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image | Box Offering 50GB of Free Cloud Storage to Users Installing a Free Android App


Box some time offers really sweet deals. Last year they offered 50GB of free cloud storage space to the iOS users and now this year they are offering the similar deal to the And

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roid users! What Android users have to do to get this 50GB space is to install the updated Box app from the Market and log-in to the application. This deal is valid until March 23, 2012. So if you want to avail this deal hurry-up! 50 GB of storage space that is provided this way to the users is accessible from everywhere – not only Android. Also this package will bump the max file size upload limit to 100 MB.


This promotion ends on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11:59pm PST, so grab your free 50GB on Box by following these steps:


1. Visit the Android Marketplace and download Box for Android
2. Log into your account or register for a new one directly from the app
3. Start sharing and collaborating in the cloud
4. (optional but recommended) Tell the world how you’ll use your 50GB with the hashtag #Box50GB



While it will still not provide the very useful syncing feature that get with Dropbox but its still a lot of online space that can be used for some backup/archival purposes. One of the useful features in the updated Android app is bulk-upload feature as well as adding collaborators to the shared folders. Hers is a detailed list of features of the Box app for the Android:


* Access, create and view content on your Android phone or tablet
* Upload multiple images, videos and files from the SD card
* Save files to your SD card for offline access
* Easily share files and folders with links
* Invite colleagues to shared folders and leave comments on files for them (note that you’ll need to grant permission for the app to access your contacts – we only use this permission to quickly retrieve email addresses when you want to invite collaborators, and we do NOT store any contact information on Box’s servers)
* Find content fast with built-in search
* Save files you edit or create in other Android apps to your Box account
* Add a widget to your home screen to see updates on files by colleagues



You can get the Box for the Android from Market here to avail this deal.




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Keylet


Keys have been the way to get access to things for thousands of years. However surprisingly I’ve found many people don’t know how a key actually works. This GIF explains simply how a key works.



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w-keys-work-explained-in-one-perfect-animated-gif" target="_blank">source


Original Article on UltraLinx Website - How Do Keys Work? Explained In One GIF


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    Check out the new Xperia Z with a razor sharp and super bright 5″ Full HD Reality Display, Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, a 13 megapixel camera with Exmor RS™ for mobile – the world’s first image sensor with HDR video for smartphones and a sleek design that resists both water and dust, Xperia [...]
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Waking Mars is an innovative and engaging adventure game that sees you re-awakening life on a sleeping planet. While exploring caves beneath the surface of Mars, you stumble upon a complex and symbiotic range of plant life. You have to explore and connect a huge and peculiar ecosystem in a magnificent warren of caverns. When you then get trapped deep under ground, you have to rely on the flora and fauna to survive! If you like playing fresh and rewarding games on your Android device, read on for the f

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ull review.



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Premise

The year is 2097 and you are on Mars, following the work of a previous explorer who went missing. What you discover is a rich and diverse ecosystem of plantlife quite unlike much of what we see on Earth. The plants are symbiotic, that is, they rely on each other to grow and spread. However, you soon discover that you can give them a helping hand, gradually linking cave after cave of alien horticulture!


Plant seeds and grow new lifeforms

Plant seeds and grow new lifeforms


Things then go absurdly wrong as you are suddenly trapped within the caves with seemingly little chance or opportunity of contacting the surface. However, you soon realise that the plants you are cultivating might just save you. This launches an extraordinary adventure of discovery that signifies a highly original concept and wonderfully engaging gameplay.


Say goodbye to the surface!

Say goodbye to the surface!


Controls

The game controls are both intuitive and responsive. You simply touch and press the direction you want to move in. When this means you are traversing across the ground you simply walk. When it requires moving upwards, your jet pack kicks in and you ascend and descend accordingly. On the bottom left of the screen there are navigational and objective tabs which pause the game and on the bottom right is your inventory.


Inventory

Inventory


The inventory contains pods and items you have collected while exploring. When selected, you can fire a pod towards other plant matter which spawns more plants and pods. By doing this you essentially propagate the spread of the plantlife and generate new avenues of collecting pods and finding new life. This underpins much of gameplay as life and the results of reigniting life becomes more complex in nature.


