Sony have pushed out an update for their SmartWatch controller app, providing new watch faces and more functionality to the accessory. There are seven new watch faces; analog, digital, abstract - as well as different colors on option.
The update to SmartWatch also brings along improved battery level information, notification previews from your device and improvements to search when looking for new apps for the SmartWatch itself. The updated all should also be easier to install on non-Sony devices, too.
YouTube has released a version of their Capture app that is specifically designed for the iPad. Previously, YouTube had the Capture app available on the iPhone. YouTube Capture allows people to easily record videos and then seamlessly upload them to the video-sharing site.
The app comes three months after the original iPhone app was released. While we aren't going to encourage people to go around taking videos with their iPad, YouTube seems to think that the market is large enough to warrant the development of an app specifically designed for the iPad.
A YouTube spokesperson added that Google is looking to introduce a YouTube Capture app for Android, though it isn't fully necessary. You can download the app from the iOS App Store.
Apple aren't the only ones trying to steal some of that Galaxy S IV thunder from Samsung, with LG announcing that there is an update in the works that will see eye-recognition software on their Optimus G Pro smartphone, and others.
The update will roll out in Korea next month, with the new LG Smart Video feature allowing users to control their smartphone video player with eye movements. The trick is done by using the front-facing camera to keep track of your eyes, so that if you're watching a video and look away from the smartphone, the video will pause until your eyes reach the screen again.
LG will also provide in their "Value Pack", a new dual-camera function which lets you simultaneously take a picture with both the front- and rear-facing cameras.
Twitter have finally released an application for Windows 8, which includes the usual features loved by Twitter fans, and some new things to take advantage of Windows 8's unique features.
CNET is reporting that Twitter could release a standalone iOS music discovery app within the month. They say that Twitter is using their We Are Hunted acquisition from last year to power the new standalone music app. It's not clear why Twitter would want to join this crowded market.
CNET reporter Casey Newton:
Twitter Music suggests artists and songs to listen to based on a variety of signals, and is personalized based on which accounts a user follows on Twitter. Songs are streamed to the app via SoundCloud.
It would appear that Twitter would like to expand beyond the simple 140-character tweets into something more. Users are not required to have a Twitter account to use the app, though having a Twitter account helps personalize the music that is suggested.
The app makes use of four different tabs" 'Suggested', #NowPlaying, 'Popular', and 'Emerging'. The suggested tab does just like the name suggests it might: it suggests new music for the person to try. #NowPlaying operates off of a hashtag of the same name. It links to songs that were tweeted by users you follow who included the "#NowPlaying" hashtag.
Popular shows songs that are popular on We are Hunted. The Emerging tab shows artists who are mostly unknown. Twitter faces an uphill battle, but they might just stand a chance, depending on how integrated they can make the service. We'll know more once the official app launches.
Google's incredible little wonder app, Google Now, might just be headed over to iOS. An update released last October to the Google Search for iOS app updated voice recognition, but left out alerts and contextual cards of data - something exclusive to Android.
A video sent into Engadget hints at Google Now for iOS, something that would be quite interesting. Google aren't scared of releasing products for their competitor, as it is kind of like rubbing salt into an uncompetitive wound. The clip showed off a low-resolution purported promotional video for Google Now on iPhone and iPad. The video has since been pulled, but includes the same voice actress from the original Google Now announcement.
Angry Birds Toons will be available through Rovio games, select video-on-demand providers, Smart TVs, and TV networks worldwide
Rovio has announced that the new Angry Birds Toons show will be available through Rovio games on smartphones and tablets. Not only are they using their wide distribution channel, they will also be making the series available from select video-on-demand channel providers, Smart TVs, and select TV networks around the globe.
The first episode of the series will be launching this upcoming weekend. CEO Mikael Hed said the following:
We've long wanted to tell our fans the story of the Angry Birds and the Bad Piggies, to introduce their personalities and their world in detail. We're delighted to introduce all this through our new channel, with easy and instant access to the stories in the palm of your hand. With over 1.7 billion downloads, we can reach a far wider and more engaged global audience than traditional distribution would allow. Launching the channel, and partnering up with some of the best video-on-demand providers and TV networks, is an important milestone for us on our journey towards becoming a fully fledged entertainment powerhouse.
The show will become available on March 16 via broadcast TV stations and March 17 through Rovio's games and video-on-demand providers. There are currently 52 episodes planned, with a new one being released each week. Fans simply need to update to the latest of any version of the Angry Birds game to unlock the new channel button.
Comic books have made a comeback in recent years thanks to blockbuster movie releases such as Iron Man, X-Men and The Avengers. Marvel, looking to capitalize even more on this revolution, has released over 700 first in series issues through its Android / iPhone app ComiXology as well as its online store of the same name.
