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Review – Microsoft’s on{x} App for Android

Posted By Guest Contributor on September 19th, 2012

Microsoft’s Israeli arm recently released an Android app called on{x} that allows users to build recipes to automate tasks on their phone.

After logging in via Facebook, users have the option of choosing from a short list of recipes (it’s all feeling a little like ifttt.com), which can be tweaked.

They can also create (code) their own recipes using JavaScript APIs. Sample code looks like this:
device.screen.on(“unlock”, function(){
var notification = device.notifications.createNotification(‘Hello world!’);
notification.show();
console.log(‘Hello World notification was sent to the phone’);
});

Getting Started & Ease of Use

on {x} automates, but has a long way to go. Although there is a detailed ‘Getting Started’ section that covers most of the basics for creating recipes to suite your individual needs, you will need to be a bit of a geek to get it working.

Just scrolling through this information section can be overwhelming if you are eager, but lacking a little JavaScript base knowledge.

The problem with creating your own recipes is that you can’t do it from your phone. For that you need to log onto your computer which, for persons like me, is a small issue.

I prefer to be able to do things as I think of them, instead of writing a ream of  To Do’s and maybe remembering to look at them.

Chances are, when I do remember, I will, once again, be away from my computer. If I’m going to spend time creating recipes on my computer to use on my phone, I would rather use a site like http://ifttt.com which has 1743 pages of recipes and an incredibly easy creation method; no coding skills needed.

My Impressions

Perhaps, once the beta phase is over – a phase aimed primary at developers– and there are more recipes that users can easily adjust to get results that are locally and lifestyle relevant, we will be able to get practical solutions for our cellphones.

Of course, there are other options, like Tasker and Locale, which, while tricky to use and aren’t free, don’t require coding, but they lack that Microsoft allure that those of us curious about the company find so irresistible.

All in all, on{x} is a great first attempt, but has a long way to go if Microsoft is aiming to appeal to more than dedicated JavaScript coders. The app is available for free in the Google Play Store.

This was a guest post by Charlotte Jackson

Apps for Backing up Your Android Contacts

Posted By Steve McFarlane on December 1st, 2011

Here are five apps that can backup your contacts and then some.

Backup to Gmail

Because this app syncs your contacts, calendar, SMS and Picasa album to Gmail, its users have what amounts to an automatic contacts backup solution. Owing to the fact that your SD card can be lost, along with any backup that has been stored thereon, this solution can give even greater security to your backups by putting it on the cloud where it can be access at anytime and easily used to restore content and other phones settings to another devices should the need arise.

Anti-virus Free

This suite of security software will protect your Android from viruses, malware and exploits in real time. In addition to being able to protect your phone from malware, Anti-Virus Free can:

  • Scan apps, settings, files, and media in real time
  • Find/locate a lost or stolen phone via Google maps
  • Backup and restore contacts, apps and other data
  • Lock and wipe the phone
  • Kill tasks that slow the phone down

Lookout Security & Antivirus

This Android antivirus app is more than a solution to protect your phone against viruses. Lookout can also:

  • Backup your call history, photos and contacts
  • Help you recover a lost phone
  • Remotely wipe the phone if it can’t be found and
  • Restore you backups to a new phone.

MyBackup Pro

You can schedule this app to periodically backup you apps and data to online servers or an SD card. In addition to being able to backup you contacts, the app can also backup your calendar, system settings, applications, photos, contacts, call log, bookmarks, SMS (text messages), MMS (message attachments), Home Screens (including shortcut positions), dictionary, music playlists, alarms, and more.

GO Contacts EX

This Android contacts app is a powerful tool that is ideal for replacing the stock Android Contacts and Dialer.

Other features worth mentioning include:

  • Quick find: by letter, name, company, keyword
  • Fast search of contacts even if you can’t remember a contact’s full name
  • Easily organize contacts using drag and group
  • Identified duplicate contacts by name, phone number or email and merge them
  • Backup and restore contacts to and from a SD card.

 

How to Get iPhone 4s Siri Like Features on Your Android

Posted By Steve McFarlane on October 18th, 2011

While Androids have always had voice control, how envious many Android fans must have been when the Apple guys previewed awesome Siri voice assistant on the new iPhone 4s. Siri has an incredible ability to understand and respond to questions and queries in natural language

A team from Dextra.com came together to build a Siri-like solution and accomplished the feat in 8-hours. According to them “in no time, we added voice input, text-to-speech, also a lot of hueristic humor into Iris. Not until late evening we decided on the name iris.”

The name is Siri in reverse; it means “Intelligent Rival Imitator of Siri”.

You can find an early version of the app on the Android Market. Use it to question your Android on any topic ranging from philosophy, to culture, to history, to science in a natural conversation style.

