITE: N/A GOOGLE + PROFILE/PAGE: Kirk Prince Google+ page HOW MANY PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM? 1 APPS Flappy Revival TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY We are a small company at the moment, consisting of just one developer. But hopefully with a little interest we can grow to include more developers and/or graphic designers in order to be a force in the market. WHAT LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE WITH CODING AND DEVELOPMENT? Around about 5 years worth of teaching VB, but as far as app development is concerned, I currently only have one published android app. WHAT LANGUAGES DO YOU KNOW? HOW AND WHERE DID YOU LEARN THEM? Delphi, Java, and Visual Basic. Delphi was the first language I learned back at varsity (NMMU, South Africa), with Java to follow a year later at the same institue. VB was self-taught. WHAT LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE WITH DESIGN? Not much at all, did a multimedia course back at varsity, .but other than that basically just playing around photo editing software. WHAT APPS HAVE YOU MADE? Just one so far, called Flappy Revival and no, it's not just another clone lol. It's more of a sequel than anything else. HOW DO YOU MONETIZE YOUR APPS? Currently the only way I can monetize is by using advertising, as I am not allowed to create a merchant account in South Africa as yet. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF SUCCESSFUL? In terms of financial success? Probably not yet. Well not even close as yet. But as far as accomplishing the goals I set for myself in the time periods given, to certain extent, yes. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO MAKE MONEY AS A DEVELOPER? Very difficult at the moment. If you're just starting out and you don't have much connections or reputation, it's very difficult to be noticed. But I'm sure things the better the longer you stick with it (hopefully). WHAT CAN ANDROID DO TO IMPROVE? Well not to sound like a know it all or anything, but perhaps if they could be a little more streamlined and standardized, it could be a little easier to develop on the platform. I know they've come leaps and bounds since the days of Froyo and Gingerbread, so I'm sure it will only get better. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ANDROID? DO YOU DEVELOP FOR OTHER PLATFORMS? WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEM? I chose Android because I started using android not long after the first android phones were released, so it was a natural platform to choose when I started. Hopefully in the future, if my apps/games do well, I'll start to think about porting them over to iOS and Windows. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IOS AND WINDOWS 8 Well, just a random Google search would still suggest that iOS developers make a lot more money than Android, even though Android has a lot more users worldwide, so they must be doing something right over there. As for Windows, their still relatively new on the mobile OS market, but things are looking promising for them for the future. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE APPS? Apps: * Whatsapp * TripAdvisor * YouTube * Imgur Games * Stick Cricket * QuizUp * 2048 WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH GOOGLE? It's been good. Help is easy to find, and someone always has an answer for most things. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF DEVELOPMENT LOOK LIKE? Well it can only grow to major heights. With new hardware coming along like VR headsets connected to your phones, the development opportunities will be vast. And with new platforms like Ubuntu and Firefox etc coming up there'll always be something to do somewhere. WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING DEVELOPERS? Well I don't know how valuable any of my tips would be since I'm very much a beginner still, but I would say just go for it. You have nothing to lose my time. And at the end of the day, whether you're successful or not, you'd still have a good character building experience under your belt. Just don't give up until you're done with whatever it is you're doing. If there's a problem that seems insurmountable, just back going, you WILL find a solution, trust me, I've had more than I can count. Good Luck!! You will need it ;)
Say hello to Kirk Prince of Prince Studios!ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? A programmer’s wife sends him to the grocery store with the instructions, “get a loaf of bread, and if they have eggs, get a dozen.” He comes home with a dozen loaf of bread and tells her, “they had eggs.” Huehuehuehue Ok, I'm done. ------------------------- We want to thank Prince Studios for chatting with us in this week's developer interviews! If you're a developer and this looks like something you'd like to do, check out our Meet the Devs form! We look forward to hearing from you. Source: Flappy Revival (Google Play Store);
Back in June we first caught wind of a new app called Yo, that despite having no functionality beyond sending a short message with the word “yo” in it, managed to gain quite a bit of attention and even received over a million in venture funding as result. Now the app’s creator, Moshe Hogeg, is back with yet another app, this time using the _Mobli_ brand to bring us a “simplified” take on services like Snapchat. Like Snapchat and its many alternatives, Mirage is all about sending and receiving photos, text messages, short videos and audio files that can only be viewed once before simply self-destructing. One of the most noticeable things about Mirage is its UI, which is split into 2 parts. The upper part shows your camera viewfinder and the lower part contains all your contacts. The idea is that you can do just about everything without having to toggle between various menus. To send a text, you simply tap twice on the screen, and swiping from right to left lets you switch between different filters.
