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Stop the presses! Top 5 news readers for Android

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Thanks to the Internet and mobile devices, we live in a world where we get an almost never-ending flow of news available at our fingertips. So much so that now our problem is how to best handle that flood of information rushing towards us. News readers have become not just our source but also our filter and our shield, not just letting us choose the news and topics that we do want while keeping others at bay, they also give a bit of a visual flair to those bits of information, making the reading experience more pleasurable and engaging. Here are our top 5 picks for news readers on Android.

Zite

This one is an oldie but goodie. Zite is one of the earliest entries in the news reader category and exemplifies the basic concept of many modern readers today. You are basically given a curated list of topics to choose from and, using that initial selection, it builds up your personal Zite, with news selected specifically for those categories gathered from various sources. However, it doesn’t simply dump all news items on your lap, though it may in the beginning. Zite allows you to thumbs up or down articles so that it will know the kinds of articles and topics it will bump up to the top of the list in the future.

Unfortunately, Zite hasn’t been updated since October last year, which isn’t surprising considering it was acquired by Flipboard, which we’ll tackle later. The app will soon disappear once Zite is satisfied that it has pushed enough of its features and technology into Flipboard. That said, Zite still has a loyal following and some cases, like sharing with social networks and sending to Evernote or Pocket, are adequately handled by Android’s sharing framework itself.

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News360

Another old and mainstay news reader is News360, a service that launched back in 2010 with its Android app following in 2011. Like Zite and many other news readers, News360 offers a curated list of topics to choose from. The number of broad categories presented to new users is a bit deceptive, making you think that is has fewer options. However, News360 has a search feature that opens up even more items to choose from. In fact, search is one of the features that it has over something like Zite. You can also search for news, topics, and whatnot, letting you jump directly to the content that matters most to you. One other unique feature you might not find in other news readers of its ilk is the option a Local News category, where you can gather stories relevant to your particular location, either from your device’s GPS or via manual input.

Although updated regularly, News360 is showing its age in terms of appearance. While it might have fans, its semi-skeumorphic design might not win any awards in terms of aesthetics, a topic that our next two contenders will have something to say about.

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Google Play Newsstand

Of course, Google has its now news reader. And no, it isn’t that odd duck Google Currents, which it replaces anyway. Play Newsstand is both a news reader and, for supported regions, a magazine reader. For our topic, however, we will focus on the more widely available functionality. Again you get the curated selection of topics. This time, however, you can actually choose the news sources from that particular category instead of being presented with a mishmash of various sources. That said, you still can’t add your own source that isn’t included in Google’s list. But since we’re talking about Google here, there is a handy search function to check if it isn’t already there. If you’ve been a Google Reader user, your previous feeds are automatically included in Newsstand.

While the app has the staples of any news reader, like saving offline for later perusal, Newsstand really stands out in its design. As a Google app, it exemplifies Google’s current aesthetics and design language, employing clean interfaces and swatches of colors. It will most likely be updated to Material Design in future iterations.

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Flipboard

This app is probably the most popular news reader when it comes to visual design. As the name suggets, Flipboard uses a flip page turning animation to add a bit of fanciness to your reading, almost like a physical magazine, something felt more on the tablet interface than on smartphones. Like other readers, you get to choose your sources from a set of recommended categories as well as sources. However, you can also search for other topics or sites and Flipboard will present to you relevant results that can be added to your collection, ranging from social network feeds to RSS, if any.

Perhaps one of the key features of Flipboard, aside from its fancy animation, is the ability to create your own magazine by gathering articles from your various sources. This gives users an easy way to share with others the things they care about in bulk and in a visually appealing way. It is, however, a bit more confusing to use for first time users, especially those migrating from other readers, as it doesn’t use the same workflow or concepts as other apps, so you will have to invest more time in trying to find your around. It might, however, be worth it.

