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Monday, 14 February 2011

from iPhone to Android or from Android to iPhone: two Switcher's Guides

Two tutorials for switchers on lifehacker.com

                                                                            
 From iPhone to Android

If you're sick of Apple's walled garden but have yet to make the jump from the iPhone to an Android handset, here's what to expect, how to adjust, and how to cope with certain app withdrawal.
Pictured app is SlideScreen.
Let me preface all of this by saying that for many—not all—the switch from iPhone to Android will feel like being covered in band-aids and ripping each one off over the course of a few weeks. This is not because there's anything particularly wrong with either mobile operating system, but because they have different paradigms. Android and iPhone feel different, look different, and accomplish things in sometimes very different manners. Nonetheless, they're both mobile operating systems with touch interfaces, so it's hard to avoid comparing the two and finding similarities between them. If you decide to ditch your iPhone and give Android a try, be prepared for a little culture shock.
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide

The Good

While some things are worse and others just different, there are quite a few things Android does best, and you'll want to be sure to check them out.
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide
You've Arrived with Google Maps Navigation
Welcome to getting to your destination safely, courtesy of Android's phenomenal free turn-by-turn navigation. As much as I love beating a dead horse, I won't go on endlessly about the fantastic Google Maps Navigation app. The app has found new routes to places I frequent that save 5-10 minutes over what I learned from my iPhone. It's great, it's built-in, and it costs you nothing.
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide
Your Voice
Voice capabilities are also new and exciting. The iPhone's Voice Control exists, but it's limited to music, apps, and a few other areas of the phone. Android gives you surprisingly accurate voice search that lets you enter text into any field with your voice, get directions while you're driving, make calls to businesses just by saying their names, or find pretty much anything on the web.
Freedom of Choice
On the iPhone you have the App Store; on Android you have the Android Marketplace. One of the reasons you may want to switch to Android is the choice of carrier and hardware it provides, along with its much more open app market. This has its disadvantages, which we'll talk about it later, but the upside is the freedom developers have to bring you all kinds of apps. There are apps that look exactly like their iPhone counterparts, but also apps that dig a lot deeper into the OS, letting you customize all sorts of uses and notifications, and have a seductive level of control over what you can do.
Instant Web
On Android, the web is here. On your iPhone, you have to bring it to you. If you're an eager Google service user and you supply your Android phone with your Google credentials, you'll quickly find your phone is filled with all sorts of information. You'll have e-mail, calendar items, contacts, bookmarks and more. I found out I had calendars and contacts in Google I didn't know existed. You can also connect to Facebook and Twitter to pull even more information into your phone. When Android detects contact information that should belong to an existing contact, it'll suggest you link it. While the way it displays everything isn't so great, and you don't always have easy handles on what you don't want to see, information is in constant sync with your web apps.
Passively Notified
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide If you were asked to pick just one complaint about the iPhone's interface, there's a good chance it's about how it handles notifications. Nobody loves frequent pop-ups, and it's almost bizarre that Apple has implemented such an archaic notification system. Android handles notifications passively, allowing you to check when you want and be otherwise uninterrupted—but, if you'd like, set specific notifications to ring, vibrate, or flash your trackball light for attention. If you're new to Android, you might not know where to find these updates. Just drag the down on the status bar up top and you'll pull down your notifications drawer.
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide

