Posts Tagged ‘ Marketplace ’

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.

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Feedly – Easy to use, not too Feedly.

Feedly (Beta)

Since getting my first Android handset I’ve gone through my fair share of RSS feed readers. I’ve tried the official Google Reader app, Pulse News Reader, GReader and NewsRob amongst others. All were very good but still not the 100% perfect RSS reader that I was looking for (although I do love the interface on Pulse). Now a new app, Feedly, has stepped forward to be added to this ever-growing list and in the process offers up a unique new UI.
Rather than going for the standard ‘news listing’ layout Feedly goes for what it calls a ‘magazine-like overlay’. This involves a large front page for the latest news post with further posts becoming available as your scroll through them like you would turn a page. This ‘magazine’ aspect is very clean but also pleasing to look at making it a worthy download for those who want an alternative to Pulse Reader. On my HTC Desire it looked great, on an Android tablet it could possibly look excellent. Away from the front-end there’s also a built in browser in which to read posts with an option to open them up in your standard browser.
Setting up Feedly is utterly painless, it has a selection of default feeds to read and thanks to the way it integrates with the Android Account Manager it can import your Google Reader account with a simple button press.
Speaking of integration, Feedly also keeps your desktop based Google Reader account in sync with what you’ve already read on your phone therefore avoiding repetition when you transition between the two. Feedly really does a great job of allowing you to stay on top of your feeds, an aspect that I have found lacking in other RRS feed readers.
For those who like to share what they come across, Feedly also packs the standard share options so you can forward stories to Tweetdeck, Facebook or whatever you use to frequent your online social circles.

The pull out side menu provides easy access to all your feeds.

Another advantage is that Feedly also seems to happily take care of any number of unread posts making all your material available. This is an advantage over similar apps that only load up a limited amount of posts which can leave older unread items out of reach.
Sadly it’s not all sunshine & lollipops, whilst being used on 3G I found myself occasionally booted out of my Google Reader account but it was nothing a few key presses couldn’t fix.
There’s also a learning curve to navigating your way around your feeds. If you rely on the main screen to get around it’s possible to not find yourself in an unexpected place. In most cases it’s best to stick to the slide out menu to access a specific feed. Also, those people rocking a handset with a larger screen may also lament the lack of a landscape view. For sharing purposes there is a built in ‘Twitter share’ client but so far it seems unfinished as I couldn’t find a way to log into it.
The important thing to remember here is the ‘Beta’ tag, Feedly isn’t in its final stages so this is all stuff that’s ripe for a clean up when the app gets a proper release. When it does go official this app could well be one of the best of its ilk on the Marketplace.

About This App – Version Reviewed : 0.9.4
Requires Android : 2.2 and up , Category : News , Size : 2.6M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain, Official Page (check the guided tour on here for some Android based tips)

Bottom Line : It’s still not the 100% RSS app that I’m looking for but it’s very much on it’s way to getting there. Great stuff.

Angry Birds Rio – An Angry Bloke Review

Angry Birds Rio

Writing a review for the new Angry Birds game seems something of a redundant excercise. By the time you read this about a bajillion people will have already downloaded it. Even those who haven’t yet grabbed the latest installment from Rovio will know exactly what to expect.

So why review it?

As of three months ago 50 million people had downloaded Angry Birds. Today that total stands at a staggering 100 million and that figure will surely get a boost once the planned xbox 360, ps3 and Facebook versions are released. The range of Angry Birds plush toys have shifted 2 million units, Mattel have a board game due for release in May and there are even plans to move into animation & feature films. Angry Birds is truly a gaming phenomenon in motion, in time (if not already) it could very likely be listed alongside Mario, Sonic et al as a gaming icon of it’s generation.

So why review it?