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Feedly

Another popular app, or more properly platform, is Feedly. In a league of its own, Feedly started off as one of the many Google Reader clients that presented RSS feeds in a prettier way than Reader’s spartan interface. However, when Google tragically shut down Reader, Feedly stepped up to not only catch former Reader users but also to become a platform itself, completely filling in the hole left by Google Reader’s demise. That is why Feedly supports the RSS/ATOM “news feed” formats that lets you add arbitrary blogs and websites to your list. That said, it still offers an Explore functionality that lets you browse through its curated categories, in case you were in an adventurous mood.

Feedly can perhaps be considered a power user app, offering a lot more options ranging from default saving tool to the visual presentation of content. As a cross-platform service, Feedly has the advantage of having other third-party clients meet the needs or aesthetic bents of users on other devices or operating systems. One thing that it doesn’t have that apps like Zite and New360 offer is learning capability. It doesn’t rank articles for you and just presents them as they come. In short, you are in total control of what you get, which is just what some users might prefer.

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Wrap-up

There are a plethora of news readers out there, some with their own preferred backend service. We haven’t even covered the custom news readers that specific to OEM’s like Samsung’s Flipboard-powered My Magazine, HTC’s BlinkFeed, or Sony’s Socialife News.

Do you have a favorite news reader of your own? Or do you have a favorite feature in one of the apps mentioned above? Come share with the community in the comments below!

WeTransfer app makes it easy to share photos and videos with friends

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

If you share a lot of photos and video with your friends, the WeTransfer app has been updated and promises to make sharing your content easier. WeTransfer has now hit version 1.0.20 with an update this week. The app measures 5.3MB and requires Android 4.0.3 and higher to operate.

Once installed, the app aims to make it much easier to share photo and video content with your friends. Using the app, you can share content up to 10GB in size and the app gives you some cool backgrounds to look at as the transfer happens.

Your friends will receive an email with a download link to click to get the content you are sharing. The app has a number of features to make using it easy and fast such as tap to select content and tap and hold to preview photos and videos shared.

Users can also tap the first image and then double tap other images or videos to share a range of content. A double finger swipe in your content will scroll between months and a three-finger scroll goes to the bottom of the list. The Android share button also allows you to share field from anywhere in the OS. Shares can also be paused and resumed later to save data if you go off WiFi.

Download: WeTransfer

Backblaze backup service now has an Android app

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

If you’ve been saving your digital files to the Backblaze online backup tool, you will be pleased to know that they finally have an Android app so you can access your data through your smartphone or tablet. Most data storage services, be it on an actual physical server or a cloud, needs to have this functionality as more and more users tend to be mobile most of the time and need instant access to their documents.

With the new Android app, Backblaze users will be able to search through their files in the server and view, open and download them to their Android device of choice. If users need to do so, they can also share specific files through SMS, email and social networks as well. The files backed up can also be accessed even if the computers are not turned on or if they’re offline.

Backblaze is available in around 175 countries and has been hailed as the best back up solution by several tech organisations and websites and has over 100,000,000 GB of data backed up. However, the app seems to be limited for now, as it can only view files, but not back-up the mobile device itself. Other data backup tools, particularly those that are on a cloud like Google Drive and OneDrive, can also edit files and synchronise them automatically across all devices. Maybe Backblaze will be able to add better features as they go on.

While the app is free to download from the Google Play Store, Backblaze’s service is not. It backs up your computer or laptop’s files, with unlimited data, for $5 per month. You can try it out for free at first, just to compare it to other backup services like Dropbox, Box, etc.

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LifeStats automatically journals your mobile life for you

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

In an age where instant and automatic are what we expect from cars, food and our digital life, apps that make our life easier are certainly welcomed by smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Journalling used to be about writing down what happened to you during the day on a notebook, which turned into something you posted on social networks, and now, it’s something you let your gadgets do for you, with lifelogging apps. LifeStats is one of the newer ones in the market, and it gives new meaning to the word automatic journal.

If you’re too lazy or too busy to record where you go and what you do everyday, then LifeStats can actually do it for you. It tracks the places that you’ve been or go to regularly, how many times you’ve been there, how long you stay there and even how long it takes you to get there. It will then generate a daily journal of all your activities and shows you the results on a graphic image and plotted out in a map. You can also choose to view it by day, week, month or year. And if you want to take a closer look at the events, you can click on a particular one and it will zoom in using Google Street View.

