Saturday, February 26, 2011

AAQR: EpicAndroid Wall A and Wall B (U)

EpicAndroid released a series of LWPs and here are two of the free ones, named simply A free and B free.

Both are in the form of a wall. A is composed of colored tiles, and as as you tap, the squares move, rotate, and more. B is grayscale, and the different "tiles" fade and change brightness.

Rating: Try it
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AAQR: Dekonstr Clock LWP and ExZentric Clock LWP (U)

 DeKonstr and ExZentric are part of the ARTware clocks, and it is interesting

DeKonstr has the sweep hands replaced with moving lines. Different "hands" of the clock are replaced by lines moving indifferent directions. It's easier to show you. Even the calendar dates are this way.

ExZentric still have the sweep hands, but instead made them into a chain, rather than concentric circles.

The main problem is this is a bit too small for phone use. It was really designed for tablet. Some of the fonts are too small. They look fine on a 7 inch tablet, but too small for a 3.5 inch phone.

Rating: Try it

If you like it, consider buying the full collection of 5 different clocks for under $1.50
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AAQR: Beach Free LWP (U)

Sandy beach, a big palm tree, waves, clouds, sunny day... Are you relaxed?

The full version allow you to configure a few things.

Rating: Try it.

AAQR: Warp Drive LWP (U)

A "Flying Through Space" live wallpaper... that everybody can write... nothing special about this one.

Rating: Skip it

Friday, February 25, 2011

AAQR: Aurora Trial (U)

Aurora Trial is a very impressively looking aurora, if a bit too bright. The bottom is a bit dark, but it makes for a pleasant contrast. Wish there's a way to adjust the brightness of the aurora, but it's good!

Rating: Get it

AAQR: Bubble Live Wallpaper (U)

Do you need bubbles? That float up your screen? Well, this live wallpaper will do it.

The bubbles are okay, and the background can be changed, but that's about it.

Rating: Try it

AAQR: Tesla Sparks Live Wallpaper

Tesla Sparks Live Wallpaper attempts to liven up your launcher by adding a "tesla tower" on top of your screen. Whereever you "click", a lightning bolt zaps that location from the tower.

Somewhat amusing for a little while, but other than that, nothing interesting. The full version has clock, RSS, and so on. The free version, however, is a "Try it".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

AAQR: Mandala Dream Lite (U)

Mandala Dream Lite generates a mandala-like pattern. The free version only has 1 mandala, on 1 background. The color slightly shifts over time, so it's not totally static, but the transitions are so subtle it may as well be static.

This one is a "Skip it".

AAQR: Kodama Live Wallpaper (U)

If you like the Japanese Anime Princess Mononoke, you may like this live wallpaper, which features two kodama (wood spirits?) waving hi occasionally, and sometimes, do the poltergeist thing...rotating their heads 360.

Is it cute? Sort of. Is it good? Not really.

Rating: Skip it.

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RANT: Android Fragmentation and Lack of Minimum Requirements

This is an open letter to Google Android division and ALL Android Developers:

Start specifying MINIMUM HARDWARE requirements! 

It's a fact, the best games on the market won't work on anything less than 1 GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM

Take Glu Game's GUN BROS for example. Looks to be a great little game... But tremendous footprint. You also need to download ANOTHER 80 MB of data. 

It won't work on my Motorola Droid, which has anemic CPU (though mine's overclocked), GPU, and memory, but it has a high-res screen. Got to the menus, then it's "crash to launcher". 

Yet there is NO hardware requirements in the game description! I wasted bandwidth AND time downloading the stuff! 

Same with EA's Need for Speed: Shift for Android. 

And most games that has a huge footprint. Will NOT run on my Droid. 

It has the latest stable Android: 2.2.1, which MOST Android phones and devices get, so it is NOT the OS. It is the hardware. 

Don't take me wrong. I do NOT want the developers to develop for old wimpy phones. 

I want them to LABEL THEIR GAMES BETTER. If it was designed for 1 GHz CPU and 512MB RAM, SAY SO! 

And Google can easily come up with a specification, like "Hardware Level 1" "Level 2", and so on. Just keep on adding levels as new hardware come out. However, they don't seem to want to. 

I have personally identified the following levels:

Gen 1: T-Mobile G1 / Motorola Droid -- 192 to 256 MB RAM, 500-600 MHz CPU

Gen 2: Samsung Intercept -- 384 MB RAM, 600 MHz CPU?

