I awoke to a notification on my iPhone that I had an app available for update. A quick check showed that Google had updated the Gmail app. Unfortunately for me, the app refused to let me update, as you can see in the picture below, so I went over to the Gmail Blog to see what I was missing.
Once there, I discovered that I was missing quite a lot. The new version of the app has been completely rewritten to be faster, sleeker, and easier to use. This means that Google has completely updated the look and feel, and made various improvements, such as profile pictures showing in messages and infinite scrolling in the message lists.
Probably one of the largest new features added to the app is the ability to support multiple Gmail accounts. Users can now add up to five Google Accounts in the app and then easily switch between them with a couple of taps. Google says that it's a feature many of you have been waiting for.
If you've been hovering over your Android-based device and waiting for Google to push out pinch-to-zoom capabilities to one of the best mobile e-mail clients on the market - well, your time has come.
Google have updated their Gmail app to version 4.2, which is now available to all devices sporting Android 4.0 or higher. The new version of Gmail offers pinch-to-zoom on emails with a single pinch gesture.
It also gives users the ability to swipe-to-delete, or swipe-to-archive an email. New additions to the app include "in-app video and photo attachment capability, and larger photo previews, along with a brand-new gallery view for emails with multiple image attachments."
Photoshop Touch from Adobe only launched on the Amazon Kindle Fire a couple of weeks ago, but now Adobe have pushed out an updated version of the app to the Google Play store, which sports optimization for 7-inch devices.
There's one requirement from Adobe - that the screen resolution must be a minimum of 1024x600, which lets the Nexus 7 from Google make the cut. There are a bunch of features, including:
- Optimized user interface for 7-inch devices (minimum screen resolution 1024x600)
- Smoother brush strokes
- Two new Effects: Lens Flare (under "&" menu) and Stamp Pattern
- Improved grid layout for projects, tutorials, and images
- New support for sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and other registered apps
- Quick access to last 5 colors with new shortcut (drag down on Color)
- Various bug fixes
You can get the new Adobe Photoshop Touch right here, from the Google Play store.
Adblock Plus has been helping users block ads on the desktop for quite some time, and now has jumped over to the mobile as an application made available for Google's mobile OS, Android. The app is available, and best of all, for free on the Google Play store.
The app claims to "block all annoying ads on your Android device", which includes "mobile ads, video advertising, banners, push notifications, display advertising, HTML5 advertising and much more", without requiring the user to root their device.
There are some unfortunate limitations with Adblock Plus for Android, with non-rooted Android devices running Android 3.1 or later capable of blocking ads only over Wi-Fi. Devices running Android 3.0 or earlier require some manual configuration. Devices that are rooted, enjoy full access to blocking ads both over 3G and Wi-Fi. You can grab Adblock Plus for Android from the Google Play store.
The Wii U wouldn't have survived without apps. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon apps have already launched on the platform, and now, so has a YouTube app. The new app allows Wii U users to search videos, watch videos, and get additional information via their GamePad. Videos will play in resolutions up to 1080p.
Videos will be played on the television screen with the GamePad being used as a supplement. The GamePad will provide details regarding the video. The app has expected features, such as being able to search videos and flip through subscribed channels. Without features like that, the app would have been DOA.
If you're the proud owner of a Wii U, you can download the promised app from the Wii U main menu. Other video services available include Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, all of which were promised to come with the Wii U. The apps are designed to turn the Wii U into a media hub instead of just a gaming console.
I don't use Foursquare personally, but there are plenty of the crew here at TweakTown that do. I know our VGA Editor, Shane Baxtor, is a Foursquare junkie and pretty much the check-in king of virtually every place on Earth.
Well, the Foursquare app has experienced 3,000,000,000 (that's 3 billion!) check-ins since launch, and is in perfect timing for Thanksgiving. So when the team at Foursquare are sitting around their dining room table and they're asked what they're thankful for, those 3 billion check-ins will be blessed upon.
3 billion check-ins, can you believe that? Quite the number, and I wonder how quick we'll see 5 billion, and then 10 billion. By the end of 2013? Earlier? Do you use Foursquare? Do you check-in everywhere?
If you're using Windows 8 and Skype, you're definitely going to want to grab the latest version of Skype that Microsoft has just made available for the operating system. The new version of Skype for Windows 8 app brings in support for users transitioning from Microsoft Messenger since it will be closing in early 2013.
Microsoft offers up that the new version of the Skype app brings features such as the ability to search people and groups and call Messenger contacts. They also claim that the new version comes with improved video call performance, always a welcome update to a video calling application. Lastly, the update brings general bug fixes, something must updates usually do.
