Android Ressources

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I have at the moment 2 phones and 2 tablets (but I've had others):


Archos 40 Helium
Lollipop
Nice, but WiFi doesn't see 5Ghz band ! :-<


MEDION LIFETAB P8311 (MD99763) Wifitablet 8"
Lollipop (*)

Sunny
Marshmallow
Cheap, but for the price, not bad...


PocketPad 4.3' tablet
Gingerbread (*)

See here for more info on how I selected them.

Questions I get again and again:
    I have bought a cheap tablet, but I can't find the Google market app ? what do I do ?
Answer: You can pick and chose from the table below.
The complete 3-click procedure is available below: [No Google ?]
   "How do I root my phone ?"
You can try iRoot, KingoRoot, KingRoot, Framaroot or TowelRoot.
Note: this works roughly until android 5.1. after, it becomes much more difficult!
In any case, make sure your device is fully charged before you begin.
You will also need to turn on USB debugging, as well as OEM Unlocking.
Open Settings on your device. If you do not see Developer Options toward the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them:
  1. Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
  2. Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
  3. Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
  4. Tap on Developer Options.
  5. Check to enable USB Debugging.
  6. Check to enable OEM Unlocking.
Not in the right country according to Google play ? Try this
This application is not compatible with your phone! Yeah, sure

Alternatives to Google Play Store ( Former Android market):

[*] direct download possible

If you read chinese, you can also check:
[EOE | nduoa | GoApk | Himarket | Wandoujia | QQ ]

(This section is dedicated to all iphone owners)

Alternative ROMs

If you haven't received the update/upgrade to a newer version of Android, and you are willing to take the risk, you can always replace the original ROM of your machine by an alternate one. For example, the HTC Dream's last official upgrade was to Donut (1.6). However, Cyanogen Mod provides alternate roms to upgrade it. Here is a tutorial (fr) and another tutorial (en) to do it.
Another nice tutorial can be found here.
(By the way, CyanogenMod manages to have Android 4.0 (ICS/Ice Cream sandwich) working on the original Google 1 (HTC Dream) phone, which is the blatant proof that the constructor's refusal to upgrade "on technical ground" is pure BS.)
Some developpers thought Cyanogen was getting too commercial, so they forked it and created OmniRom.
I have successfully flashed a samsung S3mini with a CyanogenMod ROM 12.1 (5.1.1), using (j)Odin(3).
Besides Cyanogen and Omni, look also for Resurection Remix, or the simply the stock android (AOSP). You might also want to add Gapps to have access to your google calendar, the play store, etc. Another interesting attempt: Nameless ROM.
Similarly, if you want android on your PC, have a look at Remix OS.
Other popular Rom:
Generic

See XDA forum for more; Samsung firmware are available.

Since Android is not 100% free (many parts are copyrighted by Google), there is a project to create the missing parts to have a 100% free android compatible system:Replicant.
The F-droid repository is the extention of it (in a way) and contains only free software.



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Applications

Applications I currently have (and those on previous android phones and phones):

Telecom / Internet

Skype free alternatives.
You can of course simply use Firefox's built-in Hello system. I like appear.in myself for historical reasons.

Office

Car

(Only useful if you have an ELM327 dongle):


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Must have

  1. Orbot secure com
  2. Orweb browser
  3. ChatSecure
  4. ES File Explorer: For most anything: install or moving file, etc or
    Ghost Commander Slightly less user friendly but even more powerful
  5. Apps installer Nice, simple, straightforward: install, remove or backup apps
  6. FDroid: Great (totally free) app market
  7. KeePassDroid: Save safely all your passwords (also has PC version)
  8. Helium Full Backup with settings
  9. Any Cut Any shortcut, including send intents to phone !
  10. Aldiko Ebook Reader: ePub and other format reader
  11. *******
  12. All in one Toolbox: Does all and uses less resource than loading each app separately.
  13. Opera Mini 7: For the websites that don't work with stock browser
  14. Elixir: Total control and info on system, also in versatile widget; Fantastic ! :-)

Simple 3 click procedure to get applications on your device:
If your android device does not have access to the Google market (Android is free, but not the access to the google market...), the first 3 things to do are
  1. In the parameter section of the menus on your device, go to "applications" and tick "unknown sources"=Yes.
  2. Download appinstaller and install it on your device. You can either download via your computer or directly pointing your device at this page. Once installed, this app will scan your SD card for any app it can install. ES File explorer does the same, but is a bit more complex to use for beginners. This means you can start downloading with your comp for later install :-). The same apps allows you to backup and uninstall.
  3. Download Fdroid (my favorite), and start chosing your apps in the free market. (Alternate download)
That's it! Can't get any simpler than that, can it ?
In the unlikely event you did not find what you're looking for, you can easily add another market: SlideMe.
It offers the additionnal bonus that you can do your shopping from your computer and later download the list you have selected directly to your device (exactly like the google market), but requires registration (exactly like the google market). It also mixes free and paying apps (exactly like the google market). You can also try the APK Downloader (alt) or one of the the desktop versions (or here(leecher) or here(dl) or xx(downloader) or xx(dwnlapk))(apkhere).
I also found out that many Google functions are in fact present in non-Google-certified devices. They just appear nowhere in the menues. This means that you can actually configure for example access to a google account using AnyCut. That's what I did with my PocketPad. Hint: all you need to get root is to enable USB debug and a copy of adb...
I also use Any Cut to get access to features not present in the Samsung interface, but which are part of standard android functionalities.

