Twitter iconFacebook iconRSS icon

Recent Reviews

Top Android App: Movies by Flixster

Posted on Dec 12, 2009 in Entertainment, Top Rated Apps | comment

Movies by Flixster is the app you need in order to find movie showtimes, watch trailers, and get movie reviews on your Android phone.

Application: Movies

Version: 2.2.0
Size: 690KB
Category: Entertainment
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.8/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
When you open up your Movies app, you are brought into the Box Office tab which will list movies that are opening this week along with the current top box office movies that are already showing.  Conveniently, each listing contains the approval percentage of either other Flixster users or Rotten Tomatoes depending on your preferences.  Now you can quickly see what ratings the movie is getting and whether or not it’s worth your hard-earned money to go see it in theatres.  Also included in the listing are the lead actors, rating (i.e PG-13, R, etc.), length, and either its opening date or the amount of $ it has grossed thus far.
When you choose a movie, you’ll have the option of playing the trailer, adding your own rating if you’ve seen it, or get showtimes.  You can lookup showtimes based on your location.  A nice feature of location based searching is that you can also set the showtimes date you are interested in to a later date in case you’re planning a movie night for sometime in the future.
On the same page, showtimes will be listed with the movie theatre’s name and location, along with all the times the movie will be playing.  Further selecting on the movie theatre will allow you to contact them through Fandango.  You can also map the location in Google Maps.  Once you have decided you want to see the movie, you can buy your tickets for a particular showtime through movietickets.com.  This is a real nice option if you’re on the go and want to make sure you get a ticket instead of waiting to buy one at the door.
The Theatres tab allows you to find nearby theatres based on your location.  If you have a particular theatre you prefer, or only one nearby, selecting on the individual theatre to get all their available movies and showtimes might be your preferred method of using this app.
The Upcoming tab will give you information on all movies that are set to release in the near future.  This page will give you all the same information as other movie pages along with the percentage of people who want to see this movie.  This might be a good gauge of the popularity and hype about an upcoming movie.
The My Movies tab keeps a record of the movies you want to see, the movies you’ve rated, and recent ratings done by your friends.  Also, you have the option of connecting the Movies app to Facebook and also to Flixster.
If you enjoy a night out at the movies, want to watch some trailers, or find out when an upcoming movie is going to be released, Movies by Flixster is the app you’ve been looking for.  This is the top app I have come across for endless information on current and future movies.  This is a must have on your Android phone.
Scan the code with Barcode Scanner to be directly linked to the app in the Android Market.
Read More

Top Android App: Amazon.com

Posted on Dec 12, 2009 in Shopping, Top Rated Apps | comment

The Amazon.com app on Android is a great rendition of its parent website that you are used to.  You can search, compare prices, read reviews, and securely purchase items just like on the website.

Application: Amazon.com

Version: 1.0.6
Size: 0.89MB
Category: Shopping
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.9/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
A great part of this app is the feature Remembers which allows you to snap a photo or scan a barcode and the app will try to match the item.  This is great for items that you know Amazon will beat the price of the shop you are currently in.  For example, I love using the barcode scanner for discounted blu-ray movies when I’m in retail store because I think Amazon.com might be even cheaper.
When you search for a particular item, you’ll get the price, review score and distribution, whether or not it is in stock, along with buttons to buy now, add to cart, or add to wish list.  This makes it real easy to get all the information you want on a product on the go and to then make a decision as to what you want to do with it, all in one page.
Accessing your cart is just as easy as on Amazon.com and you can change the quantity, delete the item, save it for later, or checkout with ease.
Pretty much all the functionality you would want from Amazon is here in this app.  I was truly impressed when I first downloaded it and still use it whenever I’m not at my computer and need to check up on something I’m interested in buying.
If you’re not yet an Amazon shopper, you should check out the items you normally purchase and compare them to the prices you pay at other stores/sites.  You might be surprised at the price differences.  Also, Amazon factors in the tax to the price and will use free shipping on orders of $25.00 or more.  Once you’re hooked on Amazon.com, download this app to supplement your addiction.

This app is a definite must have.  Scan the code with Barcode Scanner to access the app in the Android Market.

Read More

Top Android App: Barcode Scanner

Posted on Dec 12, 2009 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | 4 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.

Read More

Top Android App: Speedtest.net Speed Test

Posted on Dec 11, 2009 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | comment

Speedtest.net 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: Speedtest.net 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.
Read More

Top Android App: Seesmic

Posted on Dec 11, 2009 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | comment

Seesmic is a powerful Twitter client in the Android Market that offers many great features.