You can pick up the new version of the App from the Windows Store. If you're a Messenger user, this is a friendly reminder that you need to switch to Skype or face a more forceful nudge from Microsoft in the first quarter of 2013.
Netflix has arrived on the Nintendo Wii U in the US and Canada, capable of offering two-screen support. This means that you can watch 1080p on your TV, as well as the screen on the Wii U's GamePad controller.
Say you're watching a 1080p movie on your TV, you can look at information about the movie or TV on your GamePad, or on both the TV and GamePad. When content is rolling, the video is shown on the TV with controls such as play/pause/stop and title information pop up on the GamePad in your hands - awesome, right?
The GamePad has some more tricks up its sleeve, where you can tap "Play on GamePad" and the playback of the content you're watching on the TV switches over to the GamePad with sound fed to the speakers on the GamePad (or headphone jack), too. Netflix search on the Wii U has a full keyboard, and all of the search interactions and results are presented to your TV in real-time.
If you're an iMessage user, you might have woken up - or suddenly discovered - that you're iMessage wasn't working. It seems the downtime of iMessage isn't just in certain locations, but is much more widespread.
TheNextWeb has collated a bunch of tweets, showing the pain that iMessage users are going through right now, shown above. It looks like Apple has not only confirmed that iMessage is down, but so is FaceTime.
Apple experienced iMessage downtime just two months ago - and it seems that it has struck again. For a company this powerful, selling the premium product of choice in the mobile market, is it just me, or would one expect this to not happen - at least not this often. Twice in as many months is not good.
SMS still works, by the way - just the iMessage service and FaceTime. Apple has issued a statement via their System Status page, saying:
Users are unable to use iMessage. Normal service will be restored ASAP. Users may be unable to place FaceTime calls. Normal service will be restored ASAP.
Microsoft have just pushed out updates to their Android- and Windows Phone-based SkyDrive apps, where they've reached version 1.1 for Android and version 3.0 for Windows Phone. SkyDrive 1.1 for Android includes support that allows uers to upload any file type to their SkyDrive directly from the SD card, instead of just internal storage.
On top of this, Android users can now properly manage and rename features - something that iOS users already enjoyed. New settings to manage photo uploads and downloads are also included. The new updated apps can be found in the Google Play store, and Windows Marketplace.
Also included with SkyDrive 1.1/3.0 is an updated app icon and new visuals, as well as the usual bug fixes.
It's been a long time coming, and something that has annoyed me since the Facebook app first went mobile - you can share content you have on your news feed. I'm a big fan of seeing something I like online, and sharing it to my Facebook news feed, but not being able to do this from the mobile apps on both iOS and Android is frustrating.
Well, the social networking giant has just unleashed version 5.2 of Facebook for iOS and Android - finally. The new version also includes the ability to create an album from the Photos tab on Timeline, improvements in photo tagging and a fix for status update failure affecting some users, like me.
The Unity game engine has just reached the version 4.0 milestone, and is now available for purchase including a bunch of new features. The biggest of which is DirectX 11 support, new animation tools and an add-on for publishing games to Flash.
Tux now includes a preview of deployment for publishing games to Desktop Linux, which is interesting - and with all of this news, the Unity Technologies team is not stopping. CEO David Helgason has said that Unity 4 will be looking at a bright future - with a faster paced schedule, including more frequent releases than the previous platform.
Developers can grab a free version of the software, or they can opt for a $1500 professional license. You can get more details, and make your purchase, here.
Rovio has been teasing us for a few weeks now by releasing trailers for its new game Angry Birds Star Wars. The new iteration of Angry Birds features some of the most memorable moments from the Lucas Film's Star Wars movie series. We've seen a few trailers that showed glimpses of gameplay, but the game is now available for everyone.
VentureBeat has messed around with the game a bit, and seems extremely pleased with it. I haven't laid down the $0.99 to purchase it quite yet, but I might bust out my old Android phone because it's free for Android devices. The game brings all of your favorite Star Wars characters to Angry Birds and equips them with cool new powers.
Check out the game, play it, and let us know what you think of it. Is it a cheap knock-off and money grab, or is it a unique new take on the aging Angry Birds game? You can pick the game up on Android from the Google Play store for free, or for $2.99 for the tablet version, or from the App Store for $0.99.
Tumblr has released an updated app for iOS devices, which means the version number has now reached 3.2. It didn't take Tumblr as long as Facebook to decide to go native. With this update, Tumblr's app is a native app, which brings faster performance and a better experience to users. It took Facebook until version 5 to go native.
The new app, for Tumblr fans, comes with a redesigned dashboard, bigger photos, and reportedly faster post loading. I guess the faster post loading is part of the whole "native" being faster claim that Tumblr has made. There is also a feature that allows users to see notification previews, which makes it easier to see which posts were liked, replied to, or reblogged.
