With Action Launcher finally splitting into two apps (Pro and free), I felt like it was finally time to give it a review. I have been a long time user of Nova Launcher and have absolutely no problems with it, but as the months passed by, I began to see so much development that author Chris Lacey was putting into Action Launcher that I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. Action Launcher has so many unique and exclusive features that no other launcher in the market has that really puts it in a class by itself, plus it offers most of the same stuff found in Nova and Apex. If you have yet to take the plunge to give Action Launcher a shot, maybe this review might just give you that extra push!
With Latitude going away, I know a lot of you are looking for alternatives. You might want to try Share Where Location Sharing from Ola Bjuremo. It’s probably the quickest way to share your location with friends and family. Texting or emailing your location isn’t anything new, but Share Where has a lot of extra features that make it a must have tool for your location sharing needs.
If you want to share your location with someone, you can quickly do it from within the app. Just select someone from your contacts or manually type a phone number (for SMS) or an email address. You can send your location to multiple people at the same time as well. You can even add text such as “I am here”, “Meet me here”, or “I need help.” Then simply tap the “Send” button and your chosen contacts will receive a message via SMS or email with your message (if you included one) and a Google Maps link showing your current location.
As I mentioned there are a few apps that do similar things in the Play Store, but Share Where takes things a step further. Lets say you are traveling and you want to give regular updates on your location. You can simply choose a repeated time interval (ie 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc) and your contacts will get a message at each specified interval. Furthermore, if you have Android Jelly Bean 4.1 or higher, you can see the status and amount of time left until the next message is sent in your notification area. You can even cancel any future sharing through the expanded notification.
Every now and then you find an app that is not only functional, but also well designed. Volume Butler, from TUOGOL, is definitely one of those apps. If you like customization, than Volume Butler is your app. Based on the name of the app, you can probably tell that it deals with the volume of your device. You would be correct, but this isn’t just another app for setting volume levels, this a full blown automation app.
For starters, Volume Butler lets you create Profiles for certain situations. Each profile has controls for the Ringer, Notifications, Media, Alarm, In-Calls, and Speakerphone. You can title the profile whatever you want and even choose from a variety of icons to represent it. Most newer phones have merged profiles for both notifications and ringtones, but with Volume Butler you can still adjust them independently. If you want to change your phone to any of these predefined profiles, you simply tap on any of the profiles.
If you’re looking for the stock Android camera experience, you might want to check out Snap Camera HDR. It’s based on the stock Android 4.2 camera with some added features and it was created by XDA forum member dzo. The goal of Snap Camera was to bring the 4.2 interface to Android 2.3+ devices. If you’re not familiar with the stock Android 4.2 camera, it’s a very simple interface, but Snap Camera is slightly different. The main screen has only three buttons, one for pictures, one for videos, and the other for settings.
The UI works much like the stock Android interface in that you can touch to focus, pinch to zoom, swipe to review, and long press to adjust photo settings. Speaking of settings, you will find more settings than the stock version and it’s set up a little differently. You will still find all the options in the circular fashion, but with more selections. You will now have eight choices: HDR, flash mode, white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation, camera settings, and a submenu for items such as changing to burst mode, fast mode, front/back camera toggle, silent shutter, stable shot, panorama, self timer, and toggling the grids. Fast mode allows you to take pictures very “fast” but only at the resolution of your display. The camera settings have a slew of options for you to choose from for both the camera and videos. It should be noted that dzo added an option in the settings to use what was thought to be an updated UI for Android 4.3. As it turns out, that newer interface wasn’t part of Android 4.3, but is on the Google Edition Galaxy S 4 and HTC One devices that were just released.
We have covered a number of apps for device tracking and security, but I wanted to throw another one into the ring. It’s appropriately named 3CX Mobile Device Manager, and it will not only track mobile phones and tablets, but it will also track notebook computers. It’s catered to businesses for managing a fleet of devices, but it’s simple enough for personal use as well. Normally products such as these carry a cost per device, but 3CX has made it free for the first 5 devices, which makes it perfect for families. » Read the rest
I have been a loyal user of SwiftKey for a while now, but another keyboard replacement app called TypeSmart from Comet Apps might change that. I have been playing with it over the last couple of days and I like what I see. From what I have found with most keyboard replacements is that they always seem to be too gimmicky with an interface that will only attract a few people. TypeSmart went in another direction by trying to improve upon what’s out there without trying to develop a brand new way to type.
