One of the more interesting alternative launchers out there (that is to say, one that isn't just a grid of apps and widgets plus a drawer) is Action Launcher. This premium custom launcher has been gaining fans since its launch, thanks to a unique gesture-based app drawer and a focus on speed and usability. With version 1.7, developer Chris Lacy has added some of the features this younger launcher lacks, most notably icon theme support - the various theme packs for GO, Nova, and Apex launchers should work with Action Launcher Pro now. A stock Jelly Bean icon pack is included.
Android users have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to web browsers. Chrome, Dolphin, Opera, and Firefox all have their pros and cons, not to mention their fans. It's been a while since we had a promising newcomer hit the mobile browser space, but the Go Launcher Dev Team (makers of the customization-friendly GO Launcher and Next Launcher 3D, among many others) are giving it a shot. Next Browser is a free download, available now for devices running Android 2.2 and higher.
Next Browser takes bits and pieces from all the major Android browsers and mishmashes them together.
Following the release of beta features to Chrome stable yesterday, the beta channel of Chrome for Android was promoted to version 28 today.
The update brings a number of desired additions and improvements, all of which I will break down for you below. Here's the relatively incomplete list the Chrome team posted on its blog:
The Chrome team is excited to announce the promotion of Chrome 28 to the Beta channel. Chrome for Android 28.0.1500.21 contains a number of new improvements including:
- Google Translate: When you come across a page written in a language that isn't in the same language as your phone or tablet, look for the translation bar
- Fullscreen on tablets: Simply scroll the page to dismiss the toolbar
- Support for fullscreen API
- New graph showing your estimated bandwidth savings when you use the experimental data compression feature
- Mobile friendly error pages
Here's what Chrome's new mobile-friendly Translate bar looks like if you visit a site with a language different from your device's (for example, newsru.com):
I find built-in translation support to be one of Chrome's most useful features, so I applaud Google for finally bringing it to Android.
A new update to the Opera mobile beta web browser is out, and this one is somewhat of a doozy. The new goodies are coming to the beta version, so make sure your kittens are some place safe before you fire it up.
The update brings in a new full screen mode, the ability to put the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, fraud protection, and battery life improvements. An exit button has been added that can be activated by long-pressing the back button. All of this is coated with the usual assortment of bug fixes and minor improvements.
The UK citizens have sounded off on the BBC iPlayer's Play Store reviews, loudly and often: it's sitting at a depressing 2.9 stars, with more 1-star reviews than any others. The Beeb has been slowly improving the streaming video app, and today it gets a long-overdue update to version 1.7, finally including support for 10-inch tablets. I honestly have no idea why that was such a hurdle for an international media company, but hey, there it is. The app is still free for UK citizens who've paid their television licence, and forbidden to everyone else.
The user interface on phones and smaller tablets has been adjusted slightly.
Remember Boxee? It was a great little DIY set-top streamer, and it might still be, if Roku wasn't so cheap. The company's latest endeavor is a cloud video sharing service, cleverly called Cloudee, and the Android app just landed. You might think that the functions in a cloud-based video upload service are eclipsed by YouTube, and for most situations you'd be right. But Cloudee focuses on sharing videos with specific individuals or groups, and it does so very well, with an interface that's easy on the eyes.
There's nothing too complicated here: take a video, open the app, and upload it to Cloudee's servers.
We briefly touched yesterday on Bitdefender's new privacy protection utility Clueful, but today we'd like to take a closer look at everything the app has to offer, along with what makes it stand out from the crowd.
For those who may not have caught yesterday's post (where we're also giving away two Galaxy S4 i9500s and two HTC Ones), Clueful is best described as a "personal privacy consultant" that offers full details of what your apps are actually doing behind the scenes. This includes details about which apps can potentially send your personal information and/or identity to third parties, track your location, have access to "sensitive data," show "very intrusive" ads, and much more.
If you hadn't noticed already, any pictures shared with or by your friends during a Google Hangouts chat will automatically sync up with Google+ Photos, organized into albums by conversation. These images are uploaded even if automatic back up is disabled inside the Google+ app. New albums can be found under the "Albums" tab and are titled Hangout: [Your Name] ● [Contact's Name] unless you explicitly gave your hangout a title, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding them.
I imagine this feature will provide peace of mind to people who hold mission-critical conversations via Google Hangouts. As for me, I'm afraid it will just be spammy.
Google is going a little nuts with the card UI updates today – first Drive, and now Play Magazines. Today's update brings Google's magazine-reader to version 2.0, and makes it overall easier to use and nicer to look at – both welcome additions to an already-good app. Besides the new Card UI that replaced the terrible rolodex style called StackView, Magazines followed suit and adopted the new slide-out navigation drawer that we first saw in Google Earth and Shopper.
Other than the pretty factor, this version contains some "bug fixes"... and not much else. Of course, considering the app is designed purely for reading/looking at, aesthetics are key, so that makes sense.
Google Drive just got a nice big update out of nowhere, which, first and foremost, brings it up to speed with the card UI – a feature that works really well on an app like Drive. Past that, there's a new "scan" option, which uses your device's camera to grab snapshots of things like receipts, and coverts them to searchable PDFs using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. The future is a fantastic place.
Spreadsheet editing also got a little less crappy and a little more feature-rich, as you can now adjust font types and sizes, as well as cell text colors and alignment.