The app is available directly from the iTunes App Store. Pick it up and blog until your heart's content.
Android and iOS users will now be able to get access to Microsoft Office products on their respective devices, if these new leaked screenshots prove to be true. The images have been confirmed by several sources as being legitimate and Microsoft has reportedly said that they plan to launch the apps in March 2013.
To use the new apps on the mobile platforms, users will be required to have an Office 365 subscription, enabling Microsoft to continue making money off of a key revenue generator. Users with a Microsoft account, but lacking the subscription to Office 365, will be able to view documents from Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, but will be unable to edit.
The rumor surfaced last year when a picture seemed to show an iPad running an Office app. Microsoft was quick to squash the rumor, though in May, rumors again surfaced that Office would be coming to the popular mobile operating systems in November. November is here and we still don't have the apps, but TechSpot reports that they will be out in March 2013.
Popular Android and iOS games land in Windows Phone Store, Angry Birds Space and Cut The Rope now available
The Windows Phone Store is slowly filling up with apps for users of the new mobile operating system to download and use. A couple of popular games for Android and iOS have now found their way onto the fledgling app store, to the delight of Windows Phone users and Microsoft alike.
Angry Birds Space will only set you back $0.99, and for that, you'll gain access to over 150 levels of bird-flinging, pig-smashing joy. Cut the Rope will also cost you a mere $0.99 and features 300 levels for you to cut your way through. The two apps are sure to provide hours of fun for a quarter the cost of a movie ticket.
Of the 120,000 or so apps that are available in the Windows Phone store, not many provide the fit and finish that these two apps from the other platforms provide. If you've got the $1 or $2 to spare, it's definitely worth spending it on these two apps.
Skype have just announced that they will be offering pre-paid cards for the UK, which will offer consumers without a credit card the ability to top up their accounts starting from £10.
There will also be a £20 card on offer which will be made available from UK retailers Asda, Currys, PC World, Sandsburys and bookseller WHSmith. Both the £10 and £20 pre-paid cards will be made available through their online portal, too.
Mexico received theirs first, but there should be more countries added soon, with their own currency-specific cards. The cards can be used to pay for Skype subscriptions, including unlimited world calling bundles for just £8.49 per month.
Facebook has released a new update for their iOS app today. This brings Facebook for iOS up to version 5.1. The new version improves the messaging and photo sharing functions of the app, as well as improving the Gifts function, so that mobile users are able to spend money easier, err, I mean send gifts to friends on birthdays.
The improvements to messaging include the ability to swipe left anywhere in the app to bring up a list of people who are online and available for messaging. You can also now mark friends as favorites, which will pin them to the top of the list. The new Camera upload feature is reportedly a new, faster way to upload multiple photos.
Gifts can now be given directly buy clicking the "Give Gift" button that is now on a user's Timeline.
Google are currently pushing out updates to two of their most popular apps, Google Chrome, and Google Earth. Google Chrome has reached version 18.0.1025464.
ARM-based devices get a slightly different version of Chrome, version 18.0.1026320, and Intel-based phones receive a different version again, version 18.0.1026320. Google's official Chrome release blog cites important stability fixes for the just-announced Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 devices, with the Play Store noting performance improvements for all devices.
After using Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on my Galaxy S II for the last month or so, I've really fallen in love with Google Now. There are numerous 'cards' that I use, such as transit details for my day job drive into work, and the weather.
Google have now added in a new card, a pedometer, that tracks your steps and miles (or kilometres), all in the background of your phone. Droid Life are reporting they've noticed this happening in the background and the feature popped up as a new card - very nice.
The pedometer in Google Now compares months against each other of your fitness details, splitting up the activities depending on the type of activity you have done. There is a mention under the results that states "Based on your device's location which is periodically sent to Google".
Amazon has jumped into yet another market by producing their own mobile game for Android and iOS. The game, called Air Patriots, seems like an interesting take on the whole tower defense type game that has proven popular on the mobile platforms. I know I love TowerMadness and play it constantly on my iPhone.
Air Patriots has the player control a squad of planes to defend your territory and defeat the enemy. Users draw a path on the screen with their finger, which the planes then follow and use as attack paths. Amazon is offering up 13 different types of planes, 28 levels, and 7 different maps, 3 of which are free.
"When we created Air Patriots we wanted to make a game that was easy and engaging, and the simplicity of drawing paths for planes was something we thought would appeal to players," Ernie Ramirez, executive producer at Amazon Game Studios, said in a statement. "We think customers will find Air Patriots both familiar and fresh, with a degree of challenge that keeps them engaged and enthused to play more."