Gen 3: HTC Evo, DINC, Droid X, etc.  -- 512 MB, 1 GHz CPU

Gen 4: Thunderbolt, Bionic, Atrix, etc.  -- 768 MB or 1024MB, dual core 1 GHz CPU

Gen 5: Quadcore? 

It appears that the level of RAM is the most reliable indicator for the phone's Android generation. 

Most apps on Android will not care about memory or CPU, but games do. And they need to create a standard if there is none. 

And that concludes my rant. 

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AAQR: Live Wallpaper Clock (U)

The author of this live wallpaper has a major naming problem. The concept is "Color My Clock", where the time is represented as if you want to teach a child how to count by presenting each digit as colored balls. However, he can't keep a consistent name.

This one is called "Live Wallpaper Clock", but when you install it, it's actually named "Live Wallpaper Mini: Motion". And the name itself has NO LINK to "Color My Clock".

Furthermore, it also leaves the bottom 2/3rds BLANK.

Also, the art seems very unprofessional. It looks so amateurish it's almost an insult to charge money for it.

Sorry, but this one is a "Skip it".
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

AAQR: Glass Widgets BETA

Glass Widgets is a set of widgets (clock, calendar, and RSS feed) that has a consistent look, simple, clean, and thus, work well together. Furthermore, because they all are based on the same process, they together take up maybe 3 MB of memory.

If you like clean look for your widgets give this one a look. And yes, that's three SEPARATE widgets.

AAQR: Valentine Love LWP

Valentine Love LWP from AOI is one of the better looking Valentine LWPs around. The different colored dots form into different shapes along with nice love related quotes.

AAQR: Smart Monitor Lite

Smart Monitor Lite is one of those Android Apps out of China that tries to include as many functions as possible, but end up being "jack of all trades, master of none". There are some interface quirks as well that prevents it from getting a high score.

Smart Monitor gives a smart and clear view of how your system resources are used overall, but it seem to left the details up to the pro version. It has four tabs: system, storage, network, and traffic.

In the system tab, you only know the percentage of CPU and memory used, but have no details. You also get battery and display brightness settings.

In the storage tab, it tells you about "system", "user cache", "user data", and "sd card". These are the terms used internally by Android, so a regular user would have no idea what they are, except SD card. "User Data" is actually "app storage" (i.e. how many apps you've loaded). System and Cache together is main RAM.

In the network tab, you just get mobile data "network", and Wi-Fi. If you are online, you get the respective IP addresses, and on WiFi you get the signal strength. Nothing about subnet mask or stuff like that.

In traffic you get a counter for "mobile" (keeps changing the terminology) and WiFi, and there's no way to "offset" it if you start in the middle of the billing period. There is also no breakdown of the traffic.

The interface is also quirky. On Android. you slide "left" (i.e. flick the current page left) to get to the next page on the right. However, in this app you slide RIGHT to go right. It's just completely backwards.

At least the service it loads is a mere 3 MB in memory. However, it has no widgets.

There are better data usage monitors out there, even the all-in-one monitors.
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AAQR: eRay free

eRay free is one of those system info / monitor / jack-of-all-trade / everything and the kitchen sink kind of program, except this one actually works pretty well. It has over a dozen functions, and even comes with a 4x1 widget that lets you toggle 12 different things.

And it's free, of course. Worth a try, at least.

AAQR: dodol PhoneUsage

dodol PhoneUsage seem to be a very nice phone usage analyzer. It does calls, SMS, and data.

When you first start the app it starts in "Data". If APNDroid is installed, you can use it to turn off 3G (thus disable mobile data connection). The interface is clear except for some terminology issues. It says "Total" (total data today), Suggestion (recommended quota for that day), then sent and received (for that day). You also see the Monthly (as defined quota) and time remaining. In this aspect, it is BETTER than 3G Watchdog. However, 3G Watchdog can do daily breakdown, something this app can't.

This app, however, has bargraphs that will show the last 5 periods. if you swipe left (i.e. go right), you get the graph where you see the data consumption for the last 5 days, and last 5 months.

Simialr screens exist for Calls and Text Messages.

What's really impreesive is the notification. If you swipe down the notification area, you'll see that PhoneUsage has a whole bar that shows today's data, total data, total calls, and total messages. That is pretty darn impressive!

If you prefer not to use the notification there is also a matching 2x1 widget that shows the data used, calls made, and messages consumed for the current billing period.

For call, data, and sms, you can define both month and DAILY alarms, as well as offsets (adjustments). It can't really distinguish between "in-network" calls or not, so the call minutes and such are not accurate, but then, it's better to over count than under count, right?

