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Google Camera review

Posted by wicked April - 16 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off


Google Camera was released to the Google Play Store today. For those with Nexus devices running Kit Kat, there isn’t much about the Google Play app that should be new. However, if you have a non-Nexus Android device, you’ve likely not seen the official Google Camera before and this is a great chance to check it out for yourself. Is it any good? In this review we’ll find out. If you would rather watch it than read it, check out the video above.


Google Camera Review

Functionality

Okay, so this is a camera app which means it does camera app things like taking video and pictures. The camera app comes with five modes including Panorama Mode, Photosphere Mode, regular Camera Mode, Video Mode, and a new thing called Lens Blur mode. The regular video and camera modes are pretty much self-explanatory.

Panorama and Photosphere Mode are a little wonky to use but when you get a good photo with them, you can get some really awesome stuff. It works by starting out with a single picture and then you must follow the dots to create a complete panorama or photosphere. Depending on whether or not you have high quality or low quality enabled in the settings, it can take a minute to process and render everything but the photos usually come out looking really good.

Lens Blur Mode allows you to take a picture that keeps the subject of your photo in focus while making the background blurry. This is a popular depth of field effect that is enjoyed predominately by people who have DSLR cameras. If the blur is too much or too little, you can adjust the level of blur after the photo is taken.

That’s really it folks. There is a settings menu where you can adjust various resolutions and quality settings. I wasn’t able to find any options to change the storage location if you were wondering about that.


Google Camera Review

Design

For a camera app, it’s fairly well designed. You can change your camera mode at any point by sliding to the right from anywhere and the modes will slide out from the left side. If you want to view any photos you’ve taken, you simply side your finger to the left and it’ll open your most recently taken photo. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t come with a gallery app so you’ll need to use the one installed on your device or go download Google Photos if you want the complete Google experience.

The settings are set up in a way that’s easy to understand. They seem a little bare bones but you can adjust the front and rear facing camera resolution, turn location on and off, and turn on manual exposure if you need it.

There are other fun little design choices. When you zoom in and out using pinch to zoom you see two little bars that will show you how zoomed in the camera is. At the bottom are some quick settings icons for flash, exposure, changing from front facing to rear camera, and an icon to add a three by three grid.


Google Camera Review

The good

Okay so here’s what we liked.

  • Panorama Mode, Lens Blur Mode, and Photosphere Mode are really fun and easy to use. The camera guides you to taking really good pictures and although rendering and processing take a while, the results usually look quite nice.
  • The interface is simple and easy to use. You’re never more than a swipe or a click away from pretty much anything in the app. Switching modes is as simple as sliding the options out and clicking on them. The quick settings, accessing the gallery, and pretty much everything is right there just off screen for easy access.
  • It does what it says it does. All the features worked as intended. I personally didn’t experience any crashes or issues. Once you learn how the various modes work, there shouldn’t be any problems using them.
  • There are little design things that are pretty fun. The dual line zoom meter bar thing is fun to use and when you’re in video mode, it’ll try to get you to shoot in landscape mode by using a spinning icon. You can still shoot in portrait mode but let’s face it, no one likes it when people shoot in portrait mode and it appears as though Google is trying to remind people of that.

The bad

And here’s the bad.

  • Its simplicity is its greatest strength but also its greatest weakness. If you’re used to the more complicated settings of other camera apps, then this is going to feel a little bit lacking for some people. You can’t adjust ISO, white balance, there are no filters, and there are no features like image stabilization. It’s really pretty basic stuff.
  • Some people have already begun complaining of various bugs. There isn’t a single bug that’s affecting everyone but little things that are affecting people. One such experience that I’ve heard a few times is the app crashing when using Lens Blur mode. A second is a lack of HDR on a lot of devices. I haven’t had any of these issues but they apparently exist depending on your device and version of Kit Kat.
  • My last problem is the lack of options when it comes to storage. If you have a device that has an external SD card, you can’t use it for storage. In fact, you can’t change the storage location at all. This is likely because of the Kit Kat SD card limitation problem that a lot of people don’t like so I hope your internal memory card has enough space because that is where your photos are going.

Google Camera review

Final thoughts

Overall, this is a solid camera app. It brings a lot of those nifty Google Camera-only features like Photosphere to devices that don’t normally have that feature available. The design is breathtakingly fresh and enjoyable and nothing about Google Camera is difficult to use. The only issue seems to be the few bugs that people are experiencing. That said, I do hope more features get integrated eventually because it is very simple but almost a little too simple.

Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica did an app tear down and found code hinting to an advanced settings feature that I hope becomes a reality and a Timelapse feature that sounds fairly cool. Here’s hoping those get introduced in future updates. Until then, Google Camera is a great application as long as you keep things in perspective. It doesn’t give you the level of control of other apps, but you really get that vibe that it’s not supposed to. If you’re looking for something different in a camera app, it’s definitely worth downloading this one to give it a shot.
Get it on Google Play








Microsoft Office for Android review

Posted by wicked March - 31 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off


Microsoft Office for Android was first released in late Summer 2013. Unfortunately it required an Office 365 subscription to even use and that turned a lot of people off to the idea of using Microsoft’s venerable Office on their devices. A couple of weeks ago the app became free to use for Android device owners and interest in Microsoft on Android skyrocketed for the first time probably ever. So in this review, we’ll see if it’s an office app worth your time. As usual you can watch it above or read it below.


Microsoft Office for Android review

Functionality

Okay so there’s very little about Microsoft Office that you don’t already know. You know about Microsoft Word, Spreadsheet, and PowerPoint, what they do, and how they work. So thankfully this part of the review won’t take very long. As you can imagine, the mobile version of Office contains these three things and you can use them to create and edit documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

When creating and editing, you have the basic tools like editing and control. You can use some basic formatting should you need it. It’s not nearly as powerful as the desktop apps or the Office 365 web apps. That’s a shame and we hope they increase functionality eventually but aside from some tweaks here and there it’s going be difficult to prepare full featured documents and presentations on the mobile version.

It’s fairly simple and that’s about all the app does in terms of pure functionality. However, there is more going on under the hood. Using Microsoft Office requires a Microsoft account. Once you have that you’ll automatically get some storage for Microsoft’s OneDrive service which you may know by its prior name which SkyDrive.

Currently you get 7GB for free and there’s a promotion for now that gives you an extra 3GB if you download the OneDrive app and use it to upload your photos from your Android device.
Everything you do in the Microsoft Office app is saved and drawn from your OneDrive account much like how every document you make in Google Drive is also stored in Google Drive. There is very little difference between the two fundamentally and for that, Microsoft does deserve a little praise.


