Opera’s new WebKit-based Android browser has graduated from “beta” status to take over its predecessor in the same slot. Now just known as Opera browser, the new version bares more than a passing resemblance to Chrome for Android.
Though the app is fast and smooth, offering users with modern devices a desktop-like experience, Opera may most benefit users with limited-speed mobile connections or data caps. The new Off-Road feature is quite impressive, using a server-side proxy to compress data, much like the more compact Opera mini. The difference here is that you’ll still be able to load photos and videos, they’ll just be of imperceptibly lower quality than over an uncompressed connection.
There are also a number of new features on board, including a localized Discover pane that shows news from your area in an uncluttered interface. Of course, you still have Opera’s famous Speed Dial home screen, and its Link capabilities synchronizes Speed Dial and bookmarks between devices. The main issue here is that, while Opera is quite popular on mobile, it still holds less than 1% of the desktop market, undermining Link’s usefulness.
Still, Opera is a fantastic alternative to Firefox and Chrome on Android, and deserves to be considered.
Download Opera for Android.
After what seems like a brand-nullifying wait, the once-terrific You Don’t Know Jack has launched on Android. Arriving on iOS in December, with an Android release promised in the coming days or weeks, it has taken six months for the game to be successfully ported. Is the sojourn worth it? In many ways, no.
You Don’t Know Jack was the king of trivia games in the 90′s, a lean-back local multiplayer game where friends hovered their fingers tautly over keyboard keys with the intent of “screwing”, “Dis or Dat”-ing or “Jack Attack”-ing one another in extended battles of irreverent trivia.
The dynamics themselves have not changed much, from the initial Facebook port to iOS and now Android: the questions are still pop culture-infused gems, recited by a fantastic host with a dirty mouth. The key differences revolve around payments: the core game is free to play, but users can only freely play once a day. Scoring high nets a modicum of coins; spamming your friends about the game nets you more. Every game costs 200 coins to play, so you will either have to rise to astronomical heights or, more likely, pay for a set of coins. One thousand coins, the equivalent of five games, costs two dollars. That’s not a terribly high sum considering the amount of fun you have in every eight-minute stretch of gameplay, but it’s still quite steep.
Of course, today we have so many ways to fill our precious time, one daily game may be more than enough to whet the palate. But the game’s constant insistence on spamming your Facebook friends (you must log in through Facebook if you want to play against people you know, otherwise it’s all random) with invites, or posting your scores to your wall, or using coins to listen to fake sponsors… it all gets tiresome quickly.
There is a great game with amazing content inside YDKJ for Android, you just have to wade through the trough to find it. The game also appears to be quite buggy at the moment, and does not work on a number of mainstream devices like the HTC One. Jellyvision says it’s working out the kinks as we speak, though, so stay tuned for updates.
Download You Don’t Know Jack for Android.
We’ve covered the two existing Mophie battery cases for the iPhone 5, the 1500mAh juice pack helium and the 1700mAh juice pack air, and now the company is releasing another version, the 2100mAh juice pack plus.
Slightly larger and denser than the existing versions, the plus retails for $119.95, $20 more than the air. It’s also available as a PRODUCT (RED) version, which contributes to AIDS-related charity, Global Fund.
This plus version also affixes reinforced corners to the case, which is hugely helpful for clumsy people. If you’ll afford me a minute for a small anecdote: I was using my iPhone 5 inside the juice pack air the other week and the phone was knocked out of my hand only to land on concrete face-down. I picked it up with trepidation, expecting a cracked screen and more than a little damage to the body but found the phone intact and working, with only minor scuffs to the corners of the juice pack. If the plus version protects the iPhone as well as the regular one, this is going to be a great case.
In terms of dimensions, the plus is 2.63in x 5.60in x 0.70in compared to the helium’s 2.49in x 5.49in x 0.59in and the air’s 2.60in x 5.54in x 0.63in, so it’s not a small cover. But it’s still pocketable, and doesn’t come close to the massive size of the HTC One version.
Check out all the information at Mophie. We’ll have a review of the juice pack plus for iPhone 5 in the coming weeks.
Last month we wrote about a deal on TELUS’ site that offered up the pre-owned (used/refurbished) BlackBerry Z10 for a cool $500. Now, three weeks later, TELUS has dropped the price by $100 to a respectable $400 outright – that’s a savings of $250 from a brand new one. Also listed and price dropped again is the pre-ownsed Galaxy S III for $300.
If you’re into used devices/saving cash it’s something to think about as TELUS says that all “Certified Pre-Owned phones have been used for a maximum of 30 days.” Plus come with a 14-day money back guarantee and a 12-month warranty.
Flickr has finally updated its long-neglected Android app alongside a revamp of its web page. The announcement coincides with what Yahoo intends to be the “big reveal” of Flickr’s future: an ad-supported model with 1TB of storage for free users; paid users can pay $50/year to remove the ads, or $500/year to double the storage space.
It’s a gutsy move that is seen as necessary against, on the one hand, Google+ and its increasingly photo-centric nature, and on the other hand 500px, which is eating Flickr’s lunch in the amateur and professional photographer realm.
Flickr has been seen as largely neglected in recent years, left to wither while Instagram stole its mobile traffic and Facebook swooped the desktop. The new Flickr is indeed nicer, and the 1TB offering, even for free users, is extremely generous. But there are ads — lots of them — that take away from the experience for the average free user.
To the mobile side, though the iPhone app has been beautiful for some time, the company’s Android app was, to put it bluntly, terrible. This new version improves everything about it, from the interface, which now has a left-side navigation bar, to the photo viewing workflow. Taking photos is still a bit annoying: you have two options for editing, which can be combined or used individually. First is the typical Instagram-like preset filters, many of which are actually quite nice and varied; the issue is that, even on a high-end phone like the HTC One they take over a second to apply. The second editing method incorporates the popular Aviary SDK, which is, while powerful, a cop-out from having to build their own functionality into the app.
