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ZDNet App Wrap: March 25, 2013

This week, our app eyes peer at Coffice, Phone Rights, Telco Navigator, Podcasts, Google Keep, Newsify, Group Play, and RealPlayer.

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Topic: Developer
01-coffice.jpg
1 of 8 Sebastian Sauer

Coffice

Platform: Android

Price: Free

It's alpha quality, but what we have here is the start of a new office suite on Android.

Based on Calligra Suite that is used in MeeGo, Coffice currently only supports OpenDocument Text (.odt) files.

Since this app is backed by KDE community, it needs the Ministro app installed to provide the Qt libraries that KDE apps rely on. This app is also licenced under the LGPLv2, so you can go picking through the source if you like.

02-phone-rights.jpg
2 of 8 Bizer Mobile

Phone Rights

Platform: iOS, Android

Price: Free

Phone Rights is backed by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and is designed to allow users to test their reception, and log where and when they are experiencing call dropouts, delayed text messages, and slow internet so that they can make a complaint to their provider.

"This app is the ultimate guide for customers about their rights as a phone or internet customer," said ACCAN spokeswoman Elise Davidson. "The rules around telecommunications can be really confusing for customers, and this app makes it simple for consumers to figure out how to get a problem fixed."

That's ACAAN's side of the story, now let's see what users think of this app:

"Crashes every time. Disappointing because it is a good idea and has some good info on how to proceed with complaints," said a so-called Mark Walker on the Google Play store.

And in case you think it is merely another Android crash issue, here is an iPhone users called Donks21 that left a review: "Great concept, but unfortunately, I can't log my issue after taking pic of low signals? App still has bugs, looking forward to update."

In summary: A great app in theory, not quite so great in practice.

03-telco-navigator.jpg
3 of 8 Gilbert + Tobin

Telco Navigator

Platform: iPad

Price: Free

Attention telco fiends bearing iPads, here is an app that aims to consolidate the legislative and regulatory documents that telco workers (and curious wonks) need.

Telco Navigator contains 300 documents, which are available offline as well.

04-podcasts.jpg
4 of 8 Apple

Podcasts

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

Apple has updated its much-maligned Podcasts app. The update adds more customisable features, and claims to improve the speed and stability of the app.

... Unlike on Android, where the podcast app de jure Google Listen has been retired to a form of stasis, and will stop working in a reasonable way when Google Reader is shuttered.

Android users that want to use a Google-supported app for podasts should use Currents.

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5 of 8 Google

Google Keep

Platform: Android

Price: Free

And so Google's Evernote competitor has arrived — at least that's what the internet hype machine says.

It's not as full-featured as Evernote, and it doesn't appear to be intended for the heavy Evernote user.

If you are the sort of person that has been making notes in your phone's "Memo" application, and would like to have it stored in Google Drive, then this app could fit the bill. That experience is definitely better than emailing yourself a set of notes because you haven't created an Evernote account. (Stop looking at me like that!)

06-newsify.jpg
6 of 8 Ben Alexander

Newsify

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

This is an app I feel sorry for. It has all sorts of nifty features to provide a decent Reader experience on iOS. On March 11, the app was updated to support multiple Google Reader accounts.

A shame that it will only work until July 1.

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7 of 8 Samsung

Group Play

Platform: Android

Price: Free

File this app in the same folder as the previous Phone Rights app: "Good in theory, buggy in practice."

The theory with this app is the ability to share your screen, and even share sound over a wi-fi network.

Where it falls down is in its lack of support for non-Samsung keyboards. Users of Swype and SwiftKey will find themselves stuck on a screen asking them to input a PIN, but with no ability to click "Done".

This is from the same company that wants to become your "life companion". I prefer my companions to be much more open-minded.

08-realplayer.jpg
8 of 8 RealNetworks

RealPlayer

Platform: Android

Price: Free

I'm going to assume that this app is aimed at the 14- to 24-year-old demographic. That assumption is based on the idea that anyone that remembers the RealPlayer experience in the 90s and early 2000s would avoid this app like the frame-dropping, buffering maniac of a program that it used to be.

Perhaps this app is fine, and in fact, maybe it is excellent. But have you tried to play that .rm file that is buried in your music collection recently? Those scars are very deep, and this app cannot heal them.

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