Tag Archive: Android Apps


I’ve always been looking for ways to try and eke out the memory on my phone, and what with upgrading to Froyo with its App to SD functionality, I’ve been doing pretty well. Don’t forget, my phone is rooted so if you have a vanilla Desire, you can’t do what I’ve done here. Rooting is truly the way forward!!

Now I’ve had 4 days off this week, and this spare time that I don’t usually have, led to a bit of tinkering. In short, I started looking a bit closer at Titanium Backup Pro, which I’d purchased and use as a scheduled backup tool.

However I found a feature amongst the batch processes that intrigued me. It’s called ‘Integrate updates of system apps into ROM’.

When I hit the run button, it suggested 6 apps that could have their updates rolled into the ROM:

  1. Flash
  2. Gmail
  3. Maps
  4. Market
  5. Street View
  6. Voice search

What this means is that updated system apps, that are considered part of the Android OS, can be moved from taking up space in RAM, into the system ROM, freeing up valuable space. This was just the thing I was looking for to give me a significant RAM boost!

So I approached with caution, and moved Flash first. The documentation for Titanium Backup Pro suggests a double reboot after using this batch procedure, so after rebooting twice, I tested Flash and all was good. More significantly a large chunk of RAM was now free.

So, I then moved on and tried Gmail and Voice Search. Again, success! More free RAM, a total of 19% freed by this process, and everything worked fine after a double reboot. A double reboot is nowhere near as classy as a double rainbow BTW!

Spurred on by my success I decided to try Market next. To my dismay, the phone rebooted halfway through, and Market no longer worked, even after a double reboot!

So, in for a penny, in for a pound, I also tried Maps and Street View, with the same reboot problem halfway through and dead apps afterwards. Titanium Backup couldn’t help either, despite my attempts to restore things back the way they were.

So, with a heavy heart, I carried out a factory reset. The phone came back fresh as a daisy, and I set about getting back into the Market and reinstalling Titanium Backup Pro. Since my license file was installed on my SD card, along with the backups, it all came back up nicely, and I was then able to restore my last backup and have my phone back the way it was before I mucked it up. Yes, it was my fault, but knowing better now, I have returned to the process and moved Flash, Gmail and Voice Search successfully again and regained the 19% space. So I went from 89% used, down to 70% used, and though there have been some updates to Market and Maps, I’m still only at 80%, which isn’t bad, since at the last count I had 70 apps installed!

I’m keen to get the rest moved to ROM, but I’m not in a hurry now. I’m probably going to email the dev for Titanium Backup Pro to ask if there are any caveats with the integration int ROM, but if I get any further with this and do successfully move the remainder, I’ll be sure to post here.

The moral of this story? If you have a good backup, you need never be afraid to factory reset!!

To be honest, doing an app of the week is difficult. Especially now I have my phone pretty well settled, so it is getting harder for me to come up with something new on a regular basis.

This week, I have had an app that got me in to quite a lot of trouble. So why is it app of the week? Because it also got me out of trouble, and because the trouble it got me into was really my fault!

The app in question is really only for rooted droids, mine being an HTC Desire, and the app in question is Titanium Backup Pro (Paid).

I’m going to write about how I got into trouble in a separate piece, but basically I had to factory reset my phone. I then restored using Titanium Backup Pro, and the whole process of factory reset to fully restored with all my tweaks took only around 1.5 hours.

If you have a rooted droid, I highly recommend this app, because it does a whole lot of other neat tricks too, not just backups.

Go buy it, its well worth it.

Well, it’s been a while coming, but finally another emulator has arrived that is this weeks ‘App of the week’.

I grew up with 8Bit computers, starting off with a ZX81, the Spectrum, closely followed by Atari XLs and XEs, and various other less well known machines. Though I was never a CBM64 owner, well at least not until later life, friends had them and got to knew them and the games they played.

For me, the Ataris were better, had more interesting games and add ons, and were, if you knew where to look, surprisingly easy to buy things for.

I still have quite a collection of 8Bit hardware these days, and sometimes fondly retrieve them from the loft for a few days of retro gaming.

So, imagine my joy when I found, in amongst all the Atari 2600 emulators in the marketplace, a full blown Atari 400/800/XL/XE emulator!

I dug out all my old files I used with my PC based 8Bit emulator and copied them over to my Desire, and began to relive my Atari glory days!

