Visual review/ guide to Android

Write a review of your latest purchase
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:24

As promised a visual review to Android. A couple of disclaimers first. This is Android 1.6 running a custom rom. The rom is not themed or anything, so what you see here is pretty much what you can do on a G1 out the box, save a few minor things like the look of the dialler and calculator etc.

This is a fairly old build of Android, anybody getting a new Android phone will most likely plump for something with 2.1, such as the Nexus, but if your thinking about Android this will help you get a better idea of how it works and what you can do on it. But it's a rough guide and no where near comprehensive. Bear in mind newer phones (mine is nearly 18months old now) have a higher resolution screen and has little bits of eye candy this build doesn't.

At the moment I don't have all the apps I usually have installed, installed at the moment, so not showing everything off. But will get around to adding them at some point, and if anybody wants a quick visual rundown of a particular app just let me know and I can add it.

Will do my best to describe the features of each app and how stuff works. But one thing I can't convey with this format of review is how great it feels to use. Sometimes I just sit and swipe my homescreens because it feels nice.

Anyway, here we go!

Image

Ok, this is the home screen. I have an app called DXtop installed, it's a home screen replacement and add's some features not in the stock home app. The most obvious thing is the small dock along the bottom. This is persistant on each home screen, and enables you to have another row of apps that would wouldn't normally be able to fit in. I also used a custom icon set for these icons. It was free, and there are hundreds of icons in this particular pack. There are also hundreds of icons packs, most of them are free. This one was. To change an apps icon, just hold your finger on the icon and some options will come up. Picture below.

Image

With DXtop you can further customise your homescreen, I have removed all the names of the apps that are usually along the bottom of the icon. I know what they are and think it looks neater, so prefer it this way.

There are countless widgets you can install on your homescreen, at the moment I just have the simple didgital clock, available free from the Market, and the power widget you can see along the top of the screen. From left to right a tap allows you to toggle Wireless, Bluetooth, GPS, Sync (contacts, email, calendar etc, saves battery if your out and about) and screen brightness. To add or remove any widget, just long press the icon, and you can either move it around the home screens or delete it.

Will go through the apps I have installed starting from left to right, starting at the bottom, so, my messaging app is called ChompSMS. It looks like this...

Image

I prefer it to the stock app as it allows greater customisation, and the conversations are organised in bubbles, like the iphone, which makes things easier to read. The green bar indicates an unread message.

Pressing the menu button brings up the various options. This is pretty universal in all apps.

Image

This is what a conversation looks like. If you want you can change the colour of the bubbles and background, also the font of the text as well as how the conversation looks.

Image

The virtual keypad i'm using is called swype, I'm really enjoying it so far. There are numerous other keyboards for download, and many different themes, from sipderman to fallout if thats your kind of thing. Most are free, but only change the look of the keyboard, some others actually change the buttons making it easier to use. I do find the stock keyboard in portrait mode quite hard to use as the buttons are a bit close together. But I never really practised, mostly favouring the hardware keyboard on the G1

Image

Long pressing on a conversation or contact lets you do things like view contact and call the person. Fairly standard stuff.

Ok, onto the browser. This is the stock browser, and has pretty standard functions you would expect of any phone browser.

Image

I have my homepage set to my business email address, as on this ROM of android you can't merge 2 gmail accounts to the stock gmail app. You can with 2.1 I believe. However, the gmail mobile version works as well, if not better than the gmail app on the phone. The menu button brings up various options.

Image

Bookmarks

Image

History

Image

You can have quite a few windows opened simultaneously, Most I have had is 6, but think you can have more. Here is how it handles windows, just a simple header telling you what page it is. I only have one open here, so not a great example!

Image

Pressing the menu button on an open webpage give you some options

Image

Various settings in the browser

Image
Image
Image
Image

The HUKD homepage, quite zoomed in so large text. This is in landscape mode.

Image

Zoomed out a bit to show you the rendering, as you can see. No different from a desktop really.

Image
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:25

Ok, onto the market app, which is one of the main appeals of android. It works perfectly well, and does a pretty good job of letting you search and browse with various categories. Obviously there are more apps avalible than I could ever show you here. The great thing about the market is that there is usually a free version of any kind of app you want, sometimes these are better than paid versions, sometimes worse. But there is always a good choice. The worst thing about the app market right now is the disparity between android and iphone apps. The same apps by the same developers usually have a lot less polish on android than iphone. I expect this will change as android become more popular, but right now, its a bit annoying.

