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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pictures shot with the Nokia E7

Here are some pictures I shot with the Nokia E7 that the kind folks at WOMWorldNokia have sent me.



SD-Booster for Android - Speed up your SD card

Are bugged by how slow your Android phone opens up the Gallery? Does it take forever to see your picture's thumbnails?

Well, XDA developers member Akusari just released version 1.0.2 of his SD-Booster application. This app allows you to change the read ahead speed of your SD card. By default that speed is set at 128KB, so if you have large files on your SD card, they will be read 128KB at a time. If your images are say 1.5MB large, then it takes Android 12 to 13 read operations to get the file into memory. When you use SD booster to set the read ahead to say 512KB, Android will only perform 3 read operations to get the file. This app does not increase the reading speed of your SD card, it will only reduce the number operations involving the SD card.

This does not translate into higher speeds when reading files, but less reads mean longer SD card life.

You will need a rooted phone in order for this app to work.

Go ahead and give it a try. Download from Android Market


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nokia E7 unboxing and hands on

Well, finally the Nokia E7 came by, courtesy of the nice folks at WOMWorldNokia. The phone feels rock solid and taking into account the materials used, it's say it is rock solid. And it has the scars to prove it(two little bumps from a previous fall his former owner had). The ClearBlack display is gorgeous, indoors I cannot tell where the contour ends and where the display starts. You'll see in the video what I mean.

The slide out keyboard(pop up keyboard or snap out keyboard more likely) is the most comfortable keyboard I've used on a mobile phone. The keys are spaced perfectly, the press is not too sensitive, nor too hard, but just right. In short it's a pleasure to write on.

So here is the usual unboxing video with some hands on action included.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Evernote for Android - Share your notes anytime, anywhere

Taking notes is a very used feature on any phone, not just smartphones. People write down anything they need to remember into phone memos, on paper even on the palm of their hands :)

Evernote comes in handy by organizing the note taking part on your Android smartphone. First you need to create an Evernote account. They also have a paid Premium service which allows you to upload 1GB monthly to their service. For most users, the free account will do.

What is the deal with Evernote?

Well, Evernote is not just an app for Android, they have an app for whatever OS you can think of, even Symbian and Palm. There is an iOS app, there is a Windows app, Mac OS app, and even a Web app to access you notes an files whenever you want to.

Evernote is organized in notebooks. Each notebook contains notes, and each note can contain text, images, PDF documents and many more.

The Android app integrates with the sharing feature of Android so you can share anything from your device with the Evernote app as a note.

Another cool thing is the browser plugin which allows you to send web clips to your Evernote account.

Head over to the Market and give Evernote a try, it's free and worth your while.

Here is a video with the features added in the last version of Evernote for Android.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nokia N9 finally surfaces - MeeGo on 12MP sounds good

Well, it looks like Nokia finally decided to let us see what the N9 is all about. The 12MP camera is no surprise, probably the same as the N8, but this baby has a sliding keyboard like the E7, and runs MeeGo!

Why all the excitement? Well, believe it or not, even if they sided with Microsoft by adopting Windows Phone as their primary smartphone platform, Nokia isn't that dumb to let the customers that wanted them to switch to Android get away. Running MeeGo means that the N9 could easily run Android, so here it is... WP7 on one hand, MeeGoDroid on the other... Keep everybody happy. I think this is a very good move. It's like when computer manufacturers load up some crappy linux on you new laptop. They know you'll install something else on it, but it has be sold functional, so...

I'm not saying MeeGo isn't good, but right now, Android has a 200.000 app base behind it.
Here is a teaser video of the upcoming N9.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Motorola Milestone - How to make the best of it - Part 3

Well, in the 1st and 2nd parts of this Milestone experiment, I've shown you how to improve your phone's responsiveness and overall speed, while still running a stock Froyo. In this post I will show you how to fine tune the performance of your system so that it will improve your user experience, and provide more battery life.

Memory management

A further improvement you can do so that your apps can start faster, is to reconfigure the Android memory manager. By default, Android lets pretty much every app reside in memory, and only in very low memory situations, starts killing these apps, in order to free memory for another app you may want to start. This is in generally a good idea, and it allows you to better multitask because the more apps allowed to run simultaneously, the more apps that can multitask together. But that comes with at the price of new apps launch speed. Every time you start an app, the system frees RAM so that app can run properly. Next app you run gets the same treatment.

So basically an application start time looks like this:

AppStartTime = AndroidFreeRAMTime + AppLoadTime;

This happens almost every time.

What I will be trying to accomplish with the memory manager tuning is to remove the AndroidFreeRAMTime, by providing more free memory at all times. This means that you won't be able to run that many apps at the same time as you did before, so if you're heavy on multitasking, stop here, this tutorial is not for you. You can jump to the CPU tuning section instead.

So, first of all you need to grab an application from the Market called MinFreeManager. This application configures the memory management parameters for Android. Remember, you need root access to do these things.

The default system values provided were the following (you can always access them using the preset Default):

Foreground app: 6
Visible app: 8
Secondary server: 16
Hidden app: 20
Content provide: 22
Empty app: 24

the values I currently use are the following

Foreground app: 6
Visible app: 8
Secondary server: 16
Hidden app: 24
Content provide: 32
Empty app: 48

What are these values you may ask? Well, each value provides a free RAM threshold from where Android will start killing certain categories of apps. For example, it will kill the foreground app (the currently running one) if the free memory gets below 6MB of RAM. Visible Apps are apps that run in the background and so on.

You can use the Menu->Apply option to apply the values on the spot, and Apply at boot to apply them each time you start the phone.

