Suck it Up with Clean Master

Clean_Master_App“Massstarrr, the House is very Messy!”

“Well Igor, CLEAN it up!”

Android suffers from one major problem. Juggling files in RAM storage and leaving a ton of trash files behind. Those of you unlucky enough to own 1GB RAM devices, you’ll know what I mean. Apps that promised some form of house cleaning can be found all over the playstore, and many do NOT warn you that your RAM is dangerous close to being overstuffed…that is until Clean Master came along.

First, I normally do not spend much time testing utility types apps but this one has won me over. The app is one that tells me whenever I am near the limit of my RAM storage and this happens quite often.

Why Your RAM is Stuffed

I have mentioned this before and I will mention it again. One of the biggest culprit for junk files is Social Media. Each time you fetch a Facebook newsfeed or an Instagram post, the files are stored in RAM. Over the course of a day, you will have more and more junk files than you care to imagine. A single newsfeed refresh on Facebook can yield as much as 1MB of files and once you start browsing your newsfeed, it starts to fetch even MORE files. The breathing room for your device gets squeezed and that’s when you start to realize that it gets slow and turgid. This addiction to mass Social Media Consumption is what drives people nuts. They want their device to be quick all the time but they only have themselves to blame.

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The other big users of RAM are games online or multiplayer. You may not know how this feels until you start to see glitches in speed. Your gaming starts to stall and lag. You know the deal here when you see it.

Clean Master Rocks

Flushing the toilet after use is probably the best way forward but mobile devices aren’t made for cache flushing on its own. Clean Master identifies the problem and alerts you about it. It’s up to you to take that notification seriously. The app can be used for both normal and rooted access. For rooted access, you can grant it Super user privileges.

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But Clean Master does more than this. It also monitors your App usage, warning you that some apps haven’t been used and you should junk them. For instance you may have downloaded an app and totally forgotten about it. Clean Master makes a note of all those apps that don’t have much attention and suggest that you eject them from storage. It also tracks your internal storage files, allowing you to clean up that forgotten video porn you  downloaded while waiting for your boss to get back from lunch.

Unlike other RAM cleaning apps, Clean Master monitors your RAM state constantly while leaving a very small footprint. For now, there is no banner advertising and from the looks of it, they could go PRO by asking for a fee later.

Android’s operating system can never be as efficient as iOS because of Google took the multi tasking route. iOS is more linear in its RAM usage and this is also the same reason why Apple never gives you much RAM to play with in the first place. By limiting the RAM on the iPhone 5s to just 1GB, you can see why iOS can never be truly multitasking. Apps that are in the background will stay stuck until you bring it up front. That is why so many side loading apps that promises background operation don’t work.

Android users have to contend with the constant house cleaning as part of the Android structure, but those background apps keep humming along without you having to do a thing. Files can be uploaded to cloud storage as a background process and two apps can be running and sharing the same resource and computing power.

There is no one perfect operation system and as long as you’re aware of this, you get to keep working the way you do on Android.

iOS versus Android: Christmas Shopping List

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Truth be told, I have never given up on my past times, some of which can only be found on iOS. For the most part, Android for me is more of a productivity tool. It connects and entertains but it has its weaknesses. In the coming Christmas season, you’d be wondering which platform you should get onto. Eric Schmidt of Google may have penned out this thoughts on how an iPhone user should switch to Android but technically speaking, that’s like ignoring the real issue at hand, that is…you gotta have some pretty good software to cater to different folks. Here’s a run down on what you should be buying this Christmas based on the strength of the apps found on both platforms.

Music Making

Hands down. iOS wins. Garageband in particular is fab, so are those DJ mixing apps and drumming, loop and any music generating apps. Best to get an iPad to do that. The iPhone is far too small to use as a music productivity tool. The iPad be it the mini, or the Air will be the darling of the music industry this Christmas. Android plain suxs on this. There is nothing on the playstore that can even come close to Garageband, let alone exceed it.

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Games

Again, hands down, iOS wins. There are more paying customers on iOS than on Android and that’s the reason why game developers cannot ignore the iOS platform when releasing games. Android may have a larger user base but there are problems in getting games to play on different devices made by a variety of manufacturers. iPads are the best for gaming. iPhone is just too MEH….

