Today, Google released a complete refresh of its Google Maps for Android app. The company says that the new app brings forth an entirely new mapping experience that makes exploring the world and getting to the places that matter to you a lot faster and easier.
Google says that the new Google maps for mobile builds on the design that was released last year for iPhone and improves on it with new search and navigation features. Additionally, this is the very first dedicated Google Maps for Android tablets and iPads.
The new app brings forth an explore feature that the company says is a fast and easy way to visually browse and discover new places without even typing. Users must simply tap the search box and you'll see cards that show great places to eat, drink, sleep, and shop.
Pandora has just pushed out a new update to their iOS app that brings it more inline with other streaming services. The update brings forth an AutoPause feature that will pause the service if headphones come unplugged and also improves buffering to make things more efficient.
This update is not just for user comfort; Pandora pays out over half of its revenue to music labels due to an antiquated licensing system that was enacted by congress. The new AutoPause feature is expected to help reduce the number of songs that are played when nobody is around to hear them, thus reducing royalty fees.
Facebook Home appears to be nothing more than a novelty for most Android users, with many reverting back to their stock Android skins just after a few hours after installing the service. One of the biggest gripes I have heard is the lack of folders for the home screen.
Today, Facebook has answered the cries echoed by so many in an update that was pushed out to the Google Play Store. The new update brings folder support which allows smartphone owners to drag one app on top of another to start a folder. Folders can be named, moved, and added to a person's application drawer for even faster access.
"An improved launcher is the most requested item Facebook has received since the launch of Home, and the team continues to make updates to Home in order to provide consumers with the best experience," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. "For example, last month, Facebook added a dock to the Home launcher and the team is currently working on widget support that will put Home's launcher on par with stock Android launchers."
Twitter updated their iOS app this morning and added a syncing feature for Direct Messages. This is a feature that has long been asked for from users who heavily rely on Twitter's direct message system to stay in contact with other Tweeters. The update is live and can be downloaded from Apple's App Store now.
Twitter says that from now on when you read a direct message on one of it's clients such as Tweetdeck, Twitter for Mac, Twitter for Android, or the Twitter website, it will be marked as read across all devices. In the past, this became an issue for heavy users who viewed DMs on different application as it would still appear as unread on iOS devices.
Spotify for Windows Phone 8 gets refreshed, drops beta, adds track scrubbing, and installs more languages
This morning, Spotify released an updated version of its app for Windows Phone 8 which removes the service from beta testing and moves it into full production. This latest update not only includes the removal of the beta version, but it improves offline playlist and builds in more support for different languages.
The announcement comes from Windows Phone Product Design Manager Joe Belifore via Twitter. In an attempt to go heads up with Xbox Music and Nokia's free streaming service, Nokia Music, Spotify has added in track scrubbing which was missing from the first version of the Windows Phone 8 app. The update is around 2MB and users can push it through their phone, or head to Source # 2 below for the full download.
Kim Dotcom's secure cloud storage MEGA, has been available for a while, but not on mobile. Today, it has launched on Android, and is available for download from the Google Play Store. We can expect MEGA for Android to include the following features:
- Browse your MEGA cloud storage account
- Fast upload and downloads on the move
- Camera sync: automatically upload photos and videos to the MEGA cloud
- Export and send file and folder links
- Image thumbnails
- Create, delete, rename and move files and folders
MEGA for Android works on all Android devices, so you're not just limited to your Android-powered smartphone. You can grab MEGA for Android from the Google Play Store right here.
Instagram for iOS has been updated, which now includes the ability to use landscape mode for both video and pictures. Instagram for iOS is now sitting at version 4.0.2.
Instagram for iOS v4.0.2 also includes Cinema stabilization support for front-facing cameras. You can grab the updated Instagram for iOS from the App Store right here, or you can do the update manually on your iOS-based device.
RumorTT: Android 4.3 might include notification listening service, would let third-party apps take control of notifications
Google kept the chains on Android 4.3 during their Google I/O conference a few weeks back, but that hasn't stopped the news from flowing about the next iteration of their mobile OS.
