Not everyone likes to have a master password, PIN or pattern lock applied to their smartphones at all times. It becomes quite tiresome if a friend is playing around with your Android phone, and you have to enter the unlock code every time the screen times out. Then again, you might not want your SMS threads, gallery, Play Store, email and social networking apps unprotected while one of your mischievous friends is, as he/she says, playing Fruit Ninja on your phone. It is in such situations that apps like AppLock
for Android come in handy.
The app lets you lock individual user and system apps with a PIN or pattern of your choice. The concept isn’t new to Android at all. A much older app with the same name (App Lock – App Protector) and previously reviewed Visidon AppLock
are based on the same functionality. In fact, the latter even provides the option to set a face recognition lock for individual apps. However, when it comes to looks and simplicity, AppLock races ahead of the two aforementioned (and most other) alternatives. If you’re setting an authentication screen to appear every time you launch a particular app, you’d probably prefer if it were easy on the eyes. That’s not all; the app even lets you PIN/pattern protect incoming calls.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, then you must be brimming with anticipation for the upcoming 3D variant of The Phantom Menace. For those of you who don’t yet know, Lucasfilm recently announced that a 3D version of Star Wars: Episode I will be hitting theaters around the globe on February 10, 2012. To promote the launch of the film, the production company has released an app for Android smartphones that is sure to keep you entertained till the film is finally released. It’s called Darth Maul Me
, and is its name suggests, it turns photos of you or your friends into the saberstaff-wielding, crimson faced villain from Episode I. For details, screenshots and more from the dark side of the force, proceed past the break, you must.
2011 has been an important year for Android. With devices like Samsung Galaxy S II, Motorola XOOM and Kindle Fire turning heads in the market, atop the release of what is arguably the best iteration of the mobile OS (Ice Cream Sandwich) yet, it was only a matter of time before the head honchos of mobile app development began hopping onto the Android bandwagon. Not only has the year seen many big names debut on the Android Market, but many novice developers make big names for themselves, and to top it all off, the Market is now home to over 400,000 apps.
There is no denying the fact that it is still way behind the iTunes App Store in both quantity and quality (especially where the visual appeal of UI, in general, is concerned), but the degree of improvement that the platform and its apps have undergone the previous year surely exceeds the expectations of most of its fans. Here at AddictiveTips, we've been observing the progress of the platform and its app repository quite closely, bringing you the best apps in and out of the Market day after day. As the year ended, we decided to take a trip down memory lane, and compile a list of the ones we found to be the most unique or useful of lot.
If you thought NFC (Near Field Communication) was just a means for wireless monetary transactions, Add Friend
for Android is bound to open your mind to a plethora of possibilities. This simple yet inspiring free app employs NFC to lets two users become friends on Facebook simply by touching the backs of their phones. Being one of the few NFC-based mobile apps out there, and the only one (we’ve come across) that links the technology with the world’s leading social network, the app is a welcome addition to the Android Market. Head on past the break for further details and a demo video.
Among the many features and interface elements that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich took from the tablet-exclusive Android OS variant, Honeycomb, is the static search bar that it displays at the top of its stock launcher. Being omnipresent (accessible from each of the five home screens of the stock launcher), it eliminates the need for you to make room for a search widget on the home screen. That said, users who don’t use the search application that often might consider it dead weight doing nothing more than making their home screen look all cluttered. XDA-Developers member oscillik has found a workaround that allows you to hide the search bar. Read on past the break to know how it’s done.
From the developers of Ubersocial for Android (formerly known as Twidroyd) and the suite of Twitter mobile/desktop clients and browser extensions known as Echofon, UberMedia has stepped into the social media circus with their very own network, releasing iPhone and Android clients for it the very next day. Chime.in
is essentially a mashup of Twitter, Facebook and Reddit that allows users to follow what’s going on around the web according to their interests and reap monetary benefits from their posts (called “chimes” that include textual status updates, photos, videos, links and polls) through the network’s advertising service or their own ad networks.
