We’re coming up on the 6-month anniversary of the shutdown of Google Reader; and while some people might still be a little jaded about losing the beloved service, most have moved on to one of the many alternatives that popped up to replace it. Several great feed aggregators exist, many offering innovative improvements over Reader, but their mobile apps may not fit your needs. The developer of gReader, noinnion, intends to solve that with the release of News+, a feature-rich and very customizable news reader app with support for several services.
Development on News+ started over 6 months ago, around the same time gReader added support for Feedly. Users of gReader should feel right at home with the new app since many of its features can be found in both. News+ includes podcast support, text-to-speech, notifications, multiple viewing modes, offline reading, 2-way sync, and even a Tasker plugin.
The interface is both phone and tablet optimized, and it shares Night Mode and many of the same themes with its predecessor. Widgets aren’t currently available, but they will be coming with a future update.
News+ was designed to enable reading content from all of your news aggregators and Read Later services. The only service included out-of-the-box is Google News, but additional extensions can be installed from the Play Store or sideloaded to gain access to many other sources. There is also an API on Github for building extensions, so we’ll surely see more options in the future. Aside from the mysterious absence of Feedly, the list of extensions is already pretty good:
- Google News (included)
- InoReader (Play Store)
- BazQux Reader (Play Store)
- Tiny Tiny RSS (Play Store)
- FeedBin (Play Store)
- NewsBlur (Play Store)
- Pocket (Play Store)
- SubReader (sideload)
- Reedah (sideload)
- CommaFeed (sideload via Github)
- Google Reader API Clones (sideload via Github)
You can pick up News+ free on the Play Store, and it’s even open-source on Github, but an unlock key is required to remove the ads and enable all of the features. Without the premium key you’ll be limited to a single extension (in addition to Google News) and you won’t have podcast support or the Voice Reading mode. Of course, paying for the unlock key will also help to fund future development.
If you like gReader but want to try out one of the other services out there, you should definitely give News+ a try!
Download: News+ Premium
LEGO licenses out a new video game every other week these days, but let us not forget that this brand still consists of more than adorable animated characters acting out our favorite movie scenes. These are building blocks, and if you still want to spend hours meticulously crafting a plastic masterpiece at home, LEGO is just as eager as ever to make that happen. The company has now provided instructions for building the LEGO TECHNIC Hot Rod or Rally Racer in a convenient, and free, app format.
The app lets you pick which of the two cars you wish to build, pan around, zoom in as needed, and view animations to confirm if you’re doing things correctly. But – and this is a big ‘but’ – you will need a tablet to make use of this visual aid, and not just any tablet, you need an older one.
LEGO® Building Instructions is in continuous development to ensure its availability on a wide range of devices. Currently the app is optimized for the following devices:
● Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
● Nexus 7 first generation
That’s right, LEGO says you need either an original Nexus 7 or a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 tablet in order to use the app. Though, on the other hand, we’ve found that there may be some wiggle room here, as one of us has an aging Galaxy Tab 8.9 that’s also supported. Yay?
There are a lot of ways to get text from your computer to your Android device, but perhaps none of them are quite so simple as the new Belt.io app and service. Simply install the app on your phone and you can send text and links from the web service after signing up. Naturally Belt.io also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, so you don’t even have to go to the website to use the service.
The browser extensions also tie in with the Android app, sending any selected link or text directly to your Android phone and giving it an optional notification as well. In an excellent example of a developer using the UI tools available, the app uses Android’s expanded notifications to allow users to open a link directly, copy text immediately to the clipboard, or share it via the standard share menu. The Belt.io website includes a basic invite function that lets you share with friends, but it’s only using email addresses at the time being – a tie-in with Google+ and Facebook would make it a lot more useful.
Text clipped to your Belt.io account is visible across all devices and browsers, and there’s an app available on iOS as well. (We have analytics, folks – we know that a considerable number of you are reading this on an iPad.) One final note: I don’t see any mention of security or encryption on the Belt.io site or app description, so your password might be the only thing protecting the text you send. It’s probably a good idea not to send sensitive information on Belt.io, at least for the time being.
Google rolled out the Android Device Manager a few months ago, but for whatever reason, there was no matching Android app. That changes today as Google has finally gotten around to releasing one. The app contains all the functionality from the website in a mobile-friendly package and it is, of course, free.
The Android Device Manager lets you track, lock, ring, and wipe any of the Android devices on your account. The web version works fine on Android devices through the browser, but a native app is still a preferable experience. The UI scales to both tablets and phones, and there is a handy drop down menu for switching accounts. It’s also much faster than the mobile web.
The Android app is obviously only of use if you have more than one Android device, like a phone and a tablet. But if you ever misplace one of them, you’ll be happy to have the ADM app at the ready. In yet another sign that Google has a sense of humor, if you locate the device you are running the app on, it says “in your hand.” Oh, Google.
Traditionally word processors have tasked themselves with producing nice, printable documents. Mobile versions have followed up with the unenviable task of replicating this functionality on much smaller screens. Quip throws this entire concept out of the window, instead creating a writing experience built for the ground up for mobile devices. The team released an alpha version over the summer, but it was little more than a demo of the iOS version of the app. Now the full version is available, and it looks right at home on Android devices.
If Google Docs could be thought of as a word processor with collaborative features added on, Quip feels like the opposite. Rather than emphasizing documents, the app focuses on people by putting conversation threads front and center. Once a thread is open, users can swipe over to the shared document. The text and images within adapt to the size of the screen they’re being viewed on, both reducing how much control you have over them and how much time you have to waste setting them up.
