Monday, August 31, 2015

Pocket Casts gets support for Subscribe on Android.

My favorite podcast app for Android got updated today and instead of writing an introductory note, I'll just post the change log as is. You will remember that Shifty Jelly has that the funniest change log in the Play Store. Check it out for yourself.

What's new in Pocket Casts 5.2.2:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the road less traveled by. It turns out that was a bad idea, that road was full of savage Koalas. Sprinting home gave me the adrenlin required to:

  • add support for Subscribe on Android.
  • fix a lot of small bugs.
Afterwards, I wandered lonely as a cloud and fixed an issue with Nearby and bluetooth. A note for those confused: this feature is only enabled while you have that page open. It doesn't run in the background, or beside you in a marathon.

Pocket Casts is on sale for about $4 in the Play Store and is well worth it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pushbullet for Android receives bug fixes and other improvements.

A new app called Vysor was leaked this week that lets users easily control their Android devices from their computers and this seems to be a trend lately. It is a kind of paradox, given that all indicators show that people spend more time on their phones or tablets than the good old PCs and yet we see more tools like Vysor and Pushbullet that make you use your PC to interact with your phone. Go figure.

Pushbullet was updated yesterday to version 16.6 with mostly fixes and improvements. See the full change log below:
  • Fixed bug where you couldn't copy links or share pushes.
  • Added explanation and way to turn off persistent notification.
  • Better setup experience for new users.
  • Fix for those not receiving notifications for pushes.
  • Disa Fix
  • Updated translations.
Head over to Google Play Store to download and update Pushbullet for Android.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

WhatsApp for Android updated with custom notifications, emojis, urdu, Bengali and more.

WhatsApp, the messaging app with a billion downloads in the Play Store, picked up an important update today. Version 2.12.250 adds a few features that will please both heavy and casual users. 

First in the list is the ability to set custom notifications per chat. That makes a lot of custom notifications that users can apply to individual conversations. Add to that the option to mark messages as read or unread should you want to easily locate a particular message later.

WhatsApp also made some work on emojis. Not only were new emojis added, but a tap and hold on the chosen emoji will allow users to change its color. 

In terms of improvements, the most notable is how you can change the call quality in Whatsapp. A switch was added to lower call quality and relieve the pressure on our precious data plan.

The last three items in the change log are:

  • When receiving a contact card, you can now quickly message or save the contact if they're on WhatsApp.
  • Language support for Urdu and Bengali.
Download WhatsApp in Google Play Store.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shifty Jelly adds social touch to podcast app for Android and warns of relationship breakups.

With more than a 100 thousand downloads on Android alone, the next logical step for Shifty Jelly, the developer of Pocket Casts, was to bring all these podcasts consumers together to share their favorite shows through the app. And that is exactly what Shifty Jelly has done in today's update. 

They brought a social touch to Pocket Casts to help users discover what people they know are listening. All that is needed is to navigate to the Discover section and tap on Nearby and have your friends do the same. It is as simple as that. This time again, the folks at Shifty Jelly added their unique sense of humor to the change log in the form of a friendly warning that reads: "may cause relationship breakups".

The update also has some fixes:

  • Animation issues with the play/pause button in the mini player.
  • You can now download an episode that is streaming from the episode overflow menu.
  • Fixed issue with grid and missing artwork.
  • Download issues.
Download the update version 5.2 in Google Play Store.

Assign ringtones to contacts and forward photos in new Skype 5.10 for Android.

Skype picked up an update today that will let users assign a ringtone to contact, similar to contacts on a phone, Skype users will also be able to identify the caller if they happen to be away from their Android device. Assigning a ringtone to a contact is quite straight forward. Tap the lower right in a conversation and select "Ringtone options" then "Set custom ringtone" and browse your phone ringtone repertoire. And there is more.

Skype has made it very easy to share photos with friends and family who are not in the conversation. Say you shared a photo with your Skype friend during a conversation. You then say to yourself that it's a photo worth sharing with someone else not in the conversation. A simple tap and hold will bring up a contextual menu from which you will be able to forward your photo without ending your conversation or having to wait for the latter to end.

Finally, this update which also includes the usual fixes and improvements, includes the ability to change the color of "avatars for group chats so you can easily tell one conversation from another".

Head into the Google Play Store to download Skype 5.10 for Android.

Source: Skype

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TuneIn update lets you select your preferred stream bitrate.

TuneIn Radio brings the world's largest collection of radio stations to your Android device, that's over 100,000 stations for your listening pleasure with categories including songs, podcasts, shows and more. The app is also cross-platform, therefore available on Windows Phone, iOS and Windows. TuneIn also has a social touch in that you can share what you're listening with your followers and vice-versa. The Android version of the app is Android Wear friendly and works with Chromecast too.

The app was updated today with, among other features, the ability to select your preferred bitrate. Check the  full change log below and get the update in Google Play Store:

-Now you can select your preferred stream bitrate. Opt to always connect to high quality or low quality streams, when available.
-New setting lets you turn off blur on player
-New setting allows you do disable lock screen images
-Save your position in list on recordings
-Deep link fixes
-Fixes for Car Mode display
-Fix for 5-minute phone call interruption bug
-Chromecast bug fixes
-Additional bug fixes

Friday, August 14, 2015

Google Play Newsstand gets options to auto-download new magazines issues.

