SmartNews Review

SmartNews Review

Jul 2, 2015

In a perpetually fast-paced world, there is always a place for easy-to-use news apps. Enter SmartNews, an app from Japanese developers that already has quite the positive reputation on Google Play.

Upon first inspection, the app looks clean. It opens up into the main page, and one gets to see the white background and splashes of color upon that in the tabs at the top. It is set in blog form, with text summaries bordered by a relevant pictures. It a serious look, but easy on the eyes, and easy to appreciate from a visual perspective.

The tabs (channels) underscore a major part of the functionality by providing easy access to color-coded news categories: Entertainment, Lifestyle, Sports and such, with a “Top” Channel — representing overall top news — occupying the leftmost section. One can scroll down to browse new articles, or swipe from side to side to access new channels. Tapping on any one story leads to the corresponding full article from the hosting website; there is also a “Smart View” option that can be selected, which provides a cleaner, less-frilled version of a website. Together, the navigation elements are fairly intuitive and especially smooth.

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Now, as noted, what SmartNews looks to do, obviously, is provide news effectively. By default, on the surface, it seems to accomplish just that. News stories are relevant, and properly filed, allowing for one to get a good dose of leading headlines. The sources run the gamut: CBS, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, RE/COOL, The Guardian, Business Insider and much, much more. The channels one has can be tweaked in setting, and it is also possible to add sources.

One cool tool is a pop-up service that provides reports for the user at times during the day: morning, afternoon and evening. The app can be paired to external services like Facebook, Evernote and Twitter. Another thing which is pretty interesting for Android users is the Google Now functionality; this allows stories to appear in one’s Now feed. (this feature is dependent on Google’s card functionality roll-out).

It’s tough to be a news utility of repute in Google’s world, and SmartNews has managed that. It’s a great app that is easy to use, and in today’s world, that is gold.

Checkpoint Champion gets major update!

Checkpoint Champion gets major update!

Feb 27, 2015

Checkpoint Champion, a addictive little driving game recently reviewed on AR by yours truly has received a major update. Included in the update is a new set of icy stages full of slidey fun, a new car, lots of new challenges and more. This makes a already great game even better.

The list of new features, direct from the app page:

What’s New
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NEW LOCATION! – Ice Lake
– Features 24 brand new challenges!
– Ice and Snow terrain!
NEW ARENA!
– With a surprise mix of checkpoints!
NEW CAR! – Britannia Micro
– Features a slower turning speed – great for beginners!
– 7 shiny new paint jobs to unlock!
OTHER IMPROVEMENTS
– Added immersive mode.
– Added an Event of the Day star counter.
– Improved performance on slower devices!
– Various small bug fixes and improvements.

GOLFINITY by Nimblebit Available on Android Today!

GOLFINITY by Nimblebit Available on Android Today!

Dec 15, 2014

Nimbleit, makers of the ridiculously popular Tiny Tower games have released a curiously looking golf game on Android entitled GOLFINITY. It looks to be endless game of minigolf with an exceedingly simple, stark style.

Nimblebit, known for their reasonable amounts of free to play tomfoolery have seen fit to make GOLFINITY completely free. The only snag is that every time the player retires a hole they must watch an ad first; it remains to be seen how annoying this will be.

Expect a review of GOLFINITY soon.

New Turn-based Strategy Game Scrolls Unfurls Exclusively on Android!

New Turn-based Strategy Game Scrolls Unfurls Exclusively on Android!

Dec 12, 2014

Mojang, developers of the ridiculously popular mobile version of Minecraft have released their second game on Android. Entitled Scrolls the game promises “The best bits of card and board games, combined on your tablet!

Scrolls seems to be a hex based strategy game involving cards, known in game as scrolls. With over 350 scrolls spread over four differing factions, there is a recipe for some steaming strategic goodness here.

Scrolls contains IAP and is launching solely on Android at this point in time. A iOS release date has yet to be announced.

Expect a review of Scrolls here on Android Rundown in the near future.

Total War Battles: Kingdoms announced for tablets, PC/Mac

Total War Battles: Kingdoms announced for tablets, PC/Mac

Dec 6, 2014

Creative Assembly, developers of the critically acclaimed and long running Total War series of games have announced a brand new cross-platform game for both mobile OS and PC/Mac known as Total War Battles: Kingdoms.

The game is currently in closed beta and looks to be a mix between real time large scale combat and kingdom building, hopefully with a minimum of freemium. Details are light at the moment but you can trust Android Rundown and yours truly to watch the development of this game very closely.

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The game is soon to enter a closed beta so register your interest here!