Like Snapchat and its many alternatives, Mirage is all about sending photos, text messages, short videos and audio files that self-destruct upon viewingAnother advantage of Mirage is that ALL your contacts are present and you can send self-destructing messages to anyone -- that includes non-members. Those without a Mirage account will simply be sent a link that brings them to Mirage’s webpage and from there they will be able to view the content once, before it disappears like always. Mobli says that, unlike some other services, they will not ask these folks to download the app or pressure them in any way. On the downside, Mirage does not offer group messaging at the moment, though they promise such a feature is on its way in the near future. Overall, Mirage is just another Snapchat clone, though its UI is admittedly very refined and the ability to easily send messages to all your contacts is also a welcome feature. For those that are already using Snapchat or a comparable alternative, there’s probably not a whole lot of reason to switch, though we’ll leave that up to you. Those that find current self-destructing messaging apps mostly pointless _(I’m raising my hand..)_, this app probably isn't going to change your mind. To check out Mirage for yourself, you’ll want to head on over to Google Play.
Last week Nvidia officially announced and began taking pre-orders for the Shield tablet, and now the tablet has started shipping to those that pre-ordered the device ahead of its general release. For those that didn’t pre-order, the tablet can now be purchased for immediate shipping through Nvidia’s website or it can be purchased for in-store pick up from Best Buy. It’s also worth noting that Amazon supposedly is stocking the device but it is currently listed as “temporarily out of stock”. At just $299, the 8-inch Shield tablet is one of the most impressive slates you’ll find on the market today, in a large part thanks to its beefy Tegra K1 processor. Some of the tablet’s other specs include 2GB RAM, 16GB storage with Wi-Fi only model, 32GB storage with the LTE model, microSD, a 19.75 Wh Lithium ion battery, an integrated stylus and Android 4.4 KitKat. The device is billed as a gaming tablet with support for the Nvidia controller (sold separately) and PC game streaming technology, but honestly this could be the perfect device for anyone looking for a high-end tablet experience without spending a bundle. On the downside, unlocking the Shield tablet's full gaming potential can also increase its price tag pretty dramatically. For starters, you’ll want to add on the gaming control for $60. For those that want to prop up the tablet for better gaming, the Nvidia cover is also a must-have at another $40. That brings you up to $400 and that’s not including the cost of investing in an Nvidia PC graphics card that will support PC streaming. The point is that, while the Shield tablet is very nicely priced, if you are hoping to take full advantage of its “hardcore gaming features” you need to be prepared to spend a little more than just the tablet’s asking price. Then again, if you are into streaming and ‘hardcore’ Android gaming, the Shield tablet and its accessories could be well worth the investment. What do you think of the Nvidia Shield tablet, impressed or not? Anyone get theirs yet? If so, what do you think so far? To snag the tablet, and/or its accessories, you'll want to head over to Nvidia's official website.
Traditionally most of Samsung’s smaller-sized tablets have had less than impressive specs and displays, which is probably why the introduction of the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 was so refreshing. The Tab Pro 8.4 was the first smaller-screened Samsung tablet to really emphasize quality specs, and while it has since been one-upped by the introduction of the Super AMOLED-packing Tab S 8.4, that doesn’t mean the Tab Pro 8.4 isn’t worth picking up. In fact, right now could be the perfect time to grab the Tab Pro 8.4, as Best Buy is currently selling the device brand-new for only $279.99 with free standard shipping -- $50 less than even Amazon’s listing price. For those that need a quick refresher, the Pro 8.4 is powered by a 1.9GHz Exynos 5 processor with 2GB of RAM. The tablet also offers up an impressive 8.4-inch display with a resolution of 2560×1600, and other specs include an 8MP rear cam, 16GB storage, microSD, a 4800 mAh battery and Android 4.4 with TouchWiz on top. For an even better look at what the tablet has to offer, be sure to check out our full review. What do you think, anyone planning on picking this one up at it’s current sale price? For those that do, keep in mind that the actual sale price won’t show up until you begin the initial checkout process. * Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 in black - Best Buy * Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 in white - Best Buy
