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signal

Everyone is concerned about security these days, especially when our smartphones and tablets are so vulnerable (due in large part to their multitasking abilities and portability). You can put a passcode on your device to make it more difficult for the bad guys to gain access and you can transfer documents securely using encrypted apps, but how do you protect phone calls? Open Whisper Systems has an answer with their new app, Signal.

Using Signal is simple, beginning with adding a phone number and then confirming it with a six-digit confirmation code (sent by SMS or phone call). When a phone call is initiated between two participating users, a pair of words is shown (one on each caller’s screen). From there, the security words are exchanged and a secure connection is in effect.

During an interview with Wired magazine, Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike noted:

“We’re trying to make private communications as available and accessible as any normal phone call,” says Moxie Marlinspike, the hacker security researcher who founded the nonprofit software group. Later this summer, he adds, encrypted text messaging will be integrated into Signal, too, to create what he describes as a “single, unified app for free, easy, open source, private voice and text messaging.”

Initial tests conducted by media and beta testers unveiled a few bugs, but overall Signal performed as advertised.

Secure phone calls may be overkill for most applications –but it is easy to consider situations where it may be advisable, such as: calls between doctors and their patients, or lawyers and their clients.

Ready to start making secure phone calls? Download Signal – Private Messenger from the Apple App Store for free. Existing users of the Android RedPhone app can also take advantage of this secure calling technology.

Categories : Android News
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apps

When the Internet really started to take off and companies were making e-commerce profits hand over fist, all it took to make money was an idea and just enough technical skill to hang a web-shingle. Many years later, in much the same way, app developers are popping up everywhere –every day there are hundreds of new titles fighting for our attention. Some are worth it, but according to VisionMobile’s latest Developer Economics report, many are not.

Details in the report indicate that half of iOS developers, and 64% of Android developers are operating below the app poverty line (identified as making $500 per app per month). While it may seem like a reasonable profit for work that is already completed (once an app is released), one needs to see a return on their invested development time –but there is also a need to see revenue to compensate for Apple licensing, hardware, and ongoing support as required. It could be worse of course, 24% of all app developers are making nothing at all (and 23% are bringing in under $100 per month). If your idea is particularly amazing, or you have marketing genius that helps lead consumers to your app, you could find yourself among the 1.6% of development houses responsible for generating the most app store revenue (many making more than $500,000 for each app per month).

At first glance it may seem like these figures shouldn’t be of particular concern to end-users, but consider that if developers are unable to sustain upgrade and support channels for the apps they put out, the app stores will soon be cluttered with junky apps that probably shouldn’t be bothered with. Consequences of those apps seen as disposable will ripple through app stores as users learn not to trust or rely on anything they download and install.

Categories : Android News
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flash-serp-note

In the early days of the Internet, using Oh Flash was a sign that a website was ahead of the times. It was impressive and sought-after. These days it is akin to a technologically-transmitted-disease –we’ve all heard about Flash content and we all know of websites that feature it, but for the most part we really just hope to avoid it. Thanks to Google, users searching from an Android or iOS device will now receive a warning when a website in their results is built on the Flash platform. From there it becomes your choice: take your chances and try it anyway, or move on to the next result.

Once upon a time, many people chose Android devices because they supported Flash –but that all ended with JellyBean when security and performance concerns outweighed the perceived benefits (something Apple felt strongly about since iOS began). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that technologies like HTML 5 now exist that are equally dynamic and entirely cross-platform.

In order to display this warning, Google has developed an algorithm that aims to detect websites whose content is based mostly in Flash. It’s likely this will result in a few false-positive hits, but that accuracy should improve with time (especially as legacy sites start to die out or face redesigns)… but there is another side-benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked: Flash content is difficult for search engine spiders to crawl –meaning the overall quality and accuracy of your search results should also improve.

As somebody who uses iOS devices as often as I do Android, I can tell you firsthand that it is frustrating to hit a website and only see portions (or nothing at all in some cases). Are any of you as excited as I am to hear this news? Do you see any downsides?

