A truly useful piece of software? From Samsung? Color me surprised, too, but the company's new Game Tuner app is nothing short of incredibly handy for mobile gamers. As you may well know, playing visually-intensive games on your smartphone can demolish the battery fairly quickly. While most such games render at 1080p even on 2K displays like Samsung's, such resolutions can be big draws on both your remaining juice and your device's processor, causing throttling (and thus slowdowns) and excessive power drain. Read More
Hangouts for Android version 5.0 is rolling out to some users now, and it brings... nothing new in the way of features that we can find, actually. We do know this version is supposed to fix the broken animated GIF support that was an annoyance in Hangouts 4 (confirmed: they're fixed), but otherwise, you probably aren't going to notice much. There appear to be some very slight animation changes here and there, as well as a brief splash screen that pops up when the app opens to the main conversation view that wasn't present in the previous version (4.2). Read More
Reddit may or may not have its official Android app ready any time soon, but third-party developers are still more than willing to pick up the slack. BaconReader, one of the most popular Reddit client apps, has just been given a major update. The 5.0 release includes a much-belated Material Design user interface adjustment and no small amount of other changes, both user-facing and behind the scenes. Here's a quick comparison of the older version to the spiffy new Material Design layout: Read More
Check the YouTube app on your phone or tablet, user interface aficionados - you might spot something new. Like the other official Google apps have been doing for a while (quite a while), YouTube is getting a pull-to-refresh animation for relevant pages. It doesn't seem to be tied to any particular version of the app or of Android, and in fact we've only seen it active from one reader so far, so it seems like it might be a server-side switch.
The animation allows users to scroll up to the top border of the interface and beyond on the Home tab, channel pages, subscription pages, and more, with the familiar circular arrow icon indicating a refresh. Read More
Uh oh. Many users signing into Google Drive on the web are running into a little setback. The site loads, but that's it. Instead of a list of files, we're seeing a loading wheel that spins forever. Read More
It's easy not to think about just how much thought and computing goes into everything that Google does, but one of YouTube's latest changes reminds us of precisely that.
Every video on the site has a thumbnail that's supposed to offer you a glimpse into what you're about to watch. A bad image will discourage you from clicking. Good ones lead to more views and greater revenue. So naturally both content creators and Google would prefer to have better thumbnails.
Using deep neural networks, the YouTube team has launched an improved "thumbnailer." Every frame in a video gets evaluated by a quality model and is assigned a quality score. Read More
A new version of Google's cloud storage app is making its way to the Play Store. According to a post on the company's blog, the latest Drive release lets people request access to content links that they've received via email, an instant message, or some other method. Read More
LastPass is one of the more well-known password managers out there. Now it's one that's joining LogMeIn. Both companies announced the acquisition earlier today. The buyer paid $110 million upfront with up to another $15 million payable in contingent installments dependent on retention and other markers over the next two years.
LogMeIn, despite having a name that already sounds like a password manager in its own right, is primarily known for its remote access software. From a corporate perspective, this sounds like a good match, but some LastPass users have already filled the announcement post with negative comments expressing their disappointment. Several have complained of LogMeIn's bad customer service and price hikes. Read More
VUDU might be one of the lesser popular video streaming services, but it's still used and loved by many loyal customers. Its Android app, however, wasn't that good. It was functional, we'll give it that, but it was slow, not quite responsive, and stuck in the Holo era of Android app design. That was version 1.5. Today, the app jumped to 4.1. Whoaaaaaaaaa.
So what we've got here is a complete revamp of the app, from the interface side and the backend side. VUDU is now faster, more responsive, and more efficient. It supports HD and HDX videos, has better search suggestions, a portrait mode on smartphones, and improved Chromecast casting. Read More
Opera Max isn't a browser. It's an Android utility that works in the background to apply the same data compression you've come to expect from Opera's regular and Mini browsers, except it does it on all of (or most of) your apps without you having to worry about a thing.
A couple of months ago, it added support for video compression from YouTube and Netflix, and now it's tackling another culprit of data consumption: audio. The three apps that Opera Max' compression algorithms will take care of are Pandora, SoundCloud, and Slacker. You won't have to do a thing for this to work. Read More