We’d like to think we’ve gotten launchers all figured out on our Android devices. And for the most part, we’d be correct. A launcher normally consists of multiple sliding panels, where widgets and shortcuts can be placed, an app dock for your most accessed apps, an app drawer that’s opened with a grid-like icon, and maybe some custom themes and icons to choose from. Of course, these aren’t strict requirements. We’ve covered plenty of fantastic launchers with their own twists and perks, but they’re more or less modifications of your standard launcher template.
Which is why XDA Senior Member Suxsem‘s Slide Launcher is such an intriguing concept. Despite billing itself as a “launcher,” Slide Launcher strays away from the standard in many ways, one of which is the fact that it only runs when you want it to. This is achieved with its ability to launch only when you slide up from the home capacitive button, overlaying itself over the app that’s currently running. This means that unlike your conventional launcher, Slide Launcher doesn’t run in the background eating up RAM and battery when you’re not using it. It also means that you can have Slide Launcher run concurrently with another launcher if you wish.
Once activated, Slide Launcher displays a personalized arrangement of shortcuts to apps, contacts, and actions such as a direct call or message. If you’re running a Paranoid Android ROM, apps can also be launched in halo mode, which is another nifty feature. As far as customization goes, you can adjust and change just about every element of the launcher, from icon arrangements and size, to background transparency and color, to haptic feedback.
Slide Launcher is definitely a launcher you’ll want to check out if you’re looking for something different and unprecedented, or even as an alternative to the popular sidebars. Suxsem has made the app free to download, and is compatible with Android 4.0 and newer. For more information, visit the application thread.
Android is six years old now. One week ago, we presented the first part of the Android story. Now, it’s time to continue the journey.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—located in Mountain View, the first version of the operating system dedicated for tablets was born. Google called it 3. 0 Honeycomb and presented it alongside the Motorola Xoom.
Although a calculator is one of those taken for granted pre-installed apps that you are likely to find on most devices, the bundled apps are often quite simplistic and useful only for simple calculations. Those of you who might need something a little more heavy duty are certainly not short of choice when it comes to finding a more capable number crunching application. And if that’s something that you do need, you might want to check out aCalculator by XDA Recognized Developer zFr3eak.
aCalculator is a simple, yet very functional and stylish alternative to the bland OEM offerings. In addition to the basics, it supports a number of math operations likely to boggle the mind of a numerical plebeian such as myself. Most notably:
There are also other useful features such as a history, storage for up to five variables, support for radians and degrees, and more. The UI of the application is clean and stylish, with both a Holo dark and light theme and support for all sizes of device from phone through to tablet. Yes that’s right, I’m acknowledging phablets as a category all of its own now.
The developer hopes to continue development of the app and add even more operations, as well as support for graph view, so please do check this one out and offer some feedback if this is something that you’re likely to find useful. aCalculator is 100% ad-free and available in the application thread.
There’s certainly been a new wave of apps focused on alternative device navigation and control, harnessing the previously overlooked potential and capabilities of internal sensors. The most obvious and popular options would definitely be the proximity sensor, originally used only to prevent unintentional contact with the phone screen during calls. With it, we’ve covered many apps and mods that utilize the sensor to allow users to perform a whole host of actions.
One alternative that we haven’t seen many novel uses for is the accelerometer. Most commonly used for screen rotation, XDA Senior Member voriax decided to utilize it in Magus, an app that triggers actions on your Android device in response to tilts and flips.
With Magus activated, you’ll be able to perform a series of tilts and flips to compose Emails, mute audio, open the default picture gallery, and pause and play music. These combinations can be customized through the designated settings panel, and can be turned on and off, and deleted if you wish. Magus also has a wide range of settings, including adjusting the sensitivity of the gravity sensor, activating ‘pocket protection,’ and more.
It’s a pretty revolutionary idea actually, as it creates more choices for those who are looking for alternative ways to control their devices, or aren’t able to use a device otherwise because of disabilities. The latter has been attested to by voriax, who cites that Magus has been used by those with visual impairments to perform actions that we take for granted, such as dialing a phone number.
If you would like to give this a go, make sure to visit the application thread for more information and download.
November 22, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
In an interesting twist, the Verizon Moto X is among the first to get the Android 4.4 KitKat update! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the announcement that there is a KitKat-based OmniROM available for the Google Nexus 5. And in another unexpected move, Motorola has reinstated warranties on developer devices. That’s not all that is covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for XuiMod, Jordan gave a device review of the Google Nexus 5, and TK gave us an app review of CloudMagic. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
November 22, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
About a month and a half ago, Google shared some future plans on better highlighting tablet-specific apps within the Google Play Store. Along with that announcement, Google also shared some Tablet Optimization Tips to make sure that your apps play nicely on larger screens.
Now, the update is here, and the Google Play Store defaults to show only applications specifically designed for tablets when accessing the Play Store from a tablet. And as an incentive to make applications tablet-friendly, applications that meet the tablet optimization requirements are then shown in this tablet-specific list. Of course, you can still view phone-optimized apps by switching the view from “Designed for Tablets” to “Designed for Phones.” But with Google’s ever expanding tablet app library, it’s becoming increasingly possible to find every app you need for your Android tablet without having to resort to phone apps.
We’re glad to see Google take tablets more seriously. Now that there are over 70 million Android tablets in circulation, it’s about time. Those developing tablet apps should visit the Google-sourced resources listed below:
November 21, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Smartphones are smart because they are more than just phones. In fact, I’m betting most of us don’t even really use the phone functionality of our smartphone all that often. They are our entertainment devices, and perhaps most importantly, they are our Email communications devices. The default Email applications on Android work great. But to be honest, they are not that pretty.
