The Google Maps team have just unveiled the latest update to Google Maps for Android, where the addition of voice navigation for 9 more countries went live earlier today. Users in the below countries will now be able to use the Google Maps app on their Android device with the new features starting now:
- Cote d'Ivoire
There's no news on when we should expect more countries to gain the navigation abilities to Maps for Android, but its good to see the Mountain View-based company at least beginning to stretch their navigation legs.
Google has given their awesome Android app, Google Now, some new abilities, with the updated version now capable of real-time package tracking from certain carriers.
This new trick is only going to work if a tracking number has hit your inbox of course. The other improvements to Now include a new information option that shows some basic settings, as well as faster Google search results. These new abilities can be found in the updated Google Now app on the Google Play store, if your device hasn't already alerted you of the update.
Twitter has released an update to its iOS app, bringing the version count to 5.5. With the new update, Twitter has added the ability to launch and install apps linked in a tweet. These feature is a direct result of Twitter's updated Cards feature.
Apps which support Twitter's Card functions will be able to be installed from the Twitter iOS app. Twitter has also included the usual performance increases, bug fixes, and improvements:
Twitter for iPhone now helps you discover, install and launch your favorite apps from Tweets. This update also includes the following improvements:
-Faster launch times and general performance upgrades
-"Retweeted by" in Tweet detail is now tappable
-Fix for reply-to-self in conversations
-Fix for bug that prevented undoing retweets in some cases
You can download the Twitter app from the Apple App Store.
Quickoffice is definitely one of the better office suite apps out there at the moment and now users of Google's Apps for Business subscribers can now download the productivity suite for free.
This morning Google announced that Android and iOS users of its Apps for Business service would be able to download Quickoffice for free. This is something the iPad version has had for some time now, and Google felt that it needed to be extended to the full range of devices used in the business environment.
Quickoffice has also received a few improvements in preparation of the announcement. The software now shows Google Drive folders such as Recent, Shared With Me, and Starred. Subfolders are also visible and there is an option to zip folders.
Apple are still tripping over themselves trying to get their Maps app working correctly, where I'm sure iOS 7 will feature "magical" and "revolutionary" new features in their Maps app.
For now, the Cupertino-based company are hiring "ground truth managers" all across the world. These ground truth managers would have the task of testing new releases of Apple's Maps code in their specific regions, collecting truth data to analyze changes and make sure it all corresponds with reality, and evaluating competing mapping products against Apple's own Maps app.
Apple began this ground truth manager hunt in Australia first, why Apple didn't do this sooner is the question of the day, why they've waited until now, is the bigger question.
Last week I wrote about Final Fantasy X and X-2 getting a HD PlayStation 3 reboot and now another title in the series is getting a refresh. This time Final Fantasy V has been revamped and refreshed to work on a touchscreen interface for iOS.
It's no doubt that Final Fantasy is one of the most popular franchises of all time, and FF V was no exception for the SNES. The title sold 2.45 million copies in 1992 in Japan alone. That is massive sales numbers for its time. The new iOS version has been tweaked a little, though.
Final Fantasy V on iOS features graphics that are a little less harsh than the original, and new job classes such as Gladiator, Cannoneer, Oracle and Necromancer. An extra boss will appear which you must slay in order to level up skills. The game will cost you $15.99 in the Apple App Store.
As a big lover of Flipboard, this news comes as a nice surprise to me, with Flipboard 2.0 now here. Flipboard CEO, Mike McCue, told The Verge that Flipboard 2.0 is "the most epic release we've ever done."
The biggest change allows readers to pretty much be their own editor-in-chief, by allowing you to "flip stories" within the app, or in a browser through a bookmarklet, into their own magazines. Other users can then subscribe to those magazines, and whenever a magazine's owner adds something new or changes something, it updates subscribers' versions as well.
Each magazine from there has the option of being private or public, and over time users will be able to co-edit magazines. The future is looking flippingly good for Flipboard.
Rightware, makers of the benchmark Basemark X, has released a new screenshot for its upcoming Basemark X benchmark. Along with the screenshot, Rightware teased us with some of the specifications of the upcoming becnhmark.
As you can see above, the graphics are fairly impressive, for an iOS, Android, and Windows Phone benchmark. The benchmark utilizes the Unity 4.0 game engine and the polygon count in the test sequences total up to over 900,000.
