Have you ever wondered what is happening inside your phone? Which apps are using up your RAM or CPU? I used to wonder, until I found Android Assistant, which gives me all this information and much more, even including some functions for RAM release, batch uninstallation, and battery usage stats.
When I first got my HTC Desire Z, I was in love, awestruck at the beautiful Sense interface and the numerous tweaks HTC had done to take the Android experience to the next level. However, as I went about installing my plethora of apps, games and widgets (over a hundred, I am a junkie), Sense started getting in the way instead of improving my experience. The home screen would restart every few hours; every tap took longer to register; screen rotation when sliding open the keyboard went on for ages; and the whole phone felt like it was struggling to get by.
CyanogenMod 7 (CM7), a Gingerbread-based stock Android ROM, had been on my radar for a while. It’s currently available for 28 devices, old and new, tablets and phones, including the Nexus One, HTC Incredible, HTC Hero, LG Optimus 2x, Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy S, and Nook Color. Since my Desire Z was rooted, I decided to give it a shot. Lo and behold, a breath of fresh air swooped through my phone and it felt brand new without the clunky, RAM-hungry, processor-intensive Sense layer. Two months later, I am a convert, for several reasons which I’ll recount below.
Sports car enthusiasts often compare cars based on their straight-line performance, and while there’s much more to them than simply acceleration, the popularity of drag racing can be seen in many aspects of popular culture, like the movie franchise “The Fast and The Furious”. The idea is simple: take your car over a pre-determined distance before your opponents to win. In practice however, there are many variables and factors that determine a vehicle’s speed: forced induction or naturally aspirated engine? front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive? These are just a few of the decisions that one needs to make when building the ultimate drag racing machine.
Drag Racing is an Android-only game which takes many of the elements of car tuning and drag racing and makes for an addictive game which is great on the go for those spare moments you may have.
HowStuffWorks is a popular website specialising in explaining how day-to-day items and events work. Sometimes these are described in great detail; sometimes briefly. The aim is to provide interesting and educational information about why everything in our world functions the way it does.
The site’s tie-in app was released for Android about a month ago. I was expecting to have to be forgiving with this application, and allow for errors and undesired behaviour attributable to teething issues. But I didn’t find any, and was pleased by what this application offers!
Android media has come a long way in recent times, with more and more media apps being released for the platform. Just take a look at the sheer volume of alternative music apps that have been released for the platform, such as doubleTwist and Instinctiv. This demonstrates that the demand is there and people want new and intuitive ways to play their media on their Android device.
Now, however, the spotlight is on Plex. Think of it as AirPlay for Android. Plex is what every Android user has been dreaming about – a way to stream your music, videos and much more either over your local WiFi connection or, if you’re willing to play about with port forwarding, over any 3G connection. There are similar apps that offer this functionality with regards to music (such as doubleTwist, which does it better) but Plex allows you to stream all your media, no matter what it is.
Is Plex a solution for all our media needs? Read on to find out. (more…)
RSS feed readers have long been a popular way to consume news and updates, whether it’s for it keeping up-to-date with the latest news, following up on our favorite blogs or stocking up on inspiration for web design, photography, and what have you. Sure, there’s Facebook and Twitter for recommendations from friends, and good old fashioned e-mail newsletters for targeted, critical updates. But nothing beats the flexibility of choosing precisely the websites you want to follow and keeping track of exactly what you have seen and what’s new.
Although there is no dearth of RSS readers on the web and desktop, I’ve struggled to find a good feed reading experience on the Android platform, especially for the phone. There are a couple of decent options, but FeedSquares feels too gimmicky and Pulse too cluttered for my small 3.2″ Optimus One screen. Of course, there’s the ubiquitous Google Reader, but its interface is rudimentary, to say the least. Feedly, a relatively new entrant to the arena, seems to have filled the gap in between very nicely. Let’s take a closer look.
It used to be that when you wanted a comic, you saved up your pennies, raided the piggy bank, then went down to the local shop to get it. I remember the sheer excitement when I went down to my local newsagent every Saturday to buy that week’s copy of The Beano and I used to spend most of the afternoon reading it and doing all the puzzles.
Nowadays, things are obviously a little more high-tech; that’s the way the publishing market is going. Most newspapers are read online for free, Twitter has become the new way of keeping up to date with the world, and the surge in the popularity of e-books and devices such as the Kindle show that people are willing to ditch traditional methods for the fancier (and potentially more convenient) solution.
Graphicly aims to do just this with comic books. Instead of buying print copies, you can either buy or download them for free from their online store, making them available for immediate reading on whatever device you are using. The range is certainly pretty impressive, but the question is: will Graphicly replace that feeling of buying a printed comic from the shop? Read on for my thoughts. (more…)
Let’s be honest with each other: we all love Android, but most of us love what we can make out of it, not how it comes out of the box. Take for example the default Gallery viewer that ships on stock Android devices. It is — for lack of a better word — mediocre. The interface is nice, you can view and delete images with it, but, well… that’s it.
I probably wouldn’t have found a fault in it if I didn’t have the pleasure of using HTC’s Sense Gallery for a couple of months. The difference was like night and day: it was faster for one thing, and it allowed me to hide folders that I didn’t want to see while browsing for photos. When I came back to the stock Gallery, I was thoroughly disappointed and started searching for a better alternative. Eventually, I found QuickPic. (more…)