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August 29, 2014

Android App Spotlight: Pushbullet

Pushbullet - screenshot Pushbullet - screenshot Pushbullet - screenshot

Ever had that moment when you are working on your computer and then at the end of the day you realised that you have 2 missed calls, 10 text messages, 20 app updates and 50 social notifications? Well I may be exaggerating the numbers a bit but you get the point. Sometimes out phone isn't near us and we tend to miss a lot of notifications. Well the team behind Pushbullet aims to solve all your missed notifications.

The idea of Pushbullet is simple: push all your incoming notifications and display them as a pop-up on your PC. Pushbullet automatically shows you all of your phone's notifications right on your computer. This means you can see who's calling or read text messages even if your phone is on silent or in another room.

Pushbullet - screenshot

That's not all, Pushbullet also makes it easy to send pictures, files, links, and more to your devices and even to friends.

Sending things with Pushbullet is the easiest way to share things between your devices:
  • Push a link to your phone by just right-clicking on it on your computer. You can then go right to the link by tapping on the notification.
  • Send pictures and other files to your phone wirelessly from your computer and open them right from the notification. No more digging things out of your email inbox or Dropbox.
  • Send any address over to your phone so you can get right into Google Maps instead of having to look it up again on your phone.
  • Put a todo list right in your notification tray and check of items as you go.
What else? Well, Pushbullet also enables you to reply to text messages from your computer if you're using a texting app that supports quick-reply via Pushbullet! Apps that support this are chomp SMS, EvolveSMS, Vegas SMS, and Sliding Messaging.

You can get Pushbullet for free in the Google Play Store. It is definitely worth getting and trying out!

August 28, 2014

100 Bugs Fixed in Latest LibreOffice 4.3.1 Release

The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the release of LibreOffice 4.3.1, the first minor update to the July release of version 4.3.

In all, TDF say the release comprises of some 100 fixes, including various improvements to RTF and OOXML file handling and import, a slightly lighter background color for the Writer word processing app, and a host of under the hood tweaks aimed at shoring up stability and performance.

Two critical security patches are also included, both of which have been back-ported to the older 4.2.x series. TDF advise anyone using either release to upgrade as soon as possible.

[Source: OMG! Ubuntu!]

Chrome Theme: Alice the Gate Opener (Light version)


The light version of Alice the Gate Opener is now available for download in the Chrome Web Store!


August 27, 2014

Chrome Theme: Alice the Gate Opener (Gray version)


Here is a theme as requested by wMMfreak (check out his YouTube profile) featuring Alice the Gate Opener from the visual gamebook, Queen's Gate. I decided to go with a gray on white theme that suits Alice's darker shades of her hair. A lighter, aqua/green version of the theme will also be available soon! For now, this theme is available for download now on the Web Store.


64-bit Chrome browser for Windows 7 and 8 officially out of beta

chrome

You may have known about Google releasing a 64-bit version of their browser in the beta channel but now Google has finally released the 64-bit version of the Chrome web browser for Windows 7 and 8 into its stable channel, after first releasing a version in its beta development channel in July.

This means that Windows users who have opted to get the 64-bit versions of the OS can now run a version of Chrome that is fully optimized for their system. The 64-bit version is shown as an optional download on the main Chrome website. A 64-bit version for Mac OS owners is still in beta testing.

In a blog post, Google had this to say about the launch of Chrome for Windows 64-bit:
"64-bit Chrome offers many benefits for speed, stability and security. Our measurements have shown that the native 64-bit version of Chrome has improved speed on many of our graphics and media benchmarks. For example, the VP9 codec that's used in High Definition YouTube videos shows a 15% improvement in decoding performance. Stability measurements from people opted into our Canary, Dev and Beta 64-bit channels confirm that 64-bit rendering engines are almost twice as stable as 32-bit engines when handling typical web content. Finally, on 64-bit, our defense in depth security mitigations such as Partition Alloc are able to far more effectively defend against vulnerabilities that rely on controlling the memory layout of objects."
Also, Google Chrome 37 is out now with improved font rendering and various bug fixes.


