Make Any Android Device a Phone With a SIM Card and the GPFILE Mini

Make Any Android Device a Phone With a SIM Card and the GPFILE Mini

Sep 28, 2012

DealExtreme has put an interesting device up for sale: the GPFILE Mini. What this is designed to do is to essentially free a SIM card and mobile services from an actual phone, and instead put it in a hotspot-esque device for iOS and Android devices to use.

This means that hypothetically, instead of using a specific phone, pop the SIM card in this thing, connect the device of choice to the GPFILE Mini via Bluetooth, and it can access the cellular features like calling and data using that connection. So, a tablet could be used as a phone if necessary. Phone breaks? Here's a backup. Have a jailbroken iPhone and want to switch between that Android? Here's an option.

While this does work with iOS, it requires a jailbroken device to install the necessary app and service. Thankfully, Android's openness means there just has to be an app that any device that can install.

Now, this device is Chinese and it may or may not come with English instructions or support in the app, so caveat emptor. It appears to support quad-band GSM, though T-Mobile data may not work until 4G 1900 MHz bands become available in more territories as it requires devices that support the 1700 and 2100 MHz bands that the specs do not support. Sorry. It does support multiple SIM cards, though. DealExtreme is selling the GPFILE Mini for ~$83.60 as of writing.

GO Power Master Intelligently Manages Power With Advanced Settings and Features

GO Power Master Intelligently Manages Power With Advanced Settings and Features

Sep 28, 2012

GO Power Master is an app from the creators of GO Launcher EX, occasionally featured on our Theme Thursday columns, that has a sole purpose: to help manage and maintain power consumption of that Android device, which loves to eat through batteries. While some phones have a "power saving" mode, this app makes it more intelligent. Users can set wifi to power off after a short amount of time after the screen turns off, or even disable mobile data. Smart power-saving modes can be activated when the battery reaches a critical level, or at a certain time. Background apps can be cleared out of memory when the screen is off. Premium features available via in-app purchase can be used to configure more advanced settings. A basic widget is available with the app, and GO Launcher EX users can use special widgets with that launcher.

Also, GO Power Master sounds like the name of some anime or live-action show where Japanese stuntmen in costumes fight each other, interspersed with obviously-different footage of American actors. The app is available as a free download from Google Play.

WarGames: WOPR Review

WarGames: WOPR Review

Sep 28, 2012

Remember the movie WarGames in the mid-80s? The one where the kid hacks into the computer mainframe and starts playing games with the computer only to realize it’s a learning computer? In WarGames: WOPR, the player is the computer fighting off that young hacker.

aWarGames: WOPR pits the hacker against the computer. To play the game, connect multiple icons such as rockets, plus signs or dollar signs in the longest string possible. Different icons have different effects. For example stringing together rockets will attack the hacker or enemy at the time. Stringing together multiple dollar signs will put money in the bank. When the enemy attacks, put together a string of plus signs to regain health.

WarGames: WOPR has 40+ levels. This is the official game of the movie so the storyline is similar to the movie. as the game progresses, different tactics and mods are gained to create a more powerful character. Each of the upgrades has different levels to make it more powerful.

To use the tactics, it costs money. so make sure and collect the dollar signs when available. The first tactic earned is a rocket. When used, all of the rockets on the screen are launched at the enemy regardless of their placement. They don’t need to be strung together or even near eachother on the grid. When a long string is put together, occasionally an additional reward is given. The reward may be health or extra damage to the opponent.

When a level is completed, more RAM is rewarded. If desired, more RAM can be purchased with actual money through the in game purchasing system. the RAM is used to purchase upgrades for weapons and modifications. One of the modifications available is gaining money for each turn. This upgrade costs 250 kB.

Overall the game follows the movie pretty well. It’s a little different than I thought it would be but it is still a strategy game and fun for a wide range of ages.

To-Fu 2 Review

To-Fu 2 Review

Sep 28, 2012

To-Fu 2 is one of those games that’s a little off the wall. I mean seriously, who dreams up with the main character is a hunk of tofu who knows kung fu… Kinda. It would be more of an Angry Birds style if it were to be classified as a style.

