A chat app that needs no internet connection
The unique selling point of this basic instant messaging app is that it works even without an internet connection or mobile signal. The original iPhone app, released a few weeks earlier, achieves this by using iOS 7’s built-in multi-peer connectivity framework that enables users to chat locally via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. However, for the Android version, the developer had to employ a different technique: ‘multihop mesh networking’, which can be used to link devices, peer to peer, into large webs. The only problem is that the two technologies aren’t compatible, so Android users can’t talk to iOS users. Another downside is that unlike the iOS app, the Android version can’t send photos.
To start a chat with someone locally, both devices need to be fairly close – ideally within about 30 feet. Select the Nearby tab in the app and you can see how many users are within range and join conversations. In our tests, we discovered that indeed no internet connection was required to chat locally, although it seemed that at least one device needed to have Wi-Fi turned on to initiate the hook-up – after which the conversation could continue using just Bluetooth.
The obvious downside is that there is absolutely no privacy for chats, so anyone using FireChat nearby could potentially eavesdrop – or butt in – on your conversation. Nor is there any way to block another user. Indeed, the app’s Everyone mode (requiring an internet connection) is an unregulated chat room of 80 random users where all human life is present. On the plus side, you have the convenience of not having to log in and you can employ any username you like. In addition, at least your local chats should be safe from internet snoopers.
Navigating worlds that look like M.C. Escher paintings in Monument Valley, the hit game now on Android
After gaining a massive following on iOS, Monument Valley has made its long awaited debut on to Android devices. Throughout the game you play as the silent princess, navigating her through beautifully sculpted buildings across a wide selection of levels. Your main aspect of control in the game is to be able to twist and turn each tower you climb. The 3D perspectives work great and you’ll find that to complete each level, you need to turn the tower frequently enough to avoid any mistakes.
Occasionally you’ll find obstacles or enemies blocking your way, but these require only a bit of thinking to navigate past successfully. The further you get into the game, the more elaborate the towers become and the more puzzles you will face as you climb. Despite this, the difficulty never really stretches you and instead of ramping the difficulty up, the developers have helped players to simply enjoy the experience a whole lot more. The atmosphere is enhanced when you incorporate the use of sound in Monument Valley. Although there isn’t a soundtrack, as such, the game relies on environmental sounds and subtle additions here and there to highlight some of the more dramatic moments.
The most striking aspect of the game, however, has to be its graphics. Monument Valley is simply a stunning game that has been animated perfectly. Levels look unique and the minimalist theme works a treat throughout. There’s also a fairly decent story alongside the game, which although won’t win any awards, it does enough to draw the player in and offers a good amount of closure at the end.
Set up Microsoft Remote Desktop so you can access your PC from almost anywhere with your Android in just five steps.
If you’re looking for a familiar computing experience delivered to a smaller package, then this is the way to go. With an official Microsoft app, which is free to download from the Google Play store, you can get your home Windows experience up and running on your Android device. It can be a little fiddly, especially if your PC isn’t set up to work as a remote desktop, but there are some excellent tutorials on the MS website that walk you through getting your machine set up to essentially stream its desktop to your phone or tablet. This is probably the toughest of the tutorials we’re walking you through here, and it can be frustrating trying to get your PC and your phone talking to each other properly. Still, if you persevere you’ll end up with a desktop experience on your Android that means the files and folders you manipulate will be replicated on your laptop the next time you go to it, which isn’t half bad at all really.Install the app
First up you’ll need to grab the app from the Google Play store and get it installed. It doesn’t cost you a penny, but it’s a good idea to make sure the version of Windows you’re running is compatible before you do. The compatible versions of the OS are easily found via a link. Insert your details
The computer you’re connecting with needs to be on the same wireless network as your phone and you’ll need the computer’s name, and the username and password for the admin account. If you’re unsure what your laptop is called, check in its settings. Get connected
If everything has gone smoothly then you should be able to connect straight away and you’ll see the complete Windows desktop on your Android screen. Remember you’ll need to be running a compatible version of Windows. Versions that use Remote Assistance only won’t work. Get yourself going
Some things are a little different from the regular Windows experience, mainly because you’re tapping rather than using a mouse, but everything you can do on your computer you can now do on your Android. Just make sure the computer stays powered while you work. Disconnect when done
To pull the plug on the connection, all you need to do is open up the start menu and hit the Sign Out option. This will reset your Android back to a simple Android device, and leave any changes you made to your desktop as well. Pretty good for a free app we think.
The LG L35 adds to the growing number of budget devices available to Android users.
Budget phones are causing a fairly substantial wave in the Android ecosystem, with devices like the Moto E showing companies can deliver plenty of phone for a small outlay. The LG L35 falls perfectly into the budget category, but with such strong competition nowadays, will it be a device many people will go far. Check out the full specifications list below.LG L35 specifications: 109.4 x 59 x 11.9 mm, 108 grams 3.2″ (320 x 480) IPS-LCD display 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor 512MB RAM 3-megapixel rear-facing camera 1480mAh battery 4GB internal storage, expandable to 32GB via microSD
The LG L35 will be announced across Europe, but there’s no confirmation on a solid release date or any news of pricing as of yet.
Gore, gore and even more gore
Playing as the aptly named John Gore, it’s your task to guide him through a whole horde of different enemies. There’s no complicated storyline, or even a thorough control system, instead the game relies solely on gameplay.
Each level puts you in a different location, where the enemies are all zombified. Using the dual touchscreen controls to shoot and slice your enemies, the action is fairly relentless. It takes a bit of coordination to get your thumbs working in tandem in the first instance, but it’s a fairly easy game to master.
The further you get into the game, the more enemies you’ll come across, as well as playable characters to tryout. Although enemies are varied and certainly look the part, there’s not a whole lot of difference between each playable character. This isn’t a massive issue when you consider up to 150 enemies can appear on your screen at any single time.
FIFA 14 by EA Sports hits the back of the net every time.
FIFA 14 has undergone a major facelift on Android, with the game looking more impressive than ever and player animations looking more authentic that previous versions. All the core game modes have made a comeback, with the inclusion of the hugely popular Ultimate Team mode, where you need to create the best team possible by purchasing packets of players.
In app purchases are a common trend in EA titles, but you can get away without spending a penny within FIFA 14, although parting with some cash can open up various cups and competitions.
Gameplay is as fluent as ever, with a solid gesture system now in place to make passing and shooting more fluent. Touchscreen controls are still some way behind their console counterparts, but the controls here are decent enough. It’s hard to fault FIFA 14 in many areas and if you can get to grips with the controls, then you’re on to a winner here.