Posts Tagged ‘ AppBrain ’

Dual Battery Widget – The Jewell of Dual Battery Tracking

 Dual Battery Widget (Tablet App Review)

Excuse the blurred screenshot, it's a deliberate attempt to highlight the widget on my over populated homescreen.

So here we are, our first Tablet app review on Android Apt. Although I say review, it’s more of a top-tip and even then it’s a tip that only really applies to anyone who happens to own an Asus Transformer. So, to the 3 people still left reading this here’s my top-tip app recommendation.

Designed by Artiom Chilaru with the Asus Transformer in mind, Dual Battery Widget is a handy visual tool that tracks the status of both the battery in your tablet and the one in the keyboard dock.

There are a number of options that allow you to tailor the widget’s appearance to your requirements plus it’s completely resizeable.  You can have it take up just one cell of your home-screen or expand it up to fill the whole display.

You can also use the widget to access the battery stats if that’s the kind of thing that gets you all giddy on the inside.

Without any default way to track the charge in your Asus keyboard dock, Dual Battery Widget is nothing short of an essential install for any Asus Transformer owner.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 0.7.7
  • Requires Android : 1.6 and up
  • Category : Tools
  • Size : 306k
  • Price : Free

Links : Download via Android Marketplace, Download via AppBrain, Developer’s Website

Bottom Line : Quite simply a must-download for every Asus Transformer.

gAppsLauncher – Your Personalised Google Launchpad

 gAppsLauncher

If you’re the average Android devotee it’s a pretty likely situation that Google is playing a hefty part in your day-to-day routine. Whether it’s handling your emails, supplying your news feeds or being your new social network BFF, Google has a number of great tools at your disposal.

The downside to this is that many tools means many icons to keep organised which results in time-wasting homescreen navigation and space-filling icons to organise.

Enter gAppsLauncher, a simple collection of widgets that group together your all important Google services.

You can choose from a selection of widget sizes along with the whole gamut of Google services to fill them with (complete with eye-catching icons).
The widgets themselves are pretty flexible, you can fill them with as many icons as you like and each service can link to either its app or webpage counterpart.

Once you’ve set up your ideal Google based widget you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

If anything, this is the kind of idea that should come standard with Android, maybe Google should be taking notes.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 1.3.4
  • Requires Android : 1.5 and up
  • Category : Tools
  • Size : 420k
  • Price : Free

Links : Download via Android Marketplace, Download via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A simple yet perfectly executed idea for the Android fanatic. Recommended.

Go Launcher EX – “We Are Go For Launch”

 Go Launcher EX

Take a look at your Android phone. Try flicking through a few home screens, bring up the app tray, now put it away again.

The choice of transitions are plentiful, you'll spend a good few minutes trying them all out.

All that stuff you’re looking at, it’s called the Launcher. In very basic terms it’s the interface that lives between your fingers and the inner workings of your Android handset.

If you have a HTC handset you may be familiar with the term HTC Sense, that’s the default launcher that ships on their phones.
If you get bored with how your Android phone looks you can easily change your Launcher and it’s all thanks to the tweakability of Android. All you need to do is look for a third party Launcher on the Marketplace and install it. It’s as easy as installing any other app and can dramatically change (and sometimes improve) how your phone behaves. It’s almost like software modding your phone but nowhere near as scary and the process can be easily undone.
There are a number of great Launcher apps on the Marketplace, a great round up of them can be found here but the one that has caught my attention is Go Launcher EX by the Go Launcher Dev Team.
Bought to you by the same group behind ‘Go SMS Pro’, Go Launcher EX is an extensively customisable home screen app that includes theme support, a scrolling dock bar, fluid transitions and a fully tooled up app tray.

See those tabs at the top of the app tray there? Handy stuff indeed.

