Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Microsoft brings file transfer from/to PC & phone to Arrow Launcher for Android.

Microsoft has updated Arrow Launcher for Android yesterday adding new cards and support for more features to the built-in backup and restore tool.

The first card is the is the Arrow Hub card, a feature for transferring files from PC to mobile. For this feature to work, users are required to sign in with their Microsoft account. After that, the file transfer card will show a upload button to send files to other devices. Tap the button reveals a menu with four choices of file types: Image, video, Document, Clipboard. Tap the one file type you want, then tap once to select the file you want to upload or press and hold on one file and select more than one file. The next step must be done on a device with a web browser and access the Arrow Files website to view and/or download the uploaded files. Accessing the site requires login in with the same Microsoft Account used in Arrow Launcher on the Android device.  The website also have a add button at the bottom right that allows uploading a file from a PC to the phone. All in all, it's quite a quick and easy way to instantly share files between your devices.

This update also adds a new MSN News card with the option to select a category of news you want displayed and remove those you do not want. By default, the card will show three latest news headlines and Microsoft included a "Show All" button for a full list of news.

Version 3.5 of Arrow Launcher improves the Backup and Restore tools:
Widgets/icon pack and more settings;
  • Voice input for Reminders & Notwes
  • Search experience upgrade (voice & QR)
  • Option to turn off recent apps in app drawer
  • Stability and bug fixes.
That's quite a nice update and I'm particularly enjoying the file transfer feature. Check out the the update in Google Play Store or download Microsoft Arrow Launcher.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gmail lets you reply to emails quickly with Smart Reply.

I'm a longtime user of Inbox by Gmail, another Gmail client by Google for both Android and iOS. One of my favorite features is Smart Reply, which comes in very handy when replying to emails on the phone while on the move. Google says that Smart Reply "already drives 12 percent of replies in Inbox on mobile." If you haven't made the move to Inbox, as from the today, you will be able to take advantage of Smart Reply in Gmail. 

This new feature will provide three responses based on the email you received, thus helping quickly and easily reply to emails. "Once you've selected one, you can send it immediately or edit your response starting with the Smart Reply text. Either way, you're saving time." As almost every Google app these days, Smart Reply relies on machine learning technology to give you the best responses the more you use it. Smart Reply for Gmail will start roll out in English first, followed by Spanish in the coming weeks.

Download or update Gmail in Google Play Store or Inbox by Gmail.

Google renames Android's "Device Manager" to "Find My Phone".

The late Windows Phone had an app called "Find my Phone" and the iPhone has a similar app called "Find iPhone" or "iPad", but on Android, Google chose the name "Device Manager" for an app that lets you geo-locate your lost or stolen device. You will agree it is not a descriptive name. I, as a systems administrator, thought the app was meant for systems admins to manage their pool of devices in their enterprise. Add to that that I started learning developing apps for Android last year in order to better understand how software works - I developed two apps in the mean time - "Device Manager" was confusing. That is to say that "Device Manager" was really a poor choice of name. Yesterday, Google changed that.

"Device Manager" is now "Find My Phone", a simple and meaningful name. Google also redesigned the app to adopt its Material design and added some useful data such as battery and WiFi status. This info can be very useful as you will know how much time until your battery dies and to which network it is connected to. Additionally, "Find my Phone" will display the last location of your phone, which should prove useful in your quest to recover it.

Make sure you download Find My Phone in Google Play Store.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CNN app for Android gets new reader mode and support for Chromecast.

Reader mode enabled
Reader mode disabled

Back in February of the current year, CNN updated its Android app with a new card based design that I described as terrible for a news app. The new layout required a lot of scrolling with one news item taking most of the screen property. Today CNN has pushed another update that, unfortunately, does not replace the big cards layout, but includes a new reader mode that will remove the huge pictures and all associated links from the news-feed and instead keep only the news titles that make it easier and quicker to consume news on your device. Reader Mode can be enabled in the app settings by tapping the gear icon at the top right and use the toggle to activate.

CNN also added support for Chromecast so you'll be able to throw videos to your TV while doing something else on your phone.

If you have not tried the CNN news app for Android yet, you can download it free in Google Play Store.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pocket Casts for Android fixes issues with clean up apps deleting artwork.

Pocket Casts, the popular podcast app for Android got updated with some fixes today. Check out the change log below:
Sometimes in life, you gotta clean up before you renovate the place:
• Fixes issues with clean up apps deleting all our artwork (umm thanks guys, but really, leave it alone). As a side effect of this fix though images now load far faster and update quicker than ever before :)
• Fixes issues playback resuming, video playback not ending correctly, metadata causing playback crashes, Up Next and Android Auto.
• Yes we crammed a lot in. Thanks for noticing! You peeps are the bestest most awesomest.
Pocket Casts is available for purchase in Google Play Store.

