Beta Version Of Chrome For Android Hits The Play Store

Google introduced Chrome for Android with Android 4.1 and the Nexus 7. With the launch of the Nexus 4 and Android 4.2, the company ditched the stock AOSP browser for Chrome. While Chrome for Android is feature-filled, it has some major performance issues even on devices with a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

Google aims to bring Chrome for Android on level with its desktop counterpart in terms of security and performance. Keeping this in mind, the company has released a beta version of Chrome for Android in the Play Store. Like the beta channel for the desktop version of Chrome, the beta version of Chrome for Android will provide users with some new experimental features, under-the-hood changes, bug-fixes and much more.

The official blog post from Google states that the beta version of Chrome for Android should already feature at least 25-30% improvement in Octane benchmarks on average. Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 users who have already tried the beta version of the browser have also reported an improvement in the performance of the app.

The beta version of Chrome for Android can be installed side-by-side with the stable version available on the Play Store.

Microsoft Announces ‘Visual Studio Achievements’ for Developers

Need bragging rights as a developer? Don’t have enough points and badges from Xbox Live? Well, Microsoft has the answer for you, Visual Studio Achievements!

In what seems to be an effort to rile developers up through ‘gamification’, Microsoft has announced a beta campaign called “Visual Studio Achievements”. By installing the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, you can unlock badges and earn points by simply writing code that you were already going to write! Analysis is done in the background each time you compile your project to test it. When you hit a certain objective, you unlock an achievement.

Next comes the leaderboard. All the points and badges you earn are tallied into a score and you’re stuck up onto an online leaderboard with all other registered developers who are taking part in the campaign. You can view challenging developer points, avatars and maybe eventually see what they are working on. It would be a great way to get developers to collaborate on ideas and projects.

If sharing your achievements with alike developers wasn’t enough, you can share badges through Twitter and Facebook. This can help you raise awareness for your application, and get recognition from your peers.

There are over 32 different badges you can unlock, from as easy as loading more extensions into Visual Studio, to as hard as having 50 different projects tied to a single solution.

There are fun badges, like the “Potty Mouth” achievements which rewards you for using 5 different curse words in a project, or the “Time for an Upgrade” badge that is unlocked if your project takes over 10 minutes to compile. It’s a simple way to add a level of fun to programming and give developers a way to show off their skills.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Gets 720p HD Video Recoring Post The Android 2.3.4 Update

At the beginning of the year, when Sony Ericsson announced the Xperia Play, the handset was criticized for its seemingly outdated single-core processor, and lack of 720p HD video recording among other issues.

Now, while Sony Ericsson cannot really do something about the lack of a dual-core processor, they have rectified the second issue with a software update. The Android 2.3.4 update for the Xperia Play enables 720p HD video recording, with continuous auto-focus.

Below is a 720p video recorded from the Play, post the Android 2.3.4 update-:

The Android 2.3.4 update also brings a bunch of other goodies, including swipe like text-input, the ability to take screenshots, click 3D panorama pictures and enhanced Facebook inside Xperia, The update also enables a much needed option to disable or enable Automatic brightness. Surprisingly, the option to enable/disable Automatic brightness is missing from other Xperia phones, post the Android 2.3.4 update.

Last year, Sony Ericsson was heavily criticized for its poor software update. This year, the company has had a very impressive track of software updates. While other Android manufacturers only release software updates to fix some bugs, Sony Ericsson is the only company which has released software update to fix bugs, and also introduce new features.

Thanks to @SSaig for the video


Google Maps and Reader for Android Updated; Minecraft Now Available For Xperia Play

Google has released updates for two of its popular apps for Android – Google Maps and Google Reader. The Google Maps update brings with it some welcomed changes, including custom transit notifications.

The bubble buttons, which had mysteriously disappeared in the previous update, have also made a comeback. The Transit support has also made its way to the tablet version of Google Maps. The latest update (v5.9) is already available for download from the Android Market.

The Google Reader app for Android has also been updated, and brings with it some much-needed improvements. Most importantly, the Google Reader app finally supports Honeycomb. The tablet layout of the app is similar to the mobile/tablet version of GReader website. The ‘Mark as read’ function has also been improved, and users can now mark an item as read by long pressing on it.

While this update definitely helps in improving the overall usability of the GReader app, it still does not stand a chance in front of the competition.

In other Android apps and games related news, the highly popular and insanely addictive game, Minecraft from Mojang is now available exclusively for the Xperia Play. At the time being, the game will remain exclusive to the Play. Hopefully, the game should be available to other touch screen based Android phones, sometime in the future. Sony Ericsson has also stated that a bunch of new games are soon going to be available for the Play, including Fifa 2012, Death Worm and EVAC HD. The whole list of games can be found  here.