Image

Category list

Image

You can broswe by top free, top paid, or just in. Or, if you know the name of the app, just tap the search button in the top right hand corner. Alternatively, if you know you want an app for getting new wallpapers, just search wallpapers and it will bring up a few hundred apps that cater for you. To pay for apps, simply set up a credit card linked to your gmail account, and it will automatically charge this to your card. One great thing about the market is if you buy something and change your mind, just uninstall it within 24 hours of your original purchase, and you will be automatically refunded. This works perfectly and frequently demo apps by doing this.

Image

You can also access a page in the market that shows what you have installed to your phone at the moment, making managing your apps easy. To install an app, simply click the title, and press a button that says install, it will take about 10 seconds to download and install over wifi, and not much longer over 3g.

Image


Image

You can be notified of new versions of apps automatically, twhen there is an update an icon will appears in your notification bar. Just tap the note and it will take you straight to the market app where you can choose to download the new update.

Image

Ok, the Gmail app, which works brilliantly, as you would hope. The inbox looks like this.

Image

More detailed look at the download process.
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

You can label your emails, just like on the desktop version. And pressing the menu button brings up this list of options

Image

You can view your labels and sort by other tags

Image
Image

Open mesasages look like this, in nice threaded conversations which you can expand individually by pressing on them. Clicking a link in an email takes you to the browser automatically, or youtube app etc.

Image
Image

Quick profiles app. There are many different apps for changing your profiles, the one i'm using at the moment is called quick profiles, it's pretty ghetto, no fancy menus or anything, but is quick and works a treat. I really like how you can tailor pretty much everything you need for your different profiles. Changing the wallpaper is good, because you know instantly what profile you have selected.
My different profiles

Image

Long press the profile name and you will get to edit the options.

Image
Image
Image

Listen, a google podcast app. Just started getting into podcasts, and Listen is googles own attempt at an app for managing, downloading and listening to the, I haven't tried any other similar apps, because this does everything perfectly. The pictures should be pretty self explanitory.

Image
Image
Image
Image

When your listening to anything on the G1, it will tell you what's going on in the notification bar. Just pull it down and expand it for details. Pressing the listen notification will take you back to the app.

Image

Long press a podcast gives various options.

Image

Mytracks. Its a great free app, by google again, and I use a lot for when I go on a run. It tracks you via GPS, gives you speed data, and traces your route onto googlemaps, which you can then upload to "my docs" in your gmail account and track your progress.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Twidroid. A free twitter app, that also has a paid version that lets you put a widget on your homepages, but not that fussed about that to be honest. Lets you doing everything a desktop app lets you do, and you can take photos and share them directly wiith twitter from the camera. Its a very customisiable app, and can run in the background an notify you of any new direct messages, @replies etc etc.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Long pressing a Tweet will bring up a context menu allowing you to do various things.

Image
Last edited by jurassicjim on 08 Feb 2010, 17:25, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:26

News and weather app. I think this is one of googles own too, in anycase, its free and does the job quickly and well. Not too flashy, but find the more flashy apps don't delivery the content as well. Would prefer something basic.

The weather view

Image

Topics are present in a standard list, press the story and you will be taken to a mobile site that displays the story from the source.

Image

Settings

Image

Select the topics you wish to sync

Image

Going to pump out a series of captures of the various setings in the phone, a bit boring, but for gadget freaks, its usually the first place we go when getting a new phone, so some of you may find it interesting. Tried to show as much as I can, but there are so many options and tweaks some will be missing. Needless to say, anything you want to change, you pretty much can.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Gtalk. Gtalk is googles instant messaging feature built into the phone, and can only be used to chat to those with a gmail account, as far as i'm aware. It works very well, and background notications are instant if somebody wants to chat to you. I'm converting most my friends and family to gmail accounts, so for most people I want to chat with I can through this. Does everything I need it to do.

Image
Image
Image

Long press a contact to bring up various options

Image

Ok, XBMC as promised, this is a free app and works with the open source media library/ player job. With the Aeon skin its the most amazing piece of software to get for an HTPC. Check it out if you haven't, it's really good. Pretty easy to set up, and once you do using the app on android makes it even more of a pleasure to use. It syncs your movie and TV library with imdb etc, so all the information is displayed on the phone app as well as desktop program with a link to the trailer etc.

So this is the home screen for the app, with various choices of media.

Image

This is the navigational remote, pretty obvious what the buttons do.

Image

Press the movies button and you get a list oof your library on your phone, complete with art, and other info, including imdb rating.

Image

Browse by actor (couldn't be bothered waiting for the images to load)#

Image

Once you have selected actor it will come up with all the films you have with that actor in. (Sorry for the imgae over the image, my bad)

Image

When you have selected a film it will come up with the art and you can drag down to view information on the film. There is a play button below, just click to play.