Application: Seesmic

Version: 1.0.1
Size: 553KB
Category: Communication
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.6/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4.5/5
Originality: 4/5
Indispensability: 4.5/5
The basic layout of the app is very intuitive and well organized.  First, there are four main tabs that you would expect to see with any Twitter app: Timeline, Replies, Messages, and Profile.  The Timeline features the tweets from all the users that you follow.  Conveniently, there is an easily accessible Refresh button at the top of the page so you can constantly get the latest updates in one click.  Another nice design attribute is that all tweets written by you are colored differently so they are quickly identifiable.
Selecting on a specific tweet brings up a page that shows the user at the top (clicking there brings up that users profile which is very nice).  You can also star the tweet, write an @reply, retweet, or send a DM straight from the page.  A lot of functionality in one spot is always a boost to the ease of use of the app.
Another nice part of this app is the layout of the Profile tab (and also the profile you see when you select another user).  Here you have the option of checking out the users’ website, tweets, favorites, who they are following, and who is following them; all the useful information you really care about in one concise place.
As I mentioned before, the best part of this app is the features/connections it offers with the many other sites/services you use with Twitter.  You can choose a photo service (i.e. Twitpic), video service (i.e. YouTube), and URL shortening method (i.e. Bit.ly).  Once this is setup, your use of Twitter will be streamlined and you’ll be ready to share.  These are accessible when you choose to write a tweet.  Similarly, when you are composing a tweet, you can also choose to share your location.
One drawback I have found (and it may just be that I’m using this app on my original T-mobile G1) is that sometimes the loading times are slow (and number of tweets is set to only 50).  At least slower than when I’ve used Twitter with Twidroid.  Let me know if you’re experiencing this as well. 
Also, I wish they would have a way to start writing a tweet without having to hit menu first to bring up the option.  It’s not a big deal really, but since most of the app is navigated through the touch screen, this should have been included as well.
I really like the UI of Seesmic and the different tabs that are used for the clear-cut layout.  This app is right up there with Twidroid as one of the best on Android.
Scan the barcode with Barcode Scanner if you’d like to download this app in the market.
Read More

Google Real Time Search on Android

Posted on Dec 10, 2009 in Android News, Tutorials | comment

One of Google’s new features is Google Real Time search and it is now available on Android!
In order to access this feature, simply enter a Google search as you normally would either in the browser on the Google widget itself.
Next, in the top right corner, click Updates.  Now you will receive real-time search results on your item including those from Twitter and other sources.
Amazing enough, the real-time list of results updates itself every few seconds!  I tested this out by searching for one of the trending topics on Twitter.  So many results and they would completely refresh in what seemed like continuous fashion.
Apparently this is being rolled out still so if you don’t see it yet, be patient.  Also, this is available on your standard browser (tested with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox).
This feature has huge implications as now you can instantly be updated on things that are going on right now, right around you (and you can do this on the go).  It’s extremely easy to find these answers, as you would expect from a new release like this from Google.
Here is a video showcasing the new feature set to some dramatic music.  Enjoy!

Read More

Top Android App: Shazam

Posted on Dec 10, 2009 in Multimedia, Top Rated Apps | comment

Shazam was one of Android’s first major apps and is one of the top apps in the Android Market.  It offers the fastest song recognition capabilities possible.

Application: Shazam

Version: 1.2
Size: 234KB
Category: Multimedia
Price: Free
Overall Score: 5/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
Ever wondered what a song you heard on the radio was called or who sang it?  Now you can easily get your answer.  Shazam identifies music tracks simply by listening to them.  There is nothing to type, no need to remember lyrics to search for when you get home, it’s really as easy as it sounds.
The process of opening Shazam and clicking Tag Now to when you get your results takes about 30 seconds.  The actual time that the app listens to the audio is between 20 and 25 seconds.  A nice feature of this app is that it has only two buttons which are very easy to access.  There isn’t any time wasted finding where to click in order to start identifying a song, so you shouldn’t have any problem whipping out your phone when that unknown song starts to play.
When the app tags your song, you will get a screen which displays the song title, artist, album, album artwork, genre, label, and the date it was tagged.  This is an incredible amount of data for a single track.  Similarly, you get the option of searching for the song with Amazon MP3 so that you can purchase it if you’d like.  You also get the option of searching for the song on YouTube so you can check for the music video and listen to it again.
What makes this app so highly rated is that it is extremely accurate.  The only time I haven’t been able to tag a song was when the song was either a) extremely new or b) an unknown artist.  Shazam offers a few troubleshooting tips in case it’s not the apps fault.
The other button on the home screen is My Tags.  This brings up a list of all the songs that you have tagged.  This is very convenient for remembering songs for later use.  When you select a song it returns the same information that was displayed when you initially tagged it.

