Starting out as a mere widget to access Twitter feeds, developer Joaquim Vergès recently released a full-fledged Twitter client, attempting to take the crown from the likes of Plume, Tweetings and Tweetcaster. With some mighty-big shoes to fill, one has to ask themselves whether Joaquim was wasting time, or if this really could be the contender to take over the top-spot. How does Falcon Pro shape up? Read on to find out!
What started out as a beta based on a pre-existing widget, has now become the fully-realized Twitter client Falcon Pro. I decided, when asked to review this app, that it might behoove me to follow the same path as the app itself, so I started out using only the widget to see what I thought of Falcon Pro’s interface. The widget is a really great looking widget, and provides a lot of functionality that should be found in any good Twitter widget. Scrolling is fluid and fast, and the presentation fits in with the standards Google has put in place with JellyBean. Tweet counts are shown at the top, and the widget can be refreshed from within itself. The app has basic settings, which were carried over into the full app, and I have to say that this greatly pleases me. A lot of Twitter clients, especially for Android, seem to drown out their users in a myriad of settings, UI preferences, refresh rates, and other customization. Falcon Pro’s widget, and subsequently Falcon Pro, give you a few basic settings which reveal to the user that they probably didn’t need to set individual colors per tweet, or reveal real names vs. usernames.
It seems that Falcon’s developer set out to completely change everything that users normally look for in a Twitter client, from the interface appearance, to the way the app itself functions. It’s really tough to list all of the things that make Falcon Pro uniquely great, but rest assured that they combination of each individual aspect makes this one of the best, if not the best Twitter clients to come around as-of-late. With many clients falling by the wayside, and developers abandoning them altogether, Falcon Pro is a breath of fresh air in a seemingly-bogged down and cluttered market. Highlights of the app include features such as long-pressing on a tweet to allow quick actions (reply, favorite, retweet), swiping left and right to access trends and user information, and even jumping on-board with the rest of the apps that allow interactions in the notification tray. Falcon Pro is one of those apps that Android users have been, for years, warning iPhone users was coming that would be better, faster, and more enjoyable to use than their iCounterparts.
Is There ANYTHING Wrong With This?
Unfortunately, as this app is JUST out of beta, there are a few bugs to be found. They don’t seem to be consistent, and from what I can tell the developer is really good about responding to bug reports. In just this last week there have been at least 3 point-releases to fix issues, with individual users being thanked for their effort in finding the issues. I seemed to have a random force close bug, but as I’m a serial ROMer, there’s a small chance it could have been on my end. Don’t get me wrong, while Falcon Pro has a bug here and there, this app is a solid piece of work and really shines.
Let me be clear about this: You should go ahead and spend the $1.03 on Falcon Pro (for Twitter). This app is, without a doubt, one of the best Twitter clients to exist on Android, and quite possibly the best I’ve ever used across any platform. It completes my “must have features” list for any Android client (Auto complete hashtags and usernames, refresh rate settings, custom notifications, to name a few) and provides a really slick interface that is just as fun to look at as it is to use.
It’s Day 3 and our front gate has busted. The Zombs are making their way toward Abel, and we have to distract them away from our front door. Lead them away, and everyone is safe to sleep another night, praying for the daylight. Fail, and we join them. Mindless, wandering, slumbering masses of lifeless evil. Nobody trusts me at camp yet. Honestly, why should they? I’ve only been here for three days and literally fell from the sky when my helo was shot down by an unknown RPG. I have to prove to them that I have their best intentions in mind and Sara (she’s runner 8) isn’t exactly helping with her obvious distrust. Sara, however, needs to watch her own back because that cough seems a bit suspicious. I have my doubts about her health, but for now, I must help out the only way I can; by running.
I am Runner 5
Hard to believe that all of that story can come out of a mobile app. It’s even harder when you consider that Zombies, Run! from Six to Start is, at the most basic of premises, a running app. But Zombies, Run! (henceforth referred to ZR) is different from apps like RunTastic and RunKeeper. Those apps just put some music on in the background and let you know a bit about your pace. That might be great if you’re already motivated enough to run (and let’s face it, if you’ve already downloaded those apps, you probably are), but for lazy folk, like this reviewer, it’s going to take a little bit more than the latest athlete telling me to “pick up [my] pace” to get my to lace up my running shoes and hit the road.
Enter: Zombies, Run!
So how does ZR differentiate itself from other running apps? ZR takes advantage of the current fascination with the walking dead by putting you smack-dab in the middle of your own zombie survival horror story. You become Runner 5, dropped out of a helicopter, shot down by an unknown entity, and thrust into the middle of a war for your life. As Runner 5, you’ll literally run missions to retrieve items, save people, and do various other tasks, all the while being made aware of the fact that around every corner could wait a horde of stumbling zombies, ready to sink their teeth into your gut.
