More unsorted Android addons

I’m sure everybody’s collection grows as time goes by, but I thought I’d note down a few more tools I’ve come across – mostly because for some, there are so many options it’s actual work to try them out, and it’s a pain to have to customize one just to find another did the job better.

A fundamental annoyance with phones is how they track a lot of information about their environs only to not use it to assist me. For instance, they are constantly connecting to cell stations, which gives them their approximate location, but mapping it to a location takes an extra database lookup. And while most wifi networks we use stay put, we normally can’t associate them with locations. Enter tools like Llama. It lets me define things like times to keep the phone quiet, to turn wifi off when I’m out of range to save battery, or even turn alarms off based on calendar events. There are other similar tools, like Tasker and Profiles, but Llama was free and works nicely. If I were to request an improvement, it would be an idea I’ve had for a long time – associate the areas with travel time between them, and use that to adjust reminders.

Also on a related note, telephony is fundamentally timing sensitive, yet for some reason the current time and date are not set on phones – even when they have multiple sources. My carrier doesn’t seem to send calendar time on GSM, but what gives with not having the option to set the time from GPS? Anyhow, ClockSync let me set time from NTP, although doing it automatically requires root.

A less security oriented machine I was supposed to log in to remotely uses VNC. The simple pick for a viewer was android-vnc-viewer