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Ever taken a photo of something breathtaking, but found later that something snuck in your shot? Or maybe you’ve seen a stunning landscape but there’s some random house in the background. Well now you can remove anything that should not be in a picture with TouchRetouch, an app that’s very simple to use, with a user-friendly interface. It basically brings Photoshop CS5’s context-sensitive fill to your handset.
Did you know you can wipe the default version of Android and install a completely new, customized version of the operating system? Thanks to Android’s open-source nature, you aren’t bound by any copyright agreements, meaning that makers of phones allow you do this and — following HTC’s recent announcement to unlock their bootloaders on their devices — may even encourage you to do so.
Before you start tinkering with any kind of custom ROMs, you’ll need to “root” your phone (the Android version of jailbreaking; this basically allows you to access your phone’s core) which isn’t as scary as you might think. Rooting your phone is quite a simple process and brings a wealth of advantages.
The Android Market is booming. Amazon’s own Android Appstore is giving away a free paid app every day. AT&T has reversed their position on installing apps from unknown sources. Apps like PicPlz and Socialcam make it easy to create and share video with your friends. The bottom line is, there is just not enough space on your average Android device to keep up. Never fear, the cloud is here! Rather than upgrading your storage, here are a few apps and services that you can use right now to help you offload your data to the cloud and extend your device’s capabilities.
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.
Today’s mobile phones are nothing like mobile phones from as little as five years ago. They aren’t ‘phones’ any more: they send written messages, check emails, bid on eBay, and – if someone is willing to put the time into it – pretty much anything else. There are some great ideas floating about the web for the future of smart phones; here are some of the ones I have seen cropping up these last few months.
I read a fascinating article on one of my favourite blogs, Rands In Repose, recently: The Anatomy of a Notification. Rands comes up with five defining features of a notification, of the kind we see on Android’s drag-down bar. I’ll quote:
Text messages, phone rings, Tweets, and an alert to let you know that your photo was successfully uploaded to Facebook: these are all notifications, according to Rands’s definition, and they all fit nicely in the Notifications section of the pull-down bar at the top of any Android phone (or bottom of a Honeycomb tablet).
However, some developers are using the Notifications section for other things; the biggest example I’m aware of is AirPush, a service we covered earlier this week, which allows apps to show an advert in that area. It’s caused a lot of controversy because people feel like their Notifications area is sacred and shouldn’t be tampered with — I believe it’s because these ads are neither Relevant, Disposable, nor Timely, in Rands’s terms.
Is it a bad thing for developers to use the Notifications section for other purposes? I’m automatically against it, but perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all, one of the great things about Android is the openness of the platform, and the way that new ideas such as this can be explored. What do you think?
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.