Remote Wipe Apps for Android Phones and Tablets

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 28th, 2011

The remote wipe feature exists to give mobile phone owners, companies and system administrators a way to wipe data from a device that contains important/sensitive information that should never get in the hands of others.

There aren’t many persons who know that every Android device contains a Master Clean command. The code is a simply security feature that was designed for corporations and entities that can implement the feature on their Microsoft Exchange servers and similar systems.

Fortunately consumers can still have access to this feature by installing an Android security app that has the remote wipe service.  Here are some of the best Android remote wipe apps.

Lookout

While other Android security app developers offer separate solutions for data backup, anti-virus protection and remote data wipe, Lookout provides an all-in-one solution for free. The solution allows you to see a map-based view of your phone’s current location and manage other features from the company’s web-based interface.

If the phone is lost you can opt to remotely delete all your contacts, photos, videos, emails and text messages using the web interface. You can then restore what you had deleted to a new phone, from the backups you had saved to MyLookout.com.

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Norton Mobile Security (Beta)

This is also a feature rich mobile security app that can be used to remotely lock, wipe or locate a phone, if it is misplaced, lost or stolen. The app also provides Norton-grade anti-malware protection, as well as call and SMS screening of unwanted callers.

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PhoneLocator Pro

This app has quite a few tricks up its sleeve, some of which include the ability to:

  • Get notifications about phone numbers that a thief is calling or receiving calls from as well as the phone’s location when the calls were made
  • Receive a notification if the SIM card is changed
  • Find your nearby phone by making it ring at maximum volume, even if it is left in silent or vibrate mode

The app also has some other advance features that are only available on devices running Android 2.2 and above. These features include the ability to:

  • Remotely lock and/or wipe the phone
  • Lock the device if an unregistered SIM is detected
  • Lock the device when the display goes to sleep

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 Kaspersky Mobile Security 9

Kaspersky Mobile Security is a comprehensive security solution for popular smart phone platforms such as Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Androids. Not only does the app provides real-time protection against viruses, but it also has other powerful security features as well. Some of which include:

  • Lost or Stolen Phone Locator – sending a special SMS to the missing device, will cause it to respond by sending you a Google Maps link that pinpoints its exact location.
  • Make the phone unusable – You can also remotely block anyone from using the device and accessing its contents. Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 also gives you the option to remotely wipe that data.
    If you had planned ahead, you can also set a message that will be displayed when the phone is blocked; this should help anyone who finds the device to locate the rightful owner, if they are so inclined.
  • Privacy Protection – This feature secures your contacts and content from unauthorized access. Use this feature to hide your contacts and call logs just in case the phone gets in the wrong hands.
  • Call and SMS Filtering – Block unwanted calls and messages from certain numbers.

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Advanced Android Phone Trackers

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 26th, 2011

We covered some free trackers in another article, but those free cell Android trackers aren’t as feature-rich or reliable as the paid solutions we cover here.  These apps are good for locating a lost cell phone, tracking a family member and even collecting evidence for legal matters.

While one of the solutions that we cover here is good enough to be employed in professional surveillance work, all these apps are user-friendly and can be used by anyone who knows how to point-and-click.

Family Tracker by Fibercode

This app was originally developed for the iPhone to allow its users to track family members. Now the app is available on the Android platform, best of all, the Android version can be used to track iPhones and visa versa.

The app will even restart the tracking process if the phone is rebooted. Even though the app costs $4.99, there are no other fees to pay.

  • Remotely force updates without the user having to do anything
  • Stealthily request a location update from the remote device without the person being notified
  • No monthly or periodic fees
  • Track phones via the web
  • Find a lost or stolen phone
  • Force a misplaced phone to alarm even if the phone is on vibrate or silent
  • Track your vehicles, shipments, etc.

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PhoneLocator Pro

This app has quite a few tricks up its sleeve, some of which include the ability to:

  • Receive a notification if the SIM card is changed
  • Get notified about the phone numbers that the thief is calling or receiving calls from plus the phone’s position at the time of call
  • Find your nearby phone by making it ring at maximum volume, even if it is left on silent or vibrate mode

The following features are only available on Android 2.2 and above:

  • Remotely lock your device
  • Lock device if an unregistered SIM is detected
  • Lock device when display goes to sleep
  • Remotely wipe the device
  • Protection from being uninstalled

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Mobistealth

This cell phone tracking and monitoring software is a full feature application that does a very good job of tracking cell phones with ninja like prowess. We should tell you that this is not just a solution for Android phones. In fact, there are versions of the software for all the major mobile phone platforms (Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows phone and Blackberry).

