One of the greatest problems in stock Android since the debut of Lollipop last year has been the volume slider - putting aside Lollipop's initially confusing volume modes, the slider unceremoniously pops into place when the user hits the volume keys on their device. Of course I'm kidding, but nevertheless it looks like Google has enhanced the volume controls in the latest Marshmallow dev preview with some motion design love.
Now, when users hit a volume key, the panel slides into place from off canvas. The slider's current position is highlighted with its own translucent halo (which may or may not really be necessary).
I dare you to try and get through this story without getting Devo lyrics stuck in your head. Ready? Here we go: FireWhip is a casual game from developer Trichotomy that's unlike just about anything on the Play Store, despite its simplicity. You play a tiny pixelated blob which, for reasons that aren't adequately explained, has a whip made of fire. The objective is to kill as many bad guys (also represented by pixelated blobs) as possible, in a sort of 360-degree version of a top-down shooter.
The unique part of FireWhip is the control scheme. To activate your whip you simply swipe in a circle, the faster the spin, the longer and more powerful the whip.
Android Lollipop has started rolling out to people in the months since version 3.3 of Fleksy hit the Play Store, and the third-party keyboard's developers aren't just settling for giving the next release a material theme. The beta contains a new interface, plenty of new themes, and keyboard extensions. This last category is the one we're most excited to see.
The Material keyboard themes look less like Google's and more like simple recolored versions of Fleksy, and while they're not particularly exciting, at least they're not indicative of the effort the developers have taken to make the app look at home on Android 5.0.
Considering that Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters or less, a surprising amount of thoughtful dialogue takes place on the social network. Less shockingly, most of the chatter out there is positively inane. Fortunately we can resort to images to get our points across, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, this somewhat circumvents that whole text limitation thing.
The problem has been that, before today, Twitter didn't support GIFs, and what good is the internet without those animated bits of hilarity? No matter. The day has come where Twitter is ready to play those stunted moving pictures without complaint.
Google kicked off the Nexus program back in early 2010 with the Nexus One. It was a fine phone for the time, but it's vastly different than the most recent iterations of the Nexus flagship. That's illustrated quite well by this quick GIF.
According to Googler Virgil Dobjanschi, there's a new version of Google+ for Android rolling out the Play Store right now. While there's no official changelog and the Play Store entry doesn't seem to be telling much, the biggest addition is a new notification for when your photos have been given the "Auto Awesome" treatment. If you'll recall from the 2013 Google I/O presentation, Auto Awesome is a processing feature that automatically turns similar photos into collages or animated GIFs.
The Auto Awesome feature happens in the background and there's no reliable way to activate it aside from taking similar photos that Google+ can recognize.
Exactly one year ago, Cinemagram developers teased an Android version of its crazy GIF and/or video-sharing service. 365 days later (today!) that app has finally arrived and it's pretty great! As with the iOS version, you can record a video, loop it, and select certain portions of the video to animate while other portions stay still (which can lead to some surreal effects).
Since that initial tease a year ago, there have been some changes, however. Twitter released Vine in the interim and Cinemagram has added the similar ability to create short, "edited" videos by letting users hold to record, releasing to change camera positions and continuing.
Sony Digital Network Applications (Sony DNA) today announced Motiongraph – an app that aims to make the creation of cinemagraphs fast and easy for Android users. A cinemagraph, for those who don't know, is a still image with one or two minor elements animated (you can see some great examples here). They're a fascinating medium that can only be achieved digitally, and which have an eerie yet fascinating aesthetic.
Sony's app looks to give users more consistent and controlled results with a simple "rubbing" interface in which areas to be animated are identified by simply highlighting them with your finger.
Instagram is so yesterday's news. If you're a fan of pictures with a little more life and movement, the folks at Cinemagram might have just the thing for you. Currently available on iOS, Cinemagram lets you create a fascinating hybrid of still images and video as an animated GIF right on a phone. One user that was quite taken with what he saw reached out to the developer, and got some good news back: the Cinemagram team is actively working on an Android port.
This isn't the kind of app that fulfills a necessary function on a smartphone; it's just plain fun.