Retro Camera – Let’s Go Retro Techno

Retro Camera

 

You can choose from a cool range of retro cameras

 

I’d been avoiding Retro Camera for a number of weeks now, partly because of the large install size (5MB) and partly because I didn’t see the need for it when my HTC Desire already had a 5 Megapixel camera which, whilst not perfect, still adequately did the job when required.  As it turns out I was totally wrong on both counts. In terms of install size, there’s nothing to worry about, Retro Camera fully supports Froyo’s move-to-SD capabilities leaving only a tiny footprint on your handset’s inernal memory. With regards to the quality of the shots, that was down to me totally missing the point of this excellently put together application, a murky black and white photo can carry so much more context than a sterile looking digital shot.

 

The gallery view, complete with pegs and string

 

With Retro Camera you can snap pictures in the style of five different old-school cameras modelled on such famous classics as the Lomo, Polaroid, and Hipstamatic amongst others. Each camera style comes with a full description of the kind of results it will produce as well as suggestions on when it should be used. Using the program is simple, pick a camera then point and click. Pictures will take a few moments to ‘develop’ but you can continue to happily snap away while the pictures are processing in the background.  Your previous 10 pictures can be viewed in the app’s gallery view (in the style of a washing line with the pictures pegged to it) and from here can be directly shared to Twitter, Facebook, Email or any other app you use to share media.

 

Oooh just look a that lovely context

 

In general the pictures taken look great on your phone but sometimes you may find your results do not transfer so well when viewed on your computer. Another small issue is how samey the fake retro effects can appear, for example if you look at a number of Polaroid style pictures in a row you soon notice that the ‘dirt’ effect in each picture appears in exactly the same places in each photo.  With this is mind, Retro Camera shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for your handset’s main camera, instead look at it as an extra set of camera options and effects to play around with.

These are only very minor complaints and should not deter you from trying this app. I have had great fun with Retro Camera, from using the lovingly crafted UI to jazzing up my photos via the range of different camera styles, it’s addictive, creative and most importantly a free app which very much makes it a worthy download.

Bottom Line : A fun camera application with a lovely UI that, when used in moderation, can pull off some great ‘retro’ picture results. Recommended.

Links : Official Page

Install via AppBrain –  Retro Camera Free, Retro Camera Plus (Ad-Free)

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Searchify – Seek, and it shall be yours.

Searchify

Searchify is a ‘do-it-all’ approach to using the search box on your Android handset. With simple text input Searchify claims to be a unit converter, calculator, calendar editor/searcher, word translator and a wikipedia / twitter / imdb / metacritic / urban dictionary search engine. Wow, that’s a lot going on right there but can it really deliver on what it promises?

 

Sadly, Searchify won't improve your taste in movies.

 

Setting up the app is simple enough, there’s a nicely presented welcome screen that instructs you on activating Searchify within your handset’s search settings. There’s also some clearly explained examples that show you the potential uses of the app. Just from reading this you can get a clear idea of how essential this app could become.

In terms of operation, less is definitely more, simply press the search button and start typing. Depending on what you type Searchify springs into action with the information you’re looking for. Type in a unit of measurement, 50 miles for example, Searchify immediately lists 50 miles in terms of metres, furlongs, inches, yards and so on. Type in a sum (easier than you would think via the normal keyboard layout), Searchify will bring up the answer straight away. A definite time saver compared to searching for the calculator app and opening it up.

 

Converting units is a cinch, good news for The Proclaimers then

 

Naturally, searching is what Searchify excels at, simply preface your search term with one of the default keywords and which search that particular site for you. If for example you wanted to search on Twitter for William Shatner type “twt William Shatner”. Searchify will then find you all the current tweets about ‘The Shat’. There are also keywords you can use to search on IMDB, Wikipedia, Metacritic and Urban Dictionary. You don’t have to stick to the default keywords either, you can make up your own should you wish.

Translating words is a cinch, type in the keyword “translate” followed by the word you wish to have translated, Searchify will list translations in the languages you have chosen in the settings.

Searchify’s ace up its sleeve is in its calendar management functions. Enter a date, time and event directly into the search box and Searchify will offer to add that to your calendar which will then sync to your online Google calendar, smart stuff. The only problem is that you have to get used to using the American style of month/date/year when entering calendar dates.

