Nokia’s week of Android, CyanogenMod’s expansion, more Facebook and more!
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In the search for a new and exciting home screen launcher, I recently came across one that not only brings HTC's Blinkfeed style launcher to non-HTC devices but includes notification support and some Material Design thrown in. The launcher is called Flow Home and is a launcher that takes Blink Feed but adds a quick launch icon in the style of Google+ and quick access to your full app drawer.
While the launcher is currently in Beta and requires a code to use, once the code is entered, getting the app up and running is just as easy as signing up and into a new app. The first time setup wizard will start once the code is entered. Currently 3 social networks are supported: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Whichever network is desired can be logged into here or skipped and added later via settings. Twitter and Instagram populated quickly for me with Facebook taking a little longer and slowly adding in my News Feed. The default refresh rate once accounts are added is 30 minutes but can be adjusted to refresh more quickly or slow as desired. The app can also read notifications which show up in the homescreen feed to directly and quickly access. This works nicely for Google+ since it doesn't currently have any APIs for 3rd party app developers to use.
The button with the transparent cube at the bottom right of the screen has two options. Quick pressing the button will open app shortcuts which can be customized with up to three rows of app shortcuts. This is reminiscent of Circle Launcher or Pie Control style apps of app shortcuts to provide a simple reference. Adding apps is a simple as long pressing on the app from the full app drawer and selecting add shortcut. The settings menu has the option to place the button on the bottom left or right of the screen based on user preference. The second option for this button is searching for apps to open. This is done by long pressing on the button to start typing which starts a real time search for installed apps on the device that match the search string. Pressing the red x to close the search will default to the app drawer.
The easiest and most direct way of getting to the app drawer is to swype left from the main screen. This will also change the transparent cube to a search button to allow searching for apps (so essentially the reverse method of the steps listed above). Swyping right will take the user back to the home screen.
Other customization options include the ability to set a custom image for the settings button at the top of the screen (below the notification drawer) and setting a custom banner image that sits behind the date and weather which sit at the top of the screen. Finally, if the user wants to remove items from the feed, swping right on the card will "delete" it.
The only issue I have with the launcher at the moment is the respective default apps not loading the post when clicked though the browser version does work so setting your preferred default browser may be the way to go at the moment. This isn't a deal breaker though since there is the beta tag but I do imagine this will be more streamlined in future releases.
With all the talk about time lapse features, for this review, I wanted to share just one of many time lapse apps in the Google Play store that is not only stored to the user's device but can be shared to just about anywhere and has a full range of features.
To start, videos can be created just by pushing the record button like any other video. Current settings show up at the top right of the screen to provide quick stats for the output for the video. Many of these settings can be changed and are separated by type. To start, video resolution can be adjusted based on device hardware but can range from 1080p to 480p. Next, the frame interval can be adjusted from 0.1 seconds up to 60 second intervals. The PRO version allows for custom intervals that can be different from the options provided. From here, the video length can be set based on how long the user wants their video to be. There is no limit in the free version but the PRO version does allow setting custom lengths outside of the options that the free version provides. Other settings include white balance, auto focus, FX, and exposure.
A quick overview for at least how this app creates its time lapse is that the 0.1 time interval is closest to a standard length time lapse. Any interval greater than this requires that much longer of the a video to create the time lapse effect. The video in the post was created used this time interval with all other settings at default.
The video render is done in real time so once the recording is stopped, the video is saved to the user's device. Since the video is saved in mp4 format, it can be shared to most sites including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.
Most of the apps features are available in the free version including setting time intervals, no limit on video resolution or length, and adjusting filter types. The PRO version adds the ability to make custom adjustments and unlocks various video adjustment features.
If you find yourself on a slow internet connection or want to load webpages in the background while you do your mobile web surfing, then Link Bubble is the app for you. Using similar functionality to Facebook Chat Heads, Link Bubble intercepts when the user clicks on links to load the web page in the background.
Once the app is installed and a link is clicked, a little bubble pops up on the left side of the screen (towards the middle). It loads the page as the user continues other tasks. When you are ready to view the page, clicking on the bubble will show the page. The app works seamlessly in the background with no major configuration needed if most of your default apps are already setup.
Other default apps can also be set if basics like all share options is not desired. For example, the left bubble can be set to Facebook while the right bubble can be set to the all share menu. To access these bubbles, simply long press on the bubble and two additional bubbles will pop up at the top left and right of the screen under your notification drawer. A delete button also shows up at the bottom of the screen in case you clicked a link accidentally or no longer need the page. The bubble can also be moved to various other parts of the screen depending on things like position desired, preferred hand when interacting with your device, etc. so it is not out of reach.
The app comes in free and paid versions. The free version allows loading only one link at a time while the paid version allows unlimited tabs, support for 'Ok Google' and article mode. App performance is very snappy as it only loads when a website link is clicked. The app itself functions as an intermediary between links and your default browser so that it can load the page using the browser of choice. The default browser is a setting that can be adjusted in settings if the user does have multiple browsers installed. If the user has specific apps installed for links found online or in Facebook or Twitter, then those apps will have to be set as default again so Link Bubble doesn't ask to load the page.
Love trivia? Want to challenge your friends (or get challenged by them)? Love taking quizzes? Then QuizUp is the trivia game for you!
Using Facebook, Google+ or E-Mail login, players can challenge other players to trivia questions in a variety of categories. The idea is to get as many questions right against your opponent to win the game of several questions. Bonus points are awarded to the winner.
By using Google Play Games, players can score rise on the leaderboard to see how well they are doing compared to their friends. Achievements can also be unlocked for various items like 'Atlas' and 'Couch Potato.'
The app generally follows the HoloUI look and feel yet retains a very colorful and exiting look. The app feels lite on resource usage as well, even with sliding animations for transitions.
Casting with all the things, creating your own radio station, making your own skits, and more!
Want one place to see all of your pictures and videos? Hate not having that place all in one app? GalleryNext by CyanogenMod aims to fix that. The app integrates your local content along with Flikr, Facebook, Picasa and Dropbox to have a single interface for all your photo and video media. The app is currently in beta and follows the Android 4.0+ design guidelines.