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Mobile Photography

Sorry but Android takes this one. Forget the Nokia 1020 for a moment and think about the apps available on Android only. They kick iOS ass. Apps like Cameringo and native Android apps found on the Sony, HTC and Samsung can double down and win this race without bating an eyelid. A long time ago that Android camera apps were lacking, these days, it shines brighter than the star that Steve Jobs sits on. Cameringo alone puts all the other filter based iOS apps to shame. Forget the Hipstamatic app from iOS. It’s rubbish. And what about Photosphere? You can’t have that for free on iOS while it’s a standard feature on all Android 4.2 devices. The Google app lets you upload 360 pano bubbles to Google Maps, which is free for all to view.

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Work Productivity

So you want to do some serious work, encode files, upload to cloud and save files on flash drives? You can’t beat Android. iOS may have pioneered the mobile office suite but its iWork modules with new hardware running on iOS 7. Google already gives out its own Quickoffice for this and it’s not restricted by hardware. What’s more Android devices support read and write to flash drives using a OTG cable. Plug and Play. For iOS, you gotta be psychic to beam a file onto a flash drive. Bluetooth? Have you seen an iOS device send a Microsoft file to an Android device? How about NFC and WifiDirect? Does iOS have these under their belt? Both iOS and Android have productivity tools to do your work but it’s iOS that needs a data line to be of any use.

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Drawing and Art

As much as I love the Galaxy Note series with their pressure sensitive stylus, iOS wins hands down when it comes to drawing and exporting your art in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Exporting a drawing in JPEG or any type of rasterized image is plain silly. People should be able to edit a drawing without compromising on the quality or the brush strokes. SVG allows you to do this as the data is vector encoded. Android’s support for these type of file is very poor at the moment. iOS wins hands down.

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Entertainment and Video

Android is the clear winner and by a mile. There are numerous apps that lets you consume video like never before. For Samsung devices, they have an All Share feature which can beam content to your set top box via Wifi. Third party apps are also available for you to do this. Connecting a DNLA device isn’t a problem on Android but it is a huge problem for iOS. Apple wants you to stream stuff through their Apple TV box. Making iPads or iPhone DLNA compatible for video is ritual suicide. Third party apps on iOS can support streaming of music but not Video. Streaming of music or video on Android is a no brainer. It just rocks.

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Buying Guide

You get what you pay for. Apple’s tablets and iPhone is on the highest end of the retail chain but price alone should not dictate your choices. Both devices have their strong and weak points when it comes to apps. You have to pay for apps, not expect them to be made free but there are times when the free apps alone will do fine.

For any internet device, there are two schools of users. Those who use their devices to maximize their creativity and productivity, and those who just consume digital media.

Consuming is easy. These are the same folks who use social media, play games with friends, read the news, read books and magazines. For this, any device be it from iOS or Android will do the trick.

Those of you who are more productive —who want to take pictures and have control over their captured parameters, make and create music, draw or take work along with them, will need something more. So choose wisely this Christmas and you’ll be duly rewarded.

Nokia’s Lost Android Dream

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So it was a missed opportunity, and it is all in the news. Before Microsoft bought out Nokia, the latter had already been testing a slew of Android enabled phones with a dedicated eco-system similar to Amazon’s take on Android.

Looking back, I have to admit that I loved all the Symbian phones and two in particular were my personal faves, the Nokia 3660 and Nokia 6600. Now, we hear that Nokia might be no more, at least in Spirit, once Microsoft assumes control of the entity.

Before I got my iPhone, I had a N95—which I adored, and after that the Nokia 5800 before moving into iOS and Android. That said you could see how Nokia got it all wrong.

As much as I loved my phone, Nokia was destroyed by Elop, the CEO who abandoned all Symbian efforts and Meego initiatives for something he knows well…Windows Mobile.

What Went Wrong with Windows

When you are late to market, you sometimes have to pay to learn. And Microsoft is NOT  learning this one bit. For the record, Windows Mobile 8 & RT are significant departures from previous Windows Mobile OS systems. I once owned an O2 version of the XDA Mini. It didn’t work like a charm and faltered. Then I bought into the Samsung Omnia, a ridiculous Windows mobile OS killed it. Times were changing and Microsoft still didn’t get it right.

