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Top 10 Windows Phone 8 Apps

December 11, 2013 in Mobile by bbadmin

Windows phone is slowly chipping away at the Android and IOS smart phone dominance. The OS is very intuitive and can more than hold its own against its biggest rivals, but Windows cannot compete in terms of the number of apps available for Android and IOS. That said the developers are getting on board and there are some superb little apps out there… Here are some of our favourites:

Halo Spartan Assault

The Halo series is one of the best first person shooters of the last decade. It is one of the real success stories of Microsofts Xbox, and now it’s available on your mobile. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is quite tricky to start off with, but once mastered it is very engaging and fun. There are also weekly challenges to keep the game fresh.

Flixster

Flixster is great for film buffs out there. You can keep up to date with the latest DVD and cinema releases, and even check out local cinema showings. The app uses ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, and gives lots of other detail including the synopsis, cast members and journalist reviews, to help you find your perfect movie. You need never be stuck for something to watch ever again!

Khan Academy

The Khan Academies mission is to provide a world class education for anybody, anywhere… and completely free of charge. It is a very noble ambition and for that alone is worth a download. You can choose from thousands of courses covering a vast range of subjects. Most of the content is delivered through videos, but there is also some literature, special talks and of course your home work.

Flow Free

Flow free is an addictive puzzler that seems destined to become a classic of mobile gaming. Lots of coloured dots and snaking lines form puzzles that gradually increase in difficulty. Try out the free levels, but I am sure afterwards you will become hooked enough to invest in the pro version… and probably the additional level packs too.

Fresh Paint

Fresh Paint has one of the best uses of multi-touch functions of any app. You can use five fingers simultaneously to mix up your palette. There are plenty realistic paints, with lots of brush and pencil tools so you can start from a blank canvas or draw on your pics. Alternatively the app can be used more like a colouring book. It comes with a starter pack of line drawings and there are other premium add-on packs. T

Office Apps

Excel, Word and OneNote are included on you Windows 8 installation, so you can carry your office in your pocket. Create spreadsheets on the go, put together presentations or documents and show them to your colleagues without having to transfer them to a PC or laptop. Of the apps I think OneNote translates best for mobile use. The insertion wheel lets you add a table, tag, photo, list, or paste to your note. Business apps like this could allow Windows phone to move into Blackberry’s territory, while still managing to be fun for everyday users.

Box

Continuing on with the business theme Box is a collaboration tool, which allows users to create shared workspaces. Assign tasks, post comments and notify users when your documents are being edited. Even if you are not a business user it is worth downloading the Box app just for the 5GB of free cloud storage.

Music Maker Jam

Windows Phone can also compete for the custom of music fanatics and producers, with Music Maker Jam. Throw together tracks with a huge variety of instruments and even vocals. There is also an effects graph which lets you apply distortions to your track in all different directions. Then once complete record your work and share it with your friends or on social media. This app is not quite as in depth as Cubasis, but it is pretty powerful and easy to learn.

 CameraStudio+

Get the most out of your handsets camera with various artistic filters, plus the standard photo adjustments – brightness, contrast, white balance, etc. There are also little tools such as red eye reduction, to help you quickly get the most out of your photos without having to transfer to a desktop. It also gives you the option to save as either a jpg or png file.

Nook

Challenging Amazons Kindle in the e-reader market was never going to be an easy task, but Microsofts Nook is slowly gaining ground. The Nook Windows 8 app has a well designed user interface making reading on your mobile a real pleasure. There are also over 3 million app ready nook books, magazines and newspapers, so in the app market at least Nook has out muscled the mighty Kindle.

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Google Glass: All You Need To Know And More

November 21, 2013 in Computing, Gadgets, Mobile by bbadmin

We all know Google as a company that loves to innovate. From its humble days as a search engine company, Google has expanded its services manifold to include Gmail, Google Plus, maps and satellite services, scholarly databases and more. With all this internet real-estate under its belt and a load of cash to spend, it’s little wonder that Google would quickly expand into the world of portable gadgets. Google’s transition to technology development has seen the emergence of the Android mobile phone, and more recently the incredibly interesting Google Glass. Read on to find out more about these amazing, interactive glasses.

Appearance

To start things off it’s worth discussing the aesthetic elements of Google Glass. The most striking and attractive feature of the apparatus is the long, curving titanium frame that comprises its sides and rims. Expertly crafted, the long metal strip is thick and then thins out into a slender hook that nestles behind both the users’ ears. Augmenting this shape are the silicone nose pads, simple and pleasant in design, and capable of keeping the glasses in one place for hours. Adorning this wonderful and stylish metal assortment is a plastic extension that hangs over the right glass-frame, and it is in here that all the essential circuitry and wires, which allow the Google Glass to function, are kept.

