Friday, April 20, 2018

Netflix introduces 30-seconds long vertical mobile previews on Android.

Who doesn't love trailers? Trailers are how producers get us excited and build momentum until the release of their movies. Trailers also help us, viewers, decide whether a movie or TV show is worth our time and money, and Netflix is capitalizing on that to get us to watch more series and movies.

In an update that is soon coming to Android, the streaming giant will add mobile previews to its app. The company says, "mobile previews present members with a fun, simple, and easy way to learn about all the content on Netflix - and find something great to watch even faster." The previews are 30 seconds long and are presented in a vertical format as opposed to the default landscape mode for viewing. 

"The previews are shown like a slideshow, so if you see something you like, you can tap the screen to advance to the next preview.", the company wrote in a blog post. Of course, Netflix will show the type of movies and shows based on your taste.

Again, this feature is not yet available on Android devices yet - although it made it to Apple devices already. Netflix did not say when the update will be available for Android, so make sure you check Google Play Store.

Pocket for Android now groups highlights in the order they appear in articles.

Formerly known as 'Read it Later', Pocket has become an essential app for me as it saves the articles and videos for reading and viewing later. My daily intake of articles on the web is pretty big and commuting time is not enough to read them all, making Pocket a must-have app on my supported devices. 

Besides saving content for later, Pocket also strips the articles of ads and presents them in a read-friendly format similar to reading view in Edge, the Microsoft browser for Android. As such, the article looks nicer. Pocket is also very easy to use. You come across an article and want to save it for later, simply tap the share icon and tap the Pocket icon in the Share menu. 

The app was released in 2012 and has since been updated several times. Among one of its features, is the ability to highlight things you find interesting in the articles you read. Here again, this is a simple enough feature, but very useful. Pocket improved it by grouping the highlights in the order they appear in the articles; which makes sense.

That's it in this update that raises the version number Download the update in Google Play Store.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The official NBA app on Android updated so you do not miss the 2018 Playoffs.

Tomorrow, the 2018 NBA Playoffs will begin and fans around the world will watch as their favorite teams play to reach the finals and gloriously win the Larry O'Brien cup. But we're not there yet and we all won't be able to watch every game, but thanks to the official NBA app, it will be possible to keep tabs on the games as the drama unfold no matter one's location and timezone. The app does let fans watch games live, but geographical restrictions apply.
The NBA official app on Android will bring fans live scores, stats, in-game and post-game highlights and the NBA updated the app so users can track their teams through Playoffs Matchups. This update also includes the usual bug fixes and performance improvements.
If you're a fan of the NBA, make sure you update the app in the Play Store. Enjoy the Playoff and may your team beat them all.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Microsoft Launcher beta update comes with Cortana improvements and more.

Microsoft published an updated version of its launcher app for Android today. This update is available to beta testers and being one myself, I can attest that it's stable and without risk. So, if you feel like joining the beta program, you can do so here. If you'd rather wait, this update should make its way to 'normal users' in a few weeks.

In the mean time, here's what's new in version 4.7.6:
- Support app sorting for Korean/Japanese/Russian languages in app drawer ;
- New first time experience for mobile connected users from Windows setting;
- Cortana integration improvements:
* Improve app launch experience;
* supports more device settings like WiFi, flight mode, etc;
* support navigation query;
- Bug fixing, code clean up, crash fix and performance tuning

Get the update in Google Play Store.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Instagram now lets you take portrait mode style photos/videos with new 'Focus' feature.

Today, Instagram announced a new feature called 'Focus' "that can instantly take portraits of yourself or friends that you'll want to share". 'Focus' is the portrait mode available on more and more phones these days. In case you've never heard about portrait mode, it lets you take pictures that keep your subject sharp with a blurred background.

Instagram 'Focus' feature will appear next to 'Superzoom' in the app. Tap once to take a selfie or press and hold to capture a video. Focus also works with the back-facing camera. I've tested 'Focus' on my OnePlus 5T and my first impression is that it looks weird. I took a selfie and my ears were also blurred. This thing needs some more work. The portrait mode on my OnePlus is way better - at least it doesn't treat my ears as being part of the background.

'Focus' is available in Instagram version 39.0 for Android, but on select Android devices. Instagram did not say which one. If you do not see Focus mode yet, make sure you download the latest version of the app in Google Play Store.

