Wednesday, May 31, 2017

YouTube gets a new design, moving the tabs to the bottom.

Today Google has updated YouTube to make it identical to the iOS version by moving the tabs from the top of the app to the bottom, thus making them easily accessible to our thumbs without over-stretching them anymore when using large screen phones. But that is not the only change. The account tab is gone and is replaced by a Library tab which contains the Offline videos, History, My videos, Purchases, Watch later and the videos users liked. Google also got rid of the three vertical dots at the top right of the screen that gave access to the app settings among other things. All these are now behind the users account icon or avatar alongside the search, camera and - if you own one - Chromecast icon.

Besides the similarity in design with YouTube for the iPhone/iPad, YouTube for Android makes the top of the app look thinner and cleaner, and the tabs more accessible on big phones. The update is gradually rolling out, so be patient if you do not see it yet.

Here's the full change log:
A new design makes it easier to use YouTube:
• Find your watch history, uploads, purchases, and playlists in the new Library tab
• Reach tabs more easily and switch between them from any screen
• See more videos with a smaller navigation bar
• Switch accounts, view notifications, and manage settings by tapping your avatar

Check out the update in Google Play Store

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.