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Withings Pules O2 tracks blood oxygen and sleep

Posted by wicked April - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Withings, the same company who outed the Wiscale wireless scale more than three years ago, has released a new version of its Pulse activity tracker. The Pulse O2 is more of an incremental update that adds a few new features, in particularly the ability to monitor blood oxygen levels and sleep patterns.

Aside from tracking steps, elevation, and heart rate, Pulse O2 can now also help you keep your blood oxygen level in check. It utilizes the 4 LEDs acting as pulse oximeters. Blood oxygen monitors have started becoming a fad among health-oriented smart devices, including smartphones, with blood oxygen being labeled as the fifth vital sign (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate being the other four). This next generation Pulse O2 can also monitor your sleep patterns. It can measure how long you’ve stayed in bed in contrast to how long you’ve actually slept. It can also determine your sleep phases in order for you to analyze and adjust during your waking hours. Unlike its other features, which function whether you wear the band or just tuck it in your pocket or bag, the sleep monitor will only work if you sleep wearing it.

Of course, the Pulse O2 syncs its data to a smartphone and to a Withings account, which you, as an owner, should probably have. With the account, users can have their data available anywhere and analyzed to provide some insight and recommendations, which you can of course view on your smartphone or on the web. It even offers the usual gimmicks to make things more fun, or more competitive, like badges, which you can track on a map, and leaderboards. The Health Mate app is available for free on Android, which you can download from Google Play Store via the link below.


The Withings Pulse O2 has a price tag of $119.95. The new features are also coming to the original Pulse tracker via a firmware update, though no target date has been mentioned. This will ensure that those who own the older Pulse model need not feel left out, though it also means they won’t feel the urge to purchase another device from Withings.

Download: Withings Health Mate on Google Play Store
VIA: SlashGear

Event Logger keeps an eye on everything your device does

Posted by wicked April - 22 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Even if you’re not one to pay much attention to your device’s resource usage there will always come a time when, for one reason or another, you wonder what just happened that zapped your battery. For those occasions, Event Logger might be the perfect little utility for you.

Event Logger is exactly what its name says. It is a program that keeps a log of every system-level activity that your device does. Well, almost everything. The list of supported system events is quite long and includes enabling/disabling and connecting/disconnecting WiFi, Bluetooth or GPS, Turning screen on or off, calls, starting of apps, and others. The app doesn’t require root at all, but for those using the Xposed Framework, an additional event, media play/pause, is also available.

The developer is open to suggestions for other events, provided the Android system allows for them, and is quite ambitious. Already in his list are monitoring for app installs and removals, starting of system-level services, mobile network, and nfc. If you noticed, most of these are just events of when a certain functionality has been disabled or enabled. It doesn’t really mention which apps triggered or used them. It could be still useful in tracing down when they happened, which could clue you in on which apps you were using then.


The app does have its downsides, and where it does, it hurts badly. The app is free but, as you’d expect, is ad-riddled. And not just ads at the top or bottom of the screen, but fullscreen ads that interrupt your workflow. At the moment, it also doesn’t export those logs so you practically lose that data. If these limitations make you uneasy, another older and similar-looking app called Trust – Event Logger is also available, albeit with a smaller set of monitored events.

Download: Event Logger, Trust

Pushbullet hands-on: easily send links (and more) to and from your phone

Posted by wicked April - 21 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Pushbullet isn’t a brand new app. In fact, we’ve covered it here on Android Community several times going back to October of last year. But while you know about an app, sometimes you do not always immediately see the need to use it. That recently happened to me with Pushbullet.

While I knew about the app, a recent episode of the In Beta podcast brought it back to the front of my mind. And as a result, I’ve been spending more time, and finding more uses for it. Hence the reason for this post — in hopes someone else will rediscover Pushbullet and find value like I did.

Anyway, the concept of Pushbullet is simple — it allows you to quickly (and easily) send things from your computer to your phone (and vice versa). Pushbullet has an Android app as well as an extension for Chrome and Firefox. I’ve been using it between Chrome and Android. Specifically, I’ve been using it to send images and links to my Moto X. This is done using the browser extension, or by right-clicking and choosing the Pushbullet option.

