I am an Android customization addict and, to be honest, even the word “addict” is an understatement. Two months ago, I would have told you that there should be AA meetings for the kind of compulsion that I had. I kept hundreds of folders of iconsets ready in my Dropbox account, I mastered the dark corners of UCCW and Minimalistic Text, I spent hours every week on MyColorScreen, and even maintained a Google+ photo album as a visual history of the different homescreen designs I have made since 2010.
But most importantly, I installed Nova Launcher on any Android device I had in my hands for more than an hour, and enjoyed tinkering with every single setting the app allowed from gestures to grid layouts and more. Then I got an invite code to join the Aviate Launcher Beta, installed it on my LG G2 and … well, life wasn’t the same anymore. I haven’t had the impulse to switch back from Aviate to Nova in more than six weeks, I haven’t felt the need to change my icons either, and given my history with Android customization, this is the geeky version of a personal miracle.
In the following post, I’ll explain how Aviate won me over from Nova — and Apex, ADW and all their brethren — and why it squashed my urge to tinker with my homescreens every couple of days.
For almost two years now, I have owned both an Android phone and tablet but I have almost never felt like the two devices were working together. Notifications plague them both and still don’t get dismissed from one after I’ve checked them on the other, I have to install third-party apps to get notified on my tablet of new SMS and calls on my phone, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of smart communication between both devices.
Well, that was my opinion until yesterday. I was given an LG G Pad 8.3 review unit and I saw something called QPair on it. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to manually install the app on my own LG G2 to get it to work, but once that was done and the initial setup completed, I was pleasantly impressed. QPair is what I’ve dreamed should happen when I switch between using my phone and tablet. It is not perfect, but it is the most seamless integration I’ve seen so far between two separate Android devices.
Transferring files across devices can be a pain, especially when they run on separate platforms. One of the most common ways to share from a device to another without having to unpack wires, is to either email the file to yourself so you can open it on the second device, or to upload it to your Dropbox and re-download the file on the other device.
Not only is this time-consuming, it requires an internet connection and has serious limitations when it comes to file sizes and types. Thanks to Instashare, you can send files to almost any device instantly without having to worry about wires, file size or compatibility.
The chances are that if you’re reading this site then you are comfortable with using Android. If you’re the technically minded member of your family, it’s highly likely that you get called upon to help out with all manner of computer and mobile problems — I know this has long been the case with me!
Helping someone fix a problem can be a nightmarish task. When distance is an issue, you may decide to try resolving the problems with a phone call, but this can turn out to be an extremely frustrating experience for everyone involved: trying to explain how to navigate to different settings in an operating system can be almost impossible if the person on the other end of the phone is not familiar with what you’re telling them to do.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just take hold of their phone and do it for them? Well, of course it would… but sadly it’s no always possible. If you get a call from your mother looking for help, and she’s on the other side of the country, another solution is needed. For desktop operating systems there are numerous remote assistance tools available that make it possible to take control of the computer of the person you are trying to assist so you can make the necessary changes without having to explain it to them step by step. This is exactly what Zikk brings to Android: it is remote assistance for your phone and tablet.
Radio based apps are very synoptic nowadays. Every app basically provides the same structure, with the only difference being the way your stations are presented. Some apps like to break this trend and make the process more unorthodox — the exact aim of PRX Remix. With this app you have a range of different stories played to you, each with an interesting meaning.
Read on to find out how exciting this little app is!
Mobile phone plans can be quite complicated to manage, depending on your carrier and subscription. Take my own example: I’ve used unlimited data plans in the US and France for a couple of years now and never monitored anything but my data consumption, which was usually capped at 3GB.
But I recently moved to Singapore and found that local plans were a little more traditional, with an actual limit on the minutes, text messages and data you could use each month. Tracking these figures manually was a pain, as there’s no easy way to check how many minutes and text messages I have left on my plan — data consumption on the other hand is fairly easy to keep an eye on. Thankfully, Dodol Phone makes it incredibly easy to track all of this information in a remarkably effective way. (more…)
I might be an oddball, but at this point in the Android game, I really don’t spend a lot of time customizing my Nexus devices. I’ve got a Nexus 4, and Android has been really usable and very friendly since 4.1 — I haven’t felt like it’s really required me to make any changes. And in all honesty, I prefer it when my phone just works like it should. Android is pretty much there.
But sometimes, I still get the temptation to just fiddle with it and see what I can do and it’s a bit of pain mostly. At this point, there are so many ways to customize your Android device that you’ll have to start Googling just to figure out a good place to start. Kitty Play solves some parts of that problem by aggregating a ton of customization resources within one app. The last time I got the itch to customize, I gave it a whirl. Read on for my thoughts.
A couple of months ago, an interesting project appeared on Indiegogo promising a new take on touchscreen keyboards: Minuum. While other keyboards were losing screen estate by adding more functions and buttons, or were trying to revolutionize input by changing the QWERTY input method, Minuum took a more simplistic and minimalist approach. It kept the QWERTY arrangement that everyone is used to, but squished it in height and used smart predictions to correctly insert words despite the lack of precision typing.
Given that my biggest gripe with onscreen keyboards is that they block most of the phone’s screen estate, I liked the premise of Minuum and decided to pledge for it. The first beta was made available a few weeks ago and I’ve been using it on and off ever since. In the following article, I’ll look at the most important questions I asked myself about Minuum before I tried it and answer them for you. Now that you can all buy Minuum for $3.99 in the Play Store, it’s crucial to know whether it’s worth the financial — and learning curve — investment or not.
Let’s be honest, we are both app addicts — me, because i’m the editor of a site called Android.Appstorm, and you because you’re reading this. We are smitten by new apps, we like finding them, trying them, reviewing or reading about them, and we enjoy the process almost as much as we enjoy unwrapping presents on Christmas day. That’s why, as a trusted member of the App Addict Club, I’ll let you in on my top secret app discovery and curation tool: Playboard.
I have been using the service and app for several months now, almost from its first days on Android, and it has quickly become the Robin to my Batman, the ultimate tool in my arsenal as an editor of this site and an app addict. And with the recent update to version 2.0, Playboard has become a little more awesome than before, so it’s time that I take a few moments to tell you about it.
The home launcher forms the backbone of our devices and is quite possibly the single most important application when it comes to usability. It not only defines how we interact with our phone but also invariably determines the look and feel of it. Our devices obviously come preloaded with the phone manufacturer’s favored launcher application but with Android being the platform of alternatives, the Play Store offers a plethora of replacement apps that work just as well and in fact, enhance usability in most cases.
Nova, Apex, Go Launcher and ADW are some of the more popular ones around and while all of these applications and many others offer numerous customizations, options and tweaks aiming to make our phones more intuitive and easier to use, they aren’t really too different from each other and are built up from the same design base. This is the precise reason why Action Launcher Pro, which offers a completely new and refreshing take on Android home launchers, is an important and welcome innovation.