But since Quip claims to be a word processor, not a social platform, its shortcomings are difficult to ignore. It lacks the functionality that can be found in Google Drive, Quickoffice, or OfficeSuite. It’s also arguably less functional than note-taking apps like Evernote and Springpad. Yet it’s attractive, and if you collaborate with others often on largely simplistic documents, it may just be worth a go.
• Real-time, collaborative editing
• Messaging – Every document has a chat thread
• Offline – Edit anywhere, even on an airplane
• Folders – Share with your family or team
• Checklists – Interactive, shared lists
• Diffs – Every edit is in a document news feed
• Presence – See who’s online, what they’re up to
• @mentions – Link to people and documents
• Notifications – Know when a doc is opened
• Read receipts – Check who’s read your edits
• Inbox – See what you haven’t read
There’s a new way to keep up on the goings on in the world of soccer (or football, to most people in the world). The official FIFA app has hit Google Play with all the news and stats you could ever want.
The app includes coverage of 197 leagues from all over the world with match results, player info, and schedules. You can also personalize the app with your favorite teams to make the relevant data easier to access. The app itself seems to have a good handle on the Android design guidelines – there’s an action bar, some cards, and a hamburger menu. It also scales to tablets and phones correctly.
Perhaps the app will give you better insight into the mysteries of the game. I mean, you see that ludicrous display last night? Thing about Arsenal is, they always try and walk it in. The app is free, so check it out.
Virgin Media TV customers in the UK, you can now watch your TiVo live television service or recorded programs on your Android device, anywhere! Anywhere with a WiFi connection, that is. Assuming that you’ve got a phone or tablet running Android 2.3 through 4.3, but not KitKat 4.4. Oh, and you can’t be rooted. Have fun!
All kidding aside, there seem to be some serious issues with Virgin’s new TV Anywhere app for Android, starting with the aforesaid KitKat support. Other early reviews are decrying the lack of support for older, non-TiVo Virgin DVRs and the rooted device restriction, which American football fans can probably sympathize with. Others want to watch TV over the mobile network, and again, this is a common restriction when it comes to live TV streaming. Device support is spotty as well: the Nexus 5, Galaxy Nexus, and Galaxy S4 are showing as incompatible for me, though your results may vary.
If you can get over all that, Virgin TV Anywhere offers a full program guide and remote recording, even when you’re on 3G. The app also works as a basic remote for the TiVo box to make searching for shows easier. The interface isn’t great, but it does at least follow the general look of the TiVo menus. Naturally you’ll need to be a Virgin Media TV customer to log in to the app.
If you’re listening to music while using your phone or tablet for something else, you don’t always want to stop what you’re doing to fiddle with the song. If you’re in a game, for example, you may have to exit to the home screen just to get to your music controls, but SidePlayer offers an alternative. It pops a small control panel out from the edge of the screen when you need it, and hides it when you don’t.
SidePlayer ties into various music players like Google Play Music, PowerAmp, n7 player, and several OEM music apps. Just drag in from the right edge of the screen and the controls appear. Drag back, and they recede. This works in any app, even a full-screen game. The free version of the app is limited to this basic functionality, but the $1.75 pro edition includes themes, metadata display, more layouts, active area positioning, and more.
This app doesn’t make a lot of sense for devices that can show the notification shade in full-screen apps (like Samsung devices and stock KitKat), but it could be great for others. You can give it a shot for free, so why not?
Download Pro: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.side.player.pro
When it comes to cable, there’s a lot not to like. The monthly bill continues to go up, and no matter how many channels you add, there’s still never anything good on to watch. This somehow manages to be the case even while many shows are still exclusively available on cable. Yet as frustrating as the major providers may be, there is one trend that I can readily get behind, and that’s the addition of Android apps meant to supplement their traditional service. Cox Communications has added another offering into the mix, Cox Contour, which provides access to over 100 channels and on-demand content.
This isn’t Cox’s first Android app to support streaming content, but this opens up access to significantly more channels than Cox TV Connect provides. Unlike that alternative, though, Contour only works on a select few Android tablets. Both require you to be on your home WiFi connection to have any access at all.
The app is available for free to subscribers who have bundled Cox Essential, Advanced, or Contour TV with the company’s Preferred, Premier, or Ultimate Internet service. You will need a Cox User ID and password in order to sign in. Get started by grabbing the app from the Play Store below.
FlightTrack is not a newcomer to Android, but this particular version of the app is. FlightTrack 5 is a totally redesigned experience that’s being released in time to celebrate the developer’s fifth anniversary. You can join in on the festivities by taking advantage of the introductory sale price for FlightTrack 5.
This app is designed to help you survive the horror of air travel. FlightTrack 5 does pretty much what the name says – it tracks flights and offers real time alerts whenever anything changes. You can also add multiple travelers who are on different flights, and keep tabs on who is departing and arriving at what time. The map view will show you live flight path data when available, and will overlay weather information. FlightTrack 5 is compatible with 3,000 airports and 1,400 airlines worldwide.
The Android version of the app includes a few nifty extras including sharing trips via NFC, a Dashclock extension, homescreen widget, and a live wallpaper. The app’s design also looks pretty nice. You can pick up FlighTrack 5 for $2.99 before the end of the month. After that is goes up to $4.99.