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Birds PRO – Android Bird Guide

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 28th, 2011

Birds PRO by Nature Mobile is a stylish and easy-to-use bird breed identification guide with an integrated picture and sound quiz game. The app allows the user to read fascinating information and learn facts about 230 common European bird breeds; browse more than 1500 professional bird pictures; listen to more than 460 spectacular calls and songs and find your favorite bird.


Though many of the screen shots feature the Deutsch language, the app is also available in English. You can select English when the app starts up or you can click Info and select the language you want.

Due to the high-resolution of the bird images and sounds (about 150MB), this Android bird guide needs to be installed on the SD card – which means you wont need the Internet to access the resources on the app.

You can try the free version before spending the $14.28 asking price for this app. Fortunately; you can uninstall the free version without loosing any pictures in the full version.


As mentioned before, the bird guide has over 230 common European bird breeds with 1,500 high quality pictures of the male and female birds, their young and their eggs. There are also 468 recordings of calls and songs.

The app allows you to identify birds by their appearance, size, feathering, beak type, and you can also filter them by geographic range and habitat.

Users can submit their own pictures for possible inclusion in the app. To submit your own pictures visit the app’s official website at  The developer promises to consider every serious, curious, and hilarious picture — high-quality pictures may be included in future updates. QR code

Android Podcast Apps – Top 3

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 12th, 2011

Android podcasts apps are a great way to listen to your favorite audio and video non-streamed web casts. The following Android podcast apps are some of the best.

Pocket Casts

This a premium Android podcast manager, of such it offers much better performance and features than most other Android podcast applications. For one, podcasts are monitored for new content not by the app, but Pocket Casts’ servers. Other notable features include:

  • Servers monitors your feeds, so your phone doesn’t use bandwidth unnecessarily
  • Stream or download over 3G or WIFI without file size limits
  • Background downloading
  •  Podcast widgets
  • Provides notification when new episodes are available (optional)
  •  Landscape and large screen support
  • Quick skip feature, one tap of the screen and you can jump forward or backward through your podcasts
  •  Download to SD Card or phone
  •  Search or browse for podcasts by categories URL or popularity
  • OPML podcast import
  • Supports audio and video podcasts
  • Download resume support allows you to continue a download after the data connection was broken

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BeyondPod Podcast Manager

This is another powerful Android podcast client. For those who are concerned about bandwidth requirements of downloading podcasts and its effects on your mobile data bill you can schedule the app to use Wi-Fi only.

  • Complete control of how many podcasts are downloaded and how long old versions are kept
  • Downloads new content in the background while you enjoy other feeds
  • Provides full control over what is being downloaded
  • Podcast downloads can be scheduled to occur at a specific time, only when connected to WiFi, or only when the phone is charging.
  • Can automatically turn on WiFi, turn off it back off once feeds are done updating
  • Integrated podcast player tracks what podcasts you have listened to, and supports automatic podcast deleting at the end of playback to save space.
  • Has a configurable TiVo style commercial skip
  • Home screen widget that gives one-button access to your podcasts
  • Integration with Google Reader allows you to easily import your Reader subscriptions
  • Supports Atom, RSS 2.0, RDF and OPML feeds.

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DoggCatcher Podcast Player

This is another battery and data plan friendly Android podcast app. The app can make recommendations based on your feed subscriptions, and is in fact one of the most highly rated Android podcast clients. It has an integrated audio and video player to help you listen and view to your heart’s content.

Some feature highlights

  • Searching podcast and news directories
  • Importing for Google Reader/Listen
  • Easy to find new podcasts/feeds
  • Fully automated download and cleanup of media files
  • Offline playback of audio and video
  • Categories for feeds
  • Variable speed playback (this requires the purchase of a third party audio library named Presto)
  • Supports RSS 1.0, 2.0, and ATOM
  • Automatically updates feeds, download and delete media on a configurable interval

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Android Apps for Australia

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 4th, 2011

The Android platform has no doubt become one of the most popular mobile platforms, with solutions to meet the wants and desires of most consumers. In this roundup we highlight some of the top ranked Android apps among Australian users.

Australia TV Time

This is an ad-supported TV guide app for Australian FreeView TV channels. Use the app to list available channels in your region, programs that are now playing and detailed program information for the next 4 days.

