Tag Archive for Android

Victoria – The Place To Be For Smartphone Applications

 

With over 36% of the Australian mobile phone population owning a smartphone, and with an expected growth to more than 50% within 12 months, it’s no wonder the number of applications (or “apps”) being made, continues to increase rapidly. It is becoming more common for websites to offer a mobile version of their website or a dedicated app and this trend has continued with our local Government agencies getting onboard.

In Victoria, we are spoiled with almost every Government department offering something. From the Department of Health’s fantastic Better Health Channel application, which I have personally used many times to locate a 24hr Chemist or gain health advice for my children, to VicRoads SmartPark application, which helps me to avoid being fined by reminding me that my parking is about to expire, and it even tells me the exact location I parked my car! Read more

Make your smartphone smarter with FREE Turn-by-turn navigation software

With just about every smartphone on the market these days; from the $188 unlocked Huawei Sonic to a high end iPhone or HTC Sensation, you are more than likely to find it sporting an internal GPS. While the GPS functionality is used for more than just navigation (at iBrothers, finding a decent coffee in an unknown location is impossible without a GPS based social networking app) turn-by-turn navigation is still considered the most useful application of this technology. Turn-by-turn navigation of course requires an app and the good news is that the choice available keeps on growing.

The list of features for each application vary considerably. Aside from simple turn-by-turn navigation, vendors have been looking to add other functionality to give their product an advantage over their competitors. Buying a GPS device or app can give you some interesting things such as speed camera locations, multipoint routing, school zone warnings, text-to-speach, custom or celebrity voices and navigate to photo just to name a few. While some apps continually download the maps they need live, some have have the map data built into the application with the benefit of off-line usage (no need for a data connection). The trade off is that the application weighs in at about 200 to 400MB and vary in price from $19 MetroView (Map data provided by PMSA) to $80 for TomTom (Map data provided by Sensis)

What I am looking at today is two free options on the market suitable for the occasional user that while basic in their offering, work extremely well and above all are FREE! Read more

HTC backflip on bootloader lockdown policy

Ever since HTC released the Froyo 2.2 update to their Android device line, they also started locking down the bootloaders on them. This meant that the Android hacking community could not longer “root” the device and as such had no way to run custom made ROM’s. The move by HTC caused a rather noticeable outpouring of negativity from their customers in the way of heated emails, Twiiter and Facebook posts and the creation of an online petition.

All this noise seems to have payed off as today on HTC’s own Facebook page, CEO Peter Chou sent this message to his customers:

‎”There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we’ve listened. Today, I’m confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience”

HTC’s reasons for locking the bootloaders where to ensure that devices could remain secure enough for average users. This however, goes against the fundamental idea about owning a device based on the “open source” Android operating system. I for one, with my locked HTC Wildfire, am very excited about this news even if it’s only for the ability to remove the telco branding and bloatware. Let’s just hope HTC make it available for existing and older handsets and not just for new ones yet to be released.

“Are we there yet?” A road trip with an Android smartphone

Most people I know would peg me as a bit of an “Apple fanboy” and I’ll be the first to admit, for the most part I really do like Apple products. I love the design of the hardware, software and their simplicity in flow and usability while still being able to accomplish all my needs.

Prior to the iPhone I had a problem. A “mobile phone addiction”. It was like a drug and for more than 10 years, I found myself upgrading every 6-12 months to get the latest and greatest phone on the market. That was until the iPhone 3G launched in Australia.

Being a phone junkie and already well equipped with the Mac/ iPod combination, I lusted over the iPhone ever since Steve Jobs unveiled it back in 2007. It was sexy and different, and totally blew away my Windows Mobile something or other I had at the time. I have been a proud iPhone owner of the iPhone 3G, 3Gs and 4, upgrading contracts for every revision.

Even with the satisfaction of my iPhone, Android based smartphones had also entered the market and the inner geek in me was intrigued. The first offerings though had no pinch-to-zoom, no real enticing application market and very limited availability of handsets in Australia which tended to stay my hand from my wallet. It wasn’t until Telstra and HTC released the Desire with 2.1 (Éclair) that I felt the platform appeared mature enough to be a contender for my hard earned cash when next I upgraded my mobile phone. With the Desire’s launch, a number of friends started to move away from either their iPhone 3G or from their other feature phones. While tempted, I chose to hold out for the iPhone 4.

Lately more and more people have joined the chorus of those hyping the Android platform. This, along with the work we are doing at iBrothers, aggravated the tech itch. The talk of “open”, “rebellion” and the choice of multiple manufactures started to get the better of me. At this stage, I was already using the iPhone 4 and I couldn’t really afford to take the punt on a second smartphone, but like an addict I couldn’t help myself and (on a budget of course) I managed to pull some strings and I chose the HTC Wildfire. The cheapest Android device and the time but meeting all the requirements for a full Android experience, it was even one of the first Android devices to ship with “Flash” preinstalled. The Wildfire was the little brother of the HTC Desire, just with slower CPU, less memory and smaller display. Read more