Android App Roundup! ZDBox and Carrr Matey

It’s time once again for another edition of Android App Roundup! After a bit of an absence, we’re back and ready to bring you the must-have applications for your Android device. This time around we’ll be telling you about ZDBox, a handy little application that collects a bunch of tools into one place for your convenience, and take a look at Carrr Matey, an app that helps you remember where you parked your ship… we mean, car.

If you know of an application that would make a good addition to a future App Roundup, feel free to send us an e-mail or let Evan or me, Kevin, know via Twitter.

ZDBox – Kevin’s Pick

If you’ve had an Android phone for a while, you have probably accumulated a nice collection of useful tools to accomplish various tasks. Wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of all of those applications and replace them with a single application that can accomplish multiple tasks? Enter ZDBox.

ZDBox can monitor battery life, monitor data usage, set up “do not disturb” times where your phone automatically silences, lock specific applications so they require a password to open, kill running tasks (not recommended), batch uninstall applications, and batch move applications to the SD Card. All from one easy interface.

Using ZDBox is pretty self-explanatory. From the main interface, click one of the options to be taken to a sub-interface to set up or run whichever service you want to use. If you don’t want to use all of the services and don’t want the unused one sitting in the background sucking up resources, they’re easy enough to disable completely.

I’ve personally been able to get rid of four single purpose applications and replace them with just ZDBox. It makes an excellent addition to any Android user’s arsenal of utility applications.

Carrr Matey – Evan’s Pick

Let me start by telling you that I have a terrible sense of direction. And it’s not just a bad sense of direction, I also get disoriented very easily. Exacerbated by living in a metropolitan area with 3.5+ million people, I quickly sought refuge from my navigational disability in the Android Market.

I then discovered Carrr Matey. With three r’s and a cheerful pirate theme, this app lets you “drop anchor” when you park your car, making it easy to find on your return trip. Using your phone’s built-in GPS, you can navigate back to your vehicle with an overhead map view or a handy compass view.

Carrr Matey's map view. The ship marks your car's location.

Carrr Matey has a few extra features that make it especially useful to post-16th-century transportation. After setting the location of your parked vehicle, you can enable an optional parking timer to help you avoid expensive parking tickets. If you happen to leave your vehicle in a parking ramp, Carrr Matey’s “Harbor Mode” lets you store details like level, letter, color, or number of the parking spot.

 

Parking timers in Carrr Matey.

Sure, your friends might poke fun at you when you tell them you legitimately have no idea where you left your car. But don your captain’s hat, young sailor, because you’ve set a course with Android!

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 whatisdigitalintuition@my6sense.com

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!

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.

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.

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

Android App Roundup: ‘NewsRob’ (RSS Reader) and ‘4 teh birds’ (Game)

Dearest Android readers:  Thanks to a fantastic suggestion, Kevin and I are starting a weekly feature about some of our favorite Android apps.  We’ll be covering apps we love, apps that improve our phones, games, and newly-released apps that are worth checking out.

If you have any suggestions, hit either of us on Twitter, send us an email, or post in the comments at the end of the article!

Kevin’s Pick – NewsRob

Since Google hasn’t released an official Reader app yet, Android users can either use the mobile Reader website or download an app that syncs with Reader. I prefer the latter and have been using one called NewsRob since I got my phone, and it suits my needs perfectly.

NewsRob comes in two flavors, free and Pro. The free version is ad-supported and lacks some of the more advanced features of the Pro version, such as widget support. If all you plan on doing is checking your feeds, though, the free version will work just fine.

Synchronization can be configured through the options menu. There are options to sync automatically, only when connected to Wi-Fi, or only on demand. You can also set the time interval between synchronizations. In addition, NewsRob can be set to download only text, text and images, or text, images, and the web page the item points to.

Navigating NewsRob is as easy as it gets. Your feeds are broken down into any folders you might have set up in Reader, and then into individual feeds. Cycling through the items in a feed is handled by the volume buttons or on-screen arrows. Getting to the web page of an item is as simple as clicking its title. The page is rendered directly in NewsRob, so it isn’t even necessary to have a separate browser open!

NewsRob can be downloaded from the Android Market by scanning the QR Code below with the Barcode Scanner application.

Scan to download NewsRob

Evan’s Pick – 4 teh birds

Since Kevin went with something useful, I decided to go with something fun and pointless.  4 teh birds (nope, not a typo) is a super simple game for Android where clusters of cute, chubby birds fall from the sky, and your objective is to match three same-color birds together.

This game sports a fantastic physics engine, so those bulbous little birdies bounce all over the place as you try to match them up.  This game has wonderful artwork and animation, making it a great way to waste a few minutes during the day.

4 teh birds has several game modes, including time attack and survival.  In Hey, not too rough mode the clusters of birds can always be moved, but in Time Attack and Survival modes the birds can only be moved for a limited amount of time.  This quickly brings your game to the panic-inducing end game of Tetris when you’ve got a screen full of birds and no way to match them all up.

Overall, this game is addictive and has some of the best art direction, albeit simple, that I’ve seen in an Android game.  And hey, who doesn’t enjoy throwing obese birds around every once in awhile?

4 teh birds is free and can be found in the Android Market, and can also be downloaded by scanning the code below with the Barcode Scanner application.

Scan to download 4 teh birds
Image credit: lwallenstein