Ed. note: Bumping this up because it's important stuff.
OK, boys and girls on the East Cost. Listen up. Hurricane Sandy's on her way, and she's liable to make a mess of things next week. Just how bad depends on who you're reading, but regardless it's time to start getting ready. As we tend to do when storms like this pop up, let's review how our Android phones can help.
And as of this writing, Google's "Playground" event is still on for Monday morning. If that changes, you'll hear it here first. And Google's event is off. Stay safe out there, people.
More: Hurricane Sandy updates from NOAA
Some 364 days ago, we talked a little bit about how your smartphone can help you prepare for natural disasters. (At least for the ones that you have time to prepare for.) That was Hurricane Irene. Now, we've got another I-storm (excuse the pun) headed for United States, with Isaac. (And, yes, more specifically, the Gulf Coast and your's truly.)
Here are some of the tips we brought you last year, updated with some new ones.
Those are but a few ways your phone can get you through this. Have a tip you'd like to share? Let's hear 'em in the comments! And good luck, everyone. Stay safe.
Evernote has been on a roll as of late rolling out updates to already existing apps and adding new ones to the mix. The latest to land on Android is Evernote Food. If you're a food lover, it's something you might want to take a look at. It's based on the same concept as Evernote itself but as the name implies it revolves around food that you've enjoyed.
Out at a great restaurant and want to share it with others? Snap a pic and have it uploaded to Evernote food and share the details with others with the included function of adding titles, tags and even location as it has Foursquare integration built right in. The app itself looks great especially after you start adding your own items to the mix.
Evernote Food is available on the Google Play Store right now but if you're looking to get a better look at the app in action or see how it can fit into your daily use, there is video below of the app in action for you all to check out.
Source: Evernote Blog
Any.Do ranks among the best Android to do list managers around. The gesture-based task manager that we raved about is simple but sophisticated enough to match most competitors, and it also syncs with Google Tasks.
One of the few potholes in the Any.Do system was the lack of a web client to view and adds tasks. While it’s incredibly useful to be able to link with a Google Tasks account, adding new items from the GCal or Gmail websites hasn’t always been the smoothest process. That’s no longer a concern thanks to a new Chrome extension that always puts Any.Do within a mouse’s reach on the desktop.
Any.Do’s new Chrome extension rests in the top right corner, so it’s easy to create new tasks that may come to you based on email correspondence or web browsing. The extension features autocompletion to suggest what you might need, as well as notes, priority, and reminders associated with each task. The extension then syncs with the Any.Do Android app to ensure smooth task management on any device.
The great thing about the Any.Do Chrome extension is that it allows for the continued sync with Google Tasks (as long as you set-up sync through an Android device), so users don’t have to abandon GTasks. A more complete HTML5 web client is on the way, but the the Chrome extension is available for use now.
Google Translate has been updated to finally step into the realm of the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich design standards. The new Holo digs are nicer to look at, faster to load, and offer a comfortable environment to explore a couple other features available in version 2.4.
Translate has added several new languages to its repertoire, including Esperanto. However, what’s most interesting is the handwriting tool that seems to do a very good job of picking up what the person is saying. For languages that use complex characters rather than a standard alphabet, like most Asian languages, the handwriting tool allows users to quickly enter a character set and have it translated. Multiple people on reddit Report that the app does a good job of recognizing Japanese Kanji, though it’s great at cursive handwriting (use print lettering instead).
Google Translate now offers multiple ways to translate phrases between languages. Users can also speak in their native tongues (Language A) and hear the translation spoken aloud from the phone (Language B). A person who speaks Language B could then respond and have it translated back into Language A. There’s a limit to how many languages can perform this function.
Many new text to speech languages have been added to the app. I’m not sure exactly which ones are new, but the full list of supported languages in Google Translate’s many forms is available at the bottom of the Google Play listing.
[Download from Google Play]
Remembering people is a pain, especially if you are in an industry that requires meeting new people often. Evernote Hello, a new app from the same people who help you remember the tasks and notes that you enter into a phone every day, is a new Android 2.2+ app to help remember faces and encounters.
Evernote Hello is a new app launching later today that creates a “rich, browsable history of individuals, encounters, and shared experiences.” The app works by entering a new contact’s details and taking their photo. The person is then added to a contact database that can be updated with notes and tags every time you encounter the person. So if you meet Jane at a party or trade expo, you can then add more information – switched jobs, relocated to nearby city, etc. – when you see them at the airport.
I’m lucky enough to be able to see a face and instantly remember their name and affiliation, but attending events pushes that talent to the limit. Having something like Hello, which can provide reminders and contextual updates to the people with whom you meet, could be a big help to some people. Similar apps like Hashable have proven useful to some of the people I’ve met at conferences, but this has the unique benefit of linking with Evernote and other services. Here are few features available in Evernote Hello.