The free digital editions will cover mainstream favorites such as Spiderman, X-Men, Avengers, Thor, and the Punisher as well as other popular and obscure titles. The freebies are tied in with Marvel's appearance at the South by Southwest festival and are aimed at generating new customers who may not yet be into comic books.
The free comic book deal only last until Tuesday at 11pm ET. As of the time of this writing, the ComiXology site (Source #2) is getting slammed with traffic and I have only been able to connect every three or so tries. I am sure the traffic will taper off as the day progresses. If you are unable to reach the site, keep trying.
It looks like Facebook hasn't been able to dominate the destructible communication market. New active usage data suggests that Facebook's Poke app hasn't had much, if any, impact on the usage of Snapchat, the app that came onto the scene around a year ago.
According to active user data from Onavo, Snapchat's market share grew after the launch of Poke. In February, the data shows that roughly 12 percent of iPhone users in the United States opened Snapchat. This is compared to Poke, which the data shows was only opened by about 0.25 percent of users in February.
It just goes to show that Facebook can't be the best at everything. Sometimes it's better for a company to focus on just one or two main products. For Facebook, this is social networking.
CCleaner has been a staple in the PC file clean up game for years. In fact, I have been using the program since it first hit the market. Now the company behind CCleaner is gearing up to release it in Android form.
A post on CCleaner's blog stated:
Good news for all Android users! We've heard your requests, and we're excited to let you know that we're hard at work creating a CCleaner for Android app. It's work in progress, and we don't have a final release date yet, but we've been doing some internal testing, and we're very happy with how it's looking!
The company says that as with PC and Mac, CCleaner on Android will make clearing out unwanted files, and apps easy and as simple as a single click. While in the past I would have not seen a need for such an app, now that I am using my mobile devices for more and more on-the-go work, I will really appreciate a way to quickly clean out old downloaded files.
Microsoft-owned Skype has released an updated iOS app for the iPhone and iPad that brings numerous new features and improvements. Of course, like most updates, bug fixes and general improvements have also been made in the app.
The headlining aspect of the update is the "beautiful new calling experience." The "experience" is for making or receiving calls and can be seen in the picture above. Skype has made the process of marking all recent chats as read easier, now requiring just a "few taps." Finally, Skype has fixed that app so that one-to-one chats appear in the correct order.
Since its release in 2009, Angry Birds has become one of the most popular and most played video games of all time. Its success on iOS launched game developer Rovio into the stratosphere virtually overnight.
While the game has been free (ad supported) on Android for some time now, the aggravated aviary app recently dropped in price to $0.99 for the iPhone version and $2.99 for the HD iPad version. Today both apps are appearing to be free in the App Store.
There were free versions of both apps before, but they only contained a few playable levels and were basically considered Demo versions. Both have been removed from the App Store, leading us to believe that the full free versions are here to stay.
Project Daisy, Daisy Chain or simply Daisy, we still have no idea what to call the illusive music streaming mash up by Beats and Trent Reznor, but we do know that it is now its own company. Beats announced today that Project Daisy is being spun off into its on entity.
Reznor will become the Chief Creative Officer while former Topspin head Ian Rogers will blaze the trails as CEO. In the past, Reznor has described the new music streaming service as being similar to Spotify, but "adds a layer of intelligent curation".
This news comes hot on the heels of yesterday's report of Beats and Apple being in talks about the streaming service. It is unclear if the meeting with Apple had any bearing on the company split, and I am willing to bet that nothing comes of it. Only time will tell, and with Daisy scheduled to hit the streets later this year, we will not have to wait for long.
We are seeing more and more services move from a dedicated desktop app to more lightweight browser based apps lately. Spotify has just moved its browser based app into a "large beta testing phase" in the UK, and we could see the full browser app take over by the end of the year.
The browser based app has been in a small closed beta for some time now and has only recently opened up to a much larger user base. A representative for the company said "We're letting a number of users in the UK test out a beta version of our basic web player, which we're gearing up to release later this year".
Our UK readers can test out the new interface by heading over to play.spotify.com and signing in with their account information. The interface is familiar and is almost identical to the dedicated desktop app we are all use to. The only difference I can see is that the actual player controls have been moved to the right-hand side of the screen.
Appthority has released a new study that looks at risky behavior exhibited by the top 50 iOS and top 50 Android apps. The data suggests that despite the appearance of more security in iOS, more iOS apps tend to engage in risky behaviors, such as sending and receiving unencrypted data, than Android apps do.
As you can see in the chart above, every single one of the iOS apps tested sent or received data without using encryption. This exposes user data to being sniffed while traveling over the internet. Only 46 of the 50 Android apps tested exhibited this behavior.
Furthermore, a higher percentage of tested iOS apps used ad networks or analytics. Far more iOS apps tracked the user's location. Finally, over half of the iOS apps tested had access to the user's contacts, while only 20 percent of the Android apps tested were allowed to access a user's contacts.
