.
.

Homo Ludditus

Less is more and nothing is good enough

.

Android apps — a full month’s crop


It’s been some time since I last reported on what apps I’ve installed on my phone. Here’s my selection for some 4 weeks — the updates have also been integrated in my long list of Android apps.

First, 4 apps discovered by me only very recently:

  • Changelog Droid, by Cypressious. There used to be a Premium version, but now all the features are free. It displays the changelogs for the apps that have been recently updated or installed on your device (“Latest Changes” ). In separate tabs, it can display the latest changes for “All Apps” and, under “Updates”, it shows when newer versions are available online, even for apps that have been installed from APK (thus not updateable automatically). A must-have! A bug though: if an app has been installed in the internal storage, then you move it on the SD card, it would show up as recently installed.
  • Purchased Apps, by Asapha Halifa. Fabulous app, especially for those who, like me, have bought Android apps using more than one Google account and forgot “which app is in which account”, or simply what apps might have been bought!
  • younited by F-Secure, by F-Secure Corporation. 10 GB of storage are free (officially until end-2013, but I could get them in Jan. 2014). Hosted in Finland and scanned against malware. 200 GB are $84.99 or 74.99 € per year; 500 GB are $139.99 or 120 € per year (all prices are VAT-inclusive). Ergonomics sucks, uninstalled.
  • CM (Cleanmaster) Security FREE, by KS Mobile Inc. The newest kid on the block, claiming to be “No. 1” just because it uses the Kingsoft AV engine, which has been reviewed (in another product, a Chinese-only app) by AV-TEST (Nov. 2013, 100% detection) and AV-Comparatives (July-Aug. 2013, 99.9% detection). On Windows, Kingsoft was not a bad antivirus, but they stopped at version 2012 SP5.6, which creates a bad image. Still, this Android app looks good, is fast, and it’s probably worth your attention. It also claims to be able to patch the SMS fraud vulnerability, if active, just like 360 Mobile Security does. Hard to choose between these two apps, but Cleanmaster can also scan the SD, which 360 cannot be bothered to do.

As a regular user and almost a fan of Qihoo’s 360 Mobile Security, I was a little puzzled, so I am currently run both security solutions. Unlike AV products for Windows, such AV apps only scan an app at install time, and then, only on demand, so this choice doesn’t slow down my phone.

cleanmaster_av

Now, I’m going to mention a cleaning app (by the same guys) not because I am using it (I am not, I’ve uninstalled it), but because I have discovered one useful feature of it:

  • Clean Master (Cleaner) – FREE, by KS Mobile (Kingsoft). Cleaning the “unused files” is a bit risky though, especially if you check the files that are not selected by default.

I have noticed that my phone doesn’t properly counts all the space used by the apps. Specifically, it only counts 0.95 GB as “Apps (app data & media contents)”, because it most likely only counts the code, not the data, despite the claims to the contrary — other space taken by the apps must be under “Misc” (3.73 GB). Well, this Clean Master can count properly, namely 4.4 GB for 252 apps (of which I know that the biggest 8 or 9 take about 1 GB):

cm_storage

Still, I’m using other apps for cleaning purposes:

A few small games:

  • MineSweeper: Classic, by BitMango. Their English is horrendous, but the game is great. Ads can be removed for $2.07.
  • Line 98 Minimalist (installed as “Square Line”), by Sprigame. Remake of “Lines” (5 or more).
  • Weave, by Steven Jackson. Even better and a bit more difficult than Sergei Ozerov’s Tangled, yet a bit different.
  • Mancala, by AppOn Games. Not bad (tested version 3.1 on Android 4.2.1), I like the table, but the ads are annoying. In-app purchases to remove the ads ($0.99) or to buy new table designs ($0.99 for 2000 coins; a table costs between 500 and 700 coins).
  • Mancala Four Pack Free, or the full Mancala Four Pack ($0.99), by Future Freedom. Kalah (which is the common Mancala), Oware, Daramutu, Eson Khorgol. A new game (Dec. 2013), but surprisingly good. If you only want to play against the computer, the free version is all you need.

