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Top Android App: Tuner – gStrings

Posted on Jan 7, 2010 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | 1 comment

For all of you music enthusiasts out there, you’ll definitely want to check out Tuner – gStrings. This app is a chromatic tuner that measures sound pitch and intensity, giving you the ability to tune any musical instrument.

  • Version: 0.9.9
  • Size: 110KB
  • Category: Tools
  • Price: Free

The beauty of this app is it’s simplicity and effectiveness. The home screen gives you the full range of notes (c, d, e, f, g, a, and b, including sharps). The meter will show you the frequency (in Hz) of each particular note. Clicking the “Sound ‘target'” button for example, will play a reference tone of the ‘target’ note you selected. If instead you want to see whether or not your instrument is in tune, you can click the “Tune ‘target'” button and find where your instrument falls on the scale for that ‘target’ note. Ideally, it would fall directly in the middle. The meter will change to an orange color when you are on note. Conveniently, the meter also measures the intensity of the input sound, and when it remains above a certain threshold value that’s when it makes it’s final reading. The reading will stay on the meter so you can see what improvements you’ll need to make (if any).

The “Tune auto” button is similar to the “Tune ‘target'” function but here the tone list will update automatically, giving you more dynamic, continuous tone analysis.
One disclaimer the developer makes is that you’ll want to set the microphone setting before attempting to use the tuning functions. This can be found in menu > settings. Additionally, you’ll find many other options to tinker with. If you want to know more about a certain option, read the descriptions on Tuner – gStrings developer’s website.

  • Accurate
  • Clean, easy to use UI
  • Pitch Pipe

Areas for improvement:

  • Load “auto tune” by default
  • Setting for alternate tunings like standard, drop C, or open G (for people who don’t know the note each string should be tuned to)

Conclusion: If you play guitar, or any instrument that needs tuning, gStrings is a clean and simple app to keep your axe sharpened so you can keep working on those killer riffs.

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Top Android App: Barcode Scanner

Posted on Dec 12, 2009 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | 5 comments

Barcode Scanner is an extremely useful app offered in the Android Market which allows you to scan both 1D and QR codes to look up products and other important information alike.

Application: Barcode Scanner

Version: 3.01
Size: 302KB
Category: Tools
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.7/5
User Interface: 4.5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
I realized I have been putting QR codes at the end of each of my reviews so that you can quickly find apps in the Android Market, and yet I haven’t officially reviewed the best app to do that, Barcode Scanner.
When you open up this app, you are immediately in scan mode.  Simply line up the barcode you wish to scan with the red line, allow the camera to focus to the code, and voila your code will be read.  It is really as easy as that.  There is minimal time between opening the app on your phone and finding results.
When your scan is recognized, Barcode Scanner will give you the option of either doing a product search (this uses Google’s shopping tab) or web search (this searches the UPC code in Google).  Usually I like to perform the product search because I find it to be more accurate.
A really awesome feature of this app is that it can scan QR codes (2D codes).  QR codes are the square codes that you see at the end of each of my reviews which link you directly to the app in the Android Market.  Similarly, you can share your own QR codes with other Android users with this app.  You can share contact information, a bookmark you have saved, calendar events, or something copied on your clipboard.  When you select one of these options and the data you want to share, Barcode Scanner will create a unique QR code so that someone else can scan it and quickly have exactly what you wanted to share.  This greatly reduces the time and effort you might normally take to share information.  It also removes the chance that there will be an error in the data transfer process.
Barcode scanner also saves a history of the items you have searched for so that you can quickly access them at a later time.
Additionally, Barcode scanner has a special option when you scan a book’s UPC.  First, it automatically recognizes the code as a book and then allows you to either do a product search, a book search, or search the contents of the book.  The “book search” brings up the book in Google Books which will show you an overview, book ratings, prices/links to purchase the book, etc.  The “search contents of the book” allows you to look for particular words within the book and where they occur, however, the book must be searchable for this particular feature to work.
Overall, Barcode Scanner is an essential app on Android.  It offers you extensive ability to look up products and share information in a split second.  If you have an Android phone you need this app.

I know this is kind of a catch 22, but here is the barcode for the direct link to Barcode Scanner in the Android Market.

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Top Android App: Speed Test

Posted on Dec 11, 2009 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | comment Speed Test is an Android application that allows you to test the download and upload speeds of your network.  Speed Test uses a nearby server to test your bandwidth and other information.  It is a very simplistic and easy to use application, as it should be.  The interface is nice, so that’s a plus.