Microsoft Office for Android review 2

Design

In terms of design, Office actually looks pretty good. Moving around the app is simple so no one should be getting lost. It uses some of the Android design guidelines such as the swiping tabs and using the logo at the top to go back to previous pages. Inside the files, it’s easy to navigate around your documents.

It saves every file to OneDrive so you can’t really go surfing around your device storage so don’t plan on being able to do that. The interface is overall very simplistic and the controls in apps are pretty simplistic too. Really, nothing is too difficult.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t tedious. In order to get the full experience, you’ll have to download the OneDrive app as well. That’s really the only good way to navigate your OneDrive account. When you open documents in OneDrive, it’ll open in Microsoft Office but the Office app doesn’t surf the OneDrive account very well. That, we thought, was a poor design choice.


Microsoft Office for Android 3

The good

So here’s what we liked about Office

  • It’s Microsoft actually giving it the old college try. Their first attempt at an Office app was not the most popular option and it didn’t work all that well. Now that it’s free and it’s been overhauled and integrated with OneDrive, it is suddenly much better than it used to be.
  • One of the biggest complaints about non-Microsoft Office apps is how it wrecks the formatting of Microsoft Office documents. That should no longer be a problem.
  • You are forced to use OneDrive for your storage for this app and that sucks, but they give you 7GB free so it’s not all that bad. You can get 3GB more for a limited time by downloading the OneDrive app and giving it permission to upload your camera stuff. So you can start with 10GB and even though Google Drive gives you more, at least Microsoft doesn’t leave you in the dirt in terms of cloud storage.
  • Full integration with OneDrive means that if you download the OneDrive app on your PC and have an internet connection, you have full control over the documents on both platforms without any difficulty. Office on mobile can open any document in OneDrive as can the PC Office app as well as the Office 365 web app. Multi-platform integration is never bad. Ever.
  • Lastly, the design isn’t terrible. Microsoft has developed some questionable mobile apps for Android in the past and this does not fall into that category. It doesn’t follow all of the Android design suggestions, but it follows a few of them and the app design positively reflects that.

The bad

And here’s what we didn’t like so much.

  • We would’ve liked to see more formatting tools. You can do the basic stuff like bold, underline, italics, color, and size, but things like adding images, advanced formatting, and others aren’t present and that’s disappointing.
  • Integration with OneDrive is fantastic and I love that, but knowing when to use which app for which purposes is a little hard to get used to. Like if you need to open a document, you’ll find it easier in OneDrive rather than the Office app and that’s disorienting. Also, your only storage option is OneDrive although you can download files from OneDrive if you have to.
  • Despite the good design, the controls are a little tedious. When you open a document, you have to click the pencil icon at the top in order to edit it. That extra step kind of screws with the brain because you’re kinda used to just opening the document and go. That, along with the way the app lets you see formatting options can be tedious and even a little frustrating.
  • There are very few (if any) tablets supported. It’s 2014, that’s just inexcusable at this point.

Microsoft Office for Android review 4

Final thoughts

Here’s the bottom line with Microsoft Office mobile. It’s a lot better than I was expecting it to be. Given prior experiences with Microsoft applications, there wasn’t that expectation that this would be directly comparable to the best Android has to offer. As it turns out, it is directly comparable and Microsoft has a pretty good app here.

That said, you won’t be concocting epic documents with this app. You can edit them and create some basic stuff but the hard work will still have to be done on either the web app or the desktop app. In any case, if you’re an Office user and you have Android, I highly recommend you check this app out.

Get it on Google Play


    







Opera Max App Review

Posted by wicked March - 30 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off


Opera Max is being released in open beta to users around the world. It’s from the makers of the popular Opera Browser and they’re known for coming out with some pretty good applications. Is this app worth your time? In this review, we’ll find out. As usual, you can read it below or watch it above.


Opera Max

Functionality

Okay so what does Opera Max actually do? It is a standalone application that routes your internet traffic through its servers and compresses the data before it gets sent to your phone. This sounds complicated but it really isn’t. When browsing the web, you are essentially just downloading a bunch of stuff. Videos, images, advertisements, webpages, etc are all downloaded to your device using your data connection and then displayed for you.

What Opera Max does is it takes all that stuff and makes it smaller before sending it to your device. That means you use less of your data to get essentially the same content. This may not sound like a big deal but when you’re on a 1GB/month data plan, anything that helps stretch that data further is something that could be useful and in this case, it’s Opera Max.

Along with the data compression service, Opera Max lets you see what apps are using data and when. There are time stamps to show when apps use data so you know if something is borrowing your data connection when you’re not using it. There is also a function to block apps from using data so ones that update frequently –we’re looking at your Facebook- can be kept under control.

That’s really it folks. You install it, open it, and enable it and it pretty much takes care of everything else. It should be noted that it cannot save you data on encrypted apps because encrypted data is not routed through Opera servers. That stuff gets sent straight to your device.


Opera Max 2

How can I use this?

So how can you use this? It’s very simple, really. This is a classic “fire and forget” application so there’s really not much for you to do. You enable Opera Max and it essentially just works in the background to save you data. You can then use the app to block access from apps that you don’t want using your data all the time and overall it gives you more control over your own data usage.

As we noted earlier, it does not work on encrypted apps. So in order to get the full benefit of Opera Max, you may have to relegate a lot of your activity to your browser. This means using the browser for things like YouTube, Facebook and others that the app itself may not fully support. That way the data can be compressed and you can start using less data on more stuff.


Opera Max 3

The good

Okay so here’s what we liked.

  • It’s a really good idea for an app. We still live in a world where many carriers restrict how much data you can use and sometimes a couple of GB per month won’t cut it and for many, Opera Max can help.
  • We really liked the Block Apps feature. Even if it can’t save you data on encrypted apps, it can still prevent them from accessing the internet without your permission and this alone can save you hundreds of MB per month. Especially from social media apps that like to update constantly.
  • For the most part, it’s fairly easy to use. You open the app, you enable it, and then you go about your business as usual. There are no overcomplicated set up processes.
  • Lastly, we liked the level of information it gives you. You can see exactly which apps use what data and when. This can be a real eye opener for people because a lot of apps use more data that they would initially think or use a lot of data in the background without their knowledge. Even if you don’t engage in Opera Max’s data saving services, it’s still pretty nifty to see what is using your connection.