Overall, like Google Maps before, if you haven’t already downloaded this app and use it all the time, do so now!  Here is the barcode you can scan with Barcode Scanner to find this app in the Android Market.

Read More

Top Android App: Google Sky Map

Posted on Dec 9, 2009 in Reference, Top Rated Apps | comment

“Google Sky Map turns your Android-powered mobile phone into a window on the night sky.”  The description Google gives in the Android Market is spot on, so I figured I’d put it here for you.

Application: Google Sky Map
Version: 1.3
Size: 409KB

Category: Reference
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.9/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Indispensability: 4.5/5
To make it short and sweet, Google Sky Map uses your GPS location and the built-in compass to determine where you are and what direction you are looking.  Simply point your phone in a direction to see stars, planets, constellations, messier objects, the moon, etc. in your view.  You will be amazed at how accurate this app truly is.
By touching the screen you can quickly see the different layers (items in the sky) that are turned on by default.  You can toggle which layers you want to see.  You can also switch between automatic mode (which changes the view based on how your phone is positioned) or manual mode (where you can search the sky by moving your finger around on the screen).  Similarly, there is a feature for night mode that uses black and red colors in the app only in order to reduce any glare from the light coming from the screen.
Google Sky Map can help you figure out the name of that certain bright star in the sky.  It can also help you determine where a particular item in the sky is.  For example, if you wanted to find where the star Polaris is, you can do a quick search.  The app will point an arrow to help you home in on the object.  Once it is found, a large locating circle encompasses the object.
One thing I wish this app did was allow you to select an item on the screen to either a) pop up a window describing it in more detail or b) open a Google search with the name in order to get more detail.
Overall, Google Sky Map is one of those apps that is extremely fun to play around with.  It is a great app to share with family and friends because of how useful and exciting it is along with how it displays the power of Android applications and Google.
Scan with Barcode Scanner for direct link to Google Sky Map in the Android Market.
Read More

Motorola Droid is Time Magazine’s #1 Gadget of 2009

Posted on Dec 9, 2009 in Android News | comment

What a boost to the Android Operating system, Google, Motorola, Verizon, etc. the Motorola Droid has been.  The marketing campaign with all the Droid commercials has really paid off, and for good reason.  The Motorola Droid has been named Time Magazine’s #1 gadget for the year of 2009.  Note: Apple’s Iphone 3GS was #4.

It’s about time the great Android platform has finally got a really awesome phone that is creating the buzz it deserves.

Congrats Android!

Read More

Top Android App: Google Maps (Labs Update)

Posted on Dec 9, 2009 in App News, Top Rated Apps, Travel | comment

Application: Google Maps
Version: 3.3.1
Size: 2.70MB
Category: Travel
Price: Free
Overall Score: 5/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
I’m giving a short review/tutorial to the newly updated Google Maps so you’ll know how to access the new features on your Android phone.
The newly added Google Maps Labs allows you to access new features that include:
·         Scale bar: Shows a scale bar on the map with distances in meters and feet.
·         Terrain layer: Adds terrain layer to the layers menu.  This layer adds elevation shading to your map.
·         Popular catergories: Shows a list of category searches when you use the search menu button.
·         Layer button: Adds an on-screen button for easy access to layers (don’t need to hit menu first anymore).
·         Compass arrow: Uses the digital compass to indicate the direction you are facing.
These new options can be enabled or disabled depending on what is useful to you.  The addition of Google Maps Lab definitely adds more functionality to the Google Maps app.  I’m also figuring that Google will likely add more useful Labs options to the app in the future.
What I think is the coolest addition to Google Maps is the new “What’s Nearby” option.  In order to access this feature, long press on the map in a location you are interested in.  This could be where you currently are or where you’re going to be.  This will bring a popup window with that location.
Next, click on the window to open more options about that particular location on the map.  You will notice that there is a new option in this drop down menu, “What’s Nearby?”  Selecting this will show you a list of the 10 closest places, including restaurants, shops, and other points of interest.
Choosing one of the items in the list brings up the normal Google Maps options like Show on map, Get directions, Navigate, Call, Street view, etc.
Now you can answer the question of “what’s nearby” and find some new and interesting places to visit/enjoy.  The great thing is, now you can do this on the fly with as little effort as possible.  Android and Google making things easier as always.
I’m sure everyone already has and uses this app pretty much on a daily basis.  For the few of you who do not, here’s the barcode you can scan with Barcode Scanner to take you directly there in the Android Market.
Read More