It’s because of this story that I’ve been motivated to hit the pavement every day this week; something I haven’t done in probably close to a year. Full disclosure: I hate running. I don’t like running on a treadmill, or elliptical, or even around a track. How is it, then, that I’ve been hoofing it for 30 minutes every day this week? By immersing myself in the story and becoming Runner 5. The story is compelling enough that I wonder what’s going to happen on my next run. Between communications with home base, music plays (more on this later) allowing you to push forward, just out of reach of the zombies that you’ll hear creeping up on you if you start to slow down your pace. Once you’ve completed your mission, you’ll return to home base with any items you might have found on your run, and assign them to the various parts of camp in an effort to level up your various aspects of camp. As your camp levels up, more missions unlock and more people move into your town. The characters are great, the voice acting and sound are amazing, and everything comes together to provide a fantastic experience that makes me want to run every day.
There has to be something wrong, right?
Unfortunately, yes, but it’s important to note that none of the things I took issue with were deal breakers. For starters, Zombies, Run! does not interface with any streaming service you might currently use. As a big fan of Spotify, I have most of my music tied up in their service, so it was a sad moment to realize that I was going to have to use actual, real mp3 files as background music. Fortunately, I found a fantastic playlist on Reddit’s /r/Runner5 (It even has it’s own SubReddit!) that works perfectly with my run. Another negative I’ve found (and this may just be an issue with my phone and not the app itself) is that I could never really get the GPS to lock on. Fortunately, Zombies, Run! also works with the accelerometer, so I’m still able to track my paces and, frankly, I’m not the biggest fan of sharing my run map with the world. My final gripe, and not one that I can truly complain about, would be the price. Regularly priced at $8, Zombies, Run! is a bit on the steep side. You get a lot of content, but the story is such that when you get to the last mission, there isn’t much else left to do. The makers of Zombies, Run! have made mention of a “Second Season” with more missions, but have made no indicating remarks as to whether it would be free, or cost an additional amount of money. I was fortunate enough to catch the game on sale (which may still be going on at the Play Store).
I can’t say enough good things about Zombies, Run! and cannot recommend it enough. If you’re like me, and need extra motivation to get off the couch and start running, and you’re a big fan of things like AMC’s The Walking Dead, books like World War Z, and just about everything else zombie-related, then Zombies, Run! is a must buy. Get over the price quickly, and realize that you’re getting at least 30 missions-worth of immersive story, excellent voice work and sound effects, and more motivation than you can shake a dismembered arm at.
Gadget Guru Recommendation: Splurge on this one if you want to get in shape and feel like Rick Grimes. It’s worth every penny.
Oh boy, another Twitter client for Android! That statement probably gets said more often than not when browsing through the Google Play Story. So it was that exact phrase that I uttered when Tweetings came across my desk for review. I’ve been through quite the gamut of twitter apps including, but not limited to, Plume, Tweetcaster, The Official Twitter App, and UberSocial. How would Tweetings compare to the rest of the crowd? Keep reading to find out!
I’ll just go ahead and get the important part out of the way. Tweetings has the potential to be one of the best twitter clients on Android. With a strong presence already on iOS, Tweetings stands to capture a very large market by going after the Android side of Twitter. Tweetings, however, has a lot of really good competition already existing on the platform, and it’s that inexperience on the OS that tends to bring about the few cons I have with the app. But I’m not going to start with the cons, so let’s see what’s good about the app.
Tweetings has an absolute metric TON of options for personalization. If there’s something about the app that you don’t like, chances are pretty good that you’re going to be able to change it. Want a different theme? Tweetings has a light and dark version. Want to change the background of your stream? You’ve got it! Tweetings even lets you change the location of the compose button!
Tweetings also has a lot of features that I expect from a good twitter client. Tweetings has a strong homescreen widget, native retweets and interfaces directly with twitter (following, unfollowing, etc.). One of the more frequently used features of a twitter client (especially during election season) is the mute function, and Tweetings has that, as well (see the cons, however). Tweetings is a solid twitter client for a lot of its features.
Tweetings has a few things that really get under my skin, and it’s a real shame because this could be a solid front runner for my daily driver, were it not for those hangups. To start with, Tweetings mute feature seems to be a bit neutered. If the option is hidden, I sure can’t find it, but it seems that you’re unable to mute hashtags, rather you’re only able to mute users. Sometimes, I don’t want to mute a user completely, just certain things they’re discussing.
