A certain guilt accompanies many of the apps I write about for this site. They're cool, and they're probably going to make your life easier in some way or another. But they involve signing up for yet another account, creating one more record of your online activity.
This post is different—it's about a company that boasts about how little it knows about you. Today Open Whisper Systems has announced that it is combining its RedPhone and TextSecure Android apps into one called Signal, just like it did on iOS earlier this year.
RedPhone and TextSecure both made end-to-end encryption accessible to privacy conscious folks who just want to download an app.
Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications, games, and live wallpapers that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.
Please wait for this page to load in full in order to see the widgets, which include ratings and pricing info.
Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.
This week's roundup is brought to you by Calculator (formerly Daily Calculator) from TricolorCat. This alternative to Android's built-in calculator features more mathematical functions, more alternative layouts, more color schemes, an easy-to-use history function, and support for Android's clipboard and landscape view.
Screw Google On Tap and UI tuner, the best new feature in Android 6.0 is clearly Doze, the new portion of the OS dedicated to extending a phone's battery life when you're not using it. That said, this is Android, so of course people are going to start tweaking it just as soon as they can. There are already two apps that do just that. The bad news: they both require root permissions, so you'll need to have modified your farm-fresh Android 6.0 build already to use them. The good news: both of them might be worth the hassle of rooting all on their own.
Microsoft Office is available for Android. No, this isn't new news, but considering how unlikely that seemed not many years ago, it's nice to reflect every now and then. Anyways, an update has rolled out for the full suite of Office apps. Word and Excel now come in smaller packages, with Microsoft boasting a 50% reduction in size.
Since its release in 2012, Pixlr has received several updates and tweaks, but no major changes to its interface. That left the app looking like a Gingerbread relic on my and many other users' modern smartphones with their material looks and spiffy animations. For an app that specializes in making things look prettier, Pixlr wasn't fulfilling its own end of the bargain. Take a look at what Pixlr was like before today:
Due to a smaller installer base, the specialized version of the Play Store that comes on Android TV gets a lot less attention that the version on phones and tablets. Even so, we keep an eye on all the various flavors of Android - check the sign over the door - so we're happy to report that the Android TV version has received a notable update. The latest release (5.10.30-leanback) makes some big changes to the user interface, chopping off some of the less necessary corners to focus on the core experience.
Nick Butcher (Developer Advocate at Google) recently published the source code for Plaid, an app meant to showcase material design on Android with playful animations, impeccable typography, and a simple, bold aesthetic. The code will provide useful examples for developers, but the app itself is worth keeping installed too - Plaid pulls stories from Designer News, Dribbble, and Product Hunt to serve up design news and inspiration, catered to your preferences.
Besides more standard material elements, the app has a few unique tricks. Specifically, the toolbar is behind the content rather than lying on top of it, making the scrolling action on the main grid a little more elegant.
Since the launch of YouTube Red, there have already been a couple of minor updates to fix little bugs and make further tweaks to the interface. The most recent upgrade, version 10.43, just started rolling out this morning and it appears to share the same purpose. However, a teardown also reveals YouTube is preparing to introduce a feature many of us have been dying to see: fast forward and rewind.
Google likes to tinker with the UI of the mobile version of Chrome's user interface in the Dev and Beta versions of the app. Not every change we spot in these versions makes it into the standard, stable version of Chrome, but the changes to the New Tab page that we saw back in August seem to have made their way to the front. We're getting tips and reports from dozens of Chrome users that the UI change, which swaps out six website thumbnails for eight site icons instead, is now live.
Compared to the early days of Android and iOS, it's amazing how good virtual keyboards have become... but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. Long email and street addresses in particular are a pain to type in, especially outside of the browser where saved user information isn't available. If you're tired of typing out your thirty-character company email address, Texpand can help: it allows you to create customized shortcodes for longer strings of text and use them in any text field.