The Nearby API is arguably one of the coolest features Google introduced in Play Services last year, but its potential remains largely untapped. Pocket Casts and Trello were one of the first apps to use it for sharing, but very few apps have since followed suit and even less have been built solely to utilize this new capability. Last week, we heard of Radon, an app that shares links to nearby devices, and today we have another new app that does the same for contact cards: Card Case.
Contact sharing is, if you ask me, one of the most logical ways to use Nearby.
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.
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Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.
Internet Radio - PlayTime
This week's roundup is brought to you by Playtime Internet Radio from HandyApps. This useful all-in-one radio manager allows users to search for specific songs or shows streaming on thousands of live channels all across the Internet, or use the more conventional recommendation engine for a more random experience.
Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock, may be the most likeable man in the universe. And now he has an alarm clock app that, above all else, perpetuates this, because he's The Rock. You may say, "David, what makes this so much better than my amazing alarm clock app that I already have?" To which I would answer: this one contains nearly infinitely more Dwayne Johnson. And Dwayne Johnson does not do "snooze" buttons.
One of the alarm tones is just Johnson saying "beep, beep, beep." This may sound boring, but it is, in fact, objectively amazing. Another begins with a soft, typical-morning-wake-up harp ringtone, followed by The Rock smashing said harp, and then shouting "JABRONI!" You cannot make this up.
Keyboard apps aren't the most exciting things, but they're one of the apps you interact with most on your phone. Think about how much you type, and how much that experience has improved over the years. Google hasn't added anything important to the Google Keyboard lately, but apparently they've been saving it up. The new v5.0 update is rolling out, and it's huge. There are UI tweaks, new gestures, layout changes, and so much more.
Google added support for delta app updates ages ago to save you from re-downloading an entire app every time there's an update. That's all well and good, but the process hasn't been very transparent. Now, it looks like the Play Store has started showing the size of an update rather than the full app size.
WhatsApp has conquered the world of low-cost SMS alternatives, at least in the international market. The company's practically free system, which uses standard phone numbers and a text message-style interface, gained hundreds of millions of users before being acquired by Facebook for an amazing $19 billion. WhatsApp already offers a web interface for sending and receiving messages away from your phone, but it looks like something a bit more complex may be in the works.
It's impossible to launch a new flagship phone these days without some fancy (and expensive) companion devices. At least that seems to be the approach that Samsung and LG are taking, and the former has a very interesting 360-degree action camera on the way. The Gear 360 captures both still photos and video in (you guessed it) 360 degrees thanks to dual lenses and a ball-like design. The Gear 360 is launched in Samsung's home market of Korea, and though it's yet to get a western release, the companion app is already available.
Gfycat is an annoyingly misspelled place to post and retrieve animated GIFs, as well as more fancy-pants WebM videos. It's popular for uses where normal GIFs, which get surprisingly large as they get longer, are unwieldy or hard to embed. The tools on the site chomp standard videos and GIFs down into bite-sized versions, saving tons of bandwidth. The service has been around for a while, but now there's an official Android app... just don't try to download it on the Play Store.
I always felt like one of the big downers to web browsing on mobile was typing in passwords. Of course, the built-in password management for Chrome (and other mobile browsers) can sometimes take care of things for you. But I'm sure if you do a lot of signing in, you know there are some sites whose login system just doesn't work with the browser's password manager. With Chrome v51, now in beta, Google is taking some steps to help smooth things out.
W3C, the web standards group, has created an API to help homogenize the relevant aspects of signing into websites.
Many of Google's apps are in extremely active development, some are even on weekly update schedules, but there are others that seem practically abandoned until they get that one random update every 6 months or so. With an average of about once per year (so far), Authenticator is easily one of the best examples of the latter group. Given the infrequency of new versions, it's a little disheartening to see that there are no discernable new features in the latest release; but it's actually worse than that, one was even taken away. But don't let this get you down, it looks like this little app may be due for some new tricks soon as it may be entering wireless territory.