Build research

Build research


Gameplay

So gameplay is a combination of exploring the caverns and discovering new life by exchanging pods. Successfully doing so often creates new passages to explore. Sometimes you are left in a cavern and need to escape it. There is often a puzzle element to gameplay where you have to work out how best to proceed. While it is still relatively linear, it requires the use of logic to progress.


Crawl to discover new spaces

Crawl to discover new spaces


The game has an undercurrent of mystery which examines what happened to the previous explorer and the hidden life-potential of Mars. The narrative expands as you discuss things in cut scenes with other characters in the game. This all creates an entertaining and intriguing game which is hard to put down. It’s perhaps not addictive in an ‘Angry Birds’ way but it certainly keeps you riveted. Additionally, it is easily a game where you can waste a great deal of time.


What is also nice to see is a game that sees you creating alien life, instead of ruthlessly destroying it. While ever since space invaders games have required you to blast everything in sight, this encourages you to explore and grow alien life in an innovative way.



Graphics and Sounds

The visuals of the game are rich and very detailed. Gameplay is essentially in 2D but the environments and animations are immaculately designed. It struck me as a little similar to the graphics you can see in Grabatron — such is both the two dimensional and cave-exploring gameplay. Each of the plants you find offer entirely different animations and movements and these are rendered in a smooth and sympathetic way.


Grow and spread life

Grow and spread life


There are plenty of realistic sound effects in the game which help bring it to life (quite literally). This is combined with a beautiful score of music which, according to the Google Play Store description is both original and critically acclaimed. Together these add an element of outstanding quality to the game, which perfectly compliments the graphics and gameplay.


Overall Impressions

I don’t think I have played any game quite like Waking Mars and it’s incredibly refreshing to discover something so original. The Google Play Store is flooded with tycoon style games, retro-games and more and more ‘running’ games which take after the popularity of Temple Run. Waking Mars though is very, very different to pretty much anything else I have encountered before. Sure, there’s a resemblance to Grabatron as previously mentioned, but how many games can be described as an exploratory, extra-terrestrial horticulture mystery?!


Explore and cultivate

Explore and cultivate


The game is really made up of various components which make it rather difficult to categorise. There are elements of puzzle game here and it’s undoubtedly an adventure game. With the need to explore and combine plants together, you might further be reminded of the various alchemy games available. That said, it still feels very unique and gameplay is genuinely inventive.


Map view

Map view


Conclusion

Waking Mars is an enjoyable and engaging game which is stimulating to play and highly original in nature. For less than $2, you get a beautifully designed game with a lustrous soundtrack, addictive gameplay and an intriguing plot narrative that will keep you engaged all the way through. If you like games that are capable of really immersing you with fun and compulsive gameplay, you should definitely give Waking Mars a go. This will sound like a terrible pun, but it really is out of this world!




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I’m always suspicious of traditional platform games on a touch screen, because it’s one of the genres most dependent on a physical joystick and buttons. However, Paper Monsters is one of the rare platformers that not only works with a touch screen, but also thrives on it.
It puts you in control of a cardboard crusader, on a mission to save the paper kingdom from an evil tyrant. In the process, you stomp and jump and run your way through four worlds, collecting buttons and traversing platforms. Paper Monsters is adorable and fun, and I’m rather besotted with it.

