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Saturday, 28 May 2011

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the Hassle

Android phones are spectacular little devices because they're able to so much that others simply can't, but one big snag in that greatness is that many of those best features require that the phones be rooted. Whether you plan on installing custom ROMs or not, you may want to root your phone just to use the great apps that require root access. Here are the ten most essential apps available for Android that require root.
Rooting, for those of you that don't know, means giving yourself root permissions on your phone. It's similar running programs as administrators in Windows, or running a command with sudo in Linux. With a rooted phone, you can run more apps or install custom versions of the Android operating system. Note that there's a big difference between installing a custom ROM on an Android phone and just rooting it. Custom ROMs may offer plenty of features that aren't available direct from the manufacturer, but most of them can be added to a rooted phone by simply installing the right apps. That's what we're after today.
If you haven't rooted your phone yet, but would like to know more about the process, be sure to check out our always up-to-date guide to rooting Android phones.

Superuser Allows Other Apps Root Access

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleSuperuser is the first app a user should install after rooting, if the rooting method didn't do it already. "Rooting" a phone allows a user to establish total control over the device, but Superuser is the app that provides the button for that control. With Superuser installed, any app that needs root privileges to run will have to ask permission, and an informative pop-up will display with the option to give it those privileges. This app is an absolute must for any of the other apps on the list to even run.

Titanium Backup Automates System Backups

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleTitanium Backup is an enormously useful app. Not only can it backup apps, but it can backup apps and all their data, and it can delete apps—even system apps or bloatware. Making regular backups of all your apps (and their data) can ensure that if you ever really screw up, say in trying to install a custom ROM, that you can still have everything the way you left it should you need to wipe the entire phone and start from scratch. For more detailed information, see our full guide on using Titanium Backup.

ShootMe Takes Screenshots with a Shake

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleIt's a sad fact that Android ships with no way to take screenshots. ShootMe is an extremely simple, user-friendly app that rectifies that situation, but it needs the phone to be rooted first. ShootMe's greatest feature is that it allows you to choose from several options in deciding what the trigger should be for the screenshot to take place—whether it's shaking the phone, covering the light sensor, or just yelling at it (my favorite).

Metamorph Applies Visual Themes to Anything

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleMetamorph is a small app that allows you to theme any part of Android by applying simple patch files. Learning how to make your own themes isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world, but most users don't bother—there are plenty to choose from, made by other users who are absolutely nuts about theming. Parts of the system that can be themed by Metamorph include the lockscreen, menu screens, individual apps, or just about anything else that's ever displayed on the screen. It's all possible.

Adfree Blocks Ads Anywhere on Your Phone

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleAdfree may actually be the greatest root-essential app available on Android, and it's one that you never see unless it needs updating. All Adfree does is block ads, but it does it for everything on the phone. Since the app works by blocking ad-serving sites at the IP address level (by modifying the phone's Hosts file), it doesn't slow your system down, and it does a remarkably good job. Even if you don't mind ads in your browser, using Adfree makes "free" apps from the Market much more tolerable, since most of them have pop-up ads that tend to ruin the experience otherwise.

SSH Tunnel Encrypts All Internet Traffic on Your Phone

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleRecently mentioned SSH Tunnel is an app that allows an Android phone to connect to the internet using an ssh tunnel for a completely secure connection. It's great for those times when you've got no data signal, stuck at work or a coffee shop that only has public Wi-Fi available, and you need to be sure that nobody is snooping your sensitive personal information as you connect to sites like Gmail or Facebook.

Tasker Can Automate Almost Any Task

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleTasker by itself doesn't require root privileges to run, but some of its more impressive features do. Giving Tasker room to do what it does best is definitely a good thing, since it can practically automate your entire phone given the right amount of power. Rooting your phone is the only way to give it that kind of access.

SetCPU Controls the Speed and Behavior of Your Phone's Processor

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleSetCPU has been, is still, and will probably be for quite some time the de facto tool for controlling a rooted Android phone's processor speed. SetCPU allows the user to exert total control over how fast, or slow, the processor runs at any given point in time. As an example, SetCPU can force the processor to sit at its lowest setting whenever the screen is turned off, but to use a range between 240MHz and 806MHz as needed while the phone is awake. For phones that have the ability to drastically overclock, SetCPU can help ensure that they don't overheat by keeping watch on the temperature, and acting accordingly. Overclocking or not, battery savings and overall performance can be greatly enhanced using this app.