If the double-digit monthly growth rate of Mobistealth is any indicator, it’s serving its customers well, or at the least is meeting the needs of its customers.

Mobistealth packages start from $39.99. Of course, it is up to consumers to decide what package of features they need. In any case, Mobistealth’s list of features include the ability to:

  • Secretly record, download and listen to phone calls
  • Download call history
  • Track phones from the web
  • Stealthily request the current location of the phone
  • Remotely wipe data from a lost or stolen phone
  • View the duration of each call made from the phone
  • Retrieve call, picture and video logs from the phone
  • Perform reverse phone lookup on numbers to and from which calls are made
  • Get notification of a SIM card change with details on the new SIM card
  • If GPS is not working the software can track the phone using information from the nearest cell phone towers
  • Automatically resumes tracking even after a reboot
  • Has solution for Tablets
  • Find a lost or stolen phone

Install/more info

 In Our Opinion

As you can see these Android cell phone tracking solutions are feature rich and do much more than the average consumer may need, they are in fact a cut above the limited feature set of free phone trackers.

That said, it is up to you to decide if the more powerful features and increase reliability of these apps are worth the fees consumers are asked to pay – from our experience and standpoint, they are.

Source: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/CompanyFocus/is-your-smart-phone-spying-on-you.aspx

Best Android Camera Apps

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 26th, 2011

These apps are proven to be some of the best Android camera apps based on general user feedback and their feature-set.

Camera 360

This camera app works so well you may never use the default camera app again. Turn your Android phone into as near a professional camera as it can be with this camera app’s special effects and features that include LOMO, HDR, black and white, axis shift, draft and ghost to name a few. This app is free download using this QR code.

CamScanner -Phone to ScannerCamscanner - Phone To Scanner

Scan and manage documents by turning an Android into a document scanner. Whether the app is used to scan text from a magazine, or record receipts for accounting purposes, this app is more than useful; it allows the user to conveniently scan things in instances where access to a scanner is not available or forbidden.

The app uses an auto crop algorithm to ensure that scans are clear and don’t contain too large a boarder or blank space around the edges. The app can create a PDF, share and upload to popular services such as Dropbox. QR code

Retro Camera

With Retro Camera you can take old-school pictures. You can use the app to produce old looking pictures with vintage vignetting, film scratch, black and white & cross processing effects for that off-the-hip analog look. The app was inspired Lomo, Holga, Polaroid, Diana, the toy cameras and Hipstamatic. Retro Camera is a free app.  QR code

HDR Camera+

Allow you to take great photos regardless of the lighting condition. The HDR photography technique requires that several photos be take of the same scene at different exposures and then precisely aligned to highlight the best details of each image. HDR Camera+ precisely manages the process with tone mapping, handshake compensation and settings to control contrast, micro-contrast, color vividness, exposure etc.   QR code

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Android Spy Camera App: SECuRET SpyCam

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 26th, 2011

This Android spy camera solution can turn your Android phone or remote camera into a motion triggered SpyCam. Your phone or remote camera will auto-capture (still photo or video) any motion that is within its field of vision, and then save or email what it has captured.

This spy camera app can be used as an effective surveillance solution, which is evidenced by the fact that it has already caught several criminals in the act of stealing cars and breaking into houses.

It can also be used to take candid snapshots of your unsuspecting friends – hopefully they wont lose their sense of humor when you reveal the footage you have of them. What you use this Android spy app for is entirely up to you; just make sure you do so within the confines of you local laws.

Features:

  • Hide your phone and it will take motion triggered photos or videos
  • You can connect a web cam or another Android device and use that as the camera instead of your own phone but you will need the SECuRET LiveStream app
  • Use the disguise mode and touch screen locking to make the phone undetectable
  • Can automatically email or Tweet what was captured so you don’t need to look at the phone to see what has been happening
  • Advanced settings to tweak performance and timings
  • If you are running Android 2.3 or above you can use the front or back camera at will
  • Choice of photo and video resolutions, including full resolution photos and HD videos (requires Android 2.2 or above)
  • Quick start mode to start capturing right away
  • Burst capture, so you never miss a thing
  • Lots more features in development

Part of the SECuRET range of camera applications, which includes:

  1. SECuRET SpyCam – a motion triggered camera application
  2. SECuRET LiveStream – a WiFi-streaming camera application
  3. SECuRET RemoteControl – a SMS controlled camera application

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Android Video Streaming App Review: Camera WiFi LiveStream

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 26th, 2011

Camera WiFi LiveStream allows you to use your Android to stream video and audio to a network via Wi-Fi. The app can also be used to view and remotely control your Android from a web browser or another Android device

What it Can be Used for
LiveStream can be used to spy on people, can be used as a effective surveillance device or can be used just to have fun. You may use it as a baby monitor, but the developers have a another app that was specifically designed for monitoring babies that goes by the name “BabyCam Monitor” – the app does everything this Android video streaming app does but has more features that are specifically designed to monitor babies.