Granted, photos look beautiful, and you can finally see all the EXIF data and creator information, much like on the iPhone. But the iPhone version feels like it’s been given more love, despite the fact that there is limited Android tablet support.
With all the attention on Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr for $1.1 billion, the Flickr redesign may not seem so important. But the photo-centric portal is still hugely popular, and Android users now have another tool with which to take advantage of their excellent cameras.
Download Flickr for Android.
Rogers Nokia Lumia 920 users have received a firmware update to their device, now at 1314. This reportedly brings speed improvements, various “stability improvements,” improved display brightness settings, plus a fix for those who were experiencing a blank screen during calls.
If you have the Rogers Lumia 920, press Settings/Phone Update and “Check for updates.”
Before I first arrived in San Francisco last week, I had only seen glass on a select number of Google employees, or behind a glass case, preaching the future of computing through its aptly-named pulpit. But for Google I/O this year, it became quickly apparent that any unease I had about seeing this awkwardly-looking construct of glass and metal affixed to peoples’ faces would have to be overcome.
At first, the notion that anyone wearing glass could be photographing or recording me was thoroughly concerning, much like the scuttling of a mouse behind the kitchen cupboard. This wasn’t entirely true, of course: Google had made privacy a primary tenet of Glass’s functionality; any time it is recording video, the eyepiece — the heads-up display through which you view the augmented world — glows a soft yet striking blue. Similarly, it’s not easy to use Glass surreptitiously; you’re constantly looking up and touching the side of your head as if to scratch a spasmodic itch.
Maluuba came out of nowhere last year to show up both Siri and Google Now at their own natural language game. The idea was simple: input a semantic query using your voice or keyboard and have the information displayed in an easy-to-read card. What the app didn’t know natively — Maluuba partners with a number of category-specific providers such as Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes, for instance — it obtains from search engines.
The app got smarter post-release when it added voice-based shopping to its app, and then earlier this year Maluuba expanded to another platform, Windows Phone 8, on its way to becoming more than just a client-side service. The Waterloo-based startup also released a natural language API, so third-party developers could add its Siri-like functionality to their own apps. While pickup has been slow, Maluuba is steadily making a mark on an industry obsessed with immediate gratification.
Today’s update for Android and Windows Phone 8 is consumer-facing, bringing TV show information and sports scores and standings to the masses. Not only can you ask when the next episode of Seinfeld is but you can inquire about where the Ottawa Senators are in the NHL playoff standings.
For Android users, Maluuba can actually take over the function Google Now on an OS level, so when you swipe up from the home button on a Nexus 4 or hold the home button on an HTC One, you can open the search box directly. Maluuba’s Product Manager, Mohamed Musbah, claims that the app is faster than the competition, and that its 1000 cable and satellite partners creates one of the most comprehensive TV listing databases in the industry.
In our usage, Maluuba rarely steered us wrong, and the easy-to-use interface was far more immediate than Google Now, which shows its Cards on a contextual basis. Maluuba’s category listing is one right-swipe away at all times, and is there to constantly remind you what information you can find. While it may not be every Android user’s saving grace — Google Now’s newly-released location-based reminders and public transit information is pretty fantastic — that it works with Gingerbread is a boon to users on older hardware. It’s also easily the best natural language assistant on Windows Phone 8, and should be a required download for all users.
Samsung has been a long time fan of launching rugged handsets. We’ve seen the Galaxy Rugby II and recently the Rugby LTE become available on various Canadian carriers. New images have surfaced online today that reveal Samsung might step up their game in this device category and bring those wanting a premium smartphone some extra durability.
According to GSMArena, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active has similar specs the GS4, but is dust and water resistant. Other rumoured specs have the Active possibly coming with a 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core 1.9GHz processor with Adreno 320 GPU and an 8MP camera (GS4 has a 13MP camera). As for its design, the Galaxy S4 Active has some differences, mainly the 3 hardware buttons below the homescreen and the “metallic shell with bolts on the back.”
Yahoo! and its board have approved a cash-only deal to purchase Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The bigger-than-Instagram deal is significant not only for the perplexing match it has created, but for the price paid to a company that, despite its massive audience, has barely made any money.
Tumblr only recently started inserting ads into its 100 million blogs, and though the company gets upwards of 20 billion pageviews every month, it took home just $15 million in revenue last year. That number, according to 26 year-old founder David Karp, is set to soar to $100 million this year, but Yahoo is paying far more than the already-high $800 million valuation considered earlier this year.
Marissa Mayer promises not to mess with a good thing, saying that not only will the company stay independent, but their roadmap will keep the same course. Obviously this could change at some point, but it looks like they’re not going to kill the golden goose.
We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.
But this could turn out to be one of the best moves the revamped Yahoo has made in recent years. Since coming on board as CEO, former Google VP Marissa Mayer has instigated the purchase of several large brands, largely with the intention of shutting them down and integrating their employees. Popular services like Astrid, a cross-platform to-do tool, was acquired earlier this much and will be shut down by the end of August.
With Yahoo keeping Tumblr independent for now, it will still likely begin pushing some mainstream Yahoo users towards the blogging portal, as a means to drum up advertising revenue. Instagram, for instance, has remained independent but has been more tightly integrated with the Facebook feed. Yahoo is clearly pushing for the same type of cross-demographic alignment, albeit at a scale befitting the web, not just mobile.
Tumblr CEO, David Karp, has apparently committed to staying at Yahoo for four years post-acquisition and will oversee the company he has built from nothing, likely until he is satisfied it is in good hands, or regrets the ones he left it in.