Some of the channels that you can access include: ABC1-3, ABC News 24, SBS ONE, SBS HD, SBS TWO, Seven, 7TWO, 7mate, Nine, GEM, GO!, One, TEN, ELEVEN, TVS, Prime …, and others depending on your region.

Weather Australia

This is a free (no ads) Android app for Australia that provides weather information from Australia’s National weather agency (the Bureau of Meteorology).  The app features:

  • Weather observations and forecasts for hundreds of locations around Australia and Antarctica
  • You can automatically detect or manually select your location
  • Animated rain radars (range: 64km, 128km, 256km, 512km where available)
  • Animated wind radar (where available)
  • National animated rain radar
  • Past 24-hour or 72-hour weather observations
  • Extended range forecasts for regional locations
  • Rain probability forecasts
  • Current UV values for capital cities, Newcastle and Townsville
  • 4 widget themes to suit your home screens
  • 4 in-app background themes

AG Aussie News FREE

Access a mobile version of Australia’s major newspapers. The app is not pretty but you will have access to some of Australia’s best newspapers including: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, Brisbane Times, Brisbane Times, The Australian Business Review…(and many more). You can also add papers from more than 20 countries and customize the app with animations and backgrounds.


With this app you can do a quick search to find the cheapest fuel in your current location or an area you will be traveling through. The app contains gas prices for the entire metro area, the Northern, Southern and East suburbs as well as the Hills. Once you find a station with good prices long press it to have Google Maps navigate you there.

NRL Live Scores League Now

Get free and live NRL scores on you phone with this sport info app. With the app working as it should you will get instant score updates with score type and name of scorer, while the game is in progress. The app will also give you access to the:

  • The latest news, weather forecast, injuries, odds, expert tips, winning streak and tipping trends for every game.
  • The NRL ladder and win/loss history for teams.

The app provides information on the following NRL teams: Brisbane Broncos, Bulldogs, Canberra Raiders, North Queensland Cowboys, Cronulla Sharks, Rabbitohs, St George Illawarra Dragons, Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans, Manly Sea Eagles, Melbourne Storm, Newcastle Knights, Pernith Panthers, New Zealand Warriers, Wests Tigers, Queensland Maroons and NSW Blues.

Melbourne Train Trapper

Has complete timetable guide for the Melbourne Metro Train Network. The app allows you to find the trains times for any Metro train service. For your convenience Train Trapper can detects your location and displays the arrival times for the nearest station. You can also save your favorite stations so you can quickly get information on the next arrival and scheduling information. Here is a full features list:

  • Shows upcoming trains for your nearest or selected station
  • Filter based on line and train direction
  • Add stations to your favorites for quicker station selection and also quick views of when the train will arrive
  • Heaps of customizing settings available including ‘Home Lines’, which will automatically filter the display to those lines when the app starts up
  • Search for trains at any time of day and between up to 2 train lines at a time
  • Perform a long press on any train from the main screen to set a reminder or inform other users of a train delay.

Google Maps now has a Live Weather Layer

Posted By Steve McFarlane on August 19th, 2011

You can now use Google Maps to see live weather conditions in your current location and most other places that are of interest to you. It doesn’t appear as if the Android version has the live weather just yet, but it should only be a matter of time before the feature is added. To turn on the weather layer hover over the widget in the upper-right corner and select the weather layer.

Here is a video showing the new feature in action:

Android VPN Apps Resources and Configuration Guide

Posted By Steve McFarlane on August 19th, 2011

Here are some of the best Android VPN apps, configuration guides and resources we could find.

1 VPN – Connect in 1 Tap

This app seeks to make it possible for users to have multiple VPN accounts and to easily connect to each without having to enter a password each time. ‘1 VPN’ allow you to establish a VPN connection with a single tap. In addition, the Tasker/Locale plug-in feature lets you establish automatic VPN connections. The app also supports some protocols that you don’t find in many VPN apps, including PPTP, L2TP and L2TP/IPSec.


  • Supports multiple VPN accounts.
  • Save username/passwords for easy sign on
  • VPN widget that allows one tap connect and disconnect
  • Automatic reconnection, when connection is lost
  • “Keep alive pings”
  • Add shortcut to start/restart a specific VPN
  • Connect automatically, using Tasker/Locale plug-in
  • Import/export VPN profile allows for easy backup and large-scale deployment
  • Supports: PPTP, L2TP, L2TP/IPSec CRT (L2TP secrets and IPSec PSK are not supported). You can still use this 1 VPN to save the password, but you have to connect via the Android VPN app.

