I'm a huge fan of SwiftKey, and use it on every Android device I own - it is the first app I install when I get a new Android-based device, and because typing is one of the most important things you'll do on a smart device, it's also one of the most important.
SwiftKey 3 is on special at the moment as part of Google's celebration of hitting 25 billion downloads on their Google Play store. SwiftKey 3 has dropped from $3.99 to just $0.99 - a 75% discount! If you haven't tried SwiftKey and want to get into it, at this price you'd be crazy not to. Here's what SwiftKey 3 offers:
Users of the Google Gmail app will be happy to hear it has been updated to support the larger iPhone 5 screen. The update brings with it a larger area for reading email as well as allowing more emails to be displayed on the screen at a single time. The app retains its ability to send push notifications for new messages.
That's really the only thing different from the older version, so if you don't own an iPhone 5, you can skip this update. For the iPhone 5 owners, updated apps that take advantage of the larger screen area are much appreciated. The app is available for download from the Apple App Store.
Google have just unveiled a new app called Field Trip, from their Niantic Labs team. Field Trip is quite simple, where it pops up with location-specific information as you walk, or drive around. It is kinda like Google Now which comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, where it will predict the information required, providing multiple channels of content.
This content can be historic places, events, lifestyle, food and drink, and many more. Field Trip gives you control of how many, as well as what kind of notifications you will receive for the app through its various settings. Google's Field Trip app can also push the information via audio, or a Bluetooth or wired headset. Field Trip has partners such as Food Network, Zagat, Cool Hunting, and others.
As with most things with Google when first launched, this is for the United States only at the moment. But it does have some promise - I see this technology being baked into Google Glasses when it reaches, where it seems like the perfect companion to an augmented reality pair of glasses. The ad is quite sweet, too, it makes me promise myself to spend quality time with my daughter, always.
Rovio appears to have done it again. Early this morning, around 12AM PT, Rovio launched their new game Bad Piggies, a spin-off of the oh-so-popular Angry Birds series. This new game features many similar characters from the older Angry Birds series, but focuses on the pigs' point of view.
Players build vehicle-style contraptions to get through the map, as opposed to flinging, well, angry birds. Just three hours after its launch, Ville Heijari tweeted that the game had rocketed to the top spot in iTunes for the US. This is an incredible rate of adoption, considering that most of the US should have been sleeping at launch.
Comparing the success of Bad Piggies to Angry Birds Space is a bit difficult. There isn't an exact time frame available for how long it took Angry Birds Space to hit number one. Remember that Angry Birds Space achieved 10 million downloads in 10 days and 50 million downloads in 35 days, both impressive feats. Let's see if Bad Piggies can beat it.
Google's Chrome for Android browser is very popular, with those rocking Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above getting access to the great app. News has now hit that the Chrome for Android has been updated and is now completely compatible with x86-based devices.
This might not mean much to most people, as the chips inside most smart devices aren't x86-based, but for Intel chips on Android devices, this is huge news. It also shows that Google is willing to work on the compatibility of their apps, not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of other devices on the Intel platform.
We should see more support for the Intel platform as it grows, but it's really jus tin its infancy now. Chrome for Android is a pretty big deal, especially with its abilities of syncing up with your desktop- or notebook-based Chrome, syncing all of your settings, passwords, and more.
Google updates YouTube for Android - provides preloading to Froyo, Gingerbread, as well as YouTube TV queuing
If you're still rocking the older Froyo- or Gingerbread-based Android devices, and an avid YouTube user, then you will be delighted to hear that Google have just pushed out a new version of their YouTube for Android app that gives these older versions of Android some features that Ice Cream Sandwich and above versions of Android devices have enjoyed since June.
These features include the preloading feature that was baked into the ICS and above devices' YouTube apps, which will let you preload videos from your subscriptions or watch later list, where they'll precache while you're on Wi-Fi and plugged in so you don't need to wait for buffering - which can be annoying.
The initial Watch page has changed a little, the Channel Store features more channels, and you can now queue up videos to player later on any YouTube-powered TV once you've paired it with your mobile device.
Facebook has gone ahead and updated Instagram to be compatible with the larger screen on the iPhone 5 and to make the app more compatible with iOS6. The new update brings with it several changes, most notably the removal of live filters for the iPhone 5. Older iPhones, such as the 4S seem to have retained the feature.
Along with no more live filters for the iPhone 5, Instagram has a new registration page that allows users to pull in their information from Facebook--go figure. However, the option to log-in with Facebook is curiously absent from the app. One would think that this would be a feature that Facebook would want to implement.
Moving back to the live filters, it appears that they will soon be removed from older devices. Their absence has been acknowledged on Instagram's "known issues" page and the acknowledgement seems to indicate that they will be removed from the older phones soon:
As of the current release (v3.1), Instagram does not support live filters on the iPhone 5. Going forward, live filters will be phased out as we work to improve the Instagram experience for all users.