Of course, none of these behaviors are indicative of a major security risk. However, it just goes to show that Apple's process of going through and approving apps doesn't make them any less risky than Android. In fact, by Android showing which permissions an app is allowed to access likely discourages app developers from requesting permissions they don't need.
Google releases updated Google Maps for iPhone app, promises faster local search, other improvements
Google has released an update to its Google Maps for iPhone app. The new update brings with it several improvements, with the most important one probably being the improved local search. The new version of the app is promising faster local search through new search icons and integration with Google Contacts.
For faster local search, you can tap one of the new icons for restaurants, coffee shops, bars and other types of places to quickly see nearby haunts. So if you're in a rush and need a quick coffee, just tap the search box, then the coffee cup icon, to see the cafes closest to you.
Other minor improvements include the addition of an English language version for Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. As part of this globalization, the app now allows you to select between miles and kilometers in the settings menu. This way you can use the units most familiar to you.
Finally, as part of the better local search, if you search for a contact's name, the search will suggest your friend's address. It can do this thanks to its integration with Google Contacts. You can download the latest version of the app from the iOS App Store.
Apple's iTunes U passes the one billion content downloads milestone, says 60 percent from outside the US
Apple's iTunes U first launched in 2007, offering thousands of online education courses from over 1,200 universities and colleges. In 2012 it finally received its first dedicated app for iOS devices, and now in 2013, iTunes U has hit another major milestone.
Today Apple has announced that iTunes U has surpassed one billion content downloads. 60 percent of those downloads originate from outside of the US despite American universities like Ohio State subscribing to the service with its 100,000 enrolled students.
In an interview, Ohio State University's Dr. Matthew "Dr. Fus" Stoltzfus said:
"The interest my iTunes U course receives from non-college students is overwhelming. I've been working with high school teachers who use my iTunes U material to prepare to teach their own classes, high school students all over the world who are leveraging the course to tutor their fellow classmates, even retirees who download my iTunes U course to stay intellectually active."
Apple says that educators can create iTunes U courses in 30 countries. These courses, and other education content, can be accessed via the iTunes U app in 155 countries. In addition to thousands of individual iTunes U learning materials, over 75,000 educational apps are now available for iOS devices on the App Store.
With the news that Pandora will be limiting free users to 40 hours of music, apps like TuneIn Radio are beginning to look a lot more appealing to consumers who want a free streaming model. The popular live radio app has just released a new "Trending" feature.
For those of you who are not in the know, TuneIn corrals over 70,000 live radio stations from around the world, and serves them up on your iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The new TuneIn Live feature is being billed as a "universal programming guide" and allows users to easily find what's currently trending on-air, as well as what programs and stations are hot at the moment.
In addition to the new TuneIn live feature, the company has also integrated Google+ into the mix and can now use the social networking site to send your personal notifications of when your favorite shows are live on air.
Rovio have released an update to Bad Piggies, which gives gamers 30 new levels as part of a bundle called 'Flight in the Night'. The new content also includes access to new Road Hogs events, a new sandbox and extra achievement features.
Angry Birds makes an appearance in Flight in the Night, where once the Angry Birds are asleep and the sun has gone down, the fun with Flight in the Night begins. Gamers will need to pilot the pigs to their destination without disturbing the snoozing birds, as they're very territorial - one wrong move and they'll attack you.
Not only are there 30 new maps, but there are six new time trial events, a brand new sandbox where you can flex your creativity, and finally, six new achievements to try and collect.
If you're a heavy user of Pandora, you won't like this news - the company has announced they're putting a limit on how much music you can listen to through their free app. There's now a 40-hour limit, which was pushed in thanks to the rise in royalty rates that Pandora must pay record companies.
If you'd like to listen to more than 40 hours of music per month, you can choose to subscribe to the Pandora One service. This service gives users unlimited listening, on top of a lack of advertisements. You can either choose this, or pay a one-time $0.99 fee to listen as long as you'd like for the rest of the month. Desktop users still have the ability to listen to unlimited music.
Most of you reading this will never hit the limit. In fact, it will affect less than 4% of our total monthly active listeners. For perspective, the average listener spends approximately 20 hours listening to Pandora across all devices in any given month.
That said, limiting listening is a very unusual thing to do, and very contrary to our mission so we wanted to share a quick explanation. Pandora's per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years. After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption.
Google has updated the Android version of its Chrome browser to 25. With the update comes numerous feature additions, such as the ability to play audio while the app is in the background. Of course, like all app updates, this update brings with it numerous stability and performance fixes.
The full update list includes:
- Improved scrolling performance
- Increased responsiveness to pinch-zooming on pages
- Audio now continues to play while Chrome is in the background
- Expanded support for HTML5 features
- Support for pausing audio in Chrome when phone is in use (note: this requires an additional permission)
You can pick up the latest version of the app on the Google Play Store.