Tuesday, 2 September 2014

20 best Android apps and games this week


MIX by Camera360 (Free)
This is a spin-off from the well-regarded Camera360 photography app: pitched as a “companion to Instagram”, it has lots more effects and filters to tweak your shots, with lots of scope to mix up your own settings (hence the title).
Grabble: The Fashion Finder (Free)
There have been plenty of apps promising to help you find clothes to buy, but few have made a lasting impact. Can Grabble buck the trend? It looks good: capable of browsing UK retailers including Top Shop, ASOS and Net-a-Porter, with a simple, accessible interface.
Fragment (£1.20)
More photography here, with a nifty (if somewhat novelty) app to turn your snaps into “prismatic art” then share them on various social networks. You choose frames, shapes and patterns, then use intuitive touchscreen controls to make a mini-masterpiece (or a mess).
WeTransfer (Free)
Online, WeTransfer is a simple way to share large files with friends. Its Android app is just as useful: you can upload up to 10GB of photos and videos, entering friends’ email addresses to send them a link to the files. Good for sharing after large communal events – weddings, for example.
Line Toss: Photo Sharing (Free)
Social network Line clearly didn’t consult a British slang expert when naming its new photo and video-sharing app. Still, if you are a Line user – and the numbers are growing outside its native Japan – it’s a neat way to share and sort your snaps and videos with friends.
Delvv: Your Personal News Feed (Free)
Isn’t that Facebook or Twitter? No, Delvv is one of a group of apps aggregating news stories for you to read, based on your interests. Advanced users can add in RSS subscriptions to tune their feed, but it’s accessible enough for anyone to use.
SpinMe Alarm Clock (Free + IAP)
I’ve not yet met the alarm clock capable of getting me out of bed without at least three bleary-eyed presses on the snooze button. SpinMe might be the cure for that bad habit: to turn the alarm off, you have to get up and spin around holding your phone. Fun, if punishing.
Wakie (Free)
It’s officially the week of Android alarm-clock apps. Wakie is an even stranger idea, but quite fun: you set an alarm, then get a phone call – for 60 seconds maximum – from another Wakie user at that time. And you can do the waking if you like too. Sounds creepy, but the community seems friendly.
Folr (Free + IAP)
Finally, Folr is the latest location-tracking app, designed to be used (with permission, obviously) to keep tabs on your nearest and dearest. Parents are likely to be its key audience, although the developer is angling for schools to use it too.
Tiny Tower Vegas for Android.
Tiny Tower Vegas for Android.


Tiny Tower Vegas (Free + IAP)
The two previous Tiny Tower games – Tiny Tower and Star Wars: Tiny Death Star – were both brilliant. This one is pretty good too, at first glance: you build a pixelly hotel and casino, filling its floors with gambling, and then popping in to play yourself.
Madden NFL Mobile (Free + IAP)
EA’s American football franchise returns to Android for a new season, in its recently-adopted guise as a free-to-play game. Expect official players and teams, deep tactical depth, and (hopefully) less server issues as the game gets into the swing of things in the coming weeks.
Calculords (£1.76 + IAP)
This is one of the most inventive games on Android at the moment: a turn-based card-battling game with a twist: maths. You have to solve sums in order to deploy your troops in a series of battles. It’s addictive and clever.
Swing Copters (Free)
Yes, the sequel to Flappy Bird, from developer Dong Nguyen. This time, instead of flapping a bird horizontally while avoiding pipes, you’re zig-zagging a propeller-headed character upwards between platforms and swinging hammers. Manages the dubiously-impressive feat of being even more difficult and frustrating than its predecessor.
They Need To Be Fed 3 (£1.19)
The previous They Need To Be Fed games were fab, and this continues the trend: a beautifully-crafted platform adventure with a “360-degree” schtick that means you’re not restricted from going in one direction. Excellent stuff.
Ascension (Free + IAP)
Card-battlers are now ubiquitous on mobile devices, but Ascension was one of the first good ones back in 2011. It’s taken its time to come to Android, but is well worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre: collecting cards to form your deck then exploring its deep battle strategy.
Five Nights at Freddy’s (£1.81)
One of the scariest Android games you’ll play this week, here: a conversion of the equally spooky PC game. It sees you playing a security guard in a restaurant, keeping an eye on its animatronic animal mascots – with a murderous plotline bubbling in the background. Creepy, but very good with it.
Deep Under the Sky (£1.99)
A psychedelic feast for the eyeballs, here, with a game that’s a bit reminiscent of PlayStation classic Fl0w. You guide a jellyfish through 80 levels on the dark side of Venus – be quiet, space biology experts – enjoying the visuals as you go. A relaxing treat.
Mountain (£1 + IAP)
Mountain is very silly, but fun too: you create a giant mountain that hangs in space, then watch it get hit by the weather and various items of flying junk. Yes, that’s it. But in an age of timer-based freemium games, checking in on this is a breath of fresh (mountain) air.
Pac-Man Friends (Free + IAP)
If the thought of Pac-Man re-imagined in a freemium game borrowing its level structure from Candy Crush Saga bothers you, avoid this. But if not, you may wish to give Pac-Man’s latest mobile comeback a try: it’s a new spin on the traditional ghost-chasing pill-chomping action.
Fionna Fights - Adventure Time (£0.60)
Finally, the latest game based on the marvellous TV show Adventure Time, this time with Fionna, the female version of hero Finn in gender-swapped episodes. It’s a colourful, fun action beat-em-up.
Those are our picks, but what have you been enjoying on Android this week? Post your recommendations (or feedback on these) in the comments section.

Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta 4 Update for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 Now Available for Download

Install Paranoid Android 4.5 BETA 1 ROM for Nexus 7 2012 Wi-Fi

Earlier last week we told you that the folks at Paranoid Android releases a minor PA 4.5 Beta 2 update for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. As promised, the developers have issued a new Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta build for supported devices. The beta builds are usually released once a week, but the Beta 4 build was made available for download within days after the previous update rolled out.

As you may know, the Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta 3 build has had some issues, the PA team confirming this in their latest blog post. Even though the Beta 4 build was supposed to bring Android L Dynamic status bar, the new build only arrives to fix the issues of the previous Beta build. The new update is set to fix issues with mako WiFi and kernel, issues with Theme Engine causing reboots, and the bug that was affecting hammerhead flashlight. As you may know, the Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta builds are also including some of the design elements of the Android L release. Therefore, you will be able to partly enjoy the Android L interface before the new update goes public.

Besides the Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta 4 update for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10, the PA team has also made the new builds available for other supported devices. You would also be able to download and install the Beta 4 builds for OnePlus One, Oppo Find 5, Oppo Find 7, Oppo N1, or Galaxy Nexus. You can download the Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta 4 builds for the aforementioned smartphones from the PA download page, here.

Even though the Paranoid Android 4.5 builds are labeled as Beta, they are quite stable. I am currently running the Beta 4 build on my Nexus 5 as daily driver and I haven’t encountered any major glitches yet. The builds are usually released on a weekly basis and, as you might have guessed already, new releases are bringing fixes for the bugs found in previous versions.

If you are used to flashing custom ROMs on your Android device, installing Paranoid Android 4.5 shouldn’t raise any problems. After you have properly unlocked the bootloader, rooted your device and installed a custom recovery, you will have to download both the PA 4.5 Beta 4 and Gapps ZIP files from here and here, respectively. After you copy both files on your device, boot into Recovery Mode, go to install ZIP, choose PA 4.5 Beta 4 and Gapps, then flash them. After you perform a factory reset, reboot the device, and you should be running Android Paranoid.

If you have no idea what you’re doing, feel free to check our tutorials on how to install Paranoid Android 4.5 Beta 4. You can find tutorials for Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 here and here, while the tutorial for Nexus 10 can be found here. If you happen to own a 7-inch Nexus tablet you can find tutorials for Nexus 7 2012 WiFi-only, Nexus 7 2012 3G, Nexus 7 2013 WiFi-only, and Nexus 7 2013 LTE here, here, here, and here, respectively.

Samsung Galaxy S Duos 3 handset available for purchase, at least in Mumbai

Entering the arena reserved for affordable Android smartphones in the country is the Samsung Galaxy S Duos 3 which, as its name suggests, was preceded by two other similarly named devices. However, it’s still not that big an upgrade over both of them, and we don’t see it being a huge threat to other similar handsets in the Indian market.

