Android App Roundup! Abduction! 2 (Game) and my6sense (magical RSS and social network reader)

It’s been a while, but welcome again to another exciting edition of our Android App Roundup series! This time I’ll be showing you how you can kill some free time with Abduction! 2 while Evan explains how you can discover the best articles from your RSS feeds and social networks with my6sense.

If there are any Android apps you feel you can’t live without, we’d love to hear about them! Drop us a line by commenting on this article, sending us an e-mail, or talking to either of us on Twitter.

Kevin’s Pick – Abduction! 2

In an article on Android games earlier this year I extolled the virtues of Psym Mobile’s Abduction!. At the time it was one of the finest games in the Android Market, and it’s sequel (the aptly named Abduction! 2) found its way into the Market late last week. Don’t let the screenshot fool you, Abduction! 2 is more than just a simple update, and well worth the roughly $3 it will set you back.

Abduction! 2 takes the polished gameplay of its predecessor and piles tons of extras on top. You’ll still be guiding an animal (a cow by default) left and right using the accelerometer, bouncing off platforms in an effort to reach the top. There are some additions, such as different types of platforms, including spikes and a trampoline, and new powerups, but for the most part the core game remains largely unchanged. The draw of the game lies in the revamped Adventure mode and various unlockables.

For purists there is a game mode similar to the first Abduction!, called Classic mode, that plays almost identically to the first game. However, it’s likely you’ll spend the majority of your time in Adventure mode. In this mode, each stage has two objectives. Each level contains three caged animals for you to free. As you free more animals, more goodies are unlocked for purchase in the game’s shop. You also want to make it to the top of the level as fast as possible, which means you’ll be doing several runs through each level, one to free the animals and another to get to quickly make it to the top.

Depending on your time, you’re awarded a gold, silver, or bronze medal. These medals are then used as currency to purchase the aforementioned goodies in the shop, including new characters, accessories to trick out your animal, and extras like an 8-bit or 3D mode. With 60 hand-crafted levels to go through, the Adventure mode alone will keep you busy for a long while.

If you’re looking for something to kill the time between classes or any other spare moments you get throughout the day, you can support one of the best Android game developers and pick up Abduction! 2 by searching for it in the Android Market or scanning the QR code below.

Evan’s Pick – my6sense

I’ve gone back-and-forth with ways to read news, social networks, and RSS feeds on my Droid X. Sometimes I’ll check out mobile versions of my favorite tech sites like Techmeme, and other times I’ll use a specific publisher’s app like USA Today or TIME.  These methods all give me plenty of news to read, but there is never a guarantee it will be something I’m personally interested in.

my6sense is a new app for Android that lets you import news from your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz as well as your RSS feeds.  my6sense then uses a proprietary technique they call “digital intuition” to figure out what news is most important to you, and sorts items by relevance instead of chronologically. This gives you a personal news feed taken from your favorite news sources and only shows you information you really want to see.

Digital intuition is based off how you interact with your news items, so at first it won’t be very good (a bar at the bottom of the screen will show you how “smart” it is).  my6sense will keep track of what articles you interact with, including how long you read the article and if you read the whole thing.  After awhile, it will become very good at suggesting relevant articles for you to read.

This is my digital intuition after using my6sense a few times.

my6sense is so proud of their digital intuition technology that they boast on their website:

Digital Intuition is a secret. Something sort of like the Da Vinci code, except Tom Hanks isn’t involved and no one is trying to kill us. Yet! If you think you figured it out, send us an email with a video or description to

Since I’m a big fan of Google Reader, I simply logged in with my Google account and it automatically imported the 25-30 feeds I follow.  If you don’t use RSS, my6sense provides a large “Topics” directory where you can subscribe to any categories that interest you.

If you add social networks, my6sense will automatically pull tweets and status updates with links into your news feed and combine them with the other news sources you’ve imported. You can fully interact with social network items, including Liking the article on Facebook.

Since some news is only fun when its shared, my6sense lets you easily send articles to your friends.

Simply put: my6sense is my new favorite way to get news and follow my social networks on my phone.  It’s completely free, and can be found in the Android Market or by scanning the code below.