Application: Speed Test

Version: 1.6.1
Size: 461KB
Category: Tools
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.5/5
User Interface: 4.5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 3.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
To begin a test, just open the app and in the Speed Test tab click Begin Test.  It will first test your download speed followed by your upload speed.  The entire test takes about 25 seconds.
The settings tab allows you to change the server location, change the units that speeds are displayed in (Kbps, Mbps, Kb/s), change how your history of tests is sorted (date, down, up).  It also lists your internal IP, external IP, latitude, and longitude.
The results tab will give the download and upload speed history for all your previous tests so you can see how your network is performing at a particular point in time.  Note: you will see fluctuations in speed especially if your phone switches between 3G and E often (like mine).
Overall, testing your network speed is fun and Speed Test is a nice app to have at your disposal.  For T-mobile customers, this app will come in handy soon as they upgrade their 3G network.  It’ll be interesting to see how much the speeds are actually increased.
Scan the barcode with Barcode Scanner to be taken to the app in the Android Market.
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Top Android App: Advanced Task Manager

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | comment

Advanced Task Manager is your Android app to end applications, speed up your phone, and save battery life.  This is one of the most useful apps you can own on your Android device, hands down.

Application: Advanced Task Manager

Version: 3.9
Size: 145KB
Category: Tools
Price: $0.99
Overall Score: 4.8/5
User Interface: 4.5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
Inside the app you will see a tab called Applications which shows all the current running applications.  It also shows the amount of memory that each app is currently using.  You can use the check boxes to select multiple applications at once to end them all.  An important note is that if you end any applications, their services and notifications will be also stopped.  In order to avoid this, there is an option to add an app to the exclude list.  The exclude list will put a red X in the applications tab and so it won’t be an option to end.  Examples of apps that you might want to add to the exclude list include Email, Facebook, or Twitter.
There is a handy feature to this app called auto-end.  This feature will activate itself, auto-end all running apps that are not excluded, and then deactivate.  This way Advanced Task Manager will only be running for a very short time, yet apps will be closed in order to conserve battery life.  Again, exclude any apps like email, calendar, etc. which you don’t want their notifications to be cleared.  If it’s easier to just select apps you want to auto-end (instead of all running apps) you can add applications to the auto-end apps list.  You can adjust the frequency of auto-end as well to fit your personal preference.
There is even a shake-to-end-all option that will auto-end all applications with the shake of your phone (you can set the threshold for how hard you shake it to activate this feature).  Similarly, there is a 1×1 widget for Advanced Task Manager that allows you to auto-end all running (or predetermined auto-end apps list) apps.  These two features speed up the task killing process, even though it’s very fast to begin with.
The uninstall tab offers a one-touch method of uninstalling any unwanted apps.  Simply click the app you no longer want to open the uninstall dialogue.

Note: You can also end Advanced Task Manager itself when you’re done.

If you don’t want to pay for the paid version right away, there is a free lite version of this app on the Android Market as well.  Although, as I think you will find, the full paid app is definitely worth it.

Scan with Barcode Scanner for direct link to Advanced Task Manager in the Android Market.

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Top Android App: Toggle Settings

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | comment

Toggle Settings is one of the fastest way to control the settings on your Android phone.  This app is extremely customizable and offers you total control of your phones’ settings.

Application: Toggle Settings

Version: 2.5.4
Size: 522KB
Category: Productivity
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.7/5
User Interface: 4.5/5
Ease of Use: 4.5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
The initial screen that is brought up contains tabs for Toggles (1-3) and Profiles.  Each Toggle tab can have up to 8 settings to control.  Again, these are customizable so that you can have the settings you want to control the most often on the first tab.  Settings you never change don’t even have to be included on any of the tabs.  List of settings that can be added to your toggle tabs:
·         Airplane
·         Mobile Data
·         Auto sync
·         Bluetooth
·         Fast bright
·         GPS
·         Lock Screen
·         Orientation
·         Screen never timeout
·         Silent Mode
·         Wi-Fi
·         3G network
·         Brightness
·         Notification ringtone
·         Phone ringtone
·         Ringer mode
·         Screen timeout
·         Volume control
The second great part of this app is the customizable profiles that you can create.  Simplified, a profile is a saved set of settings that you want to apply repeatedly.  For example, you can have a Low Battery profile that has settings set to conserve the amount of battery life that you have remaining i.e. turn off GPS, lower screen brightness, etc.  This is a great part of the app that can really come in handy for quick settings adjustments.  Currently I have Home, Location, Low Battery, and Work profiles.
The third important part of this app is the customizable rules that you can setup.  A rule is basically a criteria that when met, will lead to the application of a particular profile.  For example, you can add a rule that when the Battery is less than some %, the Low Battery profile is applied.  Or another example would be a rule based on the time, so that at 8:00AM the Work profile is applied.  Your work profile might include setting your phone to silent, turning off GPS, etc.  Rules can be applied to various different parameters like time, location, battery life, charger is plugged in, etc.
Overall, Toggle Settings is one of those must have Android apps to quickly and efficiently change the settings of your Android phone.  Similarly, it is a great app for conserving battery life in that you can control how settings that are battery intensive are used.  Definitely worth the download.
Scan with Barcode Scanner for direct link to Toggle Settings in the Android Market (Android 1.6 and 2.0).  If you’re running 1.5, search for Toggle Settings (Cupcake) for the appropriate app.
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