Windows Mobile 8 & RT with its slick Metro interface is fantastic. The concept on how it works is simple, just like iOS, the approach is flat. You can’t go wrong with something like this but Microsoft did screw it up. It was priced too close to Apple’s own iPhone. When the RT tablets came out, they priced it too close to the Apple iPads. Stupidity is indeed contagious if when you consider that Microsoft had a lot of catch up to do in the market.

The Japanese know that to command the attention of the masses you need software. And to get the people to develop software, you need to sell the hardware for cheap.

This sort of Loss Leader approach is what made the Playstation and Nintendo machines of their day the top of the heap. Remember that when the PS3 was launched, Sony sold it at a loss to encourage consumers to buy it, with that, they went into the software business with the numbers they needed to justify selling it at a loss. It worked. Nintendo did the same and corner the console market.

Dude, Where’s My Software!?

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The pathetic list of software on the Windows Mobile Marketplace is a sign of something gone wrong and here it is. Do you know it cost you US$1200 a year to sign up to be a Windows Mobile 8 Developer and have access to the MSDN support?

There is a free plan which includes the use of Visual Studio Tool Express but the developer license must be renewed monthly, at no cost. The highly restrictive free plan is limited to 5 PC  stations.  You can only list 5 free apps on the mobile appstore in one year and after that, it cost US$20 a pop for each additional free app you add to that list. MSDN is the developer network which you won’t have access to unless you pay that $1.2 grand a year.

In recent past, Microsoft charged US$99 for a windows mobile developer account but decided that it already makes enough money from the professional developers to forgo this part of the fee. Blackberry developers probably get the best deal with free membership and free listing with free tools. Blackberry also gives you the porting tools you need to make your Android app totally Blackberry compliant though I don’t see much benefit since you have Blackberry fragmentation to deal with.

Apple developers and Google Android developers have access to free software support as well as forum support without an afterthought. Google doesn’t charge you anything but a flat US$25 as an entry free to their domain. Apple’s iOS Enterprise Developer Program  maxes out at US$300 a pop. That’s a far fry from the US$1200 that Bill Gates Inc. charges. For smaller companies, you can subscribe to list any app on the Apple Appstore for US$99 a year.

Emulate Google Play Success

Sorry, Microsoft didn’t hear that. Google’s Android has garnered so much interest and success is due to one thing and that it’s devices are priced below that of iOS. The fragmentation that came along with it didn’t worry it as much as there was mass market appeal.

iOS was first to market, even though Nokia had for some time had its own store for Symbian apps, it never took off because it was in decline. Elop killed Nokia after taking it to Windows and that’s the end of the story.

The iOS success story is simple. Steve Jobs needed software for iOS and he made the tools freely available on the Mac when you sign up to be a developer. And the tools are pretty good too. When the hardware prove to be a hit, he had legions following him.

Google’s Android SDK is nothing to shout about but it works. Blackberry has the lowest point of entry for developers who want to go into Apps creation. Everything is free, to join and to list an app.

Microsoft: Penny wise and pound foolish

Microsoft thinks it needs a hardware manufacturer like Nokia to succeed in the mobile campaign. Sounds like a dream but they are thinking it might just work for them. Seven billion is small change for Microsoft. Nokia’s mobile business isn’t worth that much after the damage Elop did to the company. But Nokia held the trump card with 80 percent of the Windows Mobile Phone. No other manufacturer came close.

Even though Nokia is achieving limited success with its Lumia phones, it faces an Android onslaught. Elop could have done a deal with Google if he wasn’t reputed to be the Trojan Horse that Microsoft sent in. He could also have taken up MeeGo, a Linux based OS (which evolved to be Tizen OS). Instead, he took the backdoor route, that is move it back to Windows.

Looks like Microsoft is going to crash and burn in the mobile apps market, and they might as well take Nokia down that road with them. Sad end to a really great Brand and marks the end of Nordic entrepreneurial engineering prowess and design.