The bad

And here’s what we didn’t like so much.

  • It doesn’t support IPv6 and this can be a real bummer. When it detects that you have that, it suggests that you simply change your APN settings. For some this won’t be a big deal but for many this is a complicated task. You can still use the other features of the app, but you won’t get any data savings until they either support IPv6 or you decide to go through with learning how to change your APN.
  • There isn’t a readily available list of popular apps that are encrypted and even the screenshots are a little ambiguous. So figuring out when and how to save data can be a bit of a pain. In that same vein, most savings take place in the mobile web browser and not as much in applications so many may be turned off by the prospect of using their mobile browser instead of applications for more things.
  • Since the app is essentially a VPN service, you may experience slower web browsing depending on things like your distance from the nearest server. Also, because it does compress data, you may also notice some lower quality images and video.

Opera Max 4

Final thoughts

Overall, Opera Max is a solid app. It has its problems but none of them are bad enough to decrease the overall value. If used properly, this app can save you a lot of data. If you’re on a limited data plan and are on a carrier than uses overage charges, this app may very well actually save you money and that’s never a bad thing.

Even without the data saving mechanism, the app is still pretty useful. Being able to block apps from using your data alone makes it worth checking out because we all use apps that use our data religiously for updates. Best of all, it’s free to use so there’s really no reason not to check it out. Use the button below to get started.
Get it on Google Play


    







Newsbeat review – Android Authority

Posted by wicked March - 29 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off


Newsbeat is a new app that is really truly different. It’s a news aggregator like your standard news app or RSS app but instead of just delivering news for you to read, Newsbeat will read you the news. If you’re like me and read articles pretty much all day, being able to listen to it for once instead of reading sounds like a great idea. In this review, we’ll see just how good it is. As usual you can watch it above if you don’t want to read it.


newsbeat review 1

Functionality

Okay so what does this app do? It’s a news aggregator not unlike RSS. You tell it your interests and what publications you like and it will fetch news from sources that report on that kind of news. What’s interesting is that while you get the option to read the articles, you also get the option to listen to them. That’s right; this app will read the news to you in a news radio style format so you don’t have to read it.

The voices aren’t perfect but they are pretty good. They even have voice inflections to make them sound real. Some who have used the app already have stated preference between the male and female voice, but frankly both are about equal. There is still that robotic tone every now and then, especially when they try to pronounce difficult words or people’s names but they do well at sounding real enough to where it isn’t distracting when listening to the news.

The app goes the whole nine yards to make it sound like a radio show. When you open the app, it’ll greet you by name if you have your name entered into the app. It’ll give you your local traffic rundown sometimes which I thought was a nice touch. It then proceeds to read the news articles back to back until there are none left. When it reads articles, it’ll state the source and the author in a manner you’d expect a radio host to do.

Of course, you do still have the option to read the news. You can pause at any time and scroll through articles on your own if you prefer. The only real issue we found was a lack of sources. It seems to take more from local publications and worldwide news sources so you don’t get too many options when it comes to where it reads the news from.


newsbeat 2

Design

The design is pretty decent. It’s not overly colorful but it is easy to navigate so no one should have any problems figuring out where to go. There is a hamburger menu on the left side where you can check out the app preferences or get to the news. Articles have two interfaces. You can look at them one at a time or use a second interface to swipe through them if you prefer. It was a little laggy here and there but not so much to make the app unpleasant.

Once the voices start to read the news, there will be a notification that pops up. You can swipe it away without interrupting the voices but it apparently comes back after a short time which can get annoying if you’re OCD about keeping your notification drawer cleared out. In the notification there are skip buttons as well as a pause and play button so you can skip news or pause it if need be.


Newsbeat review 3

The good

  • This app is just a great idea. Reading article after article can be tedious and trying to keep up with the news all day that way can be tiring and frustrating. With this, you turn it on, connect some headphones or a speaker if need be, and let some robot people read you the news. It is much less stressful on your eyes too since you don’t have to stare at a little screen to read it if you don’t want to.
  • The voices are actually really good. As mentioned there are moments where they sound blatantly robotic and you never shake the knowledge that they are fake voices but they read the news so you don’t have to and they do it pretty well. This includes small things like pronunciation that a lot of robot voices screw up.
  • The app strings together the intro when you open the app, the local news, and each story in the flavor of a radio show. This includes short music bursts between stories and specific phrasing that you’d hear in a radio show. The male and female voices also interchange occasionally giving the illusion of multiple hosts. These aesthetics are purely atmospheric and not really functional, but it makes the whole thing sound coherent and it makes the experience more enjoyable.
  • Lastly, the app content is fairly customizable. While the sources are lacking, you still get to choose what topics you see. If you have no interest in, say, politics, then it won’t read you any political news.

The bad

  • This app seriously needs more sources. We assume they’ll be adding more as time goes but for the time being there aren’t all that many places to draw news from. So don’t expect to be able to follow your favorite blogs like Android Authority just yet.
  • While the topics are fairly customizable, they aren’t totally customizable. For instance, I like hockey but I dislike pretty much every other sport. I can have the app deliver sports news, but not specifically hockey news. So it’ll read me a bunch of football free agent signings that I don’t care about before it’ll read me the Columbus Blue Jackets game recap. That’s just one example, there are plenty of others.
  • The playback controls, notifications, etc are a little wonky sometimes. Clearing out a notification usually results in it coming back a few minutes later and the app has started reading articles before on its own when a story hits the news feed. It’s not terrible but some more control over the controls would be nice.

Newsbeat review 4

Final thoughts

If you’re into RSS and reading the news, this app presents a unique premise that is difficult to pass up. It’s not difficult to read while on a subway or a train but if you’re driving or walking it’s probably more convenient to listen to the news rather than try to read it and this app shines in those kinds of situations.

We wish there were more sources. That’s about the only weakness that Newsbeat has and unfortunately it’s a pretty bad one to have. We’re sure they’ll add more eventually but until then you’re stuck with the biggest dogs in media who don’t already do the best reporting on things. Even so, the app is wonderfully done and we recommend you give it a shot if only to see if you like it.
Get it on Google Play


    







Link Bubble Review

Posted by wicked March - 27 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off


Link Bubble is a new application from Chris Lacy, the developer behind Action Launcher. In this truly unique app, you load links in the background and only bring them forward when you want them. In this review, we’ll take a look at the finer points of Link Bubble and determine just how good it is. If you want to watch it instead of read it, the video is embedded above.


