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.
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.
Android has, traditionally, been seen as a niche platform with limited apps, but in recent times, due to its open-source philosophy, it has become the most popular smartphone OS on the market. Android’s Market boasts over 290,000 applications, which, though less than Apple’s 500,000 or so, shows that Android is rapidly catching up. According to German research company research2guidance, Android will overtake Apple sometime in the next few months in having the most apps available.
The same applies to gaming. Android games used to be quite basic and limited; however, most developers now release both Android and iOS versions of their games, and the surge in popularity of games such as Angry Birds (especially on Android, owing to the fact that it is free) shows that the Android platform can satisfy an avid gamer’s needs.
Manufacturers of Android-based devices have recently been flexing their muscles and packing a bigger punch into their range of tablets and smartphones by using NVIDIA’s range of Tegra processors, designed to really emphasize the performance of the device. With this range of processors, they hope to push Android up in the gaming world to become a solid platform for mobile gaming. Read on to find out more.
Communication keeps our social life interesting; no matter whether you’re talking to an old high school friend or your boss, it’s a part of life. When you have your own family, a job, and hobbies, you must spend less time sitting at computer and chatting using Skype, Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ etc. Most of these social apps do not work on your lovely smartphone so you can’t log on your profile when you have a free minute, but this is where our alternative solutions come in handy.
I’m an ardent users of all these chat clients, so I dedicated a lot of time to find the best Android app for each one of them. I will share them with you, so you can stay in touch on the go — let’s get to it!
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…)
Commercial posters and messages were written on papyrus back in the days of Ancient Egypt, as were political campaigns in pre-eruption Pompeii. As the mobile world develops to a state where we all have a constant internet connection, advertisers have jumped on board the mobile bandwagon and brought new, interactive ways of advertising on these platforms.
Apple launched iAd last year – an initiative to make ads more featured and almost an app within an app – while Android has had its own fair share of new advertising methods. A recent, controversial approach was taking by Airpush, who placed ads inside the notifications bar of Android handsets. (more…)
I was pretty excited when Amazon launched their Appstore for Android. On top of a healthy bit of competition, they offer exclusive apps like Angry Birds Rio and, most recently, Plants vs. Zombies for Android, and they offer a free app download everyday. That means you check Amazon daily, and there’s a chance you’ll save at least 99 cents (USD).
Well, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking every day (though I could also follow them on Twitter at @amazonappstore), and even if I don’t install the app right away, more often than not I will “purchase” it, in case I want to try it later. Today I’m going to give you my favorite apps offered as part of Amazon’s Free App of the Day — if not for these offers, I might not have discovered them!