Kevin from TeslaCoil Software might have found one of Android 4.3's big features, where he noticed that there's a notification listening service buried in Android 4.3. This feature would allow third-party apps read notifications and perform common notification-level tasks.
We won't know how it will exactly work until Google officially take the wraps off of Android 4.3, but for now, it's a nice feature that we should expect in the coming months when Android 4.3 finally arrives.
It was not even a week ago that we reported that Microsoft were reaching the edge of 100,000 apps on their Windows Store, but they've announced through Twitter that they've now broken through this milestone.
Microsoft don't have the most apps, or the best apps, but they got there the quickest - in just 8 months. Comparing them to Apple, who saw 18 months go past before the App Store got there, and Google's Play Store took over two years. But, the Windows Store is here to stay and with Windows 8.1 coming soon, Microsoft are putting themselves in a better position with each day that passes.
Skype for Android has been updated today, a major release by the looks of things as we're hitting version 4.0 with a major redesign. Skype has passed 100 million downloads on Android, and has now been totally redesigned to look like other platforms' versions.
Skype 4.0 for Android includes a cleaner "conversation-first" UI, which shows the instant messaging part of Skype in a brighter light. It's no longer thrown to the side like previous versions of the app. You can now tab through different parts of the app, and change tabs using swipe gestures. Skype have said that underneath, it has been "rebuilt from the ground up" in order to be more reliable, and most of all, faster.
Until today, the most popular live radio streaming app was only available on iOS and Android devices, fortunately that ends today. Microsoft announced today that iHeartRadio has finally landed on Windows Phone 8 and is available for immediate download through its app store.
For those unfamiliar with the app, iHeartRadio allows users to tune in to more than 1500 live radio stations across the United States. Additionally users can create commercial free, custom stations from a pool of more than 15 million songs and 400,000 artists.
To celebrate the launch the folks over at iHeartRadio are giving away a bunch of Nokia Lumia 920 smartphones, so check out Source #2 to find out how to win one for yourself. The new Windows Phone 8 app brings forth several other unique features which I have listed below.
- Recommend stations - Find the soundtrack for studying, driving-even cleaning house.
- Sleep Timer - Doze off to your favorite station.
- Lock screen album art - Displays album art on the lock screen
- Bookmarking - Pin favorite stations to your Start screen.
- Universal search - Now you can search across the app.
Facebook for Windows Phone gets complete makeover, now features high-resolution photos, post sharing and more
In what seemed like a landslide of app announcements, Microsoft has chimed up and announced a major update to Facebook for Windows Phone. This new release brings a plethora of new features and improvements that Microsoft claims its users have been asking for for months.
The user interface has been completely overhauled and is now skinned in a more Windows Phone-esque skin that Microsoft says improves navigation. Also implemented is support for high-resolution photos, post sharing, as well as Facebook Timeline view. This app overhaul is the direct result of the beta program Facebook and Microsoft implemented a while back. To check out the new and improved Facebook for Windows Phone App, head over to Source #2. To join the beta program so your feedback can be heard, Source #3 is your destination.
This morning, Redbox announced that it has finally released its mobile app into the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem. The app appears to be identical to the Android and iOS version and will allow users to find the nearest Redbox kiosk via Bing maps.
Redbox says that with the app you will be able to browse and reserve movies as well as games at any Redbox kiosk you choose, which is very similar to how Redbox online works. Additionally, users will be able to sort their searches by release date, genre, rating, and title, as well as watch trailers straight on their mobile device. The app is available now for download at Source #1 below.
Microsoft announced today that the OneNote app for iOS and Android is getting a complete ground-up reboot that will provide users a more feature-rich experience and will better integrate into the Windows 8 ecosystem. The company says that the most noticeable update is the better editing experience.
Microsoft says that the new editing experience brings forth features like formatting text, tables, and layouts carrying over from platform to platform. The redesign also brings forward the ability to sync files across Sky Drive Pro and SharePoint and it removes the 500 note limit imposed by the previous iteration of the app. Additionally, users who download the updated app will receive access to the Office Ribbon UI.
The brand-new, fully featured OneNote app is available for iOS devices via the Apple App Store, as well as the Google play store for Android users. Microsoft says the app is currently available in the US and other "select" markets. Additional details and screenshots can be found by clicking Source #1 below.