You can remotely monitor or manage your Android’s camera and even change streaming options, so you can choose whether or not to take photos or videos. However, it only works on WiFi networks for now (no 3G) and you must have Java installed on the web browser if you want to manage the app from a computer.

Notable Features:

  • Can stream real-time live video and audio from your Android’s camera to a web browser
  • When used with SECuRET SpyCam it is possible to also stream directly to another Android device
  • Very simple to use for everybody – no configuration needed and no intermediate/external servers involved
  • Remotely control the camera – decide whether to take full resolution pictures or HD videos (you will need to be running Android 2.2 or above though)
  • Choose to use the front and back camera (also requires Android 2.3 or above and a front camera)
  • Disguise mode and touch screen locking so your device can’t be detected
  • Advanced settings to tweak performance.

This app is part of the SECuRET range of camera applications, which includes:

  1. SECuRET SpyCam – a motion triggered camera application
  2. SECuRET LiveStream – a WiFi-streaming camera application
  3. SECuRET RemoteControl – a SMS controlled camera application

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WordPress for Android App Review

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 22nd, 2011

While you are better off customizing the look and feel of your WordPress blog using the larger screen of a computer, WordPress for Android enables website owners, content writers and webmasters to accomplish some basic and routine tasks from their Android devices.

Write Post and Pages on Your Mobile

If you want a way to easily write and publish a new post or page from your Android this is the app for you. WordPress for Android is an Open Source app that empowers you to write new posts and pages, edit content as well as manage comments and notifications.

View You Blog’s Stats and Moderate Comments

Administrators of self-hosted blogs can also use the app to view their stats, but will need to install the stats plugin. After you have done so, simply enter your login and select the ‘Stats’ tab to see the stats.

The app can also be used to manage discussions on your blog by giving you options to moderate comments and reply to the one you wish to engage.

Follow Other Blogs

It is not just a tool for webmasters though, the app can be used to follow another blog in a similar way you follow a RSS feed. If it is a WordPress.com blog you can just hit the “Follow” button in the app and you should start getting updates via RSS.

If the blog is not on WordPress.com, you can still follow it, provided that the blog has a RSS feed.

The app is constantly being updated with exciting new features; see what the developers are currently working on for the next WordPress for Android app at the developer blog.  Once there you can see how the new app is being developed and even request features you want included in the next release.  QR Code

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Android App Managers Review – AppMonster

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 22nd, 2011

AppMonster is one of the best Android app managers that is currently available. With it you can easily, and conveniently oversee all the apps you have installed, as well as any installation files that is present on your device.

With features such as backup and restore, uninstall, install from SD card, share and much more you can recover all your apps if something goes wrong with your phone or Tablet.

This is an excellent solution for switching you phone or restoring it after you do a reset. Notable features of this Android app manager include that ability to:

  • Backup apps to SD card
  • Restore apps from SD card
  • Do quick uninstalls
  • Sort apps by install-date, name and size
  • Show ad supported apps (AdMob)

If you get the PRO version you will have access to even more powerful features such as:

  • The ability to create and store multiple backup versions
  • Access to extended options like APP2SD, cache, permissions
  • Scan SD card for install-files
  • Share app-links via Facebook, Twitter and email.

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Top 5 Android App Managers

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 21st, 2011

Digging through the scores of icons that may be on your Android’s home screen isn’t the most efficient way of finding an app, neither is cycling through them, one-by-one, an efficient way of managing your apps.

We have assembled a list of some great apps for moving your apps around (SD card to phone to storage device), identify security threats, backing up and restore apps as well as simply finding the apps you use most often.

AppMonster Pro

If you have ever had the need to switch devices or reinstall all your old apps, then you should understand how frustrating and time consuming it can be find and reinstall all your previously installed apps. AppMonster is an application manager for Androids that enable you to better manage situations such the above.

It has features such as backup, restore, uninstall, install from SD card, share and much more.

With the backup of “Market-Links” feature you’ll get can get your apps back as well as manage update-notifications, which is a good tool to have after you’ve done a phone reset or switched to a new phone.

