HERE app clarifies issues, problems with beta for Android

It’s still in beta version for Android devices, but mapping app HERE from Nokia is already creating waves as an alternative to Google Maps (some say it’s even better). But as with everything that is digitally beta, there have been issues experienced by users who have been testing it on their mobile devices. To address and clarify these problems, the developers have released an FAQ that seeks to answer the most common complaints they have received so far.

One of the most common complaints is that those who have existing Nokia accounts still need to create a new account on HERE. Nokia said they are still working on making it easier in the long-run, but for now, people will have to take a few extra steps to use the app on Android. Another big problem is that when the users employ a cache cleaner app on their smartphones, it usually erases the voice files that they save on the app (for directions and all). They are currently working on a fix for that issue, but for now, their advice is not to use a cache cleaner if you don’t want the files deleted.

While HERE was tested on the preview build of the Android Lollipop before its release, it seems that the app is not working on the release build. Again, they are working on a solution to the problem, but it looks like you have to live with Google Maps on your phones already running on Lollipop, at least until Nokia finds a fix for it. Other issues like storage for the app and the offline maps, permissions for the integration of the check-in app Glympse, as well as arrival in other platforms is also addressed in the FAQ.

One important question is when will the app be available in the Google Play Store, since some people find it a hassle to have to manually download it to their smartphone. But Nokia says they are focusing right now on processing the initial feedback from beta users and so they are hosting the app first on their site to ensure that all issues are directly sent to them. If you haven’t yet installed HERE on your Android device, you can get the APK from their website.

SOURCE: HERE

License+ app helps teens learn good driving behaviors

Parents can stop worrying about their newly licensed teen drivers with License+. Having teenage kids learning to drive can be nerve-wracking but a special app was developed to help teens develop good driving behaviors without the feeling of being followed or spied on by their parents.

Getting an official license can be a challenge for new drivers. Parents nagging you won’t help either but the Automatic License+ app can be your coach in driving, telling you to drive safer and better. Driving can be risky and difficult for the teens. No need to monitor your kids all the time and nag them with your own do’s and don’ts in driving. This app will work for teens who need help but want to be somehow independent.

The developers of the License+ interviewed parents and teens who want to improve on driving. They shared ways on how to make driving a safer and better experience and how learning can be done more effectively. Based on the research, five core principles were listed that helped the Automatic team develop the program for the teens and the parents.

1. Teens want to learn on their own. They need freedom but they still want support from an experienced driver.
The License+ app offers a coach that will teach the new drivers up to 100 hours of independent driving. The whole course can be finished in six months. The coach will be glad to check on the driver’s progress, as well as, identify skills to focus on in the next few months.

2. There is a difference between good drivers and licensed drivers.
Just because one has a license, it doesn’t mean he is already a good driver. The app offers special badges that can be collected as rewards for practicing good driving skills. These badges can be shown to parents as proof that some driving challenges have been mastered.

3. Teens want to prove to friends and parents that they can be good drivers.
The License+ app will score a teen’s driving based on fast accelerations or hard brakes. Data saved are accessible to the driver and the coach. It will take 100 hours of driving with the coach and then a medal can be received based on the score. You can receive a bronze, silver, or gold medal for all your driving efforts to show off that you passed and can be a good driver.

4. More effective in teaching driver safety is open communication. Threat of consequences usually won’t work or can make things worse.
The License+ can help build the trust between teens and parents. The information on the app can also be used to start a conversation. Parents need information but kids don’t want to feel being spied on. With this app, the coach and the parents can also interact to review the teen driver’s progress.

5. Parents want their teens safe and be able to succeed on their own.
Parents may tend to be controlling but they still want to see their kids do things and accomplish goals on their own. The License+ can be your teen’s coach teaching him to be safe, park, and decode check engine lights.

The app is available on Android. It also features automatic silence so there can be no distractions while driving. And because this is supposed to be a safety app, the Crash Alert live agents will respond quickly once a driver faces a collision or accident. The live agents will then call emergency sevices and the parents. The agents will also stay on the livne with the teen driver until help comes.

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License Plus driving app for teens and parents

SOURCE: Automatic

Unlocked Sony Xperia T3 hits US Sony store

Fans of Sony Xperia smartphone have a new device that they can pick up in the US. The new smartphone is an unlocked version of the Xperia T3 that launched this summer and it is available to order directly from the Sony Store. The version offered in the US is model D5106 and it supports LTE bands 4,7,17.

That means the device will support ATT and T-Mobile networks. Sony offers the T3 in three colors including black, purple, and white. The T3, as the price suggests, is a mid-range device that isn’t packed with the latest and greatest hardware.

The smartphone has a 5.3-inch screen supporting 720p resolution. The processor is a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon unit and it has 1GB of RAM. Internal storage is 8GB with a microSD card slot for expansion. Sony fits the T3 with an 8MP rear camera and a 1.1MP front camera.

The big feature of this device is that it sells unlocked for $399.99. That’s not all that much more than some smartphones will cost you on contract. Sony is also now selling the Xperia M2 D2306 LTE smartphone for $279.99 supporting the same LTE networks as the T3.

