Archive for June, 2011

Cut The Rope ‘Free’ – Finally! IT’S HERE EVERYONE!

 Cut The Rope ‘Free’

Despite the many positive aspects of the Android scene there’s no getting around the fact that when it comes to the best apps and games iOS usually gets first dibs. One permanent fixture of my ‘can’t convert to Android soon enough’ list has been Cut The Rope. We’ve had a few knock off variants in the last few months but at last the real deal is finally here and available for free via GetJar.
Like many of the best mobile games, the premise behind Cut The Rope is simple, intuitive to play and fiendishly addictive. The goal of each level is to feed the ever-so-cute Om Nom by swiping your finger to cut the ropes that are attached to a sweet. With a little luck you’ll be able to feed Om Nom and collect up to three stars in each level, the more stars you collect the more levels you can unlock (up to 175 in all).
It’s an excellent port. The presentation is just as slick as its iOS counterpart, the physics engine has been kept intact and the game itself runs perfectly fine (although it may skip a frame or two of animation on underpowered handsets).
Being a free app, Cut The Rope is ad-supported but these are tidily kept to the bottom of the screen and don’t interfere with gameplay. If you’re feeling cheeky you could always put your handset in ‘Airplane’ mode, that way you won’t see any ads at all.
For anyone who’s partial to the occasional mobile gaming distraction Cut The Rope has more than enough to keep you occupied.

Links : Download via GetJar, Official Website

Bottom Line : An essential free gaming download for anyone with an Android handset and a pulse.

Vevo – Viva La Vevolution

 Vevo

Vevo is a website that allows you to stream music videos from three of the ‘big four’ major record labels. Since it’s launch in 2009 it has become one of the most visited sites in the U.S and as expected app versions have been created in it’s wake. The Vevo app has been around for a while on the Android Marketplace but it has only recently just started working here in the UK.

It's not all pop-pap on Vevo. At least there's some Beastie Boys.

The Vevo app for Android allows the user access to over 25,000 videos from over 7,500 music artists. Tucked away in it’s tidy interface are pre-built playlists, ways to share videos via Twitter or Email and the option to purchase songs via Amazon.
Vevo’s strength lies in it’s intuitive and information packed interface. Making your way around the app is second nature and over wi-fi it’s easy to be streaming videos in just a few short presses. Even better is how well the app runs over 3G, it’s understandably by no means perfect but with a strong signal you can get some decent enough results.
So far so good, Vevo makes for some very strong first impressions however digging a little deeper brings to light a few problems and some glaringly missed opportunities.
The biggest issue is with the music catalogue itself. 25,000 videos may sound like plenty to get through but considering that that source is the major record labels fans of more independent music may struggle to find content they actually care about. To make matters worse the only ways to access the content are by using the preloaded play-lists / charts or via a direct search. There seems to be no way to browse the music via genre which for some people would be the first method they would want to use. This wouldn’t be a problem if the default play-lists covered a lot of ground but sadly for the most part they only offer the predictable choices of ‘most popular videos’ or ‘top artists’ which in turn places the commercial content ‘front & centre’ and even then there’s bizarrely only 12 video results per topic.

Nice U.I., shame it doesn't cover all the bases.

This leads into the next problem with Vevo, how it’s not possible to personalize the app to your own tastes. There’s no option to build your own play-lists which is very odd given how you can do just that on the main Vevo website. What’s even stranger is how the app totally ignores the original Vevo website and it’s users. If you have a Vevo account there is no way to access it via the Vevo app, as a result you cannot sync up your Vevo experience across platforms. It truly is an opportunity wasted.
Even within the confines of the app itself there is also no way of accessing your recent play history or bookmarking your favourite videos. If there’s a clip you want to go back to time and time again and it’s not on the main charts you’ll have to search for it every single time. On the subject of repeat viewings there is also no video cache function. It would have been great if Vevo could have automatically cached data to the sd card to speed up repeated playback or to allow you to use the app when there is no network. Sadly this is not the case. No network? No Vevo.
Ultimately Vevo is a well made, information packed app and may be worth the free download just to see if it chimes with your tastes in music. It’s just a shame that it totally drops the ball when it comes to realising its full potential.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 1.06
  • Requires Android : 2.1 and up
  • Category : Music & Audio
  • Size : 941k
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Vevo is good, but it could’ve been great. It could have been personalised music video jukebox in your pocket but sadly it’s lacking the tools to fully accomplish that task.