There is the free version, but the Pro version has some awesome features:

  • Automatically backup newly installed apps
  • Backup and restore apps to and from the SD card
  • Backup/restore .apk-files or Market-Links
  • Batch restore from SD card or from The Market
  • Multiple version backup
  • Quick uninstalling
  • Sort apps by install-date, name, size
  • Display apps with AdMob Ads
  • Scan SD card for install-files
  • Share app-links via Facebook, Twitter, email
  • Send backed up apps by email, Dropbox etc

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Quick App Manager

This is a powerful application manager that has a cache cleaner, history cleaner, task killer and an SD card app manager. It also has a security tool that displays non-system applications that are using potentially risky permissions.

The Cache cleaner can:

  • Clear all caches at once, even if the device is not rooted
  • Clear the cache of a specific app
  • Auto-clear all caches at a specified interval
  • Clear all from the widget
  • Build an ignore list to override the clear all process (root only)
  • Raise notifications when a specific cache size is reached
  • List apps by either: cache, total size, name, data, source, running, or system
  • Show application details page

You can use the Task killer to:

  • Stop system processes or applications
  • Kill selected apps
  • Soft kill or do a system force close
  • Add apps to an ignore list so you don’t inadvertently close important apps.

The History cleaner can clear the following histories:

  • Call logs
  • Maps search
  • Read SMS/MMS
  • Browser history
  • Market search
  • Gmail search
  • Quick search bar history
  • Clipboard data
  • Frequent calls
  • Navigation history
  • Youtube search

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Wave Launcher

With a simple swipe gesture you can bring up a wave-like view of an app’s status and launch various apps. Wave Launch can start up to 120 of your favorite or recently used apps.  You can also create app drawers so you can access all of them from the Wave; the wave works regardless of the apps that are currently running.

To bring up the Wave, simply touch the left of the screen and slowly swipe your finger up towards the middle of the screen. When you get towards the middle, the wave should appear.

  • Move your fingers along the wave to select the desired application
  • If you lift your finger from the display the currently highlighted app will be launched
  • Simply swiping the wave back to the bottom will exit the wave without launching an app.

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Gemini App Manager

This is another powerful Android app manager that can help you organize installed apps, identify problem apps, and kill the troublemakers.

Gemini App Manager includes a: risk indicator, app auto-run controller (root), task killer and uninstaller. It also has backup-apks to SD card, and a move-to-SD card features (Android 2.2 or later).

In expert mode, you can filter and sort packages by many useful parameters. It can also automatically call root function to enable better performance if the device is rooted.

Notable features:

  • Show app information such as apps that can send SMS, use the camera, or find your location (GPS)
  • Enable and disable auto-run conditions
  • A kill task process (kill all, or kill by selection)
  • Move apps from the phone to SD card in batches (Android 2.2 or later) and visa versa
  • Uninstall apps in batches
  • View application details
  • Clear app cache
  • Filter and sort apps by multiple criteria

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Circlelauncher light

This app works in a similar way to Wave Launcher, in that you can conveniently launch your favorite and most often used apps in style from an animated home screen widget.

As the name implies, Circlelauncher allows you to launch contacts, bookmarks, apps and the like with one click of the respective animated-icon on a circle style interface. You can use the included launcher icons or an icon from any CircleLauncher icon pack.

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Top 3 Android Tip Calculators

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 16th, 2011

Sure you can use a calculators to split a bill among a friends or colleagues, but it can get pretty tedious when you have to calculate a tax, separate drinks charges, tips and other add-on fees. If your brain is not as sharp, or your phone’s calculator is too limited, here are some apps to take the guesswork out of how much each person should pay.

Tip Calculator

This app simply calculates the how much each person needs to contribute to a bill. There is also an option to add a tip and calculate that as part of the bill split. It a pretty simple app that accepts the following fields: “Amount of Bill”, “Percentage to Tip”, “Total # of people”, “#People drinking (optional)”, and “Amount for drinks (optional)”. Once those figures are entered it will calculate:

  • Tip Amount
  • Total Per Person (w/o drinks)
  • Total Per Person (with drinks)
  • Total to Pay

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Tip Calculator (NO AD)-tip

This powerful and easy to use companion for calculating and dividing meal and drinking charges between any number of your friends. With over 250k downloads and above average user ratings (4.64), this is one of the best Android tip calculators you can find, not only because it has most of the tools you need to calculate tips, but also because it is a free app that doesn’t run Ads.

Features:

  • Easy to use
  • Can include and calculate a tax as well
  • Has a simple numeric soft keyboard for entering the numbers
  • Round bill and tip support
  • AD Free

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Tip Me (Tip Calculator)

Like the other tip calculators that we mentioned before, ‘Tip Me’ is a great way to determine how much each of your friends will pay after you’ve had your meal and drinks, but it has to features to make the process easier, more convenient and more flexible. For example, you can manually adjust how much each person is to pay, so someone else can pick-up the tab for someone who can’t cover their split.