Ok, it’s not perfect, and the lack of a soft keyboard is a pain, but it’ll do for now! Off for another session of missile command I think!

Download it and enjoy! Its called Droid800.

I now have Firefox and Opera installed on my Desire. I thought it would be interesting to run the Acid3 test against them, and the standard Android browser. The result was 97/100 for all three browsers, and whilst not top marks is still pretty good. Overall, Opera was fastest, but the on screen rendering looked a bit odd. Firefox and the standard browser gave very similar results, though I felt the image was slightly better quality in Firefox. So, overall, not much to choose between them, though the Opera rendering speed was impressive.

Try the test for yourself here:   http://acid3.acidtests.org/

A quick post this week as I’ve been a bit preoccupied with looking into task manager usage. However, I’ve decided to go with the app I’ve just used to post this with. It’s an app called WordPress and it lets you quickly and easily manage your WordPress sites via your droid. So if you have a WordPress site of any sort, I wouldn’t hesitate t recommend it.

The app I’ve chosen this week, is a utility called BatterySnap.

If like me, you are constantly watching just what is chewing your battery, then this is a great app.

It keeps all kinds of stats in relation to just what your battery is doing, and can produce some nice graphs of what’s going on.

What’s more, is that is both free and free of ads, so worth every penny!!

Go get it today.

I have been tinkering with Android App Inventor a little recently, and have it set up and running on my main laptop at home.

I often work nights and have a second laptop I sometimes take with me, and thought it would be good to get App Inventor up and running on it too, for those quiet late nights when I have nothing happening at work.

Since I’d already used this laptop to root my phone, I thought ‘No worries, all the drivers I need will be installed’.

How wrong was I!!  No matter how hard I tried, the blocks editor would not connect to the phone.

Ultimately, I had to remove everything that I’d previously installed HTC wise, and re-install just the App Inventor Extras Software. Once I’d done that and reconnected the phone, all was well.

I’d also had the Android SDK installed, which had it’s own copy of adb.exe to further confuse matters.

To be sure you’re using the right one, connect your phone, open a command prompt, and navigate to c:\Program Files\Android\appinventor-extras.

Type adb devices and you should see a list of devices attached. It’ll be something like

HT06SPL00260     device

If you don’t see that, then you’ll need to run through the the process here: App Inventor Setup.

It does work, just be sure to follow it exactly!!

Well, I’m a bit late with this this week on account of being on a night shift, and as a result, not knowing my ass from my elbow…..

However, before I got started with the shift this week I did download the full version of, yes, you guessed it, Angry Birds.

With over 3 million downloads, and with so many attempted downloads that apparently GetJars webservers keeled over, it quite a popular app!

And deservedly so, as it’s simple to play, great fun, and has an addictive quality lacking in so many games today.

My only gripe is the Ads, but lets be honest, this means you get a free game, and they aren’t overly intrusive.

If you don’t have Angry Birds, go get it now!

Well, I was wondering just what app that would be my app of the week, when I was caught off guard by SlideIt, a keyboard replacement that works just like Swype.

Instead of typing each letter, you rub your finger across the keys, and your movements between letters are interpreted and word possibilities are automatically added to whatever text box you are typing in. If more than one possible result comes up then you get to choose from a list of suggestions.

I have to say it’s pretty impressive and despite the odd mis-interpretation, it is quite accurate and has handled some quite large words with ease.

There are both paid and free versions, I’m currently using the free one and I like it very much.

My only complaint would be the fact that it doesn’t have the option to hold keys down for characters and numbers, though it does have a direct link to Google voice search and a nifty little drawing area that you can use to enter numbers, and it also gives you four sets of characters instead of the standard two.
Overall a very nice little app, well worth the space on your phone.

This week was a toss up between two apps. Reloop, a music making tool, and the newly released Tweetdeck for Android.
In the end, I plumped for Tweetdeck, due to a lack of time to play with Reloop.

Despite the fact that the HTC Twitter client is actually quite good, I was always a fan of Tweetdeck on the PC, so trying it on my Desire seemed like a natural progression.

I like the fact that it has a nice compact widget, that allowed me to regain some space for other items, and I like the ease of use, with large friendly obvious icons, plus the configurable columns. It certainly gives the standard client a run for its money.

Overall, a very polished app, with the only real letdown being the slightly odd installer as it is currently a beta product, though you’d struggle to tell.

