Netflix announced today that their application is now available on Android Market for all* Android phones. Well all* (take note of the *) means any Android phone that is running 2.2 and up (Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb). Fortunately this is a large number of Android devices. Unfortunately, I have to apologize to all of you out there with the older devices…
So download away and show the world how much your productivity can get flushed down the toilet…
So you have an Android phone that you want to be able to make your own, or you may feel a little restricted by Google’s Android Market. What other options are out there? I do a lot of talking and linking to things in Android Market, but I also talk and link a lot about the Amazon Appstore. The Amazon Appstore (among others – see below) is an alternate place to download apps for Android and along with the below list gives you the freedom to get your apps from anywhere.
I will cover a handful of app stores below. Feel free to check them out and comment about your experiences.
Name: SlideME App Store
Description: SlideME is a great alternative to the Google Android Market, and is the site that has made recent (geek gamer) news because of the user yongzh getting booted out of Google’s market and pulling all of his apps and moving over to SlideME and releasing them for free. He is the author of the (insert-classic-system-here)OID games like, NESOID, SNESOID, GameBoid. Just for those apps alone you should go check out the SlideME appstore.
Description: AndSpot takes a unique approach to the idea of an app store. One that all you power users out there will love. They have a monthly service that gives you UNLIMITED Android app downloads for a low low monthly rate of $8 per month. It is in Beta so you have to sign up for it and wait to get an invite.
Description: Aproov is a web based app “store” that specializes is only Free apps. This is great if you are someone that spends a lot of time looking through the regular market’s free section and struggle with it because it is not designed for just free apps, where this app store is designed just for that.
Description: OnlyAndroid is an app store that has an option that is similar to the Amazon Appstore. It offers a “deal of the day” on an android app or service. Although it is not a free app, but it also does include services, for example the deal for today (7/29/11) is a 15 month subscription to the SmrtGuard service which gives you data backup and a lost phone finder service for 50% off. It is definitely a site to keep tabs on because they might offer a great deal on that certain app you have been eyeing.
Description: Amazon Appstore is the alternative appstore that I am obviously a huge fan of mainly because of the feature they offer every day that gives you a FREE app that you can just download. No strings attached. They have a great selection of apps and almost all of the apps have a sale price that is cheaper than the “normal” Android Market.
Looking for an alternative to your stock keyboard, or possibly the preloaded Swype keyboard on your Android phone? Give this one a try, free today only! Save yourself a few bucks! (normally $3.99)
Name: SwiftKey X
Description: SwiftKey X is a next-generation AI keyboard, now with unrivaled prediction and personalization.
SwiftKey X for smartphones builds on TouchType’s SwiftKey keyboard to offer cloud personalization, a new prediction engine, and a host of new UI improvements.
Using artificial intelligence breakthroughs, the SwiftKey X keyboard accurately predicts your most likely next word based on what you’ve already written. It can also scan your sent messages, and learn as you use it to make predictions even more accurately over time. The more you get to know your SwiftKey keyboard, the more it will get to know you.
Ringtones. You would imagine the your options for ringtones would be so much better than on a normal non-smart phone, and you would be correct in that assumption. There are multiple ways to get ringtones and even multiple ways to make your own ringtones onto your phone.
For starters, the way that android organizes his ringtone management is (in my opinion) very well laid out. On your memory card there are a bunch of folders. If you look very carefully you will see a folder called “media”. If you don’t have one, create it. then inside of that folder you should have an “audio” and a “video” folder. Then inside of the “audio” folder you should see the below group of folders “alarms” “music” “notifications” and “ringtones”. This is the place on the SD card where the Android OS looks for sounds.
So if you want to make a tone that is for a phone call put it in the “ringtones” folder. For an alarm put it in the “alarms folder, etc. Modern android phones (version 2 and up) will support multiple file formats. The main ones are .ogg and mp3. So you can manually cut down a music file with a desktop application and copy it to your phone’s memory card in this folder and you are good to go. But wouldn’t you like something easier?