Source: Instagram

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Google Play Store now shows changelog right on 'Update' page.

Last week I blogged about Google making some useful changes to the Play store app with the latter showing app ranking and in some cases comparable apps. These changes have gradually rolled out to users and today, it seems Google is pushing another update to the Play store.

This morning I noticed the appearance of down-pointing arrows next to each app under the Update tab. Tapping on them reveals the changelog in a green box. This is a great feature for me as I get to see what's new right on the Update page rather than opening each app 'Read more' page to find out. 

I did not verify if this new feature is available to everyone, but as I said last week if you're not seeing these changes yet, just be patient. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Change your picture and wallpaper directly in Adobe Photoshop Express for Android.

Depending on where you stand Adobe is either a software household name or a name that is almost synonymous with vulnerabilities. Not all Adobe products have this bad reputation and fortunately Photoshop Express falls into that category of apps you can trust. If you do not have the app on your Android device yet or are looking for a good photo editor, this one is definitely worth your time. And it's completely free.

That said, Adobe Photoshop Express has been updated with some new features like the addition of a "Fade" effect and the ability to print directly from the application. This update also lets you change your device wallpaper and set profile pictures in the app via the share menu. The latter, while a great idea, only supports apps like Contacts and apps that let you set photos as wallpaper and that's basically any photo and launcher app you have installed on your device. Adobe Photoshop, however, only support WhatsApp for profile pictures and it does not show any social networks in the menu. 

Here's what's new in version 4.0.451 of Adobe Photoshop Express:
  • Add "Fade" effect and give a matte feel to your photos.
  • Print photos directly from the application.
  • Change wallpaper and profile pictures directly from the share screen.
  • UI improvements in crop tool.
  • Bug fixes.
Adobe Photoshop Express can be downloaded in Google Play Store.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Speedtest for Android gets new unit of data transfer rate and more.

Last month, Speedtest, the popular speed test app for Android received an update that introduced a new refreshed UI, as well as some new features. This time around, Speedtest is getting another update that brings in a few improvements and refinements on top of last month's update.
Speedtest added kilobytes per second (kB/s) as a new data speed unit measurement along Mbps and MB/s. The new unit has the following scales: 5000k, 10000k and 15000k.
Here's what else is new in version 4.1.1 of Speedtest:
  • Increased size and brightness of text to make it easier to read.
  • Added a progress bar during the test. Real-time line graphs to show how your speed varies during the test are coming soon.
  • Result details now show the time of the day of the test.
  • Fixed some translation errors.
That's it in this update, so grab it in Google Play store.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

[Updated] Google Play Store is showing apps rank and available comparable apps to some users.

Today I noticed a few changes in app listings in the Play Store on my OnePlus 5T, changes that are not available yet on my other devices and my wife's Samsung S7 Edge. As can be seen in the screenshot above, the details for the Facebook Messenger is now showing more information below the 'Uninstall' and 'Update' buttons.

Right underneath the buttons, the store is listing comparable apps available, which in this case is Facebook Messenger Lite. In addition, the app size is also displayed and obviously, tapping on that portion of the screen takes you to the download page of the 'comparable' app.

The Play Store is also showing the app ranking. While this may sound minor, it is very useful if you're not sure how popular the app is and this is in addition to the number of downloads to help you decide on whether to download or purchase the app.

Again, these changes do not yet appear on all my devices, so just be patient as it seems to be a server-side change that Google is randomly pushing to devices out there.

Update: After taking another look at this, it appears Google is actually recommending lite and Go apps to users so they know these apps exist. These apps are great for low-end  Android devices or for users living in areas with a poor internet connection.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Periscope lets you select the exact part of a video you want to share.

If like me you're particularly annoyed with having to share an entire video with your friends while all you want to show just is the most interesting part, you will welcome this update from Periscope. As from now on, you won't have to tell the time mark your friends should start watching when sharing.

Periscope gives you control to select the exact part of the broadcast that matters most and share it. Those at the end of the sharing line will see the broadcast start exactly at that point you selected. Unfortunately, there is no way to set an endpoint, a feature which would have been nice too, letting you select from one precise point to another. Maybe we'll see that in a future update.

The update is already live in Google Play Store. Now YouTube, if only you could implement the same feature.