Connectivity

The really great thing about the Google Glass is that it is able to connect to wireless Internet sources without the need for a third-party device. What this means in real terms is that you can go for a walk down the road or to anywhere that has wireless, with just your Google Glass in tow. You don’t need any sort of Android or iPhone backup with you, meaning that you can be totally hands-free and connected to the Internet all at the same time.

Viewing Screen

With a clear, reasonably crisp display screen that fills your vision in real-time the Google Glass really is a modern technological wonder. The panel that projects images is located at the right side of the Glass, and it uses a light-refraction process to provide you with images that literally hover in the air in front of you. Coming equipped with a full range of colour contrast and saturation adjustment settings, and with the definition quality of an LCD TV, the Glass certainly packs a punch in the visuals department.

Videos and Voice Commands

In keeping with any Smartphone on the market right now, Google Glass is also configured to enable you to take pictures and capture video footage with the click of a button- or the use of a voice command! Simply follow voice command procedures and you can snap an image of whatever you happen to be looking at. You can also manually take a picture by tapping the shutter release button on the top of the Glass’ frame, and afterwards you can upload your images to Google plus or other online areas. The voice commands are also great for searching for content online, and you can also rely on verbal dictation to send quick responses to emails and messages, all of which can be accessed via the glasses of course!

So all in all the Google Glass is an amazing product that ushers in a new era of innovation and technological development in the gadget world. While the units are currently quite expensive, the amazing array of novel technological features they offer just begs trying and odds are you’ll be hooked the instant you try Google Glass.

Author Bio:

Simon Stevens is an Engineering student obsessed with new and upcoming technology. He recently arranged a loan through Flexirent to help him afford the amazing Google Glass device!

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Top 10 Android Apps of 2013

November 11, 2013 in Mobile by bbadmin

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2013 has been another great year for android owners, with some superb apps released. However with literally thousands of new apps coming out each month, and with some of very questionable quality, it can be almost impossible to unearth the gems. To help with that we have compiled a list of our favourite android apps:

Temple Run 2

The original Temple Run was a huge hit and with high hopes the sequel has not disappointed. There are plenty of additional features, loads of new levels, gorgeous graphics and addictive gameplay – all the elements of a great mobile game.

Asphalt 8: Airborne

The Asphalt series brings the thrill of arcade racing to your mobile. They have been some of the most fun driving games on any device so Asphalt 8: Airborne had a lot to live up to. The big new feature lets you get airborne, performing tricks and stunts. There isn’t much more to say other than a great all round game.

Strata

Strata starts off as a very simple and easy puzzle game, but fairly soon the difficulty increases and the addiction kicks in. Unique and frustratingly entertaining puzzle game which will make the morning commute fly past.

Football Manager 2014

One for the next Sir Alex, Football Manager was already a very good football management game. The 2014 update improves the few flaws and adds a new feature “My Club”, which allows you to build your own football club from scratch.

Camera Awesome

The IOS hit has finally made it across to Android. Camera Awesome gives you more control over your handhelds camera. You can adjust the exposure, focus and apply filters. Unlikemany other apps the changes look just as good on the big screen as they do on your device.

Toy Story: Story Theatre

One for the kids, Toy Story Theatre lets your child create their own story, using the characters from the hit Pixar films. They can ever record voiceovers to narrate the story. This really is a nice little app that will provide hours of fun for your whole family.

Cbeebies Playtime

Here we have another app for the kiddies, but this time for a slightly younger audience. The Cbeebies is aimed at toddlers. It includes lots of mini games, based on popular characters from Cbeebies shows. There is also an option to create an adult profile, so you can check what activities your child has been doing.

Quad Drawer

Quad Drawer adds some nice features to improve the standard Android app drawer. The most noticeable of these features is the keypad which lets you quickly skip to the app you’re looking for. It also helps to sort your apps, bring the most used to the fore.

Soundwave

Soundwave is another app to help you find new music. The difference between this and its many competitors is the social emphasis. You can take inspiration from your friends and even check out what your favourite celebs are listening to.

Google CloudPrint

If you have a CloudPrint compatible printer, then you should own this app. Take control of your printer with you mobile, checking the status of print jobs and print from your mobile over the web, no matter where you are in the world (as long as you have an internet connection!).

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Top Ten IOS Apps 2013

November 10, 2013 in Mobile by bbadmin

With over a million apps available for IOS, choosing just 10 has been a near impossible task. We’ve managed it though, and here it is – the top ten apps of 2013:

Cubasis

For budding producers out there and Cubase fanatics there is now an app to take your music making skills out of the studio to wherever inspiration takes you. Cubasis supports unlimited tracks and has all the synths, drum machines and samples built-in. Great for professionals to sketch out their tunes for later, or for those who just want to have a go at making their own tunes.