We'll have more information on Basemark X after we attend Game Developers Conference, currently taking place in San Francisco, California.
Apple is refuting Eric Schmidt's hint that Google had submitted a Google Now app for approval. Schmidt had commented earlier today about whether Google Now would be coming to iOS devices. "You'll need to discuss that with Apple. Apple has a policy of approving or disapproving apps that are submitted into its store, and some of the apps we make they approve and some of them they don't."
While his comment seemed to indicate that Google had submitted an app to Apple, Apple says that this isn't the case. Apple confirmed that no Google Now app has been submitted for approval as of yet. Previously rumors swirled that Apple was delaying the approval of, or rejecting completely, a Google Maps app.
We'll have to hear what Google has to say about what Schmidt meant. For now, it appears that Google Now is not confirmed to be coming to iOS.
Six months ago Microsoft announced that Pandora would be coming to Windows Phone 8 and that its users would be treated to one year of ad-free listening. While it may be a little late, Pandora for Windows Phone 8 is finally here and Redmond kept true to its word.
The new Pandora App for Windows Phone 8 has been completely redesigned from the ground up specifically for Microsoft's mobile OS. Users are able to pin their favorite stations to Live Tiles, the main Pandora tile always displays track information, and the app can be put into "kid mode", which blocks all traces of explicit content.
Unlike the iOS and Android version, the Windows Phone 8 app does not feature song lyrics or artist biographies. Other than that, the apps are mostly the same. Microsoft has paid for nine months of free service in advance and it's users will not be subject to ads or the recently implemented listening cap. When the free period is over, users will have to subscribe to Pandora One for $36 a year or $3.99 a month.
Thanks to a new leak, we're taking a look at the new version of the Google Play app. The updated app features a Holo-like user interface, thanks to Droid-Life getting their hands (eyes?) on the new apk file, labeled 4.0.16. It's not ready to hit everyone just yet, but it gives us a sneak peak of what to expect from Google, and I love it.
It gives the Play Store a much needed refresh, bringing the interface into line with other Google services like Google Now. The font is all-new, the icons are bigger, and the colors match the categories displayed on the Google Play website. The app is far from perfect, but Google are quick with these things, so I'm sure we'll see an updated Google Play app this side of Google I/O in June.
Google have officially launched Keep, and if you haven't heard of it before now - like myself - it might actually become a tool you'll use on the daily. Google Keep is a note taking service, available online and through an app for Android.
Keep is aimed at users who need to quickly tap something into their device, where it is saved onto Google Drive. Those of you with Android 4.2.2-based devices get an even better way of taking notes, as there's a lock screen widget available for even quicker and easier access to jotting down notes. There's the trailer above explaining Keep, and if you're interested, check it out on the Play Store for your Android device.
A few days ago Anthony reported on Adblock Plus being removed from the Google Play Store. The ban was implemented on the grounds that ad blocking software interferes with other apps functionality and therefore breaks Google's TOS.
Today we got word from the developers behind Adblock Plus that they have retooled the app and users may now download it directly from their website. In addition to this, the Adblock Plus team has also circumvented the need to update through the Google Play store.
The new app features a new UI, fixed some issues with Chrome, implemented automatic updating and fixed issues with URLs that contain apostrophes. While I do not advocate the use of ad blockers, I fully believe that everyone has the right to use them. Some websites survive solely on advertising and those Google AdSense ads and others that you are blocking are the reason that website is able to bring you content.
If you're a Swype user, you might have noticed there was an update today, if not - you might want to do it now. The latest update is in beta form, pushing up the version to beta 1.4.9. The new update includes a bunch of bug fixes and various improvements:
- Advanced Language Models added for Hindi and Belgian Dutch
- Responsiveness for tap input improved for all languages
- Improved overall Smart Editor behavior and implemented some bug fixes
- Fixed a Gingerbread crash that occurred when rotating device into landscape mode
- Fixed miscellaneous crashes reported by the Beta community
- Fixed an issue where default Android voice input ('mic'/'microphone') icon displayed instead of Dragon logo
- Changed subtype text in notification drawer to be more accurate
- Word Choice List behavior improved in Polaris Office
- And many more bug fixes and improvements!