Talking about PocketPad: this is definitely what I would call "a lesser machine". That said, it serves its purpose, which is basically to allow me to play or do simple stuff without taxing my phone's battery. I also use it at a test machine.
I don't claim to understand fully the logic of what happened, because it is somewhat counterintuitive, so i'll just give you the facts.
One thing that improved dramatically its performance is changing the launcher. The PocketPad comes with ADW. Using AnyCut, I had access to the settings - which is not allowed by the stock machine, and I switched off all I could to improve the performance. The size reported by the internal "application" setting is 568k, which isn't much. The PocketPad runs a stock 2.3.android with a 2.6.36.4 kernel. My idea was to try and find a smaller launcher (since I'm not interested in any frills) to try and make the system a bit more snappy. The only one I found is 350k and is called zeam. Unfortunately, installing zeam did not yield any noticeable improvement. Since I was at it, I also looked at some (<3Megs) Nemus did it ! Offering me the same configuration facilities as ADW (and then some), it cut the booting time of the machine by 20% (as measured by "All in one tool") and made it snappy as hell and a pleasure to use again (no more dreaded dialog: "The application is not responding - kill or wait ?"). So this is it. If your machine is sluggish and you have applied the usual tricks of cleaning all system caches, etc) give another launcher a try. The operation is absolutely without danger. If you don't like the launcher, just remove it from the system and reboot, it will come back to the default launcher.

Other apps recommended:
  • Leo
  • Eurosport
  • Calculator
  • Movie Trailer
  • Tv-Guide
  • PhotoFunia
  • Barcode Scanner
  • Lyric Search
  • IMDb
  • Goggles
  • Google Translater
  • Gdocs

Here are 45 free Android Apps from productivity.
Secure Apps
I also have plenty of other stuff that I test, or keep until I'm done (puzzle, book, game, utilities).
In order not to waste time with my bookmarks, I just go here.

I also have a pebble watch companion for my phone. Quite handy and cool :-)

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Some Tips

Feel free to me leave me more tips, or recommend apps as above (@Spock444 on twitter) or recommend this page:
  • All Android devices come with their own set of sounds for ringtones, alarms and notifications. If you want to use custom sounds,follow these steps:
    1. In the root of the SD card, create three (3) new folders:
      • ringtones
      • alarms
      • notifications
    2. Copy all of the sounds that you wish to use to the associated folder on the SD card.
    3. To assign one of your new sound to your phone:
      1. click the device's Menu button
      2. Tap Settings and select Sound
      3. Select either Phone ringtone or Notification ringtone (depending on which you are assigning)
      4. select the new sound from the list
    4. To assign a new alarm sound:
      1. open the Clock app and select an alarm
      2. Tap Ringtone and select your new sound from the list and then click the Done button.
  • To cut and paste, long press on the editing window
  • Press and hold the back button in Android stock browser to show Bookmarks/History.
  • In order to maximize battery life, switch off
    • bluetooth,
    • 3G
    • Wi-Fi
    • GPS
    • and dim the screen as much as possible

Accessing your telephone

As hinted above, you can do things with adb. If you are not familiar with the unix/Linux command line, there are alternatives. QtADB or adbbrowser are two front-ends to adb which work reasonably well. If you want to / can install an app on the phone, you can also use the brilliant Wifidroid or the more ressource (and permission) hungry Airdroid.


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Lesser machines

The experience described above prompted me to create the following configuration to try and make the best out of a "lesser" machine:
While playing with launchers, I discovered two fantastic launchers, Necta and Wiser. Both are made for people with bad eyesight, or people who need / want a simplified interface. They are both available for free on the market. I have no use for them myself at the moment but we all know somebody who is looking for exactly that, don't we ? :-)


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Useful links


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A word about java

Java is a compact programming language used on many phones.
Before switching to an Android phone, I've had several Java phones. Even if the general public is not aware of it, you can do with a java phone almost everything you do with a smartphone... :-)
You can actually use java programs on your android, provided you install the java runtime.
See instructions here or another method here.
I have also a Java ressources page. Note that Android is not really Java, even if the platform is very close. Android uses a linux kernel and an almost but not quite java runtime :-).


(*): All Android versions have a number and a name:
Eclair is 2.1, Gingerbread is 2.3, Ice Cream Sandwhich is 4.0, Jelly Bean is 4.1/4.2/4.3. There was no 3.0 for phones.
Complete picture of the distribution of Android today.





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