Archive for December, 2010

Shake Them All! Live Wallpaper – Shake It Like A Poloroid Picture

Shake Them All! Live Wallpaper

It’s been a busy few months keeping up with writing three reviews a week for this Android blog so I’ve decided to take a two week break over Christmas but before I go I figured I’d highlight a wallpaper app to help brighten up your Android handset over the festive period.
Shake Them All! LIve Wallpaper‘ is a tweakable set of wallpaper options that covers your wallpaper in little Androids that react to the accelerometers in your handset and tumble around your homescreen via a realistic physics engine. It’s utterly pointless and can be a bit of a battery drain but having little green Androids helplessly flailing around your screen is a simple bit of fun for a few minutes.

Lots of decent skins to choose from.

There’s also a Christmas themed option (as well as a whole range of other cool skins) so if you fancy having some Santa Androids flailing around your handset display over the festive period then this is the way to go.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews here for the last few months and that you’ve found them helpful in getting cool new stuff for your phone. I’m off to put my feet up and enjoy a nice JD and Coke; whatever you do, have yourself a great Christmas.

See you in the New Year.

XBOX Live Statistics (BETA) – Xbox Live Comes To Android (kinda)

XBOX Live Statistics (BETA)

Yeah so I play a little Peggle, what of it? I'm not hooked or anything, I CAN QUIT ANYTIME I LIKE!!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try out a new Windows Phone 7 handset, to give credit where it’s due, it’s a pretty good interface. It looks good, it’s intuitive and considering M$’s previous failures (hello Windows Vista) it’s something of a success. Being an Xbox user I was particularly keen on how WP7 interacted with Microsoft’s gaming platform although not anywhere near enough for me to make the switch from Android.
Well thankfully I’ll never need to make that switch (as if) thanks to the recently updated ‘XBOX Live Statistics’ app (currently in BETA). Using your log-in details this app can access your Xbox Live account and allow you to manage your account on your Android handset. Using this you can check who’s online, read and reply to messages or compare achievements with your friends. There’s also a link to the Microsoft Events Calendar so you can get in on the organised Xbox Live fun (although I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually uses the Events Calendar).

Now I can see how crap I am at games wherever I go. Great!

The UI appearance is clean and up to date with the latest xbox branding, the different screens can be navigated via the buttons on the main display or by swipe gestures. There’s also widgets you can add to your home screen that can track the number of friends online or provide quick access to the messages in your account. According to the developer’s website this is the final release of the free version, there won’t be anymore updates however you can pick up the paid version (which will be updated) for only $0.99 until the end of the year. Considering the performance and usefulness of this app, it’s an offer I may well take up. Don’t feel left out PS3 owners, the creator has also made a Trophy app, check the ‘Official Site’ link below.

Links : Install via AppBrain, Official Site

Bottom Line : Simple and tidy and yet it features some great functionality for xbox gamers who want to manage their XBL accounts via their Android handsets. Worth a look.

Rocket Bunnies – Android’s First Space Rabbit Sim

Rocket Bunnies

Defiant Development claim that their new game ‘Rocket Bunnies’ is “The best space rabbit sim you’ll play this year” and you know what? They’re not lying.

Thinking of making an app? Make it 100% better by putting a mental bunny in there.

Rocket Bunnies is an action puzzle game in which you slingshot your character from planet to planet whilst collecting bunnies and avoiding obstacles. Your performance is graded in stars and further levels are unlocked depending on how many stars you have been given. The game features easy to use touch screen controls and it does a great job of easing you into the gameplay mechanics. The gameplay feels original & fun and it definitely becomes trickier as you progress through the game.

Rocket Bunnies is truly striking to watch, the menus looks awesome and in-game everything runs perfectly. This could well be the big new game for Android, it looks superb, it sounds great and I’m sure the more zealous members of the Android community will relish the fact that this game was released on Android before iOS.
This is a free game that features ad-support although an ad-free version has been proposed for the future along with an extra game mode. The only downsides? If you have a Samsung phone, you’ll need Android 2.2 in order to run this and it’s a 12MB install.

