Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Swipe for Facebook App Returns After Facebook-Imposed Restriction

After temporarily removing his app from Google Play, the developer behind a 3rd-party Facebook app, called Swipe for Facebook, recently shared an experience he had with Facebook and the reason for the removal. Apparently, Facebook was not too happy with the app’s icon (pictured here), as well as the usage of the word “Facebook” in the app’s name, but failed to mention these specifics when it sent a startling email to the developer. The email indicated that unless certain “violations” were corrected, the app would be marked as restricted. Restricted means users of the app would be unable to access the Facebook servers to sign in. However, Facebook did not clarify which violations the developer had made, and according to the developer, Facebook did not respond to his initial reply regarding the violations until two days afterwards. By this time, it was already too late. 

Before the developer knew what exactly was in violation, Facebook restricted the app. With that being done, anyone who downloaded the app from Google Play (free or paid version), would be unable to access Facebook. Given this is a Facebook app, that’s a major bump in the road. In order to stop any potential bleeding and negative reviews, the developer had to pull the app from Google Play until the issue was resolved. Thankfully for fans of this developer, he seems to know a few things about Facebook workarounds, and was able to republish the application sans the Facebook SDK. With the update available, users are again able to log into Facebook and use the app as they normally would.

With the developer going through what seems to be a massive amount of trouble to make his app compliant with Facebook’s developer terms, Facebook finally replied to the developer. As it turns out, Facebook had an issue with the app’s icon, name, and app description. According to Facebook, the “for Facebook” infringes on their IP. In order to resolve all issues, the developer ultimately had to remove Swipe for Facebook from his Facebook Developer Console, meaning any platform policies from the Developer Platform no longer apply. Long story short, crisis averted.

Being a user of Swipe for Facebook, it is really too bad from our perspective that developers are sometimes forced to go to such great lengths to offer their creations. Yes, developers must follow the rules, but saying an app is, “for Facebook” in the name does not seem too infringing to me.

In my opinion, the Swipe for Facebook app offers a much cleaner, faster Facebook experience than the official Facebook app has ever done. Maybe this is something Facebook takes offense to. Swipe for Facebook offers themes, better navigation, as well as a heavy dose of updates to include useful features. Most importantly, Swipe for Facebook is much more snappy than the official Facebook app, making it a win-win for my personal FB needs.

If you are one of the few that is not completely sick of Facebook, I recommend you check it out on Google Play and show the developer some love. After sharing his horror story on reddit for all to see, I think he deserves a bit.

Play Links: Free | Paid ($2.85)

Via: reddit

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HTC Says That HTC 10 Pre-Orders are Now Shipping – has Yours?

According to HTC’s US Twitter account, pre-orders for the HTC 10 have begun to ship in the order that they were received on HTC’s site. In other words, this is the unlocked HTC 10 sold through htc.com, not the pre-ordered Verizon model, which may have begun to ship as well within the past 24 hours.

The unit we ordered certainly has not shipped yet. Has yours?

On a related note, our HTC 10 review is now complete in case you were still trying to decide if you should buy the HTC 10. If your pre-order has shipped, you should probably check out the first 10 things you should do and this tips and tricks video.

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Google Voice Just Received an Update!

But it seems to be nothing other than bug fixes. The icon hasn’t changed nor has the UI. It’s still ugly and retro and in need of some love.

It is v0.4.7.10, though, which is a bump up from 

Play Link | Download Link (.apk)

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Dumb Article Says No One Cares About Android Updates

Each month, Google updates the Android distribution numbers to show developers which versions of Android are the most popular and help them prioritize compatibility of their apps. But because media exists and there are clicks to be had, each month’s update is used and spun for a headline, like in this dumb article written for ZDNet, which suggests that no one on this Earth cares about Android updates because there is slow adoption of the newest version.

In this case, Marshmallow is the target because it sits on just 7.5% of Android devices some six months after release. The dumb article, which is dumb, compares that to the adoption of iOS 9 and its 84% install mark. Funny, but that comparison only makes sense seven years later to someone with a lack of understanding of the subject or because they like to write dumb articles. In this case, I think we can check both boxes. 

So why is it, according to ZDNet, that no one cares about Android updates? Well, here is the list from the article.