The game starts out fairly simple on the first couple of levels. It’s not a tutorial but getting the hang of basic movements is what’s needed to get to the levels. The thing to watch out for are the spikes. If the spikes are touched at all the little kung fu hero dies. By stretching the tofu superhero and letting go is flung across an opening until he reaches a wall or another surface to stick to. This is what’s called a ping. There is also a super pain which lets the tofu fly through objects.

The object is to get to the end of the level and crack the pink fortune kitty with as few pings as possible. There’s a set number of pings apparently possible to complete the level. Some levels this seems pretty difficult to complete in the number of pings they suggest. Some levels have metal areas allowing the kung fu knowing tofu to ricochet off of. When using the metal to ricochet, it’s a matter of getting it just right. If a metal slab isn’t hit precisely, it will take more pings to get to the end.

To practice, there’s a dojo. The dojo is a room with walls in the ceiling. Both have metal spots on them to practice ricocheting and get used to the physics of the game.

Another option is a game is the time trial mode. In the time trial the goal is to collect as many of the little blue balls as possible. The little blue balls are Chi.

Friday Free Game Rundown September 28th

Friday Free Game Rundown September 28th

Sep 28, 2012

People like to fight; it’s in our nature. Sports like hockey and boxing are popular because of the aggressive nature and well, the fighting. This week’s 5 pack of free Android games are all about laying fist to face. Or at least hitting the opponent in the face with something. Those fantasy fighting games can throw in some magic attacks.


Kung Fu Do Fighting


Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting… um..yeah. Sorry about that. The song popped into my head when I read the title of the game. Anyway, Kung Fu Do Fighting has the graphics of a lot of early 90′s fighting games. The two different modes offer different challenges making it fun to play over and over.

Download Kung Fu Do Fighting


Fists For Fighting


I’m not sure what else fists are for really. Fists For Fighting shows how much damage a fist can really do when applied to the face of a fellow boxer. Get in the ring and knock around the opponent Rocky style in this story based boxing game. Try the different arenas and boxers. While the Eye of the Tiger won’t be playing in the background, boxing matches still get the blood pumping.

Download Fists For Fighting (F*3 Free)


Fighting Tiger – Liberal


While 2D martial arts games are fun, 3D movement makes for a greater challenge. Having the 3D movement opens the door for a lot of cool moves and combos. And let’s be honest, isn’t that what these games are all about? Fighting in the coolest way possible. Pick up some weapons along with the fighting skills: punching, kicking and scratching.
Download Fighting Tiger – Liberal


BLOOD & GLORY (NR)


This is a game without a rating. There IS blood and gore. Check out BLOOD AND GLORY Clean Version to not let the blood show. That being said, BLOOD AND GLORY is a 3D gladiator fighting game. All the weapons and scary opponents are right on with the time period. Accumulate a grouping of death wielding weapons to better fight the other gladiators in the ring. Learn a few combos and defeat the enemy with ease.

Download BLOOD & GLORY (NR)


Battle Arena FREE Avatar Fight


The movies showing the mystical powers being used during a fight are pretty awe inspiring. Battle Arena FREE Avatar Fight is an Android fighting game bring those mystical powers to the small screen. Building up or creating an avatar to fight in the Battle Arena is the ultimate challenge. Create new weapons and armor, play against others online and build a clan. The story mode is less of a vs. style battle and more or a career mode type game.

Download Battle Arena FREE Avatar Fight

Control Netflix on PS3 Using the Android App

Control Netflix on PS3 Using the Android App

Sep 27, 2012

Updates have rolled out for the PS3 and Android versions of Netflix recently, and it looks like an enterprising developer has snuck in a cleverly useful feature: the ability to remotely control the PS3 Netflix from Android. Launch the app from both devices, select something to watch on Android, and a prompt to choose which device to watch on will pop up. Choose PS3, and it will start playing the movie on there, with controls available on the Android device.

