Saturday, November 20, 2010

Google Sky Map Review

I finally found the ultimate app out there for Android - no surprise its from Google!
You just point the phone at the sky and it shows you the names of the heavenly objects on screen!!! Stars, planets, constellations, galaxies even! Also, in case you cant find it, you can type the name, eg: moon, and voila, it guides you to which part of the sky that object currently is.

And there is a new feature called time travel, whereby you can view the sky forward or backward in time - so u can see historic eclipses or plan your future ones.

Another nice thing is that, though it uses GPS to automatically find your current position, in case your GPS is slow, or you dont have GPS, or you simply want the sky details of another point on the planet, you have an option to directly enter the coordinates (latitude and longitude - which you can find out from wikimapia). Combine this with the cool Time Travel feature, and you can plan when to take your girlfriend to the beach so u wont miss the sunset next week for super brownie points ;)!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Favourite must-have Android Offline Apps

work in progress!
In this must have list, I will be focusing on apps that do their work without net connectivity.
Swype apk: This is basically an alternative to the basic keyboard Input in Android. Swype greatly reduces ur typing speed by allowing u to drag ur finger over the letters of a keyboard instead of typing each letter one by one. It then guesses smartly the correct word or gives you options if more than 1 word is eligible! On some Android phones, this comes default installed, but on others you have to install it. Make sure you dont install this if you already have it installed. You wont get this on Market but you can install it from the apk link I've given.
Flashlight by Devesh Parekh apk: One touch app that turns your phone into a white full bright screen. Very useful especially if you usually keep your phone on lowest light and you one day find yourself needing some light in the dark...
Advanced Task Killerapk: EXCELLENT APP. Using this to kill unnecessary apps that run in the background, I was able to extend my Android battery by 6-8 hours (I can get max 48 hours with mild usage and no 3G).
App Monster apk: A good application manager - shows u all user apps that are installed, gives you an option to back up the apps onto your sd card (useful if you installed the app via Market and dont have apk file to install later once you uninstalled).
Cardiometer apk: Inspires you to start losing weight with all its cool features!!! Shows you your calories burnt, distance travelled, even running route on a map if GPS is enabled and so much more...
J2ME Runner Home: Run almost any Mobile Java application on your android with this.
Vignette apk: A great replacement for the default Android Camera
Chomp SMS apk: Alternative to the default Android SMS app. Has a slightly better threaded view and customizable colors.

Google Sky Map Home: THE BEST APP EVER! Detailed review at my other post here.

Angry Birds apk: Amazing addictive game
Abduction apk: First bestseller on Android - a fun motion sensor game
Fish food apk: Interesting game with a new take on the old matching colours game.

For offline installation and best places to download apk files, check my previous post, Applications for Android - Online vs Offline Installation

Monday, November 8, 2010

Offline installation of Anrdoid SDK (Platforms and addons)

I installed Android SDK the other day to explore the apps platform for 2.1 (now that I have an Android phone!)…

Things you need:

A. SDK Starter package which just needs to be unzipped into a location (no installation as such):
PlatformPackageSizeMD5 Checksum
Windowsandroid-sdk_r07-windows.zip23669664 bytes69c40c2d2e408b623156934f9ae574f0
Mac OS X (intel)android-sdk_r07-mac_x86.zip19229546 bytes0f330ed3ebb36786faf6dc72b8acf819
Linux (i386)android-sdk_r07-linux_x86.tgz17114517 bytese10c75da3d1aa147ddd4a5c58bfc3646

B. Platform package which is one or more of the various android versions for which you will be coding. Eg: 2.2, 2.1, 1.6, 1.5, etc.

This has to be selected and downloaded from within the Android SDK.

But Google was forcing me to download the platform package only through the SDK. Why can’t I have a set of zips I can reuse on my laptop, desltop1, desktop2 as needed instead of having to download the Android platform repeatedly from the net for each machine?

The answer was simple after a little investigation but apparently undocumented. See below steps for full offline installation:

1) First you need to download repository.xml file. To find out the download link for this file, launch Android AVD Manager (after unzipping the sdk, manually from %AndroidSDKDir%\tools\Android.bat or from the Eclipse plugin). Here, when you select available Packages, you will see the default target: (maybe slightly different for you). Download this respository.xml file from the net (and close the AVD manager).

2) Open the repository.xml file and search for <sdk:platform>. You will see around 5 entries for each Android platform/version.

Identify the version you want and look for the platform filename inside the <sdk:url> tag. In my case, I wanted the 2.1 platform:

<sdk:description>Android SDK Platform 2.1_r2</sdk:description>
<sdk:archive os="linux" arch="any">
<sdk:checksum type="sha1">a89d32ddf9d8629f15e682bdf220a88ca2392349</sdk:checksum>
<sdk:archive os="macosx" arch="any">
<sdk:checksum type="sha1">8492e2f0b61819c4ca2e16601fc3260b341a3f06</sdk:checksum>
<sdk:archive os="windows" arch="any">
<sdk:checksum type="sha1">00cfb0bbbf24fc56c493990186deb0bfd44630e5</sdk:checksum>

3) In the url obtained from step 1 (, replace repository.xml with the identified filename to get the actual url of the platform file. So in this example, the url would be:

Download this file (by typing into your browser url for eg).

4) Once the file is downloaded, extract this file into the <Androidsdk>\platforms directory. So you would end up with a new directory here as %AndroidSDKDir%\platforms\android-2.1_r02-windows.

That’s it!

If you now open the AVD manager again and click on Installed Packages, the extracted platform will show up as “SDK Platform Android a.b-update c, API d, revision e”

Use similar steps to download any Addons like Google APIs, but extract the Add-ons into %AndroidSDKDir%\add-ons directory. Just make sure that before you install the Addons, you have the corresponding platform already unzipped into the platforms directory.

To summarise, now I don’t need a net connection when to install the full android SDK – I just have to keep the following files handy:

· (unzip into a location where you want to install Android SDK, %AndroidSDKDir%)

· (unzip into %AndroidSDKDir%\platforms)

· (unzip into %AndroidSDKDir%\add-ons)

· (optional but useful Eclipse plugin – see here how to install this offline into Eclipse)

Happy droiding!
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