Music creation on Android has been given a major boost as of Lollipop 5.0 thanks to latency reduction, and IK Multimedia (best known as the manufacturer of the popular iRig series of professional musical adapters for phones and tablets) has decided to take advantage of it. The company has released two new Android apps, iGrand Piano and iLectric Piano, meant to give players a portable and highly technical way to create the sound of famous brand-name pianos.
That experience won't come cheap: each app is a whopping $20, and they don't even include the full range of simulated pianos and keyboards (20 are included with each app, and you'll have to use in-app purchases to buy the rest).
A couple of days ago Evan Blass posted what looked like a render of the upcoming Galaxy S6 Edge+ - Samsung's new flagship expected to be announced at the Unpacked event on August 13th - wrapped in a gadget that doubled as both a phone case and a Blackberry-style physical keyboard. We passed on the story at the time, but more evidence has come to light that makes it seem a bit more plausible. Here's the original tweet from Blass:
I love me some Microsoft keyboards - for my money their layout and key designs beat Logitech any day. The company's latest entry into the mobile accessory market is a Bluetooth keyboard designed to be as tiny and compact as possible, folding lengthways into a rough square just 5.8 inches across and less than half an inch thick, about the same size as a CD case. Fold it open and you've got a full six-row keyboard ready to be paired with a phone, tablet, or even a full desktop computer, and Microsoft claims that the Universal Foldable Keyboard is made with Android, iOS, and Windows in mind.
This morning, a company called NowSecure published an exploit claiming to affect SwiftKey on Samsung devices that they assert could impact "600 million+" devices. Well, maybe.
While we cannot verify the true seriousness of the security flaw were an attacker to successfully manage to exploit it, we were able to verify something substantially more important to end user safety - it does not affect the SwiftKey app, only the built-in Samsung IME which is partly developed by SwiftKey.
The idea of portable, folding keyboards has been around for a number of years now - I recall having one from Boxwave many years ago that I used with my Dell Axim x51v pocket PC. It was totally useless, but man I felt cool popping those two things out at coffee shops to do...whatever I did back then. I can't recall, to be honest with you. But that's not important. What is important is that the folding keyboard is back, better than ever, and we have some to give away.
Swype, at its core, helps us be lazy. Want to type? Don't bother lifting up your thumb. Don't know how to spell? Just get close. Sure, these are only the byproducts of creating an input method that takes the pain out of using touchscreens, but the end result is the same. And things are only getting easier.
The latest update reduces the need to hold down keys with numbers as secondary characters or switch back and forth between alphabetical and numerical keyboards. If you peck away at letters with a number attached, Swype will include numerical values among its suggestions. So you can enter $650 by typing sytp or 2:30 by entering wjep.
April was a bit sparse when it comes to new apps - there aren't any real standouts, though Facebook certainly made a splash with its self-branded phone dialer. The rest of the best picks from last month are mostly advanced tools for power users, or in the case of the impressive edjing, experienced music producers. Here in no particular order are our picks for the best of the lot, plus a few honorable mentions that might have broader appeal.
Update Wednesdays are always exciting, but particularly so when Google releases a new app. Today, Google has hit "publish" on Google Handwriting Input, a new keyboard option that - as the name implies - allows users to type by handwriting text in 82 languages.
Google says the app supports print and cursive, written with or without a stylus. If you draw a smiley face, Handwriting Input will even suggest emojis.
Of course the input method is styled to resemble Google's other input methods, using the same light grey and teal (or dark blue-grey and teal if you choose the dark theme) colors found in Google's main Keyboard app.
February saw some considerable new apps, both in terms of new services like YouTube Kids and Sling TV, and in expanded tools like PhotoMath and Microsoft's first custom keyboard for Android. If you find it hard to see the tiny type on your new ultra-high-res phone, check out BIG Notifications. Below are our top seven picks from last month, along with some honorable mentions.