While most die-hard Android fans would cringe at the thought of iPhone-izing
their devices’ UI, there is quite a majority of Android users who would actually prefer doing so. The iOS-inspired interface of the MIUI custom ROM and GO Launcher EX homescreen replacement for Android is one of the major reasons the two have such vast fanbases. Now, where the aforementioned only mirror certain elements of the iOS UI, there have been quite a few attempts to clone it entirely, the newest (and by far, the best) of the lot being Espier Launcher
. Espier Launcher is probably the most accurate clone of the iOS Springboard yet. The launcher replicates everything from the look of the icons and folders to the App Switcher tray, Jiggle Mode and Spotlight search.
As expected, the GO Launcher Dev Team is back again – barely a couple of weeks after their last endeavor
– with yet another handy addition to their acclaimed home screen replacement app. GO Launcher EX now has a downloadable switch (power control) widget. And it’s not one of those run-of-the-mill toggle widgets. Switch GOWidget
sports a total of 12 toggles, out of which it allows you to select 4 toggles to appear on the home screen. The widget takes after Tencent Switcher
QQLauncher’s native Quick switch
widget in the way it looks and works but it does have a greater number of toggles and additional sliders for adjusting ringer and media volume levels. More after the break.
Just when we began wondering when one of the smartest, fastest and most elegant third-party browsers on the Android Market would make a (much-requested) transition to Android’s rival platform, the developers delivered. MoboTap released the smartphone variant of Dolphin Browser
to the iTunes App Store (for iPhone & iPod Touch) roughly five days ago. From the looks of it, the browser is rapidly growing in popularity. No surprises there. Dolphin Browser is a comprehensive package of functionality, looks and perks and deserves all the acclaim it has received so far across both platforms. It’s not just the Chrome-inspired tabbed browsing, that impresses users. Dolphin Browser comes with a smart URL bar, gesture-based control and navigation, a Speed Dial
home page and a Webzine feature with impressive social network (Facebook and Twitter) integration.
Unlike its (arguably superior) iOS counterpart, the stock Android music player does not auto-fetch lyrics for songs. There are a few third-party audio players for the platform that sport said feature (MIUI’s iOS-inspired native music player, for instance). But if you prefer the stock music player for its simplicity or, like me, fancy a third-party music player that doesn’t have support for lyrics (Ubermusic), then Smart Lyrics
has got your need to sing along covered. While it is activated, the app automatically fetches lyrics from the web whenever a song is played – be it using the stock player or any other third-party music player – and displays a shortcut to viewing said lyrics within the notification drawer. That is the app’s primary function but that’s not all it does. Join us after the break for a rundown of its other features.
Some games are just eternal. Years over years pass by and people never seem to get tired of playing them. Tetris
is one such game. It never gets old. If you’re a Tetris fan and own an Android device, you’ll be happy to know that EA
very recently released a free version for their best-selling Android variant of the game. If you’re reading this then you probably haven’t tried the original (paid) version of the game and its fluid controls yet. The free version contains ads (displayed at the top of the screen in-game) and features the Marathon
(classic) gameplay mode only. The alternate power-up based Magic Mode
has been reserved for the full version.
We won’t lie to you. We’re fond of collecting camera replacement apps. After testing countless such applications on the Android Market, we thought developers had run out of ideas. Well, we were wrong. Say hello to Say Cheese Camera
for Android – a free yet comprehensive camera replacement app that, along with a plethora of other handy features, comes packed with the option to snap photos via voice recognition. Other noteworthy features include the option to toggle talk-back (voice confirmation), a Stealth mode
for capturing photos,
a built-in gallery,
batch uploading to Facebook and rainSlides
– a Facebook app that lets you convert a group of photos into a slideshow. We delve into these and a few other components of the app after the break.
A couple of months back, we covered WiFi Joiner
– an Android app that allows you to create QR codes for WiFi access points and share them with your friends, colleagues or customers so that they may simply scan these codes to connect to the affiliated networks – eliminating the need to share long access keys. However, to scan said codes, they would need to have the same app installed on their devices. Not to undermine the functionality that WiFi Joiner provides (they were there first, after all), but it’s highly unlikely for all your Android-wielding friends to have the app on their devices. Relatively new to the Android Market, WiFi QR Code Generator
works roughly the same way but, however, the QR codes it generates can be scanned with Barcode Scanner – a free app that, owing to its simplicity and effectiveness, has grown to become the default QR code scanner for a vast majority of Android users. More than 10 million downloads and counting (as of this writing) are proof positive of its popularity.
