I don't know a single person who has Facebook and doesn't check it on their phone. I also don't know a single person who doesn't hate how ridiculously slow the official Facebook app is. Fortunately, Facebook has APIs that allow third-party applications to do everything that you would normally use the official app to do - and it many cases, they do it better. A good example of "doing it better" is Friendcaster fro Facebook, which just so happened to receive an pretty massive update to version 5 today.
Android, as a platform, has an advantage in that apps designed for phones scale to tablets dynamically, so many are functional without a proper tablet interface. The disadvantage? Some developers take their sweet time making said tablet interfaces. Twitter, for example, is still a giant, stretched-out version of the phone app. Enter Plume, an app that sticks much more closely to the ICS design style guide.
While adhering to the style guide may not always be enough to make an app great, Plume provides a highly-customizable UI that makes use of the best parts of Android's new design elements.
A new Google Play Store v3.5.16 started rolling out to some Android users in the last 24 hours. This version replaces 3.5.15, which brought a whole host of new features last time around, and reportedly brings fixes to those having trouble seeing purchased apps or experiencing force closes.
Additionally, improvements in snappiness were reported, but it could just end up being the placebo effect. I haven't found any other obvious changes thus far.
Facebook’s current Android app has become the subject of much hatred from the Android community – for one thing, it rarely works properly (if at all); for another, its looks have become quite stale. Sadly, we still haven’t seen any plans for future improvements, so Redditor monkfishbandana took it upon himself to come up with a mock-up of how he believes Facebook for Android should look, especially with a beautiful OS like Ice Cream Sandwich.
Announced last month at SXSW, Marvel's Augmented Reality app has finally hit Google's play store, promising to "bring the Marvel Universe to life like never before utilizing your Android powered device."
Essentially the app allows users to scan select Marvel products (which feature the AR logo) to unlock and view exclusive Marvel content. The app unlocks a surprisingly wide array of content, from 3D shorts to script excerpts, exclusive art and commentaries, and "key features on select comics."
The app's augmented reality functionality is powered by Aurasma, the self-proclaimed first visual browser, "bringing the physical and virtual worlds together." For fans of the Marvel Universe, this app seems like an awesome way to get an extra dose of Marvel content.
Google unleashed a small round of updates today, bringing new features to both the Play Books and Street View apps. Play Books has been updated with a brand new UI for devices running Android 2.2/2.3, including the nifty 3D page-turning animation users of Books' tablet interface have come to know and love.
Users can also add home screen shortcuts for individual books, allowing you to jump straight into your favorite book without actually opening the app.
doubleTwist Alarm Clock
I already know that some of you may be wondering how in the world an alarm app made it into our March roundup for best newly released apps, so let's start with a simple explanation. DoubleTwist Alarm Clock made our cut for two reasons: it's quite possibly the most good looking alarm option on the Play Store at the moment and it keeps waking up simple by eliminating many of the useless features we find in other alternatives.
An update to the Gmail app just hit the Play Store that brings a number of smaller-ish features, most of which are for Honeycomb tablets. The app now offers some of the benefits of ICS on its older brother:
Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) users get the Android Gmail 4.0 (ICS) experience with:
- Swipe to move between newer and older conversations
- Tap your account to access Recent labels
- Set custom notifications for individual labels
- Sync last 30 days of messages so you can read and search messages faster both online and offline
It also brings some minor changes for users on Froyo or Gingerbread:
Android 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread) users get:
- New Labels API for 3rd-party app developers
- Performance improvements
The update is live in the Play Store right now, so go ahead and pull it down to enjoy the new features!
We've heard whispers that the powers that be have been working on a bulk subscription service for magazines. Now, they're finally delivering it. Next Issue offers users a very Netflix-like subscription service that includes unlimited access to current and some older issues of a selection of magazines for $10 a month. Or, for $15 a month you can get a slightly bigger selection of magazines. Yes, it's tiered.
At the moment, the selection is particularly small, though it does offer quite a few big name magazines.