Google Voice was recently updated to give users more control over how to respond to certain groups of people and members of their Google+ Circles. A new update rolling out now will also gives users control over how to handle calls from people outside of your address book or from a private number.
The new group management system, accessible through the Google Voice website, provides additional options on how to treat calls from people who are not in an address book. This allows Google Voice users to create a setting that will forward calls from those numbers only to an office phone or voicemail. It can also make those callers hear a custom greeting or automatically screen calls from people outside of your Google contacts.
The real gem is that Voice also addresses Anonymous callers. If a number doesn’t have caller ID information, like when the ID says only “Private” or Unknown,” it is marked as an “Anonymous Caller.” Voice users can then set to have such calls automatically blocked, screened, forwarded to voicemail, etc. This will be good news to anyone ducking weirdoes, shady ex girlfriends/boyfriends, bill collectors, and telemarketers who just won’t take a hint.
Visit Google Voice and click the “Groups & Circles” tab in the settings area to set-up how you want these changes to affect your account. At the moment, Google Voice is currently available only in the United States.
[Google Voice Blog]
We’re always happy to see companies make their apps more in line with the Android user interface conventions, and Evernote is the latest to embrace the change. The latest version of Evernote features an ICS-inspired design that aims to be swifter, look better, and easier to use.
Evernote has a new Action bar that puts common functions just one tap away. That means you can quickly edit, share, or tag a note while you’re viewing it, or you can search, filter, and create new notes when browsing a list. Speaking of lists, notebook lists have been redesigned to have shared and personal notebooks in one area. It’s a nice change to go along with the thumbnail previews previously seen when a note contains photos.
The biggest change occurs in the home screen that appears when someone launches Evernote. The four main buttons for creating a note, taking a picture, recording an audio note, and attaching a file to a note appear with large icons. Below that is a list of Notes, Notebooks, Tags, and Places that users can browse, as well as search. The home screen has a new look and is easily accessible via a swipe to the right or tapping the elephant icon in the top left corner.
Evernote’s changes are primarily cosmetic ones, but there’s also a “Places” tab that shows notes created with location services enabled. A map plots out notes created in certain areas, which might be relevant if you travel often or wish to have some location data associated with your notes.
Download Evernote from Google Play to see the changes up close. Android 1.6 or higher is required to use the app.
Android has plenty of music players, but few have a quick and convenient way to change songs or pause the one currently playing. Even fewer have a way of doing either of those things as quickly as Wave Control.
Wave Control is an Android 2.2+ app that uses close-range gestures to control music playback. Using the proximity sensor typically located near a phone’s earpiece, Wave Control responds to pre-configured motions. So if someone hovers over the sensor, it will pause or play music. A single swipe over the sensor skips to the next song, swiping twice will go to the previous song, and three rapid swipes will turn the controls on or off.
The best thing about Wave Control is that this is a companion app for your existing music player rather than a separate client. Any media app that supports headset controls – doubleTwist, Google Play Music, MX Video Player, etc. – should be compatible with Wave Control. And because it works through the proximity sensor, users don’t even need to unlock their phone or press the power button to trigger controls.
Proximity sensors are also part of the downside. Users will have to be very close to use Wave Control, and it’s important to time movements to make sure the sensor doesn’t register the wrong number of swipes. That’s a small and correctable annoyance that doesn’t take away from the overall convenience this app provides.
Wave Control is available for free in Google Play. Purchasing the $1 Pro version will remove ads, let users assign or remove certain gestures, and add extra commands.
Springpad debuted a couple years ago as a challenger to Evernote. The app featured various forms of notes, to-do lists, recipe tracking, link savers, and more. It was a digital Swiss Army knife of memory aides. Today, Springpad wants to make it easier for users to cut things with that knife, or lend it to people they trust
Springpad 3.0 enables notebook sharing and the ability to “easily turn interests into action.” The new version allows members to follow notebooks created by friends or trusted sources, or allow some people to have access to that notebook. Springpad members can then add notes or other content to the notebook that others can access.
It’s like a mix of pinning in Pinterest or collaborating on projects in Prodcteev depending on how members choose to use the app. For example, a couple could share interesting recipes they spot online in a notebook, or a group of siblings could split holiday cooking duties. A team of workers based in different areas could post interesting links related to their job or tasks that need to be divvied up between members.
The Springpad UI has also changed in order to make creation and use of notebooks easier. The desktop version got a complete redesign, but it still has the great feature of adding contextual information to saved notes (i.e. saving a movie will bring up sales on the Blu-Ray or showtimes at the local theatre). Meanwhile, the Android app has been updated to include more ICS elements and looks pretty slick. Download the app from Google Play and try it for yourself.
Anyone unfamiliar with the Springpad concept can check out this video explaining the service.