Hear those sleigh bells? Probably not over the sound of Talking Santa, the famous holiday character from Outfit7. He’s got a new friend in town, full of mischief and mayhem to lighten up this holiday season. Personal cloud and productivity apps are also on the rise this week, with the new PocketCloud Explore app from Wyse and the Personal app to manage your data.
Talking Santa Meets Ginger (Free)
The popular Talking Tom series gets playful for the holidays when Tom’s nephew Ginger comes to visit. This mischievous red-haired cat visits Santa for the first time, and is beside himself with excitement. Have your way with Santa, telling Ginger to poke, slap or tickle Mr. Claus. Ginger can even interact with surrounding objects like the bell atop the Christmas tree, or the toy train in the background. Outfit7’s apps are known for their ability to talk back, and Santa doesn’t disappoint. Talk to Santa and he’ll repeat your words back to Ginger, so you can tell this little kitty to stop lighting Santa’s hat on fire. Outfit7 plans to release a string of “talking” apps and even plush toys and feature films.
PocketCloud Explore ($0.99)
Remote access is becoming a standard perk thanks to the proliferation of Android devices, and Wyse’s new PocketCloud Explore app lets you manage your files from a mobile handset. The notable feature of Explore is the ability to search for files across your devices, including your smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac. With universal file searches, you don’t have to worry about syncing or sharing folders, though you can do all the file-management you need directly from this app. Open files for viewing and editing, and share files with necessary coworkers and friends. To stand out amongst big players like Box and Dropbox, Wyse only charges a one-time fee of $4.99 instead of monthly fees. The price is lower because Explore isn’t a hosting service, so you’re paying for access and not storage.
Backtracking from the over-sharing behavior of Facebook and Twitter, Personal is a vault for your digital info and items. Tuck your data safely away in this app, from license and registration details to family members’ social security numbers. If there’s a trusted person that also needs access to the Vault, you can give them access to yours, and likewise request access to their Vault. Your networks then become highly secured and personal, but most importantly they’re purpose-driven. The free Vault is searchable, and offers real-time updates from across your network. Published gems within a given network can be imported and built on, letting you leverage this life management tool to the fullest.
Lightbox update (Free)
For every popular iPhone app, it seems the Android Market has a counterpart. This holds true for photo-sharing apps, where Lightbox is the Android-only app that competes with the iOS-exclusive Instagram. Lightbox is hoping to beat Instagram, even before its pending Android launch, with an update to its photo app. Adding a photo journal feature, your snapshots are automatically grouped into a personal timeline. It minimizes the need to tag or sort, displaying all your pictures in a Tumblr-like blog that looks great. Set your privacy for photo journals, which can be private, public or unlisted. The update really broadens the organization and viewing capabilities for Lightbox photos, which makes your photos more accessible outside of the app itself.
YouMail is known for its creative take on caller ID, and its latest Android app, WhoAreYou, offers a new real-time visual caller ID feature. It pulls information from Facebook photos, names, locations and business logos to tell you who’s calling, even if they’re not listed in your phone contacts. YouMail pulls from a database of more than 200 million U.S. phone numbers, many of which are already associated to social network profiles, including Facebook. There’s also some other key YouMail features you’ll find in this app, including the ability to “ditch” a call (sending tagged numbers straight to voicemail), or throw callers off with a message that says your number is “out of service.”
WordPress update (Free)
Always tweaking its Android app, WordPress beefs up its blogging service for all Android tablets. Also new to the 2.0 version is an editor for rich text and enhanced multimedia support, along with a dashboard and Quick Action bar for faster updates to your content. The updated media support means you can get more creative with your entries, while the dashboard and Action Bar offer one-tap access to pretty much anything you need to do for your blog. With competition on the rise from Tumblr and other mobile-specific blogging apps, WordPress is hoping to stay ahead with steady updates that mimic the PC/Mac experience.