Of course, good luck getting through a whole TV episode or movie on Netflix before it disconnects because Sony puts out another software update for the PS3, which they do pretty much every half-hour.

Some users are reporting this feature not working. No matter, for rooted devices, BlueputDroid will turn an Android device into a Bluetooth keyboard that could then be used to navigate the PS3 menus if necessary.

Xbox 360 owners are out of luck at the moment, as it does not appear to work, and My Xbox Live still does not support remote Xbox controls like the iOS app does. Still, at least it doesn't require an update every time a bell chimes.

The Netflix app with the clandestine remote controls is available now.

Mushroom Age: Time Adventure Review

Mushroom Age: Time Adventure Review

Sep 27, 2012

Nevosoft all but wrote the book on Android adventure/hidden object gaming, and Mushroom Age: Time Adventure is the latest attempt by the software house to cement its Kingship.

Mushroom Age weaves together graphics, dialogue, touch-based item discovery and user wits to solve mysteries. And by using the stereotypical protagonist at the height of desperation — a bride-to-be with a missing scientist fiance — the developer is able to inject some humor right from the beginning.

The premise was simple: I, in the character of Vera, am in search of Tom, and have to solve mini-mysteries and time travel to find him. On the way, robots, adventurers, philosophers, mushrooms and even talking dinosaurs make an appearance. To advance to a new scene, I had to complete tasks, which varied from investigating a cemetery to finding missing keys to rebooting robots.

Mushroom Age shines in the “solveability” of the riddles. They were not too easy, and I liked how the gameplay designers did not get so engrossed in hiding objects as to make the illogically difficult to find and acquire. For instance, early on in the game, I had to accumulate a bunch of items to advance. Some objects were simply hidden behind the first few, instead of hidden in overly exotic locations in the scene. I also liked how some tasks had to be completed by a combination of objects (spoiler alert: cutting grass was a nice touch. There are hints and visual cues that helped me out, but they did not cheapen the achievement because I was not spoon fed. I liked moving stuff, and making logical deductions. I earned trophies every now and then, too. For the truly baffled, an exhaustable genius button existed.

The dialogue was a useful tool to help the storyline along, but I did find the conversation a tad tedious at times, so it was good that tapping helped me skip some of what I found monotonous. Graphically, the game was okay, there was not too much animation; I thought a bit more probably would have added some flair to this game.

Nevosoft also does well to incorporate social sharing into the application.

Mushroom Age: Time Adventure is a game that, for me, shows you should never judge an Android game by its icon. It provides a good deal of fun interspersed with sanity-retaining save points, so I did not have a good excuse to not get back to work. I never thought I’d enjoy cleaning out a dinosaur’s teeth, but you have to love a game that helps with self-discovery.

Here’s to you, Nostradamus!

Chameleon Launcher Review

Chameleon Launcher Review

Sep 27, 2012

Finding the right launcher can make all the difference in the world when better productivity is needed. The problem is, most launchers don’t allow for both a cosmetically pleasing look and enhanced productivity. Chameleon Launcher is a new launcher that does both.

The reason Chameleon Launcher is different is because of the layout. When first starting out there’s a blank main screen and three application icons at the bottom. By pressing and holding the screen, a list of the different widgets will appear. Select one of the widgets like Facebook or Twitter for example and a space on the home screen grid will be filled by that which. The widgets take up two spaces but can be resized to take up more or less space.

The widgets can also be a rearranged by pressing and holding the screen. Once the the little gear icon shows up on all of the widgets, drag the widget where it would look better. This is also how to change the settings of the widget or log into the social account being displayed in the widget. The different home screens can be set up so there’s a personal, a work and a weekends setup. Some of the widgets available are the time of day, Facebook, weather, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail and others.

Another widget that’s handy is the RSS feed option. There’s a specific site whose information is important, this widget will keep the up-to-date information on the home screen. Chameleon Launcher is the only launcher to my knowledge that allows the end user to create their own widgets. Use their API to make a widget and make the tablet home screen even more personalized and useful.