Image

You can also control volume using the volume rocker on the G1. Long pressing the home button in any app shows the current 6 apps that are open and can instantly switch to.

Image

Pictures, music and tv all work pretty much the same as movies, so won't bother showing them all.
Last edited by jurassicjim on 08 Feb 2010, 16:34, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:26

Ok, now for a couple of more interesting apps. Here is my other home screen, asscessed by swiping the screen to the left

Image

This one is called Gmote (top left icon), and lets you use your phone as a mouse and keyboard. It works really well, and has saved me 30 odd quid on buying a similar device for my HTPC. The app is free by the way. There is really nothing to look at, so haven't bothered with a photo. Have a look here for some photos. http://www.gmote.org/screenshots you can stream your music or movies straight to your phone if you wish.

The next icon is a widget, and its called Sticky Note, its a simple note app, that lets you write, edit and share notes from your home screen. You can mark these as notification in the calendar app as tasks too. The top field is the note title which will display on the note widget, the rest is self explanatory, once entered your note, press a colour and it will save. You can have as many as these notes as you have space for. There are many similar apps, some might be better, some will certainly be worse, but I have stuck with this one becuase it just works. And its free.

Image

Long press a note to bring up a list of options.

Image

Next icon is Taskiller, I just have the small widget on my home screen, but there is a larger version showing more info. But the more red the icon, the less free RAM you have, the number is the number of apps currently open. Just press the icon and it will stop all running apps, unless you have them on your exclusion list. So, things like your alarm clock and home alternative app you should make exempt from Taskillers claws.

Here are the other Taskiller widget options.

Image

The calendar app is next, offers pretty standard functionality if your used to googles desktop version. Pretty much does everything you could want it to do. Its not a feature I have used much in the past, but starting to now, as it's great for reminders for stupid stuff, such as watching the gadget show :) It syncs with the desktop version perfectly.

Image

Long press a day and it will bring up a list of options and a new event box is one of them

Image
Image

My current agenda, as you can see, not really populated much yet.

Image

Next up is Gmaps, which will be very familiar to anybody here. The way it is deeply integrated into Android is great (see my tracks earlier), and with GPS makes it a really excellent and full featured app.

A satellite view of Harrogate, my home town, with the wikipedia layer on. There are various layers, as they are called, and can be toggled on or off.

Image

click a wiki icon and you get this

Image

more info

Image

Press get directions, and something obvious happens!!

Image
Image
Image

Some of the different layer options.

Image

The maps app also has latitude, a sort of real time GPS updater for you and your friends. Its really cool actually, just access it and it will come up with a list of your friends currently signed up to latitude.

Image

Click a friend and it will come up with a load of info.

Image

Get directions straight to his location.

Image

Not bothering with the youtube app, needless to say it works very well. Nothing particularly exciting about it.

The facebook app is pretty good, nothing too special, but its free at least.
Nice and quick if your on a 3g connection.

Image
Image

The notifications are pretty good and very customisable.

Image
Image


There is a car home app, which has nice big buttons for use when driving and is geared towards voice commands. I have never really had the need to use it, but it's a cool feature and could be handy for some. It looks like this.

Image

Click the mic, and say a command, like, "navigate to dominoes pizza", or "call amy, mobile" and it will do as you command.

Image
Image

If you hold down the call button in the home screen, you can also get this functionality.

Image

Newsrob is a free RSS reader, its nice and functional, very quick and has good options so you can make it behave as you wish.

Image
Image

You can set it to download a mobile version of the page, instead of just showing you the text. I prefer it this way.

Image

Some options. As you can see, the ever present notifications tab.

Image

Google Goggles is a cool new app from google, it still feels very experimental, but could be great with some more work on it. Its basically a visual search, so, take a photo of an object and it will google search for it. Works best with things like products right now, or text.

Image
Image
Last edited by jurassicjim on 08 Feb 2010, 16:28, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:27

A couple more apps that I have on my phone right now. Will take any requests after this if any body wants to see a particular app or feature.

The BBC iPlayer app is pretty good, works as you would expect. No fancy graphics, but functional.

Image
Image
Image
Image

The stock calculator, I thinks this calculator is actually from elacair, 2.1 build of android. Turn the numbers upside down and what do you get?!

