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Recent Reviews

Kid Mode Android App: Play & Learn

Posted on Jun 21, 2011 in Education, Top Rated Apps | comment

Put your Android device into Kid Mode and relax while your kids explore educational games, videos, and more.

  • Version: 3.1.1
  • Size: 5.60MB (Apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Education
  • Price: Free

Before using the educational Kid Mode Android app, make sure you’ve downloaded the latest version of Adobe Flash Player in order to have access to all of the game content. Also, enable the Home Lock feature in the settings if you’d like to prevent your child from accidentally exiting the app. Lastly, you will have to create a free Parent account where you can create quick profiles for each of your kids. You can even add a photo for each of your kids so that they can identify themselves and “login” to their age-specific, saved content.

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Top Android Game: Nano Panda

Posted on Jun 20, 2011 in Games, Top Rated Games | comment

The Nano Panda Android game puts you on a mission of destroying evil atoms with the help of magnetized, miniaturized pandas.

  • Version: 1.2.3
  • Size: 17.09MB (apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Games
  • Price: ~$0.95 (Free version available)

Who knew obliterating atoms with fuzzy, cuddly nano panda bears could be so fun?! There are currently four different chapters to conquer with 16 challenging levels in each. Every level is a unique physics challenge with frustrating obstacles to overcome. The biggest key to success is indeed trial and error.

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Starbucks for Android, Get Your Caffeine Fix

Posted on Jun 17, 2011 in Lifestyle, Top Rated Apps | comment

Starbucks for Android is the fastest way to pay with, manage, and reload your Starbucks card.

  • Version: 1.0.1
  • Size: 3.83MB (apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Lifestyle
  • Price: Free

With one click, Starbucks for Android displays a barcode which can be scanned to pay immediately. This feature is useable in over 6,800 U.S. Starbucks and 1,000 Target locations.

To begin using the app, enter your Starbucks card number and the code on the back. Then you can quickly check your balance, add funds using any major credit card, or view your transaction history.

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Best IM Android App: eBuddy Messenger

Posted on Jun 16, 2011 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | 3 comments

eBuddy Messenger lets you chat simultaneously on the most popular instant messaging platforms, all from a single Android app.

  • Version: 2.0.4
  • Size: 1.80MB (apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Communication
  • Price: Free

To start with eBuddy Messenger you’ll have to create an account which is rather painless (username, password, email). Next, add any and all of the instant messaging accounts you’d like to have synced to the Android app, found under the “Accounts” tab. The list includes the most popular platforms out there, including MSN, Yahoo, AIM, GTalk, MySpace, ICQ, Hyves, and Facebook.

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Top Android Game: ShakyTower

Posted on Jun 15, 2011 in Games, Top Rated Games | comment

ShakyTower is a challenging physics-based Android game requiring skillful block stacking and other strange maneuvers.

  • Version: 1.14
  • Size: 6.55MB (apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Games
  • Price: Free

The goal of this Android game is to meet the objective described for each specific level. To start, tap the screen to insert a new block. Once the block is added, you no longer have direct control over it, but can influence it with gravity by tilting  your Android device from left to right. For maximum stability and responsiveness, hold your device parallel to the ground. Pay attention to the two different classifications of blocks described by the developer as Not-Yet-In-Tower (NYIT) and Already-In-Tower (AIT). Focus on the AIT blocks, which are a brighter green color, because they are the ones counted for height, activating checkpoints, and collecting bonuses.

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Scan & Find Healthy Groceries w/ the Fooducate App

Posted on Jun 13, 2011 in Health, Top Rated Apps | 2 comments

Fooducate Android app helps you scan and find healthy groceries. This app was created by dietitians and concerned parents with the goal of getting people to eat better.

  • Version: 0.92
  • Size: 3.61MB (no apps2SD)
  • Category: Health & Fitness
  • Price: Free



The Fooducate app boasts a database containing over 200,000 unique UPCs (and growing). The product information for each food is analyzed from the nutrition label and ingredients list.Unfortunately, the information provided is U.S. only.

Using the Fooducate app is simple, just pick up a food item from the shelf (or your cupboard) and scan it with the built-in barcode scanner. Or, shake your Android device to launch a random food’s product details page.

