Take a gander behind the curtain of how Facebook designers created the Facebook Home launcher for Android. The forty-five minute video essay shows the evolutionary process of cover feed, chat heads, and the premise of mimicking the real world experience with a software operating system not based on apps, but focused rather on people.
On May 8th, the designers behind Facebook Home (Justin Stahl, Francis Luu, Joey Flynn and Mac Tyler) presented a behind-the-scenes look at their work at the Bluxome Street Winery for a small crowd. In this four-part talk, they discuss how they combined their high-level goals with an iterative process and interactive design tools such as Quartz Composer to bring the first version of Home to launch.
If you own an Android phone, you can now get in on the Vine action that iPhone users have had access to for over four months now. The app is Twitter's answer to video sharing, allowing users to share six-second video snippets with each other. Interestingly, the iOS version and Android versions each have features that the other doesn't. For example, the iOS version includes support for the front-facing camera, mentions, hashtags, and search. The Android version doesn't--but it does have a zoom feature, something that's not found in iOS.
Vine for Android works with any device running Android 4.0 or higher, and you can download it now from the Google Play Store.
Read More | Twitter
The Nike+ FuelBand is one of the most popular fitness gadgets out there (although the verdict is still out on if fitness gadgets actually improve our health,) but there's been a complaint from Android users since it's release regarding the lack of an app for Android-powered smartphones. Despite waiting patiently for about a year, it turns out, a FuelBand app isn't even on the radar for Nike.
@mkoyerp Right now, we're focused on iOS and web. We're not working on an Android App.— Nike Support (@NikeSupport) February 10, 2013
To deliver the best experience for all Nike+ FuelBand users, we are focusing on the FuelBand experience across iOS and nikeplus.com, where you can sync your activity, set new goals, and connect with friends. At this time, we are not working on an Android version of the mobile app.
In other words, the company is committed to having the FuelBand work perfectly within the iOS ecosystem, and doesn't have time right now to worry about the fragmented Android mess. Of course, the FuelBand doesn't require a smartphone at all, so Android users (and anyone else) can use it, they just need to sync over USB to their computer rather than over Bluetooth like you can do with an iPhone.
Read More | Giz
Bitcasa brings its unlimited cloud storage from the desktop to the mobile-verse today, with Android and Windows Phone 8 users getting first dibs. An iOS and Mac version are promised in early January, however, so you won't feel left out in the cold for too long.
The apps for Android and Windows 8 stream media through its native player with two-way file access so you can access your files from your Surface. Android users can also link their camera app to Bitcasa, so each photo they take is automatically saved to the cloud.
Read More | Google Play Store
The new version of Google Play Books for Android has a new feature that reads books to users on its own. The feature is titled, obviously, "read aloud," and works with most books without the need for the book to come with a "read aloud" enabled feature.
You'll also find a new pinch-to-zoom feature, as well as double-tap-to-zoom. Further, the app now makes recommendations on other books you might find enjoyable after you finish reading one book. Though, if you're like me, you prefer to soak in the totality of a one book world before even thinking about diving into another.
Read More | Google Play
For techies, the Black Friday deals are just beginning. Google and other app creators are looking to extend the Black Friday madness into the Thanksgiving weekend, with deals on a wide range of apps and media.
Android apps are especially discounted, with apps like SwiftKey 3, Shadowgun, and Documents To Go among the cheapest, but there's no shortage of deals in categories across the board. You'll also find some nice deals on books, movies and music, from Diana Krall to Kendrick Lamar. Head on over to Google Play to check out all the deals on the apps you wish you had.
Read More | Google Play
In our opinion, the one big factor that limited the appeal of Google Wallet was the fact that it has only been compatible with CitiBank MasterCard. Not exactly something that the masses have in their wallets. Today, that changes, as Google has announced that Wallet is now compatible with all Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover debit and credit cards. That's progress!
Also added is a remote wipe feature that allows users to disable Google Wallet remotely, blocking usage of the app with that device and clearing off card and transaction data as well.
You can now use Google Wallet to pay at over 200,000 locations across the US. You can download the new update today from Google Play.
Read More | Google Play
Instagram is the massively popular photo-sharing social network that's garnered over 25 million users, and up until this point, it's only been available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. That changes today. Instagram for Android works on any Android device running version 2.2 or higher, as long as they support OpenGL ES 2. Similar to the iOS version, you can share your Instagram posts to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Foursquare. Soon, Flickr will be an option as well.
You can download Instagram for Android right now from Google Play, completely free.
Facebook has just released a new Android and iOS app called Facebook Messenger, and it's exactly what it sounds like. Basically, Facebook has taken its messaging system, used their Beluga team to simplify it a bit, and pushed it out as an independent app. You can message your contacts without using up SMS (similar to things like BBM, Google+ Huddle, iMessage, GroupMe, Fast Society, and plenty of others,) and you can also create group messages on the fly as well. People will see these messages show up in the Messenger app, their Facebook inbox, or by SMS if they don't have the app installed. You can also share your GPS location and attach images to the message conversations as well. If you've used Beluga or Facebook, then you know how to use this.
The following is a column sent to us by Skip Ferderber. We though it hit home on a lot of points, and decided to republish it with his permission:
Let’s start with a popular tech-talk premise especially among Apple iPad afficionados: Among the reasons Android tablets come up short is because there are only a handful of apps specifically optimized for them.
If there’s no big bucket of optimized Honeycomb apps, then it’s too soon to get an Android tablet ... not when you can get an iPad with more than 100,000 tablet-optimized apps.
The tech blogosphere (including yours truly) reported early on that only 10 apps were specifically redesigned to take advantage of the Honeycomb operating system, the Android software specifically engineered for a new generation of powerful tablets with heavy-duty processing power and bright high-resolution screens such as the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. A March Wired article reported it had found only 50 Honeycomb-optimized apps.
Well, hold on there, buckaroos.
What happens when non-optimized apps — the same apps you use on your Android smartphone — are run on a Honeycomb tablet? What’s the user experience like? Can you live with it? I decided to find out.