  • Android users don’t care about updates (even security updates)
  • The hardware makers only care about selling new phones
  • The carriers only care about contracts
  • Developers only want to sell apps
  • Google only seems to care about new device activations

OK, so the first item isn’t exactly a “why,” but more of a broad, unsubstantiated statement. The theory here is that you and I don’t care about new versions of Android or updates (including those of the security type) because in order to get them, we have to buy a new phone or own a Nexus. That, of course, is false. First, you and I do care about security updates, as do carriers, manufacturers, and Google. All of us combined, after a handful of security scares that made headlines for weeks, have been able to help to push out monthly security patches from Google to OEMs and carriers, on to us. Not everyone is on board, but some of the worst players on this update team – Samsung and Verizon – have managed to keep up quite well with monthly schedules. You see, security is important to many, but it wouldn’t have been if users, like you and I, didn’t tell all those involved that is.

And in the end, security is important to everyone anyway, whether they are vocal about it or not. Even if a user doesn’t know that there are monthly security patches, you better believe that they are expecting to be kept safe. Do you ask car manufacturers if they have the most up-to-date air bags in their new cars? Probably not, you just assume so.

As for the idea that you need to buy new phones to get new versions of Android, well, feel free to talk to HTC, LG, and many Motorola phone owners about that. In fact, Samsung even manages to update most of its flagship phones within six months. Since most of you buy a phone that lasts for two years, I’m not exactly sure why you would need to buy a new phone just to get an update. Outside of that argument fitting the agenda of this dumb article, which is dumb, simple math sure seems to calculate that into you getting multiple updates to new Android versions in the time you own your current phone. Hmmm.

Are they as timely as we all want them to be? Obviously not. We would all rather have them yesterday, but that’s also how Android works, remember? This isn’t a top-to-bottom setup like Apple has, where they control the software and hardware and also don’t have any outside parties to involve. Android is open source and given to OEMs to customize to their liking. There are levels to this. There are different parties involved with different ideas on what an Android phone is and should be, which includes the amount of software support. There are billions of devices in the wild from small to large manufacturers. Android isn’t iOS and it was never supposed to be, even if the media continues after all this time to try and compare the two.

Back to that list, though.

So hardware makers apparently only care about selling new phones instead of updating the software. Shocker…hardware company who makes money off of hardware, wants to make more money off of hardware. On the flip side, tell that thought to Apple because they are a hardware manufacturer who really, really, really cares about selling new phones, yet they also provide updates for phones that are years and years old. You see, companies update phones, often times up to two years if they are a flagship, because it keeps customers happy. What do happy customers do? They buy new phones in around two years from the same companies when it’s time to buy a new phone! Dear, ZDNet, Google “customer retention strategy.”

Bullet three references carriers only caring about getting you into new contracts and thus the reason for software updates to not carry any importance in their eyes. Honestly, I see absolutely zero connection between the two, but there is also a mention in the article about new versions of Android making it difficult for carriers to load up their own bloatware on phones. That’s a load of garbage because it’s assuming that it’s difficult for the My Verizon or AT&T Navigator app to receive an update to work with the next version of Android. And it’s not.

Not only that, but this argument is a hilarious counter to a previously introduced ZDNet argument that OEMs want to sell phones and carriers only care about contracts. In other words, the new phones that manufacturers want to sell come with new Android and carriers are OK figuring out how to get their bloatware updated and working there, but are not interested in then doing the same, for their just barely, slightly older line-up of phones, which they likely still sell. Are we all about selling and contracts or not?

This has a lot to do with bullet four, though, which suggests that developers hate new versions of Android because they have to then support those new versions in their apps, which may be creating more “fragmentation.” Have we not heard of Google Play Services? Here, because doing research is difficult, is a link to it. As you can see there, the entire point is that Google Play Services “makes it faster for your users to receive updates and easier for you to integrate the newest that Google has to offer.” But that’s even outside of the fact that the maturity of Android has made continued support easier because the giant platform leaps just don’t happen anymore. In the past, as Android was becoming a polished mobile operating system, the jumps from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich did indeed leave many in the past with no path to upgrade or extra work for developers. But those days are long gone.

And look, if developers “only want to sell apps,” don’t you think they won’t mind putting in the work to add new features, let alone making sure their apps are supported? Or are we degrading Android app developers now to incompetent, lazy sloths who thought they could make an app, sell millions of it, and then leave it for dead? I mean, come on.

I reached out to two three developers this morning who all told me the same thing, which was that getting an app to work on the next version of Android takes almost zero work. They then both all said that the only work involves making sure your app looks great and incorporates new features, if there are any. And why would they do that? Oh, you know, because like ZDNet suggests, they might want to sell an app or two.

Finally, that last bullet about Google only caring about new activations is frankly, quite short-sighted, lazy, and unfair. Does Google care about having billions upon billions of Android devices in the wild to try and turn those into cash? Of course. But saying that Google only cares about activations ignores everything I just laid out, including the difference in approach to Android vs. iOS, monthly security patches, and the importance of Google Play Services to help developers stay up-to-date. But let’s not forget that Google also introduced Android previews of new versions in recent years to get new versions in the hands of developers and manufacturers as early as possible. How is that Google not caring?

