Microsoft SkyDrive App Now Available on Android With 7 GB of Free Storage

Microsoft SkyDrive App Now Available on Android With 7 GB of Free Storage

Aug 31, 2012

Microsoft's cloud storage solution SkyDrive is finally available on Android. Just log in with a Microsoft account – this can be an old Hotmail account, or the account used to log in to Xbox Live – and then all of a user's SkyDrive is available. From within the app, only photos and videos can be uploaded, though other types of files can be uploaded through Android's default sharing dialogue. The app conforms to standard 4.x design, using Roboto font and some Holo design elements.

In a world where Dropbox has become the most ubiquitous service, and where Google Drive is an integral part of Android 4.x devices, why check out SkyDrive? Well, they're offering 7 GB of storage for free. With all this free cloud storage, we might not ever need to have an actual hard drive ever again! Our files will be available everywhere! Well, until the servers go down or get hacked, because technology is a fickle beast. The official SkyDrive app is available for free from Google Play

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iStoreHours Lets Users Find Out When Places Nearby Are Actually Open

iStoreHours Lets Users Find Out When Places Nearby Are Actually Open

Aug 31, 2012

iStoreHours is an app listing store hours that was made for people like me. As a night owl, I frequently run into the issue of places I want to go during my prime hours that are closed, because apparently the rest of society thinks it's cool to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night, not the other way around! As well, websites tend to be lax with their store hours information, and I don't want to call anyone about their store hours – ever.

So that's where iStoreHours comes in. They claim to have the largest directory of when places are open, with over 4 million listings contributed by over 25,000 members. By default, the app opens up showing the hours and contact information for stores and restaurants nearby. Stores can be exported to contacts, and looked up on Google Maps. Incorrect listings can be reported in the app, and new ones can be added. iStoreHours is available for free from Google Play.

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Trial Xtreme 2 Review

Trial Xtreme 2 Review

Aug 31, 2012

Thanks to Trials on the Xbox 360, the trial racer has become extremely popular. With the goal of trying to race through a course and reach the end very quickly, while sometimes collecting stars or other doodads as a secondary goal, this game has been oft-imitated.

Because Trials developer RedLynx still won't bring Trials or one of its sequels to mobile, and because even their mobile trial racers like MotoHeroz have bypassed Android, games like Trial Xtreme 2 from Deemedya have been popular. I like trial racers, so I was curious to see why Trial Xtreme 2 seemed to be doing so well in the charts.

I'm still not really sure.

Trial Xtreme 2 puts players on a motorbike, going through hazardous courses that look like they were stolen from a construction site and then hastily put together. Basically, the goal is simple: get to the end without falling off. Or bumping the rider's head. Or having any part of him even gently touch anything, as it means instant failure.

Trial Xtreme 2 does not mess around, as even the first level will challenge players to not screw up. There is no learning curve, just difficult levels from the word go. This is not a game for those entering the genre, this is for experts wanting to be tested.

But oh is this game trying. The controls are exceptionally difficult to deal with. It seems as if the buttons are effective only in their specific touch areas, and nowhere outside of them, which makes it doubly difficult to play this game. This game is hard enough without having to fight the controls as well. It's not optimized for 7" tablets either, as the buttons are quite tiny. In fact, it feels like the game would be a lot more fun if it were more forgiving, or at least gave the player some time to feel like they've been succeeding, instead of being frustrated at the start. I don't feel compelled to play much more when I repeatedly fail because I just slightly bumped my head; I want to rage quit, which I did many times.

So, Trial Xtreme 2 is only for one class of gamer: the masochistic. Those who like their games to feel like pulling teeth? Buy this! Otherwise, there are other trial racers out there on the many gaming platforms out there. Play them for that taste of the genre, then try this if they’re not enough. There’s also a free Winter edition of the game that’s worth trying out for those still intrigued.

Friday Free Game Rundown August 31

Friday Free Game Rundown August 31

Aug 31, 2012

3D gaming is not quite to the level we thought it would be in the 21st century. I mean, look at all the old TV shows talking about all kinds of fantastic technology we would have in our homes. Sure, some of it is real, but not quite there on our mobile devices. That being said, here is a list of some fun games labeled as 3D. What 3D games currently consist of is not simply moving from side to side. There is an option to move in any direction.