Android may have plenty of games to whittle away the hours on these days, including a range of high quality emulators. However, PC gaming emulators are few and far between, with Winulator previously being one of the few options available if you fancy some Starcraft or Caeser III. If you’re itching to replay some of the many PC gaming classics, then you might be interested in a new emulator named ExaGear Strategies. The emulator, built by Russian start-up company Eltechs, is aimed solely at PC strategy games. However, this software is part of an upcoming range of applications which aim to bring classic PC games to Android smartphones or tablets. There is lots of clever trickery involved in getting old x86 PC games to run on ARM hardware, including binary translation and using popular Linux tools like WINE, which produces results that can be a bit hit and miss, depending on the game you are trying to emulate. At the time of writing, ExaGear officially only supports Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Disciples 2, and Civilization 3. However, a variety of other games are apparently quite playable on the emulator. ExaGear offers up two control schemes, "Helium" and "Cuprum", specifically designed to make playing these PC classics a little easier on a smartphone or tablet. On the whole, the point and click nature of these strategy games lends itself quite nicely to a larger tablet display and touch interface. As with all emulator apps, no games are included with the software. Instead, you’ll have to find some clever way of porting those classics onto your tablet’s microSD card. If you’re interested, you can trial the emulator for free for a three-days via the Play Store download. After that, you'll need to cough up $7 per control scheme, so $14 if you want both of them, which makes the app rather expensive given the limited number of supported games. Instructions on setup everything up can be found over on the ExaGear website. Via: Android Police; Source: Digital Trends;
When LG first took the veil off the LG G3 in May, the company introduced the handset in five colors: Shine Gold, Metallic Black, Silk White, Burgundy Red and Moon Violet. Since then, we’ve seen the LG G3 arrive to all major markets across the globe including all four major U.S. Carriers, but neither the red or violet color have formally been introduced just yet. For those that have been waiting for the LG G3 to arrive in these colors, you’ll be happy to know that they are almost here. In an official press statement, LG says that the two colors will start rolling out to select markets in August. It’s unclear exactly what regions the colors will arrive to, but those in the United States can pretty much bet that, if the colors arrive, they will be exclusive to either a specific carrier or to a retailer like Best Buy.
Additional G3 colors such as Moon Violet and Burgundy Red will be rolled out in select markets starting in August and continuing over several weeks. Exact colors and dates will be decided locally in conjunction with carriers. Announcements will be made in each market at the time of availability.What do you think, which of the five colors do you think the LG G3 looks best in? How important is color choice to you when buying a handset? Source: Phone Arena;
Back in April, Facebook announced that its Messenger service would be breaking away from the main Facebook app, with the aim of optimizing and streamlining both of the services separately. If you haven't already made the switch over to the dual app system, you might spot a gentle reminder pop up in the coming days, as Facebook is continuing on its mission to phase out the old chat service. The pop-up reminder offers up some feature incentives for making the switch, such as picture and voice messages, video, and the usual collection of stickers. Facebook states that users will also continue to receive chat notifications in the regular app, and will enable users to quickly hop between the two apps without losing their place in news or chat feeds. Switching between two apps just to chat with your pals does seem like a bit on an inconvenience. However, Facebook is adamant that the split will allow it to "better improve the performance of both apps over time" and that a separate Messenger app offers a faster experience overall. Although Facebook is not quite at the stage of forcing members over to the new Messenger app, the reminder indicates that a changeover date is coming “soon”, so it can’t be too long until chat messages are cast off completely. If you haven’t done so already, here is the link to download the Facebook Messenger app from the Play Store. Source: The Verge;
Every once in a while a truly great and innovative campaign lands on the crowd funding websites. This time out we find a pico projector on IndieGogo. The project is called TouchPico and it is no ordinary projector; aside from being almost completely wireless in operation and housing its own full copy of Android, TouchPico pairs with a smart stylus which allows you to turn any surface into a touch screen. Most pico projectors are simply slimmed down units capable of little more than projecting an input video signal onto the wall or ceiling. TouchPico also has an HDMI input, so you could use it as a plain old projector, but we think you'd opt instead to fire up the installed copy of Android 4.2 and run your own apps out of the Google Play Store. While the TouchPico will perform just fine for entertainment and media playback, including slideshows of the family vacation, the developers want you to push further, running games and other productivity apps that require significant user input. The included stylus has an infrared emitter. In relation to the projected image, TouchPico is able to capture the location of the stylus, using its built-in infrared camera, and convert the location into touch screen coordinates. This means that no matter what surface you use, or how large you expand the projection, you are rocking a touchscreen with an input rate of 40 frames per second. We do not have the actual device measurements, but TouchPico is shown off as being pocket friendly, weighing in "slightly heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S4 and just about the same size." The rest of the specs list shows off as follows: * Android 4.0 (but they say 4.2 in the video!) * SD Memory card * Audio Output * 80 Lumens (up to 80-inch projection) * Integrated Wi-Fi * Wireless mouse * Google Cast Streaming (No explanation is given here.) With all of