We're slap bang in the middle of CES at the moment, but if you're full up on wearables and Android-powered ovens, take a break and check out the best apps of 2013's final month. Below in no particular order you'll find our favorite new apps that debuted during the holiday season. There were a ton of significant app updates, of course, but these are the best new entries from December, along with a few honorable mentions.
If you're a regular user of almost any social network, you probably know how powerful crowdsourcing questions and answers can be. That's the basis behind a new search engine dubbed Jelly, created by Ben Finkel and Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter. Jelly is a social network for question-and-answer style interactions with friends you've already made connections with on Twitter and Facebook. Instead of going to traditional search engines, users are encouraged to snap a picture and post a question, which can then be answered or forwarded to others who might be able to help.
The Play Store is brimming with alternative home screens, but Aviate was far and away one of the most impressive we saw last year. This beautifully designed launcher takes a completely different approach to organizing your apps and data. Apparently Yahoo was just as impressed as we were because the company just announced at CES that it has acquired Aviate.
In case you missed it, Aviate tracks your usage patterns and groups apps into categories that are presented to you based on the time of day and your location.
Qualcomm wants you to imagine a world where your mobile device is always connected. No, not that phone in your pocket. Nope, not that tablet either. Bigger. That 3,000 lb. mobile device sitting the driveway. Imagine a vehicle with a screen embedded both in your dashboard and behind every headrest, all syncing up with the screens that sit in every lap except for, ideally, the driver's.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon Automotive Solutions offering combines a Snapdragon 602A processor with QTI's 3G/LTE wireless modems and WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity to provide this connected in-car experience.
We've already discussed ASUS' fun-loving ZenFone and PadFone Mini, but for those who want a little more out of their gadgets-that-do-more-than-just-one-thing, the Transformer Book Duet should be worth a look. ASUS calls its "four devices in one" since it's an Android tablet, Android laptop, Windows tablet, and Windows laptop, but you can take that for what it's worth – I think it's kind of pushing it. It's just a tablet and a laptop, silly marketing people.
Good news, Verizon Motorola DROID RAZR users: there's a new update coming your way. Bad news: it's not KitKat, or any kind of Android version upgrade. Nope, this is a humble maintenance update, meant to address a few niggling bugs and nothing more.
We just got back from a meeting at ASUS's CES suite, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the full portfolio of the company's new Android products (apart from Padfone X, which sadly sat walled off in a glass case). Of great interest to some of you, no doubt, are the company's new ZenFone handsets. Johnny Shih, ASUS's enthusiastic chairman, announced the ZenFone 4, 5, and 6, would be priced at $99, $149, and $199, respectively.
If you know anything about ASUS, it's probably that they love to put things in other things. I'm pretty sure they pioneered putting phones inside of tablets, turning tablets into laptops, and other forms of turducken technology. In true ASUS form, the company announced not one, not two, but three new turduckentech devices yesterday: the PadFone Mini, PadFone X, and Transformer Book Duet.
As the smallest, most agile, and most affordable of the three, the PadFone Mini is ASUS' entry-level PadFone device.
Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, and select others may attract most of the attention when it comes to Android devices, but they're far from the only choices. There is a wide range of handsets available from brands you may have forgotten about, but not because they aren't any good. BLU Products has been upping its game as of late, pushing out products with competent specs and great prices. Now the company is introducing several new models in its "Life" series of devices.
Google-owned Motorola has sent out press invites in Europe to an event in London happening January 14th. The company says it is announcing an "addition to the European Motorola family of products." Specifics are hard to come by, but we have plenty of rampant speculation.