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The Cardboard Hero’s Journey
Paper Monsters offers a 16-level main adventure, plus three additional modes. The main adventure takes you through four chapters, starting in the Paper Hills, then on through the Yibiki Peaks and Cardboard Dunes to the Papyrus Ruins.
Each chapter sports a distinct color scheme and mood — the bright, happy, and colorful first chapter gives way to a desaturated and snowy second chapter, which is followed by an orange and red-hued third chapter and a green, red, and dangerous-looking fourth chapter. The game’s difficulty follows a similar curve, springing more surprises and deadly obstacles as you progress.
The level selection screen hints at the colorful adventures that await.
You control your cardboard crusader with a virtual joystick on the left side of the screen. This is a floating joystick by default, appearing whenever and wherever you touch the screen, but you can toggle a setting that puts it in the corner, visible at all times.Tap anywhere on the right side of the screen to jump (or shoot, if you’re in the submarine). Tap a second time while in the air to double jump. The controls are sharp and responsive, and jumping feels right — not too floaty, nor too heavy.
Touch controls in Paper Monsters work remarkably well.
Most of the standard platformer tropes are here. You jump on the heads of enemies to kill them  — unless they’re armored — and lose health if you touch them in any other way. There are lots of coins buttons to collect, along with three paper clips to look for in each level. Traversing through levels requires a mix of running, jumping, double jumping, and dying because you got the timing wrong. And there’s a boss fight at the end of each world, which involves jumping on them or shooting them three times to kill them. It’s all pretty normal fare, except for a couple of things.
I grinned from ear to ear the first time a pipe — yes, there are pipes too — sent me into the background. When this happens, you do all of the same platforming, only you’re no longer in the foreground of the image, as is the norm for such games where the background would typically just be a static painting. Paper Monsters isn’t the first game to offer a separate plane of platforming, but this is still a rare concept — and seldom is the execution so good.
Platforming in the background still feels novel, and Paper Monsters does it well.
Sometimes a pipe spits you back out as a submarine or flying box. Underwater sections are a great change of pace for the adventure, swapping the running and jumping for dodging and weaving and finally letting you shoot bad guys. Flying sections give you freedom to explore further, going to heights and depths you could never safely reach via platforming.
These different mechanics pop up from time to time throughout the game, never lasting for an entire level. They tighten the pacing of the adventure, which might otherwise come to feel stretched out or tedious, and actually remind me of the way Super Nintendo classic Donkey Kong Country mixed underwater and mining cart adventuring to keep its platforming fresh.
The underwater sections are a breath of fresh air, and they don’t overstay their welcome.
Mini-Games and Themed Adventures
Paper Monsters has three other game modes to sink your teeth into, and they’re just as fun as the main adventure — albeit without much meatiness or longevity. The Drag ’N Dash mini-game sees you running a side-scrolling obstacle course, with buttons strewn along the way that need to be collected. You have control only over when your character jumps — he/she/it runs automatically — and the course is short. Once you master it you’re unlikely to ever go back, since there’s just the one course, but it’s fun while it lasts.
Drag ‘N Dash is a fun endless runner-style mini-game, but its lack of depth or variety may grate after several tries.
The other two modes are more like extensions of the main game. The Halloween-themed Punkin’ Time is a fun six-level side-quest through a world of pumpkins, spikes, and cemetery backgrounds, minus some of the more inventive ideas of the main adventure.
Heartbreak Showdown is similarly six levels and designed much like the main quest, but it throws in the cool twist that you need to find and collect a certain number of candy hearts hidden (or plainly visible) around the level. This side-quest is also notable for having a completely-different look to the rest of the game — it’s full of purples, violets, reds, and love hearts.
Heartbreak Showdown offers a simple scavenger hunt in addition to the usual platforming, along with a bright purple-and-pink-and-red aesthetic.
Cut-Out Worlds
There’s a kind of domestic charm here not unlike that found in Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet series on the PlayStation 3. Everything looks like a hand-made cut-out, and you even get a similar dancing-on-a-stage celebration at the end of each level. It’s a good aesthetic style to ape, especially when coupled with Paper Monsters’ more precise, less airy controls — which is a strange thing to say, given that touch screens are typically less precise.
The end-of-level celebrations bear an uncanny resemblance to LittleBigPlanet’s dancing Sackboy and disco music.
Paper Monsters draws comparisons to LittleBigPlanet in its character customization, too. Just as you can deck Sackboy out in all sorts of costumes, your little cardboard-box hero can wear different clothing and accessories — which you purchase with gold buttons collected from wrapped-present boxes in the game. The selection is fairly diverse, catering to many different styles and sensibilities, but unfortunately you can only choose two of these at a time — a head-piece (eg. a hat or headphones) and a body-piece (eg. a box-shaped suit). Nonetheless, it’s easy to add a sense of individual flair for the cost of a few gold buttons.
You can customize your character’s appearance with outfits purchased with gold buttons found in levels.
Paper Platforming Perfection
I adore Paper Monsters. It’s cute, fun, light-hearted, well-designed, and a breath of fresh air. I usually get bored of platformers well short of the end, because of a combination of repetitive, uninventive level design and an unshakeable feeling that I’ve played the same thing before — only it was better then.
Paper Monsters avoids this by presenting a cut-out cardboard world of whimsy and wonder, which pays homage to great platformers of old without directly aping them. With tight, responsive controls and a reasonable difficulty curve, Paper Monsters is a winner.