Link Bubble review

Functionality

So what does Link Bubble actually do? It’s a floating window web browser that opens links in the background so you don’t lose your spot in whatever it is that you’re doing. This can be helpful for a number of reasons especially if you surf the web fairly frequently. What happens is you find a link, then you click on it, and Link Bubble will have a little floating icon that lets you know when the target is finished loading.

There are two ways to use this app. You can have the auto-open enabled which will pop the website up as soon as it has loaded. Or you can go into the settings, disable the auto-open, and then the site will load in the background and you can deal with it as you please. The developer recently updated the app to make this easier and the option to change this is now labeled better.

Other than the main function, you can share links to practically anywhere. In the top left is your main sharing service which can be changed in the settings to whatever you want. In the top right is the full list of places to share if you’re sharing elsewhere. If you want to close a page, you literally fling it toward the bottom of your screen to close it. If you want to close all of your bubbles, you manually drag one bubble to the bottom and wait for it to say “close all” and then let go.

Overall, it’s a fairly easy and simple app to use. Once you get the flinging bubbles thing down, controlling everything is practically second nature and you can go on with your business while Link Bubble takes care of links in the background. If you’re a fan of measuring stats, there is even a function that will show you how much time you’ve saved by not waiting for websites to load.


Link Bubble review 2

Design

Link Bubble’s design is very minimal. When you’re not using it, it’s like it’s not even there and when you are using it, it’s just a floating window with a couple of floating icons. Everything is organized in a manner that makes sense. It takes a second to logically explain why there are two share buttons but really that’s just so you can expedite sharing to the service you regularly use, which we ended up finding quite useful.

The big design elements are the controls. Flinging the bubbles around to make them do your bidding seems a little off putting at first because you’re not usually used to flinging anything on an Android phone. However –like we stated earlier- once you get used to it, you can fly through your open tabs. It does not take long to get used to.


Link Bubble review 3

The good

Okay so here’s what we liked.

  • This is truly unlike anything I’ve ever used before. If I were asked if there apps that could perform the same functionality, I would draw a blank. It’s technically a web browser, but the way it operates is unlike any other browser.
  • For people who browse on a frequent basis, opening up a lot of links at once and dealing with them later is infinitely preferable to opening a link, then going back to the app, then opening another link, et cetera. It really does save you a lot of time.
  • So far we’ve seen virtually no incompatibilities. It opened pretty much all of the content we asked it to without too much of a problem. I’m sure there are some sites or video streaming formats the app doesn’t support, but I couldn’t find them.
  • You can customize the share buttons to whatever you want them to be. So if you’re a Twitter person, you can make your quick share to Twitter or if you’re a Google+ fan, you can change it to Google+. This was a nice add on.
  • Perhaps my favorite part of the app is how browser loading times don’t matter. If it takes 15 seconds to load a web page, so be it. You’re not sitting there waiting for it. You can go do your own thing until it’s done.

The bad

And here’s what we didn’t like so much

  • There is a wide, gaping chasm between the paid and free version. I’m not complaining about prices or anything because the price is very reasonable, but you can’t really experience the brilliance of this app on the free version. Arguably its best feature is the ability to open an assemblage of links, let them load in the background, and then browse through them at your leisure. The free version limits you to a single tab so users of the free version won’t get that experience.
  • We did run into some occasional lag and a force close or two. It’s a new release so it’s not a big deal and we’re sure future stability and performance improvements will rectify these issues, but they are there nevertheless.

Link Bubble review 4

Final thoughts

Overall, this is an amazing app. When you fork in the $4.99 for the paid version, you will literally cut the time you spend staring at a blank web browser waiting for a page to load to almost zero. It makes surfing social media more enjoyable because in my experience, I found that I was clicking links I may not have otherwise clicked because I don’t have to wait around for them to open or worry about losing my place in the other app. So it’s allowed me to have a more rich experience on my device.
It did have a few very minor issues but most of those will likely be fixed in coming releases. Between the moment I started reviewing this app and the moment I released this video, there have already been two updates and that’s encouraging. At the very least, you should try the free version. It doesn’t give you the full experience but it gives you an idea of what you’re in for and what you’re in for is pretty awesome. Click the button below to get started!
Get it on Google Play


    







QuizUp Review

Posted by wicked March - 11 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off


QuizUp is a new game for Android where two people compete in a quiz. It’s been a smash hit on social media and we’ve no doubt that many of our readers have already seen the screen shots floating around. Is this just a passing fad like Flappy Bird or is this game in it for the long haul? In this review, we’ll find out. If you’d rather watch than read, our video review is posted above.


quizup review

Game play

Okay so if you’ve ever played a quiz game in your lifetime you pretty much know how QuizUp. It is a quiz game which means you and another person are asked a number of questions and the person who can answer the most questions correctly the fastest wins. Before each match you’re paired with a real person and the two of you go head to head in a quiz.

There are a number of categories ranging from pop culture to history, mathematics to business, and even video games and Android. One of the major draws of QuizUp is to engage in quizzes on topics that you actually know as opposed to a more classic set up that just asks you random questions. Therefore, you can stick to topics you know and it helps you enjoy yourself a little more. They don’t have topics on everything but they do add new topics every week.

Outside of the quiz aspect there are other things to do. You can message opponents, start discussions, follow people, challenge your friends, earn achievements, and link your device to both Facebook and Google+. Once you get into the game and start using all of these features, it offers a reasonably rich experience. There is also a settings menu where you can tinker with things like notifications and sounds.


quizup review

Design

The design is surprisingly good. The app is bright and colorful but also organized and ergonomic. Players should have no trouble navigating the app, finding what topics they like, or engaging in game play. During quizzes, the screen is appropriately designed with minimal distractions. All you can see is the score, the questions, and the answers along with each gamer’s name and profile picture. This helps the player immerse themselves in the game.

The only real minor issue we had was with navigation. Using the pop out menu you can navigate to any part of the application. The only problem is that the pop menu is the only way to navigate through the app half the time. For example, if you’re checking messages and you want to go to the topics, you have to open the menu and switch. The extra screen presses aren’t bad per say, but they do eventually get tedious.


quizup review

The good

So here’s what we liked

  • There are a lot of quizzes to take in a lot of categories. It would’ve been easy to do just pop culture or just history, but QuizUp goes the whole 9 yards here and you can take quizzes on dozens of subjects. They add new quizzes weekly so it takes much longer than normal for the app to feel stale.
  • Aside from the home section, the app is incredibly well designed. It’s easy to find your way around and everything looks colorful and modern.
  • The extra features are a huge plus. Messaging opponents, the discussions, achievements and challenging your friends adds much needed depth to the game.
  • Games are played quickly. Most are done in about 2 to 2 and a half minutes. If you want to play longer, you simply start another quiz.