Google has updated Play Newsstand today. The app, which serves both free and paid content, offers a new feature that will benefit magazine's subscribers should they choose to activate it in the settings of the app after installing the update. With this new feature, magazine subscribers can now configure Newsstand to automatically download new issues of magazines once they become available.

As stated above, after applying the update, a new "options for auto-download issues" settings will appear in the app settings. Check your download nethod while you're there. With this new option activated and depending on the number of magazines you're subscribed to, the auto-download can put pressure on your data plan. 

Download Google Play Newsstand version 3.4.3 in the Play Store

SoundCloud adds Chromecast support to its Android app.

Listening to music and audio for free is great and SoundCloud serves you that on as many devices as possible while regularly updating the app. Today, SoundCloud is rolling another update that adds support for Google Chromecast, Android TV and speakers. Your listening experience can only get better with additional support of Google's popular streaming dongle. If you have been holding up on getting a Chromecast, SoundCloud brings you a good excuse to get one. The SoundCloud team also made some performance improvements and bug fixes that raises the version number to 15.08.14.

Navigate to the Play Store to update or download SoundCloud for Android.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Twitter removes 140-character limit on Direct Messages.

Twitter has announced in a blog post today the removal of the 140 character limit on Direct Messages. Again the change only applies to direct messages. Your tweets are still limited to 140 characters and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon. 

Twitter has started rolling the change to Twitter for Android and iOS, Tweetdeck, and Twitter for Mac. Read the full blog post here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pushbullet now supports end-to-end encryption.

The folks behind Pushbullet do take privacy very seriously and the latest update proves just that. Up until today's update, Pushbullet kept users information private with https protocol. The data was indeed secure from prying eyes, but it was still visible to the Pushbullet folks. Hence today's update that brings end-to-end encryption to Pushbullet across all your devices.

After installing the update, End-to-end encryption will encrypt data "before it leaves your device, and isn't decrypted until it is received by another of your devices." Pushbullet said in a blog post that "setting up end-to-end encryption, you can be confident that your data is only readable when it's shown to you."

Setting up end-to-end encryption requires entering a password on each of your device. The password is not stored anywhere, not even on Pushbullet's servers, hence the manual operation on all the devices where Pushbullet is installed. This is done in the app settings, where a new setting labeled end-to-end encryption has been added.

Currently, end-to-end encryption is supported on Android, Chrome and Windows. Pushbullet announced that the update will also make its way to Opera, Safari and Firefox "after confirming things are working great in Chrome."

The update also brings some improvements to SMS. Version 16.5.4 also makes it possible to select and delete multiple pushes at once. A Clear History button has also been added in Settings. 

Read the blog post over at Pushbullet. Follow the link to Google Play Store to download the the update.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Google announces redesigned and faster Hangouts app for Android devices.

Google has announced a major update for its Hangouts app today. Version 4.0 of the app received a new look more in line with Google's material design. As such composing a new message is done with a new button in the top right bottom of the app, similarly to Gmail or Inbox. Before the update, the compose button was a tiny plus button at the top right corner of the app. The compose button thus becomes more accessible on phablets or any Android phones with big screens. Besides the material design, Google also made Hangouts speedier. See the full log below:
  • Hangouts is sleeker. Now updated with material design, Hangouts has a new look and feel: items respond to your touch in more intuitive ways and transitions between tasks are more fluid.
  • Hangouts is simpler. The new Compose button makes it easier for you to start a new group or conversation. Our streamlined contacts list helps you find the right person quickly. And attachments have been revamped and simplified, so sharing—of emoji, GIFs, your location, even multiple photos at once—is a snap.
  • Hangouts is faster. Whether you’re sending a quick message or video chatting with family, you don’t want hold-ups. We’ve been obsessively fixing bugs and speeding up message delivery to make Hangouts faster and more reliable. Bonus: less battery consumption
The update was still not appearing for me in the Play Store at the time I published this article. I assume it must be on its way.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fine-Tune your Flipboard or mute news source entirely.

Perusing the daily news with Flipboard's flipping gesture remains a unique experience on Android. Flipboard has been getting better with time and expanding with localized content and the last update makes it even easier to consume news while keeping the experience personal. Flipboard has added a down arrow on a stories that give the readers the possibility to choose whether they want more or less of what they're seeing. The down arrow can also be used to entirely mute the source.

This update raises the version number to 3.3.6 and includes the usual bug fixes and improvements. Visit the Play Store to download the update or try Flipboard. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chrome Beta gets Customs Tabs, updated Bookmarks & media playback controls.

Many developers nowadays choose to provide early glimpse of their work by making a beta version of their software available for early adopters to test and give feedback. Microsoft has recently done just that through their Windows Insider program during the Windows 10 development. I personally think it is a very good approach to learn what users really want into apps. Google does that too with its Chrome browser. A beta version is available in Google Play Store for early adopters and it got updated today. Chrome Beta 45 for Android includes the following:

  • Chrome Customs Tabs
  • Updated media playback controls
  • Updated Bookmarks interface
  • Better logging for feedback reports
  • Barrels of bug fixes and performance improvements.
All these new features will find their way in the official Chrome browser in a matter of weeks, so much for those out there who prefer a bug free experience. If however, you are of the geek type, download the beta version in Google Play Store.