Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Latest Humble Weekly Sale Contains Two Android Games - NightSky And MANOS: The Hands Of Fate

This week's Humble Weekly Sale isn't filled with Android games, but it contains two goodies that are arguably worth the price of admission alone - NightSky and MANOS: The Hands of Fate. The former is available in the Play Store for $4.99, and the latter, $2.49. But if you pay over six bucks for this week's bundle, you can get both games along with seven additional titles for your PC and the Multimedia Fusion 2 game development software.
NightSky MANOS
Both of this week's Android games are side scrollers, though they take drastically different forms. NightSky chronicles the precarious yet soothing journey of a black ball through daunting physics-based puzzles. MANOS is more of a pixelated homage to a bygone era of both cinema and gaming, with visuals pixelated enough to make you long for the technological advancements introduced by the Super Nintendo.


MANOS: The Hands of Fate

Head over to the Humble Weekly site to take advantage of this offer while it's still available, or if you're only interested in one title or the other, feel free to snag either by hitting up the widgets below.
NightSky HD
64 ratings
by Nicalis, Inc.
1,000 - 5,000 downloads

Amazon MP3 App Update Gives The UI Some Much-Needed Spit And Polish, Improved Speed, And Facebook Sharing

unnamed (3)
t's been nearly a year and a half since we last wrote about the Amazon MP3 app, because that's the last time the company did anything interesting with it. Compared to the competition at Google and elsewhere, Amazon's iTunes competitor looks positively stale. Today the Amazon MP3 app gets a fresh coat of paint to bring it more in line with current visual trends, or at least, those trends that are on display in the Kindle Fire tablets.
 unnamed (4) unnamed (5)
Below: Old and busted. Above: new hotness.
unnamed (3) unnamed (2) unnamed
I wouldn't say that the adjusted UI is great, but it's clean and functional, which should suit music fans just fine. The app is still split into music stored on Amazon's cloud service and locally on your device, with the same basic tabbed interface that lets you swipe across playlists, artists, albums, songs, et cetera. With the new simplified UI the tabs are really just highlighted words with the same gray-white-orange palette on display in most of Amazon's first-party Kindle Fire apps. The new integration with the MP3 store looks nice.
Amazon claims that the app is now "lightning fast," and indeed, it does feel considerably more snappy than the last time I tried it. You can also share your listening habits on Facebook, something that the Google Play Music app recently acquired. Amazon's music store and cloud player is still a tough sell if you're invested in Google Play, or indeed, any other music service, but if you've been using Amazon MP3 since the beginning your Android experience should now be markedly improved.
Amazon MP3 – play and download
Amazon MP3 – play and download
127,418 ratings
by Amazon Mobile LLC
10,000,000 - 50,000,000 downloads

Verizon Adds 16 New Channels To Mobile FiOS, Options Include Showtime, Starz, The Cooking Channel, And More

Verizon is upping the number of channels FiOS subscribers can watch when they're away from home. With 16 additional options - reaching a total of 25 - there's a better chance mobile TV watchers will be able to find something on that they actually want to watch. Naturally, the number of options isn't exhaustive, but the new crop contains heavy hitters including Showtime and Starz.
New channels:
  • beIN SPORT
  • beIN SPORT Espanol
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Cine Sony Television
  • Cooking Channel
  • Encore
  • FEARnet
  • NFL RedZone (tablet only)
  • Sony Movie Channel
  • Trinity Broadcast
  • Universal Sports
  • TVGN (TV Guide Network)
FiOS customers can stream far more channels in the comfort of their own home, with everyone having access to 91 channels. Inhabitants of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and D.C. in particular get additional local channels as well. Either way, you need to have Verizon's FiOS app installed to watch anything. You can grab it below.
Verizon FiOS Mobile
Verizon FiOS Mobile
4,146 ratings
by Verizon Services Corp.
500,000 - 1,000,000 downloads
Source: Verizon

Polaroid's Android-Powered iM1836 Camera Gets A Well-Deserved Preliminary Sales Ban Courtesy Of Nikon

