So before I get into my originally planned stuff for the day, I have a handful of things to share.
The other is that the Moto 360 is surprisingly still available in both black and stone leather from Motorola's website. And now I'm pondering whether or not I should order another one so I can save myself the trouble of waiting for my mom to inevitably say, "I want one. Get it for me." Decisions, decisions.
UPDATE! Some magnificent bastard (thank you nameless hero/heroine) threw AP's specs from yesterday into CAD software and came up with something you really need to see to believe (and then added to it so we can do a proper comparison).
Whoever you are, you da real MVP!
And there's one more picture they shared when called out as having the dimensions wrong. "Who's dimensions? Mine are sound."
Sir/ma'am, I tip the hat I'm not wearing to you!
Onward and upward as the saying goes.
So I've got a tradition that's been going on for a few years now here and elsewhere where once a year or so I basically discuss all the apps I simply can't live without and why that is. Usually in the hopes of just sharing some new ones with those of you who haven't necessarily seen said apps before and also to see what suggestions people share of their own for "you need this app". Today, you get that post. I also want to thank my good friend, Nicholas, for kind of putting the idea in my head for this week's post. Thank you, good sir, for the idea!
These two are basically one app, a launcher, since the latter basically activates the paid features of the former (and those paid features are well worth the $4 price tag, keeping in mind it tends to go on sale whenever Google has some kind of major sale on the Play Store).
Why would I recommend a launcher as something I can't live without and you shouldn't either? Simple, it is a damn gret one. The customization features alone make it leaps and bounds better than most of the competition in my book. Seeing is believing in my book though and to that end I've got a small sampling of just what you can do with this launcher via screenshots I took just now.
What you see there is my homescreen. Some of you might immediately notice the non-stock icons. Those are from the Durgon - Icon Pack by Vertumus and currently retails for $0.99 in the Play Store. I'd show you some of the other icons as they are in my app drawer, but frankly I keep things dark and you cant really get a good feel for what they look like based of that. Seriously, I've tried a lot of icon packs though and quite a few dark ones and of all the dark ones I've tried this is the first one I've ever not asked for a refund for and decided to keep permanently on my device.
I'd also like to take a quick moment to say the developer is phenomenal. Quick with replies and easy to contact, we had a small back and forth over the weekend and I couldn't have come away any more pleased from it. He is quick with updates (we're talking weekly ones here) and the number of icons he has in this pack outnumber any of the other big developers (2,420+ at current count), all in HD. That's not counting the 32 HD wallpapers that come with this pack (cloud based, so you can see them and download any of your choosing), not too mention the always awesome MUZEI live wallpaper integration and support.
That kind of work and dedication is to be applauded and Nova Launcher makes it possible.
What you see there is but a small sampling of just all the settings you can go into and play with in the app itself. There are many more, to the point that even I don't go into all of them and start messing with things. I mess with quite a bit though, cause of course I do.
That is just to give you an idea of just how much "I can make this my own" this launcher brings to the table.
Those screenshots folks really highlight my other favorite feature about the app. Gestures! As you can see, I've made use of every single gesture Nova allows you to.
Some of you might see all that and think, "There's no way I could get used to doing that." You will, trust me. I was in the same boat as you for a long time and now I do all of those without even thinking about it. My hands just do their thing and I've launched an app quickly and easily. (Which in turn has allowed me to hide various apps from my app drawer, not that they need hiding but I'm a stickler for hiding ones I've got access to in other ways or places.)
What you have above are my setups for the app drawer. I've got tabs with the various things organized. One for everything non-Google, one for Google and one for Android Wear. Within that first one I've got a few folders for Entertainment (Netflix, InfiniTracks, Pocket Casts, MX Player, etc), Games (Alone, CounterSpy, Monument Valley, Osmos, etc), Icons and Wallpapers (Click UI, Durgon, Ultimate L, nowPaper, etc) and Motorola (Alert, Assist, Connect, Help, Migrate and Spotlight).
I am big on being organized on my phone, my room and my office not so much.
I won't go on anymore about Nova Launcher, just check it out for yourself. Keeping in mind the regular version is free and you get a taste of everything awesome about it. At worst if you don't like it then just uninstall it and Bob's your uncle.
This one is a podcast manager and player. I have used many and when I finally got around to trying this one I saw what all the fuss people had been masking for ages was about.
The app itself goes for $3.99 and that's a price that I don't think I've ever seen drop for any reason since I bought the app over a year and a half ago or so. Considering there are free options that do the same thing, that might sound like far too much. Let's keep in mind though there are pricier out there and they are far less pleasing to the eye aesthetically. Of course, Pocket Casts stands out from the rest by what it brings to the table that some of the others don't.
