A question which would have made zero sense a few years ago, and is now one I hear with increased frequency, is 'got any good apps'? If I had a pound, yada yada, you get my point.
So I thought I'd tell you what I've got on my Desire HD and Xoom at the time of writing. I wont even touch upon Google apps such as Gmail, Calendar, Music, Maps/Nav, Docs, Reader, YouTube etc as they should be on all Android devices and therefore you will know and love them. Goggles is a great addition to the default set (now default on new devices I believe) as well as any other apps made by the big G. Surprise surprise, they are all awesome. Google Body is good just for comedy, never mind education! Anyway, the list;
- TinyShark - Know and love Grooveshark, then this is your mobile friend.
- London Underground Free - Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Tablet Keyboard Free - Tablet only but a great split keyboard so holding the tablet in both hands still allows you to type with phone style keypads under each thumb. Awesome, soon to appear on iPad and Android 3.2 as standard.
- File Station Tablet - tablet version of a very good file explorer.
- Reddita - Tablet optimised, very good reddit client.
- BBC News - no more explanation required I hope!
- BBC iPlayer - see above!
- Gingerbread Launcher - If you're running Froyo or less, and/or cursed with HTC Sense, get this launcher! It gives the appearance of Gingerbread on the desktop and a much nicer app draw. Might not work to well on older hardware.
- Amazon UK - Impulse buying made easy!
- Remote SMS - An excellent remote SMS app which allows you to use a PC + browser to read, write and send SMS from your phone. I've tried a few of these apps with various levels of success and I keep coming back to this one..
- Speedview - great when in the car (particularly at night) as it displays speed and a trend graph, and can be used for a HUD, etc. Very good car app (uses GPS so car charger required!).
- StumbleUpon - beware the mobile SU!
- Usage Timelines Pro - with such a catchy name you'd never guess this is my top app! Great on phone and tablet alike, shows CPU usage history across 3 little bars in the notification area of the device. Simple and perfect.
- SetCPU for Root Users - Got a rooted device which could run faster, use this to overclock your CPU (at the expense of battery).
- WebSharing File/Media Sync - another genius app that allows access to the Android files via a PC + browser. So easy to grab photo's, dump music, etc all via wifi.
- Reddit is fun - a mobile reddit app for non tablet devices!
- EasySMS - last but not least is another remote SMS app. This one is functional but not as feature heavy as remote sms. Less prone to jib though.
Honourable mention to lazydroid which allows a remote desktop into Android from a PC + browser, but I've not had enough of a chance to review it yet so I won't recommend it! Potentially awesome though!
edit 1 - wow, missed a load, not sure what the list I used before was showing but it wasn't all! There's also;
DHD - Kindle, Barcode scanner, Dropbox, Earth, ES File Explorer (DHD), F1.com 2011, Firefox, Footy Focus, Gmail toast, Google Authenticator (highly recommend 2 stage verification on your Google account), G+, IMDB, LinkedIn, Minecraft Canary, PlayStation, Quake2 (not in Market), Remote RDP Lite, Skype, Stop skype (only way to kill skype!), SMS Backup+ (back up all SMS/MMS to a gmail label = awesome), SNesoid, Speed Test, thetrainline, Tweetdeck, Wifi Analyser.
Xoom - Picasa Tool, Brain Age Analyser, Evernote, EZ Usenet (requires easynews subscription), MoboPlayer.
I have to say I'm starting to lose my patience with the wait for the Android Honeycomb 3.1 update.
Anyone unfamiliar with this situation should know that 3.1 is the update which brings USB support, better stability, resizable widgets and support for gamepads and keyboards.
A killer list of improvements but the wait is getting silly now. You can go and buy a new Xoom (US only I think) which will come with 3.1 already loaded, but anyone who already has one has to wait for Motorola/Google to pull their finger out so it can be OTA-ed out!
I'm hearing the global rollout is commencing, but Japan and Oz are the only ones who have had it to date and that was some time ago now..
My biggest beef with all this is that the pace of banter about the Xoom 2 is increasing making it more and more likely that support for the original will deteriorate.
Android 3.2 is also a hot topic, discussions are now taking the route that maybe UK Xoomers will never see 3.1 and will move straight to 3.2. Great. When, good question.
I see this whole debacle as a real problem for Android and it is precisely why we're going to see 'Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich' next year. Android 4.0 is a unified OS across devices. Only being talked about as a phone and tablet OS for now, but the inevitable convergence into PC's (ChromeOS this year?) is going to be a very good thing for us, the consumer. Personally I think Android does a very good job of sync-ing across my DHD and Xoom but I can also see the potential for a more closely-knitted approach. If you thought device convergence was difficult for the manufacturers, please do spare a thought for the software developers!
Anyway, it's been a long standing and valid complaint that developing for the Android Market is a pain in the butt due to the diversity of hardware. From 1.6 now up to 3.0 and 3.1 (one day!) the hardware specs couldn't be more different. Compare a Tattoo hardware to Xoom hardware! It's the problem Microsoft have spent so long tackling (and a fine job they do I might add) and something Apple very clearly stated from day 1 'wouldn't be an issue for them'. Clever girl.
I guess I am just being impatient, I knew what I was getting when I got the Xoom, but the fact 3.1 is out there and in use by some Xoom owners, really grinds my gears!
Something I find myself scratching my head about constantly is the mis-information in the world of GPU drivers, so I'm going to impart what I know in the hope it helps someone else.
I'm talking purely about AMD, specifically Desktop Radeon, more specifically Catalyst Control Center. No nVidia today folks, sorry.
I've been dancing with CCC for about 12 months now (since CrossfireX 5770's came into my life) and I've learnt ALOT keeping up with AMD in that time
They now release CCC updates and new Application Profiles* (CAPS) updates monthly. It is a pain in the ass to update every month but it's a worthwhile price to pay for remaining bleeding-edge (and having stable games!).
*Application Profiles are for Crossfire only (yes they are) and they configure CCC to get the best out of specific games. CrossfireX uses technology called Alternate Frame Rendering (AFR) to load balance frame production across 2 or more cards. Some game engines really do not like AFR (Crysis 2 on launch, NFS Shift 2 on launch, to name but 2) so AMD have to write specific code for 'as-near-as-makes-no-difference ALL' new AA/AAA PC games released these days. AMD are mostly very good at getting them out in time for launch, but not always, which is frustrating!
Anyway, the latest drivers and latest CAPs are essential, and making sure they are installed perfectly is also important. It saddens me greatly that it is still a massive ball-ache to update drivers.
Removing the previous drivers is the single most important part. Don't do this correctly, and you're goosed. Uninstall everything. EVERYTHING. CCC, CAPs, anything with AMD on it. Delete the AMD folders from programs directories. Whole hog man. Then run a driver sweeper (Driver Sweeper) and registry cleaner (CCleaner). Then reboot twice (once). Then and only then can you start installing new software. It sounds daft but I've had a single registry entry (left by the AMD uninstaller!) cause me a great deal of pain before so take no risks!
If everything is uninstalled then installation should be a breeze. Reinstall CCC, and then CAPs, and reboot.
Check AMD frequently! It's often mid-month for CCC updates and end of month for CAPs. Happy gaming!
As a test post, this is already purposeful, but if you are reading this, it's serving a dual purpose. Excellent.
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