Dubble

Like all good creations Dubble is based on a very simple concept. It’s basically a photo sharing app, but this one is very unique. Take a photo, mix it with another chosen at random and the results – not always great, but often beautiful.

DJay 2

Here’s another one for the DJs or producers. The original DJay app was the best mobile DJing app on any device. For DJay2 the developers have completely re-built the original for improved performance and some great new features.

Google Play Music

Yet more music apps! One problem with Apple devices is that you are restricted to using iTunes, but no more. Google’s Play Music app allows you to access Google’s commercial music services and their free cloud storage facilities.

Real Racing 3

Real Racing 3 is the most realistic racing simulator app out there right now. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay totally immersive as you race around real world tracks. There are some very good racing apps out there, but this is the best.

Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPhone

Photoshop has been available on the iPad for quite a while already, but the iPhone release had been delayed until the middle of this year. Many thought the small screen would be too restrictive and while not ideal it is very functional. This is never going to replace the larger screen versions, but if you want to touch up some photo’s on the move, then it is more than capable.

Mr Potato Head Create & Play

Based on the popular child’s toy Mr Potato Head Create & Play is a fun and addictive time killer. Customise Mr Potato Head with over 200 accessories and then take him on a spud-tacular adventure, or simply share your creation with friends.

Badland

Badland makes the list after winning an Apple Design Award. Visually this app really is stunning and original. The game itself is about as simple as it gets, navigating your little character through various obstacles. But the simplicity does not make it any less engaging or addictive.

Google Maps

Apple tried to out -do Google with a custom map app, but failed spectacularly. It just wasn’t good enough. Google Maps is without doubt the best interactive map available and it is unlikely to be topped any time soon.

Moves 2.0

Moves 2.0 makes use of the iPhone 5S’ M7 motion processor to track activities such as walking, running or cycling. It then stores and presents the information using its ultramodern user-interface. Thanks to the M7 processor battery use is barely noticeable, especially when compared to competitor apps.

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Do We Want Curved Phones?

October 26, 2013 in Mobile by bbadmin

Curved Mobile phones

Since the release of the first iPhone there has been virtually no innovation in handset design. Sure there are small differences in the materials and the very fine details, but look at virtually every handset from every manufacturer and you will see the same rectangular shape with a large screen on one side and a camera lens the other.

6 years on and we have the next big innovation – both Apple and Samsung have announced plans to release curved screen phones in the next year. To steal a march on their rivals Samsung has already released the Galaxy Round, but it has so far gone relatively unnoticed. So why are manufacturers so keen to introduce curved screens… and do we really want them?

New products are often released without any real need and with technology in particular manufacturers feel the need to be ahead of their rivals when it comes to new features – even if there really isn’t any desire from consumers for that feature. Curved screens may start out as a novelty gimmick to help that handset standout, but they could well be considered essential in the near future.

While we cannot say how the phone of the future will look, I would expect devices to become much thinner and to become more flexible. Intel has already developed an almost paper thin flexible screen, but in a mobile handset there are so many other components to consider – most troublesome of all the battery. These small steps into curved screens could eventually pave the way for a truly flexible and lightweight battery design.

What Does the Galaxy Round Tell Us?

But for now back to curved screens of the present. Samsung’s Galaxy Round has been largely ignored by consumers, so do we really want it, and if so what went wrong with the Round? Well to start with the Galaxy Round is almost identical to the Note 3 in every way, including specification. The only noticeable difference is the price tag, with the Round costing about 25% more.

The curved screen is only really noticeable on close inspection, so it doesn’t add any wow value when you take your phone out, and in terms of functionality there isn’t much of an improvement either. The big factor here is the cost. The curved screen doesn’t add enough for most consumers to take it over the Note 3. If costs come down, or the curved screen features on a more unique handset, then we may get a more realistic view of the market.

Benefits of a Curved Screen

There are two major benefits to moving from glass to more flexible curved screens. The first is that flexible screens can be made so they are virtually unbreakable. A damaged screen can be very costly, but without replacing it you could be trapped in a long term contract with  a phone that is almost unusable. A flexible screen will not only be harder to break it should in theory at least, be cheaper and easier to replace.

The other benefit is the reduction in glare and reflections. The curved screen substantially improved the display performance – particularly in ambient light, where current glass screens really do struggle. Even on the Galaxy Rounds modest curve there is a noticeable difference between its screen and the Note 3.

Conclusion

There are two challenges for manufacturers to overcome if flexible curved screens are to take over. Cost and Functionality. Functionality is especially now when a phone is not just a phone, but a multimedia device used for everything from updating social media and playing games, to managing work or monitoring the family’s finances. If manufacturers can improve the phones performance while bringing down the cost of flexible screens we could soon see the end of the rectangular block.