TypeSmart’s claim to fame is that it not only does what all the other keyboards do, but there are six cool things that no other keyboard offers. The first is a slide-out number row. I tend to do a lot of my typing in portrait mode and I hate switching to a different keyboard for numbers. I know a lot of keyboards offer long pressing, but that is only good when you only need to type one digit. With TypeSmart, you simply swipe up and the dedicated number row appears. Don’t worry, there is still a separate dedicated number pad if you find that your phone’s display is too small. I would like to see this option added to the settings giving you the ability to always display it without needing the gesture, but a quick swipe up isn’t all that bad.
I’m not big on launchers. It’s not that I don’t think they are cool, but I usually just don’t have time to screw around with them. Well I just came across a new launcher that is not only a game changer, but one that I am happy to say that I am using full time. Have you ever seen pictures of other user’s home screens and wished you could duplicate it? I see them all the time, but I always sigh because I just don’t have the time to set things up. Well Buzz launcher is changing all of this with a very unique take on launchers. It’s one thing to download a launcher, but imagine being able to completely change the look of your home screen on the fly. In no time you will have some of the coolest looking home screens with minimal effort thanks to its huge database from other users. Buzz Launcher allows you to download other user’s cool looking home screens so you don’t have to spend a ton of time setting things up. Before you go thinking that there will probably only be a handful of choices, does over 10,000 sound like enough to you? At the same time, if you do have time and create something cool and unique, you can share it to the world as well.
Artflow Studio just released Artflow – Sketch, Paint, Draw for Android tablets, which will bring out your creative side. Of course if you’re already a creative person, you will love it too. Artflow is easy enough for the novice, but offers features for the pro as well. It has all the standard stuff like 50 different brushes/tools and color selections, but it also offers layers and advanced controls like smudging and brush flow. It even supports pressure sensitive pens like Samsung’s S Pen on the Galaxy Note 10.1 or the Galaxy Note 8.0.
What I like most about Artflow is that the Holo-inspired layout and controls are very simple. Drawing and sketching apps can be a little intimidating for the casual user, but not with Artflow. Upon opening the app, you are given a completely white slate for your next sketch. You will find two menus, one at the right edge and the other at the left edge. Just tap on the “less than sign” at the middle right edge or the “greater than sign” at the middle left edge to open the respective menus.
Privacy is a major buzzword these days and sometimes you want to be able to keep and/or do things on your phone that you don’t want others to know about. You will find plenty of apps that help you in this regard, but most of them only do one thing. What makes a great app is one that is not only simple to use, but also offers a lot of features, and Privacy Manager offers both. Privacy manager will do some of the simple stuff like keep certain pictures, apps, and contacts private, but it offers so much more. Privacy manager will also block certain numbers from calling you, disguise calls or SMS messages when you don’t want others to know exactly who is calling you, Ring your phone with a fake call when you need to be “interrupted” in a meeting. It even offers a password manager and let’s not forget the ability to record from your phone’s handsfree microphone. Privacy Manager has pretty much everything you could ever want, and then some.
Do you like to watch a lot of videos online? Do you get annoyed with having to use up your mobile data all the time or dealing with buffers? Well I have an app for you, it’s called PAUL the app, and it was developed by Inmobly. PAUL will curate videos and music for you from many popular sites and download them to your phone or tablet via WiFi so that you don’t have to use up mobile data or deal with any hiccups.
Before we get into the particulars, you are probably wondering where the name “PAUL” came from. Paul was an octopus in Germany that became famous for his predictions during the World Cup in 2010. He not only picked Spain as the World Cup champion, he also picked 85% of the matches correctly. What does that have to do with this app? Well PAUL The App’s algorithms are inspired by Paul the octopus with the goal being to successfully deliver videos and music that you want to watch or listen to. In fact, they created an acronym based on PAUL – Predictive Automated User-centric Loading.