Monday, November 30, 2015

Viber lets you delete messages you never meant to send.

I'm a long time WhatsApp user, even before it was acquired by Facebook and it has become my default messaging app, followed closely by Facebook Messenger, traditional SMS and Skype. That's right, Viber is not in the list despite having a huge install base on Android, I know very few who use it.  But with 500 million users, Viber is very popular, not just around me.

Viber published an update today that brings a list of nice features that fans will love and make users of other platforms look over with envy. The first new feature is the ability to delete sent messages. Microsoft Outlook lets users recall sent messages and now Viber lets users delete messages sent during a 1-1 or group conversation. Messages can also be deleted on the senders phone only or for everyone.

This update also includes file sharing. Sending one file or multiple ones is now a common thing and Viber added this feature so users can attach files to 1-on-1 conversations, groups and public chats. The company said most popular file types are supported and a there's a limit 200MB on the file size Viber will let you send through.

Download Viber in Google Play store for free.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pushbullet lets you send texts from your Android tablet.

Pushbullet has posted another update today that makes it possible to send and reply to SMSs on Android tablets. For this to work, SMS Sync must be enabled in Pushbullet on the phone. Launch Pushbullet on the tablet and tap SMS and your SMS threads will be displayed. Tap a SMS to open the conversation history and start typing and send your messages. Recipients won't know you're sending the SMS from a tablet. The app will sync your SMSs to your phone and the latter will then send the SMS. Pushbullet supports multiple phones. Simply select the phone you want to send from a selector within the app. 

This new feature is currently free, but, starting December 1st, unlimited texting will be available to Pro users only, while free accounts will be limited to 100 SMSs per month. Download the update Google Play and enjoy sending/receiving SMS on your tablet.

Contacts + saves typed numbers in dialer when switching apps.

Managing contacts can be tedious and apps like Contacts + makes it easier for us. Contacts + is more than just a phonebook, it also combines a dialer app along with caller ID, spam block and contacts backup - all in one place. If the default contacts app is not up to the task for you, I recommend you give Contacts + a try. The app just got updated today with the following new features:

  • You can now choose the color of the conversation SMS bubble.
  • Saving typed numbers in the dialer when switching apps.
  • Bug fixes & performance improvements.
Check it out on Google Play.

Nokia Here Maps wants to help you find your way back home with a tap.

There is no place like home and Nokia wants you to get there safe should you forget your way back with a little house icon that they added to their offline navigation app, Here Maps. This little house icon will let users save their home address with just a simple tap and another tap to see how to get back. Of course it doesn't necessarily have to be home, it can be any place like a hotel for example. This little house icon is a very useful addition to quickly find your way back to your point of origin.

Download Here Maps: Offline Navigation free on Google Play.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skype for Android gets new toolbar to delete, mute, mark conversations as read and more.

There's one thing that Skype was not particularly good at and that was saving videos shared with us by family members or friends. Those videos would remain in the conversation thread until deleted. The good news is that Skype has solved this problem with an update that was released earlier today. A simple tap is all that is needed to save the video to the phone's photo gallery and this works for videos that you've received and videos that you recorded. Microsoft did not stop there and now lets users share photos from the gallery to a Skype group conversation, finally.

Another interesting feature in this update is the ability to mute, delete and mark conversations as read. Nothing really new here except that this can now be done by doing a long tap on contacts or chat under the Recent tab that will pull a new toolbar with these tools for quick access.

Search is also made better allowing users to search conversations by content in addition to contacts and group names.

This update is available now in Google Play store.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Amazon rolls out Bookerly font and Word Runner for Kindle to Android.

I occasionally enjoy a good book when there is one out there, which amounts to about two to four books per year. Amazon Kindle being a cross-platform, it is my ereader of choice and today the Android version of the app got updated with two features that avid readers will appreciate.

Amazon added a new font in this update called Bookerly. This new spacious font initially debuted on Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite before being deployed to the kindle family of devices. Bookerly is now available for Kindle apps, on Android and iOS.

