Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.
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Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.
Today's roundup is presented by Accu Battery from Digibites. Batteries today are ubiquitous with just about every device we use, as they play a critical role in our day-to-day that is difficult to dismiss. This means that it is pretty important to stay on top of your battery usage.
The computer in your pocket can do amazing things like play HD videos, access all the knowledge of mankind, and send messages all over the world. It can also do math with a calculator app. Google's Calculator app has been updated to v7.2, and it includes a long, long, loooooooooong overdue feature—history.
Updates to Google's default calculator app aren't usually a big deal, but this one is... okay, it's still not a big deal. However, it's interesting. This whole time, the calculator didn't have number grouping, which was weird. Now it does.
Introduced just two short months ago in Android N Developer Preview 2, the calculator quick settings tile has been removed in the latest N beta release. N Developer Preview 4 has killed the nascent shortcut, though it's unclear if it will be coming back in time for N's final release. The tile itself was actually, well, kind of lame - instead of doing what you'd think it would do and opening some kind of mini or floating mode for the stock Android calculator, it just straight up opened the full calculator app.
The open-source nature of Android means that you can run the mobile operating system on just about anything if you've got the know-how. Case in point: A YouTube user named Josh Max has managed to get it running on his Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX. If that name conjures up images of middle school algebra exams, it's because it's a graphing calculator. Check it out in action in the video below:
The Nspire CX is one of the more robust graphing calculators on the market. Its 320x240 3.5" color screen, 100MB of storage, and 64MB of RAM are pretty paltry when compared to even the earliest Android phones (the original HTC G1 had 256MB of storage and 192MB of RAM).
In the highly anticipated 5th season of Game of Thrones, Hodor will be noticeably absent. Now we know why. According to the appendices of George R.R. Martin's masterpiece, Hodor has been busy learning Android development.
Because a keyboard is no longer enough, Hodor has been hard at work on a calculator app (presumably because Lannisters are still counting their debts on abaci). Unfortunately, the gentle giant is about as good at math as he is quoting Shakespeare.
With the obvious exception of watch faces themselves, there aren't many parts of Android Wear that actually benefit from the round screens of the Moto 360 and the upcoming G Watch R - not even Google's official apps. A new and relatively humble tip calculator is the first Wear app I've seen that makes really excellent use of the extra radial space. It's called (appropriately) Wear Tip Calculator.
The app uses a circular design. On the first screen, you drag your finger around the circular controller to select the total cost of your bill. Then you select your tip amount, anywhere from 0% (jerk) up to 50% (save your money, you're not getting her number).
Search the Play Store for "tip calculator" and you'll probably find over nine thousand different ways to cut up gratuity. But now you don't need them: Google has added a tip calculator to its ubiquitous search engine on the mobile app and the web. Just search for "what's the tip for forty dollars" (or any amount you'd care to name) and Google will return the default 15% tip.
Want to be a little more generous? Want to be a jerk? No problem. The new tool will let you adjust the tip percentage amount as low or as high as you want.
There are few things on Android more useful than good floating apps. Because, honestly, how often have you been looking at something and needed to jot down a quick note but didn't want to leave the foreground app? Or how about those times when a calculator is clutch, but so is seeing the numbers you need to calculate? We've seen various apps that answer these quandaries before, but now there's a place to get a handful of mini-apps all in one place. It's appropriately called Tiny Apps, and consists of some of the most useful tools one could have atop other windows: notes, recorder, paint, music player, and calculator.
A few months ago I wrote "Stock Android Isn't Perfect," an article where I turned my usual harsh UX critique on stock Android, instead of justpicking onTouchWiz and Sense all the time in my reviews. The article went over pretty well, and even got a few responses from Googlers! I didn't cover everything that was wrong with Android, though, and there have been a bunch of updates since the original article, so it's about time I wrote a sequel.
So we're officially making this a series now, and it'll serve two purposes: One, there's a new version of Android out, and more things to complain about; and two, to give credit where it's due, because, since I wrote that article, a lot of things have been fixed.