Google Chrome 37 out: improves font rendering and fixes more bugs

chrome-tileGoogle Chrome 37 has been released to the stable channel for Windows, Mac and Linux desktop users.

The headline change in Chrome 37 will, for most, be the introduction of DirectWrite support for Windows. As we highlighted during its time on the beta channel this modern technology improves the appearance of font rendering on supported Windows systems, including Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Chrome 37 also includes 50 key security fixes, many of which have been contributed, flagged or fixed by external researchers.

As is tradition, Google won’t share the full list until the majority of Chrome users have been successfully updated and patched. But, among the handful it has highlighted, there are bug fixes for ‘V8, IPC, sync, and extensions’ that potentially allowed remote code to run outside of the Chrome sandbox, and the closing of a loophole that could’ve enabled the permissions dialog of an extension to be spoofed.

Rounding out the changes are the new app and extension APIs for developers to toy with, and the usual improvements under the hood to boost app stability and overall performance.

August 26, 2014

Facebook to reduce click-bait headlines!

Die, Upworthy, Die.

Facebook shockingly announced that it's going to "reduce click-baiting headlines." That is, it's going to give less relevance to post with headlines like the one we used on this post, and instead give preference to headlines that actually give facts and allow the reader to choose whether to read the story.

Facebook writes:
"Click-baiting" is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see. Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed.
Facebook says that a survey showed 80 percent of the time "people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through. Of course, that doesn't do anything about the fact that we were all gullible enough to click on those links in the first place, but that's neither here nor there.

Facebook today also recommended that publishers share stories not as images with links inserted in the captions, but in the proper link format, with Facebook using hidden metadata to parse out titles and images.

[Source: Android Central]

August 25, 2014

Samsung teases Galaxy Note 4 announcement in new video trailer

Samsung teases the successor to the Galaxy Note 3

Samsung has just published a video teaser of its forthcoming and highly anticipated Galaxy Note announcement early next month at the IFA show in Berlin. The event, which is expected to see the debut of the highly rumored Galaxy Note 4, will see a strong focus on the Note's most defining feature: the S Pen.


The video teaser, which is well over a minute long, shows how humans have crafted things to meet their needs and wants, perhaps paying homage to the S Pen as "a truly notable invention" since "the pen." Samsung calls its Wacom-powered S Pen "a tool for the way we live today" in the video.

As Samsung asks in its video, are you "ready to note?" The next Note is debuting in a few weeks and we'll be sure to bring the latest news out of IFA and Samsung.

[Source: Android Central]

August 24, 2014

Finding Your Auto-Backup Photos on Google+


Google's Auto-Backup feature has been around for a while now and most people do that it for granted. What Google Auto-Backup does it simply back up any pictures you take on your smartphone to your account on the cloud. Not to worry though, pictures and videos that are automatically uploaded are safe in your own account and are only viewable to you.

Before Google+ updated, you were able to easily see your Auto-Backup media from the 'Photos' page. However, this is not the case now as the button (and album) has disappeared. It look me a while to search for all my Ato-Backup'd photos but with some help from Google, I was able to find a solution.

Simply bookmark this link (https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/search/%23AutoBackup) or search for the #AutoBackup hashtag in Google+ to view only the pictures and videos that Google has backed up for you. Easy right?

August 23, 2014

Chrome Theme: Sphere Grid


Well I decided to create a more simpler theme this time for all those dark-theme lovers. Here is "Sphere Grid"; a simple circular shaped object stylized in a grid formation. Well, nothing else really describes this theme. The window borders are a nice shade of gray that compliments the background image really well. So give it a go and tell me what you think!