Samsung Galaxy S Duos 3

Actually, the Galaxy S Duos 3 is still to be made official by the South Korean giant, but it has landed in the country nonetheless. What’s more, it has already been made available for purchase by a Mumbai-based retailer named Mahesh Telecom at Rs 7999. Manish Khatri, the owner of this business has revealed via Twitter that its MRP is Rs 8590.

We also know all the key specs about this phone, so let us take you through the important ones. The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 3 houses a 4-inch 480 x 800 pixel display, and is powered by a dual core processor with a clock speed of just 1GHz. It packs 512MB of RAM, and offers a 5MP rear and a VGA front camera. There’s some respite in the OS department at least, as the chosen software is Android 4.4 KitKat.

A look at the specs of the Samsung Galaxy S Duos 3 handset:

- OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
- Processor: 1GHz dual core
- Display: 4-inch, 480 x 800 pixels
- Memory: 512MB RAM, 4GB storage (can be expanded)
- Battery: 1500mAh
- Camera: VGA front, 5MP rear

The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 3 will be up against far better smartphones in terms of specs, which lowers its chances of leaving any actual impact. Anyway, it seems its stocks have reached retail stores in Mumbai at least and are expected to arrive in other areas soon. Those interested can check their local retailers.

App to delete messages before it's received

App to delete messages before it's received

Worried about a wrong message sent to your boss, parents or colleagues? Now you can delete it instantly before they read it.

An app called ''Invisible Text'' allows its users to permanently delete a message preventing it from reaching the other person. But with a clause, it can only be deleted if it hasn't been already opened by the recipient.

Another amazing advantage of the app is its timer facility, which allows the user to set a timer for a message to self-destruct itself if it is not read within a stipulated amount of time.

The app works for all kinds of messages be it videos, texts, voice or picture messages.

The app is available on Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices using a technology that combines message encryption with device pairing.

"To date, no other solution can ensure secure data transmission between two devices, including a smartphone, smart TV, computer, tablet, radio or webcam," the company said in a statement.

The recipient of the text you want to delete must also have "Invisible Text" app on his phone.

How to stay online and anonymous


Did you ever feel the urge to send a love/hate message to someone, but were afraid that it would come back to haunt you? Especially in this digital age of technology and smartphones, it is tough to keep your identity secret – but as always, there is an app for that. In fact, there are three apps, and free, for the iOs and Android platforms.

This is the app that started the trend. It requires your mobile number and a connection to your Facebook account. It does not misuse the information, and uses it only to authenticate you, and to tell you if the secrets being shared are by your friends or by ‘friends-of-friends’. No names are given out, and every time you reply to a secret, you have a brand new icon that only you know. Moreover, the icon changes with each thread.

Conversations are split into two types15 -- - those by your friends and friends-of-friends, and randomly selected threads, called Explore. Even here, in case you feel something is unacceptable, you can flag the conversation. There is also an option to follow a thread without commenting on it by subscribing to it. Also, if you posted something and don’t want it up online any more, you can also delete the post.

Secrets can range from your secret crush, to how you ate only cheese for dinner last night to your colleague’s secret vice. You can also share conversations on social media — though your identity will stand revealed.

The obvious problem with Secret is that it knows your Facebook identity and your phone number. This is where Yik Yak scores: there is no login, there is not even ownership of a thread. It uses the GPS on your phone to figure out your location and shows you recent posts from others in your area.

From funny experiences to news to rumours and real secrets, Yik Yak can help you get the word out. Options available: all-time Greatest Yaks, Top Yaks in your area, and other Top Yaks.
Since Yik Yak does not use a login system, you may not have access to your own posts if you use it on another device! But if you want to brag about how you watched a match during a presentation, go ahead. Yak about it.

Compared to Secret users, Yik Yak has a lower following as of now, so you may not find the same level of variety in conversations. But the community is growing.

Now, app that helps extend smartphone battery life

A researcher in the US has developed a new smartphone app that can help you minimise energy consumption and extend the battery life of your cell phone.

Y Charlie Hu, a professor in the Purdue University school of electrical and computer engineering, has created the app named Estar that shows how quickly other apps will drain a smartphone battery, and offers energy efficient alternatives.

