Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Coming Back

After an extended time away I will be updating my blog soon with a review of 2013 in tech....

Friday, 10 August 2012

Slices - Twitters new tour guide

Slices is a new Twitter client from OneLouder. You may recognise  their name from previous apps FriendCaster and TweetCaster. Slices though is really their biggest breakthrough app to date. Not only does it look great it brings some useful functionality to the table. They have followed the ICS holo theme guidelines to the book meaning the design transitions nicely with any stock android theme or look you may have on your phone or tab.

I've always had a bit of a love hate relationship with Twitter. It's something I dip in and out of on monthly basis. I prefer following to being followed (stalker anyone?) I'm not great at updating regularly and to be honest I ramble so much that 140 characters is never enough (word whore.)

What makes slices so different to every other twitter app out there is the handy little explore button. By clicking explore your thrown in to a world of categories from celebs to humor. These are then divided in to sub categories allowing you to browse different twitter feeds and easily follow a variety of different accounts that you may never stumble on otherwise.

The other handy little tool Slices brings forward is its grouping tool strangely enough named.... Slices. Basically you can group together your twitter overlords in to groups (Slices) and create an individual timeline of say celebs, comedians or news. To be honest while this is a neat little feature I don't think its something I will be using regularly. I prefer my Twitter Line to read from Ricky Gervais followed by The Verge followed by the Local news that Mrs Coggins cat has been retrieved from the clutches of an evil mad man. As they say variety is the spice of life.

One thing struck me while using Slices though. It is very well polished and in my mind OneLouder obviously see this as their new flagship twitter client. But where does this leave all those that paid for the ad free version  of TweetCaster? Slices older brother did receive an update recently but how long will it be supported before they try and push people over to it's better looking sibling which again comes in a free Ad supported form and a paid no adds version.

Overall I would say if your a twitter fan you can't get any better than Slices on Android currently but I wouldn't blame you if your a paid up TweetCaster user feeling a bit irked. Try the Ad supported version and see what you think.

Slices is available for both iTunes and Android

Android Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onelouder.tweetvision
iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slices-for-twitter/id541595729?mt=8

Coming soon: Are in app advertisements really that intrusive? do you pay much attention to them? Would you pay for the luxury of not having in app ads over getting a free version?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

My Handheld Console Back and Fourth

I have always been a massive handheld fan.
While I will never solely replace a home console with one of its portable cousins I have always held a place in my heart for the smaller screen.

My handheld relationships have gone through some turmoil in the past year. I started the year off with the 3DS. Then being the tech addict I am jumped ship to the Playstation Vita. Now lo and behold I am back with old Ninty again now in XL form.

I don't know what it was but something never quite seemed to hit home with the Vita. It's something I could never quite put my finger on (Pun not intended, I don't have weirdly minute finger sticks) Looking back I think it was a few things. The most glaring aspect: Lack of games, not to say the games I did have weren't fun. I put a lot of time in to Gravity Rush (Highly recommended) Metal Gear Solid HD Collection ( I know it's a sin but I never completed MGS3 when it was first released) and Unit 13 (Good but limited in scope). I just couldn't see anything in the near future that compelled me to hold on to the Vita. I will admit games such as Little big Planet and a HD remake of Final Fantasy 10 did make me consider my decision to release the Vita to the wild but in the end they weren't good enough reasons in my eyes.

My next problem with the Vita was the app side of things. Sony obviously wants to push things like Facebook and You Tube forward and who blames them. But the initial apps seemed half baked compared to their mobile phone equivalents. I just don't see someone deciding not to use their phone or tablet and using the Vita instead. I may be wrong here and I'll eat my words if I am.

I'm not completely down on the Vita though, it does have some very redeeming features. No one can deny it is a powerhouse. The screen is fantastic the UI is lovely and having 2 onboard slider/joysticks is something handhelds having been crying out for for far too long.

While this next comment might sound strange to some I see it a just. I think the Vita has a bit of a faint wiff of Dreamcast about it. Now the Dreamcast was well ahead of its time it was different, embraced up coming technologies and even had a memory card with a screen (SHOCK). But it failed to take the mainstream as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft went on to do. Sony has the same problem in the hand held market. Be it the price, the design (I believe a parent is more likely to buy their  kid a 3DS over a Vita due to the fact the 3DS just looks more kid friendly)  the Vita just has not taken off in the way Sony (and Me) thought it would.