The Bad

It's not all good news when you switch. Android has its issues, too. Fortunately, you can work around most of them.
Spyware
Apple insists their walled garden of an App Store is necessary to keep everyone safe—and, infamously, offers freedom from porn—and in some ways they may be right. The Android Marketplace has begun to see a potential spyware problem. How big of an issue it is may be up for debate, but it exists as a potential problem. When you download an Android app, you'll need to consider its source and note the warnings about the sorts of data it can access. Be prudent and think before you install.
It is worth noting that Apple's App Store isn't bereft of spyware. I may not have done an adequate job of expressing that so I'm going to let Lifehacker reader Tom B. explain:
There is not a shred of evidence of a spyware problem on Android's app store. The article you link to just points out that 20% of the apps on Android have access to information that could be used by spyware. Guess what: on iPhone, 100% of the apps that you install have access to that information. The difference between Android and iPhone is that Android can guarantee that 80% of its apps are not spyware; you can install any of them without worrying because they never get any permissions that they shouldn't get.
And calling Apple's store a "walled garden" is really misleading because there is nothing "walled" about it. It is impossible for Apple to determine for its apps whether they are malicious or not, except for the most trivial cases; Objective-C is simply too complex and unsafe a language.
The risks from spyware and malicious apps on Android are considerably less than on iPhone.
Blame the Manufacturer
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide Carriers and hardware manufacturers can sometimes add to the Android experience, but in most cases you'll wish you could get rid of that Sprint Nascar app (for example). HTC likes to add their Sense layer on top of the standard Android experience, as a means of beautification and betterment, but you might find it more cumbersome than helpful. Of course, you may be the minority that loves mandatory carrier apps and added interface layers. If not, you can relegate carrier apps to the app drawer by simply dragging them from the home screen to the trash (and then further banishing them through the "Manage Applications" section of Settings/Applications). Better still, if you don't like the home screen, change it.
Low Battery Warning
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide
Certain Android phones (that'd be you, Evo) have embarrassing battery life. While the iPhone's battery isn't endless (even though it's more battery than phone nowadays), due to Android's true multitasking, the battery life falls a little short. You may be able to eke out a little more longevity by utilizing apps like TasKiller (see #6) to quit processes you don't want running, or the buggy-but-brilliant JuiceDefender app to cut back on data and screen usage. There's a debate over TasKiller's efficacy, and you don't want to abuse its power in fear of killing off an important background task you actually want running, but I've found it helps me keep the phone on a little bit longer. If you don't want to take such extreme measures, just make sure you actually quit apps when you're done with them. Unlike the iPhone, you need to be a little more active in your app management.
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide
The good and bad aside, you'll most likely be uncomfortable until you hit the other side of the learning curve. Switching from one OS to another isn't supposed to be, so stay patient and stick with it.
Bad Touch
There's something about (multi)touch on Android that isn't quite as elegant as the iPhone. The animations aren't as smooth, touch doesn't always respond the same way and things just don't feel right. In some cases you'll find yourself adjusting to the little differences, such as sliding down to unlock your phone rather than left to right (as you're used to with the iPhone). In other cases you may find things just don't feel the way you hoped, like when scrolling and you hit a hard stop at the bottom of a page (whereas an iPhone will bounce a little to let you know you've reached the end). How hard it is to adjust to the touch, the feel of cotton Android will depend on you, but remember this: It's different. It's not an iPhone, so don't expect one.
Different Strokes
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide When you buy a new keyboard for a computer, the displacement of a single button can become very frustrating. Once you memorize key locations it's hard to switch, because they're embedded in your muscle memory. Depending on the Android phone you choose, you'll either be adjusting to a physical keyboard with its own layout, or you'll be presented with a familiar but notably different touch keyboard. The number/symbol selector may be on the right side (it varies), your spacebar is a bit smaller, and you have a microphone button that will let you speak what you want to type instead of typing it. It's slightly different and you'll slip up, but you'll adjust with practice. But once you get the hang of it you'll discover keyboard shortcuts that'll help you type faster. Here are a few shortcuts, but note that they may or may not work based on your hardware:
  • Alt + Spacebar lets you insert special characters
  • Alt + Delete will delete an entire line
  • Pressing Shift twice will initiate caps lock.
  • Menu + X will cut all text, Menu + C will copy it, Menu + V will paste clipboard text and Menu + A will select everything in the current field.
  • Alt + Q inserts a tab space.
The upside to Android? If you want to try a keyboard that's vastly different, like the gesture-based Swype, you have that option as well.
Consistent Expectations
Consistency of the interface is another piece of culture shock. Maybe staring at a grid of iPhone apps felt like staring into your probable future as a member of the Apple occult, but at least you knew what you were getting. On Android, you have several pages with different items and you may find yourself swiping around blindly. Just like you would with a grid of apps with no real immediate notification of what's what, you'll get used to the differing pages of your home screen. If not, you can always replace it with a nifty app like SlideScreen (something the iPhone could really use).
Localized Settings
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide On the iPhone you've come to expect some of your app settings in, well, the global Settings app. In Android, you'll always find them in the actual application. To get to any app's settings, you'll need to go into the app, hit your phone's Menu button, and then hit "Settings." This applies not only to apps you download from the Android Marketplace, but settings for your text messages, email accounts, and other features you may think of as part of the OS.
Real (or Unreal) Buttons
Speaking of the menu button, you'll find that navigating an Android phone requires the use of those four buttons below the screen. This can be very off-putting at first. You might wonder what purpose is served by offering dedicated buttons which, on some handsets, aren't really even buttons at all. As you get used to them and memorize where they are, you'll adapt, but initially you may want to pull your hair out wondering why everything isn't part of the touch screen. Simply put, iPhone apps have been designed for some time now as single environments with multiple screens to page through, while Android apps function a bit more like traditional desktop apps—a single screen, with buttons and options, made to be switched into and out of regularly.
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide
Out of Sync
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide What about syncing? One of the benefits of Android is that, for the most part, you won't need to sync. You can copy media from your computer over USB if you need to. But do you miss the painful tethered syncing of iTunes? Then get doubleTwist (here's our first look), which can be described pretty accurately as iTunes for Android. If you don't like Android's media player, doubleTwist offers an alternative. If you're longing for iTunes after the switch, a couple of downloads should have you covered.