"We created the free Estar app specifically to empower smartphone users to extend their smartphone battery life by exposing energy footprints of all the popular apps in the app market," Hu was quoted as saying by The Journal & Courier.

The app provides users with information so they can make more informed decisions on whether they want to avoid downloading power-hungry apps or remove such apps that were previously downloaded.

Estar, which is available for free in Google Play, displays a colour-coded, five-star energy rating for each app that shows how fast an app will drain the phone battery relative to other apps in the same category.

Users can then use this information to make decisions on which apps they choose to download, including energy-efficient apps, those having high energy ratings by Estar.

The app also reports on the energy drain of apps already downloaded and running on the user's phone to identify and warn the user which apps are draining an excessive amount of battery.

The user can then take actions such as stopping or removing the app to extend the battery life.

Sony Launches 6 Bravia 4K Televisions in India, Starting Rs. 1,74,900


Sony on Tuesday announced the launch of 6 new Bravia 4K televisions in 3 new series in India. While 4 are already available in the country, ranging in price from Rs. 1,74,900 to Rs. 7,04,900, 2 others will be released in India by the end of September.

The Japanese consumer electronics giant said the 6 new Bravia 4K TVs offer "excellent picture and audio quality, while featuring a bevy of new features will appeal to the discerning consumer."

Sony says, "All 6 of the new 4K models offered by Sony will incorporate the powerful picture processing engine, 4K X-Reality PRO, which uses a combination of unique up-scaling and super resolution technology from Sony to offer any content in beautiful and stunning 4K resolution."

All 6 new models also support HDMI 2.0, which Sony says gives them the ability to display 4K/60p content. The models will also be equipped with a new decoder which supports HEVC and can playback 4K/60p content from Internet streaming services and USB playback. The TVs are also compatible with MHL 3.0, which supports 4K output from smartphones and tablets

Other features included on Sony's new Bravia 4K TVs include X-tended Dynamic Range (for a higher dynamic range of brightness with a proprietary backlighting algorithm), Triluminos display (for a wider gamut of colours), and a Wedge form factor for increased stability (on select models).

The company is also introducing 'One-Flick Entertainment,' a feature that allows viewers to quickly browse content across different sources at home. The bundled One-Flick Remote Control gives users 'intuitive control', with simple swipes allowing users to access both offline and online content. By touching compatible NFC-enabled smartphones or tablets to the One-Flick Remote Control, users can see content stored on those devices.

Also on the new Sony Bravia 4K televisions is the 'Social Viewing' feature, which enables users to Skype chat (with the built-in camera) apart from keeping track of their social media accounts.

Sony has detailed pricing for the 4 already available Bravia 4K TVs, with the 79-inch Bravia KD-79X9000B priced at Rs. 7,04,900, the 55-inch Bravia KD-55X9000B priced at Rs. 3,14,900, the 55-inch Bravia KD-55X8500B priced at Rs. 2,54,900, and the 49-inch Bravia KD-49X8500B priced at Rs. 1,74,900. The 85-inch Sony Bravia KD-85X9500B and 65-inch Bravia KD-65X9000B will be released by the end of September - with prices only revealed then.

Avail 1GB Data For Rs 83​ as Blackberry partners with Idea cellular

According to reports by Business Insider India, Blackberry India has tied up with Idea cellular to provide affordable data services. You can avail 1GB data at Rs 83/- in coming months.

According to the report, Blackberry users with Operating system 7 can avail BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) 1GB 2G data for only Rs 83 per month. These Idea users can also avail of an annual rental plan of Rs 999 as well.

After suffering a major crash with respect to business prospects, Blackberry has been trying to orchestrate a major turnaround in its fortunes. Earlier, BlackBerry CEO John Chen had even said that India was critical to the revival of the company. As the quarter ended May 31, Blackberry's global shipments have crashed 61% to 2.6 million phones. And due to security concerns, Blackberry hasn't been able to get a solid footing in China, which makes India, a viable option for the company.

Blackberry plans to target potential customers using touch and QWERTY OS 7 devices, with this initiative.

"BlackBerry currently has some of the strongest and most robust enterprise services and solutions in the market having transitioned from the 'push mail' image. This offer is designed to deliver these benefits not only to consumer but also enterprise users," said BlackBerry India director of carrier sales, Ashish Gupta to Business Insider India.

