Editor’s Picks: 15 of our favorite Android apps and games (May 28)

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Welcome to the Editor’s Picks, where we have filed through various apps and games in an attempt to curate a list of 15 of the best to present to you! We find it to be our duty to help you determine what is worth downloading on to your precious device, and what will just waste your internal storage. We can’t get all the amazing apps into one story, but we hope that we’ve gotten the most useful/entertaining/etc in this list!

For a more comprehensive selection, we are constantly posting to our social media networks. So feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to keep up with our latest app suggestions!

Timely is an alarm clock not just for one device, but another, and another! Unlike most alarm apps for Android you can sync Timely to several of your devices, and set the alarm form the device of your choice. When the alarm goes off, you simply press “snooze” on the device closest to you, and all the devices the alarm was set for will “snooze!”

The app is beautiful, and has a great sense of style. It will be a welcome addition to your device that you won’t want to get rid of! Its elegance only adds to its infinite usefulness. Trust us, you will always need an alarm clock, Timely just does it better than the rest.

Peek is an app that was originally derived from the custom build Paranoid Android. It is similar technology to Motorola’s Active Display in that it brings up notifications based on your movement. If the sensors pick up movement, the screen lights up to display whatever notification you may have.

Do you like a little optical illusion with your Android games? Well so do we, and luckily Monument Valley is here to provide! Monument Valley puts you in the character of Ida, a princess who has entered a dream-like world where she travels from point to point in an attempt to solve puzzles. Ida has no voice or face, so you are somewhat left to fill-in the blanks with her story!

Most Android phones of today are equipped with an auto-brightness feature, but do they really work the way they should? Lux Auto Brightness would argue that they don’t! Lux brings a competent brightness control to your phone that, given the right adjustments, can really do your phone some good!

Flappy Bird seems to have become the new rating for how frustrating a game can be, and Fives comes through in the same vein. Modeled after the popular iOS game “Threes,” Fives uses the same basic concept. It is a puzzle game where you combine similar numbers. For example, you can combine 2 and 3, but not 2 and 2, or 3 and 3.

The basis sounds simple enough, but trust us it is not! The game can quickly become frustrating and confusing. It definitely fills the hole that Flappy Bird left in us as far as frustrating games go, therefore Fives makes a good substitute until it is brought back!

Enable “OK Google” on 3rd party launchers on any device

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One of the cool features of the Moto X is the always listening “Ok Google” feature which allows you to prompt a voice command in Google Now without even having to touch the device.

Now a mod for the Xposed Framework has been created over at XDA Developers to enable “OK Google” on all 3rd party launchers on KitKat and above, and also on a per app basis.

The requirement is that you need the Xposed Framework and also version 4.4+ of the Google Search app for it to work properly.

The developer has said it has been tested on the following stock devices/launchers with no issues, and mentions that pretty much every 3rd party launcher is supported:

  • Xperia Stock Launcher
  • HTC Sense 6 / Blinkfeed
  • TouchWiz (S5 has this built in)
  • LG (untested – G3 has this built in)

So if you want to implement “Ok Google” on your device with a 3rd party launcher then just download the .APK package from here, run the App, and enjoy the handsfree Google Now control.

GO Launcher 5 PRIME free for limited timecebook

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GO Launcher has reached version 5, with the developers stating the UI and UX have been recreated from the bottom up. To mark the release of GO Launcher 5, the developers are offering the PRIME version which usually retails for $5.99 for free for a limited time.

The PRIME version of GO Launcher unlocks the following features:

  • Remove Ads to ensure pure & clean user interface
  • 6+ Transition animations to show off & wow your friends
  • 3D transition: cloth, crystal, snake; crossfade, fly-in, curve, page turn
  • Security lock to lock apps & protect privacy
  • Wallpaper filters enable you to transform every moment into arts
  • Side dock to switch between running tasks
  • More gestures to quickly access to apps, contacts, settings

The deal is valid from May 30th to June 1st and to activate your free PRIME purchase just do the following:

1. Install GO Launcher 5 http://goo.gl/uP3jBG
2. Open the menu and go to Preferences > About GO Launcher EX > Enter Activation code appsales OR appszoom

You must be a new user to GO Launcher for this offer to work.

Android Wear notifications demoed by a Google Developer

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We know one thing for sure – they are coming. Yeah! Smartwatches are coming as Apple seems to be prepping an iWatch while Google has already released a platform – Android Wear and its SDK for developers. Wearables are a huge category, but right now, in 2014, the concentration seems to be on smart watches. LG and Motorola were among the first companies to hop in with Google in the smart wearables market.

Google’s Android Wear is a platform for the wearables and for now, wearables are being portrayed as devices where you have easier access to the notifications of your smartphone. Google have just released a video demonstrating how the notification system works on the Android Wear platform.

Google’s developer Timothy Jordan has written a post on the company’s Social network – Google+ about how notifications work on Android Wear. He has also mentioned that just by adding a few lines of code, the developers will be able to deliver richer experience to the users on their wearables.

As you can see in the image above, you can identify the notification by the app icon on the top right corner. Google has also released a video explaining a little more about notifications. You can check out the video right below.

Airtel launches 4G LTE services in Jalandhar

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Airtel has launched 4G services in Jalandhar, Punjab.Airtel launched its 4G LTE services in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula in Punjab and Haryana last March and rolled out voice services on 4G in these three cities earlier this month. It also launched its 4G services in Ludhiana earlier this month. In Jalandhar, Airtel customers can access 4G on dongles, Wi-Fi CPEs (Customer Premise Equipment/ routers) and mobile phones.

Airtel also offers 4G LTE services in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Pune and 4G on mobile in Bengaluru. The Apple iPhone 5S (models A1530& A1518) and iPhone 5C (models A1529 & A1516) users can experience 4G by upgrading to a USIM (Universal SIM) / 4G SIM. The USIM comes free with the purchase of dongle (Rs. 1500) or CPE (Rs. 2500) and is priced at Rs 49 for mobile users. It is also available on Xolo LT 900 and LG G2 (D802T).

Announcing the launch, Manu Sood, Hub CEO – Upper North, Bharti Airtel (India) said,

Today, we are proud to announce the much awaited launch of Airtel 4G services in Jalandhar that fulfills a huge market requirement and will give customers the power to upgrade to cutting edge 4G technology – the most advanced wireless broadband experience available across the globe today, matching their internet experience with the rest of the world. As a brand we are committed to enriching the lives of millions and invite our data savvy customers in the city to enjoy this world-class data experience which we are offering at unbeatable prices.

Samsung Galaxy Gear gets Tizen 2.2 update

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Earlier this there were reports that the original Galaxy Gear that runs on Android would get a Tizen update, similar to the latest Samsung Gear 2 series. Today Samsung has started rolling out Tizen 2.2 update for the original Galaxy Gear (SM-V700) smartwatch, according to Sammobile.

The new Tizen OS would bring improved performance and battery life, a standalone music player, customizable shortcuts for tap input, voice commands in the camera and lots more, according to the report. Except WatchON Remote and Heart Rate monitor, most features would be similar to the Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo that were launched recently.

The first Samsung Galaxy Gear was launched in India at a price tag of Rs. 22,990. Since it was not successful in the market, it got several price cuts. Those who had purchased the smartwatch at that time can update it and say goodbye to Android. The update is available only via Kies and it wipes the entire data, so you might want to back it up before updating.

Acer Liquid Leap fitness band announced, comes with Liquid Jade smartphone in select markets

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Acer has announced its Liquid Jade smartphone and Liquid Leap fitness band ahead of Computex 2014. The company teased these devices New York, now the company has revealed few more details of these devices. The Liquid Leap is a smart band that lets you track your fitness such as steps, running distance, calories burnt and sleeping cycle. It connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth (4.0) so that it can show incoming call and SMS notifications on a 1-inch always on touch screen display. It also shows time and weather and lets you control music.

It is waterproof with IPX7 ratings and comes in Moonstone White, Mineral Black, Aquamarine, Fragrant Pink, and Vivid Orange colors. Acer promises about 5-7 days of battery life.