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We’ve covered many business card related posts on UltraLinx. Most of them showing off the design of business cards. This post is about how to design your business card, working out the little details which people might miss when designing their own. UPrinting came up with this neat infographic which is about how to design your business card with psychology in mind. It helps you work out the little details, stuff which will make your card a lot more professional looking.
Also check out these other related posts:
15 Sleek Examples of Black Business Cards
40 Inspiring Bus
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iness Card Designs

Original Article on UltraLinx Website - Design Your Business Card With Psychology In Mind | Infographic

Follow UltraLinx on - Facebook | Twitter.
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We have long witnessed some juicy rumors about the upcoming HTC flagship device in the Android arena and now is the time to put these rumors to rest as we have hard facts about this highly anticipated device that some consider to be a worthy competitor to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy SIII. As most people in the industry believed HTC just announced the specifications of its soon to be released HTC OneX device. At the heart of this new baby is a recently released Tegra 3 SoC which we discussed about a lot in the past. Tegra 3 is actually a 5-core device – 4+1 where the additional core will be use
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d when device don’t demand heavy duty number crunching power to save energy in those scenarios. Among other major feature include the gigantic 4.7-inch screen with an equally fitting 720p high resolution display based on the IPS technology. Device will support 1GB of RAM as well as integrated 32GB of internal storage (26GB will be available to the users). HTC OneX will come loaded with a 8MP rear-facing camera with HTC ImageChip technology to take clearer snaps even under low-light conditions. In terms of camera device will support simultaneously taking pictures while capturing 1080p videos. LED flash supports 5-levels of automatic brightness controls. Front-facing camera is 1.3 MP shooter supporting 720p video shooting.
HTC OneX will also come with a newer version of the Sense with a much deeper integration of Dropbox. HTC OneX buyers will also get the Dropbox deal with a 25GB of storage capacity for 2 years! Connectivity options include quad-band GSM and quad-band 42Mbps HSPA+. It also seems that device 1800mAh battery cannot be replaced as well as no place to insert additional memory card. But at this point in time we are not completely sure about these last two details.
As for the release date, device should be available globally in April 2012. So just few quick weeks more to wait for this Amazing HTC OneX!
On the performance front it will be interesting to see that how it compares to the already available devices like Samsung Galaxy SII and Galaxy Nexus etc. considering that apparently this packs quite a punch in the performance department in the form of quad-core Tegra 3 based awesomeness. We will update you on the real world performance numbers as soon as we have some real figures.
[via]


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Google’s announced and released a new Chrome Beta channel for its phone and tablets. Google’s recently did this with their desktop browser (on Mac Windows, Linux and Chrome OS) and now the  builds and now it’s going mobile. Google promises updates, likely just as regular as the big screen version, and it’ll be compatible with [...]
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I was really excited to get a tablet because I was finally able to show off my photography portfolio to clients in a sophisticated manner — no clunky laptops or slow-to-load websites and galleries to worry about. It’s also a great way to accompany your vacation stories when you meet friends and family, discuss a mood board with colleagues, and enjoy pictures from your social networks.
So what’s the best app to view images with? Today, we’re taking a look at the cream of the crop of galleries and photo browsers available in the Play Store that are designed with tabl
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ets in mind, in the hopes of finding the ultimate photo viewer, taking into consideration performance, features and UI.

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QuickPic
QuickPic is elegant, fast and loaded with features, and not just shallow bells and whistles. It can play video, rotate images as per device orientation, hide folders with a password, sort images logically  — by following numbering systems in file names — and even use hardware acceleration for a smoother experience. It’s highly customizable and has perhaps the best slideshow engine I’ve tried so far. You can read more about it in our full review.
It’s rare that such a well crafted, polished app is made available for free, sans ads. QuickPic manages to pack great performance, plenty of functionality and a very usable interface into a small package, weighing in at under 400KB. And did I mention it’s free?
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.0 or above
Google Play Link: QuickPic
Developer: alensw.com





