February can be a cold, grim month, so we’ve been looking for some fun from our Android smartphone – as well as finding ways it can keep us happy when we’re not actually using it.
We’ve been buying stuff on Amazon, keeping our eye on speed cameras, capturing all kinds of notes, looking at some treasures of the British Library, perusing the Android Market on our PC – and, of course, letting off some steam with a game.
Amazon is great, isn’t it? It fulfils so many purchasing needs, and buying stuff while sitting at your computer is easy as pie. On an Android phone, though, using Amazon isn’t so convenient, as the website’s computer-centric design can be a bit cramped.
Well, now there’s an Android specific app – and it’s much cleaner to use. And there’s an added bonus: not only can you search the store for items, you can scan barcodes. So when you see a book, CD or something else you want, finding it and buying it are just a couple of clicks away. Unless you are careful, you’ll spend money like water. Which is Amazon’s aim, we suppose.
We all know about Google for Android, and how it can provide point-to-point navigation directions. But how about an add-in that alerts you to speed cameras? The newly launched CamerAlert does just that. For a rather modest 59p, this app gives you both audible and visual warnings as you approach a speed camera. Rather cleverly, it doesn’t overload you with information about every camera on your route – just the ones that monitor your direction of travel. CamerAlert comes from the rather clever people at www.PocketGPSWorld.com.
On a rather different subject, we’re still searching for the ultimate way to capture information and save notes. This month we came across Springpad. This app available across a range of platforms including desktop, iPhone, iPad and Android. Any notes you make in one place are synchronised to the others.
Springpad can be used to capture tasks and freeform notes, and also to capture more structured data via its look-up facility. This searches for places, movies, recipes, books, albums, wine and people, recording finds as notes and allowing you to view movie trailers, read book reviews and so on. There’s a distinct US-centric flavour to things, but it is quite an interesting twist on the note taking idea. Springpad is free.
British Library Treasures
When you consider that most of the apps we spend time with on with our Android phone are free, then paying £2.39 seems a little steep. But that’s what British Library Treasures costs. Buy it, though, and you can peruse some of the great works stored in the UK’s most famous book collection.
It’s rather lovely looking at works in this way, being able to zoom in and look at high-resolution images, watch video and listen to recorded speech. But to be honest, we think the app should be free.
Android Market on the web
How do you get your Android apps? Most likely you use the Market application on your handset. Well, now there is another way. A new website has been launched that allows you to view and purchase Android apps. Viewing them on a larger computer screen makes them a lot easier to browse, and there are screenshots and reviews of apps just as there are on the smartphone-based Android Market.
Installing is a breeze. Your My Market Account shows a history of what you’ve downloaded in the past, and you can choose an app at the website and have it downloaded to your phone. Try it for yourself at https://market.android.com/.
You’ll know by now that we can’t resist a bit of gaming from time to time. Jewels is a free version of a classic match the shaped gemstones to make blocks disappear’ game. Like a lot of free games, it’s ad-supported – but that didn’t spoil our enjoyment. There are several playing modes and high scores are saved. The sound effects are subtle but pleasant.
Verdicts and prices as above. All apps available via the Android Market