Android 3rd Party Applications

aTrackDog flawed and deceiving

The new applications aTrackDog is designed to help users make sure that their applications are up to date. This application in theory would be a perfect solution to a flawed update system on Android. aTrackDog works by sending information about your currently installed apps over to the a0soft.com servers then checks all available applications for updates and notifies you if there are any. aTrackDog though has a “MAJOR” design flaw, if a beta tester is also an aTrackDog users then all users of aTrackDog will get a notification that there is an update when in reality the application is up to date.  The guys over at Big In Japan learned this first hand when they received plenty of email stating that users could not download the newest version of ShopSavvy.
“Starting on Friday we began getting emails from aTrackDog users who complained that they could not download the latest release of our software.  Our current version is 3.0.0, but aTrackDog showed that our most recent version was 3.0.5 (an internal alpha version).  We DO have a public beta running at 3.0.4, but the most recent public/stable release (i.e. the one in the Market) is 3.0.0.  aTrackDog is listing 3.0.5 as our latest release so each aTrackDog user receives an alert that they need to update their version of ShopSavvy.  Our users are becoming more and more frustrated as their emails reveal.”
aTrackDog’s only suggestion to developers at Big In Japan was to suggest users to select ‘Not Track this version’ in the aTrackDog settings. aTrackDog needs to really step it up a notch here because developers should not have disclaimers and notes for each conflicting application that is later released. Developers do not have any control over what their beta testers use on their phones. Rylan went on to say in an email to aTrackDog developers:
“I think your method of version tracking is very clever.  You managed to let your users’ phones do the difficult data-collection for you.  Unfortunately your strategy is not 100%, it’s not sustainable.  When there are 10,000 applications in the Market and half of them are releasing private versions how will you handle the flood of support emails and admin emails coming your way? I recommend that you change your model such that it includes some sort of review process first.  When a new version is submitted to your database, before you notify the world, you should go verify its existence first.  This would include either finding it in the Market or updating the URL for manual download.”
Big In Japan believes the real purpose of this application is for gaining data market intelligence. With this application they are able to see how many people are using which applications. Data such as this is “VERY valuable” and should compensate those giving the data in some way rather than give false information to users about current versions. Big In Japan, as do I suggest that you uninstall this application as it isn’t useful and will likely cause confusion. [Via BigInJapan]

Visa Mobile Application hits the Android Market; may not be as secure as you think

Back in September we reported that the Visa Mobile Application was being created as the first financial application for Android. It has been a while but they managed to push it to the Android Market in hopes that it would get some use for the holiday season. With the Visa Mobile Application you can track your card transactions as they happen, to better keep track of your own expenses. With alerts you will know instantly when someone else is using your credit card. This feature is a must in today’s world with all of the credit card and identity fraud going on. If you delete this application you must text the word “STOP” to MVISA in order to discontinue text notifications. This application also gives you many special coupon offers both online and on your handset. Visa Mobile Application even gives you location information where you can redeem offers. As with most Visa services there is always the fine print to watch out for. If you tear through the Terms of Service you will find one very unassuming line that could very well make you turn around and never look back. This line reads, “unfortunately, no data transmission via a mobile handset can be guaranteed to be 100% secure.” It just sound to me like Visa is trying to keep them selves from any liability T-Mobile may place on them due to security issues.

Android Market gets even more sports applications with FotMob

The leading score provider for mobile football, Score Service, has announced their now free Android version of FotMob. This application is already highly popular among Java and Windows Mobile users, now Android users will be able to see what all the hype is about. With FotMob you can get live coverage of Premier League, Championship, Bundesliga, Serie A, Primera Division, SAS ligaen, Tippeligaen, Adeccoligaen and Champions Leagues. You also get dynamically retrieves new season data without the need for upgrade. The score tables and match details such as red/yellow cards are updated live. Score Service is also currently working on a similar application for the NHL. It sure seems that Android is getting plenty of support for sports fans of all kinds.

Android gets the first virtual keyboard; still needs some work

Everyone has been asking about a virtual keyboard since before we had the G1 in our hands. Developers over at DotPhone.org have finally got an application running on the G1 with a virtual keyboard. However this application is a bit hard to use and seems to still be in the beta stages. We have seen a few cases of the application working on the G1, but have since had no luck with it. It appears that the new firmware versions RC29 and RC30 do not allow the application to work, but the old version seem to on occasion. We tried version RC29 with no luck and then decided to upgrade to verify it was not that specific version. The onscreen keyboard is reported to have a weird layout, instead of being a QWERTY keyboard, the keys listed across the top being QWERTY, the layout only seems to list QWERT across the top. Either way this application is showing progress to say the least. It will not be long before we see a working virtual keyboard on Android.  We want to know if any of our users have been able to get this application working, and if so which firmware version they have.