Some apps I’ve forgotten I used to use, so I’ve reinstalled them only now, after a long pause:

  • AUPEO! Personal Radio, by Aupeo GmbH. Not an actual radio; like Pandora, Last.FM, Spotify, but no account required! To refine the choice under a genre (e.g. “Jazz”), use the “Genre Tuner” (e.g. “Be-bop”, “Modern jazz”, etc.) and the “Mood tuner” (e.g. “Calm”, “Danceable”, etc.) buttons (yes, they’re not intuitive). Version 4 (Jan. 2014) has a neater UI than before. Note that if the app dies as a cause of killing all the apps, it will start again to play, even without a GUI. Go to the notification drawer and close it from there!
  • Mobisle Notes – Notepad, by MobisleApps. I have purchased the ad-free option for 19 SEK (about $2.93) when their business model was different (and they were a bit of liars, as this option was advertised as $1.99). Currently, the Premium upgrade is $9.99/year and it offers collaborative editing, an ad-free web interface and Android/iOS apps.
  • StackAnywhere (Silver Edition), or StackAnywhere (Gold Edition) ($2.49), by Rectangular Software. UPDATE: Rectangular Software’s apps are no longer available! There is now an official app, too bad it has serious usability issues by design.
  • Move the Box (144 puzzles), or the full Move the Box Pro (192 puzzles, $0.99), by Exponenta.
  • Binaural beats therapy – beta, by Giorgio Regni. 15 beats. Make sure you know about binaural beats and use stereo headphones. Note that, as this app is open source, some clones have appeared, with no improvements whatsoever, such as Binaural Beats Music, by Canada HadAPP Team. Avoid them, stick to the original by Giorgio Regni.
  • Brainwave Tuner Lite (13 out of the full 26 beats), by IMOBLIFE INC., or Brainwave Tuner (Full Version) ($3.99), by IMOBLIFE Co. Ltd. Good commercial alternative to the above app. Notice that the two publisher names are slightly different, but they’re the same guys.

Some updates to the apps I knew:

  • 9GAG First (the new app, as the old one was 9GAG – Best Funny App Ever), by 9GAG. You might want to disable the “Fun reminder” notifications.
  • Because I’ve installed them from APK files I’ve saved, I was still using versions 1.0 or 1.04 of the following apps by Editions Larousse, whereas they’re now at version 4 or 4.1, with better UX! Dictionnaire allemand-français ($5.00 €), English-French dictionary (5.00 €), French Larousse dictionary (5.00 €) — the last one being Le Petit Larousse, partie noms communs, sans illustrations. All working offline. Bought using different Google accounts, so I had to switch between them to install without paying twice.

I then paid a visit to some Siri clones, and although none satisfied me, I kept the following 3 as worth trying:

  • Assistant, by Speaktoit. For premium features (including “true voice”), it asks for $3/month or $20 for lifetime.
  • Evi, by True Knowledge Ltd. Has potential, but it’s not funny at all.
  • Robin – the Siri Challenger, by Magnifis. Too dumb, but promising.

As I said, they’re pretty dumb, although the voice recognition is satisfactory:

no_siri

I’ll end with a couple of apps suited for those interested in Germany:

LATE EDIT: A couple of security apps, of which I only liked the first one:

  • Lockwatch Anti-Theft, by BlokeTech. E-mails you with a front-camera photo and GPS location whenever someone tries for 4 times to unlock your phone with the wrong password or pattern (4 ore more digits, or a full pattern must be entered). The premium feature to retry sending alert e-mails when a data connection becomes available costs 0.99 AUD. Excellent.
  • Anti-Theft, by AVAST Software. Beware of its defaults! Here’s a review from Andrew Wilson: “This app acts like a Trojan! Avoid! Ironic, isn’t it? This app thinks your phone is stolen when you cross an international border! So then it starts sending out multiple SMSs from your phone without your knowledge, at International premium rate. And all this when you had thought you had deleted the app. It’s classic Trojan behaviour, and it costs you money! Technical support are smug, unapologetic and condescending! Avoid!”

And a recent update, with its ups and downs:

  • News Republic – Smarter News, by MobilesRepublic. Note: Version 4.0.0 (Jan. 15, 2014) brings over 3.3.0 a new “One Feed” view, a new icon and, unfortunately, many more ads than before. I’ve been able to remove them using Lucky Patch, but only because my phone is rooted.

nr_3.3_vs_4




3 thoughts on “Android apps — a full month’s crop

  1. zugu

    I’ve recently discovered Timely, an alarm app, and it’s absolutely awesome. It’s miles better than the stock Android alarm manager. Unfortunately, the company that develops it has been recently acquired by GOOG – this is how I have learned about the app. It’s still good, though, at least for now.

    Reply
  2. HAL

    > younited by F-Secure, by F-Secure Corporation. 10 GB of storage are free (officially until end-2013, but I could get them in Jan. 2014). Hosted in Finland and scanned against malware. 200 GB are $84.99 or 74.99 € per year; 500 GB are $139.99 or 120 € per year (all prices are VAT-inclusive).

    Another Cloud? Why not, but it’s suite expensive. Just to take one other solution for comparaison: Bitcasa = 20 Gb Free until 3 devices and 1 Tb for just 9,99 € by month or 99 € by year until 5 devices…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>