Amazon's big Fire TV announcement yesterday left us a bit perturbed that there's still no way to get Amazon Instant Video on standard Android devices, but the retailer is continuing to support the more conventional side of its business. Take the Amazon For Tablets app for example: the latest update adds some handy features, most notably support for the Amazon Fresh grocery service. But since Amazon Fresh is still only active in parts of California and Seattle, that won't effect a large percentage of users.
The changes to the Play Store we mentioned last month seem to have taken effect. Now when you're checking out apps on an Android tablet, the home page and the tabs for "Top Paid," "Top Free" and the like will only highlight apps designed for use on tablets, at least by default. If you search for a non-optimized app manually, the full listing will use a "designed for phones" tag.
Check out these screenshots.
It's about damn time. While Pandora has been slowly and steadily updating its Android app for years (the latest big update was a sleep timer), the tablet experience has been sorely lacking ever since Honeycomb. The music streaming service has redeemed itself with version 5.0 of the Android app, which now shifts the interface significantly on Android tablets.
The main play interface occupies the center of the screen, going back through your play history with album art and displaying contextual track information below it.
Google made a big deal out of its improvements to the Play Store in the massive keynote that kicked off I/O, and at least some of them are live right now. Probably the most important for tablet owners is the ability to highlight apps specifically designed for tablets, or at least, the ones that have given some thought to layout and interface on larger screens. The updated tablet view is being rolled out right now, and on at least some devices (read:mine) it includes the option to filter out the smartphone chaff from the tablet wheat.
Nothing brings a smile to my face like the words "Tablet Optimized," and thanks to SoundHound, I'll be walking around with a little grin all day long. The music recognition service has updated its Android app to include a fully realized tablet UI and a few other performance enhancements. Here are a few screenshots for comparison (taken on my Nexus 7):
The new tablet UI replaces the boring stretched out rows with drag-able lines of large cover art, making much better use of space on the main screen, discovery, and song pages.
We've lamented the various restrictions on NFL Mobile's streaming audio and video before: the fact that it costs extra even for games on public broadcast, the fact that you can't use it with HDMI output, and most of all, the fact that it's only available on Verizon. Today the app gets a little less restrictive, at least assuming that you use Verizon FiOS for your home Internet connection. The latest update indicates that FiOS subscribers will be able to access NFL Mobile live streaming on their tablets for free.
You can watch live NFL games on any carrier you want, so long as you want to watch it on Verizon. The exclusive deal between the league and Verizon wouldn't be so frustrating if they'd update the app more often, but it looks like they've finally added tablet support for the various XOOM and Galaxy Tab models in their lineup. In case you're wondering, no, this won't work if you tether your tablet to a Verizon smartphone.
About a month after CUKETA got us excited about Age of Defenders, their unique new take on tower defense has hit the Android Market. Of course I had to get a copy and check it out for myself. I wasn't disappointed.
At A Glance
First of all, Age of Defenders is gorgeous. The menus, loading screens, and of course the gameplay environments are all extremely polished and look great. Besides its aesthetic appeal, Defenders offers a lot in the way of functionality.
In a world void of many Honeycomb-specific apps, we often turn to small screen variants in order to fulfill our on-the-go needs. While many of the apps designed for phones work and scale appropriately on the large screen, it often to leads to odd placement of objects, tiny buttons to tap, and other inconveniences that end up being less-than-ideal. Fortunately, Google incorporated a solution to this problem in Android 3.2 (Honeycomb): "zoom mode."
Currently, when you run an app designed for phones on a Honeycomb tablet it stretches everything to fit the screen.