Photaf 3D Panorama (Free) – Life Through A Panoramic Lens

 Photaf 3D Panorama (Free)

As the Android Marketplace grows so does the number of apps that are making unique use of the main camera that’s built into each handset. Apps that help you take panoramic shots are nothing new (I recall an application on my old Nokia N95 that could do the same) however Photaf has a few tricks up it’s sleeve that are designed to help even the most novice photographer achieve some decent results.
From the clearly laid out opening menu it’s just a simple click to access the main camera screen. Visible at the top and right of the display are a pair of spirit levels which glow red or green depending on how level your shot is. The centre of the screen shows an arrow that instructs you on which way to turn and in the bottom left there’s a preview window that gives you a rough idea on how your pictures will line up.

Probably the best photo that I managed to take.

Once PhotoF thinks you have the perfect angle it will automatically take the shot on your behalf and from here you can either continue to create your panoramic shot or ‘stitch’ your taken images together. It’s a pretty good system that makes taking panoramic shots an easy piece of work. Simply point, shoot and then turn.
By default the picture quality is set to ‘low’, there is a ‘high quality’ option but if you want to use it you’ll need to purchase to full version of the app. Once you’ve taken your panoramic shot you can scroll through it via the touch screen or via ‘compass mode’ in which the position of your phone dictates your view of the photo, clever stuff. If you’re happy with your efforts you can use the share function to upload them to Facebook or to the Photaf website although it has to be said that the Photaf website features some shockingly appalling photographs.

Boscombe pier on a rainy day. (Click to enlarge)

And therein lies the big issue with PhotaF, the results can vary wildly. Obviously panoramic photography is a tricky process, especially on a camera-phone, but it’s still a shame that the automatic functions don’t always bring out the best results. Shots can come out with blurry results and we also had occasions of items in our pictures ‘doubling up’. It’s still good enough for a free app but it’s not quite there to make us slam our money down for the full-blown Pro version.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 2.8.3
  • Requires Android : 2.1 and up
  • Category : Photography
  • Size : 2.9M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A good idea with some excellent implementation but sadly the final results aren’t always up to scratch.

Go Launcher EX – “We Are Go For Launch”

 Go Launcher EX

Take a look at your Android phone. Try flicking through a few home screens, bring up the app tray, now put it away again.

The choice of transitions are plentiful, you'll spend a good few minutes trying them all out.

All that stuff you’re looking at, it’s called the Launcher. In very basic terms it’s the interface that lives between your fingers and the inner workings of your Android handset.

If you have a HTC handset you may be familiar with the term HTC Sense, that’s the default launcher that ships on their phones.
If you get bored with how your Android phone looks you can easily change your Launcher and it’s all thanks to the tweakability of Android. All you need to do is look for a third party Launcher on the Marketplace and install it. It’s as easy as installing any other app and can dramatically change (and sometimes improve) how your phone behaves. It’s almost like software modding your phone but nowhere near as scary and the process can be easily undone.
There are a number of great Launcher apps on the Marketplace, a great round up of them can be found here but the one that has caught my attention is Go Launcher EX by the Go Launcher Dev Team.
Bought to you by the same group behind ‘Go SMS Pro’, Go Launcher EX is an extensively customisable home screen app that includes theme support, a scrolling dock bar, fluid transitions and a fully tooled up app tray.

See those tabs at the top of the app tray there? Handy stuff indeed.

Once you’ve installed the app you’ll need to start setting up your home screens all over again, it can be a slight pain if you’ve already set things up exactly how you like it but this is the same with any Launcher app that you install. Don’t worry, your original home screens will be safely stored away and Go Launcher EX includes a settings backup tool so once you’ve got your icons & widgets where you want you can save it.

Go Launcher EX runs excellently, the home screens transitions are smooth (there’s also plenty to choose from) and there are a plethora of ‘easy-install’ themes to sift through. The app tray also houses some very nifty tweaks for everyday use. You can order your apps alphabetically or via the date order of when they were installed. There’s also a history tab that’s capable of listing many more recently used apps than the your average Launcher and finally there’s a task killer available if you’re that way inclined.
Once you’ve installed Go Launcher EX you can also install any of the free widgets made by the Go Team. My personal recommendation is the excellent calendar widget, it’s the first quality free scrolling calendar widget that I’ve come across.
For anyone who’s owned their Android phone for a while and feels the need to freshen it up Go Launcher EX is a great way to go about it.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 2.30
  • Requires Android : 2.0 and up
  • Category : Productivity
  • Size : 2.7M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Android handset modding without all the scary warranty breaking fuss. Give it a try, it could make you feel like you have a new phone all over again.

%d bloggers like this: