Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sphero Mini update lets you talk or sing to move robot faster and use your hands and feet in Desktoy modes.

I recently bought the Sphero Mini for my 7 years old daughter and this has been undoubtedly the best toy purchase I’ve ever made. The app-enabled robotic ball is fun to play with in that you can control it via Bluetooth on Android or Apple-made devices. The Mini itself can transform into a controller to play games right in the app. The latter has been updated today with two new features: Scream Drive and Desktoy modes.

Sphero Mini lets you use your facial expression to move the ball around. While it is not perfect, it is fun to play and get ready for a good laugh with the funny faces as players try to drive the Mini around. Things are about to get even more interesting or annoying with today’s update. With Scream Drive, players will use their voice to make the little robot move faster. You see where this going, right? The louder you talk or sing, the faster the robot accelerates. The app doesn’t offer a built-in karaoke, so you’ll have to either improvise or come up with your own playlist. So, get ready to make some NOISE.

The second feature is equally fun, albeit less noisy or annoying and it’s called Desktoy modes. In most case scenarios, the smartphone is the robot’s controller. You use it to change its color, to roll around. Sure, you use the Mini as a game controller, but you’ll still be holding your phone or maybe it will be sitting on desk, but not far away.

Desktoy modes introduce a new way to interact and play with your Sphero Mini without the phone or tablet. The new games let you put the Mini on a flat surface, say a table, and you have to use your hands to prevent the robot from falling off or escaping. The longer you manage to keep the Mini on the table, you guess it, the faster the robot will move around. You can use your feet too – not on the table though. Sphero Mini will turn green when you win or red if you lose.

Desktoy modes is definitely less noisy than Scream Drive, but be careful with letting that little robot falling off a table, it may not handle that very well in the long run.

If you own a Sphero Mini, download the update in Google Play Store and have fun with these two new features.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Join a friend's live video on Instagram with the new 'Request' button.

Instagram for Android has been updated today with a new feature that lets users join live videos of their friends. Instagram added a new ‘Request’ button in the comments section. So, when watching a friend’s video, simply tap the request button. The broadcaster will see the request and choose to accept or reject it. The broadcaster will see a ‘View’ button to accept or reject a friend’s request. Should the broadcaster accept the request, the screen will split in half “so you can hang out live with your friend.” The video host can also “remove a guest and add someone else at any time.

This update is rolling out starting today in Google PlayStore. Just be patient if you do not see it yet.
Source: Instagram

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Capture and save PDFs with Office Lens while offline and without having to log in.

Office Lens is a powerful scanner on your Android device. The app was designed for easy scanning of documents, images and whiteboards. For the latter Office Lens will remove the glare and other imperfections to make it readable. No matter what you’ve scanned, you can use Office Lens built-in tools to, say, convert a document to PDF. Same can be done with an image and with the integration of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Office Lens will smoothly convert to these file format as well and save them to OneDrive or your local device. In order to take advantage of all these features, a Microsoft Account is needed. But not always.

Today’s update introduces the ability to save PDF files when your device is offline without having to log in. A feature that is handy when on the go and there’s no internet access. Microsoft says that this update will let you “quickly save PDF captures to your device without having to log in and without a watermark.

Office Lens new offline feature makes the app even more useful and powerful. So make sure you check it out in Google Play Store for free.

Periscope introduces 'Do Not Disturb' and tap-to-focus in camera.

Periscope for Android has been updated to give users the ability to control when to get notified of any activity going on in Periscope. Dubbed “Do Not Disturb”, it’s a very welcome feature that, in my opinion, should be made mandatory in every app using notifications.

‘Do Not Disturb’ is simple to set up. It can be found in Notification Settings. Navigate to your profile within the app and tap Notification Settings and you’ll find it right there, at the very top. Obviously, it’s disable by default. Use the toggle to enable it and set the Start and End time you do not want to be disturbed. Easy.

There is also a little something for Broadcasters in this update. They will be able to tap to focus “on a specific part in the camera”. I think that is quite self-explanatory.

This update brings the version number to 1.18 and can be downloaded in Google Play for free.

Private browser Firefox Focus updated with swipe-to-refresh and Google as default search engine.

Recently, Firefox introduced a new browser for Android called Firefox Focus which, by default blocks ad trackers and lets you easily erase your history, passwords and cookies. The browser also features a minimalistic design with few configurations options - it does not even support tabs. I use it mostly when doing quick searches or to check some news. Another point that may not make Firefox Focus popular with users is having Yahoo as its default search engine. That is until today.

Version 2.4 of Firefox Focus changes the default search engine for the US, UK and Taiwan to Google. The app still list other engines should you want to change. Currently on the list are:, DuckDuckGo, Twitter and Wikipedia.

In addition to the above, Mozilla also added a swipe-to-refresh feature. Users will be able to refresh a webpage by swiping or pulling down.

If you’re a privacy-minded user, Firefox Focus is definitely the browser you should set as default on your Android device. It will even remind you to erase your history when running in the background by pushing a notification to your device. Simply tap the notification and your history is gone.

Make sure you check out Firefox Focus in Google Play Store. It’s free.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pocket Casts update fixes Stats sharing, improve Chrome Cast support and more.