The returned details page features a product image, the calories per serving, % of people who like it, and the final grade. Additional information includes FoodPoints values, warnings, and other details the manufacturer may or may not have wanted you to know (e.g. extensive processing). The various warnings displayed for some foods include excessive sugar, trans fats, controversial food colorings, and confusing serving sizes. The alternatives tab displays related items that earn a better grade than the product you’ve scanned. A nice feature is that you can instantly see the reasons why another item is better, like having healthier ingredients and more nutrients.

Pros:

  • Scan 200,000+ foods and find healthy alternatives instantly
  • Quickly check a food’s grade based on its nutritional information and ingredients list
  • Warning details displayed e.g. high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, controversial food colorings
  • Handy, attractive interface is ideal for quick scans at the grocery score



Areas for improvement:

  • Add the option to input a text search (e.g. Cheerios) in addition to UPC code scanning



Conclusion: A convenient Android app for checking the nutritional value of foods using a quick UPC scan. Ideal for checking a few items you’re concerned about but does not scale well for checking an entire grocery list.

[AppBrain Link]

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Screen Filter Android Widget, Advanced Brightness Control

Posted on Jun 11, 2011 in Tools, Top Rated Widgets | 1 comment

The Screen Filter Android widget lets you apply a brightness shade to your Android device’s screen.

  • Version: 1.2
  • Size: 52.75KB
  • Category: Tools
  • Price: Free



Reduce your screen’s brightness more effectively with the Screen Filter Android widget than you’d previously done with the default Android options. The brightness reduction is perfect for nighttime viewing, eBook reading, or for just saving battery.

Long-press your Android homescreen to find and create a new Screen Filter widget. When the customization options popup, use the slider to set the desired brightness level. The default, 48.6%, is a nice compromise between functionality and visibility. Use the example text to decide which setting is best for your needs. Additionally, there is an option to toggle the backlighting of soft-keys (menu, home, back, search). Unfortunately, the developer states that this feature doesn’t work for all Android devices (and didn’t consistently work on my Samsung Galaxy S phone).

For those of you who also use the Tasker or Locale Android apps, you’ll be happy to know this widget includes a plugin allowing you to enable brightness configurations based on time, location, etc.

Pros:

  • Widget access to multiple brightness shade presets
  • More advanced than stock Android settings adjuster
  • Plugin for Tasker and Locale Android apps
  • Option for toggling soft-key backlighting



Areas for improvement:

  • Make the widget dynamic by enabling brightness adjustments via the homescreen



Conclusion: An Android widget used to quickly enable a brightness shade to your Android device, with more advanced battery and eye saving power than the stock Android brightness settings.

[AppBrain Link]

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Bondaii Smart Contacts Android App Replaces Business Cards

Posted on Jun 9, 2011 in Social, Top Rated Apps | 2 comments

Bondaii Smart Contacts Android app aims to make business cards obsolete.

  • Version: 0.6.5
  • Size: 419KB (apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Social
  • Price: Free



First time users will need to register an account which sets up your contact details. The idea behind Bondaii is to simplify the process of exchanging contact information and then to ensure it’s always up to date.

Initially, fill out your own contact information including personal, work, social, and IM information. A brilliant feature is the application of profiles (e.g. basic, friend, business, and family) which allows you to choose which information is shared with whom. For example, most likely you wouldn’t need to share your AIM username with a new business colleague, but would probably want a friend or family member to have that information. Selecting a profile is easy when choosing the “send my details” icon on the app’s homescreen which lets your share your information via email (or directly to an existing contact). However, the “bond with existing user,” which generates a scannable QR barcode, doesn’t allow you to choose a profile first.

The true value in using the Bondaii Android app is that the contact details you obtain are integrated with your Gmail contacts and are automatically synced if both parties are Bondaii users. This means that if your friend updates their address, phone number, or any other item, their contact information will be updated in real-time on your device so you won’t have to worry about having the most up-to-date information.

Pros:

  • QR codes replace loose, paper business cards
  • Setup profiles to choose what information you want to share with a particular individual
  • Contact information is automatically synced whenever changes are made
  • Slick, functional UI



Areas for improvement:

  • Allow profile selection before QR code generation



Conclusion: A simplified, streamlined way to share and update contact information solely using mobile methods. However, the biggest value offered by this app (real-time contact syncing) requires that both people use the Bondaii Android app.

