Sunday, 25 July 2010

Tech Update: Android apps & 3D TV

The only annoying thing about seeing Toy Story 3 today (which if you haven't guessed from my Tweets, is IMHO totally awesome; how Pixar can make such great hits that appeal to all audience ages time and time again amazes me), was seeing the Sony 3D TV advert.

Why was it annoying? Well seeing it on a non-3D TV as a regular TV advert in all its blurry "gory", I was very easily able to totally ignore it. Now though, having seen it in its 3D digital clarity it makes me want to have a new 3D TV :-( What is genuinely staggering is the improvement in 3D capability/quality, as much as a fad that I thought 3D TV was, having seen it (albeit in the cinema) I can see this becoming de rigeur within the next 2 years.

I think the major manufacturers (Sony, Panasonic,Samsung) though have missed a trick by flooding the market with non-3D TVs prior to 3D launch, I for one cannot afford nor physically place a brand new TV having only got one about 6 months ago. Their loss, well at least for now...

...Maybe I'll spend any money I have on the dual-screen laptop coming from Toshiba...

Android Apps
There's a tonne of useful/entertaining/fun apps out there. One distinct advantage of the Android Market over the Apple App store is that you can download a paid-for Android App and trial it for 24 hours. You need to provide payment details up-front but if within 24 hours you decide the app isn't for you, you can get it refunded.

The only thing I don't like about the Android Market is that hunting for that app you really want is a total pain. From the market app, you cannot filter on free apps for example but I have noticed that there does seem to be a search syntax that could be employed (to find apps from a certain publisher for example) that I haven't investigated yet.

A way around this is using websites such as androidzoom and AndroLib that provide a search/filter facility. I believe with FroYo (Android 2.2) there will be some Market enhancements that incorporate this kind of capability directly into the handsets.

Anyways. I am, however, a *total* cheapskate when it comes to this sort of thing and have only ever downloaded free apps. Here is a list of the current ones I am using that may be of use to you, I'm assuming only Android users have made it this far :-)

First up - Barcode Scanner. Essential to access many other services such as quick access to download other apps, shopping comparison etc.

Next most essential I would say is Lookout which is pretty awesome. Virus protection, back-up (contacts, call logs & photos) plus a phone finder feature.

Although Android does well with Twitter/Facebook integration, the respective Twitter and Facebook apps do provide a bit more functionality.

Again, the native Android browser is very good but Dolphin Browser HD is much superior with tab browsing & add-ins for things like Speed-Dial, Translate and saving bookmarks to the SD card.

Call Meter NG is key if you want to check you are still within your call/data plan.

Other really useful utilities:
PrinterShare - allows you to print from your phone to registered printers. The free version will allow up to 20 prints (after which you can buy more). The $4.95 version allows free printing to WiFi printers, yet to try this out...

ZumoDrive. Cloud computing storage. Allows you to sync PC files up to 2Gb that can then be accessed through your phone, including streaming of your music.

There are a lot of File Manager apps, but EStrongs File Explorer is my favourite, especially as it makes it a doddle to access files shared on your (WiFi) LAN.

Similarly there are a number of "torch" functions but LED Desire Light is my favourite as it actually uses the camera flashlight (as opposed to just displaying a bright, blank white screen) with varying degress of brightness PLUS you can send morse code messages too! As the name suggests, it is really just for the HTC Desire.

For eCommerce, there's:
Kindle - Amazon's e-book reader
Amazon MP3 - DRM free music downloads
Shopper - scan barcodes and find how much you can save shopping elsewhere. Note, you'll get funny looks using this app, I was confronted by a store manager the other day who thought I was taking (illegal) product photos in store. When I calmly told them I was scanning the barcode to do an internet price comparison, their jaw dropped and they walked off in disbelief :D

eBay via Pkt Auctions eBay

And for the Waitrose shoppers, Ocado has an app which on top of standard Ocado functionality lets you scan barcodes too.

For travelling:
SatNav - the built in Google Navigator is simply superb and I don't think can be topped. Caution though if using abroad because of the (roaming) data usage will not be likely covered in your talk plan.

Check the traffic conditions before you set out with TrafficSync or check when your next (and nearest) train will be using Train Times UK. In the trilogy of Planes, Trains & Automobiles - for flight times, FlightStats Liteis decent enough, the paid for version I believe integrates with TripIt.

If you're London bound Tube Map lets you plan a route and probably more essentially, get the status of the lines!

More fun than travel as such is of course FourSquareand the excellent Google Sky for browsing the heavens.

Recreationally, I won't bother as to each their own here I think. If you are into eBooks though, free ones can be obtained and read via Aldiko

I've yet to find a *really* good RSS app,so if anyone knows of an (free!) ones, please add a comment.

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