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PandaPow VPN Android VPN app

If you are looking for a way to browse the web without being restricted by firewalls and content filters, you may be interested in the PandaPow VPN client.  Because the software hides the IP address of your smart phone and computer behind the PandaPow servers, you will appear to websites as surfing from the US. Therefore, content filters and firewalls won’t be able to detect what kind of web related content you are accessing.

The choice of name for this app (Panda…) gives a clear indication as to the censored market that this app is aimed at, but it will serve anyone who wants to surf anonymously.

The app is not cheap though, if you want to cover your tracks with this app you will need to spend from $9 per month to $84 per year for the service. QR Code

Android VPN Limitations

There are some limitations that Android natively places on VPN solutions. If you need help getting your VPN to work or need to inform yourself of some of the limitations of VPN on Android, have a look at this resource: How to set up a VPN server for Android Clients.

For more hands-on approach to configuring IPSec on your Android have a look at the following video:

How to setup VPN on Android – L2TP

Great Android Apps for Astronomers

Posted By Steve McFarlane on August 19th, 2011

Here are some apps that astronomers, nature lovers and those who are generally fascinated by the beauty of the cosmos will find fascinating.

Star Chart

Using state of the art GPS technology, an accurate 3D universe, and all of the latest high tech functionality, Star Chart calculates (in real time) the current location of every star and planet that is visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are, even in broad daylight. All you need to do is point and view. Alternatively, you can look around the sky using finger gestures instead of pointing the phone to the heavens.

Other notable features include:

  • Supports dynamic device orientation viewing
  • Depicts 5,000 visible stars in both the northern and southern hemispheres
  • Displays all the planets in our solar system, plus the sun and the moon
  • Displays all 88 constellations, with constellation imagery based on artwork by 15th century astronomer Johannes Hevelius
  • Includes entire Messier catalogue of exotic deep sky objects
  • Tap on anything in the sky and get the facts on what you are looking at, including distance and brightness
  • Very powerful zoom function, lets you view the sky in extra detail, using intuitive finger gestures
  • Star Chart displays only the sky objects you are interested in
  • Allow you to view the sky underneath the horizon. So now you can see where the sun is, even at night
  • Manually set your location to find out what the sky looks like from anywhere in the world

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Google Sky Map

Using Google Sky Map is a great way to identify heavenly bodies you have always wanted to have more info on. If you see a star that you want to know the name of, simply load Sky Map and point your Android directly at the star, it will tell you if it is a star, planet or galaxy. If you want to see just planets you can turn off the respective layer. Layers you can play with include stars, planets, horizon and constellations.

If you know exactly what you are looking for you can also do a text search. Once you type in the name of the object you want to find a prompt will come up showing you where to point the phone; once the phone is pointed in the right direction Sky Map will highlight it with a blinking circle. You may find it odd to be pointing your Android at the ground to find a star or planet but that’s normal if you are on the opposite site of the planet in relation to the hemisphere that the object is currently visible from. QR Code

NASA (APOD) Lite Live Wall

This app brings the vivid worlds of space, stars and the cosmos to your phone. We think you will like the NASA Picture of the Day Live Wallpaper feature.

Other features include:

  • Get daily images and random pictures from the NASA (APOD) photo archive
  • Cache photos to SD card
  • Photos have link to detail information
  • Rate individual photos, this influences the likelihood of the photo being shown to you again
  • Customize update and pan/zoom speeds

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Science Facts

This ad supported science app contains thousands of science related facts (Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Biology, Inventions etc). The app does have some Astrology bits as well. Some facts and trivia are a bit off, but the app still has lots of useful bits.

  • Lots of facts
  • Intuitive UI
  • Next/Previous fact
  • Random fact

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NASA Images

Has over 500 NASA Space Images with a full description of each. Our only wish is that our phone’s display was a bit larger so we could better enjoy all the color that pops from these images. By the way, you can set an image as the wallpaper if you see one you like. QR Code

Where is Io

‘Where is Io’ is an Android Astronomy app that calculates information on bodies in the solar system. The app also presents some interesting and informative facts such as the radius of planets, their mass and their gravitational pull as well as rise and set visualizations for all the planets. It would have been nice if the app allow the user to specify their current location (hemisphere, time zone) so that the information would be accurate in all locations, but serious astronomers should find the app interesting. QR Code