Back round to the 3DS XL. To start it's easy on the eye not quite the sleek design of the first clam shell 3D mini brick but still it has a very 'console' feel about it. This is the main thing about the 3DS, overall it evokes the feeling you had  playing on a console as a child. I'm currently playing Kid Icarus but there is plenty to go back to Resident Evil, Mario Kart, Super Mario and Kingdom Hearts. And coming up games like New Super Mario Bros, Paper Mario and Smash Bros. Most of you who have ever owned a Nintendo console will appreciate the caliber of their first party games and most of the time its a reason in itself to buy a Nintendo console.

Who knows what the next 12 months will bring though. Lets face it when it comes to consoles I'm fickle. Last gen I owned 3 DS (Not the 3Ds in the singular) and 2 PSP's the likely hood is something will pop up on the Vita that will make me move over again. While you may think 'why not just own both?' I see where you come from I own a PS3, 360 and a Wii. But for some reason when it comes to handhelds I seem to be a one console guy. Don't ask me why it's just always been the way.

Androids new changing Skin or Chameleon Launcher beta preview

What the finished product will look like
Right so here we go time to poke my head out from the underground maze and get some ideas, opinions and views out from the tech and gaming world.

Lets start with my most recent tech meanderings, today I received my  beta email from the guys at Chameleon launcher. For those not in the know Chameleon launcher is a replacement homescreen launcher for Android tablets.  http://chameleon.teknision.com/ 

The whole idea of a replacement launcher and one of the main reasons I'm a bit of Android fan boy is customisation. I'm not one to be tied down by the touchwiz (Samsung) and Sense (HTC) ways of going about things. I'm the type to change the way my phone looks from week to week. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a clusturbomb of info sometimes i want to go all minimalistic Yoko Ono on my phone.

I've played with a few launchers in my time with android and currently have Apex launcher chugging away on my Galaxy Note. It in my opinion is the best way to go for any Ice Cream Sandwich based phone. That's not to say Nova launcher doesn't also do a good job.

Anyway on to our reptilian based newcomer to the Android world. Chameleon launcher was designed by Teknision. These are the guys that designed the UI for the blackberry playbook. Now although many see the playbook as bombing it was always lauded for it's technically pleasing UI. Chameleon takes the same route.

The idea behind Chameleon is to unify a set of widgets all following the same design guidelines. Now to be clear I am currently testing Chameleon on my Asus Transformer Prime which is a 10 inch tab. I have heard from a few nexus owning chums that the widgets don't scale too well to the 7 inch profile of the Nexus. But I can't comment on this due to lack of access.  

As you can see from the picture above once Chameleon is out of beta it's going to be a lovely bit of kit. All unified fonts and widget sizes which will be a pleasure for any thumb to touch. But in it's current beta state we can tell we are quite far away from the ideas the kickstarter campaign laid out.

That's not to say I'm disillusioned with it's current form. In fact I'm happy and excited about what is to come. Currently we only have 5 widgets available Weather, Instagram, News (RSS), Twitter and Gmail. 

Weather: Very clean and nice simple reminds me of the weather eye app I use on my phone. I'm a big fan of this widget styling.

Instagram: A feed that refreshes new incoming Instagram posts.

News (RSS): A bit of an odd one this. You can't unify multiple News feeds in to one widget. You have to have separate  widgets for each  individual feed. So far my biggest gripe with the launcher.

Twitter: Very much the same as the Instagram app. Just a timeline of who you are followings posts. So far I've encountered a few bugs here with the whole timeline disappearing.

Gmail: Again as with the News feed an odd one here. You would think that this widget would show your recent inbox, but no? all the Gmail widget shows you is any unread mail you have.

While the widgets may not be working how you would think they would they look brilliant when melded together on one screen. I love the continuity it appeases my ocd side. There is definitely something to look forward to in this app. While I see some people being put off by a perceived lack of customisation I think the majority of people will enjoy having an info hub at a glance............. Oh and rumours are that this could be coming to android phones at some point.