Categories : Android News
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abc-logo

Audiobooks.com, the streaming and downloading audiobook service for fans of the format, announced its new dedicated romance app that will put bestselling steamy titles in one easily found location. This app, available currently only for iOS, will contain thousands of new titles and best sellers, and a large and growing selection of audiobooks to choose from. Authors like Nicholas Sparks, E. L. James, and Maya Banks, just to name a few, are already in their catalog.

“We wanted to create an app that’s tailored to specific tastes so we can really personalize the user experience,” says Sanjay Singhal, CEO of Audiobooks.com, in a press release. “We’ve seen a strong and growing popularity of romance audiobooks through our service and have had great success connecting to readers through romance book bloggers and communities. When we decided to start developing genre-specific extensions of the Audiobooks.com app, it just made sense to start there.”

This app, which will let users stream romance titles over both wifi and 3G connections, will offer the fastest connection times and a streamlined experience for iOS users. While Audiobooks.com does offer an Android app through the Google Play store, the romance-specific app is only available through Apple’s App Store.

“The Romance Audiobooks app is Audiobooks.com’s fastest, most responsive app yet and allows users to stream books anytime, anywhere over Wi-Fi and 3G networks. Specifically designed for iOS devices, the app features an intuitive, user-friendly interface for easy browsing and listening. Listeners can use their accounts to access books on both the Romance Audiobooks app and the original Audiobooks.com app for increased variety and selection. Both apps are available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in the Apple App Store.”

sonicOnce upon a time, in about 1991 (which may as well be the stone-age as far as modern video games are concerned), a young girl fell in love with a Sonic the Hedgehog game played on a (rather impressive for the time) Sega Genesis gaming console. Fast-forward to E3 2014 and you can imagine how exciting the news is that Sega is releasing an addition to the Sonic franchise with Sonic Jump Fever.

Designed as another simple one-direction platform title, Sonic Jump Fever is based on the 2012 Sonic Jump (all the while collecting rings, getting power-ups, and bopping enemies; only now you can compete directly against your friends). The twist? Twice a week the ladder resets and you will have to beat them once again –making you prove your worth and hone your skill (a fluke run won’t be good enough to hold your title at the top of the leader-board for long)!

The exact launch date is not yet known, but it should be available (for free) sometime this summer.


Categories : Android News
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Final-Fantasy-VII

Fans of the Cloud Strife will be excited to play G-Bike (on Android or iOS), a pleasing mini game straight from the Gold Saucer Amusement Park currently found within the full version of Final Fantasy VII.

Not many details are known regarding the game-play, but the official announcement trailer makes it appear to belong to the endless runner platform-style genre: complete with “chase sequences, obstacle courses and boss encounters.” So far, the only character recruited is Cloud (equipped with his famed Buster Sword), but he can handily take care of enemies like Behemoth from the Midgar location.

No release date has been communicated, but G-Bike is likely to be available soon. It is also expected that great care will be given to the quality of this app, given a good response would mean good things for a much-desired port of the full Final Fantasy VII game which was previously delayed due to technical limitations (particularly issues with the storage space required, estimated at over 1GB for the game itself).


Categories : Android News
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Jun
05

Top 10 iOS Apps of the Week

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iPad-Air

One of the best parts of having a smartphone or tablet is populating it with the greatest of the great apps. To help you choose your next favourite, take a look at our picks for the top ten iOS apps this week!

TwoDots (Free)

The App Store is filled with games that are designed to capture our attention and fill our time (or steal it away), but few games do it better than TwoDots. Made by the same folks who brought out Dots, this app is an awesomely addictive puzzle game. Navigate yourself through 85 levels that start easy and get increasingly more difficult, trying to connect different items: dots, sink anchors, make bombs, extinguish flames and more! Titles like TwoDots make waiting rooms a little more bearable.