Once you’ve installed the app you’ll need to start setting up your home screens all over again, it can be a slight pain if you’ve already set things up exactly how you like it but this is the same with any Launcher app that you install. Don’t worry, your original home screens will be safely stored away and Go Launcher EX includes a settings backup tool so once you’ve got your icons & widgets where you want you can save it.

Go Launcher EX runs excellently, the home screens transitions are smooth (there’s also plenty to choose from) and there are a plethora of ‘easy-install’ themes to sift through. The app tray also houses some very nifty tweaks for everyday use. You can order your apps alphabetically or via the date order of when they were installed. There’s also a history tab that’s capable of listing many more recently used apps than the your average Launcher and finally there’s a task killer available if you’re that way inclined.
Once you’ve installed Go Launcher EX you can also install any of the free widgets made by the Go Team. My personal recommendation is the excellent calendar widget, it’s the first quality free scrolling calendar widget that I’ve come across.
For anyone who’s owned their Android phone for a while and feels the need to freshen it up Go Launcher EX is a great way to go about it.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 2.30
  • Requires Android : 2.0 and up
  • Category : Productivity
  • Size : 2.7M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Android handset modding without all the scary warranty breaking fuss. Give it a try, it could make you feel like you have a new phone all over again.

Big Cup Cricket Free – Howzat? Not bad actually.

 Big Cup Cricket Free

Me and Cricket don’t get on. We never have done thanks to it’s s-l-o-w pace and unfathomable score system. Ever since I was made to play it in school I knew it was something I wasn’t going to go back to by choice. That relationship has carried over into video games, I think the last time I played any kind of Cricket video game was on my ZX Spectrum back in 1988.
So when you think about it, Big Cup Cricket is breaking a firmly held habit of over 20 years and unbelievably I quite enjoyed it.
There’s a range of modes to get stuck into, whether it’s a one-off match, some training drills to hone your skills or The Big Cup Contest where you can pick an international team and guide them through to the world finals. The main game is played via simple touch and swipe gestures which the game reacts to very convincingly. It may all seem random at first but give it time and you’ll soon find yourself flexing your cat-like reflexes in order to catch out an opponent with a hearty ‘Howzat!’ (most satisfying).
Being a free app, adverts do make an appearance in Big Cup Cricket. They don’t get in the way of the game so much but some people may be put off by their constant presence. It’s also a shame that there’s no multiplayer options, I accept the difficulty involved in pulling such a feature off but it could have made this game a truly essential download.
As it stands I had fun with Big Cup Cricket which is a surprise given my lack of enthusiasm for the real thing. With it’s NES style graphics Big Cup Cricket makes a decent go of bringing Cricket (albeit an arcade experience of it) to your mobile device.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 1.1.1
  • Requires Android : 2.1 and up
  • Category : Arcade & Action
  • Size : 9.3M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : For a quick fun diversion, Big Cup Cricket does the job. And that’s coming from a complete non-fan of cricket.

Super Box 10 Tools In 1 – Is it a bird?.. a plane?.. No, it’s Super Box!

 Super Box – 10 Tools In 1

I have to say I was slightly dubious about ‘Super Box 10 Tools in 1’ when I first laid eyes on it. On the one hand I thought it had a whiff of ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ about it but mainly my doubts centred around the fact that I really didn’t like the app icon. I know, shallow.
Thankfully, despite my ridiculous first impressions, Super Box performs it’s 10 functions very well and does a pretty good job of making similar ‘one task’ apps redundant in the process.
So what tools do you get for your initial down payment of FREE?

It may not be uber-flash on the eyes but it's quick & simple and that's what counts.

