Apps

There is more to Google, than meets the eye

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google_apps_logoYou probably know that one of the best Android internet browsers, Chrome, was actually developed by Google. There is probably no need to mention the search engine, YouTube, which is also owned by Google, is also widely known. I will take a wild guess and expect you to know about Google Earth, the image cartography of the whole Earth, partly even in 3D imagery. Additionally, I would expect you to know about the Google mail service and the Google Drive, their cloud service. The Google Calendar is mostly pre-installed in every Android device. You may have already used the only viable map app, Google Maps, there is nothing like it, with the add-on Google Street View.

But there are also other Google Apps that are not so popular, or rather, people for some reason do not use them. Nevertheless, these apps are excellent and do warrant a closer inspection. Did you ever hear about Google Currents, an application that is pretty similar to the Flipbook, but perhaps even better? (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.currents) In the glossy magazine-like interface you can read and review all your favourite magazines and newsfeeds in high quality.

Another one of such hidden Google gems is Google Goggles. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.unveil) Originally developed as a QR code scanner, this app has become more than a simple sideliner. With it you can scan barcodes and get product info. You can point them towards famous landmarks and receive info about that particular place. You can instantly translate a foreign language text, such as a menu in a French restaurant, and have translated text right there. It can even OCR texts for you, recognize famous paintings, CDs, DVDs, books, even advise on similar products. This is definitely an applications worth having, if you do not have it already.

Just like the already mentioned Polaris Office, Google QuickOffice allow you to edit and view MS Office documents and PDF files. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quickoffice.android) The big plus is that you can load them up on Google Drive and edit them there, from where you can also easily email it per Gmail. While it is not as extensive as Polaris Office the integration with other Google services makes it worth your while.

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Is paying for applications still an issue?

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app_developmentIf mobile apps like the BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook and Twitter are free, if Games like Plants vs. Zombies 2, Angry Birds and Where’s My Water 2 are being offered at no cost at all, why are there developers who want to ask good money for their apps, although their popularity is nowhere near the aforementioned group? Do people really want to pay for mobile apps nowadays, or are they rather inclined to install free versions, even with ads?

Frankly speaking, paying for apps is not something you easily do. You have to pay for most of the services, including mobile phone services and content streaming services, stuff you really want and are prepared to pay for. If you can have first class apps and games for free, why would you pay for an application or game if you can get entertained otherwise for free? There is apparently no reason to end up paying for any kind of software, if there is some other software doing the same for free.

Adding to this whole problem is the obvious availability of APK installations online, where you can download installations of otherwise paid software and games for free. Mind you, these downloads are mostly not legal, but on the other hand, much of the software and even games, not to speak about content are location locked and people in other countries cannot get them even if they would pay for them. So existence of such downloads is understandable, but that does not make it legal.  You can get more information on paying for apps on www.mobileappex.com.

In any case, in future, it is really not recommended that some software or game developer for mobile platforms expects to earn a lot of money by having clients pay for their app or game straight out. Much better results have been achieved by ad financed stuff, where ads are somewhat annoying, but not annoying enough to make you pay for the same program or game, just to have the ads removed. The version where you have to pay for content to improve the gameplay, like in some shooters, where you can purchase additional ammo and better guns, did not take off at all. So, it comes down to ad financed income for all game and app providers, which they should embrace, like the most popular providers have already established.

Apps you should not miss

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google-apps-sphere-of-appsIt was just a question of time when Adobe will release some kind of photo editing software for mobile phones and in March of 2013 the Adobe Photoshop Express was released. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.adobe.psmobile) Since that most of the modern mobile phones have really good cameras, the first release was a big bust, it was not really good and nobody really liked it. So Adobe provided the super-duper version, Adobe Photoshop Touch, a really top of the line photo editing software primarily for tablets, but with phone display sizes of five inches and above, this limitation is not really an issue. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.adobe.pstouch) It is not free, but you really get Photoshop quality editing and that is really something.