Since it is beta, you need to register with Tweetdeck to get hold of it, but it only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s well worth it.

So what are you waiting for?

I have to say that one app really impressed me this week, mostly because it saved me money.

The app in question is ShopSavvy. If you’re not familiar with the idea of this app, it lets you scan a products barcode, and it will then go away and find the best deals for you online, and lets you link through to the sites that are selling the product.

A colleague lent me a book, and I decided it would be worthwhile getting my own copy, since it was a technical book that would be very helpful for work.

He tells me its around £50 new, which made me wince a bit, and even shopping around manually, the best price I could find was just over £21.

I then fired up ShopSavvy on my Desire, scanned the barcode on the back of the book. ShopSavvy then came back, literally in seconds with a list of prices for both new and used copies of the book.

The price I paid in the end? The book was just over £10 for a used copy, and with the postage, the total came to just over £13. And it was through Amazon, who I’d previously done a manual search on and came up with the price of just over £21.

So next time you’re shopping, and want to do a price check, think of ShopSavvy, and you may save yourself some money.

It’s also available on Apple devices too, and it’s free. What are you waiting for, go get it now!

Wow, I’ve just been playing with an app called Seepu on my Desire, and although I’d suspected the live wallpaper of being a resource hog, finding out my lovely spiral galaxy was coming in at around 98% was quite a shock.

So, at some point in the near future, I’ll check out all the live wallpapers that come as standard and put the figures up here.

Seepu is one of my recommended apps now, since it allows you to closely monitor CPU, memory, network usage and even kill processes automatically if they get out of hand.

I’m really hitting App Market hard these days, and I guess it is really just down to the fact that my phone is only two weeks old and I’m searching for fun things to do with it.

I’ve long been a fan of emulation, that being the emulation of long dead computers that meant something to me when I was younger. I’m talking about Atari, Sinclair and Commodore machines of old, and emulators for things like the NES, SNES and Sega consoles.

It turns out there is quite a rich seam of these emulators running through the App Market if you just do a search for ‘Emulators’.

I now have Spectrum, SNES, Amiga and Mame apps for my Droid, but without software to run, they are a bit boring.

This is where the Rom Buddy app comes in. It costs about $2, and it allows you to search for roms and games for many of these emulators. It is on App Market, and can also be found easily by typing Rom Buddy into Google. There is a link here: Rom Buddy.

Clearly if you’re going to be using these emulators, you need to ensure that you’re not breaking any laws, but a good deal of this older stuff is now freely available, so you can go out and go emulation mad without to much worry.

So, get out there and get emulating, your misspent youth isn’t far away!

I’ve found a few more apps that are making my droid more useful/fun.

First off is the Delicious app that, if you’ve joined Delicious, allows you to take your bookmarks anywhere. I’m a big fan of Delicious since I have lots of  bookmarked sites, and being web based, it means none of that tedious porting of bookmarks from browser to browser, or PC to PC. There are some pretty cool plug-ins for IE and Firefox too, and you can tag your bookmarks to group them together, and send them to friends with an account.

This does the same for my Droid, and since I’m using my Droid more and more for browsing, it’s a godsend.

Other new apps are Replica Island, a great little sideways scroller and Robo Defense, a fairly simple but addictive tower defense game.

All apps I’m describing here are the free versions, and I’m pretty impressed so far, though I have been quite choosy. Paid versions are available too in some cases, and offer extra features.

I’ll be back as and when I find more apps I think you might like.

So far, and I’ve had my phone about a week now, I’ve downloaded and tried quite a few apps for my Desire.

The one thing that has impressed me is the ease with which apps can be downloaded, installed and uninstalled, and also the fact that you can often try demo versions before splashing out on the full version.

So what have I downloaded so far and kept installed:

Games: Abduction, Doom, Pinball, UAE4Droid (Amiga Emulator)

Apps: Advanced Task Killer Lite, ColourNote, Google Earth, Ebay, Endomondo Sport Tracker, Evernote, IMDB, KeePass Droid, MSN Droid, MyPlayer, Google Places Directory, Timerific, WordPress and Wyse RDP/VNC client.

All of these seem pretty good thus far, but if I have anything to report back about any of these, you’ll find it posted here.

Obviously, current versions of ‘droid don’t allow apps to be installed directly onto SD card, but hopefully that will soon be sorted with Froyo. Then i’ll be in app heaven.