Memory/Cpu : This tool gives you an overview of how much memory and cpu your handset is using. There’s also a rundown on storage space with regards to your sd card and internal storage. A ‘Free Memory’ button is also included although I usually avoid these as (in my personal opinion) Android seems to do a pretty good job of handling memory.
Battery : Selecting this gives you full details on your battery, it’s health and how it has been used.
APK Installer : If you have any APK (Android App Files) on your phone, this tool will sniff ‘em out and give you the option to install them.
Uninstaller : This allows you easy access to your apps list so you can remove them quickly if needs be. You can also perform batch-job uninstalls as well as backup apps in case you lose them, bonus points for adding these features.
Apps2SD : This tool will show you what is installed and where. From here you can choose what apps should be installed in which locations. It’s a very well thought out interface which makes the process far easier than the standard Android apps menus.

Oooh TweetDeck. I love you but you can be such an utterly bloated cache cow.

Cache : Despite rooting my phone and having my apps runs from a separate partition on my SD card, I still have issues with apps eating up my handset’s limited internal memory by building up huge caches of data over time. The Cache tool lists all those data hungry apps so you can blitz them all or individually with just a few presses. On my first go my total used cache went from over 28MB to less than 3MB. Excellent!
TaskKiller : I’ve never been an advocate of Android Task Killers (due to their supposed lack of requirement) so I can’t really comment on the effectiveness of this tool. Despite my limited knowledge it seems to tick the required boxes.
Settings : This tool gives you quick access to a selection of toggle buttons that control a whole manner of power related tom-foolery on your mobile. You can quickly switch on/off your wi/fi, bluetooth, mobile data, GPS and lots more. It’s a lot like Quick Settings which I highly recommend.

Safe Guard is an excellent tool for keeping those sneakier apps in check.

File Manager : A functional file explorer tool. I’m not entirely sold on the folder view but the auto scan function is very useful giving you easy access to all the music, videos, pics and APKs stored on your handset and SD card.
Safe Guard : This is a very good tool that checks the permissions of your installed apps. With this you can find out if apps are helping themselves to permissions they shouldn’t be dealing with (i.e. permissions to make calls/texts and costing money without you knowing).

Seeing as it’s a free app there are ads built-in but they only reside at the bottom of the screen and never get in the way of what you’re trying to do. At a modest 2MB install footprint, Super Box is a worthwhile app to download if you want to tweak your handset to it’s fullest potential. Personally speaking the ‘Cache’ tool is worth the install alone.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 2.1
  • Requires Android : 1.6 and up
  • Category : Productivity
  • Size : 980k
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Jack of all trades, and great at all of them. Super Box – 10 Tools In 1 confidently fills the shoes of other apps that can only perform one of it’s many tricks. Recommended.

Feedly – Easy to use, not too Feedly.

Feedly (Beta)

Since getting my first Android handset I’ve gone through my fair share of RSS feed readers. I’ve tried the official Google Reader app, Pulse News Reader, GReader and NewsRob amongst others. All were very good but still not the 100% perfect RSS reader that I was looking for (although I do love the interface on Pulse). Now a new app, Feedly, has stepped forward to be added to this ever-growing list and in the process offers up a unique new UI.
Rather than going for the standard ‘news listing’ layout Feedly goes for what it calls a ‘magazine-like overlay’. This involves a large front page for the latest news post with further posts becoming available as your scroll through them like you would turn a page. This ‘magazine’ aspect is very clean but also pleasing to look at making it a worthy download for those who want an alternative to Pulse Reader. On my HTC Desire it looked great, on an Android tablet it could possibly look excellent. Away from the front-end there’s also a built in browser in which to read posts with an option to open them up in your standard browser.
Setting up Feedly is utterly painless, it has a selection of default feeds to read and thanks to the way it integrates with the Android Account Manager it can import your Google Reader account with a simple button press.
Speaking of integration, Feedly also keeps your desktop based Google Reader account in sync with what you’ve already read on your phone therefore avoiding repetition when you transition between the two. Feedly really does a great job of allowing you to stay on top of your feeds, an aspect that I have found lacking in other RRS feed readers.
For those who like to share what they come across, Feedly also packs the standard share options so you can forward stories to Tweetdeck, Facebook or whatever you use to frequent your online social circles.