Orb coming to Android soon

With every new handset eventually there will be questions about streaming content from a source other than what is provided. One question I always manage to come across on forums is, “Can we use Orb on this phone?” The short answer is yes. Over at Orb forums this question was brought up, and coincidentally a member of the Orb team made a comment on the situation.  The users asked if there was ever going to be an Android Orb application in the Android Market, the answer being yes, there will be a way to use Orb services on Android-powered handsets this week. He even went on to say that there would eventually be a native application that will improve the use of Orb on Android. There has been no official press release about any of this so we do not know of any release date yet. For those of you who do not yet know what Orb is, Orb has developed an award winning service that combines the use of an internet media portal and a proprietary software application. Orb leverages the best in already available technology (hi-speed broadband, Wi-Fi, wireless internet access and sophisticated portable devices) to provide a brand new way for people to connect with their digital media in the manner "how, when and where" they most desire. In short, Orb provides the ability to "MyCast". MyCasting gives the user instant access to photos, music, videos, live television, and other digital content on their home PC at anytime and from any internet-connected device, such as a mobile phone, PDA or laptop. MyCasting is media anywhere. Orb is based on an elegant, robust and scalable architecture and is the first of its kind to allow consumers mobile access to all of their digital media. Orb's software architecture leverages the best features of today's popular standards while abiding by current digital rights management solutions. The Orb embedded Solution is a set of software platform capabilities which the consumer electronics device manufacturer can port and integrate in its devices to differentiate its connected product lines, and build media and services management applications, rapidly, efficiently. [Via OrbForums]

Android proxy app (almost) allows for tethering

From the looks of It someone over at Graha has figured out a way to share internet connection with your computer. This is still not an official way to tether your G1, but it shows progress. This process is still in the experimental stages, users should do this at their own risk.  First you must download the Android Proxy app from the provided link. The G1’s settings then need to be tweaked before it will work. One should note that this process requires the G1 to be connected to your computer via USB in order to get it to work properly.  We have not yet been able to get this method to work correctly. This is for informational purposes only, we here at Android Community are not responsible for content here, nor are we responsible for anything you do with the information. This is very experimental, it doesn't always work. Use at your own risk.
  • Install the app on your android phone, by clicking here (from your phone browser of course)
  • You might have to change your settings to permit apps that don't come from the Google Market by going to your home screen and choosing MENU > Settings > Applications > Unknown Sources.
  • Turn USB debugging on on your phone.
  • On your G1 go to the home screen, press MENU > Settings > Applications > Development, then enable USB debugging.
  • Follow the instructions here to install the Android driver - you'll need to do this on Windows & Linux but apparently not on the Mac.
  • Download and install the Android SDK for your computer platform. Alternatively if you are on Windows and don't want a 100 meg download, just get the ADB utility from here
  • Plug your phone into your computer
  • Choose Proxy App from your phone's menu
  • Press the "Start Proxy" button on your phone
  • Move to the directory that has the adb utility, using inside the Sdk Tools folder and run
Windows: adb forward tcp:8080 localabstract:Proxy Linux/Mac: ./adb forward tcp:8080 localabstract:Proxy
  • Now you should have a proxy server running on port 8080 of your own computer that will relay the information over the Android Debug Bridge to the Proxy App which will relay it on to the internet.
  • Set your firefox proxy : Options > Advanced > Network > Manual Proxy Configuration
HTTP Proxy: localhost Port: 8080 Leave the others blank
  • Enjoy the slow slow EDGE network, or let me know if you have glorious fast 3g coverage!
  • Remember to disable your proxy settings in firefox if you want to stop using your phone.
[Via AndroidCommunity]

Splashplay brings learning guitar to Android

SplashPlay is now available in the Android Market for guitar players everywhere. While the application title does portray that it is geared around music, it does not do the application justice. SplashPlay claims to have people strumming away to their favorite songs in minutes. For those of us who have always wanted to learn how to play guitar here is our chance. SplashPlay offers a new generation of learning to play the guitar. Only G1 owners have the ability to interact with videos giving them exclusive features. Getting started is easy, just attach the pod and light panel to your guitar and download the software.
  • Share and learn music on different instruments using the SplashPod and a paper-thin light panel.
  • Combines freely available tutorials with optionally available hardware.
  • Learn songs or chords wherever you want, on a bus or train or even in your tent at a music festival.
  • Use the phone to wirelessly control the light panel using Bluetooth.
This application is very portable, SplashPlay sends information to the pod from a mobile phone or computer using a Bluetooth connection. Some features SplashPlay also offer include a guitar tuner, metronome and hands free Bluetooth foot pedal. The guitar version of SplashPlay is scheduled for early 2009, shortly followed by light panel releases for the keyboard/piano, drums, violin and many other instruments.

