Citymaps Launches on Android

Citymaps Launches on Android

Feb 27, 2015

Citymaps, the social mapping utility that helps users create “collaborative” tools, is making its presence on Android.


With Citymaps, you can easily find the places that matter most to you and your friends, get insider tips and see photos by following friends and tastemakers, and find amazing deals at between 50%-80% off on the best stuff to see, do, eat and buy — all in one place.
* GET MEANINGFUL RECOMMENDATIONS FROM FRIENDS AND TASTEMAKERS
Follow people with similar tastes and you’ll see all their tips appear on your map. When you leave tips, they’ll be visible to you and your followers. It makes finding someplace new to try a breeze.
* DISCOVER GREAT LOCAL DEALS
We pull in deals from all the major deal providers including Groupon and Travelzoo, giving you access to discounts at thousands of businesses across the country. Any business logo with the “$” sign is offering a deal. Make sure to check it out.
* ADD NEW PLACES TO THE MAP
Don’t see your favorite place on the map? No problem. You can now personalize your map by adding your favorite restaurants, bars, and stores as well as your favorite picnic spot or street art mural. Simply long-tap on the map and watch a “pin” drop to mark the spot.
* SEARCH LIKE A LOCAL
Easily filter the map to see the places you and your friends love. You can quickly search all your places (or your friends’ places) with 1-tap. Searching on Citymaps is the easiest way to know what’s good.
* MAKE MAPS, COLLECT PLACES
Maps are collections of places that matter to you (e.g., “My favorite NYC brunch spots”). Collect your favorite places and give your map a creative title to show off your local knowledge. Explore other people’s maps to discover new places.
* ADD PHOTOS TO PLACES
Now you can add your own photos to places. Photos live in your profile as well as each place. Just tap the photo icon next to “Drop a tip” when you tap a place on the map.
* QUICKLY SEE WHAT’S AROUND YOU
Our LOGO map means you’ll never be lost again, ever! And finding a place nearby? That just got a whole lot easier.

Citymaps Founder and CEO Elliot Cohen mentions the importance of remembering places. “Citymaps 2.0 is our most significant update and provides users with a ‘one stop shop’ to create and discover social maps,” he says. “One out of every two people keep lists of places they want to remember – Citymaps makes it easier than ever to do this, and lets users take the information with them on-the-go.”

The app is available for free on the Play Store.

Buzz Killem Review

Buzz Killem Review

Feb 26, 2015

Action platformers almost always resonate; they are simple to learn, easy to enjoy and can be tweaked with several gameplay elements. With Buzz Killem (from industry strongman Noodlecake), we get some glorious graphics, easy-to-learn controls, arcade goodness and a lot of action.

Buzz Killem is a story of, well, going buck wild. It’s Rambo meets Independence Day. Buzz (action star’s Bill Killem’s dad) is a war vet who is brought back to confront an alien threat. Now, the kicker is tha Buzz has no compunction with regards to blasting away, and in the 2D environment that the game is set, all advantages are to be treasured.

And it is a simple but delightfully intense environment, with retro, chunky-ish graphics making up the core of the visuals. The animations further extend the old-school feel, with a bunch of staggered movements and jumpy animations. The controls are easy to understand, and are virtual in nature, allowing our here to travel in both directions, as well as the ability to jump (and double jump) over obstacles and up and across to aerial platforms. There is also a shooting button, which allow Buzz to use his firearm to dispatch enemies from relatively afar.

buzz1

The gameplay is fairly simple, and boils down to avoiding dangers and staying alive. Dropping boulders, boxes, reactive floating enemies, shooting creatures and more make their presences felt; there is even a rotating blade or two. The action comes together such that quick reactions are necessary to be successful. The game is split into missions, and the developer tosses in an achievement system too.

The interesting aspect is the diversity and unpredictability of the dangers; mistiming a jump can be lethal. this element comes together quite well. I also like the arcade elements: collectibles, boosts, coin collection and upgrades. Real money can be used, but doesn’t feel mandatory.

Buzz Killem a cool game, simple at heart with plenty of fun aspects. It’s almost impossible to not enjoy.

