Tag Archives: Update

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Developer Preview Is Here: Internet Explorer Even Better Now

Cortana Windows Phone 8.1 Update

As communicated by Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore on Windows Blogs on July 30, the first update to Windows Phone 8.1 is now rolling out to devices with the preview program. The update, simply called Windows Phone 8.1 Update (although it has been referred to as Update 1 too), brings Cortana to more markets in beta and alpha form, adds a Live Folders feature, adds a Live Tile to the Store icon, allows multiple SMS merge/delete operations, brings new Xbox Music app, adds a new feature called App Corner and increases privacy and security by enabling consumer-level VPN when connected to wifi hotspots.

Among the several unnamed changes and fixes are “hundreds of fixes” made to mobile Internet Explorer 11 to make it more compatible with the mobile web. The irony here is that on the desktop web developers had to code specifically for Internet Explorer 4 or 5 because it had several non-standard features. Now, Internet Explorer (both on the desktop and mobile) is promoting coding to web standards whereas web developers have catered their site for Webkit and specifically for iOS. This unfortunate reality made the Internet Explorer team re-think their strategy, and for their customers’ benefit, they made some tweaks to mobile IE that make it appear as an iOS browser to websites. Therefore, many sites which have browser sniffing enabled, will now provide the iPhone version of their site to mobile IE visitors as well.

As the blog post on Internet Explorer blog depicts, websites render very differently before and after this update:

 

Twitter on IE11 before update
Twitter on IE11 before update
Twitter on IE11 after update
Twitter on IE11 after update
Twitter on iPhone
Twitter on iPhone
Hawaiian Airlines before IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines before IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines after IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines after IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines iPhone
Hawaiian Airlines iPhone

 

After reading that blog post, I was very curious to see how Google’s websites render after this update. Another irony here is that Google, the company that beats the standards drums, has most of their properties coded for Webkit and/or detects mobile IE as a feature phone browser. The result is that GMail, Google News, etc. render very poorly.

I am happy to say that these changes in mobile IE11 do make the experience better, at least at first glance. See the comparisons below:

 

GMail before IE11 update
GMail before IE11 update
GMail after IE11 update
GMail after IE11 update
Google News before IE11 update
Google News before IE11 update
Google News after IE11 update
Google News after IE11 update
Google Calendar after IE11 update
Google Calendar after IE11 update
Google App Drawer after IE11 updateGoogle App Drawer after IE11 update
Google App Drawer after IE11 update

Apps Corner is much like Kids Corner where one can set one or a few apps to be available in a “corner” so when it is activated, no other apps are visible or accessible. This has good uses in the enterprise setting but it is clearly not only targeted to enterprises.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Setup
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Setup
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Exit
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Exit

Live Folders is an interesting take on folders. Live Tiles have been a distinguishing feature of Windows Phone since it launched as Windows Phone 7. Instead of creating “dumb” folders which just hold the icons included in the folder, Live Folders presumably show the live tile contents of all the tiles included in the folders. This is neat because now you can reclaim some of the real estate on the Start Screen but not have to give up on one of the key features of the platform. It is also good to see that the icons included in the folders retain their tile size inside the folders, and the folder tile itself can be set to any size.

 

Windows Phone icons without Live Folders
Windows Phone icons without Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders expanded
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders expanded

 

I don’t see how I can enable the consumer VPN feature, but that sure sounds extremely useful if I understand it correctly, which is, when connected to wifi hotspots, one would be connected to a VPN server right away. I may have misunderstood the feature so I will wait on reserving judgement until I actually find out more, or experience it myself when I connect to a public hotspot.

Have you downloaded the update? What are your thoughts?

Google Now Gets An Update – Brings A Widget, And A Couple Of New Cards

Google today released a new update for Google Search on the Play Store for Android 4.1+ devices. The new update brings with it a handy lock screen and desktop widget for quick access to Google Now cards, a slightly re-designed Google Now weather card, and a couple of new cards.

Using Zillow, Google Now will automatically show you the prices of real estate nearby along with more information about a specific listing. Another new card is the Movies card that now shows you the ratings of the movie from Rotten Tomatoes. Also, if you buy the tickets from Fandango, the Movies card will automatically pop-up the ticket when you arrive at the movie hall.

Lastly, with this update Google has also added the ability to display the latest Google Doodle instead of the usual Google Now cover page for your city.

The official change-log is below -:

– Google Now widget for home screen or lock screen
– Movie passes from Fandango
– Movies now includes ratings from Rotten Tomatoes
– Real estate listings from Zillow when in the market for a home
– Music button when a song is playing in voice mode (US only)
– Support for US college sports

The widget is definitely a bit clunky but should come in useful for quick access to the Google Now cards. The addition of US college sports to the Sports card will also be appreciated by a lot of sports lover in the United States.

