The English alphabet only includes 26 different letters, but for many other languages that are not descendant from Latin, the number of valid characters is much larger. It turns out that this can make creating a keyboard that works well in those languages a bit difficult — imagine having a keyboard with hundreds or thousands of keys and you begin to get the picture. That's why Google has developed dedicated keyboard apps with alternative input methods specifically designed for languages such as Pinyin or Cantonese to make is easier for many (or maybe even most) users around the world to type in their native tongue.
If you don't use any language with a non-Latin alphabet, you've probably seen at least one of Google's alternative language keyboards and promptly dismissed it. But for a huge portion of Android's userbase, those things are essential tools for daily interaction. Today almost every one of Google's customized input/keyboard apps has been given a major update: Google Hindi Input, Google Japanese Input, Google Korean Input, Google Pinyin Input, and Google Zhuyin Input.
Old on the left, new on the right.
To be honest, none of us at Android Police have need for any of those, so we're not the best to comment on what's been changed or improved.
Text-to-speech is one of those little pieces of an operating system that not many people use, but which is indispensable for those who do. Now if your first language is Japanese, you've got the option to play out text on your phone with Google's first-party Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine. The relevant app is on the Play Store and was updated today, so you might not have immediate access to it thanks to Google's rollout system.
To be clear, this is text-to-speech, not speech-to-text - Google's voice input already works in Japanese for the keyboard (voice typing) and Google Now commands. Check the Language Input section of the main settings menu for that.
If you're a frequent online shopper, Slice is the ultimate tool you can install on your Android (and iOS) device. By crawling through your email inbox, Slice grabs all the details of your purchases, tracks shipments and your spendings, organizes everything into categories, deduces your shopper profile, and even monitors items for later rebates and recalls. The app has been available for over two years and has made enough of a splash that it just got acquired by Japanese online retailer Rakuten for an undisclosed amount.
The SwiftKey developers are getting ready to introduce a version of their popular third-party keyboard with Japanese input support. Prominent features should transition over just fine, with the keyboard still able to make personalized predictions and suggest emoji that it thinks may be appropriate. It will be able to switch back and forth between Japanese and English, making it useful for native Japanese speakers and friends of Japanese speakers alike.
The app is currently in beta, but it's open for anyone to download and try. To do so, just head over to http://www.swiftkey.net/jp. There you can sign up for the open beta and help the team work out the kinks.
Love is fun everywhere. This is the audacious claim that Bandai is peddling with its new app "Tamagotchi L.i.f.e." And yes, that iswhat the acronym actually stands for. If you're of the opinion that love might only be fun in certain places, then I challenge you to download this virtual pet to your phone. This thorough recreation of the pocketable pals of the late 90s will teach you how to love again as you lovingly scoop its loving poop and let it win games, lest it gets lovingly mad at you. Love.
The app offers two options for interacting with your virtual pet.
Under the hood of Google Now, powering all those beautiful cards that pop up when you search for certain things, is Google's Knowledge Graph. In what might be the company's most ambitious project ever, Google aims to categorize and classify all information so that when you search for, say, Jeff Goldbum, the search engine knows you might also be interested in information about Chaos Theory or survival tips for raptor attacks. Today, the company announced an extension to this already-huge product: availability in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Italian. Pretty huge.
As Google briefly explains, this endeavor is about more than just translating words ("'football' means something quite different in the U.S.
Amazon, in an effort to continue expanding its services globally, announced today that its Android app distribution service, the Amazon Appstore, is heading for Japan.
The shopping and media giant is now inviting developers to submit their apps and games for distribution in Japan, giving them the chance to participate in a new market with Amazon and "expand their business." Jim Adkins, VP of the Appstore, explained:
Opening our portal to app and game developers looking to reach Japanese customers is an important milestone as we strive to serve consumers and developers globally. Many of our existing developers are anxious to localize their apps and games for Japanese consumers, and we look forward to working with new developers that have been waiting for a chance to bring their Japanese content to the Amazon platform.
Games on Android continue to get bigger and more elaborate. One of the top developers leading the way in less-than-casual gaming on the mobile platform is Idea Factory (together with Hyperbox Studio). Previously, the company released Spectral Souls, a 1GB RPG for $15 that promised hundreds of hours of gameplay (as any decent RPG would). Today, the similarly priced, and even larger 1.2GB sequel lands on the Play Store: Blazing Souls Accelate.
The game packs everything you'd expect in a high-end RPG. Impressive graphics and animations, a free-roaming world, item upgrades, modifications, and crafting, and even a Pokémon system the ability to capture monsters and have them fight for you.
Quick. Name the top three most time-consuming video games you can. Did you say RPGs, sims and "anything that even remotely looks like Farmville"? Well, one, Farmville already is kind of a sim so that doesn't really count and two, yes! Now, what happens if you mix all of these together into one big, colorful Japanese game? You get Kairobotica.
Part of the game takes place in a sim space colony where you build shops, tech, and bolster your forces for missions. The rest of the game takes place in (surprise!) missions. Combat follows a turn-based RPG style and how well you do will determine how much you can invest in back at your base.