Every now and then an app pops up that looks like it was designed entirely for people like us. And by us, I mean tech reviewers, enthusiasts, and people who just somehow end up with more gadgets to maintain than we know what to do with. In this situation, it can be challenging to keep up with all the electronics and make sure each device is charged enough for use. Potential is a new app (still in beta) that can keep track of everything's battery life from a single location, and with its slick Material-inspired design, it looks good doing it.
Here's the thing about customization on Android, or any other interface for that matter: it's time-consuming. Whenever I try out a new launcher, I end up testing every option and toggle just to see if I like it, which inevitably means bouncing back and forth between the homescreen and the Settings menu for the launcher to see the results. It takes forever, which is why I've generally given up on fun things like themes and icon packs.
The SwiftKey folks have released a new version of the popular third-party keyboard that comes with support for thirteen new Indian languages bundled in, but it's all still tucked away in beta form. Users who download the 5.1 beta will get access to Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Nepali, and Sinhala (Nepali and Sinhala are not Indian languages but SwiftKey opted to lump them in because they belong to the same Indo-Aryan language family).
Update 10/2/14: The initial beta APK (1.0-124) started showing an expiration message and stopped working, but a newer beta APK (1.0-172) has popped up. We've validated its legitimacy, and it indeed no longer shows the expiration message. Download it here (thanks, Branko Kostic!).
Last month Nokia announced that it would release a version of its highly-regarded HERE mapping and navigation app for Android, but only to licensed partners, starting with Samsung.
Unified Remote is one of those apps that lets you control everything. Everything? Everything. This app lets you control everything... that's on your PC. You can use it to toggle volume, handle videos, pause music, move the mouse, and jam on the keyboard. It's a universal remote for your computer that runs on your phone, and with the beta, it now runs on your wrist as well. Developer Unified Intents has managed to move much of the functionality over onto Android Wear.
Pocket Casts is one of the more attractive mobile podcast managers out there, and it's pretty accessible too. The Android app is easy to use, and with a cloud sync account, you can keep up with shows across numerous devices. Now the team is expanding functionality to the desktop as well. A web version of Pocket Casts is on its way, and it's currently available in a private beta.
You have to get permission to use the beta, but once in, here's what you see.
Putting your fantastic and revolutionary product up for sale before you actually finish it seems to be a surefire way to get some extremely unhappy customers - just ask anyone who's backed a gadget on Kickstarter. Coin, the electronic credit card that can save all of your various debit, credit, and loyalty cards at once, has cause to reflect on this today. The company released its official Android app for managing the card, and the response has been somewhat less than positive.
There are many reasons not to want to hop aboard the cloud computing bandwagon. One reason is the lack of internet access in all the places where you need it, and there's nothing you can really do about that. But another common complaint is the need to trust another company enough to manage your data, and there are ways around that. Synology NAS (network attached storage) users get to build their own cloud without having to give up all of the convenience that comes with the likes of Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, SugarSync, or whomever else comes to mind.
Those willing to venture into chrome://flags can often enjoy experimental treats that haven't made it into default circulation yet. One flag in Chrome, brought to our attention by a tipster, enables "answers in suggest," giving users answers to simple questions right in the omnibar. So if for some reason you're wondering what the capital of Maryland is, or the population of the world, you can get the answer without actually performing a search.
If you follow developer Jack Underwood (or myself) on Google+, you're probably aware that Today Calendar, a calendar replacement that has traditionally put streamlined, pleasing design at the center of its mission, is undergoing a full redesign in anticipation of Android's L release and inspired by Google's new design guidelines.
Until now, testing has been limited to a small community of intrepid early adopters, but today the app has entered a public beta through the Play Store.