Android's default video capabilities leave a lot to be desired, so the Play Store has a small but thriving industry of third-party video players. MX Player has been one of the most dependable among them, and the latest update fixes a few bugs on Android 5.0+ devices and adds a few new features. The most notable is probably the new ability to upload and download subtitle files from the web. That's a big deal if you often watch videos in a language you can't speak - anime fans, ahem, accessing unavailable shows come to mind.
Welcome back to another week of the Android Police Podcast. To catch us live on Hangouts On Air every Thursday at 5:30PM PST (subject to change as per the calendar widget below), just head over to androidpolice.com/podcast. For the unedited video show, click here. As always, we'll take your questions at 530-HELLO-AP and also at our email address: podcast at androidpolice dot com. Additionally, we're giving out a $10 Google Play gift card every week to our favorite listener-submitted voicemail or email from here on out, so send us your questions or discussion topics!
Smartphone gaming is a hugely popular activity in almost every demographic. People play games on their phones constantly - be it Angry Birds or Clash of Clans, or more serious titles like those wonderful Final Fantasy ports or the many "midcore" shooters and racing games available for phones.
While tablets are obvious gaming platforms, too, today we're interested in gaming on your phone. Namely, do you?
Personally, I haven't in quite some time. But that's because I'm a PC gamer and generally prefer that platform for my digital entertainment, and I realize that I'm in a smaller group there. I do find myself gaming on my iPad (Hearthstone!), but my phone?
Android users in general like widgets. Android "advocates" (which I suppose includes all of us here at Android Police) remember when it was one of the biggest differentiators between Google's mobile operating system and iOS, back when people were trying to convince us that we didn't really need copy and paste support. So when Nokia's Z Launcher homescreen replacement app launched without widgets, a considerable number of users couldn't switch over because of this lack.
Now the developers have alleviated this problem, so it's a good time to give Z Launcher another chance. Version 1.2 adds basic widget support: swipe to the blank screen on the left side of the main launcher and long-press to add them.
Google's initiative to put privacy and security back into the hands of users through a revised permission system has received generally positive responses. It's no secret that this approach closely matches the way iOS prompts users for access to things like the contacts or location. Aside from the possibility that permission requests could become annoying with too much frequency, this has proven to be a pretty effective approach. However, since the announcement, one sticking point seems to have emerged around access to the Internet. As it turns out, users will never be asked to grant access to the outside world, and it's not even possible to revoke it, even if they wanted to.
Weather apps. If one app category gets its own entire section in the Play Store, you should surmise that the choices are beyond wide and the selection is almost impossible. Even browsing the category is a daunting minefield of Froyo-stuck designs and mediocre data and options. So why bother with a third-party weather client, especially when Google Now has its own weather card, Android comes with a News & Weather app, and a simple Google search for the name of your city with the word weather turns up the result you're looking for?
Details for one. Weather apps can provide a breadth of information that Google's knowledge graph and cards don't have.
LG showed off the G4 at the end of April, we posted our review a couple weeks later, and we've spent the time since then waiting for the time when folks here in the US can pick the phone up from their network of choice. Availability and pre-orders have trickled out gradually, and now we've reached a point where the phone should be on sale across all five of the country's largest carriers.
Under the hood improvements don't always get much love, but there is a segment of Android users that will be thrilled to hear about what Google has done for those working with audio. The headlining change is an API for MIDI, which is the primary interface for communicating music-oriented information between devices. The net result of this will be making it far easier for developers to create apps that interact with hardware for making music or other sorts of sounds. Other changes add to the overall quality of audio that can be worked with on Android and give more options for creating complex tracks.
Remember that "Voice Access" talk that was supposed to happen at I/O but was removed from the schedule? It turns out that, while it wasn't the full-on in-app voice craziness we had hoped for, Google did have some news about voice interactions to share.
Specifically, with Android M, Google has introduced the Voice Interaction API, which will allow apps to get a better handle on a user's voice-initiated requests. Check out the video below, by the leaders of a sandbox talk at I/O about voice actions.
The new API, as Google Search Developer Advocate Jarek Wilkiewicz explains, shouldn't be confused with custom voice actions.