Busybox Adds True Linux Commands to the Android System

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleBusybox is often called "the Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux," because that's what it basically is. It's not an actual app that you run, but instead provides all the Linux/UNIX commands that we know and love. Without the commands installed, the barebones "Linux" that Android runs on top of can't really do too much, making apps like Terminal Emulator nearly worthless.

Wireless Tether Turns Your Phone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

The 10 Best Android Apps that Make Rooting Your Phone Worth the HassleFinally, Wireless Tether. For many users, this feature is the single most important thing in the world of mobile devices, so having the ability to use it is a must. Wireless Tether turns an Android phone, regardless of carrier, into a full blown W-Fi hotspot for any nearby devices that need one. It's as simple as that, but only rooted phones can use it.

There are plenty of other apps out there that only work with rooted phones, and it doesn't seem likely that the carriers are ever going to allow phones on their networks to sell with root capabilities baked in. If you want the added functionality of these apps, there's just no way around it. You've got to go rooted. So, if you're convinced, head over to the rooting guide to see what's required to set your phone free.
Know of any other great apps for rooted Android phones? Have a personal favorite that's not on the list? Share them in the comments!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Business Card Reader: Easily Add A Contact To Your Android Phone


When you receive a business card, the usual way is to manually enter the contact information to your phone book. If you have collected tens (or hundreds) of business cards in a networking session, you probably have to spend several hours entering the details. If you have a smartphone (such as iPhone or Android), one solution is to use a business card reader to automatically scan and add the contacts to your phone book.

Business Card Reader (BCR) for Android is one app that can take a photo of your business card, parse the information into various fields and add the contacts info to your phone book. The usage is simple and it works pretty well in this testing.

Download the Business Card Reader (market link, cost US$4.99)

Open the app. You should see the main screen of Business Card Reader.

bcr-main

Tap on the option "Take Photo". Your camera will load and you will be prompted to take a picture of the business card.

Once you have taken the photo, it will scan the business card for contact info.

bcr-scanning

The parsed data will be displayed and you can check if the information are correct.

From here, you can either tap "Done" (top right hand corner) to add as a new contact to your phone book, or tap "Merge Contact" (bottom left corner) to merge this contact with existing contact. Lastly, you can also tap the "LinkedIn" button (bottom right corner to view the contact info in LinkedIn.

bcr-contact-info

That's it for adding new contacts from business cards.

Back to the app main screen, there are also features like selecting a picture from your gallery to parse contact info (useful when people email you a scanned copy of their business cards) and the Card Holder where you can view contacts added using the BCR.

Caveats

On the whole, BCR is easy to use. There are two caveats though: big file size and the inability to move to SD card. The file size of BCR is about 22MB and the inability to move to SD card can be a problem to those who have a small internal storage space in their phones.

Other than that, Business Card Reader has worked really well in my Android phone.

Business Card Reader is available for iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry and Windows Mobile as well.

Business Card Reader for Android (market link)



Use Kernel Manager For Android To Flash Custom Kernels Easily



If you're running a custom ROM on your Android phone, you may have thought about flashing a custom kernel. A kernel, by definition, is the central component of an operating system. What a kernel does for your phone is manage the software and hardware. Depending on your kernel, you may have faster performance, improved battery life etc. Since there are different custom kernels that are capable of different things, it is nice to have the option of using kernels other than the stock one on your phone. Up until now flashing a custom kernel requires the user to reboot their phone into recovery and manually flashing the file. This process has now been made much simpler with the Kernel Manager app for Android.

If you've ever used the famous ROM Manager you'll find Kernel Manager to be similar. Like ROM Manager, Kernel Manager comes in two varieties – premium and basic. The premium version comes without ads. The basic version however, has everything that you need to make flashing a new kernel a quick and painless process.

Head over to the Android Market and download Kernel Manager.

KernelManager-MarketDownload

After the app has gained root permission, you will be presented with a screen similar to ROM manager. A list of kernels available for download will be present as well as further information regarding each kernel. It should be mentioned that the number of available kernels depends on how many developers choose to submit their work via this application. Despite this, there are still a fair number of kernels available for download.

KernelManager-MoreInfo

In order to install a kernel, scroll down to find a kernel that matches your needs. Read the descriptions of each kernel carefully to make sure that it matches what you are looking for. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to always make a backup of your current ROM with its kernel in the event that something should go wrong.