Buzz Killem Drops on Android Courtesy of Noodlecake

Buzz Killem Drops on Android Courtesy of Noodlecake

Feb 26, 2015

Noodlecake is going big with its latest release, and asking folks to “channel (their) inner Rambo” with Buzz Killem.

THEY CAME IN PEACE. THEY’LL LEAVE IN PIECES.
Brought to you by the creators of the hit game Bill Killem! Buzz Killem is the story of a retired War Veteran called back into action after an Alien welcoming party greets Earth. And he is the father of famed action star Bill Killem.
Embark on missions of explosive proportions as you save America for the wrath of alien invaders! Visit usually peaceful and pleasant tourist spots like the Statue of Liberty and Grand Central Station and defend them from utter obliteration!
FEATURES
• Multiple Stages with a variety of missions to accomplish
• Smooth on-screen controls and platformer gameplay.
• Retro graphics, sound effects, and music!
• Tons of unlockables! New outfits, new guns, and new power-ups are yours for the taking!

The game is available for $0.99 (with in-app purchases) on Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

[Source: Noodlecake Press Release]

Google Announces New Initiative Google for Work

Google Announces New Initiative Google for Work

Feb 25, 2015

In the “not so shocking news of the day” category, Google is showing an especially increased interest in the mobile space with its announcement of Google for work.

According to a post on the aptly named Official Google for Work Blog, Google for Work looks to assist entities “bring more devices to work by securing, managing and innovating on the Android platform.”

The new initiative has four key components:

Work profiles – We’ve built on the default encryption, enhanced SELinux security enforcement and multi-user support in Android 5.0, Lollipop to create a dedicated work profile that isolates and protects work data. IT can deploy approved work apps right alongside their users’ personal apps knowing their sensitive data remains secured. People can use their personal apps knowing their employer only manages work data and won’t erase or view their personal content.
Android for Work app – For devices running Ice Cream Sandwich through Kitkat, or that don’t run work profiles natively, we’ve created the Android for Work app. The app, which delivers secure mail, calendar, contacts, documents, browsing and access to approved work apps, can be completely managed by IT.
Google Play for Work – Google Play for Work allows businesses to securely deploy and manage apps across all users running Android for Work, simplifying the process of distributing apps to employees and ensuring that IT approves every deployed app.
Built-in productivity tools – For everyday business tasks, we’ve created a suite of business apps for email, contacts and calendar, which supports both Exchange and Notes and provides document editing capabilities for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Google has also secured some big names with regards to partners; the list reads like a Who’s Who in mobile device management: BlackBerry, Box, SAP, Citrix, MobileIron, Salesforce, Adobe, Cisco, and more.

Our partners bring IT:

Consistent management – Enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers integrate with standardized management APIs to create a simple way to manage all Android devices, new and old, from one dashboard. All Android for Work capabilities are delivered through EMM partners, with more providers available soon.
Secure business apps – Software vendors and developers can create a single version of any Google Play app that can be securely deployed to any Android device without alterations or wrapping. And they can create standard management configurations that allow IT to apply policies per app.
Innovative devices – Android smartphone and tablet makers are a key part of the Android for Work program, as they create devices and experiences that add additional value for customers.

googleforwork1

We are looking forward to seeing how Google brings it all together in the near future.

[Source: Google for Work Blogpost]

Home Fitness Company Nautilus, Inc Introduces Google Fit Integration

Home Fitness Company Nautilus, Inc Introduces Google Fit Integration

Feb 25, 2015

Nautilus Inc, the company behind well known home fitness systems, announced today that its Bowflex Max Trainer will support Google Fit.

Nautilus, Inc. (NYSE: NLS), a leader in innovative home fitness equipment, announced today its Bowflex Max Trainer® will support Google Fit.

Google Fit is an open health-tracking platform designed for Android™, which collects and stores fitness data from different devices and apps in one location to provide users with a comprehensive view of their fitness activities. Now users can seamlessly sync their Bowflex Max Trainer® workouts with the Google Fit app and see how many calories they’ve burned, their heart rate, workout level, and time.