Remember when Apple was up in arms about Samsung swiping their look for the first generation of Galaxy phones and tablets? Prepare for a case of design patent infringement that makes that look pretty tame. Today Nikon issued a press release stating that it had won a preliminary sales and import injunction against Sakar International, a current licensee of the Polaroid brand name, for the Android-powered Polaroid iM1836. See if you can guess why.
Yup, that thing is a dead ringer for the Nikon J1, a high-end, compact, replaceable-lens camera that competes with the Micro 4/3 standard. From body shape to color choice to button placement, it's a pretty clear knockoff - even the plastic lip around the lens release button looks similar. Nikon is currently suing Sakar for design patent and trade dress infringement, which is a nice corporate way of saying, "that thing's a knockoff, knock it off the shelves." As of Wednesday Sakar is barred from selling, manufacturing, importing, advertising, or shipping the Polaroid iM1836 in the US pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
Sales injunctions before trial are generally pretty hard to get, so it takes a dramatic case of infringement to score one. The iM1836 would seem to qualify. David Ruddock had some time with the Android-powered camera way back at CES 2013, and according to his hands-on, the odd design decisions, poor software, and questionable build quality made it unworthy of attention. As the kids say: "and nothing of value was lost."
Source: Nikon via Engadget
On October 11, 2013, Nikon Corporation and Nikon Inc. ("Nikon") sued Sakar International, Inc. ("Sakar") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for design patent infringement and trade dress infringement arising from Sakar's "Polaroid iM1836" digital camera (Case No. 13-Civ-7228 (S.D.N.Y)).
Shortly thereafter, Nikon moved for a preliminary injunction to stop the sales and advertising of the Polaroid iM1836 digital camera. After appearing before the Court, Sakar and Nikon agreed on the terms of a preliminary injunction. The Court thus issued a Preliminary Injunction Order on December 4, 2013 (Eastern Standard Time).
As part of the injunction, Sakar will no longer manufacture, import, advertise, promote, offer for sale, sell, or ship the Polaroid iM1836 digital camera in its present configuration.
The abovementioned design patent and trade dress rights are related to the "Nikon 1" Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lenses.

DROID DNA Gets Android 4.2.2 With Sense 5 OTA Update Four Months After Verizon Spilled The Beans

Verizon posted details surround an incoming update for the DROID DNA several months ago that would bring the device up to Android 4.2.2 and dress it up with Sense 5, but an OTA never came. Now that's changing, as Verizon has officially announced it and provided a detailed overview of changes owners can expect. The update will provide an experience similar to that on the HTC One, with features such as BlinkFeed, quick settings, and improved Sense apps making their way over to what was 2012's best DROID.
Sense 5 is more subdued than the older version that shipped on the DROID DNA. In addition to the aforementioned features, changes are in store for the Calendar, Gallery, People, and Smart Dialer apps as well. They are joined by a healthy slathering of bug fixes.
The update is rolling out in two separate parts. The first will install software version 2.08.605.1 710RD, which doesn't contain the exciting bits. Android 4.2.2 and Sense 5 come in the second upgrade to version 3.06.605.4.
Source: Verizon, HTC

Download Android 4.4.1 (KOT49E) For The 2013 WiFi Nexus 7


Android 4.4.1 continues to wind its way through the air, hitting devices a few at a time. Being a smart young individual, you know you don't need to wait for the OTA to reach your device in the old fashioned way – you can skip the line. The OTA update file for the WiFi version of the new Nexus 7 (that's Flo) has been spotted and we've got it right here for you.
Disclaimer: Android Police isn't responsible for any harm to your device - proceed at your own risk.


To get this update installed correctly you need to have the Android SDK installed and working on your computer with ADB (via a microUSB cable). This is what allows you to issue commands to your device in order to push the OTA file. Those with custom recoveries have it a bit easier, though. You also have to be running the stock Nexus 7 ROM, version KRT16S.
If you have made any system file modifications, make sure you roll them back.


Download signed-razor-KOT49E-from-KRT16S:

MD5 sum: ce344ae6d5d2f74f80c9009947c9cbe9
Size: 52MB


Before you get started: This update method should not erase anything on your device, but back up as best you can.
You'll use the adb sideload command after making sure your device is properly detected by ADB. You can check out our full sideload guide here – the process is identical except for the file name. If you have a custom recovery, it can be flashed from there. Just copy the file.