It's not clear why they feel that live filters create a bad user experience. It could be that live filters led to many of the app freezes and crashes or something similar. One thing is clear: for now, Instagram is planning on getting rid of them, with no plans to bring them back in the future.
The first big update to Opera Mini since it launched a few months ago is here, bringing it up to version 7.5. Opera Mini 7.5 is available right now on Android, from the Google play store. What does Opera Mini 7.5 offer this time around?
Smart Page. Smart Page will give users an overview of what is happening on the Internet, including separate tabs for social, news and suggested links. Opera Mini sports the ability to compress your web viewing so that you experience the Internet faster, kind of like if it were processing the page locally.
Opera has been using this method for quite some time, and have become quite good at it. Other features include Link - which syncs up history, bookmarks and notes from your browsing on the desktop. This would obviously only apply if you're using Opera on your desktop, too.
Right now, Dropbox and Google+ apps sport the ability to automatically upload your photos to their respective cloud-based storage spaces after you've snapped your latest picture, with Facebook looking like they're playing around with the same feature.
Facebook are soon to rollout the feature to a few select users that will let them take pictures, and get uploaded automatically to a private photo album on their account. The social networking site has said that the feature will roll out to a very select few, which is how Facebook operates when testing out new features.
I'm a huge Facebook user, and I like the idea of this happening - but it does chew through your mobile data if you're not connected to WiFi. I'd love to see some features built-in where you can choose options of times when it can upload the photos. I'd love to be able to select a time like "upload between 1AM-6AM", when I'm sleeping. This way, my phone is next to me when I'm in bed, secondly it's connected to my home WiFi and not using my mobile data, thirdly it doesn't impact the speed of my Internet use on the device if its thrashing itself uploading pictures to Facebook.
Google have pushed out an update for their Google Maps for Android app, which now includes some cool new abilities. The update brings across more of a persistant set of search results, as the app has access to your desktop and mobile search history.
Google Maps for Android has access to your desktop and mobile search history through My Places, meaning that if you run any searches when signed into your Google account with web history enabled, it will now pop-up with auto-completed entries that has been searched for previously.
This is a nice feature if you're someone like myself who would run a Maps search through Chrome, when signed into the browser, and then go to your Android-based phone and run a search through Maps or Navigation. What's funnier, is that Google decide to release their updated, better-featured Maps app on the day of Apple's iPhone 5 release, where the company removed Google's Map app in favor of their own, not-so-good app.
It looks like iMessage is experiencing some issues at the moment, reports The Next Web. They're also seeing reports on Twitter with many, many angry customers posting messages every few minutes. The issues look like they're hitting all sorts of iOS users.
But, iMessages coming from Apple IDs and on Wi-Fi are experiencing less issues than those on cellular networks, but there are still hiccups. The past 24 hours have seen problems with iMessage, with complaints mounting up since 10:30 AM PST.
It shouldn't affect iPhone users too much, as they can fall back on text messages, but iPad and iPod users are left in the dark without iMessage. Right now there seems like there's nothing you can do, and there should hopefully be a fix soon from Apple.
We're mere weeks away from the launch of Windows Phone 8, but PayPal has arrived on the current form of Windows Phone, surprisingly. iOS and Android have both long enjoyed having the payment system application on their respective operating systems, and now it's Microsoft's turn.
The PayPal for Windows Phone app lets users check their balances, withdraw funds from their PayPal accounts, and look at previous transactions. There's also the ability to pay for items, as long as the store you're using has a PayPal Here service set up.
I'm really surprised we saw the release of PayPal on Windows Phone so close to Windows Phone 8, if it were up to me, I would've just waited and debuted it with the launch of Windows Phone 8. If you're a Windows Phone user, and want to get in on the PayPal action, you can grab it here.
Google's last update to their NFC-powered application on Android, Google Wallet, saw the Mountain View-based company open it up to let users add any credit card they wanted.
Since the company has done this, they've noticed the usage of Google Wallet has doubled. Google have slowly been pushing credit card companies to optimize their own section for the Google Wallet app, too.
The only thing Google need to do now is spread the tentacles on Google Wallet, as the US isn't the only market in the world that needs something like this. I'm based in Australia, and I'd love to be able to use Google Wallet, hopefully we'll see more use of NFC-powered payment systems in the near future around the world.
Instagram have just pushed through some changes to its mobile photo pages affecting both design and function. Design-wise, we're looking at a more consistant look and feel with its Web-based counterpart. In the function department, the developer has made it easier for users to interact with their photos, as well as friends' photos when viewing them outside of the Instagram app itself, but still on a mobile device.
Instagram updated their Web presence which paved the way for comments and likes on a few months ago, something they call "the new Photo Page". The latest update to the photo-taking and sharing application looks to move the old mobile site's design to the recently-launched desktop site.
The mobile version now lets Instagram users like and comment on photos from their chosen mobile web browser, and it now lets you go directly from the mobile photo page into the Instagram app by tapping the "Open in App" button. Tapping the Open in App button will launch the Instagram app, with the photo you were on previously, loaded into the main view.