The pull out side menu provides easy access to all your feeds.

Another advantage is that Feedly also seems to happily take care of any number of unread posts making all your material available. This is an advantage over similar apps that only load up a limited amount of posts which can leave older unread items out of reach.
Sadly it’s not all sunshine & lollipops, whilst being used on 3G I found myself occasionally booted out of my Google Reader account but it was nothing a few key presses couldn’t fix.
There’s also a learning curve to navigating your way around your feeds. If you rely on the main screen to get around it’s possible to not find yourself in an unexpected place. In most cases it’s best to stick to the slide out menu to access a specific feed. Also, those people rocking a handset with a larger screen may also lament the lack of a landscape view. For sharing purposes there is a built in ‘Twitter share’ client but so far it seems unfinished as I couldn’t find a way to log into it.
The important thing to remember here is the ‘Beta’ tag, Feedly isn’t in its final stages so this is all stuff that’s ripe for a clean up when the app gets a proper release. When it does go official this app could well be one of the best of its ilk on the Marketplace.

About This App – Version Reviewed : 0.9.4
Requires Android : 2.2 and up , Category : News , Size : 2.6M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain, Official Page (check the guided tour on here for some Android based tips)

Bottom Line : It’s still not the 100% RSS app that I’m looking for but it’s very much on it’s way to getting there. Great stuff.

Angry Birds Rio – An Angry Bloke Review

Angry Birds Rio

Writing a review for the new Angry Birds game seems something of a redundant excercise. By the time you read this about a bajillion people will have already downloaded it. Even those who haven’t yet grabbed the latest installment from Rovio will know exactly what to expect.

So why review it?

As of three months ago 50 million people had downloaded Angry Birds. Today that total stands at a staggering 100 million and that figure will surely get a boost once the planned xbox 360, ps3 and Facebook versions are released. The range of Angry Birds plush toys have shifted 2 million units, Mattel have a board game due for release in May and there are even plans to move into animation & feature films. Angry Birds is truly a gaming phenomenon in motion, in time (if not already) it could very likely be listed alongside Mario, Sonic et al as a gaming icon of it’s generation.

So why review it?

The release of ‘Rio’ has heralded an interesting series of events within the Android scene. Rovio decided to give a timed exclusive to Amazon for the launch of their new Android App store. It all seemed very exciting, Android users would have a new outlet for Android apps. The consumer would have the option to ‘shop around’.
And then came the launch.
It soon dawned on everyone outside of America that they would not be able to enjoy Rovio’s latest release. In their infinite wisdom Amazon had limited their new marketplace to the U.S. Understandably, those unable to get the app felt hard done by. What didn’t help matters was the way those people (myself included) had to jump through hoops and make adjustments to their Amazon accounts before being told they weren’t invited to the party.
For a product with a hungry worldwide audience this was probably not the best approach. I’m genuinely surprised that given the openness of the Android platform there wasn’t an outbreak of virus/malware infested fake ‘Rio’ apk files just waiting to be installed by unsuspecting users.
I don’t blame Rovio for this, I blame Amazon. One of the main complaints against Android is fragmentation and here they are fragmenting it further based solely on location. Even now, having launched their cloud music service, there is still no known date for when the app store will be available to those outside the U.S.A. Considering how Android is perceived as a platform that is in fierce competition with iOS, this current move by Amazon appears to do more harm than good.

So why review it? So where is this bloody review?

Thankfully Rovio have released Angry Birds Rio on the Android Marketplace so now all those non-Yanks such as myself can enjoy the latest installment. I had dubious thoughts about it being a tie-in with the forthcoming movie ‘Rio’ but surprisingly the theme is a good fit for the franchise.

Seriously, worst stacking of cargo EVER.