Want more great Android app reviews?  Check out the rest of our Android App Roundup series!

A Quick Look At Author Neal Stephenson’s Latest Project: The Mongoliad

Any self-respecting geek has heard of the author Neal Stephenson, and many have read at least one of his works. Author of books such as Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and most recently Anathem, Stephenson is known for not holding back when it comes to technological descriptions.Cryptonomicon, for example, contains a multi-page explanation on the intricacies of Van Eck phreaking. It definitely isn’t light reading.

Stephenson recently unveiled his latest project, the online subscription-based serial novel The Mongoliad. The Mongoliad is much more than just an online book, however. Along with weekly chapters, you can also find illustrations, maps, a user editable wiki, and a collection of forums to discuss the novel with other subscribers.

In order to manage such a larger undertaking, Stephenson has teamed up with other writers and artists, forming the Subutai Corporation. The writing talent behind The Mongoliad includes Stephenson himself, Greg Bear, and Mark Teppo among others, forming the literary equivalent of a supergroup.

The Mongoliad takes place in the thirteenth century, in a world much like our own. Genghis Khan’s armies are sweeping across Asia and Europe, conquering everything in sight. A small group of warriors, members of a millennium old order, have plans to stop him, however.

Is it worth subscribing to this new form of literary content delivery? For $9.99, or roughly the cost of a standard paperback novel, you gain access to a year’s worth of DRM free Mongoliad content, which will supposedly cover the release of the entire novel. If you choose not to renew your subscription when it expires, you retain access to everything that was released while you were an active subscriber. If for some reason you aren’t happy with your subscription, you can get a full refund within 45 days. Sounds like quite a bargain to me!

An iOS application with access to The Mongoliad is currently going through Apple’s approval process, and an Android application is supposedly in the works as well. If you’re at all interested, a small bit of content, including a prologue chapter, is available to anyone who takes the time to look.

Image Credit: AMagill

Friday Fun! Why Do Homework When You Can Procrastinate With Liferaft: Zero?

With school starting for many of our readers (myself included), what better way to celebrate than with another edition of Friday Fun? After all, Flash games are the ultimate procrastination tool!

Liferaft: Zero is a devious blend of the setting from Portal, the acrobatics of N, and the frustrating difficulty of Jumper. You play the role of a series of clones, hopping through obstacle courses under the watchful eye of mysterious scientists. At your disposal are a standard jump, a wall jump to reach higher areas, and a grappling hook that can connect to specific points on the map, allowing you to swing across long distances.

If you impale yourself on one of the many spikes sprinkled liberally throughout the levels, you’ll respawn back at the beginning as one of your numerous clones with your previous body remaining on the map as a gruesome warning to your future selves.

The goal of each of the 30 levels is to ring a bell located somewhere in the level. Sounds easy, but ringing it is the simple part; getting there is where the fun is! On most of the levels you’ll also find a piece of candy, usually in a pretty difficult area to reach. Getting several pieces of candy unlocks bonus levels.

Make no mistake, this game is hard. The first fifteen or so levels are relatively easy, but the difficulty skyrockets quickly. Don’t even think about attempting to grab the pieces of candy in the later levels on your first time through. Not only do you have to climb into whatever nook or cranny the candy is in, you then need to make it to the exit without dying. If you’ve played the freeware game Jumper, you might start getting flashbacks.

Oh god, why

Thankfully, Liferaft: Zero has a charm about it that diffuses some of your frustration. The humor in the game is similar to that found in Portal. Scientists peer at you through windows in the background. A line of future clones is visible, waiting patiently to be sent to their deaths. When the scientists talk to you, they address you by what number clone you are. At the beginning you are #001, but by the end you’ll likely be addressed by a number in the hundreds.

Manage to beat the game yet? I haven’t. Tell us about your experience below!

Android App Roundup! Rainy Days (Weather Radar) and Extended Controls (Widget)

Welcome to another exciting edition of our Android App Roundup!  This week, I’ll be taking a look at a handy weather radar app and Kevin will be telling you about a widget that puts the standard Android power control widget to shame.