Latest Tasker For Android Beta Brings A Major UI Revamp

Tasker is one of the most powerful automation tool available for Android devices. It is one of the few apps that truly harnesses the open nature of Android. While the app may have a steep learning curve, it has unlimited potential – With Tasker, the limit is your imagination.

On the flip side, Tasker is undoubtedly one of the ugliest looking app available in the Play Store. The app has been frequently cited as an example among Android haters and bashers for its horrendous UI and how ugly Android apps can be. Tasker was even featured on one of the episodes of Android Design In Action, where Roman and other Googlers showed off re-design of the app with the Holo theme.

The good news is that the Tasker developer finally started working on a UI revamp of the app sometime ago, and has released an early beta of the app for all to try. The developer of the app has definitely incorporated all the UI tweaks that the Googlers suggested to him in the video. Below are a couple of screenshots which show the revamped UI of the app -:

Along with the UI revamp, the developer has also removed all the deprecated APIs from the app. The new version of the app is only meant for Android 4.0 or higher running devices.

The beta version of Tasker with the revamped UI can be found here. The full change-log for the upcoming Play Store update and changes between betas can be found here.

Via – Reddit

Press For Android Update Brings Performance Improvements And Background Syncing

Press is hands down among the best Google Reader clients available on Android. It has been dubbed as the ‘Reeder’ for Android devices, which is no small feat.

Even then, Press is far from perfect. Until today, the app lacked background syncing notifications and had performance issues even on dual-core Android devices.

The developers of Press – TwentyFive Squares – pushed a new update to the app today which fixes most of the issues with the app and brings other new features. Below is the full change-log of the app -:

– Quick article navigation to go to next/previous articles
– Background/automatic syncing
– Sync on app launch
– Background syncing notifications
– New text-alignment options
– Show image title and URL in the image viewer. (xkcd fans rejoice!)
– Date and time formats now match device settings
– Article title is now included when sharing to social networks
– Lots of performance enhancements and bug fixes

If you are an avid Google Reader user and have not tried Press, you are missing out on probably the best way to access Google Reader on your Android device.

Dropbox And Flipboard For Android Update Brings New Features And Bug-Fixes

The Dropbox app for Android has constantly evolved over the months getting UI changes, bug-fixes and new features as needed. Today, the Dropbox team for Android released the v2.3 of the app on the Play Store that brings certain much needed enhancements and changes.

The latest update to the app brings the ability to share several images at once as well as delete them. There are also minor tweaks and UI improvements throughout the app. Lastly, the most important change is the ability to organize all the photos that you have uploaded on Dropbox into albums.

As a Dropbox user who also uses their instant upload feature, this feature is like god-send to me.

Below is the official change-log of the update -:

In version 2.3:
* Easily share several photos at once
* Organize your favorite photos into albums
* Delete multiple photos at once
* UI improvements and updates throughout
* Lots of other little tweaks and bug fixes

Flipboard for Android also got a major update. The update brings support for Flipboard Daydream for all Android 4.2 users. The Daydream feature will allow Flipboard users running Android 4.2 to create a screensaver made of their Flipboard covers.

Below is the official change-log of the update -:

– Now with Flipboard Daydream for Android 4.2 users. Allows you to create a screensaver made out of Flipboard covers.
– Fixed accidental flip when trying to scroll.
– More bug fixes.

The update is already live in the Play Store and can be downloaded from here.

Swype Update Brings Living Language And Smart Editor

Remember Swype? The first keyboard that brought ‘swiping’ to the Android devices. Today, its developer – Nuance Mobile – released a new update for Swype beta that brings “Living language” and “Smart Editor” to the keyboard.

 

“Living language” is a crowd sourced dictionary that adds some of the most commonly used word to Swype’s dictionary like Dropbox, LOL, YOLO and more. This feature will be only available to users who decide to opt-in to the service since your predictions will also be sent back to Swype’s server. The company even promises to deliver “trending words and phrases in real-time”, which if true can come in handy.

“Smart Editor” examines your writing style over a period of time and will automatically suggest words when the user ends a sentence with punctuation. Swype will also automatically underline words which it thinks are incorrect in a sentence.

Last, but not the least, Nuance Mobile has finally got rid of all the registration headache to install the Swype beta keyboard on an Android device. Users can now simply download the Swype Installer APK from Swype’s beta website.

Nova Launcher Updated To v2.0; Brings Under The Hood Optimizations, Custom Icons Size And More!

Third party launchers have always been one of Android’s strength. Back in the Ginerbread days, ADW LauncherEx and Launcher Pro offered unmatched customisability and features including themes support, multiple docks and more. With Android 4.0, a new bunch of launchers took over the Play Store. Nova Launcher has stood apart from the rest, thanks to a very long list of features, stability, performance and a very responsive developer.

The launcher got an update go v2.0 last night that contains a lot of new features. I guess the developer wanted to give a gift to all Nova users with such a massive update.