Pushbullet also has an IFTTT channel with plenty of recipes to get you started. I have yet to dive into the IFTTT side of Pushbullet, though I am sure that will happen soon enough. For now my usage has been (happily) limited to quick transfers of information. Along with sending things to my phone, Pushbullet has also proven handy as a quick way to send images from my phone to computer.


The nice part of all this — Pushbullet is free. And even nicer — Pushbullet is easy to setup. You just need to download the Android app and install the Chrome (or Firefox extension). You’ll login using your Google account, and be up and running in about a minute or so. All in all, you can send a Note, Link, Address, List, Picture, or other File.

Admittedly, my usage has been on the basic side. And while I am happy with that, there is another perk I suspect many will enjoy. Pushbullet can mirror your device notifications. Basically, this means you can have any notifications from your smartphone sent to your computer. This option is presented during the initial setup, and can later be turned on or off using the “Notification Mirroring Service” option in the Settings.

Bottom line here, I rediscovered an app I had known about, but never used and forgot about. More important — it has since proven useful for me. The necessary links are all sitting below, as well, a quick “getting started” video from the folks at Pushbullet.

LINKS: Pushbullet for Android, Pushbullet for Chrome, Pushbullet for IFTTT

SOURCE: Pushbullet

Android 4.4.3 imminent release hinted by Google Edu Device Setup app

Posted by wicked April - 21 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

We’ve already heard word of an Android 4.4.3 update already in the works, but now we’re seeing hints that the release might be coming soon. An app maintained by Google under its Education endeavor was just updated to add, among other things, support for Android 4.4.3.

The app itself, called the Google Edu Device Setup, won’t probably be of much interest to most end users, unless they’re part of the Google’s Education program. It is practically a tool for Google Education administrators to setup and manage tablets that were bought from the program, allowing them to simply copy approved configurations to devices instead of manually tweaking each one. The new update opens up the app to even non-Nexus tablets and, as mentioned, adds support for Android 4.4.3.

Up to now, the exact details of this upcoming Android version are still shrouded in mystery and, therefore, rumors and leaks. The most that we can say about it is that, given the version number, it will most likely be an incremental upgrade and we should not expect groundbreaking changes. Then again, Google has been known to break a few conventions when it comes to version numbers and releases, so we’re still expecting the unexpected.

Though this app does confirm the existence of Android 4.4.3, it doesn’t really give us a more solid date of when it will arrive. Given that Google I/O will soon be upon us, it is probably reasonable to expect that it will roll out around that time to take advantage of the hype around the event.

Belkin WeMo app update adds more scheduling options and long press gesture support

Posted by wicked April - 18 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Consumer electronics and accessory maker Belkin has just announced the upcoming availability of an update to its WeMo mobile app. This update brings in some new ways to control company’s Internet-connected WeMo Light Switch, like simulated occupancy, sunrise/sunset offsets, and long press gestures for IFTTT integration.

Belkin unveiled the WeMo Light Switch early 2013 as its entry into the growing home automation market. While the features of the switch itself and its mobile app are quite basic, integration with the IFTTT (“If-This-Then-That”) automation service pretty much makes up for that and more. This update for the WeMo app puts more functionality under owners’ fingertips without having to purchase a new light switch.

Stimulated occupancy or away mode is a setting that turns lights on and off at random intervals, making it appear as if someone is at home when actually there is none. This technique is usually employed as a security method and deterrent for theft. Users will soon also be able to set intervals when the switch will turn lights on or off before the actual sunset or sunrise time for their location. This is useful for cases when things get darker or brighter well before the sun rises or sets. And finally, IFTTT users will have a new input condition available to them. A long press of more than 2 seconds on the switch itself, not on the smartphone app, can be used as a trigger for any IFTTT action. Current IFTTT recipes that take advantage of that feature include sending an e-mail or message when the light switch is long pressed, ringing the paired smartphone in case it was misplaced, or simply toggling another WeMo connected device.

The Belkin WeMo update isn’t out yet but will soon be available on both Google Play Store and Apple’s app store. The Belkin WeMo Light Switch itself is still available for purchase, priced at $49.99, but the app can be downloaded for free.

