Any-do has been one of the premiere to-do managers on Android since its debut, and now the same developers are building an alternative to Google Calendar for Android. Google has done a lot to make Calendar a better app as Android has evolved, but maybe there is room for some innovation in this space. Cal plugs into your existing calendar accounts seamlessly and presents your appointments in really slick interface with easy-to-access options. Let's take a closer look at the beta.
How It Works
Upon opening Cal, you will be shown your current day's agenda with a single-week calendar above that.
The popular invite-only contextual launcher Aviate upgraded today from Alpha to Beta. It's still invite-only, but it's definitely worth looking at, as one of the most powerful alpha products I've ever used just got even better. (Did I mention we have an invite code good for 500 invites later in the post?)
The team behind Aviate promises that, besides new features, the beta launch means that the full wait list of users will be brought on board, with all users getting five invite codes to dole out to friends.
So, what exactly is new in the beta? Several touches that add a nice helping of functionality to the already stellar contextual launcher, but which avoid cluttering the interface, and help Aviate stay true to its clean, restrained design language.
Themer Beta, a launcher replacement initiative by the team at MyColorScreen.com, has received a lot of attention in the last few weeks. And I mean a lot, as it currently has a waitlist of 280,000+ people strong. That's right, two hundred and eighty thousand.
The invites have so far been released in relatively small batches of a few thousand at a time, leaving the majority of those on the list waiting impatiently and scrambling to find a code or two to satisfy that Themer craving. Our own Ryan Whitwam took the app out for a spin in the first exclusive look on the web and came out relatively impressed.
Most developers who use the Google Play beta program don't seem to make monumental changes, but Twitter is really taking the beta label seriously. A few weeks after rolling out a completely new UI to the beta app, Twitter has updated the interface substantially again. It's cleaner in some places, but less so in others.
Facebook's Android app isn't what you'd call a shining example of standards-based development, but it's been steadily improving for the last couple of years. A tipster who's using the latest Facebook Android beta sent us screenshots of what the next major iteration might look like. After resetting his account and being sent the relevant codes, our reader noticed two "code generator" entries in the app's slide-out menu. Tapping the first one shifted his app's UI considerably.
The newer screenshot is on the right, the older one on the left. The most notable change is that the secondary menu bar (status/photo/check in) has disappeared in the newer user interface.
A beta release is, by definition, and unfinished product. They're not always perfect - that's kind of the point. So it is with the latest beta version of Chrome for Android: many users are reporting that the latest build available on the Play Store is unexpectedly and repeatedly causing their devices to reboot. Users on the official Chrome blog and the Chromium code hub are citing the problem on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 4.
Google developers stated late last week that they were able to duplicate the issue. It's fairly easy and it absolutely breaks the program and, to a lesser extent, the usability of the device.
More and more developers are taking advantage of the nifty new ability to start a semi-closed beta on the Google Play Store via Google+. The latest is TeslaCoil Software, makers of the customization tool WidgetLocker (among other things). If you want to try out the latest and possibly greatest version of WidgetLocker, just head for this Google+ Community and join in.
Joining the beta is quite simple. Once you join the community, click the Play Store link that's displayed on the page, go through the standard warnings and whatnot, and you'll be directed to a seemingly normal Play Store entry for the app.
If you're in Twitter's Android beta program, better grab the nearest Android device and check for updates. The official Twitter client has been updated with a completely new interface, and it's not the one leaked at the Samsung IFA event. This version has Android-style tabs, in-line media previews, hamburger navigation, and a proper action bar.
We've seen Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all turn to the Play Store to manage their beta programs, and while this is a great mechanism for handling unpolished software releases, most of us use our phones for more than making status updates, tweeting, and sending private pictures. There are other apps out there that it would be fun to have early access to, and web browsers rank high among them. For us Android users, the Dolphin browser is perhaps second to no one in terms of rolling out new features, and now developer Mobotap has introduced a means to test out the beta version of the app through Google Play.
It's pretty easy to understand why typing isn't exactly an optimal experience on a smartphone. They are designed to fit in palms and come with virtual keys smaller than the fingertips used to press them. Tablets don't suffer from this problem, but they come with one of their own - a user can type speedily using the significantly larger keys, but resting their fingers on the screen for a mere second is all it takes to turn "superpower" to "sauerkraut," and suddenly that status update about whether America should get involved in Syria accumulates a different flood of Facebook comments than was expected.