The release of ‘Rio’ has heralded an interesting series of events within the Android scene. Rovio decided to give a timed exclusive to Amazon for the launch of their new Android App store. It all seemed very exciting, Android users would have a new outlet for Android apps. The consumer would have the option to ‘shop around’.
And then came the launch.
It soon dawned on everyone outside of America that they would not be able to enjoy Rovio’s latest release. In their infinite wisdom Amazon had limited their new marketplace to the U.S. Understandably, those unable to get the app felt hard done by. What didn’t help matters was the way those people (myself included) had to jump through hoops and make adjustments to their Amazon accounts before being told they weren’t invited to the party.
For a product with a hungry worldwide audience this was probably not the best approach. I’m genuinely surprised that given the openness of the Android platform there wasn’t an outbreak of virus/malware infested fake ‘Rio’ apk files just waiting to be installed by unsuspecting users.
I don’t blame Rovio for this, I blame Amazon. One of the main complaints against Android is fragmentation and here they are fragmenting it further based solely on location. Even now, having launched their cloud music service, there is still no known date for when the app store will be available to those outside the U.S.A. Considering how Android is perceived as a platform that is in fierce competition with iOS, this current move by Amazon appears to do more harm than good.

So why review it? So where is this bloody review?

Thankfully Rovio have released Angry Birds Rio on the Android Marketplace so now all those non-Yanks such as myself can enjoy the latest installment. I had dubious thoughts about it being a tie-in with the forthcoming movie ‘Rio’ but surprisingly the theme is a good fit for the franchise.

Seriously, worst stacking of cargo EVER.

The gameplay is the same as before but there are enough tweaks and touches to warrant losing more nights of sleep whilst trying to three-star each level. Compared to ‘Angry Birds Seasons’, ‘Rio’ has a gentler learning curve making it a great jumping off point for any newcomers to the franchise.
The graphics have also been updated, nothing revolutionary but the scrolling foregrounds and beefed up menus are enough to keep the series looking fresh.
On the subject of keeping things fresh Rovio have already planned a series of updates which will become available over the course of 2011. As usual it’s a worthwhile free download.

That’s it? That’s the review? It was more a rant about Amazon than a review of Angry Birds.

Yeah sorry about that. I had to get that whole Amazon thing off my chest.

That’s ok. It was truly a dick move on their part.

Yes, yes it was.

Ok so now you’re just talking to yourself. I think you need a lie down.

So do you.

Haha, very funny.

About This App Version Reviewed : 1.0.0
Requires Android : 1.6 and up , Category : Arcade & Action , Size : 13M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Just when you think you’re out, Rovio pull you back in. Rio is an enjoyable new chapter in the Angry Birds franchise. Bring on those updates!

Crazy Squared – Crazy x Crazy = Frustration

Crazy Squared

“It won’t just drive you crazy, it’ll drive you crazy squared!” is the official pitch for Crazy Squared. Having played it for the last 30 minutes I’m not exactly feeling crazy, I’m more mildly annoyed. Crazy Squared is simply described on the Android Marketplace as ‘Snooker meets Pinball’. From what I can tell the aim is to tilt your handset so the blue squares collide with the yellow boxes, making them disappear. If you remove all the yellow boxes before the clock runs out the level is won.
You may have spotted the unsure tone there. That is because Crazy Squared is completely lacking anything in the way of a tutorial or some kind of obvious gameplay goal which seems very unusual for a puzzle game like this.
The main problem I have with Crazy Squared is that derives it’s ‘craziness’ from being utterly random. Parts of the scenery randomly appear and vanish at will and the blocks bounce around the screen with seemingly no relation to how fast they are actually travelling.

Hmmm, yeah. Random.

 

When I passed a level, it wasn’t down to skill it was more down to sheer luck. It’s was as if my input into the game was worthless.
On the plus side the game does run very smoothly which gives the main game a slick nu-school retro feel. Apart from the ‘bouncing’, the way the blocks react to your tilting handset is also well executed. Some of the menus are perhaps a touch basic but the music and sound effects help to beef up the overall presentation.
I found myself having a frustrating time with Crazy Squared, there is something of a good idea in there but it seems lost in flurry of random-ness.