TwoDots

Minecraft – Pocket Edition ($6.99 USD)

We all know Minecraft is addictive and fun, just ask the millions of people who have been playing it. With the pocket edition. you can play in survival and creative mode, multi-player and randomly generated worlds, while you craft and create and breed to your heart’s content! When you have a game that is centered around building things by placing blocks, it only seems fitting that you can play it on your mobile devices as you go on non-digital adventures as well (or if you need your kids to sit quietly for a few minutes, either one).

Minecraft

THE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition ($0.99 USD)

I would be willing to bet that nearly every last one of you played THE GAME OF LIFE when you were children, and now you can also play it on your iOS devices! Some board games do not translate to the digital world very well, but this title does a very nice job –perhaps because it lends itself well to the 3D animations and colourful graphics that perform so well on our smartphones and tablets. Because you can pass and play with up to 6 of your friends, this app may just be the saviour of your next road trip!

GameOfLife

Couch-to-5K ($1.99)

I know, I know, I know… you have been meaning to get more exercise –and it is right there on your to-do list, just below the entry that says ‘make a to-do list’. Running and jogging can be fantastic exercise (as well as being a great way to lower stress and clear your head), but it can be very intimidating for those of us who have never tried the sport before. With Couch-to-5K, no experience is necessary. Honestly! It doesn’t matter whether you are doing your routine on a treadmill or sidewalk, you can workout with your own personal trainer and your own music playlist. Actual human audio cues will let you know what you should be doing and when. This program worked for me and it can also work for you!

couchto5k

Tinder (Free)

Tinder is social media done a little differently. If you are looking to meet somebody new (for friends, dating or otherwise), take a flip through this app. With anonymous swipes, let people know if you are interested in them: swipe right to like or left to pass. If the feelings are mutual and you both like each other, it becomes a match and you can use the in-app chat to get to know your choice a little more. Taking your location from the GPS, Tinder can help you to meet new people no matter where you are!

Tinder

Geocaching ($7.99 USD)

If you haven’t yet joined the world-wide treasure hunt, you shouldn’t waste any more time! Geocaching is a great deal of fun and can be an amazing adventure. Caches are hidden all over the world (by the millions) –in fact, I can almost guarantee you walk by at least one of them each day… you just have to know how and where to find them! Using this app, you can locate geocaches and log your finds; I must warn you though, it can be very addictive!

Geocaching

Shazam (Free)

Shazam is one of those apps that you likely need to discover again for the first time! Included as part of Siri in the next version of iOS, this app lets you identify music and TV almost instantly. Gone are the days where you have no answer to the question ‘what song is this? or ‘who sings this?’, just load of Shazam and in moments you will know (plus you can buy it with one more tap of the screen if you choose).

Shazam

Watchup: Your Daily News (Free)

There are plenty of ways to read the news on your iOS device, but what if you prefer to watch it? With Watchup, you can tune in to a considerable number of local, national and international news channels and watch their actual newscasts. If you are as forgetful as me, this app will let you schedule a reminder so you receive your newscast at the preferred time and if you want to know more about a particular story just click through to read text articles on the topic you are currently watching.

Watchup

Momondo (Free)

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, getting a good deal on airfare is something that everybody appreciates. Using Momondo, you can easily search hundreds of airlines for the cheapest flights to any destination. One of the handiest features of the app is the ability to save flights from your past searches so you can monitor whether the prices are going up or down and determine whether the latest deal is really that great. Once you find the flight you want to book, click through the app to make them yours!

Momundo

Wine Reviews & Ratings: Natalie MacLean (Free)

It’s almost (the weekend | 5:00 somewhere | the end of the work day | any other time that pleases you), so it is time for a hard-earned glass of wine. Thanks to Wine Reviews & Ratings: Natalie MacLean, you have access to the reviews, prices, ratings, prices, food pairings and recipes for over 150,000 different wines (plus if you live in Canada, current store stock is also available for many locations)! All you need to do is scan the bar code or search the database and you can decide whether the bottle in your hand is the one you should be taking home. I especially love the cellar journal that lets you keep a record of everything you currently have at home –because inevitably I am at the liquor store and cannot for the life of me remember what I still have left.