Run Android on Windows 8 and Mac OSX

BlueStacks-App-Review-for-Windows-8-Best-Android-App-Player-02

 

For users of Windows 8 and Mac OSX, the idea of running Android on these systems may sound pretty far fetched but one company doesn’t think so. BlueStacks, a start up that is taking on the Ouya console, has been pushing its GameStop console to the masses but unknown to many, BlueStacks also offers TWO free versions of Android that will run on your Windows 8/7 as well as Mac OSX. The idea behind this is simple. The virtual machine app (app player) resides on top of your current OS allowing you to run programs and apps from the Android universe, well on paper it appears to be so but there are some caveats.

Virtual Operation Systems

One of the chief problems with a Virtual Machine OS is that it is rarely 100% compatible. This apparently is the case with BlueStacks app player.

oneclicksync

From the moment you install the app player, the program will ask you to link your google account to sync your BlueStacks app player. Once that is done, you’d realize that many of the options to install the apps are all there but once you start to use them, you’ll encounter problems running it. This is partly due to memory addressing, storage and of course the GPU which has to render the graphics. I tested it on one game and though it played, it was much slower.

For example it can’t handle many games that are graphics intensive. So forget about the FPS type games. It does play the Angry Birds games well enough but that’s rarely a graphics intensive workload on the GPU.

I found the inclusion of Facebook app for Android in the BlueStacks App player list totally laughable. Why bother to use a mobile app if you can access it from a browser of your Windows or Mac OSX device?

Where is the Future for BlueStacks?

Currently, the app player is still a work in progress while they ready themselves for a GamePop console launch. You can technically still run some productivity and utility apps from the Play store but that’s probably about it.

BlueStacks has set its eyes on the future as a gaming console. For a monthly fee subscription, you can use the console to pay games on your big screen TV.

I do foresee that the app player could be integrated into this eco system in the future where you can play Android games on your Mac OSX or Windows machine—which for now is a long shot.

Windows users may be a better bet for the Android apps for now. Microsoft has all to fear and loath them right now as people running this app will not see the benefit of buying full software products that run solely on Windows 8 platform. For Mac OSX users, the attraction will only be in gaming, where the OSX system is at a disadvantage. Unfortunately most Android games don’t run too well on them  so you will just have to wait it out.

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Review: Asus Transformer Pad TF300

Having dumped the iPad for Android tablet, I was on the lookout for something to fill the gap and decided on this particular model. I had wanted the Toshiba Excite tablet but settled for the TF201, which is the Prime. The model was constantly out of stock here so by the time I could get one, the TF300 came out and I took the first unit off the shelf.

TF201 Vs TF300 Body

There is no real physical difference between the two except that the TF300 is slightly thicker. The guts is something else. TF300 though encased in a Tupperware body is heavier. The same ports are found, and if you are getting the addon keyboard, the TF300 has a nicer feel as the keys travel a little deeper.

Display

The IPS display on the TF300 is acceptable for daily use but has some kinks. There is a lack of contrast if you compare it with the Super IPS display on the TF201 and the colors are cooler. There is no way to adjust this. I have been so used to the Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy Note that going back to the IPS screen was like taking a step back.

I wanted the Toshiba Excite 7.7 for the same reason, the screen rocks! But the price will keep you at bay. The Toshiba Excite 7.7 has a much nicer display and cost the same price (TF300+keyboard) so you have to think long and hard if you really need this.

I also think that the Galaxy Tab 2, 10.1 has a better display. Color is somewhat richer.

Tegra 3 Processor Vs the World

Truth be told, I think the future of all Android tablets lie with Nvidia. Forget the Galaxy Tab, the Nvidia Tegra 3 is the best performing processor  with the Quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor coming second. The reason for this is that Nvidia has gone the extra mile to harness the power of the Tegra 3 GPU for gaming whereas Samsung’s Exynos is claimed to be just blazingly fast. Until we see a real world comparison in terms of gaming apps, the power of Exynos can only be claimed but not proven.

Tegra 3 beats out any of the dual core processors found in tablets. This much is for sure.

Real World Apps

In terms of apps, there are a number of dedicated THD or Tegra based apps in the market. It’s not much, but I expect to see more once more handsets gets shipped with Tegra3.

