One thing that Archos has traditionally done pretty well is video, and back in December they launched a standalone version of the video player app that ships on their Android tablets. With a lengthy feature list, and a well designed UI, the only thing preventing some from giving it a spin was the price. At $4.99 (£3.99) it carried a premium price along with the excellent feature set.
Now though, Archos has released a free, ad supported version of the app into the Google Play Store. Above all, it gives you a perfect chance to test out the full version of the app without dropping down any green first. It promises to work on both smartphones and tablets, but will require Android 4.x to run. Grab yourselves a copy at the Play Store link above.
After being iOS-only for some time, Tesla owners can now control their car with an Android app as well. One perk of having an all-electric car designed for a consumer electronics-focused market is great integration of systems, and there's no better way to show it off than with an app that controls your car. The Tesla Model S Android app lets you check your remaining range or charge state, control heat or A/C before you get into the car, open/close the roof and unlock/lock the doors from a distance.
The app has just been released and holds a "Beta" tag, citing occasional UI glitches, but we're just happy to see it released publicly. If you're lucky enough to have your hands (and a good chunk of your bank account) on a Tesla Model S, you'll want to head to the Play Store and grab this app right away.
We have written a review for the Galaxy Note 2 previously, but phones on Verizon are always a little different. Whether it’s an almost completely rolled out LTE or non-removable apps that pervade your homescreen, Verizon plays by its own rules. I’m going to be focusing more on the software side of things since you already have a good idea of what this phone brings to the Android world. I’m going in-depth on the camera, Touchwiz, battery, and I’ll get into the consumer’s head to really understand the Galaxy Note 2 and why it’s the phone you need.
While the Note 2 doesn’t have the eye-popping screen the Droid DNA did, Samsung does make sure the size of the phone grabs you, then the S-Pen, the multi-window function, and the S-Voice keep you sucked into the Samsung software ecosystem. It’s a very good ecosystem to get sucked into too. The S-Voice is a nice gimmick, but I don’t think it really compares to Google Now as Samsung simply doesn’t have as much information about you as Google does. However, the S-Pen is accurate, quick to withdraw, and I actually found myself using it quite a bit. Samsung made a nice app to make notes, lists, and diary entries as well as draw and sketch to your heart’s content. I would liked to have seen Evernote integration or support, but Samsung’s app is nice, if not very intuitive. It has been pointed out that Samsung is distancing itself from Google by providing its own Google Now competitor, its own Media Hub, and Kies.
This would be an unfortunate development as the multi-window feature is pure brilliance and works great on the Note 2 (aside from the Verizon Note 2 only being able to take advantage of a few apps), but the Media Hub and S-Voice simply cannot compete with Google Now and the Play Store. The battery is fantastic; I could only drain it to zero if I was using it constantly for the whole day (think YouTube streaming in HD on LTE for 4 hours). This is my new number one feature – a battery that lasts all day. I will not buy a phone that doesn’t have a 3,000+ mAh battery. Of course, a Verizon OTA update was available for the Note 2 so I downloaded it, and, as many forums and websites have reported, it has caused a noticeable battery drain when compared to my first week without the update. The battery still lasts a full day, but now it doesn’t seem to go into deep sleep as well as it used to. LTE has a strong signal, and where my Galaxy Nexus would have trouble finding a single or drop from LTE to 3G, the Galaxy Note would hold the LTE signal. Speed tests showed the Galaxy Note 2 averaging about 15mb/s at peak times, outpacing my Galaxy Nexus at ~7mb/s, and hitting a high of 29mb/s late at night.
Samsung generally makes some decent cameras, probably third behind Sony and HTC, and I think that’s about adequate. The camera app isn’t as good as the Droid DNA was, but the Note 2 has a nice “Best Photo” mode to take quick pictures and select the best available, and it has all the usual filters and other normal camera stuff you need. The camera lens is too high up for my liking. I always seemed to get my finger caught in the way when I was trying to take quick shots. This would have been an easy problem to solve since the Note 2 has so much room on the back. The camera was noticeably dim at night compared to the DNA, and snapping pictures wasn’t nearly as quick as it is for my Galaxy Nexus or anything else I’ve tried running ICS or Jelly Bean. The more I look at the pictures, the less impressed I became, but most of them were with low light or at night.
Touchwiz is as pervasive as HTC’s Sense UI, but Samsung has done a fairly good job of keeping it current with the Android updates. Samsung took a lot of things from the stock ICS launcher, colorized it with a palette from the 80s, and added a few enhancements like the screen staying on if you are looking at it and moving items on your homescreen by tilting the phone. It’s these small enhancements that make Touchwiz much more user-friendly and much more acceptable than HTC’s ten-clicks-deep menus. We can all remember the days when Touchwiz had Bing, Blockbuster, and generally left the phone feeling more cumbersome than polished. Not anymore. Touchwiz actually adds value to the device, especially for novice Android users. There are different homescreen modes, Simple and Standard, different saturation levels you can change, tons of lock screen options (news, weather, Facebook feeds), and battery-saving options (not that you will need them). Touchwiz has certainly come a long way from my Fascinate days, and it isn’t an excuse to not buy a Samsung device anymore.
