Back in January this year, an almost magical app for iOS called IntoNow made its first appearance. In less than three months, even before IntoNow had gotten around to building an user base, Yahoo swooped in and acquired it for something in the range of twenty to thirty million dollars. Even more interestingly, multiple players including Shazam and Twitter were also in talks.
IntoNow’s rapid rise isn’t really a surprise given that it’s a one of a kind app that works amazingly well. IntoNow is in many ways Shazam or Soundhound for television. It listens to the content you are watching and identifies not only the show you are watching, but also the episode. There are plenty of other social-discovery tools built around television – GetGlue and Miso are probably the most familiar ones. However, IntoNow one-ups them through its intuitiveness. Not only that, IntoNow also puts a lot more focus on making the television watching experience social. That difference between GetGlue and IntoNow’s priorities become obvious by just taking a look at the home screens of the respective apps.
IntoNow Home Screen
IntoNow for Android
The good news is the IntoNow is no longer restricted to the iPhone. A short while back, IntoNow made its debut on the Android platform. The Android app is sleek, intuitive, and a joy to use. In short, it is head and shoulders above VideoSurf, GetGlue, Miso and other competitors. The bad news is that due to some inexplicable reason, IntoNow is region limited. If you are outside the US, you can still install and use IntoNow, but you will have to grab the APK from unofficial sources.
Google has just updated its Gmail app for Android. To be honest, Gmail for Android is already pretty damn brilliant. It offers the perfect blend of power and simplicity. The latest release enhances it further by getting rid of a couple of minor annoyances, and adding some handy power-user features.
Gmail for Android now supports label specific ringtones. If you receive dozens of mails every minute, then this feature can be a godsend. By mashing up filters, labels, and ringtones, Google has now given power users the ability to configure Gmail such that they only get notified when an urgent mail arrives. Another handy new feature in Gmail 2.3.5 is the ability to sync only priority mail. This will appeal to users who want to conserve battery and bandwidth.
As mentioned earlier, this update also takes care of a couple of major annoyances present in the existing version of Gmail for Android. Gmail can now remember your Show Pictures’ preferences for various senders. Additionally, as reported by Android Police, it is finally possible to download attachments without using third-party tools.
You can download Gmail for Android directly from your device or through the web Market.
Rovio has once again updated the all-time popular productivity-killer game Angry Birds with 15 brand new levels. All the 15 new levels have a Mine and Dine based background. The game can be downloaded from the Android Market for free.
Google has also released an update for Google Maps, which bumps up the version number to 5.8. The new version of Maps brings some welcomed features like the ability to add a picture for a place, and adding new places on-the-go for checking in.
Here is the official change-log from Google itself :
o Upload photos for a Place
o My Places as a simple way to manage the Places you’ve starred and recently viewed
o Descriptive terms for Places in search results
o Add a new Place on-the-go when checking in
Another popular Android application 360 has received a major update. 360 is one of the most popular panorama apps for Android. Instead of processing the images on the phone, the app uploads them online to a server, where they are stitched together. The application also shows the panorama images clicked by other 360 users.
The new version of the application has many behind-the-scenes improvements, which should help users in creating richer quality panoramic images, quickly. 360 can be downloaded for free from here.
Earlier this month, Google unveiled a new version of the Android Market for the phones running on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and higher. The redesigned Android Market allows you to purchase books as well as rent movies on the go. It also brings a new collections of great content like staff picks and Editors’ Choice apps. The updated Android Market is finally rolling out in the US.
The new Android Market client comes with an improved UI, which looks quite similar to the Metro UI of Windows Phone 7. The top content from the Android Market are showcased in a new promotional page on the homescreen. The option to purchase books and rent movies is available exclusively to the folks living in the US. The books and rented movies will also be linked to your Google account, so that you can read it on multiple devices such as computer, phone or tablet.
I have been using the new Android Market from the last 15 days and I personally liked it. The apps are perfectly organised and you can easily find related apps as well as other apps from the developer in the new Android Market. It allows you to check out what other people are downloading in the Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free and Trending lists. If you have already updated the new Android Market client, then let us know if you liked it or still prefer the previous one.
Fruit Ninja from HalfBrick Studios was among the first iOS games to be available for Android. The game is among the top 5 best sellers in the Android Market, and costs $1.99.
Now, looking at its popularity, HalfBrick Studios has released a free version of Fruit Ninja, with ad-support. This move from HalfBrick, and Rovio’s decision to release Angry Birds for free on the Android Market, clearly shows that free apps with ad-support generate more revenue that their paid counterparts for developers. The free version of Fruit Ninja can be downloaded from here.
In other gaming related news, another popular game for iOS Falling Fred has hit the Android Market. The game has quiet a high amount of violence and gore, so weak hearted people should stay away. In this game, users need to dodge the falling Fred from obstacles, and try to keep him alive.
The game has a simple plot, yet it’s highly addictive. The graphics of the game are top-notch as well. The game is available for free on the Android Market. However, there are many more characters in the game, which users need to purchase via the in-app purchase option.
Falling Fred requires Android 2.2+ to work. The game can be downloaded from here.
Facebook for Android has been updated for a second time in less than a month. Once again, it’s a fairly minor update. However, it does feature a few welcome changes.
The previous update saw rudimentary support for Pages being added. However, as I mentioned, it was pretty rudimentary. With the latest update, it is finally possible to view the full list of Pages that you Like, as well the ones that you administer. Now, you can tag Pages in your updates, and even posting as a Page, if you are the admin. Search for Pages is also included. However, surprisingly enough, Pages hasn’t received its own tab. Instead, it has been tucked onto the Friends section. Additionally, there are several bug fixes and optimizations. However, as far as noticeable new features are concerned, there isn’t anything else.
