Always looking to improve the usability of reviews in the Android Market, Google has added a box that breaks down the ratings an app receives from users. The new statistics reveal the number of users who gave an app a certain number of stars, ranging from 1 to 5. This way, you can read beyond the overall average number of stars received by a certain app to know the true feelings of those who have installed the software on their phone.
The new statistics, found under the screenshot of the app, would seem to be useful for those apps that have not received much feedback and where a few well-placed stars could change the average score. Besides, the average score doesn’t reveal what people are thinking above or below that average. Knowing how many users have ranked an app 1-star or 5-stars could make the difference in whether or not you decide to install it. Of course, you can quickly uninstall something that you don’t like and get a refund, but you will have wasted the one thing in this world that no one gets a refund on…time.
Who needs flashy 3D graphics and ultra-realistic physics anyway? At the end of the day, it is the fun and challenging gameplay that really turns an ordinary video game into a well-selling title. Introducing Grand Prix Story for Android (version 1.6 and above) – a seemingly innocent, yet highly addicting video game that puts you in the shoes of a racing team manager. We cannot omit mentioning that the title comes straight from Kairosoft – the creators of the increasingly popular Game Dev Story, so if you are a fan of their management video games, chances are you are going to like this one as well. This time, your goal is to transform your racing team from an underdog into a front-runner, and the best thing about it is that you will be having lots of fun getting there. So, here is how the story goes…
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Back in January, we reported that Samsung’s BK Yoon said at CES that Hulu Plus would be coming to Android. A few months later, it has become a fact as the service is now available in the Android Market. But before you start limbering up your app installing fingers, Hulu is taking a page from Netflix’s book and is allowing only 6 models to install the app to start with. We know that support for the app will grow larger because Hulu’s own blog refers to this as the “first phase” and says it plans on announcing more devices that will support the service throughout the year.
The first 6 Android handsets whose users are able to pay $7.99 a month, after a free 1-week trial, for television and movies from Hulu Plus include the Nexus One, Google Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola DROID 2, Motorola DROID X and the Motorola ATRIX 4G. If Hulu waits too long to add more models that will support the service, you can expect to see what happened to Netflix repeat itself, with unauthorized devices getting hacked into the Hulu Plus service.
Amazon debuted its Amazon Appstore for Android just a couple of days after Apple brought the suit in March. The tech giant accused the online retailer of “improperly” using its trademark to get developers to write programs for its platform. Apple said it tried three times to contact Amazon but did not receive a “substantive response”. As we reported, Amazon said that the term “app store” is generic and would not be confusing. Apple countered by saying that Amazon’s Appstore is “inferior and will tarnish Apple’s (trade) mark”. Apple also claimed that Amazon’s Appstore for Android was a security hazard because Amazon’s store offers apps for rooting an Android device and rooted handsets are more likely to be the victim of security breaches.
The suit also has allowed for some bickering between Apple and rival Microsoft. The latter has been among the biggest opponents to the use of App Store as a trademark, agreeing with Amazon that the term is generic. Apple’s quick response to the guys at Redmond was that if App Store is a generic term, so then is Microsoft Windows. Touche.
When talking about the top Twitter apps for Android, Twidroyd is usually included on just about everyone’s top 5 list. Sure, if you start to pick nits, there are better options for speed (Twicca) or widgets (Plume), but Twidroyd has a huge set of features and it keeps getting better. The newest update, version 6, includes a long list of new additions that has led the developer, UberMedia, to call this the biggest release ever.
The signature feature of Twidroyd is LivePreview, which is invoked when you turn your device into landscape mode. It places your Twitter feed next to a preview panel which will load pictures or links without needing to launch a browser. This feature has been beefed up with support for t.co links, as well as lockerz.com images. One of the other big features is the inclusion of the UberBar, which is a scrollable link dock at the bottom of the app. The UberBar includes quick links for useful things like home, mentions, channels, Dealbox, trending topics, and a lot more. The UberBar is customizable, but only insofar as removing or moving items. We would have liked to see an option for quick links to Twitter lists or custom searches.