Download: WeMo on Google Play Store
SOURCE: Belkin

AVG Vault keeps files on your device secret and safe

Posted by wicked April - 17 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

AVG has just announced the latest member of its family of security software and services. With AVG Vault, users can entrust their private files, personal information, photos, and more to a doubly-encrypted storage that can also be securely synced to other devices through the cloud.

As the number of mobile users grow, the amount of personal information stored in these devices, and by extension on the Internet, also grow exponentially. So too the temptation for less conscientious individuals to try to gain access to other people’s sensitive data. Most users, however, are not that vigilant or are put off by complex steps in order to secure their information. AVG Vault tries to address all those concerns by providing users a single storage location for things they want to keep private but, at the same time, offers the convenience of backing them up via popular online storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive.

The key to AVG Vault’s offering is a double layer of security. The first comes via the AES-256 Advanced Encryption Standard, the same encryption standard used by banks and the US government. The second is AVG’s own MyAccount service. The encryption makes use of a custom 4-6 digit PIN that users set up to secure and access their files. This pin isn’t stored anywhere, making it harder to hack but also harder to retrieve, even by AVG itself, in case the user forgot what it is. The types of data that can be stored inside the Vault range from user-supplied information like credit card numbers, login credentials, and notes to more standard types of files like photos and documents. The AVG Vault app itself offers several security features, like an Idle Time Lock that automatically locks the app after a period of inactivity, and an Attempted Access Notification that will take a photo using the front-facing camera and secretly send it to an e-mail address in case the wrong password was entered three times in a row.


One final feature that AVG Vault offers is syncing through the cloud, which some might think defeats the purpose of security and privacy. The difference, however, is that the files stored by AVG Vault in Dropbox or Google Drive are also encrypted, making it impossible to access them outside of the Vault app. This gives users the ability to backup those private files and, in the case of loss, restore them on a new device, without having to worry too much about the security of the cloud service itself.


AVG Vault is available for free on Google Play Store. An AVG MyAccount is required in order to use the service, and of course, separate accounts for Dropbox and Google are needed to use the cloud syncing feature.

Download: AVG Vault on Google Play Store

Fleksy 2.1 expands international coverage with new layouts and languages

Posted by wicked April - 17 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Fleksy, which calls itself the “Happy Typing” keyboard, is spreading its wings in this latest update for the flexible, and forgiving, Android alternative keyboard. Starting with this release, Fleksy will be supporting 6 more languages, including Swedish and Czech, and adding keyboard layouts such as QWERTZ and Dvorak.

Fleksy made a name for itself among the myriad keyboard apps available on Android by offering a set of rather peculiar features you’d be hard pressed to find on other popular keyboards. While it did not sport swipe-based typing popularized by Swype, and now included in Google Keyboard, it did boast of more lenient learning algorithms that made more room for errors and imprecise tapping. Perhaps its most curious feature is the invisibility option which, may sound like a gimmick, it is a feature that made it a perfect fit for miniscule devices like, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Gear. It even has badges for typing achievements just like in some games.

However, Fleksy is still a regular keyboard that needs to also support no-nonsense features as well, and in that aspect it does not disappoint. This latest update takes that serious character even further by expanding its support for more languages and keyboard layouts. In this update, Swedish, Danish, Malay, Hungarian, Czech, and Slovak have been added, but they’re still in Beta status so things might not exactly be perfect. As for keyboard layouts, QWERTZ, Colemak, and geek favorite Dvorak join the ranks of QWERTY, QZERTY, and AZERTY, giving users more choices depending on their locale or preferences.

The update also adds a whooping 200 and more Emojis as well as shortcuts to those game-like Badges. What hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that the free version of Flesky still lasts only 30 days. Those who wish to continue using this predictive keyboard must be prepared to part with $3.99 for the unlocked version.

Download: Fleksy (Free, Paid) on Google Play Store
SOURCE: Fleksy

Google Camera app arrives in the Play Store

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

Google has released another app in the Play Store this morning. This latest is Google Camera, which is available for devices running Android 4.4 Kit Kat. The setup appears identical to what you would find on a Nexus or Google Play edition device and brings features to include Photo Spheres.

For those unfamiliar, Photo Sphere images were first introduced back with Jelly Bean. Perhaps more important though — this means more users have the ability to capture those “immersive” 360 degree views. Basically, these are sort of a step above a regular panorama image. Google even has a nice community built up around Photo Sphere images.

