Saturday, April 30, 2011

AAQR: SMS Backup+ (app, free)

SMS Backup+ is similar to CallTrack or SMS Backup, in that it backs up your SMS (and your call log) to the Google cloud, usually Gmail and Calendar. Youc an choose to backup only one or another.

SMS Backup will work with the new Google 2-step authenticator if you turn on plain-text authorization instead of the more complicated (but automatic) OAuth. You will need to create a per-app password.

The app runs in the background automatically, requires virtually no intervention.

If you want your stuff archived, this free solution is for you.

Rating: Get it

http://www.appbrain.com/app/sms-backup/com.zegoggles.smssync
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AAQR: Tapfish (free, game, virtual pet)

Tapfish is basically Farmville, except you grow fish in a virtual aquarium instead of crops on a virtual farm.

The idea is simple: you have tanks where you purchase and breed different fish, tropical, exotic, and more. You buy fish eggs to "hatch" into fish, and you then feed them periodically, keep the tank clean, and occasionally breed some interesting hybrids. There are two currencies: fish coins, and fish bucks. Clearly some fishies cost more than others. Some fish can even run a profit if you grow them, so basically the idea is to start with the starter fish and breed your way to specials and exotic fish. (And you can have multiple tanks)

Different fish mature at different rates. Some may even take a several days to mature. At least nobody can steal your fish here.

Animation is rather minimal, and the fish is a bit small to be interesting. Still, the fun of "breeding" different fish to make hybrids and a bit of virtual pet thrown in makes for an interesting occasional diversion.

You can also use micro-transactions to buy more fishbucks and fishcoins, or use the various "trial offers" to get more fishmoney. It's an interesting incentive to push you to get more stuff. They study the reward schedule very well. It can be quite addictive.

Supplemental information: after longer play, the evilness of the app starts to come out. You are encouraged to clean and "love" other people's fish as well, and that earns you fish coins. Nothing wrong with that. So the idea is you form groups of other TapFish player and do a love/clean circle. Eeek.

All of the advanced features (more exotic fish, decorations, etc.) require fishbucks, which can ONLY be obtained by download and trying apps, or pay real $$$ via microtransactions. And without access to more tanks and more advanced fish types, your breeding program will be forever limited and slow. Only 2 species can be bred at one time without pay fishbucks).  Breedable species is limited to about half dozen without fishbucks either.

You also need to check your tank every few hours else your fish may die, and require fishbucks to revive (else, flush it virtually).

There are a TON of decorations, all requiring fishbucks or several THOUSAND coins. When typical "profit" from a normal fish is only like 20-30 coins and that takes a day or two to grow up, it's clear you need to pay $$$ to "enjoy" this game.

Rating: Try it

http://www.appbrain.com/app/tap-fish/com.bayview.tapfish
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Friday, April 29, 2011

AAQR: Instant Heart Rate Light

If you ever go to a hospital, they have this thing they clamp onto your finger (very gently) and they can get the pulse from that. It's called a doximeter. It works by measuring the flow of blood through your blood vessels in your finger by shining a bright light into it and detect the difference in blood flow.

Guess, what, your phone can do the same thing, with this ap... It can use the camera and the "flash" LED. Just hold your finger over  the camera, and wait. Really, it does work.

The pro version can keep a log of results, but the free version works fine.

Rating: Get it

http://www.appbrain.com/app/instant-heart-rate/si.modula.android.instantheartrate
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AAQR: Little Fafnir LWP (free)

Little Fafnir is a baby dragon that lives in your live wallpaper.  it is somewhat cute... If you don't do anything the little dragon falls asleep. If you tap him a few times he feels happy. Wallpaper "time" changes according to time of day. etc. etc.

However, it seem to take a long time to initialize, and use a lot of memory. Not sure if it's completely worth it.

Rating: Try it

http://www.appbrain.com/app/little-fafnir-the-dragon/com.andpets.wallpaper.live.fafnir
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AAQR: Custom Launcher Icons (paid)

Custom Launcher Icons used to be known as LauncherPro Icons, but they decided the name is too restrictive, as the icons and docks are now universally applicable (just about). They also completely revamped the interface.  The idea is still the same: pay for this app, and you can much more easily access the icons and docks in their collection. You could download them off their website one at a time, but why? :)

As this is a paid app, and you should encourage the artists to make more... You really should get it.

Rating: Get it

http://www.appbrain.com/app/custom-launcher-icons/com.droidicon.launcherproicons

Thursday, April 28, 2011

AAQR: The Secret of Grisly Manor (game, puzzle, paid)

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseThe Secret of Grisly Manor was given away free on Amazon Appstore a little while back. It's a decent little "puzzle adventure" in the vein of Myst. Whether it's worth $1.99... well, that's up to you.

Basically, you got a summons from your eccentric grandpa to visit him at his manor, where he was rumored to have disappeared and the place turned into a haunted house. When you got there, you need to solve various puzzles to advance and eventually, find grandpa and discover his secrets.

The puzzles are not bad, as most of them makes sense. There is a bit of back and forth as clues for one section are often left in a completely different section of the house. The game is sneaky in that there is ANOTHER door between the bathroom and the two bedrooms. If you try every pixel on screen you would have missed it. On a PC there are little "arrows" showing you where you can or cannot go, but not on an Android phone or tablet!

Another problem or two I have is on the slider puzzle (i.e. enter combination of safe). The sliders are supposed to let you enter a number from 1 to 100. However, the sensitivity of the sliders are such that it is virtually impossible to stop on the exact number, and there are no up/down arrows to let you fine tune. It was an extremely frustrating exercise. Again, on a PC this was no problem, as the the mouse have infinitely better sensitivity (and the whole desk to work with). Same problem in the final slider puzzle: the solution may not engage the first time as you can't get the stuff to line up precisely.

Overall, the game is an "also-ran". There really isn't much to go for. The bad UI really turned me off. The puzzles are average. As it was free, I guess it didn't hurt much, but again, I doubt it would have paid $1.99 for it. This was a port from a Flash Game (and was also ported to iOS, apparently).

Rating: skip it, unless you REALLY enjoy this sort game

http://www.appbrain.com/app/com.firemaplegames.games.thesecretofgrislymanor
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

AAQR: Kernel Manager Lite

Kernel Manager helps you locate alternate kernels that can overclock or undervolt the CPU, or do some other interesting things.

The Lite version disabled the "filter" menu which helps you narrow down the choices, like "all the kernels that can do at least 1 GHz" and so on.

Your phone needs to be rooted first.

The app also incorporates ratings for features and stability, among other publisher provided information. As the kernel list is dependent on the kernel writer himself to provide, this can lead to extreme slowness.

I tried to flash one of the kernels and the app just FC'ed after getting root permission. In other words, it didn't do anything.

Rating: Try it (or just skip it, if you already have ROM Manager)

http://www.appbrain.com/app/kernel-manager-lite/com.teamwin.kernelmanager.free

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Guide: How to add themes to your Android device

Here is a complete guide on how themes are added to your Android device

  • Explains 4 types of Android themes
  • Explains limits of each type
  • Explains how each is applied

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-add-themes-to-your-Android-device-complete-guide