Mostly favorable–though the screen is no Retina Display
Reviews of the iPad Mini, Apple
So how does the tablet-laptop hybrid measure up?
Slice for Twitter is not your typical Twitter app. Designed by One Louder Apps, the same people who brought you popular Twitter client Tweetcaster, Slice works as a way to filter and discover certain types of people or content on Twitter. By design, it
Google TV owners may not like their standard remotes, and they may want to use the other GTV remote apps on their Android phone. If that’s the case, Chromemote might be able to help.
Chromemote is a Google Chrome extension that brings the power of a Google TV remote into your browser. The app creates a paired relationship between TV and computer over WiFi, and then turns over control to the television. An emulator resembling the Google TV Remote Android app is accessible by tapping a button on the extensions bar. The drop down remote then makes it possible to control all of the things someone would be able to manage with any of the existing GTV remote options (except for voice controls).
Navigating with Chromemote has its pros and cons. On the pro side, it provides one less gadget to deal with if you’re someone who watches TV with a laptop nearby. The extension provides complete control for switching channels, launching apps, and adjusting volume. It even responds to keyboard input and directional arrow keys.
On the downside, there’s a 1 second delay that happens because users must reestablish a connection every time the extension restarts. Another problem is that the pointer arrow to navigate and select can be a little tricky because the cursor doesn’t always keep pace with finger movements. It’s a good thing the directional keys are so responsive because it’s much easier and smoother to navigate that way.
Owners of the newer class of Google TV devices from Sony (and soon LG or Vizio) will have remotes that are easier to manage. However, users of the Logitech Revue or original Sony Internet TV’s might find that Chromemote is the way to go. The extension offers a blend of the convenience of the GTV Remote Android app and the power of a full keyboard, making this one of the better ways to manage your Google TV.
Word Lens blew my mind last year when I saw the app provide live translation of written text. When an iPhone camera hovered over some words written in Spanish, Word Lens instantly translated the text to English. Sure, Google Goggles has something similar, but that requires taking a picture and then accessing the net to translate. Word Lens was special because it was immediate and didn’t require a web connection.
Android users can now see that feature up close because Word Lens for Android is available in Google Play. Compatible with Android 2.3.3 or higher, Word Lens makes it possible to see street signs, menus, and other items in one language, then have it appear in a more familiar tongue. As long as the text is printed – it can’t handle handwriting, cursive, or stylized fonts – translation should be possible.
Translating is very easy. Word Lens launches the device’s camera and shows a live view of the text converted into your preferred language. The user can tap to focus on a specific area, trigger the flash to increase light, and then tap the pause button to freeze the image and read the text. Users can then tap a button to revert back to the original language or press Play to translate something else. And in the event that you only need to look up one word specific word, there’s a fast dictionary included.
Word Lens is not a magical translation app, but it is impressive. It works best for words and short phrases because large blocks of text can have poor grammar. Word Lens occasionally used incorrect syntax when converting some phrases I tested, but the gist of the message is clear.
Android developers can finally respond to comments left by users in the Google Play store. Until today, user reviews on Google Play were just a stream of comments that couldn’t be challenged unless another user stuck up for the developer or provided clarity on a complaint. Now, there’s an official channel that lets app creators interact with the people who use their creations.
The Google Play team announced today that the Android Developer Console now includes an Application Comments section that lists Google Play reviews. Developers can then see a comment like, “Doesn’t work on Phone X” and respond saying that a new update has been made available or is coming soon. The response is then shown alongside the original comment in Google Play, and the user who wrote the review will receive a notification that the developer has responded.
The Application Comments section can be filtered by language, app version, rating, or device. It allows developers to address user concerns in an immediate way and maybe appease a customer that might have written off the app prematurely. I’ve previously urged users not to use Google Play as tech support, but the ability to provide feedback or address concerns in a public forum might be beneficial to developers.
Google is rolling out this feature today to those with a Top Developer badge. Replying to user reviews will be tested with those developers and rolled out to all Google Play apps at a not-yet-determined time. Maybe now we’ll see fewer stupid comments?
“Conversations are meant to be two-sided, and facilitating discussion between developers and users will ultimately yield better apps, to the benefit of everyone.” – Ellie Powers, Product Manager at Google Play
Computer analysis spots the fingerprints that fraudulent raters leave behind.
Searching for hotels in cities they’ve never visited, people often turn to customer-written reviews on websites such as TripAdvisor. But how do they know those reviews weren’t written by the hotel manager, or by someone paid to post fake opinions online? The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued fines when it has uncovered such “opinion spam,” but there’s no easy way to spot it.
One of most underrated features in Android 3.0+ is the ability to put a message on the lock screen. It’s a great way to have the security of the lock screen but still have a way to let someone who finds the phone return it to the owner. misHaps offers that same feature for Android 2.2+, and does it in an elegant manner that includes emergency contact info.
The name “misHaps” is fitting because the app can create custom contact information to place on a lock screen when there’s a sticky situation. Should someone lose their phone, misHaps can put a message telling others how to return it through email or a secondary phone number. Because the info is displayed on the lock screen, an honest Samaritan could track down the owner without having to circumvent the lock screen security.
misHaps may also prove convenient in an emergency situation. The app has a setting that shows a secondary screen aside from who to contact if your phone is lost, so users have the option of putting in emergency contact info. You can list the name and number of a spouse or close parent, as well as any important medical info like allergies or blood type. First responders and hospital caregivers will then know who to contact and how to treat you.
misHaps increases the chance of having a lost phone returned to its owner, as well as a clever way of providing clues in an emergency situation. The app is also smart enough to trigger a delay so it doesn’t interfere with your standard unlock process. misHaps can be set to only display contact info if the screen is not unlocked within 1 to 60 seconds (user defined). I’d recommend keeping it at 2 seconds so it will appear quickly if someone other than the owner doesn’t immediately enter the correct code.
Available in Google Play for $0.99 USD, misHaps is a low cost way to get peace of mind.
Note: To add owner info using the default Android settings, go to Settings > Security > Owner info.
Getting out of bed in the morning is such a struggle that there are apps that force you to scan your orange juice to prove that you are awake. Alarm Clock Ultra doesn’t require that you get out of bed, but the app packs enough features to make damn sure that you’ll wake up on time – or on your own time if that’s what you prefer.
Alarm Clock Ultra, available for Android 2.1 or higher, is packed to the brim with features and even goes as far as to have a pretty exterior, too. In addition to playing personal music stored on the phone, Ultra offers several wake up tones, including jazzy or Latin piano music, traditional alarm clock ringing, tranquil music, and even a rooster. Users can also set volume level and make the sound gradually play, so there’s less of a shock when woken by sudden chiming from your phone.
But what if sound isn’t enough to get you out of bed? Well, then you can set Alarm Clock Ultra to not stop playing music until you solve a couple of math problems or a puzzle. You can also prevent accidental snoozing by requiring those features or shaking the phone with a pre-defined sensitivity.
Alarm Clock Ultra also features:
The app is available for free in Google Play, but if you like it, upgrade to the paid version. The full-featured version of Alarm Clock Ultra allows adds more alarm sounds, the Ultra Sleep System that plays relaxing music when you try to fall asleep, and morning weather and social media reports. This is a hell of a way to wake up in the morning.