It's got syncing! You sign up for an account and that's it. You've basically enabled syncing, get a new phone or tablet and all you have to do is sign in and you'll have your favorite podcasts at your fingertips again. No more manually adding them all from scratch. (Of course you can always cheat and ask for the OPML export file of your podcast and load it up quick, fast and in a hurry. Oh yeah, if anyone wants a copy of mine feel free to give a shout in the comments and I'll hook you up. I listen to lots of comedy ones, informative ones and all kinds of stuff in between. No politics or sports though. Sorry. If that's your cup of tea then whatever floats your boat but that ain't my thing.)
Oh yeah, they also added a web player this past week! Suck it, Stitcher. I'm leaving you for someone who looks better and is far more responsive and a pain in the ass in general to deal with. You had your chance! It's over. Just go. Don't make it weird.
If you're a Pocket Casts user already, you can go here to sign up for early access. (They will send you an email saying you've signed up and they got your info, then they'll email you when you've officially been granted access. Woohoo!) You get a free 7-day trial and then you have to pay to play basically. Of course, it's a one time $9 fee for permanent access to "skip the trial and jump right in!", also there's a neat little imaege that shows up when you move your mouse over that option. No spoilers, you'll have to see it for yourself. Also, $9 is more than worth it and I'm sure a great many of you spend that possibly daily if you go out to eat at lunch or something. I know I do, but damnit that #2 double meat Whataburger (with cheese, pickles and bacon only thank you very much) is just so damn good!
Beyond that, not much else to add. My daily morning and afternoon commutes would be beyond unbearable were it not for this app.
Also, thank you freaking Dan Carlin! [does his best Jim Bruer impression from Half Baked] Dan! Thank you Dan! I have absolutely taken almost forever to listen to your last four Hardcore History episodes (Blueprint for Armageddon), since they're almost three hours long each episode, but they were phenomenal. I learned far more listening to the first three, still on the fourth, about World War I than I did through all of school combined (going from pre-K to senior year in high school). To anyone even remotely interested in history, I cannot recommend his podcast enough!
This one is another one like Pocket Casts that provides me with hours of entertainment while on the road or at home, it's an app that gives you the 8tracks everything in a much more polished form than the official 8tracks app.
The app itself is free, but there are a few extras available as in-app purchases which can be purchased separately or in one bulk purchase that also guarantees you any future extras as they are added. I forget the exact pricing, but I know the all-in-one price is $7.99 and that gets you the two available separately extras in one go. Those extras are Chromecast support and the ability to create and edit playlist directly from your device.
The first thing you see when you fire the app up is what's "Hot". Scrolling down shows you other currently popular playlists and overall the selection is rarely if anything bad. Even for stuff I wouldn't normally listen to I've found more often than not that once I play something and move past at worst the first song or two I'll hear something that catches my attention.
Tapping on the slide out menu on the right leads to that and you can see what's up for additional perusal there. Feeds, down there at the bottom, are feeds you've added yourself to keep track of.
One personal favorite you can't quite see is the Noon Pacific, which I was turned onto by Alan Henry over at Lifehacker. You can listen to that feed there on the 8tracks link or directly on Noon Pacific's site. They've also got an app, but I wouldn't recommend it. It doesn't look bad, but it's got extremely limited functionality I'd say overall and the fact that it hasn't been updated since April really doesn't make it worth spending the $1.99 on. It looks wonderful otherwise though.
Naturally my favorite part of the app is being able to pick up where I left off (sorta) by listening to liked playlists and mixes again. Two as you can see there are right up everyone's alley on here, can't remember who recommended both of those on here but thank you! Whoever you are, since I can't remember cause I just have a weird brain like that.
Beyond that, not much to add. It's a great app and if you really want to create mixes on the go and enjoy that Chromecast support then you're gonna have to shell out. It's worth every penny though in my opinion to do so. I use the Chromecast support all the time at home and I love jumping from mix to mix seeing what's out there, I've yet to hear one that I just hated everything about (then again, the labels and all that are enough to go on as to whether you'll like something or not).
This one you need to go Premium for to use on the go (and that'll set you back $12 a year to do), but it is so worth it. Combine the app on your phone with the extension for Chrome and forget about it! Your security is all but guaranteed.
Once you've got a premium account, just install the app and get to getting. You can access anything saved through the app itself, via it's own built-in browser or you'll have the option to do so outside the app. (You can enable/disable this feature to your heart's content.)