The update will likely kill root on previously rooted devices, but it's easy to get back:
  1. Flash TWRP from here (fastboot flash recovery FILENAME.img).
  2. Reboot into recovery (adb reboot recovery or hold Power+VolDn, then select Recovery).
  3. Flash the latest version of SuperSU.
  4. You should be rooted.
[Thanks, Niall]

CyanogenMod 11 Nightlies With Android 4.4 Are Now Rolling Out For A Bunch Of Devices


Just yesterday the Nexus 4, 5, 7, and 10 all received their first nightlies for CyanogenMod 11. Now KitKat-flavored builds are rolling out for a slew of additional devices. The team has shared a list of devices with incoming nightlies, and while it isn't yet an exhaustive list, it does include multiple variants of the HTC One (m7att, m7spr, m7tmo, m7ul) and LG G2 (d800, d801, d802), as well as the international Galaxy SIII (i9300).
The full list of devices is available below.
Devices that have (or will soon have) CyanogenMod 11 nightlies as of December 6, 11:10am PST:
  • apexqtmo
  • crespo
  • d800
  • d801
  • d802
  • deb
  • dlx
  • dogo
  • e975
  • e980
  • evita
  • exhilarate
  • flo
  • galaxysbmtd
  • galaxysmtd
  • grouper
  • hammerhead
  • hercules
  • i9300
  • m7att
  • m7spr
  • m7tmo
  • m7ul
  • maguro
  • mako
  • manta
  • mb886
  • mint
  • odin
  • pollux
  • pollux_windy
  • serrano3gxx
  • serranoltexx
  • superior
  • t0lte (Int’l)
  • tilapia
  • toroplus
  • toro
  • tsubasa
  • ville
  • xt897
  • xt897c
  • xt907
  • xt925
  • xt926
  • yuga
These devices are all marked to have builds produced, but they're not all yet available. The buildbots are currently cranking them out, and if your nightly isn't up yet, just check back later.
Of course, you might want to hold off before pulling the trigger. These are fresh files, and there's always the chance you will run into issues that have yet to be discovered. But if you are the adventurous type, or you have a backup device lying around, the official Gapps page has been updated. You know what to do.
Source: CyanogenMod

Google News Mobile Site Set To Receive A Fresh New Look Over The Next Few Days

There are no shortage of dedicated news apps available in the Play Store, but the Google News mobile site is about to get a revamp for all the people who rely on it to get their daily fix. With the update, the aging website will finally make the jump into the post-Ice Cream Sandwich era of Android.
The new site will have both a light and dark theme, and readers will be able to change the size of the story cards and the text inside them. Clicking on the icon in the top left will present a list of available sections, just as you would expect from an app. In short, the updated site will look - and perhaps function - much better than it does now.
Some features have transitioned from the desktop version of the site, such as a weather gadget in the Local section, the "Editors Picks" option, and the appearance of relevant Google+ posts in the list of articles.
The change will occur over the next few days, and it will launch in the US first before rolling out to users elsewhere.
Source: Google

Prey Anti-Theft Now Lets Pro Users Remotely Wipe Their Stolen Android Devices

Prey Anti-Theft is far from a newcomer to the mobile security scene, and the service offers a few advantages over competing offerings, as it can track and monitor laptops in addition to mobile devices. But it's definitely late to the game when it comes to its latest feature - the option to finally wipe stolen Android devices remotely.
Prey can now remotely erase both your device's internal storage and its SD card. Of course, it will also wipe itself in the process, preventing users from tracking a device after pulling the trigger. Therefore, it's a weapon of last resort.
This feature is available only for pro users. Though the lowest price of $5 a month isn't going to break the bank, it's not a price worth paying for this feature alone. After all, Google lets you remotely wipe your device for free. But if you already have a pro account, here's another perk to enjoy.
Source: Prey

Non-Default SMS Apps In KitKat Can Still Write To The SMS Database Using A Switch In App Ops (No Root Required)