Android Community Week in Review – Week 43 2008

Just before the launch of the T-Mobile G1 this week, Google decided to pull almost all of the applications in the Android Market. It turns out that they were pre-production applications that were only there for demo purposes only. It was not long before applications returned to the Android Market in completed form.  Myspace was the first social networking based application to hit the Android Market. With no sign of a Facebook app reports began to surface exposing the bad blood between Facebook and Google.

One San Francisco store was given the OK to sell the T-Mobile G1 a few hours early. The line grew rather long as people from all over the area lined up for a chance to get the G1 early. Many T-Mobile customers found a pleasant surprise on their doorsteps Monday morning as most of the pre-orders arrived 2 days early. Google finally released the source code for their Android operating system, however it appears it will only be for those who are running OSX or Linux. Kyocera also announced they are working on an Android-powered handset. No details about the device have been released at this time. T-Mobile's exclusive Hotspot Connect application was released into the Android Market this week allowing T-Mobile customers to connect to any T-Mobile Hotspot for free. The long awaited day came with the official launch of the T-Mobile G1, the first handset to run Google's Android platform. TmoNews reported that there was to be an over the air update (OTA) for the G1 on the 23rd, but after no update was made available, reports changed the release date to November 2nd. One concept of the Android interface surfaced in the Show Room for the Swedish software technology and design company Tat. Seen in the concept was a layout at the bottom that somewhat resembled that of the iPhone dock. Google announced that they will start allowing paid applications to enter the Android Market in early 2009. Another picture surfaced this week bringing hope to G1 owners who would like an on-screen keyboard, the picture showed an on-screen keyboard that very closely resembles that of Apple's iPhone. Instructions surfaced helping people activate their G1 at home without having an account, although to achieve this an activated T-Mobile SIM card is required. Hop-on is the latest company to announce that they are developing a phone to run the Android platform. Hop-on plans to unveil their Android in January at CES 2009. Stories are coming from all over the place stating that T-Mobile employees in non-3G areas know little or nothing about the G1 because they will not be selling the device. Two developers of award winning Android applications TuneWiki and Shopsavvy, held an AndroidDevCamp in Dallas on the 25th to help developers get started with Android. HTC CEO Peter Chou, told Mercury News that G1 sales for 2008 would be more than 600,000 units rather than the 1.5 million reported to be sold already in pre-orders. Security researchers have already found a security flaw in the G1 that can potentially allow attackers to record keystrokes made within the devise's browser application. Google is aware of this problem and states that it is not as bad as it appears and that they are already working on it. Our Golla G1 Case Giveaway came to an end this week, we would like to take the time again to thank our sponsor Smartphone Experts for making the giveaway posible. I am going to pick up a Golla case myself, the cases were actually really nice and fit very well. I would also like to say thank you to all of our members for making this week another record breaking week for us here at Android Community!

Android getting virtual keyboard

One of the largest complaints that I have noticed is the lack of an on-screen keyboard on the T-Mobile G1. The answer to everyone’s prayers, an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, will be released in Q1 2009.

One-handed text messaging, email and instant messages will finally become a reality thanks to Android roadmap. One question that arises in our heads is, just how fast will you be able to text with an on-screen keyboard? The G1 does not support multitouch and we find that there is a little delay when using the dialer. Still, people who find the need to flip the G1 open each time they type rather annoying will love this shortcut. The site reads: “At the moment, Android does not support any virtual keyboard, but that may soon This feature will enable support for input methods other than physical keyboards, for example soft keyboards. IMF will also enable application developers to provide IME (see below) applications based on the framework. Input method engines (IME) IME will support soft keyboards, a dictionary of suggestions, and a suggestion algorithm. The Android platform may contain few reference IMEs, and developers can provide IME applications through the Android Market.” [Via HTC Source]

Android may never see a Facebook app

The appearance of a MySpace application in the Android Market without a Facebook app to keep it company may be no coincidence. Reports are emerging bringing up the bad blood between Google and Facebook. The social-networking site revealed that hey will not be releasing a Facebook application for the Android platform.

Friction between the two brands began when Facebook blocked Google’s Friend Connect, claiming there were security issues over the competing application. Facebook also teamed up with Microsoft for which is hardly a Google supporter. Rumors are flying around everywhere stating that a Facebook representative said, "Android sucks, it doesn't matter." Whether these reports are true or not is yet to be determined. Facebook has not completely ruled out the possibility of a Facebook application for Android. They simply said that Google or a third party will have to do it for the site, as it won't be dedicating any resources to the project. Facebook promptly released an application for the iPhone that was developed internally. Although Facebook did not create a Rim version of the application, they lent engineers for the development of it. [Via Techradar]
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