The easiest method of making a ringtone is to do it right through the "Music” icon that is preloaded on your phone. Let’s say you are listening to your MP3 collection and you hear a song that you want to make your ringtone. No worries, just press the menu button at the bottom of your phone (while the song is playing) andyou will see an icon called “Set as Ringtone” (see image below). That’s it. It will do the dirty work for you – create the tone and set it as your default. Can’t ask for an easier option. Although there is a pretty big downfall to this. It creates the tone just for the first 30 or 40 seconds of the song.
When your phone rings you don’t always want the intro of the song (although the beginning of the pictured Radiohead song is pretty badass). Let’s say you want the tone to start at around 2:42 when the hard part kicks in. So you need a solution that will let you pick that certain chunk of the song and make that your tone. That’s where RingDroid comes in.
RingDroid is an app that lets you create a start and stop point of an MP3 file and turn it into a ringtone/alarm/notification. All right on the device, Plus it gives you an option to set it as your default tone. The best part of the app is that it is a FREE app available from the Android Market, or through the Google Code site. See the image below:
Description: Create ringtones from your own music library, or record new ones on the fly! The original open-source ringtone editor for Android, first published in 2008 and downloaded by millions of users worldwide. Create your own ringtone, alarm, or notification sound from an existing audio file, or record a new one directly on the device. This application is compatible with most Android devices running system versions 1.6 (‘donut’) through 2.3.x (‘gingerbread’).
Everyone likes an organized phone. Even someone as scatterbrained as me. With FolderOrganizer you can organize all the stuff that matters so you can make yourself more efficient. Efficiency at it’s best – best price that is. Get it today only for the low low price of FREE!
Description: Want more control over the file structure of your smartphone, or would you love to be able to organize your apps, bookmarks, contacts and shortcuts the way you want?
Group items according to labels and create fully customizable folders and widgets with FolderOrganizer. You can organize apps, bookmarks, contacts and shortcuts, change folder icons, sort folder items any way you like, and make app shortcuts with custom icons and names.
FolderOrganizer Features With hierarchical labels, easily categorize all items. You can create and edit folders, manually sort items in a label, create scrollable widgets with five items in a row, change label icons, and rename apps and change app icons.
Make sense of all the stuff on your smartphone. Get FolderOrganizer.
I am a little bit embarrassed to say that I have been displaying all these fancy barcodes all over the site to be able to have a quick way for you do download these great apps, but I haven’t done any explaining on how they work or what programs to use to scan them. Well the way it works is simple. You just have to load the app (3 great examples below) and choose the option to scan a barcode. It will load your camera app up with a cool target or line on it to help you line up the barcode and once it focuses and recognizes the barcode it will load the appropriate page (or a confirmation screen letting you know where it is taking you to). So without further delay, here are my favorite 3 barcode scanners (in no particular order).
Name: ZXing Barcode Scanner
Description: Scan barcodes on products then look up prices and reviews. You can also scan Data Matrix and QR Codes containing URLs, contact info, etc. Also share your contacts, apps, and bookmarks via QR Code. This is why contacts permissions are needed.
Description: Scan any QR code from your camera, read from QRs shown in Android browser, saved in your SD card or any QR image given its Internet URL. The only QR code app rated “5.0 out of 5 stars” by PCWorld. Get the best!
Description: Barcode scanner for QR Codes and much more! QuickMark is a mobile barcode scanner app that allows auto-scanning of multiple barcode formats from your phone. (Quick Code, QR Code, Data Matrix, EAN 8/13, Code39, Code128) Use mobile barcodes to access web links, add contacts, navigate maps, and much more! Works with QuickMark’s Chrome browser extension!
Did you see how I did that? I just linked to a barcode scanner app with a barcode… Yeah, that’s how I roll. I guess it is there incase you want to test it out, or you already have on of the apps and want to try another one. Regardless of the reasoning enjoy!
Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:
Description: You have worlds to conquer Blast your way through wave after wave of relentless alien hordes and destroy increasingly challenging planets in this action-filled app for Android. Beautifully rendered meteors and retro-style graphics transport you back to the heyday of arcade classics in Sinister Planet.
Mission Objective Your objective is to attack and destroy a series of alien worlds, progressing toward the ultimate challenge: Planet Sinister. To destroy each world you have to attack the surface and take out the power grid protecting the planet’s core. To aid you in your quest, you have the opportunity to upgrade your ship’s weapon systems by collecting power-ups (in Arcade mode) or amassing gold (in Battle mode).
As you progress through the waves, you will find yourself needing those upgrades as more deadly enemies are introduced. Upgrades available include extra laser pods to double or triple your firepower, ECM attacks (aka Smart Bombs), turrets for 360-degree shooting, and more.
Make little ones out of big ones Collect the Gems To make it through each wave, collect the gems produced as you blast the asteroids out of the sky. Don’t worry, the asteroids won’t hurt you, but you will face a different challenge–your enemy just loves to grab those gems too. Make sure you reach them first, and shoot them quickly, or they will be transformed into much more dangerous foes.
As a welcome respite from the hard-core destruction, you get the chance to gain bonus points by completing the challenge waves. Aliens will fly in formation around your ship while you attempt to execute a complete wipe-out. It’s not easy, but getting the right upgrades will greatly aid your mission. During the challenges your ship gains temporary indestructibility.
As promised, here are the Top 5 of the Top 10 Android Home Replacements/Launchers that we will be reviewing. As with any sort of "Top" list, don’t take it as the definitive list because new apps come out all the time, and I am probably missing some great launchers – I am an old robot after all… So here is my list of the top 5:
Name: 5. Zeam
Description: Zeam is a minimalistic launcher alternative for phones running Android 2.2 and above. It has a lot of the cool functions available to the larger launchers, but it will run great on just about any hardware.
Description: ADW.Launcher, beyond tweaking your android desktop Opensource home replacement app -Customizable application drawer (old one or iphone/galaxy one) -Customizable drag&drop action buttons -Unveil the Dockbar flicking-up the app-drawer button and drop UNLIMITED shortcuts/folders! -Themes
Description: – Super-smooth scrolling – Animated screen previews (like Exposé or HTC Sense) – Up to 7 home screens – App drawer (2D and 3D!) with a fly-in effect and smooth scrolling – Scrollable shortcut dock
Description: New home, new lifestyle Branching from the stock home app, Home++ offers more * 3rd party animated widgets & scrollable widgets support * Drag&drop uninstall * Bookmarks * Workspace looping * 3~7 screens and a screen switcher * lazy load app drawer by default
Description: vLauncher has a clean look to it that reminds a lot of people of the iPhone interface. One of the main pros to this launcher is that all of your icons are on your home screen, you don’t have to open a tray to see them, plus without all the widgets and extras it runs very fast, even on an older device, like me…
So if you like these and want to try them, follow the links and download them to you phone. After they are installed the next time you press the home key it will ask you if you want to load the current launcher or the new one. You can also set one as a default by checking the check box.
Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:
So with Froyo (Android 2.2) and up you have the ability to move some of your apps to the memory card to save that precious storage memory on your phone. But what if you could move ALL of your apps to the memory card? With a rooted phone you have a couple more options with Apps2SD.
First you have the ability to “force” apps to go to the memory card. Therefore, if the developer hasn’t set it’s permissions for it,you can movie it over to the card anyway. This works great in most situations, unl;ess you are dealing with a widget, or a home replacement app (like ADW or Launcher Pro) because they typically stay in memory, and you could break the app by doing this.
The second option is to actually re-partition your SD card (which does erase your data) and create an android partition right on the SD card,so you could move ALL of your apps over to the card and leave the internal memory for your android installation. This option can significantly speed up your phone because you will have a tone of free space for the system to run in.
For information on either of these options I recommend doing some research on some of the various message boards out there, especially XDA Developers, because that’s where all the experts tend to hang out.
Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone: