After popping up in a leak several weeks back, Facebook's Android dialer app has been released in the Play Store. Rather than going with the generic and confusing "Phone," the app is called Hello. You can place calls, see who's calling, and block incoming callers.
Ready for Google's vision of a modern cell phone service provider? So are we. Google Fi isn't quite prepared to open its doors, but right now it's accepting sign-ups for invitations at this site. The service isn't quite ready to launch, but according to the site and the video, lucky invitees will be allowed in sometime in the next week. Google will allow batches of customers in each week, but you should get a "yes" or "no" answer within 30 days.
We know pretty much what to expect from Google Fi thanks to a couple of high-profile leaks. Check it out here, after you're done getting your invitation in - there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of applicants, so do it quickly.
At one time in history, building an app that gave a consistent experience across all (or most) versions of Android was nearly impossible without dedicating a lot of time and effort. Thanks to the Android Support Library (a.k.a. AppCompat), it's easy to use some of the most important and commonplace user interface elements on versions of Android going as far back as Donut and Éclair. A fresh update for AppCompat was just released, bringing it to v22.1, and it introduces some really big changes. The ActionBarActivity has been deprecated for a new AppCompatActivity class, several new features from Lollipop were ported back to the Support V4, and some big improvements were made for Leanback, Palette, RecyclerView, and Renderscript.
I've seen many Android games that offer gorgeous screenshots in the Play Store that hardly reflect the visuals I encounter after downloading the title to my Nexus 7. That's not the case with EA Sports' newly-released UFC game. The press images were spot on. The fighters in this game are impressive, and fans are in for a visual treat.
Controls are more of a mixed bag. EA Sports UFC uses a combination of taps and swipes to perform basic strikes and dodges. Special moves appear at the bottom of the screen that you can perform with quick taps rather than traditional console or arcade style combos.
One thing is for sure, if you ask developer Chris Lacy for something enough times, he's going to do it. Well, maybe. Case in point, the new version of Action Launcher includes a number of highly requested features. You can grab v3.4 from the Play Store right now to check it out for yourself.
Of course, now that we've posted Getting To Know Android: Lollipop Edition, it's time to get picky and have a look at the things that still need fixing. As always, we'll be running through some of the issues hanging around in the latest iteration of Android, and taking a look at what's been fixed since our last Stock Android Isn't Perfect post.
Fixes and Updates
Lollipop, as I said in the other post, is probably the biggest change Android has ever seen, so some issues from KitKat have simply disappeared, while others have been fixed in their own ways. We'll take a look at what's changed from our last SAIP entry, and then continue on with the new nitpicks as necessary.
You can't do as much with a smartwatch as you can with a phone, but these little wrist computers are surprisingly capable. You just need the right apps. Well, and watch faces too. Google highlights a few Wear apps from time to time, but we're always watching in order to spot the best things for your watch, and here they are.
At this point, there is no real shortage of "smart" launchers in the Android ecosystem. Of course, we have to put "smart" in quotation marks, because there still is a void in terms of truly good products trying to do that. So when I tell you that Bento is a new entrant in this bustling market of context-aware launchers, you shouldn't ask, "do we need another one?" You should ask, "is this the one that will really do a great job?"
Bento is a venture capital-backed project that is in a semi-private beta at the moment. As I go over the app in its current state, it's important to keep in mind that it is not a finished product at this point and is not the kind of wide-release beta that you might be accustomed to.
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.
Expense IQ - Expense Manager
This week's roundup is brought to you by Expense IQ - Expense Manager from Handy Apps. This amazingly complete expense tracking system has a solid and colorful UI, and just about every possible checkbook, alert, and tracking feature you could want.
There has to be someone out there looking to sign a contract on a lightweight projector that's capable of running Android apps.
Wait, you don't even know what a smart projector is? Right... that might be a problem. Okay, I'm going to talk to my fellow AT&T execs and—you know what, screw it, we're going to sell this anyway. Someone out there is going to love it. I mean, what better way is there to impress your business clients than to whip out some cool, forward-looking piece of tech that no one else has even seen?