Smash Fruit 3D


Ever have a bad day and think it could all go away by smashing something? Me too. Smash Fruit 3D is the cure for a bad day. Using a quick finger swipe will throw a rock ar various fruits. When hit, the fruit explode like they are hit with a sledge hammer.

Download Smash Fruit 3D


aTilt 3D Labyrinth


Back in the day there was a wooden version of this game. The wooden tilting maze was a pretty difficult child’s toy. Imagine the digital version. Multiple levels getting progressively more difficult. Remember it’s just a game, don’t get mad and throw the phone at the wall in anger.

Download aTilt 3D Labyrinth


Babel Rising 3D


Have a God complex? Well Babel Rising 3D is the battle of God getting back at the ungrateful humans. Use the power of nature to put the fear of God into them again. (Pun intended.) The cocky humans are building a tower to get closer to heaven. I’m not sure why they are making a tower, everyone knows the way to heaven is a stairway. Anyway, be a vengeful God and show them who’s the creator.

Download Babel Rising 3D


Helidroid 3D: Helicopter RC


Using either an on-screen joystick or the gyro in the phone or tablet to fly the little RC Helicopter from point A to point B. Like piloting a real chopper, controlling the lift is also important when flying around the courses. The courses become more difficult. Obstacles like walls and moving landing pads are added into the mix.

Download Helidroid 3D: Helicopter RC


Light Racer 3D


Just like the light bikes in Tron. Pretty bad-ass game actually. Race against another bike. When the bikes are driving around on the grid, they leave a light wall behind them. As the race progresses,the grid is more and more full leaving less room to maneuver. Good luck!

Download Light Racer 3D

iBlast Moki 2 Review

iBlast Moki 2 Review

Aug 30, 2012

It was not all that long ago that Godzi Lab (formerly known as Godzilab, the name now spaced out due to legal issues with Godzilla’s lawyers) released their take on the physics puzzler, iBlast Moki, to Android. This was after iBlast Moki 2 released on iOS, and fans of the game have been left waiting. Well, no need to wait any more, as it is finally here.

The objective of the two games are the same: get the adorable Mokis from their starting point into the giant portal that serves as the goal. So what’s the big hook here? There are new paint bombs that change the physics of the surface that they explode on to. Yellow bombs make the surface speed up the Mokis, pink bombs make it bouncy, and green bombs make it sticky. Like other bombs, these can be set on a delay as well, which does become necessary in some levels which challenge the player with complex layouts.

Really, that’s the joy of iBlast Moki 2: the levels are so richly constructed. Some of the solutions to the puzzles are so ingenious that and often require solutions that are somewhat outside the box. Real thought and planning is required, there’s no real way to just fling and pray like Angry Birds. The replay value is very high, with a wide variety of online levels that are available to play, and a level creator that is so robust that the developers themselves used it to make all the game’s levels. There’s no limits to the creativity in this game.

Of course, with all the complicated levels, this game can be a little difficult to tryd to get in to, because there is that complexity. Solutions require patience, and the lack of a fast-forward button remains an annoyance. This is a very strategic and thoughful game, and it’s not just for those that want to fling objects and pray for success.

For those willing to handle the challenge that iBlast Moki 2 presents, it will be extremely enjoyable. Even if it doesn’t sound like the most appealing game right away, the fun that can be had from it is immense. I highly recommend it.

Greedy Spiders 2 Review

Greedy Spiders 2 Review

Aug 30, 2012

When I first played Greedy Spiders, it was a welcome change from all other puzzle games I’ve played in Android. It was clever, challenging and addictive to say the least. Now, with Greedy Spiders 2, the game is revamped to bring new game elements and give the player another round to free the innocent bugs from spiders who are greedier and more evil than ever.

Greedy Spiders 2 has the same concept as its predecessor — which is to save the trapped bugs in the spiderweb so they won’t be eaten by the bad spider (or spiders). The player has to use scissors to cut through the intricate web without the bugs getting eaten by the bad (and intelligent) spiders.