The gameplay is the same as before but there are enough tweaks and touches to warrant losing more nights of sleep whilst trying to three-star each level. Compared to ‘Angry Birds Seasons’, ‘Rio’ has a gentler learning curve making it a great jumping off point for any newcomers to the franchise.
The graphics have also been updated, nothing revolutionary but the scrolling foregrounds and beefed up menus are enough to keep the series looking fresh.
On the subject of keeping things fresh Rovio have already planned a series of updates which will become available over the course of 2011. As usual it’s a worthwhile free download.

That’s it? That’s the review? It was more a rant about Amazon than a review of Angry Birds.

Yeah sorry about that. I had to get that whole Amazon thing off my chest.

That’s ok. It was truly a dick move on their part.

Yes, yes it was.

Ok so now you’re just talking to yourself. I think you need a lie down.

So do you.

Haha, very funny.

About This App Version Reviewed : 1.0.0
Requires Android : 1.6 and up , Category : Arcade & Action , Size : 13M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Just when you think you’re out, Rovio pull you back in. Rio is an enjoyable new chapter in the Angry Birds franchise. Bring on those updates!

Speedx 3D FREE – It’s a Free 3D Free-For-All Freefall

Speedx 3D Free

Yep! You read that right, the future is here! 3D gaming has arrived on Android handsets. Although when I say 3D I’m not talking ‘Avatar’ 3D, think more along the lines of ‘The Beano in 3D’ and you’re there. If you have some old school green/red 3d specs tucked away somewhere you can pop them on and Speedx 3D Free can be played in super ‘in-yo-face-o-vision’. I managed to find my emergency 3D glasses, the 3D effect does work (kinda) but it’s not for prolonged sessions.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any cheesy 3D gogles hidden away anywhere, Speedx 3D can be played via your normal eyes. Whichever way you choose to play you are in for a treat because Speedx 3D is a graphical powerhouse of awesomeness.
Speedx 3D is a game with a simple goal, go really fast and don’t crash into stuff. It’s a tunnel racing game where you control yourself by tilting your handset from side to side. There are power ups you can collect that can protect your vehicle from impacts but for the most part you’ll be relying on your reactions. You’re going to need them because Speedx 3D is a pretty relentless game and it’s the better for it.
Previously, one of the biggest flaws I’ve had with driving games on Android handsets is with the controls. Touchscreen or tilt driving can be tricky at the best of times but SpeedX has this issue nailed. Without a doubt the tilt-sensor steering is absolutely flawless, the game does a perfect job of giving you the control you need to steer your way through the game. 

(Video courtesy of AndroidApps.com)

The graphics are truly excellent, simple in appearance yet it all moves so fast, I found myself gasping when the track opened up or folded in on itself for the first time with no hint of slowdown. This game could well look stunning on an Android tablet. Music and sound are also a perfect fit for the theme of the game, serving to enhance the futuristic setting.
There is so much that I love about this game. With each new try it keeps throwing new things at me to catch me out. Whether it’s how the tunnel changes in shape, how the obstacles move about, how the colour schemes alter in order to trip you up. To top things off there’s even OpenFeight support so you can check your high scores with your online friends.
Thumbs up also to HyperBees for keeping the ad-support strictly to the menus and allowing the game to run interruption free. The only downsides to Speedx 3D? It’s a bit of a battery drain but that’s understandable given how much processing is going on under the hood. Also, if you own a HTC Wildfire, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. According to HyperBees this game won’t run on your handset (although some Marketplace reviews do suggest otherwise).
We don’t actually give the app reviews on Android Apt any kind of score rating but if we did, SpeedX 3D Free would be a flat out 5/5.

About This App – Current Version : 1.12.6 / FREE
Requires Android : 1.5 and up , Category : Arcade & Action , Size : 4.0M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace , Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : An amazingly slick game. Simple but addictive and always a fresh experience with every game. For a free game it’s an absolute must try.