Wine

Android vs iOS

Few battles throughout history have been as bloodied and brutal as the one fought between Android and iOS. Opinions are heated. Loyalties are fierce. As we look ahead to the release of iOS 8, armed with a fresh list of features and enhancements, let’s see how the two operating systems really compare.

Notifications

When Apple released iOS 7, they started to rival the notifications system Android had since the start. With iOS 8, Apple has added in actionable notifications –allowing you to deal with notifications directly (something Google added in 2012). Apple ups the ante slightly by allowing actionable items in the drop-down notifications as well not just in the notifications summary screen); third-party Android apps can add this functionality but it isn’t equivalent ‘out of the box. Finally, the addition of widgets in iOS 8 is long-overdue given that Android has supported third-party widgets in notifications for years.

Result: Android wins. Android clearly had the superior notification system first and while Apple has caught up and added a few stock ‘extras’, they aren’t revolutionary enough to secure a win here.

File Sharing

The big news in file sharing from Apple is the iCloud Drive. It’s basically no different than Google Drive or Dropbox –but offers less storage at the free price-tag (though for DropBox to beat iCloud Drive, you do have to earn some additional GB from referring friends).

Result: Draw. While one could argue that there is no reason to use iCloud Drive when you could use Google Drive –the services themselves are equivalent enough that I don’t believe there is a clear winner.

Search

Upgrades to Spotlight search means going beyond the device you are looking on, considering things like context and location. Results are diverse, meaningful and presented in an easy to review manner. Android has search capabilities, but they vary by device and aren’t typically as consolidated. Google Now offers all of the Spotlight functionality and more, but isn’t a part of the operating system the way Spotlight is.

Result: iOS wins. This is a tough one to evaluate, but tie native nature of Spotlight puts iOS ahead here.

Continuity

Handoff means you can be working in nearly any app on your Mac or iOS device and as long as they are signed into the same iCloud account, you can move back and forth between them and keep doing whatever it was you were doing. Android offers some of this functionality, but not as elegantly and more centered on web-experiences like maintaining open tabs in a web browser.

Result: iOS wins. Android has no clear offering to compete with the elegance of Handoff.

Photography

Apple understands that our smartphones have an important role in our day-to-day photography. With built in editing (with more than basic features), sharing (effortlessly) and now offering time-lapse options in addition –it is hard for Android to compete (without invoking third-party apps).

Result: iOS wins. Android may be simpler to use in many aspects, but iOS is far more feature-rich out of the box.

Keyboards

It’s about time that Apple upgraded the keyboards in iOS, including giving us the ability to install third-party keyboards. Anybody who has used SwiftKey or Swype on an Android device knows how much more enjoyable it is to ‘type’ with.

Result: Android wins. Apple may be playing catch up, but that’s all they did (failing to innovate further than Android already has).

Graphics

There is little doubt that OpenGL is a great graphics rendering tool, but Metal (new to iOS 8) is better if for no other reason than it is more efficient. Coupled with the diversity and quality of Android hardware, it’s difficult to create a gaming experience that is exceptional across all of their devices.

Result: iOS wins. Apple has been ahead of the curve against Android when it comes to mobile gaming and it continues to do so now.

There are lots of other odds and sods in the comparison game… Apple implemented Touch ID first, but Samsung extended it to third-party apps first. Apple has family sharing with parental controls while Android hasn’t fully addressed this inevitability. Messaging received a number of upgrades but Android doesn’t really have the same built-in messaging service to compete against. Similarly, the pairing of iOS to Mac OS is a definite benefit for brand-loyal users but with Android desktop not much of a reality for most people it isn’t relevant or comparable (yet).

The important thing to remember is that no matter which side of the fence you fall on, innovation is motivated by competition. It is in the best interest of everybody that these two operating systems continue to battle each other as they have.