August 21, 2014

Pushbullet updated with cross-device copy/paste

Pushbullet Android App

Platforms and electronics continue to merge as services become available across all our devices, but the separation between gadgets continues to be cumbersome. In the midst of this cloud revolution we get a little treat called Pushbullet, an app that allows us to share notifications (and now other things) between smartphones, tablets and computers.

The service continues to evolve with improved notifications and more support for cross-device data sharing. Today’s app update is unique in that it takes the service’s functionality past simple notifications – users can now copy/paste across different computing units.


This is especially awesome because we know some Android and Windows apps are not compatible with each other. Take Kik and WhatsApp as an example, a couple messaging apps that are mobile-exclusive, yet they are used by a wide audience. You can now copy text from a computer and paste in one of these apps using your smartphone or tablet.

This currently works with Android devices and Windows computers. Though that is a bit limited, these are the two most popular platforms in their respective markets. This feature should be available to most of you. Go ahead and download it to try!

[Source: Android Authority]

August 19, 2014

[J-Drama] No Dropping Out: Back to School at 35 Review

Synopsis:
The drama centres around how a 35 year old changes the school and influences her fellow classmates’ lives while dealing with the dark reality of today’s high schools, including bullying and skipping school.

Review:
At first it may seem that this Japanese Drama show is a comedy-driven story about a 35 year old woman going to to high school but as you watch the very first episode, you will come to find that the show isn't all happy-go-lucky or full of comedic laughter and smiles at all. Oh no, don't get me wrong, just thinking about a 35 year old woman in high school is already funny in itself. However, as you progress through the story you find out the dark past of Baba Ayako (the main character of the series) and why she's redoing her final year of high school.

Each episode of the series show a different form of bullying whether it is by parents, friends or even one's own self. And in each episode, Baba Ayako manages to solve her classmate's problems in one form or another. In a sense, the show does exaggerate some forms of bullying to the extreme, but in some cases, the types of bullying shown are definitely reflected from real life experiences that do happen in the schoolyard.

The cinematography and acting wasn't too bad but considering the budget and quality of the show you can expect some lack of expertise compared to AAA titles. You can just learn to accept it and move on without giving it much thought. After all, the main focus here is the more on the social interaction and relationships of the characters rather than the story itself. As a result, you get some sudden impulsive "jumps" in some of the scenes.

The soundtrack was decent and the beginning theme song was pretty catchy. However, it becomes quite evident that a lot of the music and foley is reused throughout the series. It is not a big deal and it doesn't hinder the plot development in anyway, but having a variety of soundtracks would have definitely made the series more engaging to the audience.

Overall, I must say that I did enjoy watching the series a lot and it has affected my attitude towards bullying in school. I was fortunately enough to have attended quite a nice public highschool and rarely did I witness any form of bullying of any sort. This show will come to educate you on the various different type of bullying (whether physical or emotional) whilst managing to entertain you.

Overall Score: 8/10

August 18, 2014

Offline? Chrome Will Soon Let You Load Websites from Cache

load local cache copy chrome button

Chrome will soon allow certain webpages to be read offline on desktop and mobile. How? By loading them from cache.

If you try to load a website without an active network connection (or a dodgy one, or when the webpage server is under heavy load, etc.) in Chrome you'll see a cute and informative error page with collapsable details on the issue.

Certainly useful in helping to diagnose errors. But Google thinks it could be more useful.

Designed as a fallback of sorts, future versions of Chrome will present you with the choice of reading an older, cached version of the errant webpage having trouble.

The “Show Saved Copy” button is positioned prominently on the connection error page, regardless of whether the issue is the result of woes at your end or theirs. Clicking on the button will load a cached version of the site taken the last time you opened it.

Now, obviously, the caveat here is that this feature can only work with websites that have a (so-called) ‘stale copy’ present in the browser cache. But while you won’t be able to peruse new sites or read articles you didn't get around to opening prior to any network troubles, you will be able to scroll through and view pages, pictures and parts that have been successfully cached.

For moments of intended or unintended offline woe, this feature will really come in handy.