You’ll also see the error message above. At the time of this writing, it seems as though Tweetings is a tad on the unfinished side. According to their Play Store listing, these are some of the features that are going to be added, but it’s a real shame that they’re not ready now.
Overall, I really like Tweetings, but it’s still not better than Plume. There are a few things that just aren’t done up completely, and that’s a real shame. Tweetings is going to be really great one day, but for its current price of $1.99, it should be a lot more tight.
Gadget Guru Recommendation: Let this one bake a little while longer before you drop $2 on it. There’s no free version, and you’re not going to know if you like it in the 15 minute trial version.
Edit: It has come to my attention that you CAN mute keywords and hashtags, albeit a bit convoluted, and Tweetings does have an explanation for the errors I was receiving. Recent updates have made this app my daily driver, so I would have to change my recommendation and tell you that, if you’re looking for a solid Twitter client, go ahead and pick this one up.
Ever had the urge to wipe civilization off the map? Ever had such a bad day that you wish you could develop the next big epidemic? From mobile game developer NDEMIC Creations comes the latest strategy game for the Android Platform. A game that has been around on iOS for a few months now, Plague Inc. puts you in charge of developing a virus hell-bent on destroying the world. How does this game hold up on Android? Does it run rampant across the globe, or is this just another common cold? The Gadget Gurus is here to tell you all this, and more!
The gameplay of Plague Inc. is fairly straight forward and simple. Through an interface of mostly pointing and clicking, the player makes choices to mold their disease to infect the most people across the planet, while at the same time protecting it from being cured. That, however, is where the simplicity stops. Plague Inc. is all about making the right choices, based on the current outlook of the world, to infect the most people and fight off science as long as possible. Players will select symptoms and abilities while trying to perfect a transmission method to spread the disease across the globe. I’m quite a fan of the gameplay. It’s a great game to sit down (on a chair, or couch, or toilet) and knock out a few minutes of gameplay, without a real strong need to pay attention at all times. Plague Inc. doesn’t require 100% of your focus, and that’s something I look for in a mobile game.
The graphics of Plague Inc. are fairly simple. Most of your time is spent looking at a world map (strangely reminiscent of Google Earth) with the occasional foray into the graphical representation of your disease. A strategy game like this isn’t really dependent on graphics, so the basic-ness of the graphics gets a pass. It’s not going to win any awards, but it gets the job done.
The music and sound, on the other hand, are a welcome addition to the game. Background music stays in the background, remaining eerie, while at the same time not distracting the player from their ultimate goal of mass destruction. The occasional sound effect also helps set the mood and really make the game enjoyable.
I should have probably started this review out stating that Plague Inc. isn’t going to be for everyone. Strategy games don’t often strike the fancy of mainstream gamers, and that especially holds true on the mobile platform. Plague Inc. is far from an Angry Birds, Amazing Alex, or Where’s My Water. But Plague Inc. does happen to fill a niche that is tough to fill on Android and iOS and for that I have to recommend you at least give it a try. The game is free (ad supported) and completely playable without spending a dime, but the paid version does offer a little bit more in the disease department. This kind of game is one I’d seriously think about paying for, because it’s different, and I like that a lot.
Gadget Gurus Recommendation: Give the free version a try, you can’t afford to miss this one.
Going out to dinner can be an exercise in confusion and despair. The longer you stare at a menu, the more you might just get up and walk out. With each restaurant fighting for your business, it can be tough to decide exactly what you want to eat. What’s a person to do when they just can’t choose? Try out Foodspotting, of course!
What is Foodspotting?
Foodspotting is the latest app attempting to find a niche in the ever-growing social media market, choosing to target the one thing on most humans that they just can’t say no to: their stomachs. Foodspotting allows users to review individual dishes at local restaurants or, if they don’t know what they want, read reviews from other users. Users are able to provide photos so you get an idea of what the food really looks like, rather than the glamour shots that you’ll find in most menus.
Foodspotting is an incredibly simple app. Users are able to mark dishes with a simple “Want”, “Tried”, and “Loved” and can then provide more information if they so choose. Location information is stored from the GPS, and users are able to sync the app up with any number of other social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Users are also able to get notifications within the app related to other users’ interactions, things related to dishes they might have tried and other various things.
Foodspotting makes a game out of eating, urging you to review dishes and rank up with your friends. You can explore dishes around you and, best of all, you can utilize Foodspotting to search for local specials. It is this feature, among all others, that is probably the most useful. Obviously with any review (maybe even this one) you have to take it with a grain of salt, but businesses are able to hook up with Foodspotting and provide specials information.
Foodspotting is a neat little app and, best of all, the app is free. There’s really no reason to not download the app on your Android device, iPhone or even your Blackberry, and start checking out dishes near your location!