Have an app you’d like to recommend to us?  Post in the comments at the end of this article, send us an email, or hit either of us on Twitter!

Evan’s Pick – Rainy Days

I check the weather on my phone a lot, and the ability to pull up weather radar at my fingertips saved me and my friends from getting destroyed by a thunderstorm on the lake this summer.  There are a lot of solid weather apps in the Android Market, but if you just want to check out weather radar, Rainy Days is the app for you.

Rainy Days is a very simple application.  Just open it up, press Settings, and select My Location to display the current radar in your area (you might need to enable additional location services in Android – I found that it wanted to use network location instead of GPS).  Standard touchscreen controls work just the same in Rainy Days: pinching and double tapping zooms, and you can drag across the map to move.  The slider bar at the bottom controls the opacity of the radar, which is useful if you want to see specific locations under a storm.

Rainy Days cycles between the last hour of radar footage, which can be paused by touching the screen.  You can control animation speed, automatic location use, and graphical options in the application’s settings.  Rainy Days supports the United States, Western Europe, Spain, and Scandinavia.

Search for Rainy Days in the Android Market or scan the barcode below to download!

Kevin’s Pick – Extended Controls

Android already has a pretty nice built in power control widget that allows you to enable and disable things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Having one touch access to those parts of your system is incredibly convenient, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to control even more aspects of your phone? Thankfully, there is a widget on the Market that fills that exact role.

Extended Controls will set you back 0.79€ (about $1.20 as of this writing), but the convenience it offers is well worth the small cost. After installation, long press on an open spot of your homescreen and go to the Widgets menu. In here you’ll find various sizes of the Extended Controls widget, ranging from 1×1 to 1×4. After selecting the size, you’re taken to the setup menu. From here you can adjust the look of the widget (I prefer the defaults, but to each his own) as well as manage the various controls of the widget.

In addition to the five options found on the built in power control widget, Extended Controls gives you access to 20 extra settings. With a single touch you can now toggle options like USB tethering, autorotate, the lock pattern, and 4G.  If you have rooted your phone, you can set a button to reboot your phone, either normally or into the bootloader or recovery mode.

As you add controls, a preview of what the widget will look like can be seen at the top of the screen. Once you’re satisfied, click Apply to add the widget to your homescreen.

If you’d like to see what Extended Controls has to offer, scan the QR Code below to be taken directly to its Market page.

Friday Fun! Get That Fake Sense of Accomplishment In Achievement Unlocked 2

If you’ve played a game on a major gaming platform in the past few years, chances are you’re familiar with achievements. Games on the Xbox 360 have them in the form of a Gamerscore, where certain actions in games gain you points that are displayed in your profile. The Playstation 3 has platinum, gold, silver, and bronze trophies. Most Steam games come with achievements that can be earned.

Some people go to great lengths earn achievements, and even play terrible games just for the easy Gamerscore they can earn. If you count yourself among those ranks, or if that “ten more minutes of Civilization” has ever turned into six hours, chances are you’ll love Achievement Unlocked 2.

Achievement Unlocked 2 is a direct sequel to, you guessed it, Achievement Unlocked. Don’t worry if you haven’t played the first game. While it’s fun as well, enjoyment of the second game doesn’t depend on it at all.

The gameplay in Achievement Unlocked 2 is incredibly simple: while controlling your elephant avatar using the arrow keys (Why an elephant? Why not?), you attempt to traverse the game’s levels and unlock all 250 achievements. Achievements range from the absurdly easy (“use the Internet”), to the slightly trickier (“collect all the coins on all the levels”). Chances are you’ll unlock at least ten achievements within your first ten seconds of play. Coins collected around the levels can be used to purchase ‘DLC packs’ in-game, unlocking more levels to earn more achievements.

If you have friends who share your neurotic urge to unlock achievements, Achievement Unlocked 2 also sports a co-op multiplayer mode. It’s pretty basic, but multiplayer is never a bad thing, right?

While you’ll probably start out laughing at the absurdity of it all, it’s hard to deny the draw of the game that keeps you playing. You know the achievements are completely meaningless, yet you still keep trying to unlock just one more. What started out as a quick five minute break from work quickly turns into an hour of mashing the arrow keys. Eventually you realize the futility of trying to get all 250 achievements, but if you do manage to unlock them all I applaud your perseverance. I didn’t have the willpower to keep going.