2013-12-06 10.57.19
First, we heard that KitKat would bring some changes to the API, breaking many of the SMS apps we've come to rely on. On the day KitKat was released, we were given a more full explanation, shining some light on the technical details and exactly what types of apps would be affected. But did anybody really think this was the end of the story? It turns out that a hidden permission exists which can still grant non-default apps the right to modify the SMS database just like they used to - no rooting required.
The discovery was made by XDA Senior Member Stefano Picciolo (a.k.a. stepic) while digging through the Android 4.4 source code. This new permission isn't a part of the conventional system we've used since the burgeoning days of Android, but it's stowed away in the still semi-hidden App Ops interface. Named OP_WRITE_SMS, this permission is disabled by default and must be granted by the user manually. Of course, this means developers will have to explain to users how to enable the functionality and why it's needed. Yup, that's a good thing.
2013-12-06 10.56.072013-12-06 10.57.28
With this capability, users don't have to give up on having multiple fully-functioning SMS apps and cloud-synced messages, they just have to decide which ones are allowed to modify the database. Unfortunately, most backup and restore apps probably won't gain very much, since enabling OP_WRITE_SMS is more of a hassle than switching the default SMS app for a minute while they do their work, but there might be some exceptions.
As Picciolo points out, only one classic function remains unaccounted for. Within KitKat, there is still no way to completely prevent a message from being seen by other apps since the default SMS app is guaranteed to receive a notification. The ability to abort a new message broadcast is frequently used by anti-theft software to allow the owner access to coordinates and other data on a phone without tipping off a thief that the device is being tracked. Obviously, this could be abused by a malicious app, but making the user responsible for making the decision to enable such a permission seems like a reasonable countermeasure.
If you're a user looking to return your texting apps to their regular working order, there are a couple of ways to get to App Ops. The easiest method is to simply install one of the many apps in the Play Store that simply open the screen. Once you're in, swipe over to the Messaging tab, find the app, and enable Write SMS/MMS. If an app isn't an option for any reason, hooking up to a computer and running this rather lengthy adb command will work in a pinch.
adb shell am start -n -e :android:show_fragment --activity-clear-task --activity-exclude-from-recents
Since good developers should probably make things as easy as possible for their users, I'm including a handy snippet of code to put in your apps that will open App Ops for the user. Ideally, there should also be an explanation of why users would want to do this and instructions on what exactly to do once they are looking at the App Ops screen. This snippet has been tested on Android 4.3 through the recently released 4.4.1, but there are no promises about future versions.
Update: Sorry, this code stopped working with Android 4.4.2.

Intent intent = new Intent();
intent.setClassName("", "");
intent.putExtra(":android:show_fragment", "");
Well, there you have it. We've got most of the original functionality back for SMS apps, it just requires the user to make an actual security decision, which seems like a good thing. This is evidence that App Ops can be a really important feature for advanced users, as it allows us to make more decisions about what apps should be allowed to do. Now, if App Ops would just become more streamlined and user-facing in future updates, we'll be set.
Source: XDA

Google Play Music All Access Arrives In Germany

Google Play Music All Inclusive
Google's streaming music subscription service continues to creep across the globe, arriving in new countries suddenly and without warning. It's kind of like the Black Death, except fewer people die (so far). Today Google Play All Access has hit Germany with millions of songs for just a few bucks per month.
German users were greeted by the All Access popup in Play Music yesterday and immediately began shouting from every social media rooftop. Google has now updated the support pages to show that Germany is included in the All Access club.
According to postings from our German friends, the All Access subscription starts at €7.99 per month for anyone who signs up before January 15th. After that, it goes up to €9.99 per month.

Word Lens Translation App Updated To v2.1.3 With Tablet Support

2013-12-06 07.27.03
Wondering what that sign says, but you don't speak the lingo? You might want to figure it out – signs convey important information. Maybe it says "keep off the grass," but it could also say "high risk of electric shock." Word Lens can help with that by doing live translation of text using optical character recognition and the camera. It's neat, and the newest version adds support for tablets.
This app actually makes a lot of sense for tablets, which are often WiFi-only. Word Lens works entirely offline, but it's surprisingly good at figuring out what words are in the viewfinder. Translations are usually good enough that you can get the gist of a street sign or menu. Don't expect to read a book with it, though.
2013-12-06 07.25.27 2013-12-06 07.30.05
Word Lens got a UI update a while back, but for whatever reason, the screenshots were never updated. The Nexus 7 screens in this post are from the current interface. The $4.99 price gets you one language pack, with the rest available via in-app purchases. The app can go between English and Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese.
Word Lens Translator
Word Lens Translator
375 ratings
by Quest Visual, Inc.
10,000 - 50,000 downloads

Microsoft Releases TouchDevelop For Android, Makes Browser-Based Apps Easy To Develop On A Phone