Greedy Spiders 2 has two game modes — Easy and Hard. In addition to scissors, other powers are granted occasionally — such as a freezing spell to immobilize a spider, an electric current that prevents a spider from moving towards a specified direction — to name a few. Although helpful, one should still use them sparingly to win in the end. To continue to the next level, all trapped bugs must be completely free and safe from the spiders. A Hint button is available when hitting the Back key during game play. The Hint button shows the first few moves one needs to do to successfully win the round.

With the previous version, that was pretty much it. With this version, a certain amount of coins are awarded at the end of each level. These coins can be used to purchase hints for use in extra challenging levels when one simply gives up.

Graphics are better than the first one, and zooming in and out of areas have improved as well. I never had a problem with the performance and game play of the first version of this game. I’m pleased to report there is none on this version as well. Game play is fluid and responsive with no issues on lags and crashes. Another pleasant surprise is the awesome soundtrack — as advertised in their Play Store game description. It adds to the charm and uniqueness of the game.

The free version has 72 new levels, while the paid one has 144. Both versions support Google TV and tablets and are optimized for Xperia Play. One can also share progress in Facebook.

Greedy Spiders 2 is a great continuation of an early favorite — and it’s more than welcome in the heap of puzzle games for Android. It does follow the format for its predecessor, although a little more creativity and deviance would have been okay. Nevertheless, Greedy Spiders 2 is still a solid thought-provoking game even if one hasn’t played the first version. Another thing that’s good about it and is not often seen in games is that one can keep playing it without having to purchase anything extra. 144 levels from the paid version should provide enough re-play value, and even the free version’s 72 levels is not that bad either. For a puzzle game, Greedy Spiders 2 is engaging and entertaining — all while succeeding in making any player scratch their heads.

Theme Thursday: Ubuntu HD for GO Launcher

Theme Thursday: Ubuntu HD for GO Launcher

Aug 30, 2012

Many people have not heard about Ubuntu or even have the slightest idea as to what Linux is. As a Linux user for over a few years I have come to enjoy the simple and attractive styling of Linux’s most popular distro. While surfing the Google Play store looking for a clean and new theme for my phone I figured why not try to emulate the operating system that I was currently using. There are a myriad of Ubuntu options on the Play store but the one I am going to look at this week will be Ubuntu HD by developer Shivmanas.

Fortunately for Ubunutu HD it lives up to its HD suffix by delivering great, high quality icons that really reflect the nature of Ubuntu’s core styling. There are a large selection of icons and because the change is subtle, non-custom icons do not look out of place. This makes for a very seamless and well constructed theme because there is not that abrupt of a difference between the theme icons and the loners that plagues most other themes. A nice touch that is somewhat controversial is the change of the home button to a Ubuntu logo. I was wary of this at first because I felt that it may have been taking the theme too far, but it truly ties the whole thing together nicely. Besides, it can always be changed in GO Launcher.

However, my favorite part of this app has to be the amazing wallpapers that are pretty much ripped right from Ubuntu. I love the wallpapers that cycle through the Linux distro and I am elated that the developer chose to include those in this theme. The whole theme wraps up nicely and looks great as a sum of its parts. For anyone who is a Ubuntu fan or is just looking for a bright, mature, and clean theme I would strongly recommend taking a look at Ubuntu HD for GO Launcher.

Interesting Hardware Announcements from IFA 2012: Samsung Galaxy Camera, Galaxy Note II, Archos GamePad

Interesting Hardware Announcements from IFA 2012: Samsung Galaxy Camera, Galaxy Note II, Archos GamePad

Aug 29, 2012

The annual Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin – better known as IFA – electronics show has kicked off, and there’s some interesting new hardware announcements to go along with it. Samsung held an Unpacked event to reveal a pair of new devices, and even Archos had an interesting new device to show off.

Okay, remember that Nikon Android camera we posted about last week? Well, Samsung might have killed it already. The Samsung Galaxy Camera is essentially a Galaxy S III with a heavy-duty point-and-shoot camera built in to it. The camera has a 16 megapixel sensor with a 21x optical zoom, and F2.8 aperture. On the Android side of things, there’s a 4.8“ screen (the same size as the Galaxy S III), a quad-core processor, and interestingly, no Android hardware buttons, so it will use software menu keys. It will run Jelly Bean, and Samsung is adding in a voice control function to allow for zooming by saying ”Zoom in!" While stock Android may be the best option for phones and tablets, having customizations for this new kind of device are necessary.