ZTE launches premium V5 Android KitKat smartphone, prices it at Rs 10,999

ZTE is offering just 4 GB of internal memory out of which around 570 MB is available to users.

Chinese mobile manufacturer ZTE has launched its V5 smartphone at a price of Rs. 10,999 exclusively on Snapdeal. The V5 runs on Android 4.4 KiiKat operating system sugarcoated with the version 2.0 of its unique UI called Nubia. ZTE has tried to deliver a premium smartphone with focus on better camera at an affordable price.

The V5 comes with a 13 MP rear snapper along with a 5 MP front camera. The rear camera uses a Sony Exmor sensor and the front camera has a BSI sensor. Sporting a 5-inch HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, Dragontrail glass protection and One Glass Solution, the V5 houses a quad-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1 GB of RAM.

ZTE is offering just 4 GB of internal memory out of which around 570 MB is available to users. Which is pretty low compared to what other smartphones are offering in this price range. The smartphone can support up to 32 GB of external memory and is powered by a 2400 mAh detachable battery.

'India is leading the fray globally for Samsung in software innovation in education'

'India is leading the fray globally for Samsung in software innovation in education'

Samsung Electronics on Tuesday announced the launch of its android-based education application under its Media Solutions Centre (MSC) division, as the company takes a shot at the e-learning market estimated at Rs 18.41 trillion. According to a Ken Research Report, the e-learning market - which includes the use of electronic media and all information and communication devices/technologies in education - is set to grow at a compounded annual rate of more than 17 per cent until 2018. Tarun Malik, Director - MSC for South-West Asia at Samsung Electronics, speaks to Shamni Pande about the $216.7-billion electronics giant's new initiative. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Does the launch of the education application signal a strategic shift for Samsung?

A. Yes, it does. With the launch of our education application, we are initiating a big push in the software innovation space. If you look at the education space then we are looking at potentially 30 million school-going students in India, who we believe, are underserved in some ways. Of course, if you look at the entire universe of students, which includes special education, test-preparation and higher education, then this number is about 200 million.
We will initially focus on the K-12 segment and we are going to offer CBSE curriculum in an interactive manner for students. Down the line, we will also offer ICSE curriculum along with other boards. With this we hope to not only take position in the education/e-learning space, but also in software innovation for the first time. We are also partnering with Aakash Institute to offer test-preparation through their flagship iTutor product. We will not just offer learning, but also assessment content for class 8 up to class 10 as well as medical and engineering entrance exams.

Q. Will it challenge the position of established e-learning players, particularly those dealing in smart-class?
A. It does take us into the e-learning territory. However, we are not challenging others, but merely have worked on our capability sets to fill the existing gaps in the education system. Many players went to sell PC-based learning system to schools, which failed. Today, people like personal devices. Also, we identified some other areas where the learning will be aided by PDFs and simulation videos and even be delivered in 3D through our Smart TVs. There are many players, but none that has gone the whole nine yards to stitch it all up together. Besides, we do have leadership in tablets and Smart TV, so this launch is also focused on our devices. This means that people can buy our android-based app on Samsung Playstore.
Initially, we may just offer it as a promotional add-on with our devices, but we will be selling it. The entire curriculum for each class will cost about Rs 2,000 for one year. However, this price in not fixed and will vary according to the grade. Samsung 's Smart Learning app can be accessed anytime, anywhere with online and offline access points as it is cloud-based service. In short, we are very bullish about this space.
Q. Are you speaking to schools and the government and others for possible partnerships?

A. Yes, we have initiated talks, but we have no announcements to make yet. We initiatlly hope to increase our spread and will launch this commercially on Teachers' Day. About 7,000 stores in India have been equipped to sell education content on Samsung Galaxy Tab, which will be extended to 10,000 stores.
Q. What are the other spaces you are looking at?

A. This is just the beginning, you will hear of many new announcements in the software innovation space from us. There is a whole new team in the MSC that is mandated to come up with innovative applications in different spaces. Of course, they involve our devices. But the India market is leading the fray, globally for Samsung, in software innovation in education. Gradually, we will offer this in other Southeast Asian countries as well.