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Google Maps Goes 3D and Offers Offline Viewing

Posted on Dec 16, 2010 in App News | comment

Google Maps for Android has been updated to version 5.0 and brings a couple exciting features: 3D interaction and offline reliability.

While exploring the 100+ cities currently supported with 3D viewing, here’s what’s new:

  • Tilt view: drag down your screen with two fingers.
  • Rotate view: twist with two fingers.
  • Compass mode: map automatically orients itself in 3D and aligns with the direction you are facing. Make sure to center on your location first.
  • Smooth zooming: Use two fingers to continuously zoom in/out. This comes courtesy of new vector graphics.
  • Offline reliability: Your most used map areas will be cached and preloaded in the background in case you lose your data connection.
  • Offline rerouting: Navigation (Beta) will reroute you even if you lose your data connection after starting a route.

[AppBrain Link]

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Samsung Releases GPS Restore App for Galaxy S Phones

Posted on Nov 30, 2010 in App News | 5 comments

Samsung has just released an app called GpsRestore that aims to alleviate some GPS performance woes that have plagued owners of Galaxy S Android phones. Specifically, the app is for the AT&T Captivate (SGH-I897) and T-Mobile Vibrant (SGH-T959).

Essentially, the app restores the GPS config files that may have been modified/adjusted by the use of LbsTestMode. At this point, even if you haven’t played around with LbsTestMode or any other GPS settings, but are still experiencing problems with your phone’s GPS, you might as well give this app a try. Make sure that any and all applications that may be using GPS are stopped before starting GpsRestore. Some users have also suggested disabling WiFi before running GpsRestore for best results.

As an owner of the T-mobile Vibrant, I will be the first person to tell you that the GPS performance has been absolutely horrendous. Coming from a T-mobile G1, which would instantly lock on my position without even a hiccup, I never suspected that GPS could be such a huge issue with a new phone.

Previously, I played around with many of the GPS settings, fixes, and LbsTestMode adjustments to no avail. Extreme frustration is an understatement. Luckily (and to my surprise), Samsung’s GpsRestore actually worked for me. Before installing the app, my GPS couldn’t lock on closer than >100′s of feet (and would jump around from time to time). After running the app, I got a direct, accurate lock after 5-10 seconds that persisted for as long as I used Google Maps (and worked on multiple occasions, even without a direct view of the sky).

As for this app’s success rate, comments in the Android Market make it obvious that it’s not working for everybody.

My recommendation for now: cross your fingers, hop on one foot, and sprinkle some fairy-dust on your Samsung Galaxy S and you might have some success. Did the app fix work for you?

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Google Maps Updated w/ Hotpot, Personalized Recommendations

Posted on Nov 15, 2010 in App News | comment

Google Maps for Android just got updated to include Hotpot, the new local recommendation engine that enables you to discover new places (restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc.) that are tailored to your preferences.

To use Hotpot, update Google Maps to version 4.7 and add the “Rate Places” widget to your homescreen. Now you can rate places and publish reviews on-the-go directly from your Android phone. The review process is quick and easy, which makes using the Hotpot feature truly painless.

The benefit of rating places that you like (or dislike) is that your future search results will be personalized based on your tastes. Additionally, to get everything out of Hotpot, you’ll want to use it on your computer along with your Android device. This way, you can share your ratings with others while also benefiting from seeing friends’ reviews of places you might be considering.

Hotpot combined with Google Places will only be as successful as the number of contributing users, so get out there and share your experiences!

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Facebook for Android Receives a Facelift

Posted on Aug 5, 2010 in App News | 3 comments

The latest version of Facebook for Android has been officially released. Many of the fixes and new features focus on the app’s homescreen. The interface has been given quite a facelift and now earns more respect when compared to its iPhone counterpart.

A great addition to the app is the new Notifications bar that can be easily pulled up to get all of your latest interactions. The Notifications bar will also indicate how many unread items you have. Even more, there is now a fancy sliding image/video drawer that takes you directly to the particular update/album/etc in one-click. You can even watch videos uploaded by friends directly from within the app.

Even with all of the great improvements, many Facebook purists and addicts alike are still waiting for Facebook chat integration. If and when that update comes, I’m sure it will be a revelation for many.

Overall, every Facebook for Android update brings it closer to being truly independent from the mobile website.

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Google App Inventor for Android!

Posted on Jul 12, 2010 in Android News, App News | 1 comment

Google has just simplified the development of Android apps to the point where normal people like you and me can make one! They state that App Inventor requires NO knowledge of programming. The team has incorporated “blocks” (distributed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, so you know it’s good) for just about everything in Android, i.e. storing information, pinging Twitter, repeating an action etc. This helps to visualize all of the logic behind how the app works.

Currently App Inventor is in its beta form and access will be granted in the coming weeks to people who apply.

Check out the link above and the video below for more information!

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