Categories : Android News
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reading-rainbow-kickstarter-levar-burton


Last week we heard about Reading Rainbow launching a Kickstarter campaign to bring literacy to all children, everywhere. The project aimed to raise $1 million dollars before the July 2, 2014 deadline –a goal some may have considered lofty. Today, with 29 days still to go, Reading Rainbow has more than tripled this amount and sits at over $3.3 million dollars (and climbing rapidly)… setting itself up to become the most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time (a title previously held by e-watch company Pebble Technology’s with a grand total raised of $10,266,845).

This fundraising comes in addition to an already successful Reading Rainbow iOS app for the iPad –and while no Android app exists yet, LeVar Burton has stressed that the franchise needs to be on Android and made it clear that they will be expanding to include that platform.

Speaking of amazing things, has anybody noticed that LeVar Burton doesn’t ever seem to age?


Categories : Android News
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WWDC 2014

I don’t care where your brand loyalties sit, there is one fact that cannot be disputed: nobody does anticipation like Apple. Even if you were living under a rock for the past fewweeks, I am sure you are aware that Apple’s Developer Conference (WWDC) began this week –kicked off by the now-legendary keynote by the top names at Apple. Speculation over the possible announcements has nearly become a sport in the IT-world, with nearly everybody hoping for something different. So what’s new in the Apple-universe? Allow me to give you the jist.

Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)

Look and Feel – Aside from a new name, the latest Mac OS X release has a much more flat-looking,  iOS-styled theme (with Apple really liking the word ‘translucent’).

Notifications – Widgets and customizations galore, the notifications on Mac OS X finally behave a little more like they do on iOS (plus, they are integrated with your calendar).

Spotlight Search – More power, more results, faster.

iCloud Drive – Perhaps the most exciting thing Apple announced today: competition for DropBox (if they do it right). The iCloud Drive promises to synchronize all of your content across all of your devices.

Mail – Casual users of Mail probably won’t be that impressed or even really notice the changes here. Something called Markup will let you doodle in your attachments… which sounds more like a novelty than a value-added feature.

Safari – Apple’s signture browser got a little facelift, with some updates to tabbed browsing (that provide some confusing looking thumbnails you can flip through). This is one that will need a test-drive before I can offer a true opinion.

Continuity – Let me say this one again: CONTINUITY. Perhaps I should say it one more time with some emphasis: CONTINUITY! Not only does Airdrop now work between Mac OS X and iOS devices, you can move between devices and continue wth the same tasks… start an email on your Macbook and finish it up on your iPad. I couldn’t possibly be more excited by this, I only hope it works as seamlessly as it did in the demo.

iMessage – While the updates to iMessage technically belong under the Continuity headline, for those that use iMessage –this is a very exciting addition. Not only can you send iMessages to your contacts from your Mac (just like you can from your iPhone), now you can also send regular SMS content as well… so you dont have to do something different to reach the Android and Blackberry users in your contact list! (this pairing of your smartphone to computer will also allow for features like using it like a speakerphone, as an example).

iOS 8

Notifications – Not just revamped in Yosemite, notifications recieved a lot of love in the new release of iOS. To start with, they are interactive (so you can respond to a text message for instance, without having to leave the notifications screen). In addition, the lock screen is becoming the new home screen –with widgets and customizations a-plenty now available to developers.

Contacts – The updated interface gives convenient access to your most frequently used contacts. Very handy!

QuickType – If you thought Auto Correct could make a mess with single-word predictive texting, just wait until you see how QuickType will try to anticipate the rest of the words in the sentence you are typing. This will either be the greatest addition to texting, or the worst… it remains to be tested and seen.

iMessage – Anybody who has been held hostage inside of a ‘group text message chat’ will be delighted to know that you can now set yourself ‘Do Not Disturb’ and get yourself out! Also exciting is the ability to add voice messages in an iMessage –something that will come in very handy for those of you who want to send a longer ‘text’ without having to type it out.SSwift

Photos – Time lapse photography and new photo editing software add some pizazz to the same old photos on your iOS device.
Health – Consider this as your total health portal: whether you use it to track your blood pressure, activity, hydration, blood sugar, sleep patterns… and share them out (with your permission) to your doctors. It isn’t the wearable hardware most people were expecting and hoping for, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction (and likely a little scary for huge numbers of third-party apps making money like crazy right now selling this functionality in the app store).