Other features added are all smaller tweaks to make navigating the app, and controlling tweets with more powerful options. The compose screen has had buttons added to send, attach or shorten, much like the buttons found in Twicca. There are also a number of options to view timestamps on tweets, select locations for trending topics, verified user icons, and a lot more.
If you’re looking for a full service Twitter app for Android, Twidroyd is hard to beat on features, and it’s certainly worth a try.
Google Goggles is one of those weird apps that has a bunch of niche uses, but may not be part of your daily rotation. It can do image searches for landmarks, famous pieces of art, and products. It can use optical character recognition (OCR) to “read” and translate text in a handful of languages. And, it can scan and launch QR codes. Google even claims that it is capable of facial recognition, but the feature simply hasn’t been “turned on” due to privacy concerns.
Google Goggles has just been updated for Android bringing a few new cool features to the optical search app. Version 1.5 of Goggles has added: Russian text recognition, a search history map, and added options for copying results to the clipboard.
The OCR text translation capabilities of Goggles had already included English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, all of which are based on the Latin alphabet. Now, Google has added Russian recognition, marking the first Cyrillic alphabet language supported. Of course, this is just for OCR, the scanned text can then be translated into any of 40 different languages supported.
Another interesting new feature is a visual search history map. If you have search history enabled in Goggles, you will be able to go back through your history using a handy map, which has all of your searches pinned by location. This can definitely be a nice change if you have an extensive search history, and would rather not go through it all as a list. This option lets you pan and zoom around a map to find your various searches.
The last addition is one of the more subtle but important changes, which allows you to copy recognized text and paste it into various applications. This could be very useful in saving addresses, phone numbers, etc that you may want access to later.
You can grab the Goggles update in the Android Market now.
source: Google Mobile Blog
The cloud music revolution has started and the options just keep growing and growing. First to market was actually Sony with its Qriocity Music Unlimited service, which had a rolling launch from December 2010 to February 2011 in various countries. But, the first in the news was Amazon with their Cloud Drive and Cloud Player in March, followed soon after by Google Music in May. All of these services allowed users to store their personal music collection on cloud servers and stream that music to a variety of devices (the lack of this latter feature is why Apple’s iCloud will not be mentioned in this article.) Now, Best Buy wants to get into the game as well, and has done a soft-launch of their competing Cloud Music service.
The Best Buy Music Cloud is just a soft-launch, so it is still buggy, and has limited features. The service most closely resembles Google Music in that it offers online storage for your local music collection and streaming of that music, but does not connect to a music store in any way. This means you will have to upload your collection, which could take a long time depending on how much music you have. It also allows for syncing, so you can listen to certain music even if you don’t have an Internet connection.
Best Buy is offering a free version which allows use of the Web player, but not mobile streaming. The free version also apparently only lets users listen to 30-second clips of their own music. In order to hear your full songs and use the mobile apps, it will cost $3.99/month for the premium package. No word yet on any storage limits for either the free or premium packages.
The service is available on Mac, PC, iOS, BlackBerry, and Android. Unfortunately, the iOS version doesn’t support premium features as yet. As stated above, this is just a soft-launch so expect Best Buy to add features and clean up the problems as we go along.
Music recognition service Shazam might sound like a simple idea recognizing your favorite tunes, but you’d be surprised to find out that to spur its growth, the company has raised $32 million in venture capital. The funds come from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Institutional Venture Partners, which has previously backed Twitter, ComScore and Netflix.
The deal can’t beat photo-sharing social startup Color which managed to attract $41 million from the get go, but it still seems like a huge amount. Shazam’s CEO Andrew Fisher clarified that the capital injection will be used to push Shazam into TV territory, as well as for growth acquisitions. It has already launched partnership with retailers like Old Navy and expects to start ad campaigns allowing users of the service to use the app with TV shows and movies. To clarify the justification for such an investment, Fisher mentioned that in 60% of US households people use Shazam while watching TV.
Currently, the music recognition app has over 150 million users which tag a total of more than 4 million songs a day. This is mostly monetized by ads, but given Shazam’s claims that it has channeled $100 million worth of tune purchases to iTunes and other music stores, this might give a better idea for the financial prospects of the app.
