Android notes

If it weren't clichéd, there would be an “Under Construction” banner on this page. I've dumped a lot of names and links here without sufficient explanation. I hope it's useful anyway. — 2011-05-03

I currently use an Android Nexus One as my phone and PDA. I held off for a long time on the acquisition of a smartphone (sticking with a cheap pay-as-you-go phone from Virgin Mobile, and a Palm TX PDA) until mid-2010, both due to the ongoing cost of phone service with data, and not being sure of which smartphone operating system was the best choice. For a while, Palm webOS seemed like the best option (especially as it had an old-Palm-OS emulator available), but it failed to get enough adoption for long-term stability. (For more on my research, see my blog)



Note that reading from the SD card/USB storage, unlike writing, does not require a permission — every application you install can read everything on the card.


These are applications I use and recommend, except where noted; particularly, I have grouped applications by type over usage.

FBReader (site)
My chosen ebook reader. Customizable font, color, and scrolling/paging controls. Lets you choose the location of your book library, and doesn't insist on an “import” process like Aldiko. Could use some work in the library browsing interface.


IRC client. Supports multiple servers and channels, and has a swipe-based interface for switching among channels (with activity flags); rather like webOS cards now that I think about it. Could use better support for copying text from the channel, and possibly better autoreconnect support, but overall does the job well when I need it.

Reference & calculation

Fora Dictionary
Online dictionary (DICT protocol) client. I tried several dictionary apps, and this one, while needing some UI-design work and a more meaningful icon, was the best for my purposes; it will simultaneously search dictionaries from multiple servers. For example, I have it set up to search the classics, Wiktionary, and jbovlaste's Lojban and English-translation dictionaries, so if I want to look up any word of interest to me I don't have to try multiple searches and wait for responses, but just browse the results as they come in. Also supports locally stored dictionaries, but I haven't tried that feature.

System tools

Straightforward and effective application for tracking your data usage in real time and warning you when you go over your chosen limits — useful for me since AT&T's usage reports are delayed by about a day. It keeps counters and limits for the current day, week, and month. Has SD card write permission for a data-export/import feature.
Screen Filter
Reduces the screen brightness below the system minimum (by a semitransparent overlay). Very nice for dark rooms, and on an LED screen will actually save battery power, in theory.
Watchdog Task Manager Lite
No, this is not one of those “task killers” which are a bad idea. This app monitors CPU usage and warns you when an application is using excessive CPU time while in the background. This has saved my battery a couple times (mostly from my own apps in development when they didn't shut down when they should have).


BlueKeyboard JP
Bluetooth keyboard input method. Of the few available, this is the only one that worked for me. Unfortunately, there is no English documentation. See this blog post for more information including how it maps keys when used with a Palm Bluetooth Keyboard.

Applications that looked interesting

These applications, while they seem like fine ideas, I either haven't ended up actually using or haven't encountered the situation they are for yet. However, I still want to note their existence.

AT&T Mark the Spot
In theory, this application allows you to report poor service areas on AT&T's network. In practice, I never used it, and as of 2011-03-21 it had an update which requested even more permissions including the ability to read contacts and SMS messages. While it might well have legitimate uses for that, there is risk and little benefit to me.



I have not yet written up or classified the following applications; this is a dump of what's on my phone.

Adao File Manager
Adobe Reader
Air Hockey
Barcode Scanner
BeyondPod Unlock Key
Cestos Full
Compass Ball
Cubes Free
Ethereal Dialpad
Dialpad: NightSky
Flashlight No Root
Fliq Calendar
Fliq Notes
Fliq Tasks
FuncGen Signal Generator
Gesture Search
Google Authenticator
Google Chrome to Phone
Google Docs
Google Goggles
Google Maps
Google Shopper
Google Sky Map
GPS Status & Toolbox
Graffiti for Android
gStrings [Tuner - gStrings Free]
Jewellust lite
Labyrinth Lite
Letter Rip!
Missing Sync for Android
Musical Lite
My Tracks
Network Browser
OI File Manager
Pandora Radio
Replica Island
Scanner Radio
Scrambled Net
Search Light
Signal Generator
Simon Tatham's Puzzles
SlitherLink Free
SoundForm Signal Generator
Street View on Google Maps
Substrate Live Wallpapers
System Stats
Tank Hero
Touch Test
Unblock Me Free
Ustream Broadcaster
Voice Search
Wiimote controller
Yellow Rose of Texas
Zaery synth keyboard
ZeroConf Browser


This is primarily a publication of my saved bookmarks; it may or may not be useful to anyone else.

AndyShopper for Android
AndyShopper is supposed to be a clone of the shopping-list application HandyShopper for Palm OS. Unfortunately, it lacks many features and has a clunky interface.
kpreid: Dasher/Java/Android research linkdump
Collected links from when I was looking into porting Dasher to Android, before someone else did.
Reddit's Favorite Android Apps and Games
[App Of The Week] Multicon – Reclaim Your Home Screen Real Estate
Haven't had reason to need this yet.
What I learned from reading the Android user manual | PlasticBoy
Did you know that the Nexus One had a user manual?
android-notifier - Desktop event notifier for Android devices
Forward notifications from your phone to your desktop computer. Unfortunately, this application is a bunch of special cases (custom code to notify for calls, SMS, etc.) and doesn't actually forward arbitrary Android notifications.
Converting text file to EPUB format? - Super User
For FBReader.
Thinking Space

Software development notes


AudioTrack is rather undocumented regarding how it should be used in streaming mode. This is what I have found:


Android Development 101 – Part 6:Getting ready for Market! - Hack a Day
leaps || bounds: Turn your Android Phone Into a Remote Spy Camera with Ruby in 15 Minutes
Example of using SL4A.
Common Tasks and How to Do Them in Android | Android Developers
android.speech.tts | Android Developers
Example of Android UI icons defined in SVG
Icon Design Guidelines | Android Developers
Code Style Guidelines for Contributors | Android Open Source
Hidden features of Android development? - Stack Overflow
Nexus One Emulator Skin
(dead link 2011-05-03)
Notifying the User | Android Developers
Android UI Utilities project brings unified design tools for developers | Android Central
List of special Android SD card folders? - Android - Stack Exchange
Android Preferences |
Tutorial on using the Preferences UI.
Quick Search Box | Android Developers
Integrate your application into systemwide search.