How To: Send Websites To Your Android Device With Chrome to Phone

Root users and owners of Google’s Nexus One have had access to Android 2.2 for a while now, but the update is finally starting to trickle down to everyone else with an Android phone. Official versions of Froyo are available for the Evo 4G and Motorola Droid, and Motorola’s estimate for the Droid X update is early September (though we all know how accurate their estimates have been in the past).

If you’ve recently updated to Android 2.2, you might be wondering what cool new features Google has added. One very handy addition is a service called Chrome to Phone.

Chrome to Phone utilizes Android 2.2’s Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) service, and allows you to push websites you’re viewing on you desktop directly to your phone. It might not sound very exciting at first, but once you start using it you’ll discover more and more possibilities. Look up driving directions on your desktop and easily open them directly in Google Maps on your phone. If you’re playing Flash games at work and need to go to a meeting, just push the link to your phone and keep playing!

Getting started with Chrome to Phone is a pretty simple process. On the project’s website, you can find links to both the Android application and the Chrome extension. The Chrome extension can be installed just by clicking on it, but getting Chrome to Phone installed on Android takes a little more work.

UPDATE: Google officially released Chrome to Phone to the Android Market today! Instead of downloading and installing it from an external source, you can now get it right on your phone. If you’ve already installed the external version, uninstall it and install the Market version if you want to receive future updates automatically through the Market.

If you use Dropbox, the easiest way to install a non-Market application is to download the file, put it in your Dropbox folder, and then open it using the Dropbox application for Android. If you don’t use Dropbox, the application can be installed by downloading it, putting it on your phone’s SD card, and then using an application such as ASTRO File Manager to install it from there. Once you get Chrome to Phone up and running you’ll be able to install other non-Market apps by simply pushing the download link to your phone!

Once the application is installed, you’ll need to register your device with your Google account. Open the Chrome to Phone application in Android, select the account your want to register your phone to, and click the ‘Register Device’ button. That’s it!

On the desktop side, you’ll notice a new icon in Chrome’s toolbar. Navigate to the website you want to push and click the new icon. If prompted, enter in your Google account credentials. Once that’s done, you’ll get a notification that the link was sent to your phone. Back on your phone, slide down the notification bar to see the link you pushed and click it to open it in the appropriate application.

Since the API for the Android C2DM service is open to all developers, an extension similar to Chrome to Phone can also be found for Firefox users. Send To Phone provides the same functionality as Chrome to Phone, plus a little extra.

Find a cool new use for Chrome to Phone, or a neat project that utilizes Android’s C2DM service? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Android App Roundup! SDMove and Google Places

It’s time again for another Android App Roundup! In this edition I’m going to tell you about SDMove, an indispensable application to have installed if you’re running Froyo (Android version 2.2), and Evan will tell you about Google Places, an app you probably already have on your phone but might not have used yet.

We welcome all suggestions for future App Roundups – you can post them below in the comments section, send us an e-mail, or let Evan or me know via Twitter.

Kevin’s Pick: SDMove

One of the most welcome additions in Android 2.2, especially for those of us running phones with a pathetically small amount of internal memory, is the ability to offload applications to the SD Card. This still requires the developer to flip a switch to allow the move, and while some developers were a bit slow to adopt the feature, more and more are starting to realize that this is something people might want to use.

How do you go about moving your hundreds of applications to external storage? By default, the only way is to go through the applications list, click on each individual application, and click the ‘Move to SD Card’ button if it’s not grayed out. Thankfully, one guy noticed this limitation and created a simple, amazingly effective application.

SDMove presents you with a list of all the applications you have installed, color coded based on each application’s SD Card status. Green apps are currently located on external storage, yellow apps aren’t on the SD card but can be moved there, and red apps aren’t allowed to be moved either because the developer has specifically flagged it as unmovable or hasn’t bothered to set a flag at all. There are a few other colors as well, and a full legend can be found in the ‘About’ section of the menu.