The massive change-log of all the new features and changes introduced in the latest version can be found below -:

  • Custom Icon Size (Prime)
  • Swipe actions on any desktop icon (Prime)
  • Custom wallpaper cropping
  • Increase maximum desktop grid size
  • Infinite Scroll Drawer Setting
  • Alphabetical list drawer style
  • Small Icons Dock Setting
  • Force wallpaper scrolling on USA SGS2
  • Aggressive Desktop Setting (Keep in memory)*
  • Lower memory usage
  • Improve scrolling performance
  • Fixes, optimizations and tuning
  • *”Retrieve Running Apps” used for Aggressive Desktop and warning when multiple launchers are running

If you have not already, go ahead and give Nova Launcher a try on your Android device running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher.

SwiftKey Update Brings New Theme, Support For Hindi And Hinglish Languages; Price Reduced As Well

SwiftKey users in India, here is some good news for you. Yesterday, a new update was rolled out to SwiftKey that brought with it support for 9 new languages, a new theme and some bug-fixes.

The list of nine new supported languages include Hindi and Hinglish, along with Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Irish, Macedonian, Spanish (Latin America), and Tagalog. Adding support for Hindi and Hinglish languages has been one of the most requested feature in SwiftKey’s user voice, so it is nice to finally see the developers adding support for these languages.

If you still don’t own SwiftKey, now might just be the time to do so. With this update, and to celebrate the holiday season, the developers have reduced the price of SwiftKey from its usual $1.99 to only $0.99 for the phone as well as the tablet version. With SwiftKey Flow coming as an upgrade to Swiftkey 3 sometime in the future, it might just be a good option to buy the app now at its reduced price.

Dead Trigger For iOS Receives Major Update And Is Now Available As A Free Download For Reasons Unknown

Over the last couple of week, Madfinger’s latest game — Dead Trigger — sparked off a discussion that piracy in Android is still a major concern. The developer had initially released Dead Trigger for a $0.99, instead of its usual price of $6.99 on both iOS and Android, so as to make the game more affordable and curb piracy.

A few days later, Madfinger rolled out a major update for the Android version of the game and made it available as a free downloaded. The company stated that due to the high piracy rate of the game in the Android ecosystem, the company has decided to make the game free to download and play with In-App purchases for Android users.

Today, Madfinger has released a new update of Dead Trigger for iOS users that brings with it a bunch of new weapons, environments, gameplay enhancements, bug fixes and much more. Surprisingly, Madfinger has also made Dead Trigger available as a free download for iOS users with this update.

Madfinger has not provided any reason as to why it decided to make the game free to download on iOS as well. It certainly cannot be piracy since iOS users are known to pay for their apps. The company will, however, reward users who paid for the game with 25 golds and other credits.

On a serious note, Madfinger should really grow up and stop blaming piracy on Android as the reason they decided to make the game free. Dead Trigger is filled with In-App purchases, and reports do suggest that IAP bring developers more money than the outright purchase of a game from the store. If anything, the company should apologize for blaming the high level of piracy in the Android ecosystem.

Twitter for Windows Phone Gets Updated: Notifications, Finally!

Twitter for Windows Phone is one of those apps  that was available at launch, but it has seen very few updates over the past 2 years. The most important feature that was missing was notifications. In the latest update, the app finally received the ability to receive notifications.

Not only are notifications well implemented (they use a push notifications server vs. generic background agents), they are fast. Very fast. I see toasts almost instantaneously. The “other fixes” in this update seem to have made the app generally faster to refresh tweets, a common problem with all twitter clients on Windows Phone. If the app receives the ability to reply all on tweets, this may become my go-to twitter client on Windows Phone. That is huge, considering I had actually uninstalled the app from my phone because I had zero hope of it getting any meaningful updates!

Here are some screenshots of the settings added in this update, related to notifications. I also noticed they have added the ability to pin lists to the Start Screen and manage list membership, which I am not sure was possible before this update.

 

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings Screen

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings Screen

 

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings For Mentions

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings For Mentions

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings For Favorites

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings For Favorites

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings For Retweets

Twitter for Windows Phone Notifications Settings For Retweets

 

Twitter for Windows Phone Toast Notification

Twitter for Windows Phone Toast Notification

Twitter for Windows Phone - Pinning Lists to Start Screen

Twitter for Windows Phone – Pinning Lists to Start Screen

Twitter for Windows Phone - Manage List Membership

Twitter for Windows Phone – Manage List Membership

Don’t get me wrong. The app is not complete. Besides the reply-all feature that I mentioned above, there are some other features in apps like Rowi, Carbon and Mehdoh that I like to see in a twitter client, least of which is Tweet Marker support so read status of tweets is sync-ed across multiple apps and platforms. Regardless, I am now not ashamed to recommend Twitter for Windows Phone as a twitter client for the platform.