The recent release of the Nexus 5 marked an important landmark in Android phoneography. The physical camera hardware in Google’s latest flagship phone is not a great improvement on the Nexus’ predecessor, but the overall photographic quality of the new handset, particularly after the 4.4.1 software update, shows that Google is taking mobile photography seriously. At last.

Developers are playing their part, too. Both Android-specific apps, such as Vignette, and iOS imports, such as PicLab, provide good quality, classy editing options on an OS that only had Instagram to play with, not so long ago.

But now, things have gone up another level. VSCO Cam, the self-proclaimed “standard of mobile photography” has exited private beta, and it is now ready to bring its comprehensive adjustments and subtle retro cool to our side of the mobile divide. But can this legend of iPhoneography successfully make the transition to Android?

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As we get closer and closer to the Annual Android Handset Giving Period commonly known by many as Christmas, another week of Android news grows to a close. This week has brought a number of new stories, including reports that YouTube are delaying their streaming music service, the news that Chrome apps could be coming to Android as early as January and more information about Google’s mysterious barges that first hit our headlines last month. Let’s take a look!

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It’s the last month of the year and the time when companies refrain from pushing new products or ideas to avoid being neglected in the midst of the holiday rush. But over on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, entrepreneurs are fearless and confident, launching new projects and hoping to get your attention with their innovative products.

In the following post, I will take a look at the most original projects that you can pledge for this month, then list others that are also worth looking at. Read on to discover them all, and keep in mind that, as with any crowd-funded project, you have to exercise your better judgement and no outcome is really guaranteed.

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Think about all of the services you use on your phone. Email, social networking, photo sharing, news, todo lists, calendars and much more. Forget games, phone calls and text messages, and it’s likely that the vast majority of what you use your phone for involves being online. Yet the chances are that as soon as you start using a new tool you immediately seek out an app. But is this necessary?

In most cases, where there is a web-based tool that has an app, there is also a mobile website. So why do we all gravitate towards apps? It’s something I know that I am guilty of and that I don’t usually give a great deal of thought to. Apps are where it’s at for me. It’s been that way for some time, but I thought it was about time to re-evaluate the situation.

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Modern calendar apps have two serious problems: they’re ugly, and they’re hard to use. I like Google Calendar as much as the next guy, but I’m always on the lookout for an experience that could be better — and by all accounts, I think Google Calendar could be better than it is. But there aren’t a lot of popular alternatives on the Play Store, and even fewer that people say you *have* to try out before making a decision.

That’s what makes Cal by Any.do interesting. It marries a well-designed calendar with the simplicity of Any.do, and it does it with aplomb. Although it’s been available for iPhone for a long time, Cal finally saw its release on Android recently with a few new features of its own — some of which are Android-exclusive, for now. Let’s dig in and find out whether or not this ecosystem is worth getting into.

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There’s a lot to like about Polarity, a stylish first-person puzzler in the vein of Valve’s hit PC and console series Portal. But for all its cool atmosphere, excellent level design, vibrant neon visuals, and fiendish puzzling, it is let down time and again by sub-par touch controls that make you wish you were on a PC.

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The new version of Android, KitKat, is very different from previous ones in that it requires less processing power to run. This means that cheaper devices or legacy Android phones will be able to update to a new, shiny OS for free. This might seem like a bold move by Google to protect their operating system’s market share, but in reality, it means so much more.

It means that “The Next Billion”, those who will become smartphone users in the years 2014/15, will stand a greater chance of owning an Android device. As these future droid fans are from the developing nations with different cultures and socio-economic background, their smartphone usage diverges vastly from consumers in western, developed nations.

Furthermore, their lives will be fundamentally changed by the incumbent smartphone ownership. Far more than being just a status symbol or the latest gadget, a $150 device could change a person’s path in life, increase their economic power and free them from oppression or poverty. Here’s how KitKat will kickstart this change.

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One of my biggest pet peeves with the Android ecosystem thus far has been a lack of great apps for writers. Maybe it’s because that’s what I do for a living and I can’t see past my own professional needs, but it’s been a thorn in my side since I started playing with Android in 2010. But over the past year, the ecosystem has made some remarkable progress, and writers haven’t been left as wanting as they were in the past.

I personally prefer Markdown as a writing method, which uses a simple syntax that makes typing HTML a lot easier. It’s been my preferred syntax for almost two years now, and I’ve been waiting for Android to catch up with iOS’s barrage of Markdown editors. At the same time as Android has been catching up, I’ve been asked if I could round up a few of my current favourite apps. Here are five of them.

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Today not only marks the beginning of the final month of 2013 and the run up to a holiday season that is likely to award many new Android phones to loved ones, but also the culmination of another week of Android news. This week we’ve seen the continuing rollout of Android 4.4 and more. Let’s take a look! (more…)

I am an Android customization addict and, to be honest, even the word “addict” is an understatement. Two months ago, I would have told you that there should be AA meetings for the kind of compulsion that I had. I kept hundreds of folders of iconsets ready in my Dropbox account, I mastered the dark corners of UCCW and Minimalistic Text, I spent hours every week on MyColorScreen, and even maintained a Google+ photo album as a visual history of the different homescreen designs I have made since 2010.

But most importantly, I installed Nova Launcher on any Android device I had in my hands for more than an hour, and enjoyed tinkering with every single setting the app allowed from gestures to grid layouts and more. Then I got an invite code to join the Aviate Launcher Beta, installed it on my LG G2 and … well, life wasn’t the same anymore. I haven’t had the impulse to switch back from Aviate to Nova in more than six weeks, I haven’t felt the need to change my icons either, and given my history with Android customization, this is the geeky version of a personal miracle.

In the following post, I’ll explain how Aviate won me over from Nova — and Apex, ADW and all their brethren — and why it squashed my urge to tinker with my homescreens every couple of days.

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