Interestingly, it’s going to come with data connectivity, not just wifi, with 3G and 4G variants available. The Galaxy Camera releases this October, and given the powerful hardware under the hood and very capable camera – don’t expect it to be cheap.

Also making the rounds at IFA 2012 is the Galaxy Note II. This followup to the pioneering phablet will follow the same path as its predecessor: giant screen, bigger-than-normal battery, and the S Pen. Hardware wise, the screen is bigger at 5.5“ diagonal compared to 5.2” before, but now the resolution has dropped to 1280×720, so there’s a lower PPI than the original, but it otherwise matches the Galaxy S III in resolution. As well, the hardware has been redesigned to more closely resemble the Galaxy S III – Samsung appears to be trying to use this form factor in order to further differentiate themselves from Apple. The phone will run Jelly Bean, boast a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor (no details given yet – it could change for international versions), and 2 GB of RAM. Software-wise, there’s new S Pen tools to allow for the creation of notes from anywhere in the OS, and Quick Command to launch apps from anywhere using the S Pen. There’s also a Screen Recorder function, that if capable enough, could be a useful tool for recording video.

Finally, Archos has announced the GamePad tablet, which is a 7" tablet with physical controls on each side. The controls will support more than just specific titles, as Archos claims that over 1000 titles with virtual controls will be supported by the GamePad’s…gamepad. That name is just awkward. The price isn’t, as it’s planned to be less than 150 euros, or less than $200. There’s a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor under the hood, so it could be a capable gaming machine.

Speedball 2 Evolution Review

Speedball 2 Evolution Review

Aug 29, 2012

It’s almost appropriate that Speedball 2 Evolution has finally been released on Android, given that this futuristic bloodsport contains plenty of robotic players. A modern enhanced version of the classic Bitmap Brothers game, this takes the guts of soccer, ups the scoring, adds in bumpers and bonuses like pinball, along with the kind of extreme violence of football. Players can be killed outright. The only rule of Speedball 2 Evolution is that there are no rules, besides the ones that govern scoring! YEEEEEEEAHHHHH!

The game may be a couple decades old at this point, but it is still gleefully brutal fun. The controls have been simplified for mobile, where taps and holds on the screen perform all the actions, and movement is either through tilting or a virtual joystick. There’s a fun campaign mode whwre players earn money and fight their way through the ranks of the various Speedball leagues, taking on themed teams, like one named after metal singers. The developer Vivid Games is based in Poland, which explains the inclusion of a player named Nergal. I throw up the horns for that.

The problem with the game is really that it is too easy. Yes, players of the original are probably wondering what is wrong with me. But the mobile version is tuned to be much easier for the modern gamer. I’m fine with this, but the AI is just awful and easy to exploit. In fact, most goals are thanks to the AI being inspired by Leeroy Jenkins. Once it is discovered that they rarely go for the ramps that multiply points, it becomes easier to run up the score, and even if the player’s team is relatively outmatched, there’s still a fighting chance. It just takes a few matches to get used to, and boom, domination. I was clamoring for a harder difficulty, but none was to be had!

However, despite the game giving good players a sizable advantage, there’s still something so purely fun about smashing faces in a futuristic bloodsport. Just do expect a walk in the park.

Shogun: Rise of the Renegade Review

Shogun: Rise of the Renegade Review

Aug 29, 2012

Mobile shmups generally come in two flavors: there’s usually the remakes/ports of classic games that are absurdly difficult. Hardly accessible, but also extremely pure. Then, there’s the modern games made to support modern touch screen devices. these are usually a lot easier to control, but aren’t as pure in difficulty. Shogun: Rise of the Renegade bucks the trend! This is bullet hell as it was meant to be. There’s lots of bullets to dodge, and giant ships to destroy. Players do have a shield bar, that serves as a way to soften the blows that bullet hell games dole out in spades, but also works as a way to introduce players to bullet grazing. Flying near bullets without hitting them refills the shield bar. Keeping it high is handy, as additional shield units can be used to clear out the screen or upgrade one’s weapon. Better weapons mean more dead enemies.

