Posts Tagged Android
I initially had my list of must-have Android apps posted in my review of my Samsung Moment, but I thought they deserved a mention apart from my awful experience with that phone.
I’ve recently updated this list to reflect my current list of must-have Android apps, rather than the old list. Quite a few of my recommendations have changed. These are recommendations for Froyo and newer. So here they are, in no particular order, and now with Market links. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from Market where I feel the author has explained it better than I could. If you have an iPhone, feel free to check out my list of must-have iPhone apps as well.
An all-in-one application to track and manage your car: maintenance, fill-ups, fuel mileage, expenses, business trips and more.
Advanced Task Killer (ATK)
Simple, easy-to-use task killer that supports automatically killing tasks as well as force-closing unwanted system tasks.
Astro File Manager
In my opinion the best free file manager / file explorer program available for Android. Easy manage files on your device and SD card. Easy to use, free, and powerful.
Autokiller Memory Optimizer
An outstanding and powerful automatic task killer with manual-kill features and additional tuning for rooted phones. Does have some advanced tuning features, so novice users may want to consider ATK above instead.
A fun little app for using the camera to extract human-readable info from 1D and 2D barcodes. Supports many different barcode formats and recognizes codes quickly.
The natural compliment to Barcode Scanner. Save your scans in a text file or send them via email with a simple touch. Supports batch scanning as well.
A free, simple, no-nonsense application to display your remaining battery as a percentage in your notification area.
This widget displays the battery charge level as a percent on the home screen and offers one-touch access to the Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth power toggles
Data Counter Widget
A must-have for those who are on data-limited plans. This widget displays your cell and wifi data usage for the month (or another configurable period of time) as a home screen widget.
Dolphin Browser HD
Puts the stock browser to shame. Easy full-screen browsing with swipe access to plugins and gesture support for quick access to your favorite websites. Supports a variety of plugins as well.
Eternal Legacy HD
If you’re a fan of the turn-based fantasy RPG’s (think Final Fantasy) you will LOVE Eternal Legacy HD. This one is NOT available on Market, but is available from Gameloft. Check the link for actual phone compatibility.
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them.
FBI Child ID
While the Android app is still in development as of the date of this update, FBI Child ID is a must-have for anyone with a child that they are responsible for. You can store photos, identifying information, and have the comfort of having it with you whenever you have your phone. With the ability to send it to authorities with a few taps, FBI Child ID can save valuable time in the event of a lost or missing child. See the FBI’s official Child ID page for more information.
What can I say? Facebook app. Much better with recent improvements.
I don’t like Swype — It lacks some of the extended characters that I use and I’m a tap-typer rather than a swipe-typer. When I do inadvertently swipe my finger across the keyboard it tends to mangle whatever I was trying to type. For me, Hackers Keyboard is better — and free!
JuiceDefender – Battery Saver
A freemium, easy-to-use application to monitor and extend the life of your phone or tablet. Features widgets that give you one-touch access to status and features.
Great app to show historical data about battery life and usage, as well as a widget to show time-to-charge and time-remaining on your battery life. Very useful, and gets more accurate over time.
A great password manager. LastPass web site. With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year)
Lookout Mobile Security
Contains an anti-virus element, phone location, and backup/restore services. Excellent service for free, and a quite reasonable paid subscription service.
A multi-protocol instant messenger for Android. Supports AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo messenger protocols.
Track FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL and more right from your handheld. Also allows you to scan barcodes before shipping to be informed on their progress to the recipient.
Handy for sending money via PayPal while on the go.
Spare Parts Plus
This is a handy utility for editing some hidden functions of your phone or tablet device. Settings should be changed carefully. The most useful reason for this app is enabling/disabling compatibility mode.
It’s Twitter. Do I need to say any more?
Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)
Shows up-to-date weather information, forecast, radar (supports multi-touch), and more, with configurable widgets and “follow me” support. WeatherBug Elite is nice, but they do have the free WeatherBug app available too.
A real must-have for anyone with a WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress blog.
Handy app for testing various functions and sensors on your phone.
If you’ve read this far, you might also be interested in a list of apps specifically for rooted phones, yes? Well, here they are:
Open-source ad blocker for rooted phones.