                                                                            
From Android to iPhone
So the iPhone is finally here and you've ditched your stop-gap of an Android phone for what you really wanted all along. But wait—where are all your beloved Android features? Where's your awesome, free turn-by-turn navigation? Your retro game emulators? Your freedom? Welcome to the iPhone. We're here to help.
Before we get started, you should know that switching to an iPhone means there will be restrictions you'll never get around. You are never going to have the same flexibility as you would on Android, but there are ways to gain back the functionality you miss. Some of this functionality can be regained through apps you can find in the iTunes App Store while other functionality will need to be acquired through jailbreaking your phone. First we're going to take a look at the stuff you can do right now and then check out the jailbreak options that will give you full control of your iPhone.

Apps to Help You Make the Transition

Let's take a look at stuff you can grab from the iTunes App Store—mostly for free—to get back some of the stuff you loved about your Android phone.

Google Apps

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideWhile this wasn't the case in the past, most of the Google apps you've come to love on Android have made their way to iPhone. iPhone users have long had access to the Google Mobile app, which provides some nice features like voice search, and Google Earth has been available for awhile as well, but Google Voice is really the most exciting addition. Aside from all the drama surrounding its long-awaited appearance in the iTunes App Store, it was highly anticipated because it's awesome. While it can't become your native phone app on your iPhone, you can pretty much use it as a phone and text messaging replacement. You'll recognize the interface for the most part, even if it is a bit more iPhone-y, and you can enjoy using your main Google Voice almost as seamlessly as you did on Android by just dialing from the Google Voice app instead of the iPhone's native phone app. While a little less exciting, Google Shopper was recently announced so you don't have to give up the nifty product identifying features of your Android device.

Google Sync

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideI can't complain enough about how much I hate plugging in my iPhone to sync with iTunes (it's my biggest iPhone annoyance). I've gone so far as to try and avoid ever syncing with iTunes again, but no work-around is going to prevent you from syncing your phone once in a while. However, you can sync less-frequently by pushing certain information to your iPhone. Apple's MobileMe service is designed to do that, but it will inevitably screw up. It also costs $99 a year, which is reasonably price by Apple's standards but pales in comparison to free. Instead, you can set up Google sync by setting up your Google account like a Microsoft Exchange account. This will provide the push sync you're used to without the added cost of MobileMe.
Also, if you're a Chrome to Phone user, you can pretty much get that exact functionality on your iPhone with Chrome to iPhone. Chrome to iPhone now works with multiple browsers, so if you're not an iPhone user you still have options. If you're willing to pay, you may want to consider trying the more feature-rich MyPhoneDesktop.

Free Turn-By-Turn Navigation

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideThere's nothing quite like Google Maps' turn-by-turn for the iPhone, but there are a few free apps that'll get the job done. Skobbler seems to be the most favored, what with its map caching (in cas you lose your data connection) and automatic re-routing (in case you get lost). It's far from perfect, but it's the best free option out there at the moment. If you've tried Skobbler and really don't like it (read our review to see the issues we had with it), previously mentioned MapQuest 4 Mobile is another free option that comes highly recommended.

Jailbreak Options

Jailbreaking is really what's going to bring you most of the functionality you want—at least in terms of customization and flexibility. You should know, however, that jailbreaking can void your warranty (if you're caught) and potentially brick your shiny new iPhone. I've jailbroken more times than I can remember and have never come across an unfixable problem, but you've nonetheless been warned. When you're able to jailbreak your Verizon iPhone, make sure you know what you're doing before you dive in.
To jailbreak, you're going to need the latest version of Greenpois0n. Once you've got it, use these instructions to complete the jailbreaking process.

Customization

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideInterface customization (aside from your iPhone's wallpaper) is basically impossible without jailbreaking, but boy do you get a lot of options once Apple's restrictions are removed. Cydia, the "App Store" of the jailbreak community, already comes with a bunch of themes you can buy. Another app called Theme It provides some pretty thorough and beautiful themes as well. If you want a beautiful implementation of true multitasking, check out Multifl0w, an app that gives you Exposé- or webOS-style app switching. Once you're jailbroken, you'll be able to search through Cydia for many more enhancements as well. Custom lock screens are a big favorite, and you'll find plenty of people creating custom lock screens on deviantART (or make your own). Basically, once you're jailbroken you can customize whatever you want. In some cases there will be really great tools to help you out, and in others you may have to dig into the filesystem yourself. Nonetheless, your efforts will be nicely rewarded with an interface of your choosing.
UPDATE: There may be some security concerns about the Theme It store, so read this to learn more.