Links : Install via AppBrain, Official Website

Bottom Line : If you got the specs and the space then Space Bunnies is a great game to get stuck into. Go get it!

mVideoPlayer – Don’t hate the player…..

mVideoPlayer

All video's are clearly displayed in the browser menu so everyone can see your endless downloads of cats playing keyboards.

If you’ve read our previous review (for JetVD) you may have spotted a nod towards mVideoPlayer as our Android video player of choice. Since installing it months ago it has happily performed its function as our default choice for video playback to the point where’s there’s been no need to search for an alternative (of which I am sure there are many). Thanks to its pleasant UI and solid performance (even when playing 720p videos from Youtube) mVideoPlayer pretty much fulfills all the requirements of a mobile video player.
Selecting a video is done via the excellent browser which features details on video length, format, size and a thumbnail. Simply choose a video to play it or long click to access a number of options (rename, delete etc) including the ability to create playlists for your clips.
Playback is crisp, clear and smooth, subtitles are supported and the on-screen controls are easy on the eye. During playback you can bookmark the current position of a video and also lock the controls so accidental button presses don’t get in the way of your viewing.

720p videos look brilliant on the Desire's OLED screen.

Some people have complained about the lack of divx support, apparently this is down to the handset rather than the app but to be honest I’ve had no need for divx since moving over to my HTC Desire.
If you’re looking for a nicely presented and dependable video player (and I’m sure you are given the lacklustre default option that comes with some Android handsets) then mVideoPlayer is a recommended download.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Easy to use and it works perfectly. mVideoPlayer is my Android video player of choice. Do you prefer an alternative? Let us know in the comments.

Squibble Lite – The Trouble With Squibbles*

Squibble Lite

When it comes to gaming on Android handsets, ‘Angry Birds’ is the big behemoth that nothing can touch right now however over in the world of iOS the folks there are currently enjoying the new challenger ‘Cut The Rope’ and I’m eagerly awaiting the Android port. Currently there’s no information on a release date but if you need something similar while you wait then Squibble Lite could be what you’re looking for.
In ‘Squibble Lite’ you play the role of Squibble, a small octopus that’s been captured by a crazy/bored/perverted scientist and your goal is to help him escape from the castle in which he is kept. Squibble moves about by using his tentacles to latch onto the surroundings and flinging himself around the environment. There are collectible items that add to replay value and obstacles to avoid that will damage your health meter. The main gameplay hook is how you use Squibble’s method of travel, you have two sticky tentacles to play with and you simply tap a piece of the environment to make Squibble shoot out a tentacle and grab it. Tapping another area will make squibble grab it with his second tentacle, from here you can make him swing ‘Spiderman’ style around the map or pull back and catapult him through the air. Don’t worry if you can’t get your head around it on paper, there’s an excellent tutorial that walks you through it all.
This is a very polished game, the graphics are perfectly realised and the levels scroll smoothly as Squibble swings and flies about the place. The makers have also thought to include a useful profiles section which allows up to three different people to save their progress in the game.
The lite version is limited to 6 levels which is plenty to give you an idea of whether you want to pay up for the full game which includes 20 levels (with more being added regularly) and costs roughly £1.80 which to some people may seem a little on the pricey side. In a marketplace full of Fruit Ninja rip-offs and poorly made games it’s nice to see something with some quality and charm come along to keep us entertained.

* – That’s the worst headline pun yet, hands down.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Squibble Lite is a great little free game that entertains as much as it challenges. Worth downloading.

Video Trimmer – Video Editing Minus The Trimmings

Video Trimmer

The Gallery View. If you can correctly name all the videos on my phone then congratulations! You're some kind of scary person, please don't call me.