The control scheme is effective, making it easy to move the ship around the screen. When lifting the finger off the screen, the game slows down and weapons can be switched, along with the buttons to upgrade weapons and deploy the EMP. The game has 4 main levels to play initially, and they can be played in any order, though going in order is recommended. Level 1 is a lot easier than level 4. There are plenty of options for game settings. Want to see the tiny hit box that the ship is actually affected by? Do it! The dark ship color can make it easier to see bullets as well. Scrolling sensitivity is extremely handy for offset controls.

The game is still extremely challenging, and while it’s plenty of fun to effortlessly weave through bullets…occasionally…the controls are still a problem. I seem to wind up with my finger going off the edge and having to reposition my thumb extremely often, even on the Nexus 7. Also, the difficulty of the game is such that beating a level is extremely hard; perhaps some checkpoints would be a welcome addition?

For fans of the shoot ’em up, Shogun is a great choice. It’s set up to be friendly for mobile devices, while providing the challenge that modern entries into the genre are expected to provide. Check this out.

MyShelf Review

MyShelf Review

Aug 28, 2012

People collect notes. Back before computers were popular, notebooks and post-its were all the rage. Now people use note taking applications. There are a lot of these applications out there. Evernote is popular but kind of bland looking. MyShelf is a more visual information keeper.

Like many of the other note taking applications for Android, importing more than text is possible. The option to add images, either from the picture gallery or by taking a picture, is super useful. Think of it like this, using an image to store the type and wattage light bulb is in the livingroom lamp or the tracking number of a package is much easier than having several notes to look through later.

The information MyShelf stores is local. The first time MyShelf is opened, there is a choice of storage location; either the microSD card if there is one or internal storage. MyShelf is a stand alone application for all platforms but there is the option of syncing with the desktop version. The directions are on their site

Sorting the motes and images will help make things easier to find later. So instead of having one big list of stuff to sift through, using tags and creating what is called an Element. An element is a folder to group notes and images.

Speaking of grouping and using tags, here are a few ideas to of how to use MyShelf:

  • An Element for each project.
  • A common tag for each type of project (e.g. web design, marketing, sales proposal) to make it easier to find like items.
  • Household items in an Element and tagged with each room or area.

When using any note taking application there really isn’t a set way to use it. Sure there are options and suggestions, but they work best when they are easy for the user. If it isn’t easy to use, it will feel forced and the user will abandon it. Try more than one note app. If it feels wrong, move to another one and another one.

Business Calendar Pro Review

Business Calendar Pro Review

Aug 28, 2012

The business world revolves around time. Because of the need for careful planning of the day, having the best possible calendar app for Android is essential. In my opinion, for the users of Google Calendar or a Calendar hosted by Google, Business Calendar Pro is the best calendar app out there.

Most calendar apps will sync with a Google Calendar. What happens though is some of the features do not transfer over to mobile or the Android calendar is harder to use… This where Business Calendar Pro excels. The feature well worth the price of admission is the ability to drag and drop appointments. While this doesn’t seem like it would save a lot of time, moving appointments this way is a big time saver. No need to go into each appointment and fiddle with the dates and resend notifications of the changed meeting. Drag the appointment where it needs to be then BAM! Everything is changed.

Another unique feature is the way Business Calendar Pro handles the transition of the views. From Month to Week view, drag a finger across the week. The default week view will be 7 days. When the need arises to see more or fewer days, a swipe along the bottom of the screen will add or lessen the amount of days shown. As few as one day or as many as 14 days can be viewed in this view.

When multiple calendars are used, Business Calendar Pro knows not all of the calendars need to be viewed all of the time. The option is given to sync and view a large number of calendars. The cool part is, at the bottom of every calendar view is a row displaying all of the visible calendars. With a quick tap, a calendar can be hidden.

My only wishlist item for Business Calendar Pro is to integrate Google Tasks in there somehow. If that could happen, the app would be unstoppable.