‘Stale Copy’ loading is already enabled by default in the Canary builds of Chrome on Windows and Mac.

[Source: OMG! Chrome!]

Moto 360 shows up on Best Buy's website for $250

Moto 360 shows up on Best Buy's website for $250

The Moto 360 has made an appearance on Best Buy's website, complete with a price and specs. According to the retailer, Motorola's Android Wear-powered device will retail for $249.99. While this could be the final price, there's also a decent chance that it's merely a placeholder.

Best Buy also lists the apparent specs of the Moto 360. First, it seems that the device will be powered by a Texas Instruments processor. The Moto 360 will also apparently be water resistant up to 3.3' and the back will evidently be plastic, which makes sense for wireless charging. Best Buy's listing does not include a release date, saying only that the device is "coming soon".

[Source: Android Central]

August 16, 2014

Chrome Now Protects Against ‘Deceptive’ Software Downloads

piracy-malware-tileGoogle is to begin blocking downloads of ‘deceptive’ and ‘tricky’ software in Chrome as part of its responsibility to protect users from malware.

The Safe Browsing Service already warns Chrome users when they attempt to access known rogue websites, phishing scams or malicious software. But from next week Google will extend the breadth of protection to cover a wider range of software distributed online.

You should be able to use the web safely, without fear that malware could take control of your computer, or that you could be tricked into giving up personal information in a phishing scam,” explains Moheeb Abu Rajab, Staff Engineer of Google Security in the wittily titled blog post ‘That’s Not The Download You’re Looking For‘.

More than three million download warnings are flagged up by Google each week, helping to keep over a billion users safe. One expects that figure to rise considerably as more unsavoury apps start being kept at arm’s length.


Google describes deceptive software as being “programs disguised as a helpful download that actually make unexpected changes to your computer—for instance, switching your homepage or other browser settings to ones you don’t want.”

To help, Google will begin to alert Chrome users “whenever an attempt is made to trick you into downloading and installing such software.”

But before anyone cries ‘control thief’, Google explains that it will still be possible to continue a flagged download in spite of a warning, thereby leaving it up to the user whether they're willing to risk infecting their computer with potential nastiness.

[Source: OMG! Chrome!]

August 14, 2014

Google testing new interface for Hangouts, code-named Ultra Violet

hangouts-uv-2

If a new report from Florian Kiersch proves correct, Google is testing out a new Hangouts experience code-named Ultra Violet. Reportedly the new experience includes several visual changes such as Facebook-esque Chatheads floating icons. While the images above come from Hangouts for desktop (via a Chrome extension), it’s also likely some of these visual changes could make their way to the Android app as well.

As you can tell by the screenshots, certain Hangout elements remain the same, though this is still a pretty big departure from Hangouts current look. Kiersch says the experience is still very much in the experimental stages and that it relies on extension APIs in the Chrome’s developer channel. There’s also likely some bugs and other kinks to work out.

hangouts-uv

So how confident are we that these images are legit? While nothing is 100% certain, it’s important to note that Kiersch has revealed several work-in-progress Google projects in the past, including Google Stars. That means his track record is pretty clean, which lends credence to this rumored cosmetic overhaul.

August 13, 2014

[Life] Sony and the dropping of Vita

My PS Vita and I love it!
I don't follow any of the games conventions or expos such as E3 or Gamescom, but it's hard not to come across news of new releases and updates. However, this time at Gamescom brought some shocking revelations to PlayStation Vita fans around the globe. Everyone expected Sony to do something drastic or reveal something extra at Gamescom for the Vita platform but alas, only one mention surfaced.

While watching the conference, Sony mentioned Vita once. Vita was mentioned one more time by an indie studio and that they were the only studio to mention that their game was coming to Vita AND PS4. Not a single other game mentioned this. Sony then mentioned that they were bringing Tearaway (Vita's exclusive game) to PlayStation 4. This was probably the final blow for Vita fans.

