Yann Vernier’s Blog

2011-09-14

Some more Android bits

Filed under: Android — yannv @ 23:23

A few apps were omitted from my previous post about Android, mostly because I considered them not that helpful for the audience at large. However, I don’t really have a large audience, nor a clue what they’d like to see – so that’s a pretty poor reason. And of course a few were added since, to cover unanticipated whims. So, here’s a few more.

STHLM Traveling

I nearly always use SL (Stockholm local transit) to get around. They offer a usable web search, and a wap page (which they’ve naturally downgraded to the point a search can’t be bookmarked on my older WAP browser), but STHLM Traveling simply beats them for convenience. It searches the same backend, but has smoother completion, can search from current position, allows saving routes without registering some online account and so on. Straightforward and helpful.

E-nummerguiden

This tool would really be useful to a wider European audience, but it’s in Swedish. E numbers are simply a database of food additives within Europe, and this lets me look them up. It’s good to be able to tell what’s what even offline. Wikipedia do cover the list. The downside of this app will sound silly – it just doesn’t handle input that well. The search button does nothing, and it doesn’t use numeric entry although all it’s for is looking up numbers.

Simon Tatham’s puzzle collection

Really installed more out of habit than anything else. On the E71, I frequently used the puzzles, but on the HTC I rarely do – in part because it’s much better for reading, and in part because the controls are just worse. I’m not at all accurate with the capacitive touchscreen and the optical trackpad requires awkward motions instead of simple presses.

PDF viewer

Naturally, the phone can’t beat my e-book reader for displaying PDFs, but it does have interactivity and online connectivity going for it. So as I browse the web and find an article, I frequently want to see the contents. A PDF viewer was in order, and I don’t much like what Adobe have done on other platforms, so I figured I’d go for an open source one. The one I got is called APV (although it shows as PDF Viewer), and it’s just decent. I’m likely to reconsider this one, as their webpage linked me to VuDroid.

Addendum: Nope, VuDroid wasn’t even close. Admittedly I like getting DjVu viewing too, but the interface was awful (fullscreen does not mean cover my screen with an unnecessary and unclear UI widget instead of content), and it was really slow. As it is now, that’s one app that won’t replace APV. APV annoys me enough by popping up zoom buttons (it lacks pinch) every time I scroll, but those do go away.

Google Sky Map

A rather neat gimmick, this shows stars – something I had plenty of programs for, but it fits well in this format. Using the accelerometer, location, and compass, it maps nicely to how you point the phone.

StopWatch & Timer

I added this simply because I’ve missed the functions on the E71. It’s fairly decent, though the whole thing looks like a bit of an advertisement. Always the nitpicker, I have to point out this not only does only one timer (for stopwatch, that’s fairly normal and it does laps), it only does one of the functions at any time. So no stopwatch while the timer is ticking, and no nice way to time multiple things. I could go to the effort of writing a better one, but I have other time wastes like writing this down.

Incidentally, I also got my first homebuilt Android app running this Monday. It’s of very local use only (remote control for a robot at work), so it’s not going up for public use, but it’s a start. It was nearly a pure web port using PhoneGap (and there’s the link I’m most likely to have a use for in this whole article), but I did have to add one line of Java to get it to go fullscreen properly.

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