When Jawbone's UP wristband was released in late 2011, I was excited. Then I was disappointed. The motion-tracking band seemed like a perfect step into wearable tech at the time, but its companion app wasn't available for Android. Whether and why Jawbone didn't see fit to invest resources in developing for Android was a mystery, but now – thankfully – it's immaterial. Just over a week ago, Jawbone released an official UP app to the Google Play Store, and I wanted to be first in line to try it out with Jawbone's updated 2012 wristband. Having used the band (which, by the way, is available from Jawbone for around $130) and app for about a week now, I've learned several things that will hopefully help those on the fence in making a decision about the device.
Whether Easter to you involves bunnies, crosses, or just heralds super cheap chocolate at the store on Monday, the one thing we can all agree on is that inexpensive apps are cool. A wide array of developers share this belief and, to celebrate your preferred reason to consume candy, have offered steep discounts to their Play Store submissions. Continuing our lengthy tradition of rounding up stuff for you to buy, we've assembled a big list of things to save money on. Let's not beat around the bush, but get right to it.
We'll update this list throughout the weekend as we find new sales, so check back for more.
Back in December of 2011, Microsoft released the first version of Lync for Android, which brought real-time Exchange collaboration to mobile. Considering that version came before ICS and the Android Design Guidelines, it looks a little (read: very) outdated on modern smartphones. Thankfully, Microsoft just released Lync 2013, which brings a nice looking Holo-meets-Windows-Phone sort of UI along for the ride.
The app essentially retains all the functionality of the previous version, allowing you to IM, collaborate, and video chat with other colleagues using Lync. It's noted in the Play Store that some features may require Lync Server, though it doesn't make specific mention of what those may be.
Getting your Android display output shared to a larger screen is usually a pain in the butt. You can fiddle with HDMI cables on some devices, rely on sluggish apps, or just wash your hands of the whole thing. But wait, recognized XDA developer and CyanogenMod associate XpLoDWilD and recognized XDA developer nebkat have released BBQScreen. This is a root app that blasts your live Android interface up to a computer over WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB.
Setup is largely painless. Just grab the app and install the client on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. Everything should sync up once you enter the device's IP address in the client.
If you're reading every word of this post and running it through an internal translator to output a language your brain understands, DISH has something for you. The DishWorld app has launched on Android, bringing over 90 channels in 12 (non-english) languages to your device over the internet. It requires a subscription, but no hardware on the roof.
DishWorld programming is currently offered in Arabic, Bangla, Brazilian (Portuguese, presumably), Cantonese, Filipino, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and Vietnamese (Mandarin and Taiwanese are coming soon). The channels cover a wide range of interests including sports, movies, news, and drama. While the service is aimed at live TV, there is also an "8-day replay" option to rewatch any program that has aired on any subscribed channel in the last 8 days.
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. In landscape mode, history and bookmarks now stack songs into two columns instead of one, but appear otherwise unchanged.
Hot on the heels of Tasker's official 4.0 release which brings a Holo-styled UI for users on Android 4.0+, Crafty Apps has just dropped the price to $1.99. Normally priced at $6.49, this is the first time any of us can recall the popular automation app having ever been on sale.
If you haven't heard of Tasker, it has long stood as the most popular automation app for Android. While not the easiest to learn or the most user friendly, its power and flexibility remain mostly unrivaled, even becoming the platform to build a game.
There are no indications of how long the sale will last or if this may be a permanent price change, but we are reaching out to the developer for clarification.
Back in January, Tasker dev Crafty Apps showed off the app's upcoming redesign, which finally brings the Holo look to the table. Now, that update has left its beta stages and made its way into the Play Store. Yay for that!
However, there's a catch: the new look isn't for everyone. The app will actually continue to show the existing interface for those on Gingerbread and under, while those on Android 4.0+ get the pretty new UI. Sorry, guys.
But, for those who get to take advantage of the "new" Tasker, you get all new icons (200 each for Holo light and Holo dark), new states, events and actions; and oodles of new improvements and fixes.
Facebook has been slowly rolling out VoIP calling to its Messenger app in an effort to make it the single, unified source for all your communication needs (before Google can). Today, it apparently took another baby step forward by granting UK users of the mobile app the ability to connect for free (minus data charges where applicable) to anyone they're friends with.
At the moment the service doesn't seem to have rolled out to all users yet, and it may even still be a bit buggy (the slow expansion is partially to conduct tests, after all). However, the important thing is it's coming.
Look, the TiVo apps may not be the best on the market (their 2.5 star ratings speak pretty loudly), but that hasn't stopped the team from putting together a generous new update for both the phone and tablet apps that brings support for Android 4.2, along with a handful of other new features.
Among those, the Away Mode functionality has been improved, giving users more control while they're on the go. Otherwise, tablet owners now have "a new browsing experience," which includes faster navigation from collection to collection and the ability to publish current authored collections directly to their tablet.
Otherwise, both phone and tablet users can take advantage of Android 4.2 support, as well as some other general bug fixes.