Today is Easter Sunday in many countries, and though humble tech bloggers don't really get fancy luxuries like "vacations" or "religious holidays" or "time to sleep," it seems appropriate to point out an Android Easter egg that's apparently been lying in wait for quite a while. The folks at Ausdroid spotted this one, a simple nod to British sitcom The IT Crowd (also known as "that show that's kind of like The Big Bang Theory without all the sucking").
You probably can't remember the last time you picked up a printed copy of a phonebook from Whitepages. The company still exists, though, and its database of phone numbers will be built into the new Samsung Galaxy S7. Even if you don't have a phone number in your contacts, the GS7 might be able to tell you who's on the other end before you pick up thanks to this feature.
This feature has taken us a long time to confirm, readers - sorry about that. Testing it would have required us to call 9-1-1 for the sole purpose of testing out a neat new tool on a smartphone, and aside from being extremely illegal, none of us wanted to explain to a hard-working emergency dispatcher that we were using a vital service to write up a blog post. And on that note, please, pleasedon't test out this feature on your own Android M preview build. We're only sharing a screenshot sent in to us by a reader which we assume was taken during an actual emergency.
Facebook's Hello dialer is an interesting extension of the social service into core telephony functions. That said, the original release was a bit barebones and left a lot to be desired. Version 2.0 (which has come just a couple of months after the initial release) adds some important features and a tweaked interface that should win it a few more converts from the stock dialer app. Chief among these are the ability to filter the contact view to just those contacts with phone numbers, and notifications for missed and blocked calls.
You want more? How about a new "card" layout for incoming calls that lets you answer in one swipe?
April was a bit sparse when it comes to new apps - there aren't any real standouts, though Facebook certainly made a splash with its self-branded phone dialer. The rest of the best picks from last month are mostly advanced tools for power users, or in the case of the impressive edjing, experienced music producers. Here in no particular order are our picks for the best of the lot, plus a few honorable mentions that might have broader appeal.
Ready is a third-party dialer that, from the beginning, has prided itself on being prettier than the one you're currently using. And for people where looks aren't enough, it consolidates various aspects of mobile communication into one place in order to improve the experience of actually making calls. You can know when you last talked, what was said in your last text, and when the next meeting is scheduled for all as you dial a person's number.
Now Ready has gone 2.0 after spending weeks in beta, and for this release, the developers have made the app Lollipop ready.
It's easy to forget, but smartphones are supposed to be phones. Shocking, I know. Ignoring this most basic of functions is no good, though. Ready Contact List for Android can make your calls more efficient and attractive, and it's out of beta today.
Ready wants to reinvigorate the part of your phone that, in ye olden days, was all that mattered. That's right, it wants to improve how you make phone calls. Rather than gutting out your home screen and replacing it with something quirky, it tackles your dialer instead.
The Ready developers have tasked themselves with making contacts easier to see and communicate with. The app does so by not only tweaking how contacts are presented, but by creating useful shortcuts as well. The idea is that if you just got off the phone with someone, you might want to call them back, text them, or shoot them an email, so let's make those options available upfront.
Google Now is seemingly getting smarter almost everyweek, at least that's how often we seem to run into subtle (but clever) changes. By now you probably know that with Google Now, you can set reminders for just about anything. "OK Google, remind me to call the doctor tomorrow at noon" will let you set that reminder with a single tap.
But did you know that Google Now will parse your queries for known associations with phone numbers and add a Call button automatically? Observe:
The first screenshot shows the card that pops up to remind you to "call exit entry clearance store" (a fictitious store). Because Google can't match that to a phone-book style entry, it's a simple reminder with no dynamic link.