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Opinion

If you have been following Android.Appstorm over the past couple of months, you must have noticed that we feel very strongly about Android tablets, and specifically Android tablet apps. We cried out to Google asking them to get serious about tablet-optimized apps discoverability in the Play Store, several writers on our team have rounded up tablet apps in a multitude of categories, and I personally maintain numerous Playboard channels axed towards spotlighting the best tablet-optimized apps.

Suffice it to say that tablet app discovery has been a personal cause for us, for the simple reason that we know there are thousands of excellent options out there, but Google had failed to make them visible which in turn had everyone thinking there aren’t any. So you can imagine how elated we were to see Google at I/O introducing new features that focus on tablet apps discovery, from a developer and a user standpoint. While the announcements weren’t the most impressive out of the I/O keynote, and they should have come a year ago, they do mean a lot to us at Android.Appstorm that we can’t help but make a stop to explain to you why you need to get excited.

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If there’s one rule that I’ve drummed into people over the last decade it’s that digital zoom in smartphone cameras is a no-no. You gain nothing and, if anything, actually degrade the image of what you’re trying to capture. And I bet that you’ve seen some horrendous examples of digital zoom in action in the past, with little more than VGA resolution images blockily upsampled to 5 megapixels because the user ‘wanted to get closer’.

Which is why I find myself, somewhat shockingly, pulling a slight about turn on the subject of digital zoom. Don’t get me wrong, it can still produce ugly results in the worst cases but, used wisely, it can help rather than hinder.

Here then is everything you ever wanted to know about when it’s OK to use the digital zoom built into every smartphone camera.

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A Journey From Android to Windows Phone 8

Few articles incite as much comments and debates on our site as the OS comparisons. Whether it’s James’ “What I Miss About Android: Thoughts From an iOS User“, Hagop’s “10 Windows Phone 8 Features That Would Make Android Even Sweeter” or my “5 Impressive Blackberry 10 Features I Wish Android Had“, our team is essentially comprised of geeks who love Android but often succumb to their curiosity. So we try out everything we have access to in order to form a well-rounded opinion of the mobile landscape.

Sometimes, we’re simply forced to abandon Android as in James’ case, other times we dabble with a new OS for a bit but come back to Android as in Hagop’s case, and some of us are lucky enough to be able to use two platforms simultaneously in the long term, like me.

However, once in a while, we lose an Android fan to the lure of another platform. That’s the case with Brian Wangila who is a self-professed Android fan and a writer on our sister site Windows.Appstorm. Brian’s interest was piqued by Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 920 and he documented his journey through a 3-part series entitled “Windows Phone 8 From an Android Fan’s Perspective.”

  • In part 1, Brian explains how to choose your Windows Phone 8 device based on the different price and feature ranges and what to expect on the performance, stability and apps fronts.
  • In part 2, Brian delves into the Windows Phone 8 features that he has come to enjoy, including the Live Tiles, People Hub, Office, Camera lenses and more.
  • In part 3, Brian reminisces over his Android fan days and lists the things he misses now that he’s moved to Windows Phone. He does conclude though that the flaws and missing features are outweighed by the positive aspects of Windows Phone 8.

If you’re curious about Windows Phone 8, head over to the different parts of the series, read Brian’s full chronicle and let us know where you stand. We’re not encouraging you to switch over, but we don’t want to win without giving the other platforms a fair chance at a fight. Besides, competition is what drives this mobile space forward so it’s good to see other challenging and innovative players in the OS race.

Earlier this year, Blackberry finally unveiled its new and re-written Operating System: Blackberry 10. After many years of being stuck behind the curve on touch-centric platforms and modern interfaces, Blackberry 10 promised a fresh look and, most importantly, several innovations that would carry it forward and help it keep the Blackberry-fanatics satisfied while also trying to bring some new converts over.

Along with the new platform, Blackberry announced two new devices: the touch-only Z10 that started shipping a while ago and the traditional keyboard Q10 that’s just starting to ship. I’ve had a Z10 in my hands for several weeks now, enough to get used to the platform and the device and to form my own opinion from extended use. As a Blackberry novice — I had never even tried a Blackberry device before — I’m impressed by what I’ve seen, enough to make me step away from my trusted Galaxy S3. Normally, when I get new devices, I try them for a while, feel excited for a bit, then move back to the S3, but that isn’t the case with the Z10. I’ve come to find several features that keep me going back to it. Read on to find out what they are.

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Since the timid beginnings of the Android platform, we have seen several Twitter clients rise and soar, some falling quickly, others garnering a loyal fanbase and developing further. From the good ol’ Tweetdeck and Seesmic to the shiny new Falcon Pro and Tweetings, passing by the ever-present and ever-loved Plume, there’s no shortage of Twitter client choice and you’d be hard-pressed to find a topic that ignites passionate debates as much as the “best Twitter client” conversation. Mention that once, and you’ll have a slew of replies from people naming one of dozens of different apps and discussing how excellent their choice is.

