Android

Android Tips

I purchased a Motorola Droid 2 (Verizon) in August 2010 on its very release date. Droid 2 didn't turn out to be as epic as its predecessor but I very much like the Android OS in general. Here is what I learned so far.

Verizon Rebate

The mail-in-rebate for the Verizon phone comes in the form of a Visa credit card ($100 in my case). You can use it as a regular $100 Visa (gift) card or you can access http://www.verizonwireless.com/rebates and transfer the money to your bank account.

Battery

My Tekkeon TekCharge MP1550 saved my Droid 2 in the afternoon more than a few times. It takes 4 AA batteries and powers any USB-chargeable device. It is $22.30 at Amazon. If you are buying rechargeable batteries, I highly recommend Sanyo Eneloop. Unlike other NiMH batteries, Eneloop retains charges for many weeks until the moment you actually need them. See also: More tips for boosting Android battery life

Editing Text on Android

DropBox / PCFileSync

DropBox for Android can sync files between your Android and on the DropBox website. The app also works as a file browser to find and view/edit the files on your MicroSD card. I have a text file for quick note-taking on my Droid 2. If I launch TxtPad from DropBox, it will upload the file to DropBox.com every time I save the file. PCFileSync is another app. It syncs files between the phone and your PC through your home wi-fi.

Text Editor Apps

TxtPad ($1) is my default text editor app because it can search text within the opened file and it has decent user interface. TxtPad Lite (free) has mostly the same (if not identical) features.

Bluetooth Keyboard

I was able to connect an Apple wireless keyboard using BlueKeyboard JP. This blurry video Using bluetooth keyboard with Motorola Droid was the most helpful resource but I still needed to struggle on a few things. (Thank you, Peter, Lawton, for your help!) I also tried BlueInput and KeyPro. BlueInput was unstable (missed keys) and KeyPro was crashing from the start.
Apple Wireless Keyboard
I got Apple Wireless Keyboard to work with my Droid 2 but I'm sure other Bluetooth keyboard will work fine as well. Make sure other device (e.g., your Macintosh) is unpaired with the keyboard otherwise it tends to "steal" the keyboard during the steps below. This keyboard seems to have 3 states. To put it into the pairing mode, you should keep pressing the power button on the right so that: the LED is turned on after 2 seconds and stays on for 5 seconds, then starts blinking. If it doesn't behave that way, release and hold down the power button again. Once Android and the keyboard initiated pairing, you should enter "0000" on Android, and then press "0" on the keyboard 4 times and then hit "return".
Paring
Most important thing I discovered is that I should keep the keyboard "paired" but "not connected" in the Bluetooth settings.
  1. Menu > Settings > Wireless & networks > Bluetooth settings
  2. Enable the pairing (discovery?) mode of the keyboard
  3. Tap "Scan for devices"
  4. Select "Apple Wireless Keyboard"
  5. When prompted, type the passcode "0000" for example
  6. Type the same code and "return" on the keyboard if necessary
  7. Keyboard's name ("Apple Wireless Keyboard") should be listed with "Paired but not connected"
  8. If you long-tap and select "Options...", the "Connect" checkbox is off and "HID" is on (I'm not sure if this matters)
BlueKeyboard JP
  1. Install BlueKeyboard JP
  2. Menu > Settings > Language & keyboard
  3. Turn on "BlueKeyboard JP"
  4. Select "BlueKeyboard JP settings"
  5. Under "Selected Keyboard", select your keyboard ("Apple Wireless Keyboard")
  6. Under "Keyboard layout", select "US (QWERTY)" (not sure if this matters)
  7. Turn off "Word Prediction", "Auto Capitalization" and "Input Word Learning" (unless you want them specifically)
  8. Start a text editor or bring up the (Google) search box
  9. Long-tap the text input area until the "Edit text" menu pops up
  10. (Scroll down if necessary) and select "Input method"
  11. Select "BlueKeyboard JP"
  12. Notification area on the top should say "Connecting ..."
  13. Roll down the notification and see if BlueKeyboard (blue icon) says "Connected"
If BlueKeyboard failed to connect or was disconnected
  1. Roll down the notification and tap on BlueKeyboard ("Disconnected")
  2. Tap on "Selected keyboard"
  3. Tap on the keyboard name ("Apple Wireless Keyboard") again even if it's selected - This will trigger a connection next time you star typing
  4. Tap on the text input area again