On Reddit, the /r/vita thread of being bombarded with the anguish and frustrations of Vita owners crying out/against Sony to do something about the Vita platform. One Reddit post linked to an animated GIF:


In response to the fan backlash for an alleged shortage of announcements for the PlayStation Vita, Sony executive Shahid Kamal Ahmad explained via Twitter that there are many games incoming for the handheld.

Ahmad confirmed that these games include Nom Nom Galaxy, Pix the Cat, Papers, Please, Tales of Hearts R, Velocity 2X, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Broforce, and Volume. While no other games were discussed, Ahmad said that there will be several more, and asked that people stay tuned for more information about the future releases on Vita.

So there you have it! There may be some hope left for the Vita platform in the future with these releases. Not that they are plenty, but they may be enough to keep the Vita fans happy for a while. Of course, this is not a long-term solution but game developers and major franchise companies need to reach out and expand their territories and experiment on something they've never done before. We have the playerbase here as Vita owners, we just need something, anything, that can satisfy our gaming needs.

[Sources: Cinelinx, Gfycat, IGN]

Play Store introduces colorful badges denoting number of app downloads

google-play-badge

When it comes to deciding whether or not to download an app, there are likely several factors you consider such as the app’s rating, reviews, its permissions and even how many times it has been downloaded before. Up until now, the Play Store’s app download count could be found within the app description under read more, but no longer.

A new server-side change has started rolling out bringing us a new “download” badges that perfectly compliment the Material Design changes we've been seeing from the Play Store as of late. The badge shows up for any app that has at least one download and changes colors as they app becomes more popular. Those apps with under 5000 downloads have a gray badge, 10000 to 50000 is blue, 100000 to 500000 is green and anything over a million gets an orange badge.

While this isn't a massive change, it’s still a welcome one for those that are quickly checking out an app to decide if it’s worth the download. Keep in mind you probably don’t need to do anything to get this to show up other than wait for Google to turn it on for you, though you may need to have the most recently released Play Store update (4.9.13).

[Source: Android Authority]

August 12, 2014

The Meat Dimension

I feel like eating a large bowl of beef ramen

August 11, 2014

LibreOffice is coming to Android

LibreOffice

At the first LibreOffice Conference, the Document Foundation announced its plans to migrate LibreOffice to mobile devices. The plan didn't include a total rewrite of the code, but repurposing at least 90% of the current code base. That meant the majority of the work was already done. That last remaining 10%? The user interface. The 90% already compiles on Android, so there is a working model.

So why develop LibreOffice for Android? The answer is simple: Open Document Format. At the moment, getting odt or ods files open for editing on the Android platform is difficult. 
  • WPS Office (formerly Kingsoft Office) does not support ODF. 
  • Office Suite Pro does support ODF (however, it's not supported in the free version, which offers a subtle layer of irony), but you'll find the app crashes a lot (some devices, like the LG G3, can't even open Office Suite Pro).
  • Google Docs doesn't offer native support for ODF (though you can import and export).
  • AndrOpen is a ported version of OpenOffice for Android, but the interface is horrible, and working larger files is cumbersome at best.
Figure A
AndrOpen isn't the most pleasing to look at, but it does a decent job.
With the addition of a free office suite that fully supports the ODF format, the Android platform extends its reach even farther. This is especially significant, given how widespread the adoption of the ODF format has become. Even with Android's seamless Google Docs integration, not everyone depends heavily on Google's go-to office suite. Anyone who depends on open-source software knows this element is sorely missing from the Android ecosystem. One would think a platform based on the Linux kernel would be overflowing with quality open-source apps.

There is no set release date at this point. Until the developers get the file size below the Google limit, they are unable to predict a release. Until then, however, we'll just have to sit back and wait -- and hope this happens across the Google landscape. Even though LibreOffice would be in direct competition with Google Docs, it's clear that there are some users who not only need native ODF support, but rely on a more traditional office suite to fulfill those needs.