You can also have it do NO auto-update at all, and only have it manually update when you run it. The widgets won't be accurate, but then, do you really need to know how much you used by the minute?

All in all, this sure gives 3G Watchdog a run for the money.

Monday, February 21, 2011

AAQR: Stats Free

Stats Free is a very clean app that displays call, message, and data usage. The interface is clean. The main problem... It gives completely WRONG stats, and there's no way to declare an offset or correct the data.

The call log times are COMPLETELY wrong. It was summing up EVERY single call log it has access to, instead of the "monthly stats" of the billing period it can access. It claims I have made 3 hours 11 mins, and 48 seconds of calls in only 48 hours! It should have only counted minutes and messages from the "reset date", but does not!

At least its data counter is pretty accurate, but it can't put in an offset or a correction.

Thus, this app is completely useless to keep your calling plan under control.

AAQR: Appolicious Android Apps

Image representing Appolicious as depicted in ...Image via CrunchBaseAppolicious tries to combine a bit of Android News, an app recommendation engine, latest apps, some crowd-sourced "lists", and package that together as a competition of Appbrain. It also asks you to rate all the the apps you have on a simple 5 point scale. However, you can do that with the regular market.

While the app isn't that bad, it just isn't that visible (fonts are smaller) and the recommendation engine is a bit strange. It just doesn't really bring anything really special to the table.
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AAQR: Talkbox Free

Talkbox is one of those apps that changes your voice, to helium, robotic, etc. The free version only has 3 effects. The full version has more.

It works, but it's not "live". It's you record this sound, and when you stop, it repeats what you said in the robotic voice.

It works, but there are better apps (i.e. do more effects) for free.

AAQR: Valentine's LWP

Nothing too special about this one, except it's been somewhat Asian-ized, as the floating hearts are heart-shaped Chinese air lanterns.

Ask AAQR: What takes up most of your bandwidth?

Image representing Stitcher as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseWhat takes up most of my bandwidth? Hmmm...

Stitcher. Stitcher for sure. I spend about 150 - 200 MB per DAY on Stitcher podcasts.

Next most? Appbrain. It is what I use to discover apps I have not yet tried. If you are careful in downloading (don't download those huge apps of 5-20 MB, or need another 100MB of data like some games) you should be able to keep it under 20 MB per day.

Browser, email, and the rest take up about 10-15 MB per day.

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AAQR: Jumpgate Free LWP (U)

Jumpgate Free from Kittehface Software features Andy the Android with a backpack rocket flying through a wormhole. If you tap on him he'll wave at you. If you scroll through the different desktop screens the views change quite a bit instead of just a little in the other "fly-by" LWPs.

Definitely worth a try. Not quite as cool as the "Wormhole" LWP, but a bit more interactive.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

AAQR: EpicAndroid 52 Card Pickup LWP FREE (U)

Deck of cards used in the game piquetImage via WikipediaAnimated cards being dealed and such in the background as a live wallpaper.

There are some problems on my Motorola Droid. The "transparency" on the cards seem wrong. The cards end up transparent not quite like the screenshots. If it works on your phone, it does look pretty good.
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AAQR: Galactic Core 3D Live Wallpaper (U)

SN200GY and the galactic core of NGC 1260Image via WikipediaAOI Studio previously published a free LWP called "Galactic Core", and it was among one of the better ones I reviewed in my LWP Roundup (over 200 LWP reviewed).

They've upgraded it and came up with a "3D version", and this one is even more impressive. More colors, more swirl patterns, and everything... and it's STILL FREE.
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AAQR: LITE Marble Live Wallpaper (U)

This one tries to go the "interactive falling balls" route that supposedly interacts with the gravity.

The problem is the author apparently forgot the lock the orientation or react to it. When you turn the phone landscape, the marbles become eggs and falls sideways.

Not worth trying yet.
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AAQR: Make Your Clock Widget (Beta 5)

Digital clock's display changing numbersImage via WikipediaMake Your Clock Widget is a crowd-sourced clock and calendar widget complete with editor. That's right, CUSTOMIZE your own widgets of clock or calendar (or both!)

You can choose variety of sizes (up to 4x2) with variety of styles.

If NONE of the clocks on the market fits your style, this is probably for you.
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Android Keyboard Review Now Covers 32 different soft keyboards

Added Thumb Keyboard and SmartInput Lite

This is the most comprehensive of soft keyboard review for Android anywhere on the Internet!