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TV Listings for Android, Never Miss a Show!

Posted on Jul 30, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | comment

TV Listings for Android quickly shows you an overview of what is on right now (only U.S. supported).

  • Version: 2.0.2
  • Size: 1.56MB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



This handy app covers OTA, cable, and satellite providers totaling over 12,000 TV channels. You can easily check what’s currently on with the initial channel based list, which updates itself to the current time. This view displays  the next three shows that are being aired on each channel. Clicking on a specific channel will give you the full guide including show descriptions.

Additionally, if you’re big on movies and sports, there is a tab for each one. A really nice feature is the progress bar shown for the movies/sports that are currently playing. So if you’re only interested in catching the final couple innings of the baseball game, now you can!

Another great feature is the ability to apply filters based on categories like action, anime, or comedy (there’s a long list!). Similarly, in the Settings you can filter which channels you want to be included in the TV listings, that way you don’t have to wade through all of the worthless TV shows to find what you want.

Pros:

  • Set reminders for your favorite TV shows
  • Accurate, fast loading listings
  • Filters for specific channels and show categories



Areas for improvement:

  • Icons for all channels would improve the look and feel of the app itself
  • A search feature would be very helpful



Conclusion: Assuming you enjoy watching movies, sports, or TV shows in general, you’ll want TV Listings for Android in your app arsenal.

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Top Android Widget: Fancy Widget

Posted on Jun 20, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps, Top Rated Widgets | 16 comments

Fancy Widget adds a beautiful look and feel to your homescreen, while providing you with the time, date, current weather, and forecast!

  • Version: 1.2.1
  • Size: 1.24MB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



First off a quick note: Make sure to exclude Fancy Widget from your Task Manager kill list, otherwise the widget will no longer update.

List of features:

  • Clock with 12 or 24-hour formats
  • Current weather/temperature (based on geolocation)
  • Weather forecast
  • Configurable refresh interval and links to apps from clicking the widget
  • Landscape mode support



In order to change the settings, open the app from the apps list (not the usual method for widgets). One of the best functions of this widget is that you can choose what apps you would like to open by clicking on the clock, date, and weather. For example, I have the clock linked to the Alarm Clock for quick access. I also linked the date to my Calendar to quickly see my list of meetings/appointments for the day. Lastly, clicking the current weather icon will bring up the forecast for the next four days. Now this is all available from my homescreen!

Pros:

  • Completely configurable, i.e. linking to other apps directly from clicking the widget
  • Elegant UI that complements your homescreen/wallpaper
  • Time, date, current weather, and forecast all in one place



Areas for improvement:

  • Takes up a 4×2 chunk of your homescreen
  • May slow loading of the homescreen on older phones



Conclusion: A beautiful widget that encompasses multiple functions all-in-one. A definite complement to your homescreen!

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Did you feel that?: Earthquake!

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | 2 comments

Yet another popular app has been brought to Android.  While this app would have normally been of interest primarily for those of us in Southern California, worldwide events have broadened the interest about information regarding quakes.

Earthquake Listing

  • Version: 2.6
  • Size: 151KB
  • Category: News and Weather
  • Price: Free

Earthquake allows you to track and view seismic activity globally.

Here’s a result screen:

You can zoom in by tapping the screen once, which will give you a -/+ option.  Upon zooming, you can see the approximate area affected by the quake:

There are a variety of settings, such as minimum magnitude and maximum distance, but the notifications are kind of interesting; you can choose to be alerted by a ringtone or vibration if the quake occurs in the region near you (eerily appropriate).  My take on it is, if the quake happened near you, you’re probably going to know before it does, but on smaller ones it can suprise you.  I happened to have downloaded this app shortly after the string of earthquakes hit Mexico starting on April 4, 2010 (7.2).  It was amazing to hear my phone (HTC Incredible) ping and vibrate with a remarkable frequency throughout the next few days.  We were seeing something like 6+ aftershocks a day.

Pros:

  • Simple to use and understand
  • Easy settings to alert you to seismic events
  • Covers the world!

Areas for improvement:

  • It would be cool if you could vary the intensity of the alerts based on magnitude
  • Limited to only a couple of days worth of events.