But guys, no one gives a sh*t.

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Google I/O App Updated for 2016, Start Planning Your Sessions

The official Google I/O application has been updated for the 2016 conference, allowing all attendees to begin planning their sessions while mobile. The Google I/O 2016 schedule has been available for a couple of weeks now, but with the app receiving the update, it’s a sign we are inching even closer to seeing what Google has been cooking down in Mountain View.

Not only can you see an overview of all things taking place during Google I/O, but a map will also detail how Google plans on using the Shoreline Amphitheater for all of these sessions. As you will see, Google has quite the space to utilize, and given this is Google we are talking about, we are sure the event will be well laid out.

If you plan on attending I/O, or just want to feel like you are a part of the action, check it out.

Play Link

IO 2016 1IO 2016 2IO 2016 3

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Play Movies Now Supports Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound on Android TV

Google Play announced via its Twitter account this morning that Play Movies and TV now supports Dolby Digital Plus surround sound on Android TV and Roku devices. To put it very simply, any movie you rent or purchase from Google Play should now offer a better audio experience, something which is great for those of you who use a nice home theater setup in your crib. 

From what Google indicates, users won’t need to do anything and the change is automatic. As for which devices will support this upgrade, it would seem that any Android TV device, whether it is built into your TV or via a set-top box, will support Dolby Digital Plus. This includes the SHIELD Android TV and Nexus Player.

Go rent Star Wars and enjoy that sound.

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DEAL: Buy a Nextbit Robin for $299 ($100 Off) Through Amazon

For a limited time, you can pick up a Robin smartphone from Amazon for $100 off its usual price of $399. This brings the sale price to just $299.

For a refresh, the Robin features 5.2″ 1080p display, Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 13MP rear-facing camera, fingerprint reader embedded in the power button, front-facing speakers, USB Type-C, LTE connectivity on AT&T and T-Mobile, 32GB of onboard storage (100GB of online storage), and runs the Nextbit OS over Android 6.0.1. 

After the latest update for Robin, the performance has seen a bit of a boost, and the camera software has also been upgraded. Most likely, Nextbit will continue to offer updates to owners going into the future.

If the Robin’s design has caught your eye, check it out.

Amazon Link

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Timely Little Google Play Pop-Up Tells Users That “The Force Awakens” is Available for Rent

Anyone else seeing these cute little pop-ups inside Google Play with a notice that “The Force Awakens” is available for rent? Of course, the timing makes sense since today is May the 4th, aka Star Wars Day, but Google could do this for other movies, TV shows, or apps, presumably.

At least one of our readers is seeing them, but neither of our Google Play stores are showing the fun. We are all running v6.4.12.C

Anyone else?

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Samsung Pay Adds Support for 39 Additional Banks

Samsung Pay announced the support of 39 additional banks via the application this week, continuing to bring the mobile payments solution to more Galaxy device owners in the US. For a few of the bigger names included, there is CHROME Credit Union, Corning Credit Union, Los Angeles Federal, Vantage Credit Union, and many more.

As an important note, even with these banks and Samsung announcing support for Samsung Pay, it may take a day or two for you to be able to activate an account. If you continue to get errors when attempting to sign up, just be patient.

Here’s the entire new list of supported banks.

Newly Supported Institutions

  • Achieva
  • Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union
  • American Heritage Federal Credit Union
  • Bangor Savings Bank
  • Bridgewater Savings
  • CSE Federal Credit Union
  • Christian Community Credit Union
  • Chrome Federal Credit Union
  • Community First Credit Union
  • Cornerstone National Bank
  • Corning Credit Union
  • Desert Schools Federal Credit Union
  • Financial Partners Credit Union
  • 1st Financial Federal Credit Union
  • First South Financial
  • General Electric Credit Union
  • Gorham Savings Bank
  • Great Lakes Credit Union
  • Hastings City Bank
  • Haven Savings Bank
  • Heritage Family Credit Union
  • INOVA Federal Credit Union
  • Keesler Federal Credit Union
  • Kern Federal Credit Union
  • Los Angeles Federal Credit Union
  • Montgomery County EFCU
  • Mutual Security Credit Union
  • Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union
  • Pacific Marine Credit Union
  • Point Loma Credit Union
  • Point West Credit Union
  • PrimeTrust Financial Federal Credit Union
  • Provident Credit Union
  • St. Landry Bank & Trust Company
  • Summit Community Bank
  • Truity Credit Union
  • University Federal Credit Union
  • Vantage Credit Union


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