Initially at the bottom of the screen, there are three applications in what looks like a dock. To get to the applications, simply press the space off to either side of the applications in the dock or press the icon to the right side that looks like a small grid. All of the applications will pop up. Dragging and dropping the application icon into the dock is all it takes to move the app to the dock.

A Space Shooter Blitz Review

A Space Shooter Blitz Review

Sep 26, 2012

A Space Shooter Blitz is what happens when a company, in this case Frima Studios, tries to take one of its most well-known games, A Space Shooter for Free, and combine it with the short-burst gameplay of Bejeweled Blitz and other similar “Blitz” titles. This is all about shooting everything in sight to rack up that points multiplier in about a minute’s time. The multiplier drops every time a bullet hits, so caution must be exercised when trouble’s all about, especially with credits to also pick up. This is bullet hell at a hellish pace. At the end of the minute or so (there’s timers that can be picked up), a boss battle begins, where killing it quickly results in even more points. Scores can be uploaded to Facebook, and friends can be competed with.

The concept is a winner. The A Space Shooter formula works wonderfully in short bursts, as having lots of bullets to dodge and enemies to destroy is just great for pick-up-and-play gameplay. I’m surprised no one else thought of this first. The powerup system, along with occasional special battles that can be bought, serve as great replay value incentives. Facebook also serves as a way to integrate cloud saves between different versions of the game, including iOS, Android, and Facebook versions, not to mention across multiple devices.

While I’ve heard of free-to-play being described as like the modern arcade, I didn’t really expect it to be taken so literally by A Space Shooter Blitz. The energy system is literally tokens, and one token is required per game session. While they recharge every day, the only way to keep playing regularly is to keep paying, and while 10 tokens cost $0.99, 30 tokens cost $1.99 and so on, there’s also unlimited-use daily and weekly passes for $6.99 and $12.99 each. It just seems kind of silly to artificially restrict a game like this; Bejeweled Blitz allows for unlimited token-free play, and given that A Space Shooter Blitz is more esoteric in gameplay by comparison, having unlimited replay would help with mastering the game’s mechanics. Considering that there’s already a currency system balanced toward paying to use powerups more often, it seems redundant to have a secondary system.

It’s a shame; without a token system A Space Shooter Blitz could have really been something really cool to pick up and play at any given moment, but the desire to try and monetize with a redundant system meant to seemingly just harass players is frustrating. Check this one out, but be warned, the game is designed to not hook players, just to frustrate them until they buy money to feel satisfied.

KickStarter Spotlight: Lifx

KickStarter Spotlight: Lifx

Sep 26, 2012

In a house with five other guys, my room is a complete sanctuary. Because it is the only thing I can control in the house, I treat it like my heaven, and I am constantly looking for ways to make it more comfortable and convenient. A while back I looked into color-changing LED lightbulbs that operated on remote control. I thought the idea was brilliant; come in at night and relax with a nice blue light or maybe spice it up depending on the mood. Either way I was wholly disappointed in the product I received as it was broken and much smaller than expected. Because of that failure I was excited when I ran across the Lifx on KickStarter.

Lifx is an LED light that connects to any home wireless network and is controlled by a smartphone. It would have been easy for the developers to just simply stop at changing the color, and I, frankly, would have been satisfied. But seeing as this is a KickStarter project, it is a safe bet that these developers did not become complacent. Some simple additions, such as dimming and batch operation are included, but the one that I am most impressed by is the ability for the light to deliver phone notifications. Imagine every time a text message comes in the room blinks green or blue for Facebook notifications. There is also an option to program lights onto specific actions and cycles, such as dimming over a period of time or turning on every day at 8 am.

There is another feature that sets all the connected lights to music and instantly gives a club atmosphere to any room. As with most other programmable devices on KickStarter, Lifx is completely open source and comes with an SDK. As I have stated here multiple times, opening a device like this to hackers and programmers worldwide is essential to a start-up project taking off. One glaring issue I saw was the price. The lowest donation reward was set at $70, which gives one Lifx bulb. That price point needs to come down in order for this to gain any kind of traction with general consumers. But assuming that happens, Lifx is an amazing product and a great example of what happens when developers continually improve a solid initial design.