SofaScore for Android update brings referee profile page and search for managers.

My Favorite sports app got updated today. The app now provides a referee profile page with the picture of the referee and a list of their past matches. I'm not sure how that is useful, but it's there should this be of any interest to sports fan. SofaScore also adds the option to search for managers with all the details o their career.

Version 5.38.4 of SofaScore also includes the following features:

  • Reply to someone in chat. Use "Reply" option in dropdown menu of their message, or tag them with "@nickname".
  • Matches in tournaments without rounds, like NBA, NHL, and MLB, are now divided by days .
  • You can now suggest corrections for teams.
Grab the update in Google Play Store.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Opera Max introduces new mobile data savings feature for Facebook.

Mobile data costs money and, unfortunately, some apps on our phones do not quite play nice when it comes to using data appropriately and Facebook is one of those apps that is a resource hog. Fully aware of that, Opera Max, a data savings tool made by the same company that built the Opera browser, is today introducing a new feature aimed at helping users save data when accessing the social network on their Android device.

In order to take advantage of this new data savings for Facebook, users will have to sign in to Facebook within Opera Max itself, a requirement that may make many uncomfortable with. In the event you're inclined to do so, tap the hamburger menu at the top left of the app or swipe from the left and select "Savings for Facebook", enter your credentials and you're done. The app will use a built-in browser to access Facebook mobile site.  Opera Max will also give you information on the data you saved. For that, tap the three vertical dots at the top right of the screen. This menu also give users control on quality of images, videos and music compression etc. 

If yu are on a limited data plan and a frequent Facebook user, give Opera Max a go. But if you feel uncomfortable signing in to Facebook through a third party app, you may as well use Facebook Lite for Android made by the social network giant.

Download Opera Max in Google Play Store.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Facebook releases Messenger Lite in over 130 countries.

Today Facebook is making Messenger lite app available to more that 130 countries. Facebook Messenger, along with the Facebook app, have long been criticized for being resource hogs on Android devices. In response, Facebook has made Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite available for devices with limited processing power.

The new Facebook Messenger Lite does not all the bells and whistles of the original Messenger app. For example, phone and video calls are missing. In addition, the app will keep you connected should you be in an area where data coverage is poor. Facebook Messenger Lite is pretty much a simple messenger app that's been designed to quickly send a message to your families and friends on any Android phone you have without the frustration you can sometimes experience with its full featured bigger brother.

Facebook did not post a list of countries where they made Messenger Lite available, so just go to Google Play Store and you should see it if it is. Otherwise, you can still search the web for the APK. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SoundCloud for Android now supports saving songs to a storage card for offline listening.

SoundCloud is available on Android in three packages with the first one being free and giving access to 120 millions songs "from emerging and established artists." If you subscribed to the free offering, you will not be able to listen to your music offline as opposed to SoundCloud Go and SoundCloud Go+ packages. If you subscribed to the latter two packages worth $4.99 and $9.99 per month, you will be able to download your songs to the storage card if your device supports it.  

Check out the complete SoundCloud offers below before heading to Google Play Store to download or update the app:


- Over 120 million tracks from emerging and established artists
- Get suggested tracks based on your likes and listening habits
- Discover incredible music in each genre with SoundCloud charts, from all-time greats to the newest and hottest tracks
- Connect with friends and interact with your favorite artists directly
- Create playlists for parties, workouts, on the way to work, or whatever mood you're in


- Discover, stream, and share a constantly expanding mix of music – anytime, anywhere
- Over 120 million tracks from emerging and established artists
- Take your collection offline, everywhere you go
- No ads, for an uninterrupted listening experience
- Support artists – a percentage of all revenue from SoundCloud Go is paid to creators on the platform
- All for just $4.99/month*


- Upgrade to Go+ for a fully expanded catalog of over 150 million tracks, including superstars from major labels and indies
- Take your collection offline, everywhere you go
- No more 30 second previews — all music on SoundCloud, including premium Go+ tracks, is fully accessible to stream and save offline
- No ads
- Support artists – a percentage of all revenue from SoundCloud Go+ is paid to creators on the platform
- 30 days free, then $9.99/month**

Unfortunately, the 30 days free offer is limited to users in the United States.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nova Launcher beta makes it easier to disable dynamic badges.

If you're part of the Nova Launcher beta, there's a new update for you to try. Nova Launcher recently added dynamic badges to the launcher and this update expands this feature a little bit with the ability to disable dynamic badges per-app and while that might sounds like no big deal, and it is the case, except that users won't have to navigate through several layers of menu in the app settings to do so. A simple long press on an app icon followed by Edit-Show badges is enough to disable dynamic badges. This update will also "respect system level themes on Samsung and Huawei devices."

This update will take a few days to make it to the official version which is available in the Google Play Store. If you want to get your hands dirty, join the beta program on Google+.