In the mobile world, there are a few things that are absolutely clutch to a good experience: a good phone or tablet (that's a given), a set of go-to apps, and a good set of headphones or earbuds. Not the crap that your phone may have shipped with or some knock-off junk available at the local Target for $23, but some high-quality speakers for your head. If you've never owned a good set of over-the-ear headphones, then you're missing out on what a great audio experience can be like.
We're slap bang in the middle of CES at the moment, but if you're full up on wearables and Android-powered ovens, take a break and check out the best apps of 2013's final month. Below in no particular order you'll find our favorite new apps that debuted during the holiday season. There were a ton of significant app updates, of course, but these are the best new entries from December, along with a few honorable mentions.
We’re coming up on the 6-month anniversary of the shutdown of Google Reader; and while some people might still be a little jaded about losing the beloved service, most have moved on to one of the many alternatives that popped up to replace it. Several great feed aggregators exist, many offering innovative improvements over Reader, but their mobile apps may not fit your needs. The developer of gReader, noinnion, intends to solve that with the release of News+, a feature-rich and very customizable news reader app with support for several services.
Google Music has provided for the cloud streaming needs of the average user, but what if you've got more than 20,000 tracks or you want to stream video too? Well, there's always Subsonic, which relies on streaming media from your personal storage instead of Google's cloud. The app has gotten three big updates in the last few weeks, including today's jump to 4.1.
As you may have noticed, your friendly neighborhood Android Police writers have been more than a little busy in the last couple of days. Google had the odd notion of launching a new flagship device and a major operating system update on a holiday, so it's understandable if you haven't been able to keep up. If you spent most of last night escorting your kids around the neighborhood (or if you don't have kids, and you spent most of this morning nursing a Halloween hangover), here's everything we've got on KitKat, the Nexus 5, and anything else you want to know.
We all love listening to music on our phones. In fact, listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts regularly on our smartphones is probably one of the few things we all really share in terms of our usage patterns. The problem with listening to audio for extended periods, though, is that it can really put the hammer down on your battery life. Now, there's more than one reason for this - streaming high-quality audio over the web probably consumes more battery than the actual act of listening, but the power consumption of the processor while decoding that audio isn't negligible.
I've been doing APK teardowns for a while now, and most of the time exciting updates end up being relatively boring under-the-hood, only rarely dropping really fascinating hints at future functionality. Today, I was pleasantly surprised, as the situation with YouTube 5.2.27 is exactly the opposite - the update itself couldn't be less boring, but the nugget we dig up inside will make a lot of you very happy.
So, without further ado, I'm glad to report that background audio should be finally coming to a YouTube app near you, if all goes well during testing.
Let's say you're an angry Verizon Galaxy Nexus owner, which isn't a hard thing to be. Your phone still hasn't received Android 4.3, and Android 4.4 is right around the corner. The guy next to you at work has a Nexus 4 on a prepaid T-Mobile plan and uses the entirety of his wireless bill savings to buy KitKat Minis which he throws at you relentlessly while chanting "NEXUS 4 LYFE #HOLOYOLO." He comes dressed to every casual Friday in a homemade Matias Duarte button-down and has told you to "watch this" 38 times this year while using Google Wallet at the weekly staff meeting at Peet's, right before taking a photo sphere of his latte art.
One of the things that makes the Nexus series of phones so enticing is the extremely affordable pricing options. When the Nexus 4 first hit the scene, it was only $300 for an 8GB model and $350 for the 16GB, then Google slashed the prices by $100, making them even more affordable. In a world where most high-end mobile phones can't be purchased for less than $550-600 off-contract, Nexus pricing is a breath of fresh air.