WritePad Review

WritePad Review

Sep 26, 2012

For old Palm heads like me, digital ink takes us back. I cut my teeth on Palm devices, cut my thumbs on BlackBerry devices, and am finally a touchscreen junkie.

While alternative methods of data entry are not exactly new on Android, ones that offer handwriting recognition can provide additional functionality. WritePad does just this.

WritePad for Android is the port of the brainchild of PhatWare, a name that probably will be fairly familiar to Palm and WinMo folks. The premise of WritePad is fairly simple: it gave me the ability to write with my finger.

I found the setup easy; all it took was downloading and selecting it as default keyboard. After getting into the app, I went in and viewed the tutorial, and then got busy. The UI was slick without being smarmy, and still retained a simple feel. In the write area, the yellow (by default) area is where I began to input text. I found that while there was an option to toggle between non-joined letters and cursive, non-joined writing worked best for me. Entries into the yellow box were translated into text box above, allowing me to change the text if necessary. I thought it was reasonably accurate. I also found that using the device in landscape was infinitely more comfortable to use.

Additional options allowed me to toggle notifications, vibrations on key press, auto insertion, correction, learning and even space added at the end of words. One of the best features, in my opinion, is one that will be recognized by old BB users: shorthand. Shorthand refers to the way WritePad handles auto-text. Thus, TL automatically placed my entire signature. Words that I used often could be invoked by a combination of letters. There were buttons that allowed me to choose capitals and numbers while typing.

This application proved to be highly customizable, giving me options to change the color of the write area, ink color and more. I loved that it incorporated a standard keyboard as an option; you can switch back and forth, and I like it when apps deliberately try to remove any reasons I might have to not adopt it.

One drawback (for me at least) was that I could not figure out how to make the app window smaller. Thus, whatever program I was entering data into (like a web form) was obscured. Not a biggie by any means, but it took some getting used to.

As an added bonus, this app works with styluses.

In the right hands (possessing flexible fingers), WritePad can be a great resource. With some dedication, it can be a great input tool, especially for quick entries.

Barnes and Noble Announces Nook HD and 9-inch Nook HD+

Tis the season for new generations of tablets. While the world still waits to see if Apple enters into the 7" tablet market, Amazon has announced the new Kindle Fire HD, and Barnes & Noble isn’t sitting pretty with its Nook line either. They have just announced the new Nook HD line, which brings some new features and improved specs to the Nook tablet line.

The 7“ Nook HD, which boasts a new 1440×900 screen, is now capable of playing back 720p video thanks to its dual-core processor of unknown speed, features a new email app and improved browser, and B&N boasts that it is the lightest 7” tablet ever. There’s no camera in the device, though B&N’s CEO claims that Nook users have no need for one based on their feedback.

But the most interesting of the hardware announcements may be the Nook HD+. This is B&N taking a stab at the iPad like the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 – it’s a 1920×1280 display at 256 ppi; the aspect ratio is supposedly designed to be optimal for reading content, as well as supporting video watching. There’s a dual-core 1.5 GHz OMAP processor, 6000 mAh battery, though no word on the RAM yet.

The cost of these devices is competitive with Amazon and Apple as well; $199 for 8 GB the 7-inch Nook HD, $269 for the 16GB Nook HD+, with different storage configurations available for additional fees. There will also be microSD expandable storage. B&N has made sure to tout that there are no display ads like the Kindle Fire HD, which users have to pay to remove.

Along with the new devices, Barnes & Noble has announced their new Nook Video service which will let users buy TV shows and movies from companies like HBO, Viacaom, and Warner Brothers. This will complement apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus that already exist on the Nook store.

The new Nook HD models will be released in early November, as soon as November 1st according to the Nook website. It’s going to be a very merry Christmas for budget-minded tablet hunters.