It's been a busy month in the Android app world, particularly if you want useful tools or visual tweaks. There's one big app that we're not featuring in this roundup: the Google Now Launcher, AKA the Google Experience Launcher. We're omitting it from the main list because it's only compatible with Nexus and GPE devices - even the few standard Android devices that have been upgraded to KitKat can't play with it unmodified.
Pandora hasn't added any dramatic features to the music streaming app since the big interface change and Chromecast support, but they have been putting in small but noticeable changes on a pretty regular basis. Today's update to version 5.2 focuses on expanding some of the latest functionality to tablets and expanding the sleep timer and alarm clock.
First of all, both are now available on the tablet interface, which is handy for anyone who uses their tablet as a bedside companion.
In an odd bit of M&A news, the developers at Bitspin announced that the small company will be joining forces with Google. Whether Google has purchased the company outright or merely hired its Zurich-based development team isn't clear, but in either case, the big G will be benefitting from their impressive user interface experience soon. Google has not commented on the situation, and there is no dollar amount posted on the Bitspin website.
If you were jealous of iOS users who were able to wake up every morning to the sound of their favorite Pandora stations, then today may just be your lucky day. Today, Pandora announced a new update to its Android app that includes the alarm clock feature which debuted on iOS last month. In addition to waking you up at a set time with the station of your choosing, it also includes a snooze ability and a customizable snooze timer which can be set to 5, 10, 15, or 20 minute intervals.
Alarm clock apps are not usually described as lovely, but this one is. Scratch that – Timely is devastatingly beautiful. The numbers morph gracefully from one to the next, there are a ton of themes, and the subtle movement in the background looks great. It's not just a pretty face, though. Timely has some really useful features.
Timely uses an interesting tap-and-drag gesture to set alarm times. If you prefer to use Google Now voice input, Timely works with that too.
For many people, a piercing alarm is the worst way imaginable to wake up in the morning. One moment you're in deep sleep, moments away from taking a battle axe to Bowser and rescuing Princess Peach in a lime green Lamborghini, the next you're covering your ears as a neglected smartphone wails from the side table nearby. It's bad, but it could be worse. Much worse. Spin Alarm Clock won't settle for mere acknowledgment to cease its unpleasant alarm, it demands you to spin around several times before accepting that you are, in fact, awake.
Alarm clocks are thick on the ground on the Google Play Store, which is surprising in itself, since Android has a perfectly capable alarm clock built in. There are popular alternatives like DoubleTwist's slick-looking Alarm Clock, and various options for softly lulling you to sleep with music. Now there's a new option that's become quite popular on iOS (though we won't hold it against them), which uses your smartphone or tablet's sensors to wake you up at the right time.
What's probably the most beautiful alarm clock application for Android - doubleTwist Alarm Clock - received a fairly major update today that brings quite a bit of functionality to the app.
Some of the most notable new features are the addition of a Nap alarm, which allows the user to quickly set an alarm for anywhere between one and sixty minutes; the option for Quiet Mode, which automatically disables ringers and vibrations for eight hours prior to an alarm going off (brilliant!); and the increasingly popular option for voice actions, so you can tell your alarm when to go off.
There's definitely no shortage of ways to turn your $300 smartphone into a $20 alarm clock. What there is a shortage of, however, are elegant solutions to this age old quandary. Enter doubleTwist Alarm Clock, a new way to wake up from the guys who brought us the doubleTwist Player.
As soon as you fire up dT Alarm Clock, one thing is apparent: this thing is pretty. It's dark and classy looking, and the interface is intuitive.