Microsoft's SmartGlass Xbox companion app has been downloaded over 17 million times since its release last year over four platforms: Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.
17 million downloads is quite a lot, but considering there are close to 50 million Xbox Live subscribers, Microsoft haven't even seen a 50% penetration rate for their companion app. Not all Xbox users would want to use it, so it's not that stressful for Microsoft. 17 million downloads is better than 1-2 million downloads after all.
Google have released an updated version of Chrome beta for Android, which addresses some issues that have been popping up for a while now. One of these is the white flash that pops up when you load a new tab.
Other fixes include favicons now syncing across other devices using Clank (Google's codename for Chrome beta for Android), as well as problems with the keyboard on the Gmail website which wouldn't dismiss. A security fix has also been plugged up, making sure that a dialog is displayed as soon as any downloads are called.
The usual bug fixes are of course updated in this latest beta mobile browser, and you can get it right here.
Facebook has had a few security and privacy related incidents of late, with the newest one to come to light being that the Facebook for Android app sent your phone number back to Facebook's servers even if you didn't log in or didn't have an account. Facebook has said that all of these numbers have been deleted, but it still makes you wonder why they were ever collected in the first place.
The "bug," as Facebook calls it, was in the beta application that Facebook released yesterday. That bug has since been patched and Facebook has stated that the accidentally logged numbers have all been cleared from their servers. The bug came to light thanks to security firm Symantec. According to their researchers, a user's phone number would be sent to Facebook immediately upon opening the app.
It's unclear how many users were affected. This bug does not appear to be related to the other recent privacy snafu at Facebook. Still, you've got to wonder if this was something similar to the Google Street View Wi-Fi snooping issue that was settled not too long ago.
Apple users have their secure way of sending messages through iMessage, but right now Android users are a little left out. CyanogenMod hopefully have the answer to this, where the team are working on a new application called PushSMS.
Devleoper, Koushik Dutta said this week that he has constructed a secure push-based messaging plugin for CyanogenMod which encrypts messages between two CyanogenMod users from end-to-end and is sent over the Google Cloud Messaging service. Dutta adds that the feature is built directly into the CyanogenMod framework, and is compatible with third-party clients like GoSMS and Handcent.
PushSMS isn't quite available, and should arrive in a new iteration of CyanogenMod in the coming weeks.
Vine for Android has been updated to version 1.2, with the latest version of the application allowing front-facing camera support and more. We also have an upload manager for backlogged clips, settings tweaks and a bunch of performance tweaks.
Most users have switched over to Instagram, or like myself don't even use it, but for those who still prefer Vine, you can get the updated version from the Google Play Store.
Twitter's two-month-old music discovery app has been updated to help you better discover music you actually want to hear. The new feature "charts" helps you discover music from the genre you are interested in getting more music from. This way it's easier to discover music that you have the possibility of liking.
These new charts can be a genre or a specific type of chart such as "Popular." The Popular chart does what you think it would: it compiles a playlist of new music trending on Twitter. The other charts are generated in a similar manner, but are kept to the single genre that the chart is for.
It's not clear how well Twitter Music is doing as Twitter hasn't provided us any numbers. However, with Apple planning to incorporate Twitter Music into iRadio, it could become a lot more popular and valuable to the micro-blogging site.
Facebook's Android app is usually hit and miss on whether an update will be amazing and fix tons of issues or will just inject more bugs into the user experience. It appears that Facebook realizes this and has now opened a new beta testing program that all Android users are invited to join.
Facebook says that the creation of this beta tester pool is because of the sheer vastness and diversity of hardware and OS software in the Android ecosystem. This makes it very difficult for the software developers to find every bug and every issue that only appears on a specific device or version. This new program is organized by Google's new "Group for Beta Testers" service that was announced at Google I/O earlier this month.
To join the group, all you have to do is click the link at source #2 below, join the group, except the permissions, and head to the Android market and re-download the Facebook app. Facebook has created its own group (source #3) in which users can join and leave feedback, but that is not a requirement. Reporting bugs found in the application is as easy as clicking a new "report bug" button icon in the settings menu.