GRave Defense Silver FREE – You Say Defense, I Say Defence, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off

GRave Defense Silver FREE

Tower Defence Games eh? They’re like Zombies. They’re everywhere! Now we have a game that combines both Tower Defence AND Zombies (well, mutated monsters but it’s all the same), how can I refuse such a double whammy?

Personally I’ve never really understood the point behind this particular game genre despite being unable to ignore it’s ever-growing popularity. A quick search for ‘Defence’ on AppBrain displays a whole gaggle of Tower Defence games based on all kinds of different themes.
Once I started up GRave Defense Silver for the first time I could see why there were so many Tower Defence Games. In no time at all I had become addicted to one them. Damn!

Things are pretty calm right now, it'll kick off before long.

The aim of ‘GRave Defense Silver’ is to prevent the horde of the undead making their way into your safe haven by installing and upgrading weapon emplacements. As you progress through each level more varieties of guns are available as well as more variations of zombies to use them on.
GDS makes an attempt to shovel in a story via a lengthy text based intro before each level. To be honest this approach comes off a little po-faced especially when compared to other zombie video game fare such as Left 4 Dead or Stupid Zombies (which we reviewed last week).
Once the intro is done the blasting can begin. The map layouts in each level are visually varied, they make great use of the space available on a mobile device and the scenery is very nicely detailed.
Gameplay runs smoothly with only minimal slowdown when the screen becomes packed with monsters making their way all over the map. There’s a pretty good difficulty curve with each level needing a few tries before survival is assured (which also adds to the ‘one more go’ factor). The only major compaint I have is regarding the collectable power-ups that occasionally appear. They sometimes don’t respond to your touch and they time out pretty quickly. Sometimes they’re gone before you even get a chance to notice them.
There’s two game modes, story and survival mode each with a range of difficulty levels to keep you busy. GDS also includes OpenFeight support so you can compare your unlocked achievements with your friends. There’s also a Facebook tab which to be honest I didn’t get involved with (I didn’t feel much like sharing my Facebook account).
I can’t deny that there’s something I find addictive about building and upgrading defences in order to take out wave upon wave of bloodthirsty zombies. More than once I found myself finishing a game GDS only to discover that I’d been playing for far longer than I had originally planned. For a free game, that can’t be bad.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION : 1.0.0

REQUIRES ANDROID : 1.5 and up , CATEGORY : Arcade & Action , SIZE : 3.1M , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace , Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Well made, plenty of content to enjoy and very addictive. Worth adding to your Android game collection.

QuickPic – So Quick With Pics It’s Sick

QuickPic

Having rooted my phone and switched over to other roms on my HTC Desire (I’m currently rocking the latest stable rom by Cyanogen, it’s rather nice) I’ve had to rely on the standard Android gallery app as my default photo browser. As much as I liked the flashy interface I was always annoyed by how long it would take to load. Even worse was the fact that it would display EVERY single folder on my phone that would happen to have a jpeg stored inside. Actually getting to the photos I wanted to view was a chore.
In the end I decided to dump it and search for something that was less concerned about being flash and more focused on simply being quicker to use. I found QuickPic and it does the job nicely.
Simplicity is the keyword in QuickPic. You’re given a choice of two ‘easy-on-the-eye’ gallery views and from here everything is clearly laid out. Picture folders load up quickly, flicking through photos is swift and painless and yet there are still all the options (delete, rotate, share, zoom etc) that the standard Android gallery app offers. One of the best features is the ability to select an unwanted folder and instruct QuickPic to ignore it giving you full control on what photo folders will appear within the app.
You’re not limited to photos either, you can also browse your videos and have them played back in the video app of your choice.
That’s pretty much all there is to QuickPic but then again that’s what makes it so good. There’s
minimal faffing about, it just gets you straight to where you want to go.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION : 0.9.9
REQUIRES ANDROID : 2.0 and up , CATEGORY : Photography , SIZE : 185k , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Quick and simple to use yet still loaded with enough features to make it a must-have app.

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