You can also choose to view your activities through stats, through actual places or through a calendar-type journal, where you can also input your thoughts or pictures just like you would in a diary. Other lifelogging apps, like Sony’s LifeLog (which is more concerned with physical activities) or Friday, which we did a hands-on on a few months ago, may have more features as of the moment, but trying out a new app is always something this digital generation will always enjoy.

LifeStats may have an advantage geographically speaking as it is actually powered by former check-in (and current recommendation app) giant FourSquare. If you feel like trying your hand at life logging (or rather, letting the app try it for you), you can download LifeStats for free from the Google Play Store.

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VIA: XDA Developers

Google Voice Search now understands multiple languages

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Google has finally rolled out a feature that was rumored to be in the works for a few weeks now. Starting with version 3.6 of the Google Search app, you will be able to select and speak in multiple languages and it will give you just the right answer in the right language, no sweat at all.

Sure, Google Search actually supported many languages, but this new feature supports multiple languages simultaneously. In the past, in order to have the app recognize the language you’re speaking in, you’d have to switch between language in the app’s settings so that if you said something in English and it will give you a result in English, even if you were saying something in Japanese. Now you can add Japanese to your list of supported languages and it’ll show Japanese results when you say “konnichiwa”.

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There are some caveats to this new feature. First is that it works only with voice searches or spoken words. Typing out foreign words will give you results as if you were searching in your default language. Only a maximum of 5 simultaneous languages are allowed, including your preferred default language. To set that default language, you will have to tap down and hold on the language instead of simply just tapping to enable it.

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This new feature will be very convenient not only for those who handle different languages but especially for those traveling abroad. As mentioned, this feature comes via Google Search version 3.6, which should be rolling out to users already.

SOURCE: Google

Flynx browser lets you multi-task while websites load

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

When your Internet connection is not as fast as you’d like it to be and you’re browsing through some links but you also need to do other things on your smartphone, then you need a browser that has the capability to multi-task with you. Some lightweight browsers like Now Browser or Javelin have the ability to do that and another one that you can add to your options is Flynx, even though it is still in Beta mode.

Simply put, Flynx is a floating browser that can work in the background while you’re doing other more important things, like playing Flappy Bird or trying to like everything on sight on Facebook, because life is too short to just stare at your screen while the site you’re waiting for loads. While your web page is loading, Flynx stays as a bubble-type chat head-like shape in the background. It also shows you the progress of loading, and when you see it’s done, you can just click on the bubble to expand it.

Other features of the browser include turning the website or blog that you’re looking at more readable by removing unnecessary elements and links in the browser. And in case you feel like sharing the link with others, you also now have the option of copying and sharing it, as well as opening a link within onto another bubble. And yes, you will be able to open as many as four multiple links at the same time, and even adjust your default bubble size.

While most still prefer using full browsers like Chrome or Firefox, if you’re a person who tries to do many things on your smartphone, lightweight ones may sometimes be better in terms of getting things done. If you like the sound of Flynx, even if it’s still in beta, then you can download it for free through the Google Play Store.

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MediaFire offers automatic photo back-up, media streaming

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Cloud storage apps have been stepping up their game in order to stand out from the competition, as more and more people are compelled to back up their files on the data storage offers available to them. MediaFire was one of the earliest players in the game, back when cloud was still something you saw in the sky. Their acclaimed Android app’s newest update offers even more features, like automatically backing up photos and streaming your saved content.

MediaFire now offers its users an option to automatically upload in the cloud the photos and videos that you have on your device. There are times when you need to be prompted to back these up, and more often than not, you actually forget to do so. But now, you can rest assured that they are indeed saved on the cloud, if you choose that option.

Another new feature is the ability to stream your music or videos that are saved in the cloud, from wherever you are, as long as you have the app and connection. Since they are in the cloud anyway, why not make use of this content without having to play them from the original source. And if you want to share this content, along with other documents and files stored on MediaFire, you can now do so using SMS/MMS, email or chat apps like Viber, Line, WhatsApp, etc.