The bad

And here’s what we didn’t like so much.

  • The matchmaking system says that it’s looking for the best match for you. In reality, it’s simply looking for the next available player and that is often not the best match for you. So prepare yourself to face people who have been playing the same category for so long that all the questions are repeats for them.
  • It doesn’t happen often, but some questions are either entirely wrong, poorly categorized, or have multiple correct answers. I was asked which OEM made an Android-based smartwatch with two of the answers being Samsung and Sony. They both made Android-based smartwatches. In the punk rock quiz, it asked me a question where the answer was the band Ministry. Ministry plays industrial metal, not punk rock.
  • It’s also been reported that there are numerous grammar and spelling mistakes. This does not inspire confidence, especially when you get a question with words spelled wrong and multiple right answers.
  • It is entirely too easy to fake your win-loss record. The game doesn’t count losing connection as a win or a loss and I’ve run into entirely too many players whose connections just happen to go out when I’m winning by like 70 points going into the 5th question.
  • A lot of the questions are insanely difficult for the sake of being insanely difficult. It’s usually stuff that no reasonable person should know like the exact number of hit points a random boss has in an RPG or the exact weight of Leonard Nemoy’s prosthetic ears in Star Trek. Being delightfully obscure can be a lot of fun but being absurdly obscure can make you feel stupid and feeling stupid is kind of the opposite of enjoyable.

quizup review

Final thoughts

If I had to equate playing QuizUp to a real life experience, it would be taking a glorious, cross country road trip from New York to California with 4 days of perfect weather and no traffic only to be rear ended by a drunk driver one block from your destination.

The game looks nice, it plays well, and there are a metric ton of questions and categories to test your smarts. The in-game social dynamics are truly enjoyable and the frequent updates bring new content which helps keep the game fresh. In these areas, QuizUp excels more than most games I’ve played on Android.


    







Aptrax – track the apps you use and how often you use them

Posted by wicked March - 6 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Aptrax - App Usage Tracker

Aptrax wants to help you identify superfluous applications on your device. Aptrax is a simple application that tracks the frequency and duration of your app usage. Their goal is to help you quickly and easily identify all of those apps that you have installed but do not use often enough to keep around. It straight up provides a list of your installed apps, sorted by most used at the top to least used at the bottom.

With over 1 million apps in the Google Play Store, it is no wonder that many of us have hundreds of apps installed on our devices. This is not an issue in itself, but when your device runs out of storage, some difficult app removal decisions need to be made. Certainly, most of us can recall if we’ve used an installed app, but Aptrax makes it easy to identify any apps that may have slipped through the cracks, unnecessarily taking up storage space.

Aptrax - App Usage Tracker

Aptrax is a recent addition to the Google Play Store, produced by an indie developer that appears eager for your input and committed to the growth of the app. As the app is still maturing, a quick word of warning – apps that provide background services, such as Tasker or SMS Backup+, and widgets on your homescreen, such as the Play Music widget, do not register in Aptrax usage statistics. We hope to see this updated in a future release of the app.

Start tracking your app usage with your own copy of Aptrax from the Google Play Store. You’ll have to give the app a bit of time to collect data about your usage for best results. How many apps do you think you’ll uninstall?


    







Slam Dunk 2 Full Review

Posted by wicked February - 13 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off


The sports genre is one of the weakest genres in all of mobile gaming. While shooters, RPGs, and action-adventure games have seem major releases in the not-too-distant past, the sports genre really hasn’t. A new game is out now called Slam Dunk 2 that wants to shore up that weakness. Can it pull it off? This is our full review to let you know. You can always watch the video above if you don’t want to read it!


slam dunk 2 review

Game Play

If you were expecting a full-fledged basketball game, you may be a tad disappointed because Slam Dunk 2 is not one of those. What is, though, is a pretty fun little time waster game where you tap and slide your finger to shoot basketballs. It takes very little time to play so it’s great for those casual gamers out there.

The game is solely multiplayer. It has Google+ and Facebook login support so there is that. There are a variety of game types, although most fall under either the scope of a tournament match or a head-to-head match. Tournaments are simply head-to-head matchups against multiple people in a bracket-style tournament. The prizes are simple. Each game costs coins. If you win, you get your coins and your opponents coins. You can guess what happens when you lose.

The game itself is fairly easy to play. There are guides for the balls so you can make it into the basket practically every time. The difficulty isn’t whether or not you’ll be good at making baskets because inside of a week you’ll hit nearly every shot. The difficulty lies in the speed as your quickness can result in thousands of extra points in a game.

There are a couple of mini games that have absolutely nothing to do with this title and I don’t anticipate anyone really enjoying them. I mean we’re here for basketball, who wants to play slots? Other than this, the game is pretty fun. It won’t appeal to hardcore gamers at all but casual gamers should find some enjoyment in this title.


slam dunk 2 review

Design

The game is well designed. The menus are easy to navigate and don’t take any guesswork. Buttons are well defined and the graphics are crisp and colorful. There are some slick animations here and there and moving around in the game could even be described as enjoyable. Games like Asphalt 8 or Angry Birds GO could learn from the effective, yet simple menu designs.

In game, it’s the same story. The graphics are crisp and the scene is colorful and appealing to the eye. You can unlock and purchase different balls with coins which is a nice touch. As you progress you can unlock more courts by playing in more expensive tournaments.

While the graphics are pretty nice, the game itself is simple so there isn’t a lot of change. What you get is nice, but it’s not all that much. In terms of music, the theme playing is reminiscent of late 80’s, drum-heavy rap music which I actually liked. It gave it a street-urban feel which was nice.


slam dunk 2 review

The Good

Okay so here’s what we liked.

  • The game is fun to play. It doesn’t require a lot of skill to do well so it’s good for kids and adults. It’s quick so you can play it anywhere and it’s a good little time waster.
  • The graphics and music are well done. Nothing is overly cheesy or inane. The menus get right to the point. Everything is very clean, sharp, and good looking.
  • The always-online multiplayer is a nice touch. It would’ve been easy to code in some AI and make gamers face the same opponent over and over again. With a matchmaking system, it adds some randomness and unpredictability which is detrimental to a simple game like this.
  • If you run out of coins, you can get free ones every hour. While this bottleneck is a tad annoying, it’s a way out of having to pay real money for more since that is an option. We only wish you could take advantage more frequently than once per hour.