On Android.Appstorm, we’ve long ago recognized that there’s really no definite answer to the question. As long as there are developers out there coding new clients, we will try them and we will review them for you. We also reckon that every client is flawed and perfect at the same time. Because there are as many different Twitter usages as there are Twitter users, any app can be excellent for a particular person but simply dreadful for another. That’s why, over the past couple of months, we have shared with you our favorite clients in our “My Twitter Client” series.

Below, you will find quick links to some of our writer’s picks, where they explain what they need in a Twitter app, the reasons for their choice and what they love about it. I’ve also added links to some of our most recent reviews, for a more complete overview of the Twitter options landscape. Check them out, and let us know in the comments which app you use and why.

Team’s Favorite Twitter Clients

Other Twitter Client Reviews

Rita El Khoury, My Twitter Clients: Twitter, Falcon Pro and Plume

I still remember having a few heated debates back in 2008 with social media advocates about the future of Twitter. At the time, although I had an account on the service, I had never used it. Instead, I was a firm believer that Jaiku — which Google later bought and used as a stepping stone for Buzz and Google+ — would prevail because of its native support for conversations. Twitter was a chaotic mess, with no way to follow a conversation back. But oh how things change!

In 2009, I had abandoned Jaiku and moved to Twitter. But when I switched to Android 2 years ago, the sheer amount of Twitter clients had me befuddled for months until I settled on the official app. Then I got bored, tried several alternatives again, used some for a while, dismissed others quickly… And up to this day, I don’t think there is one Twitter Android client to rule them all, so I use the official Twitter app on my phone, Falcon Pro on my tablet, and Plume on my Android TV stick. Read on to find out why.

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When it comes to Twitter clients I bounce around a lot — on all platforms. Heck on the desktop I use TweetDeck even though I’m not a huge fan of it. I haven’t really found a free app that I really like and I really don’t want to pay a ton of money for a client when the service itself is free. On Android, I’ve run the gamut: Twitter’s official app, Twicca, Carbon, Tweetlanes, Falcon, Tweetdeck, and more. Each, while good, left me wanting something more. Then I found out about Robird.

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Before I entered the social part of the Internet, I was reluctant to share any kind of information. I can’t really remember how it all changed, it’s funny, because it wasn’t even that long ago — four or five years. Now I’ve got an account basically on every website I visit on a daily basis, including social sites. This means Facebook, Google+ and let’s not forget about twitter. At first, I was attracted to the idea of micro-blogging: sharing things you do as they happen, without the need of logging them or remembering them at the end of the day was different, and quite intriguing. Even though news sites and blogs use Twitter to spread the word about their published articles, it is still that micro-blogging service that we all know and love.

As with all services out there, Twitter has an API (Application Programming Interface) that enables application developers to create countless applications for viewing feeds and analyzing data. Devs have done just that and there are numerous clients on the Play Store that cater to different types of users. The one that caught my attention was Twitter’s own application and today I’ll try and share with you why I use it and not any other third party application.

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The perfect Twitter app would only exist in a utopian world where all the users have similar requirements and the same standards of judgment. Utopia is a myth and so is the existence of a perfect Twitter app. This realization though, took a long time and numerous Twitter clients, in coming. There is not a single Twitter app worth its salt on the Play Store that I have not tried. From the well known to the obscure, I have tested them all, liked some, hated many but loved none. After much ado, I came to the conclusion of sticking to the client that comes closest to fulfilling all of my Twitter needs, which brings me to Tweetings.

Tweetings, obviously, has all the usual features of a Twitter client well in place, placing it on par with most other clients and making it perfectly capable of being used as your default app. However, there are two telling features of Tweetings that tilt the balance decisively in its favor and clinch the deal for me.

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Along with BlackBerry, Symbian and Palm OS, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system was one of the first platforms to power intelligent mobile devices. Nevertheless, it’s well known that Microsoft’s products weren’t seen as easy to use and intuitive, especially when it came to Windows Mobile. In order to change this vision of its platform, Microsoft radically changed its operating system in 2010 when launching Windows Phone, and put an important focus on ease of use with the introduction of its disruptive yet innovative Modern UI. The latter featured a homescreen made entirely of Live Tiles, which are in between mere shortcuts and full-featured widgets. The Tiles are dynamic and update in real time, making them similar to widgets, but with no interaction, as tapping them simply launches the app.

Android, on the other hand, has long been seen as a “geeky” OS, with complicated features, an unintuitive and inconsistent user experience, not to mention it used to be years behind iOS’ eye-candy interface. With recent releases, Android has grown into a mature OS that offers an admirable user experience. Nonetheless, it remains interesting to compare our favorite OS with the competition and study what they do best compared to Android. This article’s focus is therefore going to be on the ten Windows Phone 8 features that could improve the end user experience for most Android owners. (more…)

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