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Today, Microsoft announced an update to its Bing for Windows Phone 8 app that brings forth several months of refining user experience on mobile. Once updated, users will notice that search filters have been reduced to just three which include web, images, and video, which will help greatly with providing more relevant content on the first screen.
The app will also show more usable results on the main screen with immediate results for searches such as flight schedules, movies, and word definitions. Infinite scrolling has been added to photo searches as well as auto-sized thumbnails. Not everyone will get the update immediately as Microsoft plans to roll it out nationwide over the next few weeks. No information was released on when the worldwide rollout will take place.
Today, Google announced a new app that will soon help Android owners track down there lost or stolen devices. The app is named Android Device Manager and will allow users to track down their device on a map in real-time as well as activate the ringer or even delete the phone's contents before any sensitive information has been stolen.
Google says that the new app will be available on Android devices that run version 2.2 or higher. Given that 98.7 percent of all Android devices out in the wild today run Android 2.2 or better, it is safe to say that almost any phone or tablet has the possibility of being easily located if lost or stolen. Theoretically, parents can even use this feature to track their children, or any other Android phones they may have access to.
Google says that the app will be available in the Google Play Store later this month and will be available free of charge. Apple has had similar functionality for iOS devices for years, and I have always wondered why Google never released anything similar for Android.
Google released Android 4.3 into the wild last week, but the latest iteration in their mobile OS includes some improvements to Photo Sphere. Photo Sphere is used to take 360-degree photos, and is quite a nice ability of Android.
The latest software improvements to Photo Sphere in Android 4.3 make it easier to upload and share pictures on Google Maps. Google have taken the how-to a step further by providing a couple of handy tips:
- Hold the phone close to your body
- Keep the phone in portrait orientation
- Make full rotations holding the phone at each angle until a full 360 is achieved
If you're a Cut the Rope addict, you might want to prepare yourselves for the "Cheese Box" update, which will add 25 more levels to the physics-based puzzle game.
The 25 new levels will feature cheese-filled backgrounds, if you're into that kind of thing. Since Cut the Rope launched in 2010, it has had 15 updates, with the latest Cheese Box update seeing you use mice to catch and carry food. The trailer above should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Google pushed out an update to its Drive app for iOS this morning. The update brings forward several new features including the ability to open links from within files in either Chrome or Safari. The app also allows users to insert new rows and columns by using the "+" button in Google Sheets.
Version 1.5.0 of the app also addresses several bugs and has improved overall app stabilization, which should alleviate some of the app crashes that some iOS users have reported. Reports say that the app now appears to be faster overall and more responsive. No updates were made to the Android version of the app. Windows Phone users as well as those running BlackBerry 10 have nothing to worry about as Google has yet to release a Drive app for either of the alternative mobile operating systems.
Apple introduced podcasts as a huge part of iTunes eight years ago now, and in that time they've seen some mammoth success with their software. It has become the center of Apple's consumers digital lives.
Now, the company have passed 1 billion podcast subscriptions, with the milestone being celebrated. Apple are using the milestone to highlight some of their most popular podcasts, which include This American Life, TWiT and All Songs Considered, as well as an upcoming program called The Alton Browncast. I would've expected more from the milestone, such as the company giving away something for free, but whatever, Apple.
BlackBerry has not made any attempt to hide the fact that its mobile messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger, will be coming to Android and iOS this summer. The company has, however, been quite tight lipped on when exactly BBM will launch on both platforms. In a recent interview, India's managing director for BlackBerry accidentally let a hint slip that September could be the official launch month for BBM on Android.
"The service is coming to Android this summer. But summer as per North America, where it remains till September," said Sunil Lalvani. He did not elaborate whether or not his claim actually meant it would arrive at the end of September nor did he make any mention of a release date for iOS.
Previously we were led to believe that BBM would make its Android and iOS debut sometime on or around June 27 but that date has obviously come and gone. BBM on iOS and Android could play a major role in companies who have multiple smartphones all running different operating systems but need a central form of mobile messaging. Some analysts say that it could once again become the de facto messaging service for professionals on the go.
Today, Evernote updated its app for iOS and added some new features that are sure to make its users happy. The update mostly includes features that make organization much easier including things like Shortcuts, Related Notes, and Skitch integration. This new support for Skitch allows users to have the app annotate their images and notes with Skitch and they will show up at Evernote.
As you would expect, the newly integrated Shortcuts feature allows users to "shortcut" important notes, notebooks, and even tags so they are easily accessed for quick use. Additionally, your shortcuts will sync across all devices and versions of Evernote which makes cross-platform organization much easier. The new shortcuts feature is similar to the old "Favorites" section which only allowed the pinning of notes.
Don't worry premium users of Evernote, you are not left out in this update as you now have the ability to annotate PDF documents using Skitch. Another new feature called Related Notes will search when a new note is started and recommend additional posts that may be helpful or related. Evernote for iOS is available for free in the App Store with a premium version costing users $4.99 a month or $44.99 per year.
After some licensing issues arose back in 2011, VideoLAN decided to pull their popular VLC media player app from Apple's App Store until all the issues were sorted out. Over the past two years, the developers have been working hard at bringing VLC back to iOS and making it better than ever.
Tomorrow, July 19, VLC Media Player will make its triumphant return to the App Store and will be accompanied by both the Mozilla Public License Version 2 as well as the GPL V2 license which will alleviate any further questions on its legality. VideoLAN says that the app will be 100 percent free and have new features that will be sure to put a smile on everyone's face.
The app has been completely rewritten from the ground up and will play all of the file types that its PC and Mac version already does. The company says that getting files into VLC will now be much easier thanks to Dropbox integration, Wi-Fi syncing, and web downloads. Reports are coming in that say the app is much faster than the previous version which should negate streaming issues.
A new app has just hit the smartphone markets and it aims to serve up audio news much in the same way the Pandora handles music. Swell actually launched back in June and featured content from NPR, American Public Media, ABC news, the BBC, Ted talks, and many others. Today, the company announced that they have raised $5.4 million in Series A funding.
This round was led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson and included investors like Google Ventures, InterWest Partners, and Correlation Ventures among others. This tops the company's seed funding round by almost $3 million, which was led by Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures, DFJ, Andreessen Horowitz, and other angel investors.
Swell works much like Pandora and once you start the app, you just let it run. In the event you don't like what it's playing, simply swipe to skip it. You're also able to choose topics that appeal better to you such as technology, world news, health and wellness, and many more. With it being out in the wild for over a month, it appears that the app is a success with the company saying that users listen for 30 minutes on average their first time using the app and returning users spending more than 110 minutes per week using the app.