 

Organise the important things in your life via a single line of text

 

Using the program couldn’t be any easier, it runs as quick as hell and settings are kept to a minimum so you don’t get tangled down with endless tweaking. For a free app and a reasonable install size (less than 500kb) this is a highly recommended install.

Bottom Line : A time saving app that places all kinds of useful information just a few key presses away.

Links : Main Site, Install via AppBrain

Awesome Drop – It’s kind of Awesome.

Awesome Drop

 

Awesome Drop's Main Screen. Simple looking but VERY effective.

 

An app that reviews itself positively in it’s own title? Well to be fair Awesome Drop is pretty awesome and it’s still in Beta. Using this app you can easily transfer items wirelessly from your computer to your phone via your internet browser. Upon starting the app you’re instructed to visit the Awesome Drop website on your computer for your 4 digit code, once you enter that code on your phone it will magically sync with your computer and you’re ready to drag and drop your files. Any item dropped onto the ‘Drop Files Here’ box on the website will wirelessly transfer to your phone. A progress bar will appear on both your handset and your web browser so you can keep track on how transfers are progressing. No need to sign up or register, it happens right there and then. It’s magical internet trickery right before your eyes!

It’s very simply laid out stuff and it works beautifully. Some users however may scoff at the lack of options, there’s no option to decide where uploaded files arrive on your phone, they all end up in a folder named ‘drop’ on your memory card. There’s also no notification of when uploads are complete so if you’re multitasking you’ll need to keep an eye on things. Ideally you’ll also need wi-fi access wherever you are, 3G will work but you could be waiting a while.

 

Uploads are tracked on your phone and computer simultaneously

 

It’s not practical for very large files either, upload speed is limited via your internet connection, I uploaded a file sized at 90MB and it took 22 minutes to transfer to my phone. That said, it did transfer first time with no hang ups or errors. There is also a question of security, just where is this data passing through on the way to your phone and is it truly secure? Despite these issues Awesome Drop is still a great app and very handy if you need to quickly transfer small non-sensitive files and can’t be arsed to dig out a USB lead. It could also lend itself to other practical uses, imagine you needed a document from a friend. You could have them go to the website and tell you the 4 digit code, so you can enter it on your handset. Once your phone connects they can drop the document onto the webpage and Bosh! you have the file on your phone. From there just click reset on the app and the link is severed.

For a free app that takes up small memory real estate (only an 82kb install) this really is a great piece of work.

Bottom Line : A very simple and useful free app. You’ll never know when you’ll need it, but you’ll be glad you’ve got it when you do.

Links : App Home Page, Install via AppBrain

AppBrain – Need Apps? Then you need this App.

App Brain

 

AppBrain's Opening Menu

 

It’s hard to imagine life on my Android handset before AppBrain. It’s my go to source for every app I install, all I use the official Android Marketplace for is updating my already installed apps (although AppBrain can take care of that too, old habits die hard I guess).

For the uninitiated, AppBrain is both a website and an app which in their words “makes sense out of the high number of apps available in the Google Android market.”  It’s bold statement that also happens to be true. It’s ironic that the Android Marketplace website, a website owned by Google, has no search function. Sure, you can search via your handset but sometimes you just want to use a large screen and a mouse for browsing your way through new applications to install on your handset, in this circumstance AppBrain is your new best friend.

 

Browse and search the Android Marketplace from your handset.

 

When you sign in at the website with your google ID you are greeted with a screen full of app suggestions based on topic, what’s hot right now or apps that AppBrain thinks you might like. You can also search for apps and when you find what you like you can install them to your phone with a single click on the website. The website syncs brilliantly with your phone and clicking on ‘My Apps’ will show you how AppBrain keeps track of everything you have installed, you can even share your list of apps via Twitter or Facebook or even in a blog such as this…

Apps currently installed on my HTC Desire.

See? Good stuff indeed.

On your handset the AppBrain app acts as a conduit to the Android Marketplace but with a UI that is faster, more intuitive and uses your screen real estate in a more productive way. You can also update and remove apps and even decide whether currently installed applications will skip the next update or never update again (ideal for those youtube downloaders that always get taken down or disabled).

 

Installing and updating Apps is easy.

 

There is also a social aspect to AppBrain, you can search for other users and see what they’ve installed, you can also follow them to stay updated on what they use.

If you really want to unlock the functionality of your new Android device, AppBrain is what will get you there quickly and easily. It’s a free app and only 450kb approx to install. Go get it now.

Bottom Line : An essential app, for getting more apps.

Link : AppBrain.com

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