Better Notifications

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideOne of the best parts about Android is the pull-down notification bar at the top of the screen. With it, you don't get any annoying popups, and you don't have to act on a notification as soon as you get it. You can pull down the status bar at any time and see which notifications are calling for your attention, and deal with them when you want to. There are quite a few ways to get this functionality on a jailbroken iPhone (we've featured one before), but the best is probably an app called Notified. It doesn't stop the normal iOS notifications from popping up; instead, it works with them. You get notifications as normal, and it keeps your last 50 notifications in its drawer, and sorts them by application. The free version only lets you access those notifications by opening up the Notified app itself, though if you grab the $2.99 Pro version, you can access the drawer with a swipe, just like on Android.

Widgets

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideLike notifications, there are a number of ways to get widgets on your iPhone. They work a little differently than Android widgets; instead of being integrated in your home screen, they show up on your lock screen. We've previously featured an app called Intelliscreen that presents calendar, email, SMS, news, and weather on your lock screen in a very attractive way. It's a bit pricier than it was when we featured it—$9.99—but it has a free trial if you want to check it out.
Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's Guide If you're looking for something a bit cheaper, an app called SmartScreen does something very similar. While Intelliscreen's widgets integrate themselves very nicely with the lock screen (they almost look like they were designed to be there), SmartScreen's are much more widget-like. They essentially grab information—data, graphics and all—from apps like calendar, weather, and stocks. It even has a flip clock similar to the one that comes with HTC Android phones. SmartScreen is only $5, and also has a Lite version available which, among other things, limits the number of widgets you can use to three. Both are great additions to your iPhone if you miss the widgets feature of Android. Note that if you want to try SmartScreen, you'll have to add their repository to Cydia first, as described on their home page.

Quick Settings

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideWhile the above apps will get you quite a few great widgets, they won't get you (what in my opinion is) the greatest widget on Android: Power Control. The Power Control widget lets you save battery by quickly toggling settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Brightness, Airplane Mode, and other things. To get this functionality on the iPhone, you'll want to download previously mentioned SBSettings from Cydia. After installing, you can access quick settings by swiping to the right on your status bar at the top of the screen. You'll be able to toggle all sorts of settings right from a popup window without having to dig through menus.

Retro Game Emulation

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideThe Android Marketplace is open, so finding and downloading a retro game emulator is easy. On an iPhone, it's impossible unless you jailbreak. We've shown you how to add an SNES emulator to your iPad—instructions that work just the same for iPhone—but you can get other emulators as well by searching for the platform you want in Cydia.

Wi-Fi Sync and Mobile Hotspots

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher's GuideWhile your Verizon iPhone comes with a mobile hotspot—a feature Android picked up quite awhile ago—you have to pay $20 a month just to use it. Simply put, that sucks. As an alternative, you can spend $10 on MyWi and use the data connection that you pay for however you want. Getting back to Android's wireless sync, you can actually get the best of both worlds with a jailbroken iPhone. One of the best jailbreak applications is no doubt Wi-Fi Sync. The current version is $10 and lets you sync to iTunes without plugging in your phone. It works very, very well. A new version is around the corner (which appears to be free for current owners of the original Wi-Fi Sync) which promises a bunch of new features, including easier connections, background syncing, and syncing over 3G. You might not want to actually sync over 3G because the speeds will be fairly slow, but remote syncing can be pretty handy if you're on a Wi-Fi connection at a friend's house and forgot to grab a few things you want synced to your phone.




Android Market (Web) Vs. Appbrain

On maketecheasier I read this:

If you have not heard, the Android Market is now available to view on your desktop browser. I was pretty excited to see the features offered in the web version of the Android Market. However, much like many of you, I have grown comfortable using Appbrain for my Android app searching needs.
I’m not going to go in depth into Appbrain here. Here is a post to reference if you want a more detailed explanation of how Appbrain works. I will talk about the key differences between the 2 though.

Android Market key features

The Android Market is the newest of the 2, so there is room for improvement. There ARE a couple features that reign superior over Appbrain. The first and most notable is the on click installation for apps.
One click installations
The one click feature works like magic. When you are logged into your Google account on your computer, all you need to do to install an application is click INSTALL. Within seconds you will see the little download arrow appear on your Android phone or tablet.
android-market-web-install
Same layout
Both the mobile application and the web version of the Android Market have the same layout. This is very comforting to may people who like familiarity. If you are use to using the Market on your device, using the web version of the Market will be a very simple transition.
Tabs
When you are looking at a specific application, there are tabs across the top letting you easily jump to: permissions, reviews, whats new (changlog) or the overview.
android-market-tabs