After you have selected a kernel, press the button labeled "More Info" and you will be brought to the kernel's menu. A button located on the bottom of the screen will allow you to download and flash the kernel. The flashing automation is really where this application helps users manage their custom ROM and kernel. After download of the kernel has finished, the app will automatically boot into recovery and take care of all flashing requirements. It will even clear all caches to ensure that your phone behaves correctly upon reboot.

KernelManager-InstallKernel

Kernel Manager is a great tool for anyone running a rooted phone with a custom ROM. The Pro version can be had for $3.99. This is not an unreasonable asking price considering all that the app is capable of. Ultimately Kernel Manager is a power user's dream for managing their phones software and hardware. It provides the easiest and simplest way of installing a custom kernel.



Tuesday, 3 May 2011

How to Sync Android’s SD Card With Dropbox


On maketecheasier i read about dropbox and automatic sync from your android phone:



Dropbox for Android is easily one of our favorite mobile app. It allows you to download and view your files in your Dropbox folder and also upload files to the server. It is best suited for people (like us) who like to work on the move. If there is anything that we are unsatisfied with, it have to be the inability to sync your local files (in SD card) back to the server.

When you open a file from your Dropbox folder in Android, the file will be downloaded to your SD card and you can then view/edit the file with a file manager. However, after you have made changes to the file, the Dropbox app does not automatically sync it back to the server. The only solution is to manually upload the file. This is definitely not a good solution.

A good solution to overcome this is to use DropSpace, another app to do the stuff that Dropbox suppose to do, but didn't. DropSpace allows you to create a link between a folder in your SD card and a sub-directory in Dropbox. Once the link is created, it will auto sync the files from/to your Dropbox.

Download DropSpace from the market (it's free)

Connect your Dropbox account to DropSpace.

dropspace-login-to-dropbox

Tap the "Manage Sync List" button to set up the sync.

dropspace-dashboard

Navigate to the directory on your SD card that you want to link and long tap on it to add to the sync list.

dropspace-select-directory

Next, it will show your Dropbox folder and you can do the same thing (long tap on the folder) to complete the sync configuration.

Lastly, go back to its main screen and tap the "Sync Now" to start the sync.

dropspace-sync-now

By default, you have to manually tap the "Sync Now" button everytime you want it to perform a sync. However, you can set it as a service and get it to run at a regular interval. You can also configure whether to remove the remote files when the local files are deleted.

dropspace-run-as-service

Syncing notes to Dropbox

If all you want is to create notes on your Android phone and have them synced to your Dropbox, Epistle is one such app that allows you to do so. With Epistle, you can create simple notes and it will automatically synced to the Epistle folder in Dropbox. I have found this to be extremely handy, especially when I need to jot down some ideas while on the move.

dropbox-epistle

Epistle also supports two-way sync. That means, if you create a text file on your desktop and drop it into the Dropbox Epistle folder, it will show up in your Android phone as well.

Until the Dropbox team implements the synchronization feature in their mobile apps, we will have to make use of the above mentioned apps to get things done. They might not be the most feature-complete app, but they get the jobs done.





OMG ubuntu app for Android

It’s finally time to unveil the official OMG! Ubuntu! Android app to you all!
Now you can get the latest Ubuntu news, tips, interviews, how-tos and more from your favourite Ubuntu site wherever you are on your Android phone.

Features:

  • Stay up to date with the latest articles from OMG! Ubuntu!
  • Read comments and post your own
  • Share articles via Twitter, Facebook and more
  • Use swiping gestures to change articles
  • Cache the articles for offline reading
  • Filter posts by category
  • Pull down list to refresh articles
  • Adjustable font size
  • Haptic feedback
  • In-frame article viewing
DSC02108 DSC02110 DSC02113

Help us test it

We’ve been working hard on this for the last month and a half, and although it’s fairly stable, we think it’s ready for wide scale testing. Disclaimer: It’s an alpha version.
Future feature update ideas include better social integration, highlighting of featured posts, speed optimizations, a homescreen widget, optional new post notifications, and more.

If you’ve got an idea for a new feature you’d like to see, then constructive feedback is very much welcome either in the comments on this article or preferably on the Get Satisfaction page for the app.
You can also just click the Feedback tab on the right hand side of the site to report an issue/feedback/ask a question about any of our products at any time =)

Download

It’s available for no charge in the Android Market.
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Alternatively simply search for “OMG! Ubuntu!” on your Android phone and punch the button to install.