Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Droid Day Two; In Search of Apps

Instead of writing a full length review of the Droid I’ve chosen to create day by day logs of my Droid experience. I expect by focusing on the stupid things I do it will be helpful to others.  I’ve already had some useful comments posted on my Day One; First Impressions that corrected my beginner ignorance.

I still haven’t totally figured out the Droid interface but I’m getting there.  Today I wanted to see what applications I could find.  I mentioned yesterday that my first downloads were Facebook and a Twitter app called TwitWalk. Thank you to Brian and John for pointing me to a different application called Tridroid. It’s free with a Pro version for $3.99. The text isn’t as large as TwitWalk but the Droid screen is so crisp I’m able to deal with it. Eventually I found there was an option in Twidroid to make the font larger so I’m very happy. Now they need an update for Facebook like we recently had on the iPhone.

Adding applications to my Droid home screen wasn’t obvious. I could “LongTouch” an application to add it to my center home page screen but once it was full that user experience failed. As I write this I just watched a segment on TV about the Droid and noticed I could press one of my alternate home screens to add applications and widgets. Thanks you NBC.  I realize they can’t make everything just like the iPhone but this was confusing. My next challenge is to figure out how to remove apps or widgets from my home screens.  I can’t figure it out and now my home page is full. 

After searching online for help I discovered if you press an icon long enough the tab at the bottom turns into a trash can. Just needed to drag my app there. So the LongTough or LongClick is kinda like the right-click on Windows. It’s not obvious to everyone but is very powerful.

One of the big deals about the Android OS is you can multi-task. I would be more impressed if I knew how to switch between applications without always having to go to the home page and re-open it. My friend Brian did point out that what looked like multiple open applications along the top I reported yesterday were actually notifications. I finally realized that anytime I get new Tweets and new messages on Facebook I get a little notification at top so my notification panel is pretty much always full and making noises. Once I figured out how to pull down the Notification panel menu I also found a way to switch back to open applications.

Advanced Task Killer
Oddly enough, most applications don’t have a simple Exit or Close so one of the first applications I was told to get was Advanced Task Killer. I was surprised when I ran this and realized all my apps were still open. I killed them and voila’ all my notifications were gone.


My first disappointment came looking for an application to view my home Slingbox. This is one of the applications I used on my iTouch all the time. There are some conflicting opinions online if an Android version of Slingbox will be available. My sources say it doesn’t look good.

I was reluctant about downloading WeatherBug. Years ago they were one of the folks connected to the adware scum bags at Gator. I never thought I’d use WeatherBug again but I can’t deny this is a first class app. It’s still ad supported but I’m guessing this time I can remove it if I want.

Google Sky Map

Just one very cool app. Just go outside and it will let you know all about the constellations in your night sky based on your GPS location.  I’m anxious to see if it will download and include special events like when the space station is visible.

Barcode Scanner

This is another one of a kind, just for fun application. If you really want the people of Walmart to stop and take photos of you just go around the store reading barcodes with your Droid. It really works.

Application Power Usage

One of my favorite features is hidden away under Settings –> About phone –> Battery Use.  This screen provides more information than any other device including any PC I have ever used. Not only does it tell you how much power the phone and display are using, it tells you how much power is being used by individual applications that use hardware features.




Stay tuned for Day Three. I think I’m going to work on getting my calendar and contacts updated.

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Blogger Brian said...

To get to your open app list, hold the Home button and you'll get an Alt-Tab-like popup with the last 6 running apps to choose between.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

You shouldn't have to kill other apps -- the Android OS is supposed to manage them automatically, e.g. automatically closing apps when more memory is needed for a new app.

It doesn't always work that way -- probably because many apps don't behave properly. But I get along without an app-killer app just fine. It probably is most useful when you want to play a game, to make sure the game gets as much of the phone's compute power as possible.

12:07 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Arnold said...

I recommend Swift for a free Twitter app. Not sure what "Tridroid" is, but Twidroid is a very popular and feature-full client, but I found it behaving badly and sucking power.

I can also recommend Shazam for music recognition and ShopSavvy for price comparison.

As Jeremy said, you should need to kill apps, they should just "roll out" when you need the memory and if you don't have notifications set.

12:49 PM  

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