Photo Gallery (Fish Bowl)
While I’m not a fan of the name, I really like this app. Fish Bowl is packed to the gills with cool features, such as the ability to store albums as favorites for quick retrieval, gorgeous responsive animations when you load, swipe through, zoom and rotate images, and even search — which works astonishingly well! It’s pretty, quick and does a number of things very well.
With Fish Bowl, you can tweak the image quality for displaying, sharing or using as a wallpaper to maximize performance, as well as lock images to hide them from view, check your trash can if you need to bring back pictures you deleted by accident, and of course, run slideshows. The interface is pleasant enough to look at, very usable, and well laid out. And it’s also free!
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.1 or above
Google Play Link: Photo Gallery (Fish Bowl)
Developer: Pixie Reef LLC





Monte Gallery – Image Viewer
Looking for a fresh new image gallery for browsing your locally-stored images? This new kid on the block is no slouch. Monte Gallery packs a ton of features, including hidden folders, a lock for the app itself, EXIF data display, customizable slideshow, image rotation and cropping, file copying and moving, and more, into a pleasant UI that’s as fast as it is good-looking.
That’s not all. Monte Gallery also packs a comprehensive image editing suite, allowing you to adjust everything from curves to vibrance and includes a number of photo filters and frames to enhance your pictures. Plus, you can add voice and text notes to images, and even tag them and add them to custom albums. This is definitely worth the low asking price and sets the bar for other apps in terms of quality and features.
Price: $1.33
Requires: Android 2.2 or above
Google Play Link: Monte Gallery – Image Viewer
Developer: MonteApps





F-Stop Media Gallery
A fierce competitor in the image gallery space, F-Stop includes a nice feature set and a clean interface with a differentiating image viewer screen that uses fragments — or columns — to let you see your photo as well as thumbnails of other images inside the folder you’re browsing. The splash screen allows you to quickly access your local image folders, custom albums, tags, ratings, and password-protected folders.
F-Stop can also create smart albums, including or excluding images by folder, date taken, tag or rating. You can also sort your images, check out your most-viewed images and see them all on a map. It also includes the same image editing features as Monte Gallery. The free version is ad-supported, and the paid version removes ads and throws in a few extra features like nested albums and metadata writing.
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.2 or above
Google Play Link: F-Stop Media Gallery
Developer: Seelye Engineering





DayFrame (preview)
If you ever let your tablet out of your hands and place it on a dock or stand, you can still enjoy photos with Dayframe. Still in the works, this clever app brings a continuous stream of photos from Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr to your device. You can see shared photos, as well as accompanying tweets/captions and user profile pictures.
Dayframe also includes a large voice command button which you can use to control Google Now on devices running Android 4.1. The functionality is standard on such tablets but the implementation makes sense for when your device is docked. You can additionally comment on photos using voice recognition. The app is still in the works and will see an official release — purportedly with even more features — this fall.
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.3 or above
Google Play Link: DayFrame (preview)
Developer: cloud.tv





500px
While a number of us are busy debating which, between Flickr and 500px, is the better photography community, the latter has released a lovely app — which we’ve reviewed earlier — for browsing through photos from members. The official app keeps things simple, with a simple category filter for images, image stats and comments, sharing and a basic slideshow. There aren’t any settings to configure here, but that’s probably best for most users.
500px does a nice job of giving you a glimpse into what the community is up to, and can feed your thirst for photography inspiration just the way you want in a clean no-frills interface that’s ridiculously fast. If you’re looking for more control over your photo browsing experience, you might want to check out the next contestant in this battle.
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.2 or above
Google Play Link: 500px
Developer: 500px





Brilliance Tablet Edition
This is the 500px app on steroids. The app launches with a dashboard showing what’s New This Week; swiping left reveals your history and swiping right shows your bookmarks. You can browse the 500px community’s content by selecting a filter criterion — choose from Newest, Editors’ Choice, Upcoming and more — and categories of photos to include and exclude.
Digging into each user’s gallery by tapping the large thumbnail brings up his/her photos, that you can view large versions of, and additionally download, share, favorite and like them. Swiping left here brings up the user’s profile and favorites. Strangely, you can’t comment on photos with Brilliance, but that may be a limitation of the API. If you want to spend all day looking at beautiful photos, give this a try.
Price: Free
Requires: Android 3.0 or above
Google Play Link: Brilliance Tablet Edition
Developer: Brilliance Mobility