Features:

  • Calculates in real time
  • Option to reset the fields with a shake of the device
  • Split bill between any # of people
  • Separately adjust each individual’s amount
  • Specify your own custom tip percent (set default in menu)
  • Rounding options
  • Calculate pre and post tax
  • Move to SD (Froyo)
  • Customize the look by choosing from three available fonts
  • Ad Free

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We searched for but could not find an Android tip calculator that integrates with a personal finance app so you can track how much you had spent on the split without manually entering it into another app. If you know of such a solution please let us know about it in the comments section.

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The Best Android OBD II Apps

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 15th, 2011

A good OBD ii solution can help you identify engine problems and perhaps save you hundreds by enabling you to diagnose and fix the problem yourself. They are also great for logging and analyzing your vehicles performance on track days.

The full capabilities of any Android OBD app will of course depend on what data is available through the vehicle’s ECU and the capability of the OBD interface you are using to capture that data and interfacing it with your Android. In any case, here are some of the best Android OBD11 apps.

Torque Pro (OBD2 & Car)

Torque is one of the most well-known and highly rated Android OBD 2 tool on the market. It allows you to connect to the vehicle’s ECU (engine management unit) to diagnose issues and see how well the vehicle is performing.

With its themes you can customize the overall look of the dashboard, while the included widgets and gauges display readings for the following:

  • Dyno Horsepower and Torque
  • Transmission Temperatures (vehicle dependant)
  • 0-60 speed timings
  • CO2 emissions
  • Alarms and warnings (i.e. engine temperature) with voice/speech overlay
  • Turbo boost for vehicles that support MAP and MAF sensors (VW, Golf, Audi, Seat etc)
  • GPS Speedometer/Tracking so you can see what was happening, at a point in time
  • Use the Track Recorder plugin to overlay a video with OBDII data

Because the app has a large fault code database you can save yourself money when certain issues crop up, in that it allows the user to figure out what is going on and in fact decide if an issue can be resolved as a DIY project. If you can’t figure out the problem yourself, you can send a log of data that Torque had collected to a friend or expert via email, or send a screenshot to Facebook, and other social media sites.

You can also use Torque Pro to graph the data it had collected; automatically send GPS tagged tweets to Twitter, and connect to third party apps with the AIDL API. The heads up display mode also makes night time driving a safer by making it easy for you to see the gauges if you have your Android mounted to the dashboard.

Torque Pro for Android costs $4.79; there is a feature-limited free version as well.

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aLapRecorder HD

A strong competitor to Torque is aLapRecroder HD. In fact, after seeing this app in action you may be tempted to think that its a racing game on account of the rich performance gauge assortments that overlay its videos and screen shots.

aLapRecorder can record video footage and overlay accelerometer data, vehicle speed, GPS position information, engine rpm, throttle position and more — vehicle and equipment dependent of course. If you combine these with a high definition video source you can create professional looking videos and even share them with friends, or upload them to the web.

Feature Highlights

  • Record/replay 720p HD videos
  • Support for external 5/10hz GPS receivers
  • Racing lap timer stopwatch
  • Speed, bearing and altitude display
  • OBDII ELM 327 data log interface to ECU
  • OBD data includes rpm, MAF, Throttle
  • Gear selection calculated
  • GPS satellite location lap overlay
  • Google Maps overlay
  • Google Maps Picture in Picture
  • Peak G-Meter indication
  • Export Blue Screen Video
  • Save or send charts in PNG format
  • Save or send tracks in GPX format
  • Save logged OBD2 data in CSV format
  • Calculate lap times
  • Calculate ave & max speeds
  • Calculate sector times
  • Calculate 0-60 mph & 0-100 mph split timing
  • Calculate power, torque and peaks
  • Import and review data in Google Earth

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Tip:

Before you purchase an OBD 2 solution ensure that your vehicle is compliant with the OBD 2 standard. Most vehicles built after 2000, will be, but you may be able to get it to work on vehicles built from as far back as 1996. To be sure, check the vehicle’s documentation or look to see if ‘OBD2’ is written on a big white label in the engine bay.

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Overview: Track Recorder Plugin for the Torque OBD App

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 15th, 2011

The Torque OBD app (free or Pro) is a powerful and exceptional useful Android auto diagnostic and performance application in its own right. The Track Recorder plugin adds video recording functionality

This plugin was specifically written for the ‘Torque’ Android OBD app; it allows you to overlay your car’s OBD2 data onto a video. This is a great way to see important performance numbers placed on top of video clips of you driving.
Some of the app’s more features include:

  • Watch the video you made with OBD data (speed, turbo boost, rpm) GPS, Accelerometers overlaid onto the video
  • Has semi-transparent Google Maps overlay that allows you can watch your position on a map and the video at the same time
  • Hi-Def/HD or Low-def video support
  • Recording dashboard layout that helps you customize the app according to your preference
  • New sensors and gauges being added with each update
  • Access to all the powerful features of the Torque OBD app

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See the video in action in this video:

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The Best Android Flashlight App

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 14th, 2011

Tiny Flashlight + LED is one of the best Android flashlight apps you will find.  It works so well we don’t see the point in looking at any other flashlight app; you could, but why should you..? Tiny really works so well.

