We're big fans of cross-device sync here at Android Police. Therefore, we're of the opinion that if you haven't yet heard of joaomgcd's latest app, you're missing out. Join is a bit like Pushbullet, in that it can do Android-to-desktop notifications, desktop SMS, and a cross-device clipboard. But it can do a lot more; for example, you can set your Android wallpaper through Chrome simply by right-clicking on an image of your choice and selecting "Set image as wallpaper."
Join has a fully-featured, ad-supported trial period of 30 days, costing $4.99 if you want to keep using it, although it's currently down to $3.99 for a limited time.
For years, Android has allowed apps to modify the behavior of other applications, using Accessibility Services. While the intended purpose is for developers to create apps for users with disabilities, the API is often used for other functionality (to overlay content, fill in text fields, etc.). LastPass, Button Mapper, Signal Spy, Tasker, and Greenify are just a few examples of applications heavily using this API.
The days when third-party battery-saving apps were necessary to hit a satisfactory number of hours off a single charge are long behind the vast majority of Android users, thanks to improvements like Doze and Adaptive Battery. But in some cases, this measure of progress has become something of a Pyrrhic victory, with useful background processes carelessly destroyed and developers taking the brunt of user ire. Well, the Urbandroid team — the gang behind apps Sleep As Android, Twilight, and others — doesn't plan on going quietly into the night. In fact, they're going on the offensive with a new informational website where the most flagrant OEM offenders are shamed and users and developers are educated.
Smartphone tech has come a long way over the last ten years, but a few commonly requested features are still lacking. Battery life can't be measured in weeks yet, Android still doesn't have a decent iMessage competitor, and there aren't any first-party cross-platform notification mirroring services. Some of our desires might not be reasonable, but others are. And, at least in the case of notification synchronization, there are plenty of third-party services that can fill the gap. Do you use one?
Google has started taking Android security much more seriously in recent years, removing dangerous permissions and implementing new privacy tools. Seeing Google clobber bad apps is an unabashedly good thing, but sometimes an app we love gets caught in the crossfire. Case in point: Tasker is about to lose major pieces of its functionality because of Google's crackdown on app permissions.
Around the Android corners, joaomgcd is known for his automation tools, most of which rely on heavy Tasker integration and require a level of tinkering that most of us lazy people can't bother with. So when Joao released his new app Join and the featureset seemed to closely mirror Pushbullet's upon close inspection, I was intrigued. Not just because of Pushbullet's latest switch to Pro plans, but because the main selling point of the service was its simplicity. That has not been Joao's strong suit — at least through a newbie's eyes, his apps always seemed a little too overwhelming.
So could Join break the mould and stand out as a capable and simple alternative to Pushbullet?
Join, by joaomgcd of many Tasker plugins and automation apps fame, has been in beta for nearly two months now. When I tried it out at launch, it already had a lot of its functionality covered, allowing your phones and computers to share things with each other: links, SMS messages, screenshots, media files, copied text, and more. The app has been getting frequent updates since then, adding Tasker integration and making it possible to send SMS from any browser without the need for a Chrome extension. You could say that Pushbullet's little brother has grown up to actually compete against it.
In the future, people will not only be surrounded by gadgets, they will be able to control everything by speaking. In this distant time roughly six or seven years from now, the basic voice commands we've grown accustomed to thus far will look like adorable relics of a bygone era. It looks like it may already be possible to get a taste of this promising way of life by configuring the latest version of AutoVoice. Just check out this video demo.
Here we see the speaker issue a voice command consisting of three separate actions. All at once, he tells his tablet to lower the volume to three (which Google hears as twenty-three), launch Cut the Rope on his PC, and search for Cut the Rope using Google.
Windows 10 marks the official debut of Cortana on the desktop, and already a developer has integrated the voice assistant with Android devices. Mass producer of Tasker plugins João Dias, known as joaomgcd in the Play Store, has published this video showing Cortana playing along with AutoRemote and AutoVoice to control room lights and disable phone notifications.
Last week, Google began sending out emails to Android app developers regarding their use of Accessibility APIs. The intended purpose of that functionality is to assist disabled users, but it is often used for other functionality (to overlay content, fill in text fields, etc) by apps like LastPass. Google said that apps using this API for anything except helping disabled users would be removed from the Play Store.