I listen to a lot of podcast every day of the week, with two podcasts each day covering technology exclusively. Pocket Casts for Android is my favorite pod catcher app and is also reliable in that I don’t have to remember downloading my podcasts when they become available, Pocket Casts handles that for me. The app is so good that it won the Google Play Top Developer award, a Google Play Editors Choice and Google Material Design award. This is to say that if you’re not happy with your current podcast app, Pocket Casts is one you should consider. It is not free, but it’s well worth the $3.99.

Today, Pocket Casts was updated to version 6.4.2 with a few fixes, no new features this time. The developer has fixed an issue with stats sharing. I did not know until today that Pocket Casts had this feature in its settings. I went to check on seeing this update and indeed, it’s right there under Settings > Stats.

According to the screenshot above, I’ve been listening for 18 days 20 hours of podcast. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened more than that, but it seems the collected stats are exclusive to the Android device I use. Sure enough, I checked Pocket Casts on my Lumia 1520 and it does not even have this feature. I have been switching between both at some point, but I now exclusively use Pocket Casts on Android since the developer stopped updating the Windows Mobile version. No surprises there. There’s more to the Stats screen than just numbers.

Right under the Stats, Pocket Casts displays random data related to the numbers of hours spent consuming podcasts. For example, the app says that 2,714,300,000,000 emails were sent during the time I spent to listening to podcasts or “during which time you released 320 oz of air biscuits. Gross!”. Funny, right? 😊

Besides the stats feature, the developer also fixed other issues. Check the rest of the change log below:

·       Fixed some issues with auto download and manual downloads when leaving/entering WIFI networks.

·       Improved Chrome Cast support.

·       Some other small tweaks and improvements.

Pocket Casts users can update the app in Google Play Store for free.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Google Maps updated with new color scheme and icons.

Google is pushing out an update to Google Maps for Android. With this update, Google wants to make it easier for Google Maps users to easily identify places like a church, gas station or hospital with a new color scheme and icons. For example, Google has assigned the color orange for food and drinks. Restaurants icons in Google Maps will therefore appear in Orange to help users quickly and easily find one closer to their location. The icons will also be different for each place.
While this feature is being gradually rolled out, Google also said that it will make its way to apps that incorporate Google Maps information too, like Assistant, Earth, websites and products that have been built using the Google Maps API.
Check out Google Maps in Google Play Store.
Source: Google

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Telegram for Android groups photos & videos into albums; adds saved messages & improves search.

Some new features are making their way into Telegram 4.5, the latest iteration of the messaging app for Android. The update allows users to send multiple photos and videos grouped into albums with each album able to support up to 10 photos or videos. Telegram will automatically arrange the photos and videos “in the chat as elegantly proportioned thumbnails.” The recipient will be notified once, instead of ten times. In addition, Telegram also let users choose the order photos are sent. Still on the photo front, Telegram 4.5 adds multiple profile photos. This comes in handy if you can’t choose which photo is best for your profile.

This update will also allow users to “bookmark important messages” by forwarding them to Saved Messages. These messages can be saved to users’ personal cloud storage. “Each saved message has a “go to” button that takes you to the right place in the chat where it was originally posted.” Telegram will display Saved Messages at the top of the in the sharing and forwarding menus.

Search has also been improved thanks to a new search algorithm. Users will be able to search “for public channels and bots by their titles, and most popular items will always be displayed first.”

All in all, Telegram version 4.5 introduces some nice features. Check the update in Google Play Store. It may not be available right away. So, be patient.

Source: Telegram

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Instagram let users add 24 hours old photos and videos to their stories.

Starting today, Instagram is gradually rolling out a much requested update to its Android app that will let users pick photos and videos from their devices to add to their stories no matter when they were taken. Prior to this update, Instagram allowed using photos and videos taken within the last 24 hours to create stories.

Instagram will also add a sticker to photos and videos more than 24 hours old. But rest assured, those can be easily removed, rotated and resized.
As stated above, this is a gradual update, so you may not see it right away on your device. Check it out on Google Play Store.
Source: Instagram

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WhatsApp announces real-time Live Location sharing coming to Android and iOS.

Recently I blogged about Telegram bringing live location sharing to Android and today WhatsApp on Android and iOS is following suit with the gradual roll out of the same feature. Once the update reaches users’ devices, they will be able to share their location in real time. WhatsApp posted about this: “Whether you’re meeting up with friends, letting loved ones know you’re safe, or sharing your commute, Live Location is a simple and secure way to let people know you are safe.”

And this new feature is fully encrypted, keeping it hidden from prying eyes. Like Telegram’s implementation, WhatsApp users will be able to stop the sharing at any time or “let the Live Location sharing timer simply expire.” The blog post does not give any details about the default time the sharing stops and I haven’t got the update on my phone yet to verify this.

Live Location sharing works for one person and groups. According to the blog post, users can do this by tapping “"Location" in the attach button, there's a new option to "Share Live Location." Choose for how long you want to share and tap send. Each person in the chat will be able to see your real-time location on a map. And if more than one person shares their Live Location in the group, all locations will be visible on the same map.”

As I said above, the update hasn’t reach my device yet and WhatsApp said that the update will be rolling out in the coming weeks. Check it out on Google Play Store.

Source: WhatsApp