Viber by Viber Media Inc. is pretty similar to Skype. The best thing about Viber is that it is not owned by Microsoft. Other than that, there are more than 200 million users of Viber and most people have it already installed on their mobile phones. You can call all your friends directly, using 3G, but you can also use Wi-Fi, which makes it really cheap to phone a friend who is nowhere near your location. International calls and roaming are expensive, but if you can Viber with them, then you pay nothing extra. Naturally you can communicate with Viber installs on desktops, Windows and Mac are supported. Additionally, groups with 40 participants can join an online conference. Texting, stickers, emoticons, photos, videos, anything goes. This is an awesome app that you really need to check out.

If you want to edit and view all kind of Microsoft Office documents, .pdf files and some more, then you need the Polaris Office. Available per Aptoide, (http://android777.store.aptoide.com/app/market/com.infraware.polarisoffice5/50331010/4221599/POLARIS%20Office%205) you can use this app to do some editing and view files, including PowerPoint presentations on your mobile device. If you are on the go and just need to fix up a file, but do not have access to your computer, this app will rescue the day.

The Android Games You Will Not Want to Miss

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The best and the probably most popular game in the last few years was arguably Plants vs. Zombies by PopCap Games – recently purchased by EA Games. (http://apps.store.aptoide.com/app/market/com.popcap.pvz/1/615950/Plants%20Vs%20Zombies) The tower defence game was initially released in 2010, with the Android version following almost a year later. Like the name states, zombies attack and plants are used to defend the house, which is supposed to be the player’s house. You, as the player, plant many kinds of different plants and fungi in order to prevent a really off-beat and quirky barrage of zombies, which includes a Michael Jackson lookalike, a Yeti Zombie, a Bobsleigh full of zombies and the ultimate Boss, Zomboss, who you need to defeat in order to finish the game. It is highly addictive, very much fun and the incredibly well-made score by Laura Shigihara allows you to enjoy not only the funny sounds but also the music as well.

Android-Games-logoJust recently, EA Games, or rather the PopCap Games subsidiary, released the follow up Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, lampooning their own constant delaying of the long anticipated release. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ea.game.pvz2_row) The new release has a very similar game play, is offered for free and is almost as much fun to play as the original. If you managed to finish the first one, you will most certainly get the second incarnation.

The other really immensely popular game, which developed into a franchise, is the Angry Birds series of games, made by Rovio Entertainment, a Finnish video game developer. Besides the original game, there have been seven special editions, with an eighth to follow shortly. A spin-off series with “Bad Piggies” has also raked in acclaim, additionally the franchise translated into books, animated series and regular merchandising such as cups, posters, action figures and much more. The original game entered the mobile realm in late 2009 and since then almost two billion downloads combined have been recorded.

Interestingly enough, Disney Mobile did not have any really notable releases up until the puzzle video game Where’s My Water featuring an original character, Swampy the alligator, surprisingly became an instant hit. As a Subsidiary of Disney Interactive Studios, the gaming arm of the Walt Disney Company, extensive impact was expected and none came for a good while. The change came with Swampy in 2011 and the popularity remained with follow up games, most particularly with the recently released Where’s My Water 2. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.disney.wheresmywater2_goo)

The last of the seriously must have games is Minion Rush, a game based on the Despicable Me franchise derived from successful animated movies with the same name by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. The game itself, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, was developed by Gameloft, a French company that has already released over sixty successful games. Within just a few months the game was downloaded over 100 million times and in this game you act as one of the Minions trying to win the accolade of being the Minion of the year battling Vector as the main villain.

(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gameloft.android.ANMP.GloftDMHM)

Mobile Apps for Your Android Device

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androidDid you know that there are over a million different mobile apps available for your Android device? If you think about it, you might have looked at a couple of hundred apps and games, but what about the majority of applications you have never heard of? What are these for? Where do you find these apps and are they any good? Generally, what you need is someone who will point out at least some of the buried treasures, but also you need someone who will tell you about the really popular apps as well, namely do you need them at all or should you rather pass.

I am Michael or Mick for short, your host and Android guru, at least on this site. I hope I can provide you with entertaining information from the world of your favourite robot and supply some nice apps that will make your life more fur and easier, if not much, then at least a tiny bit. I will try and provide you with links to the particular applications and games I am talking about, whereby some of the built-in or stock applications should need no introduction and will not get any, like for instance the Google Play Store, Aptoide, Amazon Android App Store, Samsung Apps store and whatever other store we run into.