SOURCE: Xperiablog

Pre-release screenshots of HTC Sense on Android 5.0 leaked

Most of you have probably wondered what those tweaked versions of Android would look like under the new Lollipop banner – like Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense UI. Well, these exclusive previews will go a long way to initially answering those questions. And for HTC users, don’t worry – we actually think these look good.

What it looks like is that HTC will be unveiling a new UI – called Sense 7.0 – to match Android Lollipop. The UI is still under development right now, but these great pics provide an idea of what the lovechild of HTC Sense and Material Design would look like. They look fiiiine.

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There’s very little to separate from what is purportedly Sense 7.0 from Sense 6.0. But with a dollop of Material Design and the aesthetic suddenly looks sleek, techy and nice. The screenshots were apparently taken from an HTC One M8.

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What do you guys think? We have to warn you that the source has not given any confirmation as to the authenticity of the screenshots. But if these are even halfway true, they don’t look bad at all. HTC has promised that Sense 7.0 will be rolled out for the HTC One M7 and M8 around 90 days after Android finally comes out with Lollipop official. So that means late January to early February for all you HTC One users out there.

VIA: YouMobile

Sony to open underwater store in Dubai, calls it the “Xperia Aquatech”

Sony is becoming more aggressive these days introducing new devices. The Xperia Z3 is still one of its best products in the market today aside from the numerous cameras and apps that have proven to be great tools when it comes to mobile photography. And this coming December 3, Sony Mobile will be opening it’s first Xperia Aquatech Store in Dubai. This is a very bold move by Sony because it’s not an ordinary retail store.

The Xperia Aquatech Store is an underwater store that is placed four meters below the surface. It’s the first in the world to be located on the seabed. The idea is for trained divers to escort shoppers to the underwater shop. Inside the Xperia Aquatech store, people can “stand on the seabed and breath perfectly normally”. You can find water-resistant tablets, phones, and more accessories in this underwater shop.

The concept store will offer customers “an exhilarating and unforgettable experience, highlighting Xperia’s passion for innovation in the smartphone market“, says Sony Mobile Middle East and Africa Vice President Rüediger Odenbach. Obviously, the store will show off and sell most of Sony’s water resistant products.

I like the idea but I don’t think I’ll be brave enough to spend some time underwater just to buy a new product. Can’t I just purchase a phone or tablet from any ordinary Sony store and test it when I’m already in the pool? Then again, I don’t want to be like the woman in South Africa who complained after using her Xperia Z1 in water. Remember, waterproof is not the same as water-resistant.

VIA: Xperia Blog

ARM unveils new rich media solutions using system-wide approach

ARM has announced a new suite of integrated media IP that is designed to deliver rich content to users of mobile devices. ARM notes that the new IP is ideal for the highest volume segments for smartphones and tablets; the new IP is called the ARM Mali media IP suite.

The goal of the new IP suite is to ensure that graphically intensive content is assigned to the most appropriate processor inside a device to deliver the best user experience with the lowest energy usage. The media suite is comprised of the Mali-V550 video accelerator, the Mali-DP550 display processor, and the Mali-T800 GPU family.

The media IP uses several ARM technologies that are aimed at energy savings. The Mali-V550 and Mali-DP550 processors also have new features including Motion Search Elimination tech that reduces bandwidth by up to 35% to make the device more energy efficient. The ARM Mali-T800 GPU family includes the Mali-T820, Mali-T830, and Mali-T860.

The 820 is aimed at entry-level products and promises up to 40% more performance density compared to the Mali-T622. The T830 is up to 55% better performing than the T622, and the T860 is up to 45% more energy efficient than the Mali-T628 GPU. ARM’s Mali-V550 is the first single-core video encode and decode solution for HEVC in the industry.

It offers scalability to 1080p/60fps on a single core and up to 4k120 on eight cores. It is the first ARM video IP to support multi-standard codecs including HEVC (H.265) for encode and decode on a single core. The Mali-DP550 supports up to seven layers of composition for image rendering optimization. It also has a co-processor interface for integration with ARM partner IP blocks and can be configured to support a range of resolutions. All of the products are available for licensing now and are expected to hit the market inside devices in late 2015 and early 2016.

SOURCE: ARM

LINE Pop 2 arrives with more patterns, special blocks

Messaging apps used to be all about, well, messaging, but a lot of them have evolved into something more to stand out of the crowd. One of the most popular ones is LINE and in 2012, they introduced games into their apps. The first game they released was LINE Pop, and now, two years later, they’re releasing the sequel called, unsurprisingly, LINE Pop 2. If you’re into the whole 3-in-a-row type of games and you love the characters on LINE, then this game would be right up your alley.

The second generation of the LINE Pop game now comes in a hexagonal shape so the blocks can move in six directions: up, down and four diagonally. Just like any game of its type, you need to join three of the same characters to clear it. If you clear it in rows of four or five or in V, X or Y patterns, you’ll be able to get special blocks for added power. Pop 2 also now has more special blocks, including stripe, rainbow, triangular, and flower balls, and a snow flower.