Swype isn't in the Google Play Store, so you'll have to grab it here.
WhatsApp, the $0.99 SMS-like instant messenger, is used by millions daily. In fact, the app sees a reported 17 billion messages sent across its service daily. That is more than eight times the number of messages sent on Apple's iMessage.
With its ever growing popularity, the company is looking to capitalize on its user base. Later this year WhatsApp for iPhone will move into a subscription based service where the app will cost $0.99 and the first year of service is free. Each additional year will run subscribers an additional $1 per year.
WhatsApp has been using this model on its Android app for a while now and when asked about the new subscription model, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said that the company just wanted "to keep things simple." He went on to say that the new subscription model "would likely follow the same pricing structure as its other apps, which are free for the first year and then cost $1/year, compared to the single, for-life $0.99 purchase that users make on iOS today."
Over the last several months free users of Spotify's music streaming service have been increasingly experiencing caps on how many times they can listen to a specific track. The limits seem to take effect after the six month free trial period has expired.
UK users have been limited to five plays per track unless they subscribe to Spotify, but as of today, that limit has been lifted. In a statement on the company's blog Spotify said: We've got some mighty fine news for all Spotify Free users. From today, there's no more 5 play-per-song limit. You can listen to your favorite songs as many times as you like.
The company went on to state:
That's right, no more greyed-out songs. The tracks that you couldn't listen to before will once again be available for your listening pleasure...Of course, if you've been using Spotify for less than 6 months, this change won't affect you. You can already listen to whatever you want, as often as you like.
Google have so many different services you can communicate through, Google Talk, Google+, Google Voice, and oh-so-many more - how could the Mountain View-based search giant bundle all of these together? With their rumored 'Babble' service, that's how.
Babble is reportedly how Google will unify their communication services, which would be powered by the XMPP protocol. This means it'll be future-proof, scalable and versatile enough to morph its way around the many services Google currently use. This information is coming from "multiple sources" of Geek.com, and the XMPP-based nature of Babble will see Google forcing you to use their new service, their way - which will push some people out of the Google bubble. Those who continue to soldier on will most likely enjoy a super stable, well-featured service.
There's no ETA on Babble, but I would guess that we'll hear more about it at Google I/O in a few months time.
Flickr for iOS gets updated, now lets users enable hashtags support to photo titles, descriptions or search
Flickr have updated their iOS application adding the ever-so-important hashtag support. Flickr for iOS users can now add a hashtag to not just the photo's title or description, but they can also run a search to find all photos using that term, which comes in handy.
With Flickr boasting over 6 billion photos, Flickr users would know that searching for photos for a specific event of occasion might come up with some weird results. People prone their photos with tags of all of the same thing, regardless of whether the tag is suitable for that particular photo or not. Flickr's news comes just after Facebook talking of adding hashtag support, something that Twitter have enjoyed for quite a while now.
Google have chosen to act surprisingly, removing ad blockers from their Google Play Store, with the reason of "interference with another service or product in an unauthorized manner." This is a very weird move by the Mountain View-based search giant, as one of their main differences against Apple's iOS was that their Android OS allowed you to install any application as long as it wasn't malicious.
Adding onto that list of weirdness, is the fact that Google still allow apps to find their way onto the Play Store that are "for rooted phones only." Is it only a matter of time before these apps are removed too? What does this mean for an app as large, and used by many like Adblock Plus? Well, they can still use the app that they have installed, it just won't be on the Play Store, nor will it automatically update.
You can still acquire the app, and other adblockers, but just not directly from the Play Store. You can visit Adblock Plus' website, which isn't too much of a hassle, but it is a bit of work versus getting it from where you acquire all of your other apps; the Play Store.
For those of you constantly changing between languages, or travelling a lot, and need constant translation - Google Translate has just added a valuable new ability - Phrasebook. Phrasebook allows you to save your favorite translations into a persistant, searchable list.
All you have to do is click the star under the translation to add it, and go through your Phrasebook using the search box in the top right hand corner of the screen. It might not be perfect now, but like most Google services, it'll continue to improve and hopefully one day be an app that can be quite useful. At the moment, you can't edit the text of a translation, which is a bit of a hassle.
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.