You can use the app to turn on the phone’s led flash and use it as a flashlight. The app has two lighting options depending on the hardware specifications of your device. You can choose to use the LED flash, if your camera has one or turn up the brightness of the display to provide lighting if the phone doesn’t have a LED flash.

The ‘screen light’ options are the most flexible and interesting though. For example, you can set the display background to be fully white, for maximum brightness or choose multiple colors and have the display flash to give a nightclub like effect. The app can be used as a safety device as well.  If you have car trouble in a dark area, use the app to turn on a warning light, flashing traffic lights or police lights etc.

Feature summary:

  • It uses your phone’s camera led as a flashlight
  • Can also use the display as a light source
  • Has many useful light schemes such as traffic lights, warning lights, police lights, Color Light, etc.
  • Quick access widget

See the app in action below:

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The Best Android SMS Backup Restore Apps

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 14th, 2011

There are quite a few backup and restore tools on the Market; some are great while others are glorified copies of the originals. In any case we have managed to find some powerful solutions that can send or backup SMS messages to Gmail or simply create a backup of content on your Android phone or tablet to a SD card.

Backup to Gmail

As the name suggest this app Android backup and restore app lives to archive, or at least save a copy of your SMS, MMS and call logs. Once these are uploaded to Gmail they will be given the appropriate labels automatically (call log, MMS and SMS), so you don’t have to sort them manually.

Backup to Gmail is a lot like the free app SMS Backup+ but this one is notably more stable and user friendly. For the improved user experience that this app offers over SMS Backup+ you will have to pay $1.99.

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SMS Backup & Restore

This is another great app for backing up your phones contents. SMS Backup & Restore can be used to schedule and manually create backups in the XML file format to the phone’s SD card and send backups to an email account.

Once a backup is created you can use the app to view messages in the backup file, restore the messages or even view the backups in a browser. You can also set the app to add new messages to an existing backup file and specify how long the app should keep backups before deleting them.

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Other Apps You May be happy With

If you need to create a local backup of you phone contents ‘SMS Backup & Restore’ is one of your best options, especially since it is a free application. However, if you want something to send your messages to Gmail and don’t mind paying for an app that really works, we recommend ‘Backup to Gmail.’

There are other Android SMS backup apps that are available.  An advanced and feature rich option is VeryAndroid SMS Backup. In addition to being able to backup/restore messages between a computer and your Android, you will be able to send SMS from the computer as well as port messages you have on another phone, be it an iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile or Nokia phone.

 

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Android Data Usage Monitor App Review: Onavo

Posted By Steve McFarlane on September 12th, 2011

In a previous article we explained how to monitor Android’s data usage to ensure that you don’t spend more than you plan to on your mobile data plan. In this article we introduce a way to monitor the data usage of individual Android apps to ensure that you don’t overspend on you mobile data plan.

Onavo was first developed for iOS. On that platform the app is reported to cut mobile data by around 75%. That is a significant amount owing to the fact that overage charges and data caps can really sour the mobile experience. Now there is an Android version of Onavo, albeit one with a smaller basket of features.

Since the Android platform allows apps to use networks services in the background, getting information on an app’s data usage profile can help you identify data hogs. Onavo can help you cut back on data usage, even before the apps runs, with its Soluto like profile of how newly installed apps have been reported to use data by other Android users.

Onavo for Android is actually a ‘Lite’ version of the original. It doesn’t provide any data compression/data-shrinking just yet, however it does give visibility and control over the data consumption of apps running on Android devices.
Features:

  • Receive status notifications on apps that are hogging your data connection, alerts on when you are approaching your data cap and warnings when you are roaming
  • Blocks data hogs by restricting specific apps to Wi-Fi, or block your 3G data altogether once you exceed your data cap to avoid additional costs
  • Tap into the collective wisdom of Android users everywhere. This will help you keep your mobile data in check by letting you know whether an app is safe to use as soon as you download it
  • Data plan watchdog tracks, predicts and gives early alerts when usage reaches predefined limits or a data cap
  • Give tips on best value data plans from various carriers based on your actual usage

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Top 2 Android Data Usage Apps

Posted By Steve McFarlane on August 28th, 2011

Data usage monitors give Android users the tools they need to manage how apps use the Internet, analyze call and messaging patterns and ultimately control their monthly mobile Internet bills.  Here are two of the best Android data usage apps.