The Bad

And here’s the bad stuff.

  • I’m concerned about the longevity of the enjoyment in this title. At the end of the day you’re just tapping and swiping a ball into a hoop as quickly as possible. Even though the multiplayer aspect makes this challenging and enjoyable, the repetition will eventually negate that.
  • The in-app purchases are geared toward people who are terrible at this game. You can play as often as you want as long as you have coins and thus, the winners never need to buy coins because they already have enough to play. The losers, on the other hand, can either wait an hour to get enough coins to play one game or pay to get more. I thought that was a little heavy handed.
  • The mini games are kind of stupid. One is a slot machine and the other a scratch-off lottery ticket. Neither of these things have anything to do with basketball and they both cost real money to play. In other words, there is no point to their existence. I was expecting something like trick shot or bounce shot and I got a slot machine. Not really happy about it.
  • I have no idea how the scoring system in this game works. You make all but one shot one game and get like 900 points then you miss like 3 shots and get like 2100 points. Then there are people like my opponent here who manage to rack up more points in one game that I scored during my entire testing session. It’d be nice to have a guide or a pop up box or something to explain how that works.

slam dunk 2 review

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a relatively solid offering. It’s a fun game to waste a few minutes and it is sports oriented which is a genre Android sorely lacks. The graphics and music provide an enjoyable atmosphere and the game play is quick to grasp so people won’t have problems sliding right in there and having some fun.

There were some problems but there are always problems even with the best titles. Obviously the hardcore gamers of our Get it on Google Playviewership probably won’t find this game very interesting but if you’re an Angry Birds/Temple Run sort of casual gamer who likes basketball, then you probably will enjoy this title.


    







Need for speed – What’s the fastest Android browser?

Posted by wicked January - 24 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-7

A growing number of users around the globe use their Androids not only to call and text but also to connect to the web. Among those who do take their mobile web browsing seriously, the choice of browser app is very crucial.

What makes users prefer one browser to another? Several subjective considerations include feature set, intended use, and esthetics. Another crucial factor is speed and performance. In this post, we will be discussing this particular factor.

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-9

We subjected 11 of the best Android browsers to a series of tests and benchmarks to find out which one is the top performer. Which browser is the “fastest Android browser”? Continue reading to find out.

Aims, method, and limitations

Our aim for conducting these test was to provide extensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) objective and measurable data helpful in deciding which Android browser to favor for daily use.

We tested the following specific browser versions:

  • Baidu Browser 3.1.0.2
  • Boat Browser 7.1
  • Google Chrome 32.0.1700.99
  • Dolphin Browser 10.2.3
  • Mozilla Firefox 26.0.1
  • Maxthon Browser 4.1.5.2000 build 2860
  • Naked Browser Pro 1.0 build 25
  • Next Browser 1.16
  • Opera Browser 18.0.1290.67495
  • Puffin Web Browser Free 3.1.10679
  • UC Browser for Android 9.5

As of this writing, the browser versions listed above are the most current. We consistently used the same version of each browser throughout all the tests. If a browser updated arrived, we installed the update and performed the tests again for that updated browser version.

Test device used

The browsers were tested using a Google Nexus 4, a Google Experience Device designed and optimized to let you experience Android as Google intended it. The operating system running on the test device at the time of testing was stock Google Android 4.4.2 KitKat.

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-8

The Nexus 4 was factory reset before use for testing. No other app was installed on the phone, apart from updates to the pre-installed apps, the browser apps to be tested, and a system monitor app for determining memory use. We wanted to limit the possibility of the results’ being influenced by stray, leftover, or inessential processes.

Reboots

Before each test, the Nexus 4 was rebooted to ensure that the tests ran on a clean slate. Browsing data, history, cookies, and other browser app data were also cleared before each test was run, except in the cached page loading test. We wanted to minimize the possible influence of other apps or data upon the test results.

Also, to improve data accuracy, we ran each test or benchmark three times and computed the arithmetic mean or simple average of the three recorded results.

Areas tested

Our series of tests covered these general areas:

  • JavaScript and overall browser performance
  • Page loading speed
  • Memory consumption

Browser performance

To test JavaScript and overall browser performance, we used the following popular and well-known benchmark suites:

  • Sunspider 1.0.2
  • Mozilla Kraken 1.1
  • Browsermark 2
  • Peacekeeper

These tools measure browser processes, such as page loading, JavaScript performance, HTML capabilities, etc., and represent the browser’s “performance” with a numeric score. Scores will vary from time to time, even when the same benchmark is run on the same device.

SunSpider 1.0.2

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-1

We first conducted the SunSpider 1.0.2 JavaScript Benchmark, designed to test the core JavaScript abilities of the browser. Measured in milliseconds, a low score means faster/better performance.

Sunspider 1.0.2 JavaScript Benchmark

Puffin Web Browser aced the SunSpider test (236.900 ms), while the next fastest was Chrome (1,223.000 ms). That’s an amazing lead time / difference of 986.1 ms and a huge feather in Puffin’s cap!

Next Browser and Baidu took third and fourth places, respectively. Naked Browser Pro, Boat, Opera, Maxthon, and Firefox stayed within the vicinity of 1,300 ms to 1,500 ms, a range that was still a far cry from Puffin’s superfast performance.

The two slowest browsers were Dolphin Browser (1,771.700 ms), and UC Browser (2,127.133 ms).

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-2

After SunSpider, we ran Mozilla Kraken JavaScript Benchmark 1.1 , which, like SunSpider, measures the browser’s JavaScript performance through the use of “different test cases extracted from real-world applications and libraries.” The benchmark is developed by the Mozilla Foundation.

As in SunSpider, the score is in milliseconds; smaller score means better performance.

Mozilla Kraken Javascript

Registering the shortest time in this test, Puffin continued to stay on top (2,406.267 ms) while UC Browser (84,165.400 ms) was still lowest in rank. Dolphin kept its place as the second slowest (at 20,663.300 ms), just as in the SunSpider test.

The “in-between” apps’ scores stayed within the 14,000 ms to 21,000 ms range, but their rankings changed a bit in this test. Chrome, for instance, performed more slowly than Firefox in the Kraken suite, although in SunSpider, it performed better than Firefox.