It doesn’t pack much flash, but SDMove does what it advertises and can save you a lot of time and frustration. Best of all, it’s completely free (if you don’t mind looking at the usual ads)! If you recently updated to Froyo and want to see what apps you can move, or if you’ve already moved some apps and want to see how much more space you can save, scan the QR code below to be taken directly to SDMove’s Market page.

Evan’s Pick: Google Places (part of the new Google Maps)

This app is an easy recommendation because most of you should have it installed already (as long as you’ve updated to the newest version of the Google Maps app).  If you haven’t updated your Google Maps yet, open the Android Market, press the Settings button, select Downloads, and install it.

If you’ve ever used services like Yelp, Google Places is a direct competitor.  Google has eagerly jumped aboard the location-based service bandwagon, and Places gives you a simple way to quickly find restaurants, bars, hotels, gas stations, and entertainment.

When you open Places, it will automatically grab your GPS location (if you have it enabled), so picking any category or performing a search will show you a list of relevant locations sorted by distance.  A small compass will even show you the direction of the potential destination.  If you don’t see the category you’re looking for, simply perform a search or use the “+ Add” button to create your own category.

Selecting a location will give you details, including reviews, available cuisine, and features like “Quiet atmosphere” or “Wi-fi Hotspot”.  You can click the buttons on the listings page to show it in Google Maps, navigate to the location, or call the business’ number.

I used Google Places this weekend to find a great new sandwich shop for lunch that was only a few miles from me but I didn’t know it existed.  If you do any traveling, I’m sure it will be even more useful.  Google Places is included with Google Maps, and can be found in your Apps drawer.

Android App Roundup! Touiteur (Twitter) and ROM Manager (for rooted phones)

The wait is over, everybody: Kevin and I are back for another exciting installment of our Android App Roundup series.  This week, I’ll be covering Touiteur, a great Twitter client, and Kevin will tell you about ROM Manager, the easiest way to install custom ROMs on your rooted phone.

As always, if you have any tips on apps we should check out, post in the comments at the end of this article, send us an email, or hit either of us on Twitter.

Evan’s Pick – Touiteur

I use Twitter quite a bit, so a Twitter client is one of the most used apps on my smart phone (besides email and a web browser).  When I got my first Android phone last November, I made a point to try every client available to find the one that fit my needs the best.

Touiteur (pronounced like Twitter with a French accent) is, in my opinion, the absolute best Twitter app currently available for Android.  It’s made by the same developer that made Beautiful Widgets (the long-time holder of the #1 most purchased paid app in the Android Market), so you know there’s some talent behind the software.

I’ve been using Touiteur throughout its development, and I’ve been amazed at how fast the developer was able to add every feature I needed in a Twitter client.  This app does everything you could want in Twitter, and makes it look really good.  Touiteur offers a smooth, highly refined user interface and provides innovative features.

Touiteur can be downloaded completely free from the Android market, and you can purchase the Premium version (which I eagerly did) to unlock several extra features such as multiple accounts, multiple widget sizes, and more customization options like a light theme.  The 4×1 Touiteur widget is the main focus of my Home screen.

This app is awesome.  If you use Twitter, give it a try, it’s one of the best apps available in the Android Market.  If you want to see some more images, check out the Touiteur homepage.

Scan to download Touiteur.

Kevin’s Pick – ROM Manager

If there is an application that nearly everyone who roots their phone or flashes custom ROMs has installed, it’s ROM Manager. It simplifies the process of backing up your current ROM and flashing a new one to the point that nearly anyone is capable of doing it.

ROM Manager sports a very simple interface. It isn’t fancy, but gets the job done. The main menu presents you with everything you might need, from flashing the bootloader that ROM Manager uses to backing up the ROM you’re running and flashing a new one.

Download the free version of ROM Manager and you’re able to flash new ROMs from the SD Card, but it’s well worth shelling out $4 for the premium version, which allows you to download new ROMs directly in ROM Manager. Both version have ads by default, but ClockworkMod lets you turn them off in the options menu if you’d like.