Android can do a lot of cool things but ‘a lot’ is never enough, there’s always something else that you wish it could do and for the love of Christmas sometimes you just can’t find a way to do it. Video editing is one of them, my trusty old Nokia N95 could do it as standard so why doesn’t my Android handset have a native app to trim all those carefully shot home videos on my handset? Released just a few days ago, Video Trimmer has stepped in to help fill the gap.
Launching the app takes you into a gallery of every video on your phone, whether it’s something you shot or a video clip you downloaded from the internet, it’s all there ready for you to edit. Once you select a video the editing screen opens up and the video starts to play, simply drag the ‘start’ and ‘end’ markers to suit your editing requirements and then tap the scissors icon in the top right corner, it’s a simple process (I remember the Nokia video editing app being a nightmare to navigate). The editing accuracy is on the rough and ready side of things, you can’t break down your start and end points frame by frame but for general phone clip editing the tools available here should suffice. With each edit you are given the option to save this over the current clip or save it as a new video, seeing as the app is in beta the developer has advised to back up your videos before doing any editing so do bear that in mind.

Hey! Move that advert out the way. I can't see what I'm editing.

If you’re looking for more flashier editing tricks to use here then you’re out of luck; It’s called Video Trimmer for a reason, you won’t find any options for transitions, fades, titles or stitching of clips, all you can do is cut video. The app is also ad-supported which is understandable but some users may get annoyed with how they pop up during editing, potentially this could mess up your placement if you’re working a particularly delicate edit. The UI itself is also pretty basic to look at but it’s not really a problem considering that this free app (which is in Beta) is barely a week old. Potentially this is all stuff that could be worked on in future releases so fingers crossed.
Video Trimmer is a quick and easy way to edit your videos on your handset, it may the lack bells and whistles that some users may wish for but for now it does a solid job of what is was made to do. An app to keep an eye on and definitely worth a try.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Video editing made simple on your Android handset thanks to Video Trimmer’s intuitive UI and solid performance. If extra functionality is added in future updates this could be an essential media application for all Android handsets.

ROM Gripper – It’s Got A Kung-Fu Rom Grip

ROM Gripper

Before today’s review of ROM Gripper, an app that downloads retro game Roms here’s a legal notice... of sorts

“ROMS in themselves aren’t illegal per se, however the manufacturers take a dim legal view on those who ‘steal’ content that they have created. In practises such as emulation and Roms it is advised to only download games which you already legally own (and I know you’re going to do just that aren’t you?). That way no-one (technically) gets hurt although to be honest this is still something of a legal murky patch and I’m not here to condone piracy or anything like that… and anyway, piracy on the Internet? Are you mad? Who commits that?”

Hells yeah! PGA Tour Golf for the Megadrive, still rocks the mic after all these years (and yes, I still actually own my copy)

ROM Gripper is an app that allows you to play those classic video games from your youth on your Android handset. If you want to re-live a classic title from either the Nes, Snes, Atari, Gameboy Advanced/Colour, Megadrive (or Genesis for you non-U.K. people), Sega Master System or Gamegear, ROM Gripper will help you grab a game from one of those consoles and if you need one, an emulator app to play it on.
ROM Gripper isn’t going to be winning any awards in terms of looks but then again it doesn’t really need to, all you’ll want to do is grab your games and play. Opening the app gives you a list of gaming platforms to choose from and from there you have a list of games available for each console, you can scroll through the list or use the ‘filter’ function tucked away in the menu and watch it return results as you type.

Two shots over par and 3ft from the hole, I can't miss this shot. (Just after I took this screenshot I missed the hole).

Once you’ve clicked on your game of choice you’re taken to the download screen and you can watch it beam across the airwaves and into your handset. Using the app is simplicity in itself and the wealth of titles available (which you already legally own, of course) is staggering, it’s apps like this that remind me why I love the open nature of the Android platform. It’s worth noting that the emulators downloaded by Rom Gripper are the free versions, they work perfectly fine but you won’t be able to load any saved game states unless you pony up for the full emulator apps.
So er, yeah… that’s it really. Please forgive the lack of journalistic insight, there’s not much to review in Rom Gripper, it simply does the job it’s meant to do. If anything I just wanted to flag it up to you in a “Hey you! Look at this, it’s bloody brilliant” kind of way.
Tip : Controlling games on a touch screen can be a bit tricky at times so if you have the means it may be worth giving the Wiimote Controller app a try (although I couldn’t get it to work).

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Easy access retro gaming nirvana at your fingertips. Rom Gripper is ace but remember kids,… keep it legal.

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