XDA Senior Member ashwinsadeep offers an Email client with better looks and functionality. In this videom XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews CloudMagic. TK shows off the application and gives his thoughts, so check out this app review.
November 21, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Up until very recently, applications designed for Google Glass faced several key limitations when using the RESTful cloud-based Mirror API. Chief among them, was the requirement for Internet connectivity. Well, Google intends to change this with various new APIs introduced with the Google Glass Development Kit, or GDK for short. These allow offline apps that have real time user responsiveness, apps that work without network access, and apps that can make use of deeper access to hardware features.
The GDK serves as an add-on to the Android SDK that allows you to create applications designed for Google Glass (dubbed Glassware). The GDK can be installed in preview form, directly from the Android SDK install manager. As such, building Glassware involves much of the same procedures as building a standard Android application. However, applications built using the GDK add-on will have access to voice, can create persistent cards, and can detect gestures.
Alongside the GDK preview release, Google also showed off five new apps (Strava, Allthecooks Recipes, Word Lens, GLU, and GolfSight) that make use of the new features in the GDK. These are featured on the MyGlass page.
More information on the GDK can also be found in the GDK Sneak Peek presentation below:
2pm Eastern time, October 31st, 2013 — Google flips the switch, and the Nexus 5 goes live on the Google Play store. Within minutes, all of the available variants (16 and 32 GB models, in both black and white) are backordered, with ship dates weeks or months out. Somehow, I managed to get my order in. I can’t recall whether it was someone posting about it on Google+ or a passing comment on Twitter that alerted me to the sale, but at 2:12pm I placed my order. Just a few days later, the Nexus 5 arrived, bringing some delicious Android 4.4 KitKat with it to my door.
It’s been just over two weeks since I received the device and, for the most part, I’ve been using it as my daily driver. I’ve taken it on a family vacation, used it for photography, navigation, and work-related reading, and I feel that it’s time to share my impressions of the device.
“Just one last video”
Yes, I’ve had those too. A whole day wasted on YouTube watching cute cat videos, ‘epic’ failures, and hilarious Vine compilations. You try to assure yourself that the current video of someone faceplanting on the ground will be the last one for the day, but this only heightens the guilt when you press the replay button or the next video. So rather than wasting hours on YouTube, put that time to good use by creating boot animations of these videos so you can relive those moments every time you turn on your phone or tablet.
XDA Senior Member deathviper wrote a great tutorial on doing just that. Once you have installed the three required programs, being XDA Recognized Developer despotovski01‘s boot animation creator, an image resizer, and a video pad editor, all of which are free, you’re already well on your way. The procedure is very straightforward, consisting of resizing, and not stretching, your video to the resolution of your device. Then, you push it through the boot animation creator.
All the steps are well explained and illustrated with plenty of corresponding screenshots and helpful links to additional information. If a boot animation is the wrong size, don’t worry, as deathviper has also covered the necessary steps to get it working correctly on your device.
Deathviper’s guide definitely makes the process of converting and resizing your favorite videos a breeze. So if you’re interested in making this happen, head over to the forum thread to get started.
November 19, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
If you’ve been around XDA for any amount of time, you’ve come upon a custom ROM that you really like. Whatever that ROM is, there is always some other ROM that has a neat feature you want. Or maybe you want to run Stock Android but cherry pick your customizations. Well, we have an offer for you.
In this episode of XDA Xposed Tuesday, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews XuiMod. XDA Senior Member zst123 created this Xposed Module to offer customizations that you would find in any different custom ROMs. TK shows off the module and gives his thoughts, so check out this app review.
Most default email applications that ship with Android devices are pretty bland, both in aesthetics and user interface. And I guess we can’t blame the OEMs for keeping it that way, since providing an immaculate and flawless Email experience on their devices isn’t their top priority. Despite this, the default email app has served me well, with little cause for gripes, until I noticed XDA Senior Member ashwinsadeep‘s CloudMagic in the XDA Forums.
What the default email client on most devices cannot provide, CloudMagic does, and pleasingly so. The UI is logical in design with mainly gesture-driven actions, smooth transitions of panels and pages, and pleasing colors. CloudMagic does a superior job than most, if not all, default Email clients.In fact, I may even say that CloudMagic does a better job than Google and the official Gmail app.
Furthermore, CloudMagic has support for a wide variety of email hosts and other services, including:
A comprehensive list, no doubt.
In addition to the standard unified inbox, CloudMagic allows easy access to all folders and sub-categories you may have with your Email accounts, as well as offline Email search. Among the remaining plethora of options and features, the app also includes a handy passcode lock and reminders for starred emails. Unfortunately, CloudMagic “only” supports up to three accounts due to server restrictions, so for those who handle quite a number of Email accounts may be let down.
CloudMagic is pleasing to the eye, easily navigable, and feature packed. These add up to form quite an Email application. If you’re starting to get tired of your current client, CloudMagic is an alternative you must try out. For more information and download, visit the application thread.
November 18, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps, and it’s widely available on various mobile platforms. It allows users to contact friends in many countries cheaply. However, many are unhappy with its default UI, hence the dozens of themes spread across the forum.
A great idea was presented by XDA Forum Member seebye, who decided to combine WhatsApp with some of the good originally seen in Facebook. As a result, Seebye Chat Heads was created. In short, this application uses the WhatsApp messaging system, and displays messages in a manner similar to Facebook’s chat heads.
The notifications can be freely moved around the screen and used while in other applications, just like Facebook messages. Despite the relatively early stage of development, as this app is beta, the overall experience is impressive and the application very easy to use. To be fully functional, WhatsApp needs to be installed and root access granted. And if you experience issues, good old reboot may be required.
So if you can’t live without WhatsApp and find your current client boring, visit the application thread and enjoy the HALO-like experience.
[Thanks to Forum Moderator GermainZ for the tip!]