App of the week: Pocket Casts

interface_PocketCasts_list

If you’re like me, you listen to a lot of podcasts, and you will know that it can be quite hard to keep track of what you have or haven’t listened to or what episodes are new. This week’s app of the week, Pocket Casts by Shifty Jelly, is perfect solution for Android users who want to keep track of all the different podcasts conveniently and easily. It automatically checks for new episodes and notifies you when new episodes pop through via RSS, and presents you with options to either stream or to download. The app will even delete any episodes which you have listened to automatically, and use smart playlists to isolate those episodes that you need to finish first. All this comes alongside a plethora of other useful features such as cross-platform subscription sync.

interface_PocketCasts_sync2

On Android, the new version 4.0 follows the Holo guidelines to the letter, but manages to add its own flavour of red and white to the mix, making this one of the best looking apps I have ever used. While not quite as good-looking or feature-rich, the iOS version of the app still looks great. All in all, I seriously recommend this app to anyone who listens to podcasts.

Pocket Casts, Android (£2.70), iOS (£1.49)
Download from Google Play or the App Store

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First Xbox Live game for both Windows Phone and Windows 8 quietly released

galactic_reign2When Windows Phone 8 was released way back in October last year, much was made of the relationship prospective Windows Phone 8 purchasers would have between their mobile and their PCs. Since then, nothing much to that side of things has materialised, but yesterday that all changed.

Galactic Reign was teased by Microsoft last October, but there was no mention of platforms, nor was there a release date, but yesterday the game quietly slipped into both the Windows 8 Store and the Windows Phone Store as an Xbox Live title. Microsoft used to always announce upcoming Windows Phone games well in advance, but they haven’t done so much of that recently, and it seems crazy that such a huge milestone for the OS was released with so little fanfare, but hey, at least it’s here now.

galactic_reign3As you might have guessed from its name, the game is a sci-fi strategy number. You have to find the right balance between spaceships and weapons and hope your fleet is good enough to beat your opponents, and we won’t go into too much detail here, but there’s a single player mode with 60 challenges and a multiplayer side of things where you battle people online. There a bunch of Xbox achievements to aim for as well.

It’s great to finally see a game which bridges the Windows Phone 8/ Windows 8 divide. With the multiplayer game, you can play with different hardware to your opponent, i.e. it doesn’t matter whether you use a PC, Windows Phone or Surface. Galactic reign will cost $4.99 for Windows 8 or for Windows Phone 7 and 8. The best bit of all? You only need to purchase one version to have access to it on both platforms.

Source: Windows Phone Central

Twitter introduces photo filters into its iOS and Android apps

[tweet https://twitter.com/Xavdog/status/278284300485541888]

After Facebook-owned Instagram removed its integration with the social network last week, Twitter has released an oft-rumoured update to its Android and iOS applications that add photo editing and filters without the need for third-party services or applications. Powered by Aviary, a photo editing platform which provides an SDK that is already implemented in a number of third party applications, the new app provides eight filters that were designed specifically for Twitter along with basic cropping and enhancement options. While unlikely to tempt many users away from Instagram, which also added a new filter today, frequent users of Twitter’s own mobile apps may be pleased to see them gaining more features to challenge third-party clients. The updates are available now through Google Play and the App Store, but no information has been offered up regarding the filters debuting on other platforms.

Twitter Filters

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=2giNzaZunqE]

Source Twitter Blog

Things That Should Exist: The Instant Insult Machine

Things That Should Exist is a column by James Trickey. Things suggested are not always good ideas.

Firstly, shut up. This idea may sound stupid but I can completely reassure you that it is in fact 100% pointless, unneeded, antisocial and probably stupid, but, since I said it first, you can take that and shove it somewhere where I’m not looking.

Secondly, this idea may or may not already exist but I don’t care.

And thirdly, here are some fire extinguishers for your own sick amusement.

Onto the subject for today which is, as you might have guessed, an incredible device that allows you to instantly insult your best friends at merely the touch of a button. I know – awesome. As I’ve  clearly stated in the paragraph beginning with ‘secondly’, this may already exist. but this is my own take and what I want my Instasult machine to do.

I’m certain you have (so certain you wouldn’t believe, in fact) that you have accidentally got yourself into an argument that you just can’t be bothered to fight for anymore. This is where the magic happens. Because you’re so damn bored of this person, you can whip out this small (or large) box/tortoise-shaped robot and, at the press of a button, have his mum called fat for some reason.

BAYM!! He feels sad and depressed and you’ve got that smug grin on your face because after the insult the whole crowd went “OOOooooo….R U GONNA TAKE THAT FAM?!?!” and in the end he cannot come up with anything to beat it. These insults would be downloaded at your own pleasure and I’m thinking that an app would be able to send new insult to the machine via your mobile device or such like.

Also, think of the advertising potential. I won’t go into detail, but you can imagine some happy clappy man presenting a machine that AUTOMATICALLY INSULTS YOUR FRIENDS. Sorry for the caps lock, but I just wanted my point to get across one last time.

And, once again, I bid you farewell for another week as I leave to go and do something better, more constructive and that might actually give me some sort of pleasure in my life.

Insert sound from typical comic book here.

Header image from spinningpixels

Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion

In a post on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that his company has purchased Instagram for $1 billion. Read his post below.

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

Amazon’s Appstore generates more revenue than Google Play according to research from Flurry

Research from Flurry suggests that Amazon’s Appstore, currently US-only, generates more revenue per daily user than Google’s own Play Store, formerly known as the Android Market.

How Draw Something became an overnight hit

Over the past few weeks, Draw Something has become massive, with over 30,000,000 downloads on iOS and Android. GigaOm‘s interview with the CEO of OMGPOP, Dan Porter, explains how it all happened.

Gigaom

Draw Something, the No. 1 app right now on iOS (s aapl) and Android (s goog), is listed as a game and draws a lot of comparisons to the family game Pictionary. But the funny thing is that it’s not really a game at all.

It doesn’t have scores or leaderboards, and the players in the game aren’t actually competing against each other. They’re working together in a cooperative manner, but they’re not taking on anyone else or a computer.

Instead, it’s more of a social communications app masquerading as a game, said OMGPOP CEO and Draw Something game designer Dan Porter.

I sat down with Porter Friday at OMGPOP’s New York office and asked him about how he pulled off the immense success of Draw Something, which has racked up 30 million downloads on iOS and Android in about five weeks. The app has generated about 2 billion…

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