Of course, anything you do on your computer will be synced once you sign in on your phone. You don't have to do that, but for security's sake I recommend not choosing to have LastPass not ask you for your password every time you launch it. The whole point of the app is to improve and maintain your security, why disable something that helps with that?
No screenshots for this one since I don't want to have to blank out my email for every single one (and it's in there a lot!), but suffice it to say that it doesn't look bad. It's easy enough to figure out to use and if you really value your privacy and security then there's no reason to not being using this right the hell now. (I got in awhile back with the premium membership free for a year, so that's why I have it. When that membership expires I'll be paying for the next year immediately. Besides, security. IT. Tax write-off! I need this for work!)
Everyone here who watches or reads the news raise your hand. [looks around] Wow. Well, you know what? Forget you guys! I don't do either. I get all my news through my phone cause ain't nobody got time for fear mongering and scare tactics. "What item in your home might kill you and your family? Find out at 11!" Forget that!
So I get my news through this app. It's brief and to the point, with no sensationalism. Just the facts, ma'am.
Think of it this way, remember how when we used to have to buy CDs we hated it. Why? All filler, little killer. That "why do I need all this fluff" idea is the story behind Circa. They do away with the filler and boil it down to the essentials to keep you informed and from having to skim over large chunks of non-information.
They've recently updated the app to include a "Daily Brief" section. "The President doesn't have to read all the news, he gets informed daily on the important stuff. You should too." That's the idea behind that new update and it gives you the latest stories and updates in one condensed package.
Of course there are a few options you can see there to tailor things to your needs or keep abreast of stories you're following (and want updates on).
I need to of course filter out some I don't care for, like Sports. But there's everything you can select and unselect. Also Doge down there at the bottom, that appears to be relatively new or I just never paid attention to it before. Could go either way on that one.
Overall though, with the exception of the BBC app (because no one does the news like the BBC does the news in my opinion), there is no other news app I would ever install on any of my devices. (To this day I still can't help but crack up at Christopher Titus' impression of the BBC and how they deliver the news. You'll know when to hit stop on that, hint after "and now the world cup update". Or you can keep listening. What am I? Your parents/boss? You don't have to listen to me.)
I don't know about everyone here, but I like to know the weather (without having to check the news or the Weather Channel or any of the usual sources). To that end, I've got a lovely little app that popped up last week and goes for $0.99, Weather Timeline. It's got two seriously great things going for it that make it a must have app I feel. It takes it's info from Forecast.io, which is second to none when it comes to accuracy in my experience (also, fuck it's hot outside! I just checked and goddamn!). Secondly, and much more importantly to some of us here, freaking Material Design!
Launching the app brings that up, the first one being your current location. Tapping the add circle down there on the bottom right allows you to add locations you want to keep informed of.
Taping the three circles on the top right lets you access the Settings menu.
You can see all the different ones you can check and uncheck on there. Nothing you haven't seen before more than likely.
But going back to the main part of the app, tapping on a given city takes you into what you really want. You can check the current info, general summary and additional forecast for the upcoming week.
I'm too scared to click the ten years into the future forecast. That's how you break the universe and all. So I'll leave it to you brave souls to check that one for yourselves.
Also, tapping on the "map-like" thing on the top right takes you to the current radar reading.
Not much to add beyond I've been digging on this app for almost a week and I love just going into it randomly to admire the look. This is an app done right!
Also, I use this for general summaries mostly, for crazy extensive amounts of information (more than I honestly know what to do with half the time) I hit up atmoshere (which I've discussed in before).`
Last, but not least is Javelin Browser (which I've also discussed before).
I won't go into it again, as it's more of the same, but the big thing it did the other day was update to a Material Design look. I don't know how I feel about that. I still use it, so guess it's not all bad but itchanged just enough (or significantly better said) so that when I first used it after the update I honestly thought "what the fuck is this?! what happened to my browser?!"
The changes as you can see. I'm still getting used to them, but overall I suppose I can live with them.
So there you have it, the apps I cannot live without and which I use on a daily basis. Got any of your own? Share them below. Always on the lookout for a new app to try out.
To close things, I leave you with a song I thought of since the original played when I did a run just before getting back and finishing this up.
Also, yes. Yes, I do occasionally get caught by my family and friends (usually when I think no one is around) "singing" this version or better said just doing the opening part done by the chickens. I'm not weird. Everyone who doesn't do that is.
On that note, you kids have fun! I'm gonna sit here and do nothing for the rest of the day. Why? Cause I took care of my various "must do this before I leave" tasks by lunch. I am productive as hell when I want to slack later. : )