The Play Store has been off to a great start in 2013 – January saw the introduction of some brilliant apps like Carbon Backup and Pushbullet, and February followed up with some great entries of its own. From widgets to root apps to content creation tools, February had something for just about everyone. As always, we'll take a quick look at five of the very best apps we saw in the past month.
NASA is kind of awesome. In case you live under some red rocks, the organization sent this crazy robot to Mars that sends us back high-resolution photos. The future is amazing. Of course, there's nothing the space administration loves more than curiosity (which is why they named the Mars rover after it), and it's aiming to fuel yours with this 3D model explorer.
In a somewhat odd move, instead of simply providing the 3D models themselves, the app requires you to print out some markers.
Speaking two (or more) languages is cool. Typing in two or more character sets is decidedly less cool. Bilingual speakers who know, say, English and Spanish can have an easy enough time typing since they share a (mostly) common Latin alphabet. However, English/Hindi speakers may have a harder time bouncing between scripts because they use entirely different character sets. Enter Google.
In addition to providing a regular Hindi keyboard (below, right) which takes up multiple pages of letters, this app also offers a transliteration keyboard.
AccuWeather is one of the leading apps for getting more information than you could ever possibly need about the position of the sun, clouds, and the statistical likelihood that precipitation will fall from the sky. It has not, however, been the leader in Holo interfaces among weather apps (the Weather Channel beat it to the punch last week). Today, it catches up, though, with a brand spanking new UI.
It's not just menu bars and Roboto that are being added for this interface overhaul.
There are a lot of security apps for Android that go a little ways into overkill territory. Whether you're talking about superfluous task managers or "virus scanners" that may provide some minimal protection while generating more fear than is warranted, Android has a persistent problem with companies applying a Windows-era mentality on a completely different OS. Secunia PSI, however, takes the cake for being one of the least effective apps on the Play Store.
Adobe has kind of a scattershot mobile strategy. On the one hand, it released six apps back in 2011 for tablets that ranged from okay to awesome. On the other hand, it killed off five of them last year. The tablet versions cost $10 each. Pricey for an app, but Adobe knows how to bring it's A-game. Today, it's bringing it again with a phone version of Photoshop Touch. A distinct piece of software for $5.
If you've never heard of Snapchat, god! You guys are so behind the times! This app is like MMS and Mission Impossible all in one! Except it's not Mission Impossible because that's an old person show and who cares about Tom Cruise anymore? No time for watching movies when we're busy sending self-destructing pictures to each other. Set a timer on a message and, once it runs out, the recipient can no longer see your photo.
Popular beta testing platform TestFlight has officially announced its arrival to Android in private beta form, in a post to the TestFlight blog. If you're wondering how popular TestFlight really is, the same post should provide some reference: the service has been trusted with smoothing the process of beta app deployment for over 300,000 iOS apps. Needless to say, its expansion to Android is big news.
Of course, Android already has HockeyApp.net, and the Play Store offers private app deployment, TestFlight provides the ingredients for an impressively sleek beta testing process with secure deployment, tracking, and – perhaps best of all – centralized feedback.
Today is national app update day. Not officially, but it sure feels like it. We've already seen updates to high-profile apps like Google Drive and Any.DO, but Beautiful Widgets may have set the bar for excellent updates on February 20th, 2013. The day's not over yet, but this one's a doozie.
So, what sorts of newness does it bring? Lots. Lots of sorts of newness. Like the option to select Weather Underground (wunderground) as your default weather service.
The New York Times, old guard or not, is still a huge source of news to a lot of people and to the company's credit, it's paying a decent amount of attention to its mobile apps. Now the publication is issuing an update that brings a night mode that inverts the colors for easier night reading. As someone who likes to minimize the amount of bright white light blasting into my eyes, I appreciate the option.