Conclusion: Interesting app for the geographically unstable.

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Top Android App: NYTimes

Posted on May 10, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | comment

The NYTimes app for Android allows you to enjoy the award-winning journalism of The New York Times on your Android smartphone, free of charge. Thank you to Marc Klein for emailing us to suggest we share this app!

  • Version: 1.0
  • Size: 1.06MB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free
  • Overall Score: 4.5/5



The first great part about the NYTimes app is that it was built specifically for the Android platform. This is apparent in the drop-down menu (much like Android’s notification bar) which allows you to quickly choose a different section. Some of the available sections include Latest News and Video, Technology, Sports, Movies, Jobs, and more.

The app’s interface is very clean, staying true to the Times clear-cut black and white style. Swiping left/right will take you to the next/previous article in that section. Additionally, NYTimes has made it very simple to share articles through whichever medium you’d like; just hit the menu button to find all of your options. Also in the menu, you’ll find the ability to adjust the text size, depending on your reading preferences. On the bottom of the app, you’ll see the second information bar, which lets you know the last time the app was updated. Click the bar to manually refresh.

Pros:

  • Easy to read format
  • Unique, fast video display
  • Offline reading
  • Simple!



Areas for improvement:

  • Article loading time a little slow, even with WiFi
  • Ability to customize favorite sections



Conclusion: Download if you’re looking for a quick news update app, without all of the extra options.

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Top Android App: NewsRoom

Posted on Jan 23, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | 4 comments

We all know how important and useful RSS and news feeds are, and how heavily you rely on them when you’re on the go.  Now NewsRoom has joined the party and is one of the fastest news/RSS readers in the Android Market.  It brings the functionality and eye candy that you are always longing for.  One word to sum it up?  Impressive.

Version: 1.6.12
Size: 682KB
Category: News & Weather
Price: Free (Full: $4.99)
Overall Score: 4.7/5

User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 4.5/5

Three reasons NewsRoom is a must have Android app:

  • Low battery usage
    • They actually tested NewsRoom against NewsRob and FeedR and found its battery usage to be significantly less.  We all know how precious/limited resources and battery life are with mobile phones, so this is a huge upside to NewsRoom.
  • Beautiful UI and near independence from using the Browser
    • You’ll have quick and easy access to full articles, greatly reducing the time you spend waiting for articles to load.  Not to mention once you’re inside the feed of your choice you’ll have nice previews of all articles, so you can decide what you’d actually like to read.
  • Swipe motions for easy navigation
    • You’ll love navigating through this app.  It’s extremely intuitive and makes the app even more functional.  Here are a few to start with:
      • View all unread articles: Swipe Up from the main menu.
      • Mark all feeds read: Swipe Down from the main menu.
      • View full article: Swipe Up from the article view.
      • Preview articles in a feed: Swipe Left/Right.
      • Return to main menu: Swipe Up from article view.
The following three screenshots show the page hierarchy built into the app, which is easily accessed through broad swiping as outlined above.

In order to add a new feed, you will need to click the ‘+’ button at the top of the main menu when you first open the app.  NewsRoom provides you with a list of suggested feeds (one of which is Best Android Apps Review!) that you can easily add.  If you’d like to add another feed, you can either search for a site name or type the feed URL directly into the search box.  For example, to add our site to your NewsRoom app, you would type http://feeds.feedburner.com/BestAndroidAppsReview in the search box.  Now you can have the best Android app information and the most beautiful UI all in one place!

You’ll also find an extensive Preferences list that allows you to customize the app as you see fit.  This is a tell-tale sign of a quality, user-centric app.
The one shortcoming with this app is that it does not offer Google Reader integration.  Many of you with Android phones probably are using Google Reader as your RSS feed aggregator and it would be a luxury to have this app import all your favorite feeds.  Hopefully this will be added.  If this isn’t possible, the search feature could use some upgrading.
Overall, NewsRoom proves that Android can (and does) have incredibly polished apps that offer a high level of functionality.  If you want to stay up-to-date with your favorite sites, NewsRoom is for you.  Scan the QR code with Barcode Scanner (or click on the code if you’re reading from your phone) for the direct link to NewsRoom in the Android Market.
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