The Google Play Store, as always, was abuzz with new apps last month. More than just new apps, though, the Play Store gained plenty of well-crafted, quality apps. The kind that have spurred the market's recent growth spurt, and which allow users to discover functionalities they never knew they needed. As always, we've sifted through all last month's new apps and selected our top five picks – a kind of short list for those looking to get the most out of their device with awesome apps.
It seems like you can't go a day anymore without something new being added to Google+. Today, the mobile app is seeing an update that brings some much-requested features, including the ability to manage Pages from mobile. The method is a little wonky. Unlike on the web version, you can't just hop over to a page you're managing. You have to manually log out then log back in, at which point you will be asked what profile or page you want to control.
Since the Chameleon beta first became available, the most requested feature has been for more widgets. The initial build only offered a handful of choices, and while they were all useful, they didn't showcase the launcher's usefulness. More recently, the team updated the application to offer even more widgets, adding a bit more value to the launcher.
Now, however, the launcher has received what I think is its biggest and most important update thus far: the launcher just hit version 0.9.0, which brings the first version of the widget API.
There's a lot of options for Twitter on Android, both in full apps and widgets. But the newest player may just be my new favorite. Falcon for Twitter, now in beta, combines the standard timeline view with enough options and settings to make the obsessive compulsive Android user ecstatic, while still fitting in with the Holo theme of ICS and Jelly Bean beautifully. The standard features include listing your mentions, retweets and private messages, and a quick and useful mobile view that opens links in a mini-browser without ever leaving your homescreen.
In a post to its official blog that's sure to excite users across the globe, Google has just announced that Voice Search is now available in thirteen new languages. The list of newly included languages, which range from Basque to Swedish, brings the total number of supported tongues up to 42.
In the post, Product Manager Bertrand Damiba explains just what it takes to add a new language to Voice Search – first and foremost, Google must collect "hundreds of thousands of utterances" from volunteers to bring speech recognition up to par.
The Android launcher has always been ground zero for device customization, and most launchers make at least some concession to user options. But TSF Shell, which we've covered before, surely takes the cake for sheer flexibility. The latest update, to Beta version 1.6.0, adds a dazzling amount of new features. Granted, most of these are eye candy - something that TSF never lacked in the first place - but a few of them are genuinely useful.
Now here's a novel idea! Putting weather information on the television! Weather Underground is now available for the Google TV, bringing a rather nice, simple weather app to the Google TV. The app features a 6-day forecast, hourly forecasts, and maps of your local area with weather information overlaid. It's pretty nifty.
It may not be the most exciting app, but this is the way it should be, shouldn't it?
One of the nicest things about Android that gets taken for granted is the ability to customize your user interface. While most folks tend to stick to app icons for launching their apps, Tagy offers an alternative approach: a tag cloud. Tagy is actually a set of widgets that let you specify a list of apps, contacts, or bookmarks to appear in a single widget. Then, as you use the widget, the items you use more often will get bigger.
Volume control on Android can be kind of a pain to manage, as there's multiple volume settings that need to be managed, but it's not always obvious what settings you're adjusting when. Slider Widget simplifies this process by placing all five independent volume controls, as wells a brightness control setting, on your homescreen in one convenient widget.
The widget not only displays what level the various settings are at, but gives the user a handy slider for adjusting each one without taking up a ton of space on the homescreen.
In a post to Reddit earlier this evening, TalkLittle, the mind behind Reddit is Fun, announced that the acclaimed Reddit app has been updated to version 2.0. Perhaps the most notable enhancement to the app is official tablet optimization, bringing dual-pane, action-bar sporting goodness to your Android tablet. Other changes include widget enhancements, a fully featured inbox interface, search functionality, saved posts, comment navigation buttons, and more. Here's the full list of improvements:
- Tablet optimization (PRO)
- Widget shows different color for visited links (PRO)
- Store saved drafts for replies and messages (PRO)
- ActionBarSherlock 3.5.1
- Saved posts
- Improved subreddit management and filtering
- Comment navigation buttons
- Fully featured inbox
- Fixed mail notifications
- Added many features for user profiles
- Got rid of many dialogs
Users may notice that RIF's tablet interface, improved widget, and draft-saving functionality are marked "PRO." These features are only available to users who purchase Reddit is Fun Golden Platinum, which comes in at a reasonable $1.99.