Every week, hundreds of Android apps and games are submitted to the Play Store. If you’re not paying attention 24/7, it’s easy to miss some of the best stuff.
If you keep your Android tablet near your desktop on a regular basis, this tool could be incredibly handy. DeskDock, now available on the Play Store, allows you to share your computer’s keyboard and mouse with your Android device, via a connected USB cable.
If you’ve ever used Synergy, it’s very close to that.
What’s the point of something like this, you may ask? The primary use the developer provided was to make Android development much easier. With this tool, you could work on an application on your computer, push it to your device, and test it without your hands ever leaving your keyboard. But there are plenty of other potential uses as well – you could use your Android tablet as another monitor to watch media on, for example.
Setting up DeskDock involves a little bit of effort, but once everything is installed, you shouldn’t run into issues. First, you need to install the latest version of Java on your computer, then ensure you have the proper ADB drivers installed, and finally make sure USB Debugging is enabled on your Android device.
Once all that is taken care of, open the DeskDock server app on your computer and the app on your phone. Plug your phone in via USB, allow USB debugging on your phone, and it should work automatically. The pro version adds some bells and whistles plus clipboard sharing for $5.49 but make sure you test out the free version first as the app may not really work as smooth for you.
Another messenger app, no thank you. Alright, I heard you. There has been a lot of talk about SMS this week *cough* Allo *cough.* If you still use SMS a lot, Messenger is a beautiful app made by the same guy who made Talon for Twitter. As you might expect, you can send and receive text messages, but there’s a lot more than that to offer.
Messenger can sync with other devices and Chrome, which allows you to use your number across devices. There are many themes and options to choose from, group messaging, sharing photos, videos, audio, location, and contact vCards, GIFs from GIPHY, blacklisting phone numbers, scheduled messages, search messages and conversations, quick reply, automatic message backup and restore and the list just goes on. Most importantly, its free.
Flow Home (Beta)
Flow Home is a new kind of Android launcher. Instead of just icons, we show things from inside the icons. Photos from Instagram or Facebook, tweets and messages from people you follow, the latest news from Feedly, all in one place. Like, retweet, read full articles and share right from your home screen. Flow also unlocks the power of notifications by placing them at the top of your feed, all their actions easily accessible. Everything going on inside your phone, and on your favorite networks in a single beautiful feed.
It is a sad fact of life however that interesting, new concepts or ideas find it hard to set the world alight because generally, we humans don’t like change. API shut-down for social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and lack of people using the app full-time, have resulted in its apparent death. Larva Labs, the team behind the Flow Home launcher, announced that after ironing out the bugs, the app will be released on Playstore for a while and then be pulled, but will be available on their website.
Swipe Widget for Facebook BETA
Swipe is an awesome alternative to the official Facebook app (which, admittedly, isn’t a high bar to clear). This widget offers the same thing on your homescreen, with scrollable feeds for Facebook’s notifications and messages (or both at once). There are a ton of theme options to suit any color scheme, and the widgets can work with the first-party app or even other third-party alternatives.
The default Facebook Blue, Material Dark, and AMOLED Black themes are available for free, with other colored themes unlockable with a one-time in-app purchase (which includes two NEW gorgeous themes – Transparent Light and Transparent Dark).
Verne: The Himalayas
Google continues to help us discover the landscapes of the world with Verne: The Himalayas. This is the latest app from the experimental Google Creative Labs team and is a tour app that’s designed to help you learn more about the Himalayan Mountains.
You take control of Yeti named Verne to traverse the Himalayas and discover historical facts about the location. As you traverse the terrain, select parts will pop up where you can hear about fun facts and various other trivia about the mountain. You can also slide, hang glide, fly, and move around in a variety of ways to get some excellent views of the mountains. I definitely hope that Google does more of these because they’re pretty fun. It makes use of Google Maps’ 3D imagery to map the area and it’s both an enjoyable and educational experience. Just be warned that the controls are a little tricky at first.