Installation of new ROMs couldn’t be easier. After backing up your current ROM (just in case something goes wrong) select the ‘Download ROM’ option from the main menu to be presented with a list of ROMs currently available for your device. Click on a ROM release and you’re taken to another subscreen with all of the versions available for that ROM. Select your version, answer a few installation questions, and the ROM starts downloading. When it finishes you’ll be prompted to restart your phone, after which the ROM you downloaded will be flashed automatically. Once that process finishes, reboot and enjoy your shiny new install!

ROM Manager is an essential application if you’re at all interested in custom ROMs, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’d like to give it a spin, download the free version by scanning the QR code below.

Scan to download ROM Manager.

Why You Should Root Your Android Phone

Anyone who owns an Android phone already knows that Google’s operating system provides a tremendous amount of freedom right out of the box. If you want to take full advantage of your device, though, your best option is to root it.  (“Rooting” is the process of unlocking root permissions on your phone, like jailbreaking an iPhone or using the sudo command in Linux.)

Rooting your phone gives you unparalleled access to every aspect of your device. It allows you to download tons of root-only applications, push your hardware to new heights, and on some devices even flash different, customized versions of Android. So what are some of the advantages of gaining root access?

Access to New Versions of Android

Non-root users are at the mercy of phone manufacturers and wireless carriers when a new version of Android rolls out. Relatively new phones like the Motorola Droid still don’t have a scheduled release date for Android 2.2. Users of phones that include a custom interface like the HTC Incredible or EVO 4G are looking at an even longer wait while the manufacturer integrates their UI into Android. If you’re using an older phone like the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1) you’ll probably never see an official release of Froyo.

Meanwhile, root Android users have had access to 2.2 for more than a month. Stock versions of Froyo have been available for a while, and the popular custom ROM CyanogenMod recently made its first release candidate version available. There’s no wondering when you will see an official release for your device, if at all. As soon as someone compiles and releases a version for your phone you can download and install it.

Breathe New Life Into Your Aging Device

Even though it was released just last November, the Motorola Droid is starting to show its age. It’s 550MHz processor just can’t stand up to the 1GHz processors phones are packing today, much less with whatever the future holds. If you have root access, though, there’s something you can do about that.

Thanks to an awesome application called SetCPU, you can easily overclock the CPU to give you a little extra power. Even better, SetCPU dynamically clocks your processor. If it’s idle the CPU only runs at 125MHz. Once it needs the extra power it cranks the CPU up to whatever you set the max at.

The Droid can be stably overclocked to 800MHz, and can even go higher if you want to risk it. I’ve found that 800MHz offers plenty of juice without sacrificing much in the way of heat or battery life.

Access Apps Only Available to Root Users

Along with the aforementioned SetCPU, there are loads of excellent root only applications. ROM Manager makes it easy to flash Custom ROMs to your phone. It takes care of the entire process for you, including downloading the ROM, restarting your phone, and flashing it. Before you wipe your phone’s memory you can backup all of your applications with one click using Titanium Backup. Once your new ROM is flashed you can reload them with another click.

On a non-rooted phone the process to take screenshots is pretty convoluted. It involves downloading the Android SDK and running the DDMS, which isn’t very intuitive. On a rooted phone you can take your pick from several screenshot apps that can do it directly in Android.

ASTRO is a very nice file manager, but with root access you can do so much more. Root Explorer comes with a SQLite Viewer, which will come in handy now that you have access to the /data/data folder on the SD Card.

This partial list only scratches the surface of root applications. With a little looking around you can find much, much more.

Use Features Not Available In Stock Android

With custom ROMs come tons of features not available to stock Android users. The previously mentioned CyanogenMod comes packed with extras. FLAC support, installing apps to the SD Card without Froyo, and full 360 degree orientation changing are just a few of the features that CyanogenMod has to offer. If you want to, you can even pair a Bluetooth mouse with your phone and use it for navigation.

With all of these advantages, why isn’t everyone rooting their phone? Unfortunately, rooting does have a few downsides.