The current batch of apps performance on the Tegra is flawless.

On the TF300, there are three speeds in which you can switch to. I found this to be quite annoying since this is done manually. There are not real difference in overall performance. As far as I can see, all the apps I use so far (including the games) do not tax the Tegra 3 in the way you’d expect.

I played pinball in all three modes, with only the power saving mode giving me some control glitches. There are a few apps included with the Tablet, I found MyBooks to be useful though not extremely fast. I read lots of PDF magazines and the app has problem shifting through high resolution PDFs. Then again I encountered the same problem with the older iPad. I have not used the new iPad so I won’t pass judgement on it.

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I got an update the moment i connected the Pad to the internet. That said, I think there is some way to go to meet full compatibility with the apps in google playstore. I think this is the same with the current iPad with the legacy devices. The new iPad has a spiffy new Retina Display and all the apps made for the earlier iPad will suffer. ICS is still relatively new and though backward compatible with previous releases, there will be some kinks. It will be a while before these apps achieve ICS compatibility so you just have to wait it out. Many apps, while running in the background, will cause the tablet to reset. In my experience, I have had several and it all boils down to compatibility problems.

Battery Life

Generally ok, but I wouldn’t write home about it. If you use your tablet like I do, you’ll probably get by with 30% battery charge remaining. I play games, watch YouTube and Surf. I don’t listen to music with it though. With the external Keyboard attached, you get an extra five hours of use though that too is debatable since it acts like a charger for the Tablet. I found that if both your keyboard and Tablet has zero charge, plugging the attached tablet to the keyboard and charging it will not work. Instead, you have to charge the tablet or keyboard separately.

I drained both devices as a precaution after two weeks of use. What I don’t like about the set up is that the keyboard battery just charges your tablet constantly when you have it attached. The Tablet will in fact absorb all the charge in the keyboard dock and that gave me some worry since doing so will only create battery problems later for the tablet if you happen to switch in and out of the dock all the time.  As such, you have to completely drain the two from time to time to relief it from any residual effect.

Connectivity

This is the bitch. You can’t connect anything up to it unless you have a USB kit. It’s like the camera kit on the iPad where you plug-in a USB adaptor. Once you have this, then everything from HD to Flash Drives will work. Bluetooth works fine, and so does WiFi.

GPS and Location finding

No problems at all on this. I have Sygic installed and it works fine. Fast too, which is unlike the TF-201 which had issues.

Storage

I have a 32 GB model and I can’t move apps to the external microSD. You can read from the microSD but ICS has a problem with moving any sort of app to an external source. This is not a bug. It is part of the unified virtual memory implementation in ICS for tablets. It is said that Jellybean will address these issues which is why Jellybean is released as 4.1 and not 5. It is similar to the transition process between 2.1 Eclair to Froyo 2.2. Eclair didn’t address the need for external SD storage very well but Froyo did.

Camera

I don’t use this much for now so I will do a more detailed review of its capabilities in another post.

Conclusion

This is a work horse. The keyboard dock basically turns the gadget into a Netbook and with the right apps, it could do some decent work. Polaris Office, which is included free, is very basic. But then again I won’t be expecting you to produce transcripts or heavy duty reports since the limited storage memory of the machine is not suited to doing such things.

As a general tablet, there is more than ample apps to support its usefulness. This Asus will eventually get the Jellybean update as the processor is still able to do the lifting. So like it or not, this Pad will continue to rock for some time to come.

The price and form factor were the main selling points, even though I found the display a little lacking and too cold for my liking, it still manages to dish out the games at playable speeds.

I am not  a speed freak, and many a time all those data on processor speed doesn’t quite translate well into the real world usefulness. That said, the TF300 does what it claims to do and this is more than enough for me.

Gaming: Anomaly Warzone Earth HD

I like playing games that work on the Galaxy Note’s huge screen and HD games are a must. So when Anomaly Warzone Earth was part of the HD humble bundle, there was little reason to resist.

And if you missed it. Shame on you.