ABOUT THIS APP  – CURRENT VERSION : 1.5
REQUIRES ANDROID : 1.6 and up , CATEGORY : Arcade & Action , SIZE : 3.4M , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A puzzle game with random gameplay and a vague goal. Sadly it’s more frustrating than fun.

GRave Defense Silver FREE – You Say Defense, I Say Defence, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off

GRave Defense Silver FREE

Tower Defence Games eh? They’re like Zombies. They’re everywhere! Now we have a game that combines both Tower Defence AND Zombies (well, mutated monsters but it’s all the same), how can I refuse such a double whammy?

Personally I’ve never really understood the point behind this particular game genre despite being unable to ignore it’s ever-growing popularity. A quick search for ‘Defence’ on AppBrain displays a whole gaggle of Tower Defence games based on all kinds of different themes.
Once I started up GRave Defense Silver for the first time I could see why there were so many Tower Defence Games. In no time at all I had become addicted to one them. Damn!

Things are pretty calm right now, it'll kick off before long.

The aim of ‘GRave Defense Silver’ is to prevent the horde of the undead making their way into your safe haven by installing and upgrading weapon emplacements. As you progress through each level more varieties of guns are available as well as more variations of zombies to use them on.
GDS makes an attempt to shovel in a story via a lengthy text based intro before each level. To be honest this approach comes off a little po-faced especially when compared to other zombie video game fare such as Left 4 Dead or Stupid Zombies (which we reviewed last week).
Once the intro is done the blasting can begin. The map layouts in each level are visually varied, they make great use of the space available on a mobile device and the scenery is very nicely detailed.
Gameplay runs smoothly with only minimal slowdown when the screen becomes packed with monsters making their way all over the map. There’s a pretty good difficulty curve with each level needing a few tries before survival is assured (which also adds to the ‘one more go’ factor). The only major compaint I have is regarding the collectable power-ups that occasionally appear. They sometimes don’t respond to your touch and they time out pretty quickly. Sometimes they’re gone before you even get a chance to notice them.
There’s two game modes, story and survival mode each with a range of difficulty levels to keep you busy. GDS also includes OpenFeight support so you can compare your unlocked achievements with your friends. There’s also a Facebook tab which to be honest I didn’t get involved with (I didn’t feel much like sharing my Facebook account).
I can’t deny that there’s something I find addictive about building and upgrading defences in order to take out wave upon wave of bloodthirsty zombies. More than once I found myself finishing a game GDS only to discover that I’d been playing for far longer than I had originally planned. For a free game, that can’t be bad.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION : 1.0.0

REQUIRES ANDROID : 1.5 and up , CATEGORY : Arcade & Action , SIZE : 3.1M , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace , Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Well made, plenty of content to enjoy and very addictive. Worth adding to your Android game collection.

App Hunter – The Hunt Is On

App Hunter

Here at Android Apt we are all about the free apps, the kind of stuff you can grab for gratis and use straight away. Of the 100+ apps on my phone only a handful are actually paid or premium versions.

Yay! Cheap stuff. Get in!

That said, it’s nice once in a while to actually spend some money on an app, to actually take some ‘ownership’ of the product.
Buying apps needn’t cost the earth though and with App Hunter you can find the apps that are currently selling at a reduced price. As a result  you may find yourself saving some money when you hit the Google Checkout.
App Hunter is a light install and it operates with a simple yet quick interface. Opening the app takes you straight to the ‘On Sale!’ page. Apps are listed in pages of twenty entries and selecting an app takes you straight to its page on the Android Marketplace. As you may expect, pop-up ads do make an appearance on the bottom of the screen but thankfully they don’t get in the way of using the app.
The first time I ran the app my expectations were low. I was expecting offers on some pretty woeful stuff that otherwise couldn’t be shifted at a higher price. Imagine my surprise when these offers came up in just the first five entries.