Another ad blocker for root phones. For more information and to give feedback, visit the XDA Forums.
An intermediary OpenGL graphics driver which may increase video performance on some devices. Requires: Root, 1ghz+ device, Android 2.1+. See the XDA thread for more information and a list of compatible devices.
A Samba server for your Android phone. Allows you to access your Android phone’s SD card over your network.
EXTREMELY powerful tool. Backup ALL apps, Market links, remove bloatware & MORE! Backs up your apps to your SD card and can restore them with their data even after a hard reset, factory reset, or even a new ROM install. It’s fantastic!
Have an Android app you just can’t live without? Please let me know in the comments below!
Last update: December 7th, 2011
Two-factor authentication finally comes for Google accounts, including Google Apps.
Using 2-step verification will help prevent strangers from accessing your account with just a stolen password. When you sign in with 2-step verification, you’ll verify your identity using both a password and a code that you receive on your phone. Learn more
The one-time-password (OTP) that you receive on your phone can come from one of two different methods: Either a time-based password using the Google Authenticator app for your smartphone (BlackBerry, iPhone, Android), or as a text message. Google also provides you a set of codes that you can print out, in case you don’t get your code or your phone is lost. Keep them in a safe place, because if you lose your phone and your codes, getting access to your account is a royal pain — but that’s the way it’s supposed to be:
You’ll need to fill out an account recovery form to verify ownership of the account. Take time to answer each question to the best of your ability. The form was designed to ensure that no one can gain access to your account except you. Since Google doesn’t collect a lot of information about you when you sign up for an account, we will ask you questions like when you created your account, what Google services you use, and who you email frequently (if you use Gmail) to make certain you are authorized to access your account.
Two-factor needs to be turned on in your Google Account settings, and Google has an excellent walk-though on how to activate and test two-factor during the setup. Google calls their two-factor authentication simply “2-step verification.”
To access your account settings from your Gmail or Google Apps mail screen, click Settings in the top right, then click the Accounts tab, then Google Account Settings. then click the “2-step verification” link.
Google says that setting up their 2-step verification takes about 15 minutes, and it’s a good estimate. Budget longer if you’re less savvy or want to be more careful. There’s a testing step involved, so there’s little risk of locking yourself out of your account.
There are major security advantages to using two-factor authentication. One of the biggest simply being that if your password is compromised, there’s still a barrier preventing someone from logging in and having their way with your account.
Along with this, Google introduces what they call “Application specific passwords.” These are workaround passwords for applications (IMAP/POP/SMTP clients, Google Talk, etc) that can’t present the OTP passwords required for two-factor authentication. Instead, you generate a different password — one for each resource if you like — and enter that in your application instead of your normal password. Sound confusing? It’s not, really. This has the added advantage that if someone gains access to your applications configuration files (e.g. Outlook) and pulls your password out, they can’t use it to log directly into your Google account. You can also go into your Google account and revoke these generated passwords at a later date if a resource does become compromised.
After enabling 2-step authentication, you’ll receive an email with information which includes information about application specific passwords:
IMPORTANT: What to Do If Some Applications Stop Working
Some applications that access Google data do not accept verification codes. They
only accept usernames and passwords. Examples include:
-Smartphones (e.g., Android, iPhone)
-Mail clients that use IMAP/POP (e.g., Outlook Express or Thunderbird)
-Chat clients (e.g., Google Talk)
-Picasa desktop application
Now that you have signed up for 2-step verification, these applications will
temporarily stop working. You can get them working again by entering an
application-specific password into the password box, instead of your regular
password or your verification code.
That email will contain a link to generate those application-specific passwords.
Security-minded individuals will no doubt embrace these changes to Google. I for one appreciate that Google is going to such great lengths to provide easy-to-implement security tools that benefit the consumer. I believe that Google may have done something really great here — users who are really concerned about security in Internet resources may now seriously consider creating Google account. Less technical consumers may still use Google using conventional username/password combinations if they so desire.
What do you think of Google decision to add two-factor authentication to accounts? Are you, or will you be, taking advantage of it?
Today, Royal Pingdom posted a somewhat-surprising blog entry that shows that the iPad alone, not any other iOS device like the iPhone or iPod touch, is used more than Linux computers.
Why is this only somewhat surprising? There’s plenty of reasons:
The positive about the Apple devices:
The iPhone and iPod Touch set the stage with — and raised the bar on — user friendliness in portable devices. The iPod was the device that some would argue re-made Apple. It quickly took over the portable media player market and set the new de-facto standard for what to expect in a music player: Lots of storage, and a simple, user-friendly interface. With the iPod Classic, new features brought even higher expectations. The iPod Touch and iPhone sealed the deal for Apple (and some would argue dealt AT&T a blow to the knees).
When the iPad arrived, it ran off the same iOS that the iPod touch did, which brought a familiar look and feel to iOS users. Drawing from the same App Store ensured that users would experience Apple’s touted “There’s an app for that” experience. In addition, the iPad pioneered the tablet experience to the mass market. Behind it’s launch, Android and Blackberry have struggled to gain market share.
The comparison to Linux:
When you compare the Apple iPad to the Linux market, it’s little surprise that the iPad comes ahead. Even the more popular Linux distros like Red Hat and Ubuntu, although moving ahead in leaps and bounds, still suffer their shortcomings with user friendliness and ease-of-use. Hardware quirks and incompatibilities often get the better of inexperienced users, who turn back to Windows or Mac for that lacking bit of hardware support.
Additionally, there aren’t many computer manufacturers who will sell systems with Linux pre-installed for an out-of-the-box experience. While Dell has sold systems with Linux pre-installed, and has sold select system with no OS, there’s a distinct bias in the new-sales model towards Windows. Why? Money. Microsoft pays the OEMs a commission for new-system sales with Windows pre-installed. On top of that, there’s less work for the OEMs to make sure that hardware works as expected. System76 has started picking up the pre-installed Linux market, selling systems with Ubuntu pre-installed, but the price is arguably higher than a system from another vendor, and I can’t speak to the warranty or support.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Linux user and I love it. But I’m not blind to the fact that it has it’s shortcomings — although Red Hat and Ubuntu have really worked towards making everything work as it should, and making the user experience the best possible. Linux also runs on a wider-range (and a more inexpensive range) of hardware than Apple OS. Also, you can’t ignore that this study has a big of a flaw in it: This only compared stats between iPod and mainstream Linux (desktops and laptops) — two completely different device platforms.
Apples to apples or apples to oranges? Do the numbers even mean anything at all? What are your thoughts?
This isn’t meant to be a complete explanation of all the available options, but simply a quick primer for someone who is interested in planning a purchase to try for the goal of paperless geocaching. Paperless meaning, in the most general sense, you don’t need a paper printout for coordinates.
There are a few different ways to go about this:
You can have a GPS or GPS-enabled device that you load waypoint files on.
Most hand-held and vehicle GPS units will allow you to load waypoint files on them, thus giving you some kind of list of loaded waypoints and allowing you to approach and make the find without having to enter the actual coordinates into the GPS. Geocaching.com has two features that help with this: “Download waypoint file” and “Send to GPS”. The download waypoint file will generate either a .LOC or .GPX file for loading onto your device (See the documentation that came with your device for the actual process). The Send to GPS function appears to only work with Garmin devices (for now, at least).
The drawback to this method is you have to go on the geocaching.com website before your actual trip and choose which caches you will attempt and load them. The premium membership has a nice feature which helps with this: “Pocket queries.” Pocket queries can generate a waypoint file with up to 300 caches based on criteria you specify.
Garmin has a product line dedicated to the paperless geocacher. See information at Geocaching with Garmin.
This is a good viable option for those cachers who seek infrequently or who simply have a GPS unit and want to reduce their paper usage in an inexpensive way.
You can have a data-enabled device (such as a laptop or netbook with an aircard).
A netbook with an aircard can be an invaluable tool for use in the car (not on the trail) for looking up caches, viewing logs and maps, and logging your visits. This would allow you to log your visits without having to go back home, and give you a little more flexibility in case you find that you’re in a new area and want to pick up a quick cache or two. You can simply log on the website, look up a cache, punch the coordinates into your GPS, and away you go. Returning to the car, you can log your visit easily.
You can have a device which combines the two functions above, both retrieving the data from the website and helping you navigate to it.
This is the goal a lot of cachers (including myself) aim for: A single device that can do it all. A smartphone with GPS and data service is the usual tool for this job.
There are several different geocaching apps for smartphones, and some do it better than others. Here’s a quick run-down of some of my favorites:
These two programs are available on a large number of phones and carriers. I prefer Geocache Navigator, but Trimble Outdoors has a slightly different feature set which may make it appealing to different users.Geocache Navigator allows you to load up a list of nearby caches, display them on a map, seek them, and log your visit directly from your phone. It does require you to “tie” it to your geocaching.com account, which can be done easily from the geocaching.com website. One feature that Geocache Navigator does not have is the ability to set a waypoint (such as your car), which leaves the walk back completely up to you. Trimble Outdoors does have this, but doesn’t retrieve caches automatically; it requires you to load GPX files yourself prior to seeking a cache.
Groundspeak’s own geocaching app for Android and iPhone devices. These apps load caches near you (or by GC code) and help you navigate to it. Logging your visit, looking at previous logs, hints, even pictures are part of this app. Though a little pricey, these apps definitely do it all, and they’re published and supported by Groundspeak, the folks behind geocaching.com.
Free phone apps
I know there are a number of free apps, unfortunately they vary between carriers and phone brands, and I don’t have enough experience with them or a list of links to provide. Please feel free to leave your apps and feedback in the comments below.
Have your own way of going paperless? Have you had experience with any of the above apps you’d like to share? Have an app not listed above that you prefer? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
The Android Market has some incredibly fun (and semi-useful) apps for reading and handling barcodes and information. Here’s a quick run-down of a few and some potential uses. You should be able to easily find and download these apps from the Market.
Barcode Reader (website) – Zxing’s barcode reader app will read and display the content of many barcode formats.
- UPC-A and UPC-E
- EAN-8 and EAN-13
- Code 39
- Code 93
- Code 128
- QR Code
- RSS-14 (all variants)
- Data Matrix (‘alpha’ quality)
- PDF 417 (‘alpha’ quality)
In addition, content (such as URLs, contact information, wifi data) can be acted upon. Zxing’s barcode reader also functions as a library/API for other programs, and some other Android apps may require it. Zxing also has a barcode generator which can be found here.
ScanLife (website) – Not my favorite, but fun as well. Similiar to the above, but the content is displayed from a website and can’t be acted upon. Not as useful as Zxing’s barcode reader.
Barcode2file (website) – This app has found a special use for me. Uses the Zxing library for reading, and allows you to scan codes in bulk and either send them via email or save them to a text file. Incredibly useful for me at my job, and I use it frequently.
PC_BCR () – This app, combined with your wifi-enabled phone, actually allows you to use your phone as a wireless barcode scanner for your PC. Requires you to run a small app on your PC (supports Windows and Linux) and then run the PC_BCR app on your phone. Supports “serial” and “keyboard wedge” interfaces on the PC.
Have a fun and/or useful barcode app to share? Have anything additional to share about the apps above? Please do so in the comments!
I recently got hooked on a new game for the Android phone called Alchemy. Here’s the description from the Android Market:
You have only four base elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Combine them and their products to get more than 200 new elements. You can create a Life, Beer, Vampires, Skyscrapers and many more..
Search the Market for “Zaikin” (the author’s last name) and look for this icon:
Or scan this barcode using your phone to download it directly from the Android market.
There is a game similar to Alchemy called Doodle God that you can play in a web browser. Play here. Doodle God is also available on iPhone.
UPDATE: This forum has a lot of hints and tips for Alchemy combinations. Some work in Doodle God while most either do not or produce different combinations.
Got any hints to share for Alchemy or Doodle God? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!
I finally got my, and all I can say is… wow!
Loaded with Android 2.1 (Eclair), the Moment is a great phone.
The roughly 3.25″ 320×480 capacitive touchscreen AMOLED display shows bright, crisp, clear colors (even against sunlight glare), and responds well to finger touches without requiring pressure. Notable is the fact that it does not respond to object touch, only finger touch. Directly below the screen are three touch keys: Home , Menu, and Back. Holding the home key brings up the task list. Below that, hardware Send and End keys, and an optical trackpad complete the front keys. The optical trackpad is a wonderful asset, especially when browing the web; small elements (such as links) are sometimes hard to touch accurately, and being able to select them by scrolling and clicking the trackpad is great.
Around the sides, hardware volume up and down keys, two-position camera button, and a voice command button give quick access at a touch, and rubber-plugged USB (charging) and 3.5mm headphone jack add ruggedness to the ports. The two-position camera key allows the user to have the camera focus with a half-press, and take the picture with the full press.
The 3.2MP auto-focus camera with flash is great for taking both casual and macro pictures. The auto-focus feature is also great for use with apps such as Barcode Scanner, Parcels, Google Shopping, and more.
I found the slide-out full QWERTY keyboard to be essential, as I don’t favor on-screen keyboards (though it’s there if you prefer). The only thing I’m still getting used to is the particular layout. Though, each manufacturer has their own quirks when it comes to QWERTY layouts, it’s not an unbearable layout. In fact, I’m getting used to it already.
So now on to the apps. I thought fitting to put together a list of some of the apps that I feel are must-haves, at least for me, in no particular order. You can read about them on my list of must-have Android apps.
Now, the one really bad thing I found about this phone is the ubiquitously-mentioned poor battery life. In it’s stock configuration, the 1440mah battery will barely last the day, even on the fullest charge. I haven’t been able to find an Extended Life battery for this phone on the web yet, so I had to do some troubleshooting to find ways to extend the battery life. The results? The default radio settings have Wifi, GPS, and “background data” all turned on, and the phone never takes a break. Head to Settings > Wireless and Network Settings and tick off Wifi, and Bluetooth when you don’t need them. Under Settings > Location and Security Settings you’ll find Use GPS satellites which can be ticked off when not needed. Going to Settings > Account and Sync Settings you’ll find Background Data which will also save you data and battery life. Of course, you can always add the Power Control widget to your home screen to have these controls available to you at a single touch. I’ve also heard of some running the battery down to about 5% then plugging the phone in and letting the battery charge completely to supposedly “recalibrate” the phone’s battery meter. I’m experimenting and if I find anything significant, I’ll post it.
Use the Samsung Moment and have a tip to share? Any advice for extending the battery life on this phone? Please leave a comment below.
I had written a previous post roughly comparing a few web analytics programs, using some criteria that was important to me, and I had purchased a license for Mint to use on one site. Having two sites, though, I wanted them to use the same analytics package, so I shelled out the extra $30 for a second Mint site license.
That was the easy part. The real pain came when I actually set it up. I had to install a second copy of Mint (because it’s a per-install/per-domain license) so I had to install a second copy, copy over all my plug-ins and configure it, making sure I used the same login and password (so I wouldn’t get them mixed up) and configure the software alike with the first install.
Then I realized something: I had to go to each domain’s Mint installation to view stats. I couldn’t view the stats for both sites in the same view. (Though there is a plug-in for that, but it gets installed to a single domain install — I’d have to install it to both installations and mirror the setup again — What a pain!)
So, out $30 for the new license and realizing after the fact it wasn’t a good fit for my setup, I went to Piwik, which is an Open-Source, self-installed web analytics package. You install it to a single location and set up tracking for all your websites from it. It’s a fairly good piece of software, but I ran into several nasty show-stopping bugs: zeroing visitors in the database and an issue with PHP and the archive.sh cron job (not even mentioning the still-unresolved ever-growing database issue). I want an analytics package I don’t have to fight with to get good information out of. I want to spend my time using the information I can gather, not spend the time fighting with my analytics software.
Then I tried out Clicky Web Analytics. I have to say I am extremely happy with the service, and the pricing. No software to have to think about (or keep up to date), pricing is extremely fair (in fact, the best I’ve seen with 1 site being completely free), and the feature set is unparalleled. Real-time stats, including content, search terms, referrers, individual actions, a customizable dashboard, even iPhone and Android-specific mobile versions. A full API, RSS feeds, and site widgets round off the service offering, and that’s just at the free level. Paid versions (starting at $5/mo or $30/yr for 3 sites) get even more features, such as advanced data segmentation and the ability to name visitors using either the web interface or a CMS plugin.
I really recommend that you check out Clicky, even if (especially if) you only have one site to manage — it’s free.