this tech and capabilities, TouchPico wants you think beyond your normal projection needs. Business professionals can use the device to make a large interactive smart table. Educators can use it as a small and mobile Smart-Board system. And, of course, you'd be missing out if you do not get in a game of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja in large format. The only reason you should feel the need to rush over to the IndieGogo project page is if you want to get in on the early bird specials. At the time of writing, the project has already reached 87% of its goal, and it has only been live for a couple days! The current early bird deal gets you your own TouchPico for about $310, with the device slated for a $500 price tag after it starts shipping in October. Is the addition of touchscreen functionality and a built-in Android operating system enough to get you excited for the TouchPico projector? Via: Tech Crunch; Source: IndieGogo;
Over the weekend we reported on a new rumor claiming that the next Nexus handset would not only be built by Motorola, it would be a massive 5.9-inch device with the codename Shamu. Lending a little extra weight to the rumor, _the Information_ says that they have now verified with “three people with knowledge of the matter” that Shamu is really happening and that the deal began almost immediately after Google agreed to sell Motorola to Lenovo. Google had apparently decided a while back that they would not involve Motorola in the Nexus program for fear that it would look like they were favoring their own handset division over their OEM partners. Once Google had publicly revealed its plans to sell Motorola to Lenovo, however, the situation changed. Reportedly the reason that Google chose to work with Motorola over other OEMs this time around is that it wanted to showcase new technologies in Android L that were first brought to the table by Motorola such as Active Display technology and Touchless control. What Does Shamu (aka Nexus 6) Mean For Android Silver? Now that there seems to be at least two Nexus devices in the works - a Nexus 9 tablet and a Nexus 6 phablet -- we have to wonder about Android Silver’s future. According to the Information, Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora and a few others in the company had envisioned Android Silver as a full replacement for the Nexus and GPe program. It’s unclear what changed here, though we have a feeling negative public opinion about the death of the Nexus could have caused Google to have a change of heart. Either way, now that Arora is on his way out, the future of Android Silver remains uncertain.
Some in [Aroras] camp wanted Silver to supersede the Nexus phone program. But with Mr. Arora’s absence, there are questions about how much firepower Google will give to the Silver program.So what can we expect from Android Silver now that the Nexus series is reportedly here to stay? We see it one of two ways: first, Google will can cancel the project altogether, with the exception of the similar Android One program for emerging markets. Two, Android Silver will debut as a carrier-oriented effort that replaces GPe devices and works alongside the Nexus program. What Does Shamu Mean For Nexus Lovers That Aren’t Into ‘phablets’? Since reporting on Shamu, we've seen many comments from our readers expressing disinterest in the idea of a Nexus with a near-6-inch display. Most of these readers say they were more than happy with the Nexus 5′s form factor. While I could probably do with an upgrade to 5.1 - 5.2-inches, I’m mostly of the same opinion that the Nexus 5 is more than big enough. But that doesn’t mean the Nexus 6 is a bad idea, or that it will even replace the Nexus 5 at all. Up until now, Google has only supported one Nexus phone a year, but who says they can’t change up their strategy? In many markets, particularly in Asia, bigger is better in terms of screen size and so it makes sense for Google to give these big-screen fans a little love and deliver a phablet reference device that puts most of the existing competition to shame.
Up until now, Google has only supported one Nexus phone a year, but who says they can’t change up their strategy?Meanwhile, who is to say Google won’t continue to sell the Nexus 5 throughout 2014 and into 2015 for those that want something a bit smaller? After all, the Nexus 5 has aged incredibly well, especially considering the fact that most 2014 flagships only offer a slight improvement in CPU/GPU with the Snapdragon 801, and most of the rest of the specs remain about the same as what we saw from the late-2013 flagships. Right now, there’s only so much Google could do to improve the Nexus 5, at least in my humble opinion, like adding a bigger battery or an improved camera. Ideally, I’d like to see the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5 co-exist this year, with the Nexus 5 perhaps receiving a minor refresh that bumps up the battery, camera and introduces a Snapdragon 801. Then again, it makes just as much sense for Google to focus on the Nexus 6 this year and release a refreshed Nexus 5 (2015) once Qualcomm fully jumps onboard the 64-bit revolution next year. The big takeaway is that the Nexus 6 doesn’t necessarily mean that Google is “moving on” from the 5-inch form factor. It just means that they are doing something different right now. Again, it’s also possible that Google will offer three Nexus devices this year: a Nexus 5, Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. How awesome would that be? What do you think of Google’s changes to the Nexus program (Shamu, HTC Nexus), based on what we currently know? Excited or a bit nervous to see how it all plays out? Via: The Information;