Another feature that Amazon is porting to its Android app is Word Runner, "a fun new way to read faster." Enabling Word Runner will display the text in the middle of the page to keep "your eyes focused on the center of the page and brings each word right to where your eyes already are." This sounds cool and I will definitely give it a try and post my feedback later. Will you use Word Runner?

Download the free update on Google Play Store to try Word Runner and Bookerly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pushbullet goes premium: $4.99/mo - $39.99 per year, with some features remaining free or limited.

Pushbullet announced in a blog post that some features of the popular sharing app will go premium and therefore hoping loyal users will shell out money to benefit from the pro features. The latter are existing features that were available since Pushbullet launched two years ago or added through regular updates. Now, Pushbullet wants you to get a pro account in order to support itself, because even free stuff has a cost.

The company wants you to sign up for a Pro account because, primarily, it needs to support itself. It seems they did consider other options like ads, but the team did not "want to hurt the Pushbullet experience with ads or betraying your trust by selling your data. Since Pushbullet must support itself, we want to do that by having you as our customer."

Interested customers can sign up for Pro account right now. However accounts won't be charged until December 1st. At that date features like priority support, Universal Copy & Paste, mirrored notification, unlimited SMS won't be available for free accounts anymore. In order to access those features, users will have to pay either $4.99/mo or $39.99 per year. Otherwise, sending files size limit will remain at 25MB for free users while Pro accounts will see this limit boosted to 1GB. Storage space for current users is 2GB. Pro users will see this number jump to 100GB.

As I said in previous blog post, Pushbullet is my favorite file sharing app and it's cross platform. Unfortunately, I do not have any professional use for it, so it is very unlikely that I'll sign up for a Pro account. But I encourage heavy users or corporate customers to sign up for it.

Check out Pushbullet blog post to learn more about the Pro account benefits.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pushbullet: Share multiple files & reply to Kik and Skype notifications on your computer.

It's only last week that Pushbullet pushed out an important update that made it play well with Android 6.0, along with some nice additions that made the app take advantage of Android features like Direct Share. Fast forward to today and Play Store notified me of another update, and this one is awesome.

While Pushbullet is excellent at sharing files between my devices, it also has its limitations. Fortunately, the brilliant guys behind this brilliant app still find ways to improve users' experience. One of those limitations is the fact that Pushbullet was only able to share single file, but that was yesterday.  Today's update let's users share multiple files provided they don't exceed the default 25MB per file. This is just amazing and there's more.

Besides file sharing, Pushbullet is also capable of handling message notifications and replies. Before this update, Pushbullet handled the following messaging platform only: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Line, Telegram, GroupMe, BBM, and Viber. Today, Pushbullet added support for Kik and Skype, giving us users the ability to reply to messages from these platforms right in Pushbullet. 

This update contains even  more features. Just head over to Google Play Store to download the update. You may want to check out the blog post on Pushbullet for details.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Microsoft made its Arrow launcher for Android 30% faster.

Android is all about customization. Users know that and developers too. That is why there is such a large choice of customization in the Play Store, each striving to make your Android experience unique. Microsoft has joined the fray recently by releasing its own launcher which the company says is "fast, simple and personal."

In version 1.0.1, released yesterday, Microsoft has made the launcher faster and added support for Spanish and Portuguese languages. Check out the full change log below:

  • PERFORMANCE: Improved performance by 30% for swiping between pages, expanding the dock, and entering /exiting apps.
  • ENHANCEMENT: Improved text readability on light-colored wallpapers.
  • BUG FIX: Fixed issue that would cause widgets to show on Apps/Reminders pages.
  • LOCALIZATION: Spanish/Portuguese support.
Microsoft states at the end of the log that they are working to make Arrow Launcher even faster. Until then, download the launcher in Google Play Store.

Air France updates its Android app to make it compatible with OnePlus Oxygen OS.

Air France has updated its app to make it compatible with Oxygen OS and at this point you should be wondering what Oxygen OS is. If you know, you can only be a geek or just following the Android world very closely. Oxygen OS is a variant of Android. Variant may not be the appropriate word to describe it. In other words, it is a fork of Android 5 Lollipop made for the OnePlus One phone. The latter phone was initially running Cyanogen, but the two split up and OnePlus had no choice but to come up with an Android version of its own. 