Having played the game on the Mac and later on the iPad, I was wondering if there was any significant changes to the gameplay. Fortunately this version plays the same as the iPad version.

overview screen for route planning

Visually I can’t tell the difference between the GN and iPad version as the pace is the same. This is a good sign and if you have held out for this game, this is a good time to put your money down.

Now for the next question, do you like to think and strategize? If not, then don’t bother with this game. It is not a casual game as the makers have you believe. It requires dexterity and focus to figure out what will happen if you change strategies.

actual game screen

The game is a reverse tower defense app, they call it Tower Offense for simplicity sake and the production value is very high indeed. The game first launched on OSX for the Mac but I hated that version. Sure it had more to offer in terms of visuals and gameplay but I didn’t like the way the controls worked.

You are given two screens where you control a battalion of sorts. APCs, shield vehicles, tanks, crawler, etc. are at your disposal and you get to choose which you want to use to get through enemy defenses. The enemy has towers, several different kinds and if you manage to take some of them out, you’d be rewarded with power ups. These can be in the form of a vehicle repair power up, smoke bomb (totally useless), decoys and lastly the airstrike. There are additional bonuses in the form of a alien mineral which you can sell at your downtown wet market and get a load of dosh….just kidding….but the mineral bonus is real and like gold, translates to more cash —allowing you to buy more spiffy armor or vehicles to bust those alien chops.

There is an overview screen that shows you the alien towers and the position of your armor vehicles, all you need to do is change the route should it get too messy for you to take them head on.

Touchscreen games are quirky. You need games that can be manipulated with your fingers and Anomaly Warzone plays beautifully in that respect. It even plays smoother than on a PC with a mouse. Trust me. As far as gaming goes, this is stellar.

The game play can be frustrating at times because you are only given two choices after you have been busted. Either start at the last checkpoint or start all over. At times, you’d be wiser to start all over because there when you have less than sufficient armor to do  the job, it doesn’t make sense for you to try.

This games require a fair bit of concentration and focus. You just cannot plok your route to the destination and let it run. As the alien towers hammer your vehicles, you have a chance to decisively change tactics. But the vehicles themselves do not stop moving….which is  real pain, but heck those are the rules of the game.

Overall, this is one game that works beautifully on the GN, and I recommend this for all strategy or RTS fans.

Great Games for the Galaxy Note

The humble bundle is a great way to experience gaming for your GN. First let me tell you what sort of games you’d be getting. For a donation of just 5 bucks you get to play with these great games:-

  • Anomaly Warzone
  • World of Goo
  • Osmos
  • Edge

Just head on down humblebundle.com to get them but hurry. Offer is for only 10 days.

Anomaly Warzone

This Tower Strategy game was a hit on the iOS and plays beautifully on the Galaxy Note. It pits you against an Alien species which has decided to camp out WoodStock style in cities across earth and your role is to navigate your way around them, without having your eyebrows cinched to ashes.

The concept for the game is really good and the graphics too. The Galaxy Note plays this beautifully!

Warzone Earth as seen by 11 Bit Studios

World of Goo

A game that you will either love or hate, it too was a hit when released and is a high concept puzzler that has you guiding a bunch of gooey blobs to their next destination. It mixes both platform and strategy in the concept that will either frustrate you or keep you entertained for hours!

gooey goodness

Osmos

A cell based puzzler where you have to guess the best route to navigate your bacteria looking cell organism in a fluid world. The game physics is pretty creative though some would have preferred it to be faster. This is a very slow game to play.

slow and steady

Edge

This is a platform puzzler that has you guiding a block through a maze of sorts that is filled with traps in one piece. Not a bad idea or concept behind it but the blocky graphics could put you off. Game plays beautifully on the GN. Full screen graphics.

go to the edge

 

Last Word on the Bundle

  • Since the humble bundle is donationware, I wish to highlight something about the offer.
  • Pay for Android but also get the same games for download for Mac, Windows, Linux
  • You need to donate a minimum of US$5 to have all the games, any less then you won’t get to download World of Goo
  • The PC, Mac and Linux versions can access through your STEAM account but make sure you request for the keys at the download screen.

Frankly, this is one of the best offers now for gaming on the Android. I suggest you pick one up real quick before the offer expires.