So far, for JavaScript performance, Puffin Web Browser consistently sits as king of the hill, while both Dolphin and UC Browser stay consistently at the bottom with their poor performance in the tests.

Browsermark

The third benchmark, Browsermark 2.0, measures overall browser performance. Said to be better than its earlier version, Browsermark 2.0 checks performance in these areas: general (e.g., page load time, screen resizing, etc.), JavaScript, CSS, DOM, and graphics (particularly WebGL and Canvas performance).

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-3

The race this time is not about who gets the lowest score but about who gets the higher score.

BrowserMark 2.0 Benchmark Fastest Android Browser

Puffin still held on to its crown as top performer, earning the highest score (3,879.667). Opera came in second (3,210.000), and the rest registered scores lower than 3,000. UC Browser, meanwhile, continued to stay at the bottom of the heap (2,016.000).

Peacekeeper

Next, we ran the Peacekeeper benchmark suite. This well-known and frequently used browser benchmark measures “overall performance” by testing the browser’s ability to handle commonly used JavaScript functions. Its individual tests include those for rendering, HTML5 (WebGL, video, web worker, game, Canvas), data arrays, DOM operations, and text parsing.

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-4

The averaged scores are shown below. Higher score means better performance.

PeaceKeeper Benchmark

Boat Browser emerged on top (543.000) in this round. Naked, Maxthon, Baidu, and Next followed in rank (in that order) and were the only other ones that got above-500 scores.

While Dolphin (355.333) moved up the ranks a bit — besting Firefox, actually — UC Browser stayed consistently the lowest (202.333).

Puffin disappeared in this round. Peacekeeper just wouldn’t finish running in Puffin, despite several attempts. It ran until the web worker test, and from there, it would stop responding. We have inquired about this from the developers of Puffin, but we received no reply at all.

Puffin performed superbly in SunSpider, Kraken, and Browsermark, but it wasn’t able to prove its worth in the Peacekeeper suite, giving away the top spot to Boat Browser.

So far, Puffin has bested the other browsers in all of the synthetic tests that we’ve run (except Peacekeeper) and has proven its promising potential for great performance. But, practical tests such as page loading and memory usage tests can also shed light on a browser’s power. The next sections talk about such practical tests.

Page loading speed

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-5

To avoid the potential negative effect of network lag or flaky connections for our page loading speed, we set up a simple mock Android Authority website hosted on a local network server.

Cold Loading

In this test set we measured how fast a browser loaded our test
website’s homepage completely for the first time (i.e., uncached loading or “cold loading”). The browser cache and browsing data were cleared first, then the Nexus 4 was rebooted before opening the locally hosted website in the browser.

Webpage Loading Cold

Google Chrome reigned with its fast average page load time of 2.550 seconds. Naked Browser Pro followed closely behind (2.584 seconds), while Opera came in at third place (2.822 seconds).

The other browsers registered average page loading times greater than 3 seconds. Dolphin finished the race last and was the slowest (6.317 seconds).

Again, we couldn’t include Puffin in this set because it wouldn’t load our locally hosted website. Instead, we got a “connection refused” message each time we attempted open the page. Perhaps this behavior had something to do with Puffin’s use of cloud servers for pre-processing and data compression — the very same technology that made it lord over the other browsers in the other benchmarks and tests that we conducted. We reached out to the developers of Puffin in order to elicit a comment or clarification. Until today, all we got from them was deafening silence.

Hot Loading

Next, we performed the hot page loading test to see which browser “hot loads” our test webpage fastest. Hot loading or cached page loading usually runs faster than uncached loading. This happens because the some of the webpage’s elements have already been stored or cached in the browser, so they don’t need to be re-downloaded anymore.

In the hot page loading test, we first opened our test webpage in the browser, then exited or force-stopped the browser without clearing its browsing data. Then, the app was run again, the test page was reopened, and the loading time was recorded. The steps were performed thrice per browser. The chart below shows the average load time per browser.

Android Webpage Loading Hot
Naked Browser Pro topped all other browsers in hot page loading (1.580 seconds). While Chrome aced the cold loading test, it slid down to second place this time (1.599 seconds).

Dolphin (2.456 seconds) was the slowest in the cold loading test, but Firefox took its place in this round (3.343 seconds).

Hot loading scores for Naked, Chrome, Maxthon, Baidu, and Next all went above 2 seconds, while those for Boat, UC, Opera, and Dolphin stayed above 2 seconds but below 3. Only Firefox earned a hot loading score above 3 seconds.

Puffin has no score for this test for the same reason as already explained in the section on cold page loading.

Differences in cold and hot loading times

The chart below summarizes the cold and hot page loading scores for all browser apps (except Puffin), as well as the differences in each browser’s scores.

Differences in hot and cold loading times
Although it placed last in the cold loading test and second to the last in the hot loading test, Dolphin registered the biggest drop between its cold loading and hot loading times at 3.861 seconds. This could possibly mean that Dolphin made the most significant and advantageous use of its caching mechanism among the other browsers in this group. And, because of this, subsequent reloads of a previously loaded page in Dolphin will be perceptibly much faster than its first-time load.

Chrome, Opera, and Firefox registered loading time differences less than 1 second. This may mean that if you use these browsers, it won’t matter much whether you’re cold loading or hot loading a page — the page load time difference is minimal and could possibly not be very perceptible.

Memory consumption

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-6

Memory consumption is another crucial factor in browser selection, especially among users of low-range and mid-range Android devices having limited memory. Our last set of tests measured how much memory was used by each browser.

No open page

We first measured how much memory was consumed by each browser running without any open tab or page.

To ensure result accuracy, we cleared the browser cache first, then rebooted the Nexus 4 before launching the browser. If the browser had popup dialogs, “tours”, or “getting started” prompts, we first dismissed those. Then, we terminated the browser and relaunched it. Only then did we take a reading of the browser’s memory use. Three readings were taken for each browser, the averages of which are shown in the graph below.

Memory Usage No Loading Pages

Next Browser used the least memory (51.700 MB), which was less than half of that consumed by the greatest memory user in the group — Firefox (113.767 MB).

Except Firefox’s, memory usage of all the test browsers fell below the 100-megabyte mark. These can be considered relatively lightweight, with Next, Naked, Baidu, and Chrome as the most lightweight (lowest usage range of 50 to 60 MB) in the group.

5 open tabs

Which of our 11 browsers uses the least memory even when multiple pages/tabs are open? This was what we wanted to find out in the next set of tests.