Of course, the OS comes with features if its own. For example, you can draw on the screen to launch apps or you can toggle between software and hardware navigation buttons. I assume Air France has updated their app to take advantage of these features in Oxygen OS. Let us know how the app works if you own a OnePlus One.

The change log also invites you to "discover the virtual Flying Blue card in the new app! You can now easily access your card whenever you need it." Finally the update brings along the usual bug fixes and performance improvement.

If you're a customer of Air France, head over to Google Play Store to update the app.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Google introduces Smart Reply in Inbox by Gmail.

There are times where I find myself with a new email on my phone that requires an immediate answer, not necessarily a long reply, but a short one and these situation very often arises when I'm moving around in a crowded environment and makes typing very difficult. Enter Smart Reply in Inbox by Gmail.

In an update that will be made available later this week, users of Inbox by Gmail will be able to easily reply to messages on the go. Smart Reply will suggest three short responses based on the email you get. "And for those emails that require a bit more thought, it gives you a jump start so you can respond right away." How does it know which responses to propose? 

Here's what the blog post says about the background work that makes Smart Reply possible: "There's actually a lot going on behind the scenes to make Smart Reply work. Inbox uses machine learning to recognize emails that need responses and to generate the natural language responses on the fly. If you're interested in how Smart Reply works, including how researchers got machine learning to work on a data set that they never saw, you can read more about it on the Google Research Blog." 

Again, Smart Reply will be rolling out later this week to Android and iOS in English only for the time being.The blog post does not say anything about availability in other languages. If you haven't tried Inbox by Gmail yet, check it out in Google Play Store.

Source: Gmail blog

Opera Mini for Android gets new icon, Facebook profile pic in notification.

Opera Mini is the champ for saving data when surfing your favorite news site and it does that while minimizing the impact on performance and quality and giving a fast and full web experience. These features come in very handy when you are on a slow connection or limited data plan. In its latest version, Opera Mini got a new icon. It kept the familiar red circle and added the word 'mini' in green to differentiate from its bigger brother.

If you prefer using Facebook via the browser rather than the app, Opera has improved upon the notifications by including profile pictures. An addition that makes it visually easier to identify who's interacting with you on Facebook.

Opera also improved the downloading experience by moving the download complete notification to the bottom of the screen for easy access and allow users to open the file directly. The browser will also remember your preference in the 'Wait-fo-WiFi' dialog box. Finally, this update makes the context menu "look more like other Android apps."

Download Opera Mini web browser free in Google Play Store.

Pushbullet optimized for Android 6.0 with Runtime permission and Direct Share.

Pushbullet is my favorite app when it comes to sharing files between my devices. Sure I could use popular cloud storage to move my files around, but Pushbullet adds a different flavor to file sharing that makes it more efficient. You share a file by picking Pushbullet in the contextual sharing menu and the file pops up on the device you selected. You use as little as two clicks to do this, no matter which mobile platform or desktop you use. This ease of use has contributed into making Pushbullet a very popular app and it just got better today.

Regularly updating an app also helps engage with the users and retaining their loyalty and today, the folks behind Pushbullet optimized the app for Android 6.0 Marshmallow. What that means for users? Two new great features.

Runtime permissions is the first new feature, which, in fact was introduced in Android 6. So you won't see that one on your device if it's running an older version of Android. In Marshmallow, Google introduced a layer of security that requires apps to ask for your permission before accessing your device functions such as SMS, Phone, Contacts, etc. Hence the name 'Runtime permission'. Pushbullet is playing by the rules by implementing this for Android 6.0 powered devices, even if the latter is not mainstream yet. My Nexus 7 is still craving for Marshmallow.

Second in the list is support for Direct Share. This is one is not that big of a deal, since it's the core of Pushbullet. But the team added a nice little feature by putting the most recent devices right in the share menu, reducing or eliminating the scrolling and clicking. Again, this is another feature that requires a device running Android 6.0.

Check out the full change and download Pushbullet in Google Play. And yes, the update is available for Android 6- too.