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So, you are sitting there, flicking through the latest images in your Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr timeline. Some of the photos fit into “human interest” – these photos usually include someone else’s meal – and others are mediocre views of a sunset from the inside of a car. On the face of it, you’d think that these pictures have little in common. Look and think again, though, and you will realize that there is a theme which runs through vast swathes of the photos you see. That’s right, you’ve got it; filters. Photos, it would seem, are nowadays regarded as being dull unless they’ve been doused with a squeeze of zingy Lomography, or made musty with some aged, scratched, sepia.

This popularity, you would think, should drive innovation, and an improvement in the quality and diversity of the filter apps on offer. In reality, however, most apps are just happy to be regarded as competent Instagram clones. Not so with the new Android app Camera 2. Not only has the developer, JFDP Labs, packed 28 effects into its $2.99 offering, but it has also been brave enough to try something different – live, pre-capture filtering. Depending on your outlook, this either sounds like a brilliant, killer feature, or a fast-track route to mobile-computing meltdown. Let’s find out which it is…

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It has been a while since we looked at apps that can be used to automate tasks on your Android phone or tablet so I thought it was time to rectify the situation. In a never-ending quest to make my life as easy as possible, I’ve tried everything from Tasker to AutomateIt.

I love to automate things. Love it. I use filters in Gmail to organize my inbox and IFTTT is a service I just can’t recommend highly enough. I use it to manage emails, news feeds, cloud storage backups and much more – all without having to lift a finger. Profile Flow brings the same idea to Android.

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Recently, Gmail announced a new way of displaying email that presumably cleans up your inbox and makes you more organized — you can read more about it in Mark Wilson’s review. After using it on both the desktop and my phone, I’ve got to say they’ve done a good job. However, one thing they have not implemented yet is a priority inbox for close family and friends. While the Primary inbox does a nice job of filtering out automatic emails from social networks, shopping sites, and more, there is no way to differentiate work from personal email.

That’s where Dextr comes in. The app bills itself as a new mail experience that brings you closer to the people you love. Dextr’s goal is clear: to make it easier for you to communicate with the people you care about the most.

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Have you noticed that we tend to forget our passwords when we need them the most? For instance, let’s say you need to check your account balance before writing a check, but can’t remember your credentials to do that. Or how about the time when you wanted to book a plane ticket and realized your credit card and passport weren’t at hand?

Thanks to SafeWallet, you can say goodbye to these embarrassing moments, as all your credentials and passwords are saved on your phone and even synchronized across devices and platforms. This way, your sensitive data will always be up to date and handy.

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The Silent Age is shaping up to be one of the best point-and-click adventure games of recent memory. House on Fire’s crowdfunded effort is being teased out in episodes, and if the first one is anything to go by, we’re in for a special treat.

Between a compelling, well-written story, logical puzzle design, a great touch interface, polished graphics and sound, and an interesting protagonist, there’s almost nothing to fault — almost being a key word there, as its two notable shortcomings are difficulty (it’s easy) and length (this first episode lasts a few hours, tops).

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The internet was supposed to be a democratizing platform free from limitations and boundaries. But these days it seems that web users are happy to embrace services that impose certain restrictions. There are countless social networks and blogs out there, but Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is the most popular — just like there are numerous ISPs to choose from, but even those that impose download restrictions remain popular.

Similarly, there are numerous ways you could record video footage, but Vine only allows for the creation of clips up to six seconds long. Despite this, it is proving incredibly popular. I had to take a look to find out what all the fuss is about.

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If there’s one thing I love as much as listening to music, it’s discovering new music — I’m always on the lookout for new scenes, sub-genres, and artists to feed my craving for novel sounds. Unfortunately, that habit isn’t very easy to keep up where I live — Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and Google Play Music aren’t yet available in India, which means that I can’t check out recommendations, playlists and new tracks from popular content providers.

That’s why I was glad to have stumbled upon Earbits Radio, a new internet radio app that brings you tons of indie and mainstream artists no matter where you’re located. The app has scores of channels with something for everyone, and even learns your taste in music from locally stored tracks on your device. But is it enough to help you get your melody fix? Let’s tune in and find out.

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Google’s latest Android version 4.2 Jelly Bean brought a major upgrade to how our devices captured photos. In addition to still photos and panoramas, Google included a new feature called Photo Spheres. The technology allows users to take a 360-degree photo, bringing a whole new look to some familiar sights. The process is similar to panoramas in that the software takes multiple photos and then stitches them together using Google’s powerful recognition software. However, as the name suggests, the technology allows you to take a 360-degree view, something that panoramas don’t handle very nicely.

The major change with Photo Spheres is that they are unfortunately no longer a traditional image stretched out like panoramas are. By default, they are almost a video or an animated gif that rotates your view around the sphere. Because of this aspect, it has become rather difficult to properly share Photo Spheres in the format they are meant to be viewed in. It is important to note that you can get a flat copy of the photo to share through traditional channels, but it won’t provide the 360-degree feeling that they are meant to.

As it stands the most efficient way to share a Photo Sphere and maintain the 360-degree viewing rotation is through Google+. However, that limits you to only sharing with people that are in your circles and only being able to receive Photo Spheres from them as well. SphereShare aims to solve this by offering a service to share Photo Spheres with other users all around the world.

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Today I drove the getaway vehicle in a bank robbery, repaired a remote antenna tower, ran several criminals off the road, rushed a patient to the hospital, and successfully parked a bus. It wasn’t easy, but duty called — and I wasn’t about to be beaten by a bunch of dastardly traffic cones or inconveniently-placed street light poles.

Duty Driver is like a taster for the vehicle simulation genre of games — a packed field on PC that includes such classics as Euro Truck Simulator and Street Cleaning Simulator — okay, maybe that second one isn’t a classic, but I think you get that it’s a broad field. I never understood their appeal, but now I think I’m starting to get it. And my stint in each of Duty Driver’s five roles is what helped me overcome my distant air of curious bemusement.

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As far as I’m concerned, there are too many ways to listen to music these days. Part of the problem is that most of us have way too many devices, and they don’t all cooperate. My Apple devices have iTunes, and I love iTunes, but Android obviously doesn’t. So while my iTunes library sits at about 10,000 songs, I have zero access to it from my Android devices. [Ed note: unless you use iSyncr to sync files between iTunes and Android.]

My $10/month subscription to Rdio helps assuage some of those concerns. After matching my iTunes collection to what’s available on the popular streaming service, it’s easy for me to stream almost all of my music to my Nexus 4 or Nexus 7 whenever I need it. Not only that, but I can check out new music without paying extra fees and I can manage my playlists from my mobile devices with ease. Maybe you don’t already have an Rdio subscription but your Android phone is your main music device. Is the Android Rdio app worth the subscription fee?

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