The effect of these settings are constantly more free RAM, and so application load times are much lower. Android will still be killing apps in the background if the memory thresholds are crossed, but it won't influence your application start time. Now we practically removed the AndroidFreeRAMTime and we're left with:

AppStartTime = AppLoadTime

No more lags, translate into a snappier phone.

CPU tuning

If you choose to overclock your Milestone, this chapter will provide you a way to increase your battery life and speed the phone up a little.

Normally, Android uses CPU scaling so that when your phone is idle, or not doing much processing, the CPU clock is set to 125MHz by default. When the CPU is needed, the CPU clock is automatically set to 550MHz and stays that way until the CPU load is back to low values. Now I have overclocked the Milestone to 900MHz using a vsel of 63 in Milestone Overclock, so in my case the clock goes from 125MHz to 900MHz.
Even with this overclock, sometimes I felt a little lag when trying to do something. That was because the CPU took a little while to get from 125MHz to 900MHz. This is the performance part of the problem. The battery problem is that even if the phone is idle, if there is an app running with mid CPU load the CPU will stay at 900MHz until that app finishes. Now, you don't need an app that runs while your screen is off to finish as quickly as possible, right? So we need a way to tell the CPU to run at lower speeds when you don't need it.
Here is where SetCPU comes in handy. SetCPU allows you to specify the minimum CPU frequency and the maximum CPU frequency. It also allow you to define profiles with these 2 settings for various situations like when charging the phone, of when the screen is off, or even when you're low on battery.

In the main screen I've set the main online profile to have a minimum frequency of 500MHz and maximum of 900MHz. I have defined a profile for battery under 30% where I set the CPU to 125MHz up to 500MHz, another profile for screen off from 250MHz up to 500MHz, and another profile for charging where I set the CPU just like the one for screen off.

So basically, I managed to improve the speed of the phone while I'm operating it, because the minimum speed is now 500MHz and the switch from 500 to 900 when needed is much smoother than from 125 to 900. The screen off profile helps me conserve battery power when the phone's screen is turned off, the charging helps by lowering the time taken for a full charge, and the battery less than 30% helps when your baterry is low and you still need to operate your phone.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Super Task Killer 2011 for Android - Take control of your apps

Many of you may ask yourselves how many memory do I have free on my phone? Or how many applications are running? How can I stop an application, it doesn't have a Quit or Exit option?

Well most of the times, the Android OS takes care of the RAM management and closing applications. But every now and then, it's good to know if some application that I rarely use, is always running. Some manufacturers include task managers into their ROMs, but most of them don't.

So here is where Super Task Killer 2011 comes in handy.

Super Task Killer allows you to kill a batch of applications, see how much memory they consume, and how much memory there is free on your device. It can also add a notification bar item, for faster access.

You're gonna ask me now, why would I want to know how much RAM my apps are using? Well, for a device with less RAM these, an application that is used often such as the homescreen has to be light on memory. So you need this kind of software when you're testing out various apps from the Market to compare their memory consumption. Same goes when you have to choose a Twitter client, or whatever other side by side comparison you can think of.

Head over to the market and download Super Task Killer 2011.


Monday, May 9, 2011

myHome lite for Android - Homescreen for low memory phones

Well, a few days ago I wrote a post about what I was using as a homescreen replacement, namely Zeam. The Motorola Milestone I am currently using has only 256MB of RAM, so you can imagine I am a little restrained when it comes to resident apps. I noticed a tweet today about beta testing myHome launcher and decided to give it a go.

To my surprise I found myself staring at Super Task Killer in wonder. The myHome launcher ate 9 to 10 MB or RAM? I couldn't believe it! I loaded up my homescreen as usual, and still it stayed there, just under 10MB. The thing that will amaze you further is that this thing has skins. Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Sense and even the old Donut. Even though they don't work quite as you would expect, the devs behind it promise to fix these small issues in the future.

Give it a try, it'll be worth your while. Head over to myHome lite at the market and get it.


Friday, May 6, 2011

QuickPic for Android - blazing fast media gallery

Well, many of you may be sick and tired of the standard Gallery application. It's slow, it's unintuitive and the bling Google added in Froyo was at the expense of performance. Most manufacturers include their own media gallery applications.

For those of you who have to use the standard Gallery app(and I mean most people who use custom ROMs), here is some good news.

There is an app available in the Market that will change the way you browse photos in a very good way. QuickPic is a complete media gallery replacement.

It's very quick, loads photos incredibly quick and you can easily setup your albums just the way you want them. You can also hide unwanted images, like those downloaded by various apps for widgets or god knows what else.

QuickPic can do multiple selection, cropping images, sharing and so on. Head over to the Market, download QuickPic and start enjoying your photos.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How and when does Android record my location data

The last week we've all seen the havoc wreaked by the guys that uncovered how Apple tracks your location data. The funny thing is that Apple records the cell tower and WiFi data even if you turn off location services. Another "bug" in Apple's iOS is that it never stops recording the data. Now whenever something like this happens to Apple, it is their established policy to steer focus away from their problems. It happened with the antenna-gate scandal, when they started to showcase other cellphones that dropped signal when held a certain way. So people started talking about Android having the same issues. Now here is what I found after I started digging into this assumed problem.

First of all I installed an app called Android location cache viewer from the Android Market. This app requires root access, so don't bother installing it on an unrooted phone.

So the first question is how does Android record my location data? Well, the answer to that is this: It records the last 50 cell tower locations, and the last 200 WiFi locations.

The second question is when does Android record my location data? The answer to that one is: When you allow it to.

When I first booted up the Android I currently use for the first time, it asked me if I wanted to use the Location services. I didn't want to use them and so I unchecked the location services checkbox.

Now when I ran Android location cache viewer here is what I got:

So, rest assured that if you do not want the location services, there won't be any location data recording with Android.