As we mentioned earlier, Facebook for Android is a pretty decent application, but it still lags behind its iPhone counterpart. Facebook for Android currently has a rating of 3.7/5, with a significant number of 1-star ratings. Even the latest version seems to be causing “Force Close” and battery drain issues for many users. For a long time, Facebook has been giving Android the step-motherly treatment. However, with the initial success of Google+, Facebook might have to work harder. Once Google+ is ready for the general public, Google will surely begin to leverage Android’s 550,000+ activations per day to increase Plus’ market penetration.
Cut the Rope for Android was recently released by ZeptoLab for free on GetJar, with ads. Today, ZeptoLab has released Cut the Rope on the Android market, for a mere 0.99$. To know more about Cut the Rope, users can check out our previousarticle on the game. Android handset owners can download the game from here.
For sports freaks using an Android phone, the most popular sports tracking application for Nokia smartphones Sports Tracker, is now available on the Android Market.
I used the app for a short period of time, and I must say that the app has a very polished look and feel to it. When comparing the UI, Sports Tracker is definitely one of the best sports tracking application for Android.
The app also sports a variety of sports activities, and also includes an option to create manual presets. Sports Tracker also uploads all the data relating to the users sporting activity online for analyzing the results and sharing with friends. The app can be downloaded from free from here.
Last but not the least; Merriam-Webster’s official Dictionary app has hit the Android Market, for free. Merriam-Webster is one of the most popular and respected dictionary in the United States.
The app does what it is intended for. Finally, I can uninstall the crappy Dictonary.com official application from my phone. The app can be downloaded for free from here.
Facebook has released an updated version of its Android client. It’s a fairly minor update, but it’s still something that will please Android owners, who have long complained that Facebook treats them as second class citizens.
Most of the stuff added to Facebook for Android 1.6 are things that have been present in its iOS counterpart for a long time. The biggest improvement is that it is finally possible to upload videos to Facebook using its official Android client. This update also adds support for Facebook Pages in the sense that users can tap the names of Pages present in their news stream to browse all content posted by that Facebook Page. However, search feature for Pages is still missing. The other improvement is in the news feed itself. It now supports a wider range of sources, and more stuff can be opened natively.
Interestingly enough, the new Facebook app demands permission to send SMS. I couldn’t find any option to send an SMS from the app itself, so I have no clue as to why the app insists on this permission. Do let me know if you manage to figure out exactly what is going on.
There are still boatloads of features missing from Facebook’s mobile application. Even popular features such as “Comment Likes” and “Name-Tagging”, which were released months ago, are yet to make their way to the mobile application. Facebook has been spreading itself thin, and it’s well known that it doesn’t spend too much manpower on mobile app development. Heck, the excellent iPhone app was created by a single guy, Joe Hewitt. Project Spartan might be more important to Facebook, but it wouldn’t really hurt to add a couple of extra guys to the mobile app development team.
You can download Facebook for Android 1.6 from the Market.
Google recently released its official app for Google Docs on Android. With this app users can filter and search documents on your Google account. Users can also easily share items with contacts on their phone, right from within the app.
Besides that, this app also allows users to create documents with a single tap and users can upload content from your phone and open documents directly from Gmail. For easy access users can add a widget to your home screen for easy access to three core tasks: jumping to your starred documents, taking a photo to upload, or creating a new document with one tap.
One of the mind blowing feature Google has included in this app is optical character recognition (OCR). With this you can click a photo of a document from your phone camera and convert them to text documents. Although at this point it cannot register user handwritten documents but Google promises to work on it soon.
You can download Google Docs for Android from Android Market for free provided your device runs on Android 2.1+.
Is today a big day, or what! Amazon’s Android App Store will be released today. The much-delayed Firefox 4 is also slated to officially arrive soon. And now, Opera Software has made what is possibly the biggest product launch in its history. Opera Mini 6 and Opera Mobile 11 have been released for as many as six different platforms. Here’s a quick summary of the new stuff from the Norwegian browser vendor:
Opera Mini 6 for Java
Opera Mini 6 for Android
Opera Mini 6 for Symbian
Opera Mini 6 for legacy Symbian (S60 v2)
Opera Mini 6 for Blackberry
Opera Mobile 11 for Android
Opera Mobile 11 for Symbian
Opera Mobile 11 for Windows 7 (tablets and touch-screen devices)
Opera Mobile 11 for Meego
While Opera might be the little guy in the desktop segment, it is the king of mobile browsers. It already has more than 100 million users worldwide, and the number just keeps on increasing. Opera Mobile is Opera Software’s full-fledged mobile browser, which uses the same rendering engine (Presto) as Opera for desktop, and brings a desktop-like browsing experience to mobile devices. Opera Mini was originally developed for budget phones, which didn’t meet the hardware and software requirements of Opera Mobile. In Opera Mini, the webpage is routed through Opera’s servers, where all the rendering is done, and a static and highly compressed representation of the page is sent to the browser.
There are quite a few exciting improvements in both the products. The first thing that will catch your attention is the new skin. The bright shades of red, which have been a part of Opera’s mobile offerings for a long long time, have been replaced by a sleek black gradient.
Also new is the “Share” option, which enable you to quickly share a link through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The lack of sharing options was one of my major grievances with Opera Mobile 10 for Android, and I am glad that Opera Software has rectified this rather quickly.
Unsurprisingly, Opera’s mobile offerings are now optimized for high-resolution devices like tablets. This bit was already demoed at SXSW and MWC, and now you can try it yourself. Scrolling, panning, and zooming should be a lot smoother than before, and pinch-to-zoom support is included in all devices that are capable of supporting it.
All versions of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile can be downloaded directly on your mobile phone from m.opera.com.