Compatibility with Google Fit follows closely on the heels of the company’s integration with Apple HealthKit, and is part of Nautilus, Inc.’s ongoing digital strategy to integrate with health and fitness platforms – including apps like MyFitnessPal – across all of its Bluetooth® Smart-enabled fitness equipment. This also reinforces the company’s commitment to innovation and the importance of providing users with their health data.

“Through its support of Google Fit, Nautilus, Inc. continues to lead the fitness equipment category by integrating with the latest offerings that give consumers the information they need to make decisions about their health,” said Rob Murdock, Vice President/General Manager of Nautilus, Inc. “Research shows that digital connectivity, and the ability to track progress, play a critical role in keeping people motivated and engaged.”

[Source: Nautilus Press Release]

Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen Hardware Review

Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen Hardware Review

Feb 25, 2015

When I look at adding accessories to my workflow, I try to keep to a few important precepts: portability, functionality and compatibility. Portability is obvious; the ability to use stuff on the go is quite important. With regards to functionality, before adding an addition or substitution to my creative/work process, I’d rather know that it is worth the time to make a change. Lastly, the ability to use a tool with other tools and across platforms is priceless.

On paper, Livescribe’s Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen seems to touch on these elements quite comfortably.

Livescribe has created quite the niche with in the smartpen offerings; it has several products, with one of the most celebrated (Livescribe 3 Smartpen) on its way to full Android compatibility shortly. The Sky Smartpen is more of a cross-platform workhorse that boasts some admirable tricks up its sleeve.

The review unit Livescribe sent us showed the piece in its retail glory: the 4GB pen, micro-USB cable, two covers and a good deal of documentation. Livescribe also cobbled together starter pack of sorts, as we also got a Livescribe starter notebook and a more ostentatious Livescribe Moleskine Lined Dot Paper Notebook.

live2

The pen itself is interestingly designed, and, at first glance, I suspected it might be a tad unwieldy. It looks a bit like a traditional fountain pen, tapering from the “top” to the exposed pen tip. On the frame, one finds a speaker grill, microphone and monochrome OLED display, while at the very bottom, there is a 3.55mm audio jack and a micro-USB charging port. The unit also has a built-in camera and wi-fi chip.

The smartpen arrived mostly charged, do I was able to get right into using it. The online setup hints at some if the functionality coming up, as one gets it up and running with wi-fi and also connects to Evernote. Holding it in hand allayed in handling concerns I might have had.

live8

The key is the paper in the notebooks. Using microdot technology and the camera in the pen, it allows the device accept commands from the paper, but also, it takes written data and translates it to Evernote, such that one sees a digitized form of the handwritten note in Evernote just as it appears in the notepad. It’s an interesting concept, and depends on wifi connectivity and, of course, the aforementioned paper.

In practice, the solution is dreamy. The paper incorporates visual commands that can be read by the smartpen camera when an icon is touched by the tip. One can write notes on the microdot paper, or initiate a voice note by visual voice command. When finished, syncing can be attempted (by icon as well), and it appears in a corresponding Evernote notebook. Even the setup is pretty interesting, and is facilitated by the same paper-camera combination.

live7

The end result, when it works, is a smooth concept. I used it to take training notes while coaching, and having a digital copy that can be shared and otherwise manipulated is invaluable. Evernote functionality itself opens up a a wealth of secondary options (like Skitch) which increase usability. The microphone allows it to be used as a an audio recorder.

Ah, but the key is when it works. Updating the unit was a bit of a drag, and it took me quite some time to fix a sync issue. The notebook is a phenomenal idea, and while the smartpen can be used as, well, a pen, for full functionality, one needs to use the companion paper. Now, Livescribe does provide templates for people to print, but a postscript printer is needed to provide the visuals the smartpen needs to interface with. Also, the Sky Smartpen (at $170 on Amazon) can be a sizable investment.

There are a bunch of accessories, from pen cases to dedicated headphones to replacement ink cartridges that can potentially add even more usability to this device.

Even though it isn’t new on the market, this piece is an excellent cross-platform tool that creates a viable connected solution in the right hands.

It’s hard to put a price on that.