MediaFire is also now offering 1TB of extra storage, on top of the free 12 gigs available immediately, for only $24.99 a year (which comes out at $2.50/month). But those who don’t want to avail of that offer can still earn up to 50GB of free space on the cloud just by doing certain tasks asked of you. You can download MediaFire for free from the Google Play Store and then upgrade within the app if you choose to do so.

SOURCE: MediaFire

New App: WeTransfer hits the Play Store, allows file transfers of up to 10GB at once

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

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It’s pretty annoying to find that a email to a friend with a bunch of photos didn’t end up sending because of your email’s attachment size limit.

But with new app WeTransfer, you won’t have to worry about exceeding that limit.

The app lets you send up to 10GB of data at once to another email address. The receiving address will get a download link — from there, they’ll be able to download all the photos on their device.

It’s pretty simple, and that’s pretty much all you can ask from an app — that it works, and that it’s easy. Hit the break for a list of the app’s features, a gallery of screenshots and a link to the app in the Play Store.

Features

- Tap to select
- Tap and hold to preview photos and videos
- Tap first, double tap next, to select a range
- Double finger swipe to scroll between months
- Triple finger swipe to scroll to bottom
- Share files from anywhere in the OS through Android’s share button
- Pause your transfer and resume later

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qr codePlay Store Download Link

Come comment on this article: New App: WeTransfer hits the Play Store, allows file transfers of up to 10GB at once

Noke Bluetooth padlock unlocks via Android app

Posted by wicked August - 21 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

At some point during your life, you have probably fought with a combination lock on something and wished for an easier way to secure your stuff. Whether it’s forgetting the code for your bike lock or not being able to get a locker open at school, fiddling with keys and combinations can be a pain. A new lock has surfaced called Noke that requires no keys or combinations to open.

Noke uses Bluetooth connectivity and an app on your Android or iOS device to unlock. With the app running on your Bluetooth equipped smartphone, the Noke lock will unlock automatically when you get near it. One of the cooler features of the Noke lock is that you can also unlock it remotely.

That means you can give someone access to your locker while you are on vacation or let someone share your bike without having to go and unlock it for them. When the user gets within ten feet of the lock, it will unlock automatically via Bluetooth. That feature can be turned off in the app. Users can get push notifications to tell you when the lock is being unlocked.

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The people behind Noke have also made a custom bike chain and mount so you can keep your bike safe and secure. For times when your phone is dead or lost, the Noke does have quick click access that allows you to open it by clicking the lock shackle in a specific pattern. Noke is on Kickstarter now seeking $100,000 and it has raised over $240,000 with 27 days to go. The lock will ship in February 2015, if all goes well, and a pledge of $59 can get you your own Noke.

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SOURCE: Kickstarter

Minuum rolls out v2.11 with floating keyboard,quick tips

Posted by wicked August - 21 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Revolutionary virtual keyboard Minuum has released the latest version of its app. Version 2.11 now has an adjustable floating mode to make it easier for users to use the keyboards on their smartphone or tablet. They will also be releasing several quick tip tutorial videos to guide users who cannot intuitively adjust to Minuum’s style of virtual keyboards, which aims to change how we use them on mobile gadgets that are obviously smaller than our desktops.

The floating mode allows the user to adjust the size and position of the keyboard on your device’s screen. This is useful for when you’d want to type with one hand on your smartphone or when you’re typing out an especially long document on your tablet. The compact mode that is also now available on v2.11 is the same as the floating mode, but this time you can dock it to your place of choice on your screen.

Some other changes that come with the latest update is streamlining the shift menu to remove the clutter and paring it down to simpler choices. The options that have been removed can now be found on the Minuum settings section. Users also now have the option of choosing what happens to the period button when you double tap the space bar.

And because not everyone can intuitively know and appreciate all the features of Minuum, they will be rolling out several Quick Tip videos to show users how to maximize their virtual keyboard. The update is now available on both the Google Play Store and through manual installation as well.

SOURCE: Minuum

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