Appbrain key features

Appbrain has had a little more time to hone in on some really useful features. Many people, myself included, like to install apps just to see what they do. Appbrain gives you a lot of sharing options the Android Market does not.
Sharing apps
Aside from the basic ways to share links to an application (email, Facebook, Twitter Buzz), Appbrain gives you a few other ways to let people know about an app you find.
  • Being able to scan the QR code and easily download the app is great. Each application has a QR code to the Appbrain page.
  • Appbrain provides a link to email and another for foums that use BBCodes.
  • The third style link is HTML code. This code is for displaying a widget for the application on your webpage. I have used these before and they look and work great in an article talking about a specific application.
android-market-qr-code
Syncing
Appnrain offers an application in the Android Market. Once you sign in on both Appbrain and the mobile app, you are ready to sync. It may take a minute for the first sync. After, you will be able to see, from the website, all of the applications installed on your device(s). If you need to master clear your Android device, you can re-install apps easily.
android-market-sync
Installing from the web
While it is a couple more steps than using the Market, applications can be installed right from Appbrain’s webpage. You simply pick which application(s) you want to install and add them to the list of apps on your device. Then, on next sync, you can install the apps on your device.
While this seems like a lot more work, this method is a good way to batch install several apps at a time.
Sorting
Sort apps is a little different with Appbrain. You have filters for:
  • Specific countries
  • Male or female users
  • Certain age ranges
  • Recommended for you
Being able to search differently than the Android Market allows, helps you discover more applications to better suite you.
android-market-sorting

Conclusion

While the Android Market is shiny and new, my preference is still Appbrain. I do not doubt the web version of the Market will improve over time. Currently, features like the QR codes, syncing and the more advanced search will keep me using Appbrain.

4 interesting articles for your Android

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Change the default application

When it comes time to switch from using one application to another on your Android device it isn’t immediately clear how to do so. Follow along as we walk you through swapping the default application for any Android task.
Initially changing the default application in Android is a snap. After you install the new application (new web browser, new messaging tool, new whatever) Android prompts you to pick which application (the new or the old) you wish to use for that task the first time you attempt to open a web page, check your text message, or otherwise trigger the event. Easy! What about when it comes time to uninstall the app or just change back to your old app? There’s no helpful pop-up dialog box for that. Read on as we show you how to swap out any default application for any other with a minimum of fuss.
Changing the Default Application
Grab your Android device and navigate to the Settings menu (either by tapping the physical Menu Button and selecting Settings or by opening your application list and selecting Settings as seen in the first panel of the screenshot above). Navigate to Applications and then to Manage applications.

Once in the Manage applications sub-menu tap on All to list all the applications installed on your phone. Scroll down until you see the application you wish to change. For this example we will be changing our home screen manager from LauncherPro to ADW.Launcher to demonstrate how to change a default system application.
Inside the Application info menu for the application scroll down and tap Clear defaults. Once you have cleared the defaults you can then force a new default selection by triggering the action that the application would handle. In our case we’re swapping out the home screen manager so all we have to do to trigger the event is tap the physical Home button on our phone. Android then prompts us with a Complete action using dialog box. Here we can select either ADW.Launcher or LauncherPro. Note the Use by default for this action checkbox. If you don’t want to be hassled to pick in the future, commit to your change here.

Potential Pitfalls and Workarounds

If you’re having trouble forcing the Complete action using dialog box to appear (especially for the handling of non-default file types) make sure you haven’t uninstalled the prior default application. Android sometimes gets hung up when attempting to change the default application for a file type or action away from the prior selection if the prior selection has been uninstalled.
For example, if you installed a video application and associated it with a bunch of video file types and removed the application before switching the default application you might run into problems. In this case the best solution is to install the old application again, change the default from within the Application info screen for that app, and remove it once you’ve successfully used the new application. It’s a hassle, we know, but now that you know how to change the task associations you shouldn’t be stuck in that situation again.

Add storage space to your android

1. Zumo Drive

ZumoDrive costs money or gives very little storage space. The free account of ZumoDrive comes only with 1GB of storage space. ZumoDrive supports multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android and Palm Pre. This make managing your files much easier. Secondly, it comes with an inbuilt music player so you can play/stream your music directly from your ZumoDrive account.

2. Sorami using Microsofts Skydrive

Of all the cloud based storage services, Microsoft’s Skydrive is the most general, giving you a whopping 25GB free storage space but it is purely web based without any tool for its users to access it from the desktop (or phone). Sorami is an app of Skydrive by a third party developer. You can access your Skydrive folder and download/upload files to it. The app is still beta, and might be your only choice if you are an active Skydrive user.

3. Box.net

If you are looking for an app with a simple interface, use Box.net.
The Android version of Box.net is just a simple implementation of its web interface. After you have login to the app, you can access or upload files to your web folder.
The free version comes with 5GB of storage space.

4. Dropbox

The free account comes with a 2GB space, but you can gain extra storage space (up to 8GB) by referring friends to use the service, or to get connected via any social means. Dropbox is available in all platforms so you can easily drop a file in any of the computer and access it immediately in your mobile phone.
The Android app only shows a list of the files you have in the cloud and download the necessary file only when you need it. Similarly, you can upload files from the Dropbox app. It does not automatically sync the files/folders that you placed in the Dropbox folder.
You can create files (Picture, Video, Audio, Text file, Folder) from your phone so that you can quickly take a photo and sync it to the Dropbox folder.

5. SugarSync

SugarSync is functionally similar to Dropbox, except that it provides 5GB of free storage space (3GB more than Dropbox). Both of them support multiple platforms, but Dropbox has the slight advantage with Linux support, while SugarSync don’t.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Create Geo-Reminders in Android with GeoNote

 On Howtogeek i read this about reminders that are triggered when you enter a location: Follow the link if you need the pictures.

Unlike most reminders that remind you to do a certain action at a desired time, GeoNote gives you reminders when you enter a location. If you’re a big fan of location-based services, then GeoNote is the perfect reminder for you.

GeoNote is one of the few Geo-Reminder applications that are available on the market for free. Its simple interface allows us to create To-Do list quickly. Just click the “Add Location” button to add your first note.

Each reminder has three parts, a name, a location, and some notes.
Tap the location field and attach the exact location for your task using a map, a GPS, or an exact address. The address is probably the best option when you do not have any GPS coverage in your area.

Once you have filled the task location and address, you should put some notes, and configure how GeoNote should notify you on your pending task.  You may choose to have GeoNote to notify you when you are leaving, arriving, or within a particular time frame on your location.
In this example, we setup  GeoNote to remind us to pick up the latest edition of Linux Journal Magazine from Borders when we are leaving the supermarket for approximately 100 meters. 
 Tapping the save button brings you back to the main screen and save your task to GeoNote.
The top buttons act as a quick control panel for GeoNote. The light bulb turns GeoNote on and off. The locator  buttons let you switch between GPS, when you tap the satellite button, and WiFi, when you tap the radio tower button.

Make sure that GeoNote is turned on, and you have set the appropriate locator button; otherwise, GeoNote will not notify you on any pending tasks. Slide down your status bar when you see a small flashing GeoNote icon on your task bar to read GeoNote’s notification.

Some people still prefer the standard time based reminders, such as calendars, and others prefer writing their To-Do list on a paper notepad. We like Geo-Reminder because it is a great companion to our standard notes and To-Do list. Feel free to share your thoughts on location-based reminders in the comments section.

Go Launcher Ex: An Impressive Home Replacement App For Android

Make tech easier had an interesting tutorial:
If you want the pictures with it, read the original website.

Go Launcher Ex is functionally similar to LauncherPro, except that it comes with gesture support and custom theming.
There is an older version of this app – Go Launcher, which should not be confused with Go Launcher Ex. While they are created from the same developer, they are not compatible with each other. Go Launcher user who wish to migrate to Go Launcher Ex will have to first uninstall Go Launcher, then install Go Launcher Ex from the market.

Scrollable Dock with gesture support

The most noticeable difference of Go Launcher Ex is the scrollable dock. Like the homescreen, you can swipe left or right to display the next row of dock. It can display up to 3 docks. Each dock can accommodate 5 app shortcuts, so effectively you can place up to 15 apps in the dock.
The best part is, you can even assign gesture action to each dock space (touch the app and swipe up). For example, I have assigned the gesture for the app drawer to display preview. So whenever I touch the app drawer icon and swipe up, the homescreen preview window will appear.
With 15 gesture actions and 15 apps, you can configure up to 30 shortcuts just in the dock itself. I am sure this is sufficient to fulfill your daily needs.

Gesture support for Home Screen

Go Launcher Ex supports up to 7 home screen and supports up/down gesture actions as well.

Useful app drawer

To most people, the app drawer is only a place to find all your installed applications. Some comes with 3D effects, but nothing really special. Go Launcher Ex repackages the app drawer and includes two useful tabs: Recent and Running.
When you go into your app drawer, the first tab will show all your installed application. You can configure it to scroll horizontally or vertically. Now, when you tap on the Recent tab, you will see all the applications you have recently used. You can tap on the “Clear History” button to clear the list. On the Running tab is the list of applications that are currently running in the background. If your phone is running slowly, you can quick tap on the “Close All Programs” button to close everything all at once. This will save you from installing another task killer app from the market.
Note: We don’t encourage you to kill all your tasks unless they are really causing you problems. Regularly killing your background tasks will cause your battery to drain faster.

Custom theme

This is one part that LauncherPro is lacking – custom theme. Currently in the market, there are only few available themes, but that is because Go Launcher Ex is still new. I believe the number of themes will increase as the days go by. The theme library may not be impressive yet, but it is still better than not being able to change the theme.
Last, but not least, Go Launcher Ex also allows you to backup and restore your configuration. If you are using multiple Android phones (or you are always flashing new ROMs), you can easily backup your settings to the SD card.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Dropbox on Android


On the website of make tech easier I found this article:
apkinstaller-no-android-marketInstalling apps on Android is relatively straightforward with the Android Market. You search for an app, select it and click install. However, there are often times when you may want to install a newly released app or an app that is not available in the Android Market. In these cases you will usually have to manually download and install an .apk file. An .apk file behaves in a similar manner to a ".exe" file on Windows, you need to copy it to your device and run it. Here are some ways that you can manually install an application without going through the market.