Podcast

BeyondPod is the app I use to watch and listen to video/audio podcasts on my commute. It is a little more cumbersome to add a feed to Google Reader (copying and pasting URL) than on iTunes. But once the feeds are set up, BeyondPod automatically download podcasts (I tell it to do it when I charge my phone) and I never have to connect it to the PC!

Google Talk

Google Talk is natively supported on Android but not on (my wife's) iPhone (4). IM+ Lite (free) for iPhone is one app that I found that actually support background notification. Now we can use Google Talk to chat and I don't have to pay to Verizon for text messaging.

Apps

My Picks

  • 8pen - A new unique on-screen input method to type letters fast and accurately. Worth the 1-euro price? I will find out soon.
  • androidVNC - Allows you to control your PC
  • ASTRO - File browser
  • BART Rider - Shows BART map & schedule
  • BeyondPod - Podcast manager
  • calculation display calculator - Displays the expression you entered (like "54 x 5.5 = 297") so you can verify you didn't mistype.
  • Chrome to Phone - Send the web page you are viewing on the PC to your Android phone instantly
  • DroidWing - Dictionary app that takes the EPWING dictionary files
  • Dropbox - Syncs (backs up) files between Android, PC and DropBox.com
  • Files - File browser
  • FlightStats Lite - Shows flight info (terminals, delays)
  • Gmote - Allows you to play music and video on your PC via the Internet (Thank you, Bishop!)
  • Got To Do - To-do list; syncs with Toodledo.com
  • JuiceDefender - Controls other apps to save phone's battery
  • LauncherPro - Replacement on the phone's home screen program (e.g., Motorola's MOTOBLUR)
  • Open GPS Tracker - Saves GPS data at intervals and record your route (for the day)
  • PdaNet - Allows you to tether your laptop and connect it to the Internet through your phone 3G connection without any monthly charge. Trial version is fully capable for 14 days. After that, it will disable the secure access protocol if you don't register ($15.95 now; reg. $23.95).
  • PCFileSync - Syncs files between the phone and your PC through your home wi-fi
  • SitOrSquat - Find public restrooms nearby :)
  • SoundHound - Listens to a song and tells you the names of the song and the artist
  • TxtPad / TxtPad Lite - Text editor with in-file text search feature
  • TripIt - Displays your trip details from TripIt.com. You can forward the email responses from airlines and hotels to TripIt and it compiles your itinerary.
  • WiFinder - Shows the details of the wi-fi networks nearby

Well-known Apps

  • ^3 (Cube) (music player)
  • Android PDF Viewer
  • Barcode Scanner
  • ConvertPad
  • Currency
  • DLNA - Copy files from/to computers running a DLNA server
  • Google Goggles - Recognizes logo, text, etc. through the phone's camera and gives you search result or translation
  • Google Sky Map - Look up contellations
  • Google Voice
  • IMDb
  • Kindle - Read e-books downloaded from Amazon
  • Latitude
  • PhoneFlicks - Netflix queue management and local movie showtimes
  • Snoggdoggler - Podcatcher (Thank you, David S.!)
  • Skype Mobile
  • Twitter
  • Urbanspoon
  • Wapedia
  • Where
  • Yelp

Fun Apps

  • Compass Leveler
  • Spirit Level Plus

Runners-Up / Being Tested

  • AnyStop BART
  • BlueInput
  • File Expert
  • fring - IM program; requires registering on fring.com
  • Toodle Droid
  • Wikidroid

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