Droid Save/Droid Save IP Updated

I have updated a couple of my Android applications in the Market. The apps are simple. They save any links you share to either Instapaper or Read It Later services. The main new feature is offline capability. You can save links even when you have no internet connection and once the connection is back the apps will save the links. Here are the change logs and where you can get them:

Droid Save [Product Page | Market | AppBrain]

Version 1.6

1. Added offline capability. If there is no internet connection the URLs are saved locally and then sent to Read It Later when connection is back.
2. Added support for special characters in passwords like  ”<”, “|”.

Droid Save IP [Product Page | Market | AppBrain]

Version 1.2

1. Added offline capability. If there is no internet connection the URLs are saved locally and then sent to Read It Later when connection is back.
2. Added support for special characters in passwords like  ”<”, “|”.
3. Added support for accounts without password.

I developed these applications for me to use plus to learn Android development.

Android App Spotlight: Smooth Calendar

One main reason I like Android over iPhone is widgets. With widgets I can, at a glance, look at the information I need. In iPhone I had to open an app, waiting for it to load and then finding the information I need. Calendar information is something I want to quickly get to. Smooth Calendar is the widget I like the most. And it is free. Try it out.

The following screenshot has the Smooth Calendar below the weather time widget.  The weather widget is Beautiful Widgets.

Motorola Atrix 4G @ CES 2011

I have been following CES 2011 as any geek would. As expected there announcements of Android Tablets, 3D TVs, glassless 3D TVs, 3D laptops… But the one thing that caught my attention is Motorola Atrix 4G. It is a Nvidia’s dual-core Tegra 2 phone with a 960 x 540 resolution, fingerprint reader and HSPA+. But it is not the most interesting part of it.

The coolest thing is that it has a Laptop Dock! What? Well the concept is not new. Remember Redfly? Or Palm Foleo? But this is better. When docked on to the laptop, you can use the full phone UI and all its apps plus a full desktop Firefox browser and more! See the screenshot below.

Still don’t know what the Webtop OS is but what it offers is pretty cool. It also has a multimedia dock. Looks like I have to start saving for this!

Catch the video of this at laptopmag.com.

Android App Spotlight: DailyStrip

I like reading a few comic strips like Dilbert, Garfield. I used to subscribe to them via a RSS feed. But I sometimes miss reading them because there are so many posts in my Google Reader. DailyStrip is a comic strip reader that has access to more than 100 comic strips. I can select my favorites and view them everyday. If I miss a day I can step back and view them too. Check it out if you are into comic strips.

Android App Spotlight: AppBrain

Google has a site for Android Market which list all the apps available in the Market. But it is not a very user friendly site to navigate and find apps. I does not even have a search feature! Whats Google’s main claim to fame again? Anyway once you stumble on an interesting app there is no way to get the app. You will have to go to Market on your phone and search for the app from there. Clumsy! The other shot comings are: no rating, no comments, no sorting on popularity etc.

Here is where AppBrain steps in and shows Google how it should be. AppBrain has three key components:

  1. AppBrain – The site.
  2. AppBrain App Market – The App
  3. Fast Web Installer – Another App

The site makes up for all the things lacking in the official site. It has search, ratings, sorting, comments (from the market and its own comments). It also has the ability to add apps to your device(s). There are two ways to do this. First add it to your phone’s app list and then sync with the first AppBrain App Market. Second it to use the Fast Web Installer and send the app to your phone instantly. I use this a lot.

AppBrain also has a slew of social features. You can share the apps in your phone or just create a list of apps to share. I have created a list of all the apps I have talked about in this blog. It is available in here and in the side column in the blog. You can follow users and find the apps they are using.

It also provides a lot of useful statistics for developers about the OS versions and demographics of the users.

Try it out. Read more about it at Lifehacker.

Android App Spotlight: Tasker

It does not matter if there are only 100,000 apps in the Android Market or 300,000 in the Apple App Store. There are some great Android apps out there. Some apps do stuff only iPhone apps can dream off. ;-) The kidding aside, I am planning to write a series of blog posts spotlighting cool apps in the Android Market. The posts will not be complete reviews just highlights and I will try to link to a moew through review.

The first one is my favorite app: Tasker. Tasker can completely automate just about anything on your Android phone. The basic stuff I use it for are:

1. Setting my phone to only vibrate when at work, chruch, movie theaters etc. automatically based on time or location
2. Silencing my phone completely during sleep time, removing all visual notifications too
3. Automatically launch the music player or Google Listen when I connect my phone to my car stereo
4. Turn off WiFi at work 
5. Make Your Phone Quiet Down When Face-Down 

Here are some more use cases from the Tasker site:

  • passcode-lock sensitive applications (e.g. for child safety)
  • change phone settings by
    • application: long screen timeout in a book reader
    • time: screen brightness lower in the evening
    • location: ringer volume high at the office, turn off ke yguard at home
  • wake up with a random song from your music collection
  • Text-to-speech; read out loud: incoming SMS/ phone number, WiFi/Bluetooth status, when it’s time for an appointment, when the battery is low etc etc (Android OS 1.6+ only)
  • launch a music application when your music SD card is inserted, otherwise a file browser
  • start the day with a particular application showing
  • change all your home icons and wallpaper every day, or in particular locations
  • turn the phone upside down to return to the home screen, tilt 90 degrees to the left and back to toggle speakerphone during a call
  • create a Home widget to
    • toggle bluetooth/wifi on/off
    • launch wireless settings dialog
    • show a menu of tasks to choose
    • send an emergency SMS with your GPS location
  • remap camera etc buttons to other applications, or show a menu of applications and/or actions
  • decrypt/encrypt and/or zip/unzip application data on the fly when an application is launched/exits
  • pause music playback while in a particular application, restart on exit
  • change the Home icon for any application
  • take a time-lapse photo series (possibly ‘secretly’)
  • make a regular backup of a file on the SD card
  • track your phone location via SMS in case of theft
  • extend the use of the media button on your headset: take a picture from a distance or go to the previous media track with a long press
  • record call times and destinations to the SD card
  • show a popup when an SMS arrives from a particular phone number
  • setup a birthday SMS to be sent months before it happens so you don’t forget
  • record battery levels over time to a file on SD card
  • make automatic recordings of what you say during phone calls to SD card
  • during the night, turn on airplane mode to conserve battery/reduce radiation, but turn it off every 15 minutes to check for SMS/voicemail.
  • setup a vacation SMS message, with different messages for different callers
  • launch a music application when headphones are connected

 

Read more about its awesomeness at lifehacker

Get it: [AppBrain] [Market]

Droid Save: My first Android app

I like my Android phone a lot. I almost always use it to read tweets, email and follow blogs on Google Reader. As good as the 4 inch Super AMOLED screen is, sometimes I like to read longer articles on my PC. I usually send an email to myself using the share feature most apps in Android have. It works but is kind of cumbersome. I was looking for apps to share links to sites like Read It Later or InstaPaper.  They did not have good support for Android. Read It Later had a few third party apps using their API but they did not do exactly what I wanted. So I created my own App.

It is very interesting to learn to program for Android. I this the OS is well designed and easy to develop for. At least for the simple use case I had.

Once installed here is what Droid Save does:

1. Shows up in the share actions when you share something from your twitter client, browser…

2. When you select “Droid Save”, the first time it prompts for the Read It Later credentials.

3. Once your credentials are validated and on subsequent uses it will either save the URL without further prompts or show a list of URLs if the shared text has multiple URLs. Selecting one saves it to Read It Later.

You can find Droid Save in AppBrain or in Android Market from your device. Or use the following QR Code.

Bugs/Comments are welcome.

My New Phone: Samsung Captivate

Well I think I got it almost two months ago. Haven’t had time to blog about it. I got a Samsung Captivate. It is the AT&T version of the Galaxy S phone with Super AMOLED screen, 1GHz Hummingbird processor and 4 inch Screen.

I had ordered the Dell Streak too. Had it for a couple of days alongside the Captivate. It was just too big for me and the Captivate’s AMOLED screen won me over. Would have liked to have a front facing camera of the Streak but the with the old OS and Dell’s delay even in launching the phone made me go for the Captivate.

I think it was a good bet as I flashed FroYo just yesterday on it. Streak is still at 1.6!

Running Android Emulator with Market

I have been thinking of getting an Android phone to replace my iPhone 3GS. There is only so much you can tweak on the iPhone. Apps are great but I want glance able widgets on the main screen like every other smartphone. I want apps like Settings Profile. You can change settings on your phone based on time, location, battery, day/date… I had similar software on my Nokia smartphones for years.

Well I have read that I can do almost any kind of tweaking on an Android phone. So I have been thinking of getting one. The Dell Streak seems to be the only Android phone on AT&T to have a front facing camera. But I want to try out Android before I get it. If it were an iPhone, I would head to an Apple store to try it out. I have never been to a AT&T store. May be I should go and try a Captivate. Does not sound as interesting as going to an Apple store though.

Well I ran across a couple of articles on Lifehacker that let me try out the Android OS in the comfort of my home on my Tablet PC:

1. How to Test Drive Android on Your PC Without Buying a Phone
2. Enable the Android Market When Trying Out Android on Your PC

The first one is straight forward. The second one did not work as detailed. Maybe it is because of the different Android SDKs. Here are the steps that worked for me to get an Android Market enabled emulator running:

1. You must have Java installed.
2. Get the Android SDK from here.
3. Get the emulator running as per the first Lifehacker article. Choose Android 1.6 as the version to use.
4. Download the System image for Android 1.6 from HTC’s site here.
Download Image

5. Extract the system.img file to the location of the AVD you just created. Ex. <userhome>\.android\avd\Test1.6.avd.
6. Restart the AVD wiping out the user data.
7. Enjoy using Android and check out the apps in Market.

Android with Market