Acer Liquid Jade specifications

  • 5-inch (1280 × 720 pixels) capacitive touchscreen IPS display
  • 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • Dual SIM
  • Dimensions: 140.5 x 69 x 7.5 mm
  • 13MP auto focus camera with LED Flash, 1080p HD video recording
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory, expandable memory up to 32GB
  • 3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth and aGPS
  • 2100 mAh battery

Both the Acer Liquid Jade smartphone and Liquid Leap fitness band would go on sale later this year. No word on pricing yet. We will bring more details from the Computex event in Taiwan next week.

Acer Iconia Tab 8 with 8-inch full HD display, Android 4.4 announced

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Acer has just announced the Iconia Tab 8 ahead of Computex 2014 in Taiwan. The tablet has a 8-inch (1920 x 1200 pixels) full HD display with Zero Air Gap technology and 16:10 aspect ratio, powered by a quad-core Intel Atom (Z3745) processor and runs on Android 4.4 (KitKat). It has a slim profile and a metallic silver rear cover that gives it a premium look.

It has dual speakers that promises a surround sound effect. The Acer Touch WakeApp let you quickly and easily wake up the Iconia Tab 8 with a simple touch gesture. It has both rear and front-facing cameras and a micro SD card slot. It also lets Acer PCs through Build Your Own Cloud (BYOC) that enables users to build their own cloud on their devices. Acer promises up to 7.5 hours of battery life.

Acer Iconia Tab 8 specifications

  • 8-inch (1920 x 1200 pixels) full HD display
  • quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • 8.5 mm thick and weighs 360 grams
  • rear camera
  • front-facing camera
  • 2GB RAM, 16GB /32GB internal storage and expandable memory with micro SD
  • WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB

The Acer Iconia Tab 8 comes in White color and should go on sale in European markets starting mid-July starting from 199 Euros. We will bring more details from the Computex 2014 next week.

Samsung announces Simband, a wearable open health platform

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At the Voice of the Body event few hours back, Samsung announced Simband, an open hardware reference design for wearable technology, that has most advanced sensing technologies that could be used to track measurements such as heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure using the wrist-mounted band that has a modular array of sensors on the bottom. The Simband is being designed in a modular way, allowing for innovation in areas like battery life, form factor and noninvasive sensor technology, says Samsung.

This also includes Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (SAMI), a cloud-based open software platform that stores the collected health data from the wearable device securely. This enables developers access the data and leverage it to create entirely new applications. Since it has open APIs, it can collect data from any type of device or online source and deliver it to any other device or application in real time.

Other manufacturers would use the Simband reference design to develop products and it will not be sold commercially, says Samsung. Looks like it might take time before we can see a wearable device based on this platform.

Broadcom introduces BCM59350 multi-standard wireless charging chipset for smartphones

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Broadcom has announced BCM59350, a high performance wireless charging power management unit (PMU) with support for all three leading standards organizations including the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). This has a unique Broadcom design that enables multiple devices with different power requirements such as tablets, smartphones or a smartwatch charge at the same time, without the trouble of accurate positioning or alignment.

Highlights of Broadcom BCM59350 multi-standard wireless charging SoC

  • Efficient – Up to 88 percent AC to DC efficiency
  • High Performance – Supports up to 7.5W for faster charge time than standard USB and wall chargers
  • Boost Mode – Broadcom ensures charging performance with 50 percent less voltage
  • Support for automatic selection between standards and single mode operation
  • NFC Coexistence – Broadcom’s wireless charging design ensures acceptable NFC performance
  • Implementation Flexibility – Can be designed in a smartphone motherboard or battery cover
  • Small PCB Footprint – Broadcom’s design supports multi-standards in the same size as a single standard solution
  • Low Cost – Broadcom’s solution has a minimum bill of materials cost with no external active components, excluding WICED Smart

The Broadcom BCM59350 wireless charging smartphone power management unit is now in sampling stage with select OEMs. It is not clear when we can expect smartphones with this new wireless charging chipset.