  • Asphalt HD – Was $4.99, Currently $0.99
  • Bejeweled 2 – Was $2.99, Currently $0.99
  • Game Dev Story – Was $4.89, Currently $2.42
  • Touch Poole 2D – Was $4.99, Currently $0.99
  • ZombieBooth Was $1.41, Currently – Free

That’s pretty good stuff right there, premium apps and some hefty savings (I’ve already downloaded ZombieBooth, nice one). According to ‘Echo Lu’, the team/person behind App Hunter, the data base will update daily so there’ll always be new deals to check out. For those with no money to spend there are also tabs to search for the hottest and latest free apps. Whilst not as useful as the ‘On Sale!’ tab they are still handy additions to have available.
As suggested by ‘Patrick’ on the Android Marketplace, a ‘favourites’ tab would be a useful addition for a future update. Imagine if there was a way of bookmarking or ‘watching’ an app so you can be alerted when the price on it changes. That would be pretty cool. While we’re brainstorming, a way to share deals would be pretty useful, either via Twitter or Facebook or directly to people in your contacts list.
If you find yourself with some money to fritter away on an app or two ‘App Hunter’ is worth a look, it may even save you some cash in the process.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION : 1.0.2

REQUIRES ANDROID : 1.6 and up , CATEGORY : Tools , SIZE : 103k , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A handy tool for sniffing out Marketplace bargains. Already worth a download. If the potential for extra features is realised in future updates this will become an essential app.

AppsFire : Hot Apps & Free Apps – YEEAAAAHHHH! This Apps is on Fire!

Appsfire

It's funky, it's colourful but sadly it's also got the jitters.

Due to the nature of the Android Marketplace there’s all kinds of ways and means of searching for apps to install on your phone. I like to use a combination of AppBrain and the new web-based Android Marketplace which has been getting a lot of attention lately. Thanks to this blog I’m always on the search for new apps to review and seeing as Appsfire has pegged itself as ‘the best way to discover the greatest apps’ it seemed a good idea to give it a spin.
With it’s funky icon filled UI Appsfire truly is a unique way to search for new apps that may take your fancy. It’s certainly an acquired taste though, I personally like how it looks although some may find it cluttered and the lack of an ‘icons & text’ option can result in an amount of guesswork as to what apps you are looking at.
As well as the bog standard search window Appsfire comes with some great filter topics based on location, recent price drops, what’s hot right now or apps it thinks you may love. As well as the defaults topics there’s also a good selection of custom filters to choose from.

Fortunately the app info screens are clear and informative. Good stuff.

The UI scrolls quickly making browsing easy although when stationary I found it would annoyingly ‘jiggle’ from time to time with entire rows moving up and down.
There’s also a widget version so you can have a selection of available apps to peruse directly from your home screen. A word of warning, you might want to select the option ‘hide mature content’ otherwise you’ll have links for the likes of ‘Porno Tube’ viewable from your homescreen. Try explaining that one to your wife/children/boss/local vicar.

Away from the icon based UI, the menus and app info screens are pleasant on the eye with full info, ratings and even video previews when available. You can share app discoveries with friends as well as manage your current apps and whether they need updating or installing to your SD card.
Sadly issues can arise when you finally discover your app of choice, a number of apps I found in Appfire could not be located on the Marketplace at all.

Unfortunately this happened from time-to-time. A-boo!

Even after a week of installing Appfire, the offending apps were still listed despite not being available for download. This, for me, is quite a let down. I love how Appfire works but if it can’t deliver on the results it promises then the whole point of the app is lost somewhat.
Due to these mixed results Appfire may not be an all out replacement for the likes of AppBrain but it still serves as a viable alternative for finding apps that may have passed you by.

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Appfire boasts a unique UI and some great search options which are sadly let down by broken links. Either way it’s worth a try, you still may find something out of it.

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