Around two months ago I flew out of Gatwick for my holiday in Cyprus. I brought my phone with me, of course. I wasn’t hoping that my phone would provide an abundance of entertainment while I was away, but neither was I intending to leave it in the bottom of my bag. Read on to see how useful your phone can be abroad.
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Google Wallet was launched this week! Just as Gmail is Google’s take on email and Google+ is Google’s latest take on social networking, Google Wallet is Google’s take on paying for stuff. (For more about the technology that powers it, check out this morning’s post, Is NFC Really the Future of Payments?)

The idea is, instead of swiping a card or handing over cash to pay for something in a store, you can tap your phone on a special reader device, which will send the payment from whatever credit card you’ve authorised on your phone.

It’s very early days for this: so far, it’s only been rolled out to Sprint users, in the USA, with a Nexus S 4G (if that’s you, then your latest OTA update will include a new Wallet app), and the only credit card that can be used with it is the Citi MasterCard – though you can use a Google Prepaid Card instead, and top it up with new funds via any other credit card. Plus there are only a handful of places that accept this method of payment for now.

Personally, I’m not overwhelmed with excitement for it as it stands – I’ve no plans to move to the USA and buy a new phone just to try it out. And I’ll admit that, on paper, it doesn’t sound like a big deal: you’re just tapping instead of swiping.

It’s the first stage in a bigger movement, though. If you have a Kindle, you’ve probably seen how convenient Amazon’s 1-Click payment is when you want to buy a new e-book; it’s not that much faster than getting your credit card out and typing in the details, but it’s just that bit easier.

More exciting is the idea of consolidation: a credit card is just a piece of plastic with some basic data stored in it, but an app holds so much more potential. When I go to the supermarket, I swipe my loyalty card and my credit card separately; if I’ve received any loyalty coupons I have to remember to take them with me and swipe them as well. If all that’s stored on my phone, then presumably I’d take care of that with a single tap-to-pay.

I expect that some clever developers will write apps to let you keep track of how much you’re spending, on what, and where – like Mint, but without necessarily knowing everything about the contents of your bank account. This will be great for managing personal finances.

All that is a few years off, though, even assuming that Google are on the money with this one (it wouldn’t be the first time they’d poured a lot of time and research into a new “solution” for some problem that eventually failed).

So, I remain interested, but not too excited for now. What about you?

Google Wallet was released for Android this week. The vision is to aggregate all your payment methods – making up the third generation of payments, according to Google, after coins and paper – into a single app that can be applied to real life commerce. As they put it: “Make your phone your wallet.”

This is achieved through near-field communications, a Bluetooth-like technology that can perform an unpaired data transfer with something in the general vicinity (generally around 4cm away). The term is generally used to refer to a method of commerce between untethered devices. Let’s find out more about it.
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Tumblr hardly needs an introduction. It isn’t WordPress, but that’s exactly the point. Because of it, a lot of youngsters from Gen X and Y are attracted to at least some sort of long-form writing. Long before Twitter, Tumblr was the pioneer in getting microposts and media (particularly images) in front of those who didn’t have the time or inclination to read hundreds of words per post.

The success of Tumblr is due to the sheer ease with which even a technical novice can start publishing online. That – alongside the awesome community that fosters conversations and reblogs content for quicker discovery – is the reason they have grown from one billion to ten billion posts in just a year. Recently, Tumblr completely revamped their Android, and it’s now time for us take the app for a spin and see how cool it is compared to the web app.
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Astrid Task is an open source, simple todo list app on the Market, and is by far the most popular with over two million users. It focuses mainly on ‘social productivity’, making your tasks available to other people – for example, it allows you to assign tasks to colleagues for a specific project.

Let’s have a look at what this intelligent and user friendly todo list app has to offer.
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If you are a frequent traveler, FlightAware might sound familiar to you. Why? It’s the biggest live flight tracking website on the web! However, for those of you who are staring blankly at your screen, I’ll go into more detail. FlightAware, founded back in 2005, was the first company to offer free flight tracking services for both private and commercial air traffic in the United States. It quickly became the most popular flight tracking service in the world and on the web.

Airlines and other aviation businesses rely on FlightAware to provide live flight data, airport information, weather maps, flight planning, and navigation charts, as well as aviation news and photos. They also power operational management and dispatch software, airport flight information displays (FIDS), and provides reporting data to aircraft and airport operators.

After success via the world and the web, the company moved into the mobile industry by creating Flight Tracker for iOS, Blackberry and Windows. Now, at last, it’s Android’s turn!
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Google Goggles has always been a great testament to how useful smartphones are. Advertised features include the ability take a photo of a French menu and have it instantly translate to English, or search something simply by taking a photo of it.

Recently, Google pushed out an update to Google Goggles on Android, adding some interesting new features in the process. Should you opt in, Google Goggles can automatically analyse all photos taken in your phone’s camera app in the background, without you needing to specifically tell the app to do so. It looks very interesting, to say the least. (more…)

There is such a mind-boggling range of Android Twitter apps out there that it is extremely difficult to decide between them, even if you download every single one and try them out. Each Twitter client offers a range of different features and interfaces, and choosing just one is hard.

Picking the best Twitter client for you is going to depend on what you want to use it for. If you are a passive Twitter user and simply want to read other people’s tweets, then you’ll want a nice, simple to use client with no fancy features – however if you, like me, are an active Twitter user, then you’ll certainly want a client with a few nice features stashed away under the bonnet.

To save you trawling through the Market for hours on end, here’s a roundup of seven of the best Twitter clients for Android devices, with a bit of information about each one. Let’s explore! (more…)

As a keen user of Android I’ve been thinking about how I can help out other Android users. I’m not a developer, so I can’t build a brilliant app or game, but there are other problems that Android users face, and helping people solve these problems might be just the thing I’ll be able to help out with!

What problems? Well, just think back about what you struggled with, or wished you knew, when you first bought your Android phone. Depending on your skill level and available time there are various different ways to help out (some easier than others). No matter which route you pick, you’ll be helping someone!
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Kickstarter is a powerful resource for raising funds for a project, and recently some mobile developers have started using this platform to get the cash they need to make their games. Interested users donate some money and receive different rewards – almost always related to the project in question – depending on how much they fork over. The twist is this: if the project doesn’t raise the required dollars by the deadline, their money never leaves your pocket.

Let’s take a look at how Kickstarter is being used in the Android world. (more…)

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