Enjoy the look and feel of this Material Design music player app
Mobile music players can be tricky apps to negotiate. It is all too easy to get lost in a sea of album covers, playlists and artists. If you find this, then Phonograph Music Player might be the one for you.
At time of writing it is still in its beta with more features being promised, but right now it is a simple, attractive, easily-navigable music player. It works alongside Last.fm, giving users photos and biographies of the artists that they’re listening to.
The always-there play/pause button also enhances the user experience, making Phonograph a truly enjoyable app to use. If you are a technical music fan, you can also change the equalisation of individual songs to increase or decrease the bass at output of certain frequencies, allowing you to create your very own versions of your favourite songs.
As Honor graduates to offering devices on contract with Three, can it better the excellent Honor 6 with its latest device?
When we reviewed the Honor 6, we called it ‘very impressive’ and gave it a four out of five rating. Can the Honor 6 Plus go one better? On paper it looks promising. As well as boosting the full HD screen from 5-inches to 5.5-inches, the Honor 6 Plus has an extra camera on the back, a better front camera, a faster processor, more storage and a bigger battery.
When holding the Honor 6 Plus with the original device, the family resemblance is clear. The glass front and back with the curved plastic base is retained and, as with the original, it’s a good-looking device. It does feel big in the hand, but with 5.5-inch devices becoming more and more popular, it is less of a concern than it might have been six months ago. At 7.5mm thick, the device doesn’t feel too bulky. The dimensions are particularly impressive given the huge battery that is included. The buttons on the device are sensibly placed and click reassuringly. Both the volume and power buttons are on the right-hand side, just above the main SIM slot and the secondary SIM slot (which can be used as a microSD slot). The 3.5m headphone port is on the top of the device alongside the IR blaster.
One of the more polarising aspects of the Honor devices is the EmotionUI skin. The Honor 6 Plus ships with Android 4.4 KitKat, with a Lollipop upgrade due in the next few months. We are seeing a lot of Lollipop devices struggle for performance and battery life, two things that the6 Plus certainly doesn’t have an issue with. In use the device is extremely fast and as smooth as anything else on sale. Unquestionably, EmotionUI does make a lot of changes to base Android. It brings new colours, new icons, a drawer-free home screen / launcher; all things that might not be to everyone’s taste. While some tweaks aren’t what we’d consider a worthwhile change, there are a lot of changes that do enhance the base Android experience.
Tailor your Sony Xperia smartphone’s battery mode to your needs with this simple mod
One of the best features of the Sony Xperia range of devices is the excellent battery life. Where other manufacturers often struggle, Sony seems to have it figured out – its phones and tablets not only have batteries that are often bigger than the competitors, but Sony has also done a great job at making its software particularly efficient.
As well as the built-in Stamina features, which allow the device to intelligently manage its activity when the screen is turned off – something that really makes a big difference in Android – Xperia devices also include Ultra Stamina mode.
Ultra Stamina mode is ideal for when your battery is running low and you know it’s going to be a while before you can get to a charger. It limits the activity on your device to a few core features such as phone, messaging and a few offline apps, while also disabling mobile data and Wi-Fi connectivity.
News aggregating services like News360 or News Republic can take some time to learn what kind of news a user is interested in.
Nuzzel: News From Your Friends, however, has quite a head start in this area because it brings you news from sources that it already knows you like and are interested in, specifically your friends on social media.
If one of your Facebook friends or someone you follow on Twitter shares a particular news story, it will appear on the Nuzzel news feed. The apps assumption is that if your friends or follow with someone you will share similar interests and therefore be interested by similar news stories.
So, its like Flipboard? To an extent yes, but Nuzzel has much more streamlined interface for easy reading. This is also why its preferable for reading news stories in the app, rather than in the overwhelming social network itself.
How does PC game starring Jack Black and Elijah Wood translate to mobile?
Originally split into two acts on PC, but reunited on Android, Broken Age is far from your average point-and-click affair. This captivating piece of interactive fiction starts off as two separate adventures in unrelated settings, starring two teenage protagonists whom you can switch between at will, yet you immediately have a deep inkling that their stories must surely be linked in some way.
In the idyllic village of Sweet Bunting, Vella is about to have the honour of participating in the Maidens Feast; this, it turns out, involves being sacrificed to a giant monster called Mog Chothra, which must be fed to appease it. There’s plenty of witty dialogue and dark humour, including young maidens desperately trying to outdo each other to make themselves more alluring to the hungry Mog. However, the rebellious Vella manages to escape its slavering jaws and soon finds herself in a village in the clouds, led by an ‘enlightenment’ guru (voiced by Jack Black), which forms the basis for countless jokes.
Meanwhile, Shay (Elijah Wood) is bored to death with his solitary life aboard a spaceship, stifled by overprotective virtual parents. There are shades of The Truman Show in this fake, sanitised setting, as well as Groundhog Day as he’s forced to repeatedly complete phony, childish missions such as rescuing cute knitted ‘yarn pals’ from an ice-cream avalanche and a runaway train.
How the newly announced Android Nanodegree can help you make a career out of coding
Google wants to make it faster and easier for the next-generation of hackers to become Android developers. It has partnered with the online education centre Udacity to produce an program that promises to help you “learn to develop for Android and transform your career outlook” over the course of 6-12 months.
Called the Android Nanodegree, the program offers free video content, along with the option of personal help, tuition and feedback for $200 a month. It’s aimed at established or intermediate developers who want to jump to Android or improve their general skills. Tying together other Android learning programs into a structured whole, the new nanodegree is developed and taught by expert Google instructors, and covers everything from UX design to integration with Google Play services.
Google and Udacity are both keen to promote the new course and get students enrolled (you can sign up online at specific times throughout the year). In fact, Google is going to hand-pick 50 Android Nanodegree graduates to attend a hackathon in Mountain View in the near future. In Google’s words, it’s “an education credential that is designed for busy people to learn new skills and advance their careers in a short amount of time from anywhere at any time”.