The procedure for this set is similar to that for the zero-tab test earlier. First, browser app data were cleared, the device was rebooted, browser startup dialogs were dismissed, and the browser was terminated and relaunched. Then, 5 real web pages were opened one by one in the browser while observing a 7-second delay between tab openings. After the last page has loaded, the memory use of the app at that point was recorded. Three readings were taken for each app and then averaged.

Memory Usage 5 tabs
From top position in the previous test, Next Browser slid down to fifth place in this test. Taking its place was Naked Browser Pro (117.233 MB), which ranked second in the zero-tab test.

Maxthon jumped several steps to second place, while Chrome climbed a step higher to third place. Firefox remained as the most memory-intensive browser in this group, with memory use very close to 200 MB. UC trailed close by at 197.800 MB.

Conclusion

After conducting all the tests for this post, we affirmed a notion that we’ve always held to be true: “the fastest Android browser” doesn’t exist in an absolute or universal sense.

Popular, solid, and stable browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin, Opera, and UC registered variable performance scores in the different tests. They weren’t the fastest performers in our tests. They weren’t even the most lightweight in the bunch, although Chrome did show memory usage that stayed within the lightweight half of the list.

Rising stars

Maxthon, Next, Baidu, and Boat are rising stars in the browser market. Though still building up their user base, some of these browsers actually fared better than some of the highly popular ones.

Next Browser, for example, bested the others in the SunSpider test, although it showed average performance in most of the other tests. The same can be said of Baidu and Boat.

Maxthon, meanwhile, flexed its muscle in some of the other tests. For instance, it placed second in the 5-page memory usage test, outrunning even Chrome and Puffin. It also fared well in the Kraken and Peacekeeper tests.

Promising potential

Puffin caught our interest as we went through the rounds of testing. It effortlessly registered speeds and scores that left the other test browsers eating dust. It registered the fastest performance in synthetic tests such as SunSpider, Kraken, and Browsermark.

But, we were annoyed because it refused to play ball with Peacekeeper and refused to open locally hosted web pages. Those made our data incomplete. Worse than all these is that the developers never replied to our emailed inquiries.

Naked Browser Pro also caught our eye. Before working on this post, we’ve only heard of it twice from an obscure acquaintance, and then completely forgot about it — until we saw its potential with our own eyes. It landed on top spot in two tests (hot page loading and 5-page memory usage tests) and ranked second place in three (Peacekeeper, cold page loading, and 0-page memory usage tests).

However, it stayed midway in the rankings for SunSpider, Kraken, and Browsermark. Yet, despite the browser’s mediocre results in these last three tests, Naked Browser Pro seems to be worth considering for use as primary browser, especially among those who don’t really need a memory-intensive browser for accessing online and locally hosted content not requiring very complex JavaScript functions.

The day of the Naked Puffin

Based purely on measurements and scores provided by the tests that we used, it appears that Puffin and Naked Browser Pro have earned enough proof for us to recommend them — with caveats, of course — to those who are looking for “faster browsers.”

But, as has already been noted earlier, browser speed is just one of several considerations when deciding which browser to stick with for a long time. In this article, we provided you with objective and extensive — although not exhaustive — data to help you with your decision making.

What browser do you use on your Android phone or tablet? How long have you been using it? What made you stick with it for a long time? What makes it better than the other available browsers? Let us know your browser-picking stories. Sound off in the comment box.

(with contributions from Alvin Ybañez)


    







CyanogenMod GalleryNext – FIrst look and impressions (video)

Posted by wicked January - 21 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off


Last week, CyanogenMod GalleryNext beta was announced and a public beta was opened to the community. So far results have been mixed. Many people love the the replacement app, touting how much better it is than the standard AOSP gallery. Others are a bit more conservative in their praise. So we decided we were going to go hands on and take a quick look at GalleryNext to see what it was like for ourselves. Note, you can read our assessment below or watch it above. Your call.


CyanogenMod GalleryNext screenshot

Functionality

Okay since this app is still in beta, we’re just going to go over the functionality and design pretty quickly so you can have an idea of what this is all about. As you can see, this is a gallery app so it does gallery app things like viewing photos and videos stored on your device.

As advertised you can sign into a few services to get your cloud-stored photos as well. This includes Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, and Dropbox. Signing in is easy enough and everything loads as quickly as you can reasonably expect it to.

Once everything is loaded in it can then be sorted a few different ways. You can view everything all at once in a tiled layout, view by album, and view by Moments. Moments is simply a bunch of photos that are grouped together by common things like date.

Of course, there are the basic functions of a gallery app that are present as well. There is a sharing function, the ability to view photo details, and support for photos, videos, and gifs.


CyanogenMod GalleryNext screenshot

Design

In terms of design, CyanogenMod keeps it simple. There’s a left side slide out menu that lets you navigate around the app and everything is viewed in tile format. It’s color neutral so you don’t have to worry about it clashing with any themes. That’s really it folks, nice and simple.


CyanogenMod GalleryNext screenshot

The Good

So here’s a quick list of things we liked about it.

  • It’s very simple. There’s no complicated menus to deal with or weird, unfamiliar user interface elements. Just open the left side, pick the category you want to view, and then view content. Easy peasy.
  • The Moments feature works on all of your photos at once, or each source individually, which I thought was kind of cool.
  • Signing into the various cloud services is pretty easy.

The Bad

Usually we do a list of things we didn’t like, but since this is a beta and some features may not be fully implemented and all the bugs may not be fully squashed yet, we’re going not going to give the app the same scrutiny we would give a fully released app.

  • There are some bugs that still need squashed. Again, it is a beta so this is expected but I did experience a crash or two while I was checking it out.
  • The only other thing are the number of cloud services available. Right now it’s just the four which is Facebook, Dropbox, Picasa, and Flickr. While that’ll be just fine for most people, support for additional services would be nice to see.

CyanogenMod GalleryNext screenshot

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is going to be a very solid gallery app offering when it’s finished. It’s simple and modern with enough functionality to put it head and shoulders above the standard AOSP gallery app. In most cases it’s quick and we’re sure bug fixes and optimizations will make it even better before it’s released.

If you want to check it out, we have a link to the Google+ community you can click this link and follow the instructions. It’s fairly easy, just join the community, become a beta tester, then download it. Keep in mind that this is not a finished product yet, so bad things will happen while you use this app until all the bugs get fixed. So if you’re not into being a beta tester, we recommend holding off for now.