[Source: Tech Republic]

August 9, 2014

No One Likes Facebook Messenger: Gets 1-Star Rating

Fb-messenger

The Facebook Messenger split has officially arrived, forcing users of the Facebook app to download it — but they're not happy about doing so.

This has put the app in the unique position of being the number one free app in the App Store, but with about the most dismal rating an app can have.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.29.51 AM

On Android, the app still has a four-star average — because unlike the App Store, where ratings are based on the most recent version, Google's Play's ratings are cumulative for all versions of the app. But even on Play, recent reviews are overwhelmingly negative.

This trend, by the way, is not limited to the U.S. App Store. The current version of Messenger has a 1 to 2-star average in nearly every country's App Store, according to analytics tracking firm App Annie.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.12.29 PM

So there you have it, nothing else much to say about Facebook's move to force users to install an app they don't have a choice over. 

[Source: Mashable]

August 8, 2014

Google+ update v4.5 brings multiple design changes

google plus nexus 5 1

It has been a while since the Google+ app has seen any real changes. Though today’s update to version 4.5 is not major, it does bring some good eye candy to Google’s social network app. The update is now available from the Google Play Store, so get it now if you haven't already.

Design changes are hidden all over the app, but they are all relatively small. The most interesting change I saw is within the profile page. You will notice the image and profile information are no longer centered, offering a left-aligned experience that does seem to look a bit more organized and pleasing to the eye.

Another big one is that the app seems to be turning more URL addresses into hyperlinks, a feature that was missing in many areas of the app. This became a huge annoyance to those who want to look into more details about a certain post or topic.

google-plus-v4-5

In addition, the play button on videos has become a little more “bold”. The +1, share and comment buttons in each post also look much darker, a change that definitely stands out. Other minor changes include the re-location of the search function within your Circles area.

If you find that there isn't an update for Google+ on your Android, you will have to wait a little while.

[Source: Android Authority]

August 5, 2014

iOS keeps falling under as Android wins in web usage

how-to-transfer-from-iphone-to-android-0099

The past years haven’t been the best for Apple, once the single power in control of the smartphone market. Android soon became the governing platform in the mobile industry, but there was one thing Apple would always mock Google’s OS for – web usage. This will no longer be the case, as Android has finally surpassed iOS’ amazing statistics in this category.

It’s no doubt a great victory for the Android community, taking away one of Apple’s very last weapons in the never-ending argument of the mobile operating systems. This data comes from Net Application’s research, which measures traffic within its network, accounting for 160 million monthly visits.

aios-android-web-usage

In the graph above we see Android taking Apple’s crown, if only by under 1%. The Android platform accounted for 44.62% of July’s traffic, while Apple fell behind at 44.19%. Does this mean Apple will stop trying to attack Android with silly statements? We are sure they will find something else to talk about, but it’s good to see them running out of content to throw at Google’s face.

August 2, 2014

Google Now Launcher now available on most Android devices

Google Now Launcher officially launches onto Android 4.1+ devices

The Google Now launcher is now available on any Android device running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or higher. The launcher places Google Now just a swipe to the right away on your home page. Additionally, when you're on the home page all you have to do is say "Ok Google" to trigger voice controls (the default setting is only from the launcher or when in Google Search, although you can set it to be from any screen or even the lock screen, so long as the device is turned on). The Google Now Launcher is meant to make it even faster to get into Google's services, with just a swipe, a tap, or a work to get things rolling.

It was just this morning that the Google Now launcher mysteriously started appearing as supported on new non-Nexus devices, and it's been released for a wider range of device's it's compatible with a full three quarters of Android devices between the various versions of Jelly Bean and Android 4.4 KitKat.

Apart from the enhanced Google Now features, the launcher also features some visual tweaks, including larger app icons, a translucent status and navigation bars, and a new wallpaper picker that makes it easier to choose and position your photos.


[Source: Android Central]