Check out a trailer for the game!

Goodbye, Andy!

Goodbye, Andy!

Nov 1, 2014

In Android circles, Andy Rubin is renown.

I mean, the guy’s resume reads like the besotted dream of every tech geek. Apple (yes, that Apple), MSN (yes, that MSN) and eventually, he was one of the guys behind Danger Incorporated.

In 2003, Rubin helped co-found a small, more or less nondescript technology company called Android. Reportedly, the initial focus of the company was to create a homogeneous operating platform for digital cameras.

Ha!

Funny as that is, the rest became history. A search company called Google saw something in the little startup, and acquired Android in 2005. Rubin joined Google, and Android went on and did relatively well against the Symbians, WinMOs, PalmOses and the other mobile OSes out there.

It also works well on cameras, by the way. And the OS spawned several enthusiast publications, like Android Rundown.

Rubin did well too, moving on from Android to lead Google’s incursion into robotics. And on October 30th, 2014, the Father of Android left Google to form a new company that will serve as “a new incubator for hardware startups.”

If anything, it’s tough no to wish Rubin well, and we do. He helped create a whole new world of mobility, and the most entrenched mobile OS in the world.

Best wishes to Andy Rubin.

Andy Rubin

[Image courtesy of Joi Ito via of Flickr Creative Commons]

The Secret Society Gets Update

The Secret Society Gets Update

Sep 19, 2014

G5 has updated The Secret Society in a major way.

Per the Press Release:

The Secret Society needs you – the Order’s Artifact seems to get into the hands of your worst enemy. Update The Secret Society® – Hidden Mystery to version 1.10 right away and help Seekers to collect clues left by Richard, examine mysterious meteorite fragments and crack the riddle of this theft!

The long-awaited 1.10 update is out on Google Play now. New plot twists of the latest version and over 100 quests are ready to involve you into new fantastic investigations. It is absolutely FREE, supplies weeks of delightful gaming experience, faster and smoother gameplay, an amiable new avatar and more bonuses. Add more challenge and delight to your spare time!

What’s New in Version 1.10:

The long-awaited update to your favorite game, The Secret Society, is finally here!

NEW HIDDEN OBJECT SCENE – Treasure Island is very mysterious and immensely challenging, just the way you like it!
MORE QUESTS AND COLLECTIONS – Over 100 new quests and 16 new collections. Can you solve and gather them all?
SPECIAL MAGIC BUTTERFLIES – Collect these beautiful creatures and earn loads of incredible rewards!
TALLY THE TALISMANS – Find new talismans to get more crystals and coins at reduced prices!
MEMORY IMPROVEMENTS – Enjoy faster and more comfortable play!

About the game:

In The Secret Society – Hidden Mystery you join the Order of Seekers, a secret society of people with a unique ability to move inside magic worlds. You travel through photographs in search for clues to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of your missing uncle, and to prevent the dangers threatening the entire Secret Society. You will look for myriad of clues in photographs you move within. These clues, if gathered together with others, will expand even further the world you’re traveling and serve to help you unravel the mysteries you’re tasked with. Some of these puzzles are harder than others, but on the whole, you will find The Secret Society – Hidden Mystery polished and engaging.

The game offers a completely engaging and wholly entertaining experience. Exploring the pictures is done via a map, which shows all of the pictures you can visit. You’ll unlock additional pictures as you progress. When you enter a picture you’re given a list of items – sometimes listed in text form, other times as silhouettes, sometimes one, sometimes a piece that’s broken into a multiple – and you’ll need to find them before time runs out. You will be revisiting the same pictures, but as you progress the challenges will get more diabolical as you will have to find more and more items in a very short allotted time. In addition you will play puzzle games such as memory, pipes or a maze to find additional pieces.

There’s a whole range of different helpful items and powerups, which includes everything from hints that point out objects you can’t find to flashlights that light up the night time levels. You’ll collect these as you complete rooms, but they can also be purchased with the game’s premium currency. Take advantage of a compass that will locate the item, dynamite that will clear it from your list, pocket watch that will add time if you cannot complete a level within allowed minutes. Other power ups include ancient talismans, tools, food and drinks that you can purchase from within the game with coins you collect while playing the scenes or via in-app purchases. Collect all of the awards, to level up quicker; share your progress with friends and get special bonuses.

Meet interesting characters, fulfill engaging missions, discover new magic worlds and learn the secrets of the Order of Seekers. The fantastic blend of hidden object tasks and puzzles in The Secret Society – Hidden Mystery will entertain the avid adventure, hidden object and puzzle gamers. The game is developed by MyTona and published by G5 Entertainment.