Disadvantages To Rooting Your Phone

The most significant disadvantage to rooting is that it voids your warranty. If something happens to your phone, even it would normally still be under warranty, you’re out of luck. Some people were born to void warranties, but it definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Depending on how aggressive you get with your overclocking, there’s also the potential for permanent damage. Push the CPU too far and you might burn it out. Even if you play it safe overclocking still reduces the lifespan of your processor.

Finally, some phones aren’t able to take full advantage of root access. The recently released Droid X is a prime example. Root access can be gained, but thanks to eFUSE it isn’t yet possible to flash Custom ROMs. Reports on the Droid X still aren’t crystal clear, but it appears that the phone won’t boot unless it detects an official bootloader. What this means is that until that safety measure is cracked, users of the Droid X aren’t able to take advantage of one of the best features of root access, flashing custom ROMs. We can only hope that Motorola doesn’t continue this trend on future devices and that other manufacturers don’t start employing similar schemes.

Even if you end up not doing it, I hope I’ve provided some insight into the advantages of root Android usage. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!

Android App Roundup: SystemPanel (Task Manager/System Monitor) and Ringdroid (Ringtone Creator)

Welcome to another edition of Android App Roundup! This week I’ll be taking a look at SystemPanel, an awesome task manager/system monitor application, while Evan tells you about Ringdroid, an app that lets you easily create your own custom ringtones.

As before, if you have a suggestion for an app that we should talk about let Evan or me know via Twitter, send us an e-mail, or hit us up in the comments below.

Kevin’s Pick: SystemPanel

Dozens of task managers and monitors can be found on the Android Market, and sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which ones are worth downloading and which ones are trash. SystemPanel manages to combine a task manager and system monitor into an effective package.

SystemPanel presents you with a wealth of information right when you start it up. At the top you can quickly see vital system information such as CPU and memory usage and any current network traffic. Most of the main screen is taken up by the task manager, which shows you a list of applications currently in memory as well as running applications that have been swapped out of memory.

Clicking on a process gives you even more information, such as when it was started, how much CPU time it has consumed, and, in the paid version, a history of its CPU usage since it was started. The latter can be incredibly useful when trying to track down a battery hungry process. There are also options to exclude the process from the list or to terminate it.

In the options menu you can find an even more comprehensive system monitor. You can see graphs of your CPU and network usage over time and battery information, among other things.

The free version of SystemPanel offers quite a bit, but the paid version does add some features worth paying for. One such feature is an app manger that lets you install applications from .apk files on your SD card and make backups of apps you already have installed. The most useful feature of the paid version, though, is the aforementioned long term system monitoring tools. If you’re having battery troubles, or just want to see what your system activity looks like, those tools alone are worth the $2.99 price of the full version.

SystemPanel can be found by searching the Android Market, or by scanning the code below with the Barcode Scanner application.

Scan to download the free version of SystemPanel

Evan’s Pick:  Ringdroid

Kevin and I write this article separately, so I’m always excited to see what he picks.  So before I explain my choice, let me echo his recommendation for SystemPanel.  I loved it when it was a free beta, and I bought the full paid version when it became available.  This is definitely an app worth getting.  Now for my recommendation…

I like making my own ringtones.  This is usually because I’m the guy with things like the Double Rainbow song as my ringtone, and I’m also leery of spammish websites that offer free ringtone downloads.  Ringdroid is a free application that lets you create custom ringtones from any audio file on your phone.

When you open Ringdroid, you’ll see a list of the media files on your phone with a handy search.  Touch a song to begin editing.

Ringdroid’s audio editor is very simple to use and offers a simple interface similar to ones found in Goldwave or Audacity desktop applications.  Use the two sliders to select the beginning and end of your ringtone, allowing for about 30 seconds worth of music.  To be more precise, you can zoom in to set the start and end bars at the right locations.

When you’re satisfied with your selection, press the Save button.  You aren’t just limited to saving a ringtone, you can also create a notification file or alarm.  Ringdroid will allow you to set the new file as your default ringtone or assign it to a specific contact when you’re finished.

Ringdroid is a great way to add a personal touch to your phone, and if you’re buying your ringtones – don’t!  This application does a great job and is very easy to use.  To download Ringdroid,  search for it in the Android Market or scan the barcode below.

Scan to download Ringdroid