The odds are against most people in the Android world having heard of TouchDevelop by Microsoft. From the start, it was designed to be used with a small touchscreen interface by hobbyists and intended to ease people into programming. Things haven't changed too much in that department, but the project has grown from its humble beginnings on Windows Phone to supporting iOS, Windows, Mac, and now Android.
The app actually doesn't do very much, it only handles push notifications and acts as a shortcut to the website. All of the real action happens in Chrome for Android; both the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and the scripts it creates are built on HTML5. While the app mostly follows the basic conventions for an Android app, the web site makes extensive (to the point of being painful) use of the Windows Phone design principles and iconography.
You can pretty freely browse and run most user submissions without signing in, but saving to the leaderboards or building your own scripts requires an account. Fortunately, TouchDevelop can be used with your option of a Google+, Yahoo, Facebook, or Microsoft (formerly Live) account. Regardless of how you proceed, you'll be presented with a long page of categories for different types of apps and games. If you just want to mess around, browse through the catalog and tap 'Run' if anything catches your interest.
Most of the tutorials are completely guided and include a lot of single-step achievements, but they do a good job of teaching the scripting language and acclimating users to the interface. You'll be building games and applications right from the start, and it all happens pretty quickly. Since modern web browsers now allow access to most of the sensors, the apps can achieve most of the same things native apps can.
Once you've created an app, it can be shared with your friends or made public. If others are interested, they can make changes to your code and you'll be notified about what they've done. If you decide your creation could be a hit, it can even be exported as an app for Windows 8, Windows RT, or Windows Phone (7.5 and 8) devices. Sorry, there's no way to turn these into native Android apps.
TouchDevelop isn't about to turn anybody into a programmer with mad skillz, but it's easier to learn and certainly much closer to the real thing than most other introductory languages. The interface is very accessible and keeps the keyboard from appearing any more than absolutely necessary, which finally makes development on a phone a bit more palatable. If you're looking for a way to learn some basic principles of programming or just want to build some simple apps, TouchDevelop is free and might be worth checking out.
Source: TouchDevelop
492 ratings
by Microsoft Corporation
10,000 - 50,000 downloads

Knightmare Tower Launches Up From Ouya And Smashes Into The Play Store

One of Ouya's most popular exclusives has now made its way into the Play Store. On its original platform, Knightmare Tower captivated gamers with its addictive mix of simplistic gameplay and adorable visuals, placing players in control of a knight with a rocket thrusting him by fiends and through ceilings in a quest to rescue multiple princesses in need. Now the game is available for a mobile device near you
Knightmare Tower won't provide the most diverse experience, as each level consists of flying upwards, taking repeated downward slashes at ghouls pursuing below. Yet each slash is a risk, as every miss will slow down your ascension and threatens to plunge you into a rising pool of lava. Over the course of the game's 70 quests, players will upgrade their weapons, strengthen their armor, and obtain explosive power-ups. These all should make fending off the 50+ monster types with the game's tilt and tap controls that much easier.
Knightmare3 Knightmare4
If you've already played this game on Ouya, you don't need someone else to tell you how good it is. All you need to know is that you can now take it with you on the go. The game is available for free below, but you will have to spend $2.99 to unlock the full version - a small price to pay for the amount of fun to be had.
Knightmare Tower
Knightmare Tower
2,649 ratings
by Juicy Beast Studio
10,000 - 50,000 downloads

Google Is Finally Making It Possible To Export A Copy Of Your Gmail And Calendar Data


At this point in my life, a solid 70% of everything I've ever said resides on Google's servers somewhere. If the company were to ever close its doors, those words would be lost to history. But that's about to change. Google's rolling out the ability to easily download a copy of your Gmail and Calendar data, so you can migrate it to another service when the unthinkable - or the inevitable - happens.

Gmail data will be provided in the MBOX format, while Calendar will shoot out your schedule as an iCalendar file. You can start exporting right away, but for the time being, most people will only have the option to export their calendars. Google will roll out the ability to download Gmail messages over the coming month.
Source: Google

Sony SmartWatch 2 App Updated With Fast Scrolling Notifications,

unnamed (29)
Sony has been surprisingly quiet on the smartwatch front since launching its SmartWatch 2. But now that the Galaxy Gear is gaining steam (or at the very least, getting a hell of a lot of advertising airtime) they've set out to put a little extra oomph in their Xperia-styled digital watch. A quick update to the Android app on the Google Play Store has given the device a few expanded capabilities.
 unnamed (30) unnamed (31)
First of all, yes, you get some new watch faces for your watch. Sadly Sony declined to actually show any of the new watchfaces in the screenshots, and we don't have a hardware unit to test, so we'll have to take their word for it. Other new features include a stopwatch (which really should have been there from the start), larger font sizes, and the usual "bug fixes" and "improved stability."
But the biggest additions relate to the core functionality of the smartwatch: notifications. You can now scroll through the notifications on the watch quickly, plus there's a scroll bar to mark your progress. If you've got a bit of inbox overload you can mark all notifications as read from the action button in any relevant notification. Finally, and perhaps the most important from a usability standpoint, the SmartWatch 2 will now automatically dim or brighten its screen to react to the ambient light, just like any smartphone.
The app itself is compatible with Android 4.0 or later, and Sony's SmartWatch 2 is compatible with phones or tablets from any manufacturer. Including Samsung.
SmartWatch 2 SW2
SmartWatch 2 SW2
2,656 ratings
by Sony Mobile Communications
100,000 - 500,000 downloads