Day two of keynotes have happened at the Intel Developer Forum, where Renee James, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Software & Services Group talked about software development, security and services in an "age of transparent computing".
The keynote involved a security-centric portion, where Renee grabbed a representative from Intel's McAfee division, where they showed off a beta release of the McAfee Social Protection app. McAfee's Social Protection app will be released soon as both an application, and browser plug-in for Facebook that makes people sharing their photos more secure.
McAfee's Social Protection would take this one step further, where it would, when installed, not allow people to copy or capture your images. As it stands, right now if anyone wants to download or screen capture your picture, they can do so without a problem. The McAfee Social Protection demo rep claimed that "McAfee Social Protection - It's like a condom for your digital life." I would've loved to have been there to hear that said out aloud.
Chrome for Android has finally been updated, not long after the iOS-based version received its much-awaited release. Chrome for Android includes improved sandboxing technology for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
This will keep your Jelly Bean-based device safer from malicious websites, thanks to the OS' user ID isolation technology. It also integrates location preferences with system level Google apps settings, adds playback controls to YouTube videos when played in fullscreen, and fixes destined for third-party input method editors (IMEs).
There's a few miscellaneous bug fixes and security issues closed, so if you're rocking an Android device, you should check the Play Store right now if you don't have automatic updating enabled.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg regrets using HTML5 for Facebook mobile, native Android version is coming soon
Facebook for iOS received a much-needed update not long ago, ditching HTML5 and moving over with some native code. Everyone loved it, as it finally propelled the iOS app into the awesomeness that is Facebook on mobile, but much faster and more efficient.
Mark Zuckerberg said during an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt that betting on HTML5 for the app is "one of the biggest mistakes if not the biggest strategic mistakes we've ever made". Now they are some very strong words.
The Facebook founder also stated that new features will be baked into the app, as well as a much faster Android-based version coming "when it's done", id Software style.
Since Apple is removing the stock YouTube app from iOS 6, Google has been hard at work producing a new app to replace it with. Since Apple is expected to unveil the new iPhone tomorrow, which is expected to come with iOS 6, Google wanted to make sure they had a new app ready in case Apple releases iOS 6 to everyone tomorrow.
According to the Google Blog post, "The new app is built by YouTube engineers, to give our iPhone and iPod touch users the best mobile experience." The new app is sure to be better than the old stock one because they now can do more of what they want and don't need Apple to sign off on all the changes.
Of course, there are more changes than just that, but Google wants to tease you and says just this. They then let you know it's free to download on the Apple App store. Google also notes that they are working on an iPad optimized version, which should be ready in the coming months. Of course, you'll find out about that new app first here on TweakTown.
Google has updated their Google Drive app on iOS today to include built-in document editing. The new app version also includes support for collaboration, so more than one user can be editing the document at one time. Users have access to formatting options from a prominent bar placed across the top of the screen.
One user of the new app notes that it seems to be a web interface as the keystrokes don't immediately appear on the screen. He also notes that the interface is very similar to Apple's Pages app, though the typing features that delay previously mentioned.
The iOS App page lists the following as changes:
- Edit Google documents with formatting and collaboration
- Edits to your Google documents appear to collaborators in seconds
- Richer Google presentations with animations and speaker notes
Having editing and collaboration directly in the app is an extremely useful feature, especially the collaboration part. Users can pick up the app for free from the Apple App Store.
Fans of Instagram and Windows Phone rejoice, the app will be coming to the new Windows Phone 8 platform. According to The Verge's sources, Instagram will be made available on Windows Phone 8. A slip-up in a promotional video tipped them off, though the video could possibly be showing a Vimeo live tile.
The Verge then went and independently verified that Instagram is indeed coming to the platform. As you can see in the video above, at 0:52, the tile on the right, second from the top appears to be Instagram likes and comments. An image is provided below for your viewing pleasure.
Now, you no longer have to make a decision on buying a phone based on needing Instagram as it should make its way onto Windows Phone 8 before the end of 2012. Now you can use Nokia's PureView camera to take even better grainy 600x600 sunset or meal pictures. Won't all your friends be impressed?
It looks as though Apple may be lessening some of its restrictions on apps, if the addition of Conttrol to the App Store is anything to go by. Conttrol is an app that allows the remote control of uTorrent running on a PC, so while the app doesn't itself torrent, it controls a program which does, thus enabling torrenting.
Transmission RPC, a similar app in function to Conttrol, was also approved a few months ago. It's important to note that neither of these apps torrent on the device itself, so this is possibly how they managed to get through the checkpoint. It could also be that they slipped up and accidentally let them through and will ban them as soon as they notice.
"Currently the app supports connections to uTorrent & BitTorrent clients but there are future plans to support Transmission on the Mac, as well as planned development of a native iPad version," Conttrol developer Craig Donnelly said.
Whether or not this signals a change in Apple's policy isn't quite clear. It's possible they don't want to get left behind as Android just received a torrent client from the makers of uTorrent. Only time will tell if this is a true change in policy. If the apps get removed, it clearly isn't.