Glimmr, for Flickr
Glimmr is an elegant app to browse through pictures on Flickr, and stay in touch with those you know on the photo-based social network. You can swipe through the tabbed interface to see content from your contacts, your own photostream, your favorites and sets, and even groups that you’re a part of. Plus, you can check the community’s best uploads in the Explore tab.
Glimmr offers snappy performance, and the UI is really well done too: comments and image info look great, and even the lone navigation bar disappears with just a tap on any image for a clutter-free viewing experience. While the free version is great for most users, you can support the developer by grabbing the paid version and gaining access to high-quality thumbnails and the option to set images as your device’s wallpaper.
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.2 or above
Google Play Link: Glimmr, for Flickr
Developer: Paul Bourke





DroidIris+
If you’re into 3D effects, you’ll love DroidIris+. You can view photos from your device, Picasa, Facebook or Flickr accounts as thumbnails on a wall that you navigate by flinging images across the seemingly three-dimensional space. It performs well enough once images are cached, and offers a smooth browsing experience, whether you’re looking at photos saved on your tablet or your Facebook albums.
My only gripe with this app is that it doesn’t take the 3D bit far enough — the slideshow feature is as plain-jane as it can get, and would’ve really benefitted from some interesting effects. Other than that, this is a fine solution for browsing photos on your tablet.
Price: $0.99
Requires: Android 2.1 or above
Google Play Link: DroidIris+
Developer: Alexandre Delattre





Pictarine: Your Social Photos
Remember how we loved Scope Beta, the app that brings together all your social network feeds into one place? Pictarine takes the same approach and applies it to photos from your contacts from all over the web. It features a beautiful, simple UI and performs pretty well, loading up images from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Tumblr, Dropbox, Live, 500px, Photobucket and Shutterfly without skipping a beat.
With Pictarine, you can like, reblog, share and comment on photos you find interesting, which some other 3rd-party apps can’t manage. It can even show you photos stored on your device’s memory, pull up all your photos from your social network accounts, filter them by contacts, and even surprise you with random photos from all your sources. It’s easily one of the best multi-network browsing apps out there, and at the price of free is well worth a look.
Price: Free
Requires: Android 2.2 or above
Google Play Link: Pictarine: Your Social Photos
Developer: Pictarine


Conclusion
Of the browsers we’ve looked at here, I particularly liked QuickPic and Monte Gallery for local photos, the former being my long-time favorite — since it’s free — and the latter winning me over with its great feature set. For social photo browsing, Pictarine is a must-have, given its ability to handle all your social networks and its above-average performance.
Sticking to a single photo community? 500px users should certainly check out Brilliance Tablet Edition which trumps the legacy app by way of additional functionality, and those on Flickr will love Glimmr for its minimalist interface that lets the pictures take center stage.
It’s only since recently that Android fans have been able to get their hands on quality tablets, and it’s great that we now have a fair amount of choice when it comes to apps we use to consume content. And with these wonderful image browsers, you can now show off your photos to friends and family with your device too.














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Amazon has recently upgraded its status in the Android ecosystem, transforming from a lowly OEM to a powerful force and one of the most popular manufacturers. They capitalised on a smart business decision that pushed other Android OEMs towards that model. But how did Amazon achieve such greatness while others fell short?