In the beginning of the current month, the guys over at TeamSpeak Inc. released the Android variant of their group VoIP chat client
in beta. Apparently, that wasn’t all they had in mind for the platform. Released to the Android Market roughly a week ago, TS3 Remote
is a handy little Android tool that lets you connect to the TeamSpeak 3 client running on your computer over local WiFi and monitor whatever channel you are currently in. The app simply displays all users in the channel along with their nationality and status (mute, speaking etc.). It does not stream audio. So what’s the point? Join us after the break to find out.
If find the stock Android lock screen somewhat bland or are bored of your custom lock screen, worry not, since there are plenty of quality alternatives present in the market that can satiate your appetite for an visually appealing and functional lock screen. If you don't fancy taking the tedious route of installing and trying various different options one by one, and are looking for one comprehensive lock screen package, then you might want to take MagicLocker
for a spin. As of this writing, the lock screen replacement application comes packed with two different skins – a convincing clone of the iPhone lock screen and a grungy 3-point lock screen named Robot Lost. The quality that the themes present is impressive and, if the developers hold true to their promise, you should soon have a greater variety of lock screens to choose from. The app is available for free in the Android Market.
Bring one of the oldest and most popular home screen replacement apps on the Android Market, ADW.Launcher has been adopted as the base for many other home screen replacement apps and as the stock launcher for the popular series of custom ROMs called CyanogenMod. The opensource launcher probably has the most active lot of theme developers out there. No surprise there. ADW.Launcher has a humongous fan-base - at least 63000+ strong as of this writing – all of whom are constantly looking to spice up their home screens with new themes, dock backgrounds and/or icon packs. If you’re one of the aforementioned lot, join us after the break our compilation of 22 of the best (free) ADW themes on the Android Market.
The iOS-inspired MIUI custom ROM for Android is known for its cosmetic flexibility and an impressive assortment of native apps. Android users with root access on their devices are often found yearning for said apps when an unstable build of the ROM (or a certain preference) forces them to shift to another one. Apparently, once you get used to the ROM, it’s hard to let go. Roughly a day ago, MIUI's native music player was extracted
from the ROM and made available for all Android devices. And now, users without rooted / MIUI-supported devices or those using other custom ROMs can enjoy the ROM’s native launcher – well, actually, the next best thing – a clone of the launcher. XDA-Devleopers member Vipitus
has modified the free home screen replacement app QQLauncher (AKA TencentDesktop) to a remarkably accurate replica of the MIUI native launcher.
One of the first (if not the
first) of its kind on the Android Market, Gifinator
is a well-crafted, easy-to-use GIF animation creator for Android. The app allows you to take multiple snaps from your device’s camera, then chains them together in a GIF sequence with a user-defined resolution and frame rate. With enough creativity (and a few taps) you can create awesome stop-motion animations with your Android smartphone’s camera. You may then save these GIF files to your device or share them with your friends. The free version of the app lets you string up to 10 snaps only while the full version sports no such limitation. Also, the free variant only allows you to save GIFs in the lowest of the three available resolutions (160x120, 320x480 and 640x480).
Another week, another GO Launcher EX update. This time, the GO Launcher Dev Team has released a clock widget for their home screen replacement app. Like all the other widgets, Clock GOWidget,
too, is skinnable, though it seems to have a separate set of skins designed specifically for the widget. The Transparency GOWidget skin does not apply to it. The home screen widget comes in two forms – a 2x2 simple analog clock widget and a 4x2 MIUI-style flip clock widget. The former sports three built-in skins while the latter comes packed with two. Additional skins can be downloaded from the Android Market or from within the launcher itself.
Encouraged, no doubt, by the huge success of their Android and iOS mobile clients for HBO GO (over 1 million downloads within the first week of release), Home Box Office Inc. has rolled out a mobile app for Cinemax’s (US-only) MAX GO online streaming service. The app provides on-demand streaming of 700+ hours of programming including popular Hollywood movies and series as well as Cinemax’s first original series Strike Back. The app itself can be downloaded free of cost from the
Android Market Google Play Store and iTunes App Store while the service, too, is free for MAX GO subscribers.