[AppBrain Link]

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GPS Aids Android App Fixes Samsung Galaxy GPS

Posted on Jun 8, 2011 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | comment

If you own a Samsung Galaxy device and are annoyed by its non-functional GPS (like I am), then you’ll be excited to hear about the GPS Aids Android app. This app was designed and developed specifically to address problems with the Samsung Galaxy GPS.

  • Version: 2.5.057
  • Size: 0.92MB (no apps2SD)
  • Category: Tools
  • Price: Free (~$2.50 Donate version)



If you’re like me, you’ve tried almost everything to get the GPS to work on your Samsung Galaxy device, including making adjustments in LBS Test Mode and running Samsung’s own GPS Restore app, all to no avail.

The GPS Aids app features multiple tools to correct and manage GPS functionality. You’ll be able to inject an updated XTRA image file which contains important GPS aiding data like detailed satellite positioning in the sky. As explained by the developer, many times when using GPS without WiFi, issues can crop up with XTRA injection. The LTO (Long-Term Orbit) file, which contains lightweight GPS satellite positioning, can also be easily reset. Plus, you can update the NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers which sync the device clock with the precise time, enabling increased GPS accuracy. In order to avoid latency, it’s best to choose a server in close geographic proximity.

Once I had reset the XTRA file, injected time from NTP, and downloaded/reset the LTO, my GPS was able to lock on to my position in less than 10 seconds (tested multiple times). Once locked, the GPS continued to update my position, even allowing me to use and trust Google Maps Navigation for the first time ever on my Samsung Galaxy phone.

Note: there are native and forced parts to this Android app, meaning that you should start with the native functionality to see whether that fixes your GPS problems. If not, the forced options can be used but require that the app has root access to your device.

Pros:

  • Samsung Galaxy GPS fixed!
  • Multiple tools to correct and manage GPS functionality
  • App is easy to use even though the content is advanced



Areas for improvement:

  • GPS setup briefing info could use more in-depth details/explanation



Conclusion: Fix your Samsung Galaxy GPS functionality using the relatively foolproof GPS Aids Android app. Consider purchasing the donate version of this app to unlock additional tools and to support the developer that accomplished what Samsung couldn’t.

[AppBrain Link]

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Top Android App: Trulia Real Estate Search

Posted on Jun 6, 2011 in Lifestyle, Top Rated Apps | comment

The Trulia Real Estate Search Android app helps you find homes and apartments for sale or rent.

  • Version: 1.3
  • Size: 1.40MB (apps2SD enabled)
  • Category: Lifestyle
  • Price: Free



Trulia‘s Android app has been designed for house hunting on the go and is perfect for buyers, sellers, and renters. To begin, hit the Menu button and choose whether you’d like to see houses for sale, for rent, or comparable listings that have already sold. Further options for finding exactly what you want include price range, # beds & baths, square footage, property type, and more. Click ‘Apply’ to update the current viewable map area with your specifications.

Clicking on a bubble marker opens a preview of the property which displays the price, recent price changes, the address, and a photo (plus the details specified above). This intermediary preview is the perfect bridge between the map display and the full listing details which can be accessed by simply clicking the preview. This lets you quickly browse the basic information of a location without having to change through multiple windows.

The full listing page features all property photos as well as a button to open the street view. The street view is a nice way to check out the neighborhood since pictures of just the house don’t always tell the whole story. Another valuable info tidbit is the assessed property taxes for the previous year, since paying these is a huge burden in most cases. If you’ve found a place you’d like to see in person, the contact information of the real estate agent is also included on the full listing page!

Pros:

  • Enhanced real estate search functionality with an exceptional user interface
  • Full listings include essential property details, home facts, and price history
  • View agent contact info and call/message them instantly
  • Save properties and searches (requires Trulia account)



Areas for improvement:

  • Expand support for additional countries (currently U.S. only)



Conclusion: One of the best Android apps for finding a house to buy, place to rent, or to simply browse local real estate information.

[AppBrain Link]

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