Enable Unknown Sources

Before attempting a manual installation of apps using the .apk files, you must first allow your phone to install from "Unknown Sources" (i.e. non-Market apps).
To do this, navigate to Menu -> Settings -> Applications and check the box marked "Unknown Sources".
apkinstaller-unknown

1. Installing app Using The Conventional Method

Step 1: Install File Manager
Android does not natively come with any method of browsing the data on your SD card, so you will need to install a file manager from a market. There are a large variety of file managers available on Android, but my personal favourite is ASTRO File Manager.
astro file manager-main
Step 2: Copy .apk file to SD card
Once you have ASTRO File Manager installed, connect your Android device to your PC using your USB cable. Mount the SD card and copy over the .apk file you would like to install.
Step 3: Install .apk
On your Android device, navigate to the .apk file using ASTRO File Manager and select it.
This will open a dialog box allowing you to install the app. Select "Open App Manager".
apkinstaller-app
On the next two pages, select "Install" and "Install" again to install the .apk.
apkinstaller-installapp
apkinstaller-appinstall
Your new app is now installed.

2. Installing app using Dropbox

Dropbox is really a versatile app and is a waste if we don't fully utilize it. The method is simple. In your computer, download the apk file to your Dropbox folder. Let it finish syncing. In your phone, open the Dropbox app, navigate to the folder where you keep the apk file, click on it. Dropbox will then download the apk file. The usual installation follows.

3. Installing app Using the Online Apk Installer

The online apk installer is a web app created by a helpful XDA-Developers forum member htc-hd2, with the aim to make manual installation of an .apk file much easier. It is useful if you want to share an apk file with a friend.
Step 1: Upload File
First, navigate to www.apkinstall.com.
Here you will see a black "Browse Files…" button. Select this and choose the apk file on your PC.
apkinstaller-browse
The apk file will remain active on the website for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Scan QR Code
Once you have uploaded the file, a QR code will appear on the website.
apkinstaller-qrcode
You must scan this QR code with a Barcode Scanner. The website suggests using Barcode Scanner, however I personally prefer using Google Goggles.

apkinstaller-barcode
Once the QR code has scanned, you can click on the link to download the .apk file straight to your device.
Step 3: Install .apk
After the .apk file has downloaded to your Android device you can install it by simply clicking on it and navigating through the installation pages.
apkinstaller-download

Conclusion

Most users will probably be comfortable using the conventional method of installing Android apps. However, if you have a less tech-savvy friend who you want to share an apk with, you can always remotely upload it and send them the QR code to scan using their phone. This way they will not have to fiddle around with copying the apk to their phone and opening it using a file manager.
Let us know in the comments if you have been able to use this tool.
Credit: XDA-Developers







Install android without the market


On the website of make tech easier I found this article:
apkinstaller-no-android-marketInstalling apps on Android is relatively straightforward with the Android Market. You search for an app, select it and click install. However, there are often times when you may want to install a newly released app or an app that is not available in the Android Market. In these cases you will usually have to manually download and install an .apk file. An .apk file behaves in a similar manner to a ".exe" file on Windows, you need to copy it to your device and run it. Here are some ways that you can manually install an application without going through the market.

Enable Unknown Sources

Before attempting a manual installation of apps using the .apk files, you must first allow your phone to install from "Unknown Sources" (i.e. non-Market apps).
To do this, navigate to Menu -> Settings -> Applications and check the box marked "Unknown Sources".
apkinstaller-unknown

1. Installing app Using The Conventional Method

Step 1: Install File Manager
Android does not natively come with any method of browsing the data on your SD card, so you will need to install a file manager from a market. There are a large variety of file managers available on Android, but my personal favourite is ASTRO File Manager.
astro file manager-main
Step 2: Copy .apk file to SD card
Once you have ASTRO File Manager installed, connect your Android device to your PC using your USB cable. Mount the SD card and copy over the .apk file you would like to install.
Step 3: Install .apk
On your Android device, navigate to the .apk file using ASTRO File Manager and select it.
This will open a dialog box allowing you to install the app. Select "Open App Manager".
apkinstaller-app
On the next two pages, select "Install" and "Install" again to install the .apk.
apkinstaller-installapp
apkinstaller-appinstall
Your new app is now installed.

2. Installing app using Dropbox

Dropbox is really a versatile app and is a waste if we don't fully utilize it. The method is simple. In your computer, download the apk file to your Dropbox folder. Let it finish syncing. In your phone, open the Dropbox app, navigate to the folder where you keep the apk file, click on it. Dropbox will then download the apk file. The usual installation follows.