NY Times Relaunches Android App, Gets Refreshed Look and More

NY Times Relaunches Android App, Gets Refreshed Look and More

Feb 25, 2015

The New York Times has just relaunched its App for Android. The new refreshed app is based on the feedback of its beta program, the app brings some interesting features to the app.

-A new way to navigate with shortcuts for quick swiping across popular sections at the top of the screen.

-A streamlined layout for tablets making better use of screen real estate.

-Article pages featuring richer media, custom type and elements of Android’s Material Design.

-Morning Briefing: A redesigned daily notification that tells you what happened overnight and gives you a headstart on the day ahead.

-Breaking news alerts that link to developing stories, taking users directly to the news they need with a single tap.

-A new widget combining the day’s best photographs with the most important stories for a top-level view of the news.

The NYT app continues to roll out gradually to users; Android users are welcome to join the Google+ hosted Beta Program.

[Source: NYT Press Release]

Outwitters 2.0 Gets Release Date and New Trailer

Outwitters 2.0 Gets Release Date and New Trailer

Feb 25, 2015

While noting some unfortunate delays, One Man Left Studios is letting folks know that it’s upcoming title Outwitters 2.0 is just about ready for a March release on Android.

Take turns against friends or let us match you to a worthy opponent in this quirky turn-based strategy game. You’ll maneuver your troops through the fog of war in 1 on 1 or 2 vs 2 battles where the first player to destroy the enemy base wins. Four races are at your disposal, each with a unique special unit to master. Will you fight alongside a hermit crab cannon, a brainwasher, a creeping thorny octopus, or a troop-teleporting narwhal?
Features
Take turns asynchronously, or pass the device
1-on-1 or 2-on-2 mayhem!
Battle players of similar skill with league placement & matchmaking
New seasons arrive to shake up the leaderboards
Build a friends list and chat in-game
Works on both tablets and phones

We also get to see a new gameplay trailer below:

Spacetime Studios Announces Upcoming Game, Unveils Trailer

Spacetime Studios Announces Upcoming Game, Unveils Trailer

Feb 25, 2015

Upcoming game alert!

Well-respected app development house Spacetime Studios just announced an upcoming, MOBA-style game called Call of Champions.

Call of Champions is specifically designed for how gamers actually use their mobile devices – in short 5-minute sessions. Featuring 3v3 matches that distill the traditional MOBA elements down to their core components while adding unique powerups and a 5-minute match time limit, Call of Champions immerses players in a fiction that takes place in a time beyond the cosmos as they take on the role of a godlike entity that controls Champions in the arena for sport.

There isn’t any information on pricing or exact time of release, but we’ll be looking forward to hearing more about this game, and potentially trying it out in a formal manner. For writers out there, the developer is letting it be known that journalists can check out the new app at the upcoming GDC.

As an added bonus, we get to see a reveal trailer below:

Skylink Alarm System Hardware Review

Skylink Alarm System Hardware Review

Feb 25, 2015

In another life, I was involved in safety, and I remember how involved securing people and places could be. The physical system themselves could be confusing mazes of people and incompatible hardware. It was madness, and the people who were most in the dark tended to be the consumers themselves.

Thankfully, home automation in general (and, specifically in this case, Skylink Alarm System) gives the power back to the Everyday Person.

The Starter Kit review unit Skylink sent us was interestingly small, but packed quite a lot: a singular Internet Hub, one Keychain Remote, a Motion Sensor, power adapter, ethernet cable and a small cache of screws and such for optional mounting. Not included, but needed to set up are a total of seven (7) AAA and AA batteries. The idea is that the Hub acts as the brains, and the other pieces connect together to create a cloud-supported, user controlled safety and security network.

Setup is intuitive enough; after batteries are installed, the powered Hub gets connected to a modem. Then, with the help of the SkylinkNet Android application (which requires prior account creation), one can complete the setup of the Hub, and the overall system settings. Next, the sensors and included keychain can be paired and programmed with notification settings, chimes, names and more.
skylink2

Next, one gets to place the sensors where they need to me. yes, I probably enjoyed this way more than I should have. The included double-sided tape is especially useful here, and I was more or less able to test out the best location for the sensors continually.

I was impressed as to how similar it is to a conventional alarm system. Things like arming, disarming, delayed exit and such are all supported via the app and keychain. The Hub provides audio sound to accompany activity based on the status of the system. As an added benefit, the app can also be used to control Skylink home automation modules.

skylink3

I absolutely adore the fact that the setup is infinitely expandable/customizable; one can literally build to suit with extra pieces such as sensors, outdoor alarms, vibration sensors, silent alarms, and more. A system based on power and internet connectivity does have at least two potential flaws, and I like that the Hub incorporates battery backup to somewhat ameliorate that issue, along with the option of phone backup functionality. The app is fairly expansive (up to 100 sensors and controllers), and works well as a software bridge, while simultaneously providing backup control. I do think more documentation and more consistent app navigation is needed.

Put together, it is a much better DIY solution than I envisaged. No contracts here, but the flip here is that at the basic level, it’s all on the user. Still, how can one not be a fan of consumer control, especially with regards to home automation?

Juno Power Kaebo Micro-USB Cable Hardware Review

Juno Power Kaebo Micro-USB Cable Hardware Review

Feb 24, 2015

You got the device, and now you want to keep it alive to keep you happy. First thing you think of? It probably should be about the charging cable. Now, most devices do come with their charge cables, but what if one wants something a bit tougher, and one that can go from device to device, charging and syncing on the way?

That’s where the Juno Power Kaebo Charge and Sync Cable comes in.

The retail package Juno Power sent us highlights a piece that looks atypically interesting for a power cable. It’s mostly gray finishing is book-ended by expected silver tips; these tips are aluminum though for increased functionality. The main body is fairly different in look and feel, as it consists of a braided cloth exterior that works in gray. It comes across as different, but not necessarily flashy.

If this cable claims to be sturdy, it is definitely an attribute one could go to the bank with. The construction does seem to afford it a discernible degree of durability, and this was apparent in my unscientific testing. I did a series of impromptu miscellaneous things to it with my overly eager son… things that were inspired by things he has wrecked charging cables in the past: tug-of-war, jump rope and even imaginary wild mustang lassoing. None of the rough-housing seemed to affect the cable’s integrity.

kaebo2

The cable looks to work as a charging cable, and also facilitates syncing data. I ran it in comparison to OEM cables we have, and there wasn’t a noticeable difference (with the exception of an HTC-supplied cable which seemed to charge a corresponding device faster). Sync-wise, I used it to pair a host of devices, from smartphones to wireless headsets to a smartpen, and it worked without a hitch via USB 2.0.

I really like the construction. It feels tough without invoking the heft of medieval armor, and because of its build, it reacts well to being stuffed and loosely rolled up. Its length is a huge advantage as well; at about 5 feet, it can access power in and through tight spots, and its inherent flexibility comes into play in several ways.

In the end, a good look can not replace raw functionality and, at least in the beginning, the Kaebo Micro-USB Cable doesn’t make that mistake. For those on the standard mobile device charging port train, it’s a pretty decent stop option ($7.99 on Amazon).

LinkedIn Brings its Focused Networking Tool Connected to Android

LinkedIn Brings its Focused Networking Tool Connected to Android

Feb 24, 2015

In an effort to be even more relevant, LinkedIn recently released a new standalone application aimed at strengthening professional relationships on the Play Store.

The new app, called Connected, looks to enable users to hone in and be updated on personal and professional status changes. Formerly an iOS exclusive, the app is definitely a welcome addition on Android OS.

The new LinkedIn Connected app is a fast, easy, and smarter way to strengthen your professional relationships. Why is that important? Because most opportunities come from the people you already know, and fostering genuine relationships can help you be more successful. Connected gives you relevant updates about the people you know, so you can reach out when it matters most.
So invest in your connections today for opportunities tomorrow.
• Know when to reach out. Get notified about jobs changes, birthdays, work anniversaries, & more.
• Focus on the people who matter with relevant, timely updates.
• Make a great impression and start better conversations with pre-meeting intelligence.
• Build stronger relationships in just a few minutes a day.

LinkedIn Connected is free on the Play Store.