Moving on, other highlights of the Google Camera app include Panorama and Lens Blur. The latter allows the user to create SLR-like images with shallow depth of field. Remaining highlights include the large capture button and 100 percent viewfinder which simply means you’ll get the maximum resolution from the sensor (without any dropped pixels).

As we’ve seen with other Google apps in the past — this opens the possibility for frequent updates. For now though, you can grab the app using this Google Play Store link.

HoverChat brings Chatheads multi-tasking to SMS

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

For some mobile phone users, SMS is more of a transient activity that might be an annoying interruption at times. HoverChat tries to keep that annoyance to a minimum by keeping most of the messaging app’s interface out of the way and using floating heads instead.

Facebook‘s Chatheads inspired a new way of dealing with mostly temporary content like notifications and messages that has been used and abused by many apps and even whole custom ROMs. The idea has merit, definitely, as long as it is done tastefully and in good measure. HoverChat attempts to do just that by taking the Chatheads metaphor, limiting it to, at least for now, SMS and MMS, and throwing in some features that could help you keep sane, and even adding a small dash of encryption to the mix.

Perhaps the greatest benefit that HoverChat offers is the configurability of its “popup heads” feature. If you do not care for that at all, you can simply disable it and the app behaves like any other messaging app, albeit sporting a different and, as we shall see, very customizable appearance. But of course, HoverChat is really about those heads. The app does let you individually toggle the feature for each and every contact so that you get to choose which heads you would like to show up and which ones remain confined inside the app. Like Facebook’s implementation, the popup heads appear when a new message arrives, with the contact’s photo inside a floating circle, also configurable, and the message in a popup. Again, HoverChat puts its own spin on the idea and also includes an option to render that message popup translucent, allowing you to see the message and still see anything beneath it.


HoverChat offers users a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to customization right out of the box. For one, you’re not really limited to using a round head like Facebook does. You can choose from hearts, stars, flowers, bubbles, squares and even some animated heads from the store. Different color themes are also available for the choosing. HoverChat even lets you pick up a font style to match. Not all of these come for free, however, and some of them do cost a dollar. The $3.99 premium version, however, supposedly covers all of those in-app purchases, though the app’s description doesn’t really mention it.


HoverChat has one final feature that gives justice to its former name of Ninja SMS. It has what it calls an Anti-NSA mode that lets users encrypt their messages. However, Ninja mode only works among ninjas, meaning that the option, buried beneath the per-contact popup settings, is only available when communicating between other HoverChat users as well, which might negate the purpose of the feature.

Download: HoverChat (Free, Paid) on Google Play Store

BBC iPlayer now sports video downloads on most Android devices

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

BBC has just shared some good news to users of its BBC iPlayer app on Android. Those with devices running Android 4.0 or higher can now have access to video downloads, though the success or quality of that experience is not exactly guaranteed to be smooth.

Last September, BBC launched support for downloading TV programs via its Android app on a select number of devices, 11 in total, including both models of the Nexus 7 tablets, the HTC One (M7), Samsung Galaxy S II, SIII, and S 4, among others. BBC has been growing that roster though rather slowly, supposedly due to stringent testing of the myriad of hardware and software combinations possible. Now, they are somewhat throwing caution to the wind in order to bring the feature to majority of their users and simply making the feature available with barely little testing.

The good news is that now, anyone with a more recent Android version, which BBC claims to comprise around 96 percent of the app’s users, will now be able to enjoy video downloads on their devices. The bad news is that BBC is practically offloading QA testing to its users. As such, BBC isn’t giving any guarantees that video downloading will be a painless experience outside those it had previously officially supported. With more than 5,000 possible combinations of phones, tablets, and Android version, it would just be statistically impossible for them to guarantee each one.

That said, BBC isn’t exactly abandoning its users to frolic or flail, whichever the case may be. They do have a mechanism available that will disable video downloads for specific Android device models and versions that are reported to be critically misbehaving. However, for some such devices that are only slightly having problems, BBC will just list them but not disable video downloads for them wholesale. It believes that any download is better than no downloads at all, and some users might even agree.