You might get a bit hungry for snacks as you play it, since it has the same “cookie look” as the first one, with waffles and honey blocks to boot. You will advance through each stage by fulfilling the mission given you, which gets more difficult as it goes along. That’s why you need all the special blocks that you can get, to help you get past the seemingly impossible ones (well, as impossible as snacky-looking games can be). You get a very enthusiastic “Level Clear” and “Party Time” cheer every time you finish a level. The cute sounds the characters make adds to the appeal of a very simple but fun game.

Since you will be asked to log in to your Line account as soon as you install the game, you can compete with your friends who are also playing the game. You can download Line Pop 2 from the Google Play Store for free, but with in-app purchases available.

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SOURCE: LINE

ZERO: the launcher that feels like it’s barely there

There are literally dozens of Android launchers and home screen replacements, each one vying for your attention or your money or both. Some compete on a wealth of features while others go for utter simplicity. Some try to go the middle route and adhere to both, like this new launcher called ZERO, one that is advertised to be super lightweight, super fast, and yet still also super customizable.

Let’s hear the spiel first. ZERO isn’t exactly zero in weight but it does just come in a 1MB package, which isn’t something a lot of more feature-ful launchers can claim. Because of that, it is fast to respond and fast to load. 0.2 seconds to be exact, according to the developers. In practice, you probably can’t count that fast but it does feel quite snappy and almost too eager to go at a touch of a finger. Being small and light, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be fancy as ZERO offers almost all the bells and whistles of other pretty launchers. MIUI users, take note. You might feel at home in ZERO.

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What that means is that ZERO takes a more iPhone-esque way of styling your launcher. There is no separate section for an app grid or list and anything and everything is dumped into the home screen for you to curate and group as you please. Of course, unlike iOS, you can put widgets in there too, from the pre-made ones to your regular Android ones. A swipe up from an empty area of the homescreen will bring up the launcher’s menu. There is an optional feature that embeds a quick switch row in the notification panel, which may or may not be to your liking or even become redundant for OEM skins. Unfortunately, the functionality in there seem to be fixed.

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Theming is were ZERO’s at and, unlike some themeable launchers, the developers are promising premium themes to be free forever. That’s probably not to say there won’t be paid themes, just not premium ones or not coming from the developers themselves. That said, you can’t actually just download themes willy-nilly. You need to have keys to unlock those, and keys are of limited supply, refreshed on a daily basis. It may be annoying to some, but probably a compromise others would be willing to make to avoid having to pay for themes.

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ZERO is still new, having launched only this month, so it will be interesting where the developers will take the launcher. Especially if the intention is to keep everything under 1 MB. The launcher is free to install and doesn’t contain any in-app purchases and, as mentioned, themes are free as well.

Download; ZERO from Google Play Store

Apex Launcher update: Material Design tweaks, Lollipop drawer

One of the joys of having an Android device is being able to tweak how you use your device by using different customizable apps. App launchers are popular with those who are fond of these personalized touches. And even before the Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially rolled out to various devices, these apps can give you a preview of what life would be like with the major update. One such app, following in the footsteps of other popular ones like Nova Launcher and GO Launcher is Apex Launcher.

Version 2.7.0 was unleashed over the weekend and it looks like its major update is very much concerned with the upcoming Android 5.0 (as all apps are of course). They tweaked the UI of the now ubiquitous Material Design and updated several things there, probably based on the final build from Google. They’ve also added a Lollipop drawer icon, which will also be what the official app launcher will look like (really, who needs to wait for Lollipop?). The developers have also added a fixed navigation bar color under Lollipop, as well as updates in the translations.

Nova Launcher, probably the most popular of its kind among Android users, also had an update late last week, which some say is pretty close to what Lollipop will bring to your devices. It added circle folder animation, scroll indicators and also its icon theme in build-in apps like clock, calculator, contacts, email, etc. It will still be a few weeks, maybe months for some until we actually see Android 5.0 rolled out into our devices (unless you have a Nexus of course), and so apps like Nova and Apex are very much welcome for early adapters and impatient users (like us!)

If you don’t have a launcher app yet, give Apex Launcher a try. It’s available to download for free from the Google Play Store with no in-app purchases necessary.

PS4 Remote Play app lands for Xperia Z3 familly

The official Sony PS4 Remote Play app has hit the Google Play store. The app supports certain Sony Xperia smartphones and tablets. The the Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, and Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact are listed as officially supported but owners of Sony’s previous gen flagship need not fret, as the Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z2 Tablet will be supported soon as well.

This is the killer app for gamers who want to be able to remote play their compatible PS4 games while on the go without using a PS Vita. The app requires a connection to a WiFi network and supports control on the smartphone screen using a Dualshock 4 wireless controller.

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Sony notes that the latest version of the PS4 software is required for Remote Play to function. The latest version of the app landed October 27 and is 6.6MB in size. So far, only a few people have taken the time to download the app, according to Google Play it has between one and five installs.

The current version of the app is 1.0.0 and the version of Android required varies with the device. Sony notes that you can use the remote play app on public WiFi networks, but they don’t recommend using a public network.

SOURCE: Google Play, Sony