Every few months, Google experiments with a new design, widget, or pattern by injecting it into one of its most important apps. Preceding I/O 2013, we were treated to a steady stream of updates including the new Navigation Drawer. As we have seen, the latest GMail app joined the herd, but also gained a tweaked version of the now common pull-to-refresh gesture. While Google was kind enough to supply us with a library for the Navigation Drawer, anybody hoping to add the newly-stylized refresh is left to fend for themselves.
Amazon's Kindle app has just received a significant update, bringing the reader up to version 4 and introducing a refreshed UI, among other things.
Just when I'd decided to try switching to Play Books (despite giving up things like quick two-finger brightness adjustment), Amazon has introduced a redesigned library that's much more lively than a simple grid of book covers. The new library interface has your books plus a nice "carousel" up top for recent items.
Can we be honest with ourselves? Plex kinda sucks. Hard to blame it, most third-party media centers on Android do at the moment. As a lengthy blog post by the developer points out, part of that has been due to Android's inflexibility and lack of a coherent UI in its history. That's changed over the last couple years and now Plex has been rebuilt from the ground up to be a lot more beautiful and a lot more functional.
You know, if I'm honest, I feel a little sympathy for Archos. While they don't usually stand out as a manufacturer of the best tablets, they've gotten a decent reputation as being good for the low-end. Then the Nexus 7 came out and redefined what "budget tablet" means. Still, the company has to make money somehow, and putting its custom video player on the Play Store is as good a way as any, right?
While Google's been working feverishly to build out its Play Store, bringing it to other countries and expanding its offerings, the company's music store has been lacking one crucial feature that its competitors have: library matching. Where Amazon and iTunes can scan your current collection and add the songs to your online storage, Google has, until recently, required users to upload every individual track manually. A long and tedious process. In mid-November, the scan and match feature came out for Europe, and today it arrives for US residents.
Earlier this week, we mentioned that the amazing folks behind the XBMC project are bringing the app to Android. Well, it's still very early, but would you like to see what it's gonna be like? Of course you do. If you've got a Nexus Q or an Android-compatible set top box, you can download the apk from our mirrors below. For the rest of you, here's what it looks like running on a lovingly hacked Nexus Q, courtesy of Cyanogenmod developer Jason Parker:
The interface is still very much centered around arrow keys/a d-pad.
Between AirCalc, AirTerm, OverSkreen, and LilyPad HD one this is certain: we love floating apps. And by "we," I mean basically every Android user in existence who multitasks with their device. These apps are insanely useful, especially on large-screened devices like tablets.
What we need, though, is more of them. Now, thanks to a new open source library called StandOut, it's going to be easier than ever for developers to create floating apps.
While augmented reality apps can be pretty flashy and cool to look at, there are only a few I would actually call useful and practical in real life situations. Sure, I can pan my Yelp or Layar apps around to see nearby food locations, kill virtual ghosts, or run away from non-existent zombies, but those are not nearly as meaningful as what a Miami University professor Bo Brinkman has up his sleeve.
Well, here we are again. Another week, another slew of apps to choose from. For a while there, we were doing an "App of the Week" series and then, for an even longer while, we weren't. I'd like for us to get back on the right path here, so I'm going to fix this.
App of the Week, Season 2: Eclectic Boogaloo
I've been a long time fan of Grooveshark. It is a service that, in my mind, cannot be beaten.