I love this phone. The Galaxy Note 2 is the best phone I have ever used. Anyone that gasps about the size is correct, it’s a really big phone that isn’t seen very often. But, you’re hand(s) become accustomed to it, and eventually a smaller phone just doesn’t cut it for pictures, movies, and Redditing. Looking at my Galaxy Nexus, it is almost a disappointment now, even though I’m on the latest version of Android with stock UI. A battery that lasts the whole day using LTE is a serious game changer and keeps your mind at ease. Samsung and their Touchwiz UI have made the buttons ever-so-slightly bigger to be reached easier, and the multi-window feature (especially if you figure out how to get any app to use it) is a serious advancement in smartphones. A quad-core processor and 2GB RAM make this beast of a phone fly, even while having a YouTube video playing on one half of the screen and tweeting from the other half. Samsung has outdone themselves, and Verizon should be happy because the S-Pen, multi-window feature, and size can sell to business customers. That being said, why is there a Verizon logo on the front? A great phone aesthetically marred by stupidity/ingenious marketing. That is my one fault with the phone. That being said, the Galaxy Note 2 is a must-buy, even if the price tag gives you hesitation.
We’ve seen a few renders claiming to show HTC’s next flagship Android phone of late — first an image based on an on-device animation, then another mock-up render did the rounds on Twitter and elsewhere over the weekend. These latest images, however, could be the most accurate yet.
Today’s shots come from Android Police, which received them via an anonymous tipster claiming to have access to HTC’s next big thing, a phone currently known only by the codename “M7.” Based on the images, the device looks to share many design cues with the Windows Phone 8X and Droid DNA — a primarily squarish design, with rounded corners and a rounded back. Interestingly, it seems HTC has swapped the location of the home and task switching button on this device — home is now on the far right, and task-switching now lives in the middle.
Alongside these photos, screenshots from the device show what’s said to be HTC Sense 5.0, the next version of HTC’s Android UI. If this is an accurate representation of what’s next from HTC, 2013’s version of Sense certainly looks more minimalist than earlier iterations — the bright colors and faux 3D effects that’ve previously characterized Sense are nowhere to be seen here. There are new icons, new widgets, and what seems to be predetermined widget areas for social media updates, news and tutorials. The UI is also watermarked with “HTC Confidential” and a unique code, and Sense and Android versions marked as “protected.” Both are hallmarks of pre-release HTC software.
On the whole, these images look pretty promising. But we still have no way of knowing where in the prototyping process this device lies, and how close it is to the finished product. Certain anomalies, like the excessive bezel, derivative design and lack of regulatory info on the back suggest that the finished product might look a little different. Nevertheless, it’s our best indication yet as to what might be next from HTC. We’ll likely find out more at Mobile World Congress 2013, where the company is expected to officially announce the M7.
Source: Android Police
Clean Widgets, a compilation of useful homescreen and lockscreen customizations, has received a quite notable update today to dramatically improve the look and experience of the app. The move up to a completely new point release — version 3.0 — brings a new design style that's cleaner with a new font and redone graphics all around. There's a new customization screen that lets you change the widget styles before placing it on the homescreen, offering very granular control. There are more improvements to be had under the hood as well, with a reduction in file size by almost 75-percent from the previous version.
There's a whole grouping of useful widgets included in the Clean Widgets app including clocks, battery monitors, toggle switches and more. Stick around after the break for a quick walkthrough of the app from the developer himself, and head to the Play Store link above if you're interested in picking up Clean Widgets for your own phone or tablet.
More: Lionfish Apps
GM offers a glimpse of the new Cadillac ELR.
If you walk into a GM dealership with enough cash to buy a Chevrolet Volt, you’d also have enough to walk out with a nice Cadillac CTS luxury sedan. If you adjust for the Federal tax credit, you’d have to settle for the Cadillac ATS.
Popular homescreen replacement Nova Launcher has just hit version 2.0 with a whole bunch of notable feature adds and improvements. The free version gets most of the improvements including custom wallpaper cropping, increased maximum desktop grid size and an infinitely scrolling app drawer setting. There's also a fix to force wallpaper scrolling on U.S. Galaxy SII (S2) variants, as well as a setting to force the phone to keep the launcher locked in memory.
As for the paid "Prime" version, users can now set custom icon sizes and use their swipe actions on any homescreen, rather than just on the main one. You can give the new features a try by downloading Nova Launcher at the Google Play Store link above.
In case titanium gray and marble white aren’t your preferred color options for the Galaxy Note II, then you may be pleased to learn that a black version of the phablet is rumored to launch soon.
A leaked press image of the Galaxy Note II in black surfaced on an Android blog earlier today.
The Motorola DROID RAZR M is a solid mid-range smartphone option on Verizon Wireless.
If you enjoying logging into Facebook on your iOS device/s, then you should know that the social media giant just released an update for its popular app aimed at Apple customers. The 5.3 version of the Facebook app includes a faster native timeline as well as a news feed that loads more quickly. In a wor;d where everything moves at an incredible pace, speed is of the essence and the social giant wants to make sure you will have time to check your Facebook updates even if you are on a 5 minute break between conference calls.
The most significant enhancement that comes with the new version is related to photos, however. Now, users of Apple gadgets can upload pictures onto Facebook by selecting a specific album for the photos to go into. This feature has been present in Android devices so far, but iOS users didn?t beneficiate from it since the application has been launched. This is what the official statement coming from Facebook says about the 5.3 app:
So far, there?s no clear indication whether or not the enhanced app will also load faster on the iPad or iPod touch, but there?s no reason why it shouldn?t work. Along with the iOS app, version 2.0 for the Facebook Android app has been also released. Anyway, head to the Apple App Store in order to download version Facebook 5.3 for iOS.
Link to Facebook app in Apple AppStore