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Amazon’s Strategy
When entering the Android ecosystem, Amazon took a completely different strategy than other companies like Motorola and Samsung. In fact, it was clear that they had t
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o go in a completely different direction if they wanted to stand a chance.
Devices
Amazon started their Android adventure by releasing a tablet designed for a very specific group of people. With the release of the Kindle Fire, Amazon created an incredibly easy way for people who have never owned a tablet before to get into the game. They targeted the crowd who did not want a tablet badly enough to spend a few hundred dollars on something like the iPad or the Galaxy Tabs.
By keeping the price extremely low, Amazon made the original Kindle Fire an impulse buy. This was the first time a high quality tablet had ever been cheap enough to be purchased by people who weren’t necessarily looking for a tablet at that time. In addition, the Kindle brand was already extremely popular and trusted.
Amazon remained the only competition in this small Android tablet market for quite some time. However, Google’s introduction of the Nexus 7 changed everything. All of a sudden, Amazon found their beloved Kindle Fire competing against a tablet that had much higher specs, a full operating system, and the exact same price.
How did Amazon respond? They released the Kindle Fire HD which improved nearly every specification that was on the original Fire. However, none of the new specs were any better than what Google was already offering. The only major advantage to the Fire HD was the battery and audio output. Hence why Amazon had to take a new rout and offer a larger, 8.9″ tablet in addition to the already popular 7″ model.
Amazon’s Kindle Family
This was an odd move by Amazon, not in the introduction of a larger tablet, but in the pricing strategy. Starting at $299, Amazon’s 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD is still cheaper than the iPad, but the price goes significantly higher, topping out at over $600 for the highest end model. This certainly does not jive with the previous business models as it’s no longer an impulse buy. And given that Amazon uses a very restrictive operating system, it seems pretty illogical to spend a large amount of money without getting a full Android experience.
Software
Amazon’s take on software has been rather controversial. The Kindle Fire line uses the Android operating system and can run Android applications. However, Amazon has managed to achieve this by completely side-stepping Google. In fact, a person not familiar with the Android ecosystem could pick up a Kindle Fire and not even realize that the operating system is Android.
For starters, Amazon has created a heavily skinned version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The reason is they want people to use this device exclusively for content. Multimedia consumption is forefront, whereas almost all productivity and multitasking takes a secondary role.
Amazon’s Kindle Interface
In addition, Amazon uses their own app store to distribute software to Kindle Fire users. While the apps that are sold are technically the same, they will be completely independent of your Google account. This is where open source software can either be fantastic or destructive depending on your point of view. Some may say that Amazon is taking full advantage of the great features of Android’s open source nature by adapting it to their needs and service capabilities. On the other hand, some people think they are reaping all of the benefits from the ecosystem Google has created without giving them any credit.
The Ecosystem’s Response
As with any major change in an ecosystem, other companies are bound to respond. Amazon literally created a new market when they were able to produce a high end device that sells for a budget price. As a result, the demand for high quality, inexpensive devices exploded. The rest of the Android manufacturers had to come up with something to fill the void in the newly created market.
Google
Google was the first company to truly challenge Amazon’s marketing strategy. While other manufacturers had indeed made smaller tablets similar to the Fire, Google was the first one to take a similar business approach. Google liked the idea of marketing a device based on content consumption. By releasing the Nexus 7, they began pushing their multiple Play Stores — Books, Music, Video and Apps — harder than they ever had before.
The reason Google was able to be so successful in this approach, was because they already had an expanding library of content. In reality, the only companies that can actually pull off a release of a content consumption device are those who personally maintain an expansive library. Google and Amazon had success with this business model because they are currently the top two content providers in the Android ecosystem.
Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7
Google’s Nexus 7 is currently one of the highest selling Android tablets ever released. That’s bad news for Amazon because it shows that consumers want a complete Android experience, not a watered down version. If other OEMs follow in Google’s path by producing fully-featured Android tablets at a low price, then Amazon’s altered interface is going to look more and more like an inconvenience.
Other OEMs
So where do the other manufacturers come into the mix? In all honesty it isn’t realistic for companies like Samsung, HTC, or Motorola to introduce content consumption devices. They do not provide content of their own and would be relying only on Google’s services, an uninspiring approach because people would be more apt to simply purchase a device straight from Google. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t indeed respond to Amazon in their own way.
Take Samsung for example. Since the growing popularity of devices like the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, Samsung has been attempting to find their own niche. With their expansion of the Galaxy Note line of devices, Samsung is reaching towards a specific “phablet” and tablet market. While the sizes and prices are vastly different from what Google and Amazon is doing, the Galaxy Notes offer a unique functionality that can’t be found even in high-end tablets.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note Family
Additionally, it is only logical to assume that other manufacturers will attempt to do the same. Motorola, LG, and even Sony will begin exploring the possibilities that can be achieved within a certain price point. I’m sure the types of devices will be quite different, but the overall goal will be the same. What’s currently unfolding is a demand for inexpensive devices and if manufacturers don’t comply, they will struggle to find some ground in this newly created market.
Conclusion
We are in the middle of a very interesting time for the Android ecosystem. It is during this period that we can reap all of the benefits from an open source software model. We are part of a community that is literally pushing out devices with every sort of physical dimension and software adaptation possible. Whether you think some companies are being too harsh with how they handle Google’s services, one thing remains very clear: this type of competition and market shift will do nothing but benefit consumers.