3G Watchdog Po

This app is a great way to ensure that you do not exceed your data usage cap, or at least ensure that you don’t rack-up a huge Internet bill without being aware of it.  3G Watchdog’s data counter monitors your Mobile Internet data usage, whether it is 4G, 3G, 3G, 2G, Edge or GPRS – it doesn’t count Wi-Fi though.

The app keeps the user updated on their data usage history via the notification bar, a detailed report page and data usage widgets. In order for the app to properly track your data usage you should set the counter at the beginning of the month. If you specify your data usage cap for the month the app will monitor your Internet usage, predict when you will exceed the data plan and alert you if you are about to exceed it.

If you had forgotten to reset the counter, at the beginning of the month, you can sync the counter with how much you have already used — the usage bar and alerts will let you know how much you have left on the plan for the rest of the month in addition to summaries of your data usage so far.

There is free version of 3G Watchdog, but the Pro edition brings advanced graphs, billing rules, predictions, and more configurable widgets. QR Code

PhoneUsage

There are indeed lots of Android data usage monitors, but few do a good job of monitoring not only data usage, but tracking calls, SMS, in addition to setting alerts and limits to ensure you don’t exceed your data cap.

PhoneUsage has data counters for Edge/3G/GPRS mobile data plans, so you can easily interpret and analyze your phone’s data usage. The app can also represent the numbers in Pie and Bar charts, though you will need Android 2.2+ to use this feature.

Other notable features include:

  • Set limits on daily, weekly and monthly usage
  • Alerts when you break your usage limits
  • Widgets for calls, texts and data
  • See which apps are using the most data
  • See who you call the most
  • See usage per hour, day, week and month
  • Stay with in your limits and save money on your monthly bill.

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Top 3 Android Audio Apps for Recording Conversations

Posted By Steve McFarlane on August 19th, 2011

This is a roundup of the best Android audio recorder apps we could find. These are great apps for recording lectures, one-on-one conversations and what’s happening in your immediate surroundings.

ClearRecordLite

Having the ability to record a phone conversation with your Android is one thing, but ensuring that the audio quality is good is another matter. ClearRecord gives your phone the ability to suppress Ambient Noise that is often inadvertently captured while recording audio.

The Ambient Noise Reduction (ANR) feature, allows you to record conversations in noisy environments (i.e. street, train, classroom or stadium) while allowing the voice to remain clear. This Android audio recorder also has the ability to control playback speed without modifying pitch quality and background recording. The Slow play-speed feature allow transcribers and new-language-learners to slow down and listen clearly to a fast speaker, while Fast play-speed cuts short the time required to listen to a long recording. QR Code

AndRecorder – Free

This is not a call recorder app , instead you can use AndRecorder as a Dictaphone, memo, voice, or conversation recorder. The app will record the audio in a WAV file and gives the options to send the recording via email. The sort feature is quite handy for finding your way through lots of recordings as well.  Additional features in the premium version include:

  • Menu option to create a ring tone from a recording
  • Direct skip to any point in the recording using the slider button
  • Increase the playback speed (double or quadruple)
  • Large button to start and stop recordings
  • Can pause and resume a recording – great for excluding unimportant bits of a conversation or presentation
  • Audio recording length is limited by only the phone’s storage capacity
  • Saves audio records in the widely supported WAV file format
  • Supports 11025, 22050 and 44100 Hz frequency rates
  • You can replay, pause-record, stop, delete or loop recordings (repeat One/All/None)
  • Sort by recording date or name (show today’s/week’s/all recordings)
  • Email recording once the file size doesn’t exceed the maximum allowed by your email service provider
  • Can specify various recording date formats
  • Records during screen-off

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TapeMachine Lite Recorder

TapeMachine is a high-quality sound recorder and editor. It features a powerful waveform display that allows you to select, edit, export, loop and scratch audio files. Other features include:

  • Fade in, fade out, normalize
  • Record when locked
  • Input gain and auto-gain
  • Compact home screen widget
  • File and folder manager
  • Send file via mail, to Dropbox, etc
  • Use front or back microphone (if available)
  • Set engine sample rate, latency etc.
  • Rec/play/convert WAV, AIFF, FLAC

There are two versions of the app; the Lite version is limited to 1-minute playback/recording per file, so you need to purchase the full version to remove this limitation. The full version ($5.70) also supports OGG Vorbis natively, as well as external codecs such as MP3. To record and play MP3 files you need to install the MP3 codec, which is not included by default.

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