The Google Play Store, as always, was abuzz with new apps last month. More than just new apps, though, the Play Store gained plenty of well-crafted, quality apps. The kind that have spurred the market's recent growth spurt, and which allow users to discover functionalities they never knew they needed. As always, we've sifted through all last month's new apps and selected our top five picks – a kind of short list for those looking to get the most out of their device with awesome apps.
SoundCloud may not be the most famous app around, but when it comes to sharing a simple audio clip or a song, it's hard to beat. Now, the company's mobile app is getting an overhaul and with it comes a shiny new interface that doesn't suck. The UI upgrade makes use of the action bar, side navigation panel, notification controls and all the other fancy new features that we've grown used to since Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond.
It seems like the Android world is getting a ton of extra tablet love in the past few months. Today, Skype joined the party by finally introducing an optimized UI for those of you with a little more screen to love. While the new look is nice, it bizarrely forces your slate into landscape mode. Even on the Nexus 7, you have no choice but to use the wider layout. This probably isn't a bad thing, since it looks great in this mode, and might seem cramped otherwise.
Android 4.2 is out now and it brings a bunch of new goodies. Multiple users on a tablet, photospheres, and gesture typing are all pretty neat. What about this Miracast thing, though? If you're part of the majority of Android users out there, you know that it involves screen sharing and something vaguely to do with WiFi. Well, here. Let's clear some of that up for you.
So, Uh... What Is Miracast?
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of live wallpapers. I love the idea, but in practice I've never found one that suits my taste and is compelling enough to stay on my device for more than a few minutes. That changed today with Cypher Cove's release of Audio Glow to the Play Store.
Audio Glow is actually a stand-alone app with a similarly named LWP companion which also launched today. The app is a music visualizer, which in itself is not so exciting.
Flipboard was one of the most hotly anticipated app launches on Android this last year. This super-pretty news reader first debuted on the iPad, where it turned a lot of heads before arriving on Android. This most recent update adds audio streams to Flipboard's magazine-like UI.
For those that aren't aware, Flipboard is a news reader that plugs into your various social accounts to find content. This part isn't terribly special, but by combining the news stories it finds in your social feeds with categories you subscribe to, the app builds a kind of digital magazine out of your news.
I have a love-hate relationship with docks. On the one hand, they offer me a place to keep my devices, a home, designating where my fancy smart toy resides in an otherwise chaotic world. I may change which pocket, hand, spot on the coffee table or place in my heart that a phone belongs, but a dock is always a constant. When night comes, the dock is its resting place. On the other hand, paying $50 or more for a dock that I can only use with one phone is not something I'm a fan of.
Listen, the relatively popular, if neglected, podcast app from Google has been surreptitiously pulled from the Play Store recently. It's unclear just how long ago Google pulled it (though it appears to be within the last week or so), and users are looking everywhere for it. There is also no indication on what Google has planned for it from here on out. We've reached out to Google for comment but have not heard back as of publication.
Since the Nexus 7 was originally announced, we knew that there were more accessories on the way. For starters, the device has four pogo pins that don't match any currently available accessories. Well, now we're getting a first look at the next batch of extras. For starters, there's a landscape multimedia dock that will be available for $49.99, and will be able to charge the device as well as transmit audio output via a 3.5mm plug.
It seems like we've been waiting forever for an official build of VLC to land in the Play Store, and that day has finally come... for some people, anyway. First off, the build that just landed in the Store is for devices with ARMv7 NEON CPUs only. This includes most modern processors, like Tegra 3, Exynos, OMAP4, and Snapdragon S2, S3, and S4. If you have an older processor, like Tegra 2 or one that uses ARMv6 architecture, then a build for your device should be available "in a few days."
While this version is beta, it still supports all the features that users of VLC's desktop software have come to expect, like playback of nearly any video or audio file, media library, support for multi-track audio and subtitles; as well as some mobile-specific goodies like auto-rotation, aspect ratio adjustments, and gestures to control volume.