Siri -Nice little updates for the famed Apple personal assistant include being accessible without having to use the home button and now built-in access to Shazam (for identifying amd the buying your favourite songs on the fly).

Odds and Sods

Extensions – These will make the most sense to developers, but they allow access to the guts and glory of iOS (think: third party keyboards like Swype).

Touch ID – Now available for developers to integrate into all apps –login with your fingerprint… the most secure thing you can get your hands on (sorry, pun intended).

Metal 3D Rendering Engine – All you need to know is that this means you can expect even better graphics quality on your iOS devices.

HomeKit – The first step toward home automation is this API that gives developers access to securely control all manner of smart home hardware.

Swift – Another ‘for developers only’ feature that means ‘better apps, faster’ for consumers. Speaking as a developer, this is exciting… trust me.

A lot of people are likely disappointed by the lack of hardware announcements (though the screenshots used during the presentation sure did look an awful lot like leaked images of the upcoming iPhone 6) –but this might be a very wise move on the part of Apple: bring the developer event back around to being a software event. With that said, I think Apple may be in a lot of trouble if there aren’t an exciting bunch of  hardware announcements in store for their next event (expected in the fall).

Categories : Android News
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Frozen

Even if you haven’t seen Disney’s Frozen, I’d be willing to bet that you can sing along to at least one song from the film. If you have a child under the age of 10 (or you are a child at heart), you can likely remember the words to the entire soundtrack. With the new Disney Karaoke: Frozen app for the iPad you can take your regular ‘in the car’ or ‘in the shower’ singing a step further!

The app features music and film clips from the movie, allows you to sing along with all of your favourite characters, record your performance (complete with the original instrumental tracks) and create a gallery of your performances (that you can share with others). There are nine songs to choose from, including the award-winning Let it Go along with music videos taken directly from the film itself. The lyrics are displayed on the screen just as with traditional karaoke, so if you happen to have been living under a rock the past while, you won’t be at a loss for the words.

With a pricetag of $7.99, it may seem like an expensive app to test-drive –but I think there is only one question to ask before you purchase it: “Do you want to build a snowman?”

Categories : Android News
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iMessage FixIt’s become a very well-known problem that Apple has even kinda sorta admitted to: if you have been using iMessages on an iPhone and you try to switch to Android, you may start missing out on text messages. It’s true that Apple has promised to fix this problem with an upcoming software update. It’s also true that Apple claims they’ve already made some changes that should help. If that doesn’t provide you with a lot of comfort, Entrepreneur magazine has put together a little guide on the steps to take to successfully quit your iPhone.

The problem stems from how Apple activates iMessage using your telephone number –but really doesn’t offer any way to deactivate your account (while making it seem like turning off iMessage on your device is actually doing much of anything).  Of course, the problem goes a little deeper… but the result is that your friends can’t always reach you by text message anymore (and they don’t even know their messages aren’t being received by way of an error).

If nothing else, this guide gives a list of the things you should do if and when you decide to move from your iPhone to an Android device.

Categories : Android News
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BufferWe’re all addicted to social media, some of us more than others, and it can be a little daunting to juggle accounts with all the biggies like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net. Luckily for us, apps like Buffer exist to let you leverage content to be shared easily across all of your accounts. To further compliment their existing app, the company has released Daily by Buffer –branded as “Tinder for content sharing”.

The concept is simple: every day you are presented with a selection of articles and posts that the app feels you would enjoy.  If you like them, swipe right… if you aren’t so keen, swipe left. After you go through all of your picks, review your Buffer queue and share them out across your connected social media accounts.

Daily by Buffer currently offers five to sex stories each day and a lot of the content is being reused from the main Buffer app, but in time this offering should improve.

So far the app is only available for iOS devices –but with any lucky there will be an Android version available soon.

Categories : Reviews
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