3. Installing app Using the Online Apk Installer

The online apk installer is a web app created by a helpful XDA-Developers forum member htc-hd2, with the aim to make manual installation of an .apk file much easier. It is useful if you want to share an apk file with a friend.
Step 1: Upload File
First, navigate to www.apkinstall.com.
Here you will see a black "Browse Files…" button. Select this and choose the apk file on your PC.
apkinstaller-browse
The apk file will remain active on the website for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Scan QR Code
Once you have uploaded the file, a QR code will appear on the website.
apkinstaller-qrcode
You must scan this QR code with a Barcode Scanner. The website suggests using Barcode Scanner, however I personally prefer using Google Goggles.

apkinstaller-barcode
Once the QR code has scanned, you can click on the link to download the .apk file straight to your device.
Step 3: Install .apk
After the .apk file has downloaded to your Android device you can install it by simply clicking on it and navigating through the installation pages.
apkinstaller-download

Conclusion

Most users will probably be comfortable using the conventional method of installing Android apps. However, if you have a less tech-savvy friend who you want to share an apk with, you can always remotely upload it and send them the QR code to scan using their phone. This way they will not have to fiddle around with copying the apk to their phone and opening it using a file manager.
Let us know in the comments if you have been able to use this tool.
Credit: XDA-Developers







Transfer files from PC to Android

On howtoGeek I found this article:



Mounting your Android phone to transfer files is fast and efficient, but nothing beats the convenience of a wireless file transfer. Today, we'll show you how to transfer files between Android and your computer without a USB cable.

What You'll Need

Before we go into the details, you need to install several applications on your Android phone:
  • ES File Explorer is an excellent file manager for Android. It comes with a built in search function, image viewer, and most importantly a LAN browser that we'll use to transfer files to our computer through Wifi.
  • swiFTP is a lightweight FTP server that lets you transfer multiple files from Windows, Linux, or Mac through a secure FTP connection.
Both of them are available for free from the market, and they both worked in our HTC Desire HD when we tested them in our rooted and non-rooted phone.

Enabling FTP Access to Your Phone

Once installed, swiFTP is available from the application screen.

Upon launch, swiFTP prompts you for a user name and a password.

Now you can turn your phone into an FTP server by tapping the start button, and we can establish an FTP connection to your phone.

You should see an IP address when you run swiFTP. Take note of the IP address and the port, you will need this information to establish an FTP connection to your Android.
image

Uploading Files to Android

For convenience, lets create a shortcut to our Android phone in our Windows Explorer. Open the "Computer" folder to map your android phone in Windows file explorer.
image
Enter the IP address of your phone.
image
Enter the user name that we specify in swiFTP, and click next to proceed.
image
Enter an appropriate name for the connection.
image
Now every time you need to access your phone, just double click the FTP shortcut to your phone, enter your FTP password, and you'll have access to all your files in your phone.
image

Transfer Files to Your PC

We've learned how to get files in and out from your phone through FTP, now we'll show you transfer files directly into a shared folder in your computer with ES File explorer. Read our article on how to share folders, if you're not familiar with sharing folders on a local network.
To begin, launch ES File explorer from the application screen. ES File explorer consists of three tabs: a local tab that displays all the files in our phone, a LAN tab that displays all the devices on your local network, and an FTP tab that displays any FTP server on your network. Tap the menu button to bring up ES File Explorer menu, and tap the new button.

Scanning the network saves you from having to specify your computer IP address manually. Your phone will search for any accessible devices on your local network, and displays them under the LAN tab.

You should see all accessible shared folders on your local network.

Go back to the Local tab, and copy the files that you want to upload to your computer.

Copy as many files as you want and ES File Explorer will group these files in its clipboard area.

Go back to the LAN tab, tap the clipboard, and you should see all the files that you just copied.

Tap your menu button to bring up ES File Explorer's Context Menu.

Tap Operation, follow by paste, and ES File Explorer will upload all these files to your computer.

Sync Files through the Cloud

So far we've learned how to transfer files between your Android and your PC through WiFi. That's great, but what if your WiFi is out of range ? No Problem, just use DropBox to sync your files over the Internet. You can read our guide to DropBox if you're not familiar with this cool cloud-based service.
DropBox is an awesome application for sharing your files with all your computers and devices that you can use for almost anything. We use DropBox to sync files in our iPhone and iPod touch, print important files over the internet, and trigger torrent downloads when we're away from our home computer. Whatever your need is, there is always a hack to appropriate DropBox in any way you like it.

That's all folks ! Hopefully you have learned how to make the most out of your WiFi connection to transfer files between your Android and your computer. Feel free to discuss any other Android tips and tricks with the other fellow readers in the comments section.