Key Features:

Nearly 1600 quests to keep you entertained for hours
23 amazing locations full of interesting characters
240+ сollections of hidden objects to piece together
Gem Match mini-game: swap and match gems to get 3 in a row!
Ingenious mini-games puzzles wrapped in mystery
Regular updates with additional quests and more

The app is available for free (with in-app purchases) on the Play Store. The update trailer is below.

Amazon Instant Video Comes To Android Devices

Amazon Instant Video Comes To Android Devices

Sep 9, 2014

In a move that has been expected for at least a few weeks, Amazon has just made its Amazon Instant Video service available to compatible Android devices, via an update to the Amazon app.

For Amazon Prime customers with non-Amazon devices, this is big news, as the services was formerly restricted to devices in Amazon’s ecosystem and iOS devices. Now, folks with compatible devices with access to the Amazon AppStore can get the necessary add-on to make the video content available on their Android-powered devices.

This move has been hinted at earlier. In July, reports noted an Amazon executive stating an Android release was “imminent.” The move seemingly indicates a tiny shift in Amazon’s mobile strategy.

To get the app, one has to download/update (and be signed into) the Amazon app; accessing a video will prompt the download of the Prime Instant Video app (which seems to be only available in the Amazon AppStore). Now, with internet connectivity, streaming is possible on phones and tablets.

As with a lot of things Amazon, the service is restricted by geography; it is available in USA, and some parts of Europe.

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G5’s Red Crow Mysteries Goes Free for Limited Time

G5’s Red Crow Mysteries Goes Free for Limited Time

Sep 8, 2014

G5, the prolific Android game developer, is putting the full version of its game Red Crow Mysteries on sale for a limited time.

From the press informational:

In Red Crow Mysteries: Legion, your ability to see other worlds makes you the only person who can win the eternal battle between good and evil. Explore dark and eerie locations to find clues, search for special items and solve tricky puzzles. Pass the ultimate test to prove that you are the only one able to defeat the impending threat and preserve the world as we know it.

G5 continues to be a cross-platform powerhouse, with titles even making their way to Windows Phone; it continues to put out a variety of new titles as well. It’s willingness to offer titles for free is definitely welcome by fans of its games.

Red Crow Mysteries will be free from September 8th to September 14th 2014 on the Play Store and Amazon AppStore; it is regularly priced at $4.99.

The game’s trailer is below.

[Source: G5 Press Release]

Rush Rally Gets Major Update.

Rush Rally Gets Major Update.

Sep 1, 2014

Brownmonster, the boffins behind the enjoyable rally racer Rush Rally have cracked out a huge update for their already fun game.

The update contains three new cars to throw around the game’s dusty locales and in depth tuning options to get the most out of cars. Now you can stiffen suspension or sacrifice down-force for speed all you like.

These additions should give Rush Rally a nice chunk of added depth and anyone looking for fun should pick up this little racer.

Barnes & Noble and Samsung Release Collaborative Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK

Barnes & Noble and Samsung Release Collaborative Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK

Aug 20, 2014

Barnes & Noble and Samsung have released their previously announced joint project: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK.

The new offering has a 7-inch display that looks to merge web use and e-reading by bringing NOOK features to the Galaxy Tab line. It is a wi-fi tablet that comes in white or black, with 8 GB of on-board memory that is expandable up to 32 GB via SD card. It also has a GPS chip and has a camera each on the front and back. It will have access to Google apps and the NOOK Store as well.

Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huseby invites people to come try the new device out. “The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is the most advanced NOOK ever, delivering the great NOOK experience our customers have come to love, with the high-performance tablet features they’ve asked for,” he says. “We invite reading and entertainment fans to visit their local Barnes & Noble store to experience the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK. Once they do, we’re certain they will make this innovative device part of their daily routine.”

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is available for sale at Barnes & Noble online and brick and mortar locations for $179 (with instant rebate).

[Source: Barnes & Noble/Samsung press release via Business Wire]

Real Boxing Throws Update Haymaker

Real Boxing Throws Update Haymaker

Aug 8, 2014

I didn’t think very much of Real Boxing back when I reviewed it but EA have at least pledged to improve the game’s rather unbalanced bouts with a new combo system added in their most recent update. The new combo feature allows players to chain up to nine hits in a row during matches, which may or may not improve the game’s poor take on boxing. A new social feature known as Social Planet also makes an appearance, although details on this are rather light. Lastly a daily spin feature similar to that found in other freemuiem games allows players to win in-game currency among other things. Fans of Real Boxing will doubtlessly enjoy the new update.