Image

My backup, I have the pro version, costs about a quid or something. Lets you backup tyou files and settings to SD card, or upload them to their secure servers. Pretty essential I would say, especially if your in the habit of changing roms and settings around a lot.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Ringdroid is pretty good, free app and lets you cut down songs on your phone to use as ringtones or notifications. Works very well.
Image

Has a great interface, you can zoom right in on the song and get a 1second snippit quite easily.

Image
Image

Runstar is one of the most polished apps I have seen, i'm guessing it has been ported from the iphone. Its not as functional as mytracks from google, but looks lovely. Proves that when people put their mind to it, android apps can compete on looks.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Last edited by jurassicjim on 08 Feb 2010, 17:22, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:28

Reserved for updates to review
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 13:28

Reserved for updates to review
User avatar
EviL Ras
+1!!!!!!
+1!!!!!!
Posts: 8285
Joined: 08 May 2008
Location: London (formerly Manchester, la la la!)

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby EviL Ras » 08 Feb 2010, 14:57

omg! thats freakin awseome jim! very very in depth! Not got time to read at work, but cant wait to trawl through that tonight!
LUHG
Ghost - MSI GS60 Ghost Pro. 15.6" 1920x1080 LED, i7 4710HQ 2.5 (3.5ghz turbo), 16gb DDR3 1600mhz RAM, 3GB Nvidia GTX870M, 2 x 128gb SSD, 1Tb 7200rpm HDD
Born 10/06/14
Image
User avatar
steffcip
1+1=1 ?!
1+1=1 ?!
Posts: 2034
Joined: 07 May 2008
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby steffcip » 08 Feb 2010, 14:59

this pic looks exactly like on iphone

Image

thank you for the hard work, will take a look later from home
User avatar
Fodder
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 1348
Joined: 13 October 2008

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby Fodder » 08 Feb 2010, 16:00

Good job Jim.

There are a HUGE amount of apps in the market now and some of those look pretty sweet.
"Two things are infinite: the universe & human stupidity; & I'm not sure about the the universe."-Albert Einstein
User avatar
jurassicjim
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2041
Joined: 12 May 2008
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby jurassicjim » 08 Feb 2010, 16:31

Yeah, to be honest I just wiped my phone and started again, so not got all the apps I used to have. If you want to give me a list of a few good ones I will put them up.

Glad people are liking the little guide though. I wished there was something like this when I was deciding on my phone, so seemed a good thing to do. Plus I haven't got much on today....

j
User avatar
Replicant
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 2895
Joined: 08 May 2008
Location: Planet Earth

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby Replicant » 08 Feb 2010, 21:19

I love the clear/simple text that they use.
Y.N.W.A.
Image
User avatar
matt
Cake
Cake
Posts: 4167
Joined: 09 May 2008
Location: The shire, Oxfordshire

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby matt » 08 Feb 2010, 23:59

I've had a quick flick through the galleries and it is a bit of an eye opener, the certainly are "apps for that" on android too. Don't think I would have the patience for it at this stage though, but shiny goodness all the same!
User avatar
Fodder
Master of the Salmon Slap
Master of the Salmon Slap
Posts: 1348
Joined: 13 October 2008

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby Fodder » 09 Feb 2010, 21:24

I use the calendar app extensively. Tried using digital diaries before, either as standalone units (psion) or on windows and S60 phones (Sony, Vario II and III). All were a fail and fiddly to use.

The google calendar app is so integrated with the 'cloud' that the updates are virtually instant either way. If I'm out and someone calls for an appointment I can quickly check what is available, if at home I can just go into calendar and sort it there. The fact you can enter and edit on the desktop so easily and seamlessly is a winner, so much more info finds it's way in there making it much more usefull.

I don't have a paper diary any more, this is so much better and I can't lose it!
"Two things are infinite: the universe & human stupidity; & I'm not sure about the the universe."-Albert Einstein
User avatar
EviL Ras
+1!!!!!!
+1!!!!!!
Posts: 8285
Joined: 08 May 2008
Location: London (formerly Manchester, la la la!)

Re: Visual review/ guide to Android

Postby EviL Ras » 10 Feb 2010, 08:26

read a bit more tonight, android looks clean, tho a tad simple. but the apps and functionality look brilliant!!! Everytime i'm tempted by the N900, i come back here to remind myself that 2.1 android is where its at! And thats even better than yours!
LUHG
Ghost - MSI GS60 Ghost Pro. 15.6" 1920x1080 LED, i7 4710HQ 2.5 (3.5ghz turbo), 16gb DDR3 1600mhz RAM, 3GB Nvidia GTX870M, 2 x 128gb SSD, 1Tb 7200rpm HDD
Born 10/06/14
Image

Return to “Reviews”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests