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Android App of the Week

Photoshop-style Content-Aware Fill, for free, on your phone

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

We’ve covered Adobe Photoshop CS5’s stunning Content-Aware Fill feature on the blog before, as it’s an undoubted head-turner: the ability to draw around an unwanted object in your photo and, with a bit of tech trickery, watch it disappear, with the gap filled by the app’s best guess as to what should be there instead.

That’s the kind of feature you expect to find on paid-for software such as Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop Elements, but there’s an app that’ll do the same thing for free on Android and iOS devices – TouchRetouch. Here’s how it’s worked its magic on one of my holiday snaps, with a couple of inconveniently-placed tourists removed from in front of this Cretan ruin:

Before 1 (more…)

Google Docs for Android review: first look

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I still haven’t seen a “killer app” for tablets; but I’m coming round to the idea that if a tablet does enough things in nice enough ways, perhaps that’s enough.

So I was interested to read today of the launch of Google Docs for Android. Though it runs on both smartphones and tablets, it sounded like a newly ticked box for tablets in particular, since their screens and keyboards are better suited to casual document editing.

device2

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Android App of the Week: we7 Music

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Last.fm used to be one of the best streaming music apps but, since the firm’s decision to switch to subscription-only access, we’ve been hunting for a replacement. Luckily, with we7’s radio tool hitting the market this week, it looks like we’ve found a worthy successor.
Previous Last.fm users will be right at home with the free we7 app, which is still in beta. You can create your own station by searching we7’s database for artists or genres of music – both options will result in a station that riffs off your first keyword to find songs to your liking – and these choices can then be saved for later consumption.
There’s also a list of popular searches from around we7’s community – handy for looking up top artists – and a selection of preset stations centre around popular themes, too. At the time of writing there are Ultimate Working and Best Driving Anthems themes alongside selections based around the lineups for this year’s Glastonbury and V festivals, for instance.
we7’s player is easy to use, too. Album art is automatically hunted down to sit in the centre of the screen and, like Last.fm, highlighting a track as a particular favourite will see your station skewed towards other similar songs.
While this app is free, more options are available if you choose we7’s £10 monthly subscription, with playlist creation and the option to search for individual songs and albums available for premium customers. It’s also a shame that there just isn’t the range of options offered by Last.fm, which allowed you to connec to other users by tracking and observing the music that they played.
Still, if you’re looking for a way to listen to music on the move then this is worth a look – we7’s broad catalogue ensures you’ll get plenty of variety, it’s easy to use, and it’s currently free in the Android market.

we7 Radio

Last.fm used to be one of the best streaming music apps but, since the firm’s decision to switch to subscription-only access, we’ve been hunting for a replacement. Luckily, with we7’s radio tool hitting the market, it looks like we’ve found a worthy successor.

Previous Last.fm users will be right at home with the free we7 app, which is still in beta. You can create your own station by searching we7’s database for artists or genres of music – both options will result in a station that riffs off your first keyword to find songs to your liking – and these choices can then be saved for later consumption.

There’s also a list of popular searches from around we7’s community – handy for looking up top artists – and a selection of preset stations centred around popular themes, too. At the time of writing there are Ultimate Working and Best Driving Anthems themes, alongside selections based around the lineups for this year’s Glastonbury and V festivals. (more…)

Android App of the Week: Garmin Mechanic

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Garmin Mechanic Garmin is best known for its satnav devices but, with smartphones encroaching on its territory, the Swiss firm has begun releasing smartphone software — with Garmin Mechanic, our Android App of the Week, one of the first to arrive.

As the name suggests, it’s not a traditional satnav service. Instead, it’s a monitoring and diagnostic tool for your car, tracking your journey and serving up a wealth of details for inquisitive drivers.

The main screen — with a sleek, gunmetal grey UI — shows your average speed, distance travelled and total time for your current journey, and below these vital statistics sit bars that illustrate your accelleration, braking and variation to your average speed in real time. At the bottom of the screen is a graph that illustrates your speed, average speed and, if you choose, your current and average fuel economy. (more…)

Android App of the Week: Androidify

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Google gets a bad rap, and it’s easy to forget that the company that started out with line “don’t be evil” can occasionally churn out something that’s actually pretty fun. Take Androidify, our latest Android App of the Week.
It’s not one of the firm’s most useful or innovative apps, but it’s one of the most addictive and funiest: a little tool that grants you free reign to create your own Android avatars.
It’s devilishly simply: scroll horizontally between hair style and colour, tops, trousers, shoes, accessories and more, and use the vertical bar to pick which garment to use on your avatar.
There’s a reasonable amount of choice, too, with dozens of clothing items alongside numerous hats and accessories – and your android’s hair colour can be altered, too. And, by dragging your finger up and down your avatar, its height and proportions can be changed.
When that’s done, it’s possible to name and save your Android before sharing it with the world: it’s possible to post them to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa or Twitter – with more options available depending on what apps you’ve got installed – as well as distributing your little friend via text message or email. It’s even possible to use the new avatar as a desktop wallpaper.
It’s a great little app that put a smile on our faces as soon as it downloaded – and, of course, our first instinct was to recreate members of the PC Pro team in Android form.
First up is deputy reviews editor David Bayon, who’s personified by his broad range of “two-shirts” – that’s one garment that’s designed to give the impression that he’s wearing two, fashion fans – as well as his, urm, follical minimalism.
My second creation is reviews editor Jon Bray – possibly the sportiest member of PC Pro team and a keen fan of eye-wateringly tight lycra. He’s also the tallest member of the three portrayed here, which was a good excuse to show off Androidify’s body-stretching feature.
Third up is editorial overlord Tim Danton, a man whose love for Mars Bars is only outweighed by his adoration of tank tops – a choice that’s reflected in his Android’s clothing.
Our only real quibble is that there simply isn’t enough choice. We’d have loved the chance to change the colour of clothing, for instance, or loaded our avatars up with a more varied selection of accessories. That’s a minor complaint when this charming little app won’t cost you anything, though – so get downloading right away.

Androids

Google sometimes gets a bad rap, and it’s easy to forget that the company that started out with the line “don’t be evil” can occasionally churn out something that’s actually pretty fun. Take Androidify, our latest Android App of the Week.

It’s not one of the firm’s most useful or innovative apps, but it’s one of the most addictive and funniest: a little tool that grants you free rein to create your own Android avatars.

It’s devilishly simply: scroll horizontally between hair style and colour, tops, trousers, shoes, accessories and more, and use the vertical bar to pick which garment to use on your avatar. (more…)

Android App of the Week: BBC iPlayer

Monday, February 14th, 2011

BBC iPlayer on AndroidThe sluggish attitude of the BBC to Android apps has meant that numerous pretenders have appeared: search for BBC in the Android Market and you’ll find dozens of tools that provide stories from the corporation’s news and sports sites, as well as a couple that provide iPlayer content unofficially.

That’s changed with the release of an official iPlayer app. It’s potentially one of the biggest apps to ever hit the market, and it’s been released simultaneously with the iPad edition.

Boot up the app and it’s immediately obvious this is something special. Featured programmes sit at the top of the screen, and scrolling down sees more fade into view smoothly. Switch your phone around and you’re able to scroll horizontally through Auntie’s top content.

Click on a show and the familiar iPlayer layout appears, with options to share the the show over any social-networking apps you’ve got installed or add it to your favourites for later viewing. Graphics illustrate the programme’s channel, duration and availability on iPlayer, and there are eight links to recommend shows at the bottom of the screen – just scroll through them horizontally and click. (more…)

Android App of the Week: Alarm Clock Xtreme

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Alarm Clock Xtreme Our latest Android App of the Week selection comes from laptops editor Sasha Muller, who recommended Alarm Clock Xtreme as a sure-fire way to wake up alert every single day.

“It wakes you up with maths!” he proclaimed, before reeling off a list of features that puts Android’s stock alarm app to shame.

As sales pitches go, the promise of early morning mathematics isn’t the finest I’ve heard, but I reckon he might be on to something: while maths isn’t the most palatable way to start the day, it does seem to make me more alert than my previous alarm, which needed just a single tap to be beaten into submission.

The mathematical teasers pop up on to your home screen at the time your alarm’s been set, and Alarm Clock Xtreme offers five levels of difficulty, from easiest (sample question: 14 x 3) to hardest (39 x 33 – 1205). (more…)

Android App of the Week: Pulse

Monday, January 17th, 2011

PulseAndroid news apps are pretty samey. I’m a regular user of a pair of unofficial BBC News apps alongside software such as World Newspapers and Eurogamer, and, while they’re undoubtedly useful, many of these apps aren’t what I’d call attractive.

Our first Android App of the Week for 2011, though, takes this basic template – listing the latest posts from popular news and entertainment sites – and gives it a thorough makeover.

It’s called Pulse, is developed by Alphonso Labs, and formats the news in a grid rather than in a list: scroll down through different sources, and swipe from left to right through the stories available.

Each story is presented with a small headline and a bigger picture, and it’s all wrapped up in a clean UI with a black, blue and grey colour scheme.

Adding a news source is as easy as clicking a button at the bottom of the list, and sources are divided into categories – from business, entertainment and fashion to food, gaming, music and tech. Each category’s packed with top titles, and Google Reader integration makes it easy to add your favourites. There’s even the option to use bump and trade your news sources with other Pulse users. (more…)

Android App of the Week: Posterous

Monday, December 20th, 2010

PosterousSocial-networking tool Posterous has been around since May 2008, and it’s gained a sizeable following thanks to its minimalist design, which allows you to post links to photos, MP3 files, documents and video in seconds.

While Posterous has a fully functional mobile site, we’re surprised that it’s taken this long for an Android app to appear, especially since the iPhone version was launched in August 2009.

We’re pleased it has, though, because the new app makes using this simple service even more convenient. Open the app and click the button marked Post and you’re presented with a simple blogging interface, with title and body copy boxes alongside a couple of option buttons: the former allows you to add tags and location information, and the latter facilitates photo or video attachments.

The app lets you post to several different sites – handy if you’ve got one to post news about your favourite sports team, for instance, and another for personal links and musings – and a range of settings means you can choose different levels of picture and video quality to conserve bandwidth. (more…)

Android App of the Week: Miren Browser

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Miren BrowserMiren Browser isn’t exactly a unique proposition – after all, Android’s Market boasts dozens of third-party browsers – but this new contender boasts a shedload of features alongside one of the slickest interfaces we’ve seen.

It’s much easier to use than many of its rivals, which are feature-packed but often fiddly. Open a page in Miren and it’ll default to its full-screen view – which automatically hides Android’s status bar, too – so you can take advantage of every one of your device’s precious pixels.

Navigation options are both useful and unobtrusive, hidden in the corners of the screen and fading from view if they’re not in use. The right-hand corner houses a button to open Miren’s address bar as well as a handy loading dial, and the bottom-left corner provides a back button. The top of the screen provides links to your tabs alongside a small symbol to open a new page.

Desktop-style features are present elsewhere to make life easier. Chrome users will be familiar with the eight thumbnail images of your favourite sites that appear on boot, and they’re present here, too, alongside links to your bookmarks, history and downloads. Those eight thumbnails can also be customised with links to either a selection of bookmarks or simply the sites you visit most. (more…)

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