When it comes to the TV business, Fisher said: “The broadcast piece for us has been going really well. We started with a relationship with NBC Universal and have since added MTV, Discovery Networks and others.” Just recently, Shazam has acquired Tunezee, helping the app to add synced lyrics to the currently played song, but that seems like just the first step. In addition, the application plans to launch a social feature possibly called Shazam Friends. Do you personally feel that such a capital investment in the London-based company is justified?
Let’s face it – Android smartphones occupy a large share of the world phone market and we shouldn’t be surprised if Google’s platform is one of the most preferred targets for virus attacks. Just over a week ago, two dozen virus-infected apps were pulled from the Android Market with some of them looking as innocent as Tetris and Solitaire. And that might not be welcome news for users, but it is for some software developers.
Security solution providers from Symantec, recently claimed that Android security threats are only going to get worse in the future. And that’s because Android is an open, monetizable and increasingly ubiquitous platform. But what’s the solution to those problems? Symantec claims that its Norton Mobile Security anti-virus handles the job and:
1. Scans for malware, including downloaded apps, updates and the contents of your microSD card. In addition, its constantly updated database should detect and protect you from most malware. A scan of the 8GB of memory of the Android handset we used took slightly more than 30 seconds, a very good score in comparison to the scanning time on other anti-virus apps. There was no real malware that we could test the app with, but given Norton’s rich database, we can expect it to detect most virus-infected apps.
2. Blocks unwanted calls and SMS messages. Straightforward as it sounds, you just have to add a contact or a number, and all calls and/or messages from that person will be blocked. So you can block those celebrity stalkers from invading your privacy. Or just stalkers. You might just want to be careful to not block your mum.
3. Lets you remotely locate, lock or wipe your Android device in case of a theft. You can also add some trusted contacts who’ll also be able to unlock your phone by tapping on Choose Buddy and selecting the contacts. If you then lose your phone or get it stolen you can simply send a text with the word “locate”, “lock”, or “wipe” followed by your pre-defined password, and the phone will respond with its exact coordinates or by locking/wiping itself.
4. Protects you on the web from phishing websites. That might sound good at first, but the feature is heavy on system memory with users reporting that it could occupy as much as a whopping 84MB of it.
The application is still in beta and free, but when you activate it, Norton Mobile Security shows that you can only use it in the next three weeks. So while we certainly appreciate the boosted security, you might find that it slows down the overall Android experience by consuming a lot of your system memory. But even if mobile security is not your main priority, we would still recommend this application if it was only for the remote locate, lock and wipe function. Norton Mobile Security requires Android 2.x or later and 1.8MB of storage. Currently, it carries the sweet price tag of free, so it wouldn’t hurt trying it, would it?
Download Norton Mobile Security for Android [Android Market link]
Everyone and their dog is jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon these days, and Samsung seemingly has some measures to take on this trend of its own. It is reportedly preparing a cloud service dubbed Web-Centry for now, for its smartphones and tablets, which is about to be unveiled in September, around the same time Apple’s iCloud will be fully functional in conjunction with iOS 5.
Since leaks about Apple’s iCloud service started to appear, the shares of Amazon and Google have been stagnating or down with the broader market, since these companies have cloud offerings of their own, but Apple’s huge customer base is only poised to become larger and even more involved in Cupertino’s ecosystem now.
Besides the usual uploading and syncing of contacts, data and multimedia files to Samsung’s servers, Web-Centry will have some business-oriented features, like shared folders, which can be accessed only by certain users. Mobile office services like collaboration seem to also be on tap.
The nice part is that this cloud service will link Samsung’s other devices, like Smart TVs, for instance, for streaming movies or viewing docs directly on the big screen. The service is supposedly being developed together with Google’s cloud offerings, which coincides with what Eldar Murtazin wrote once, that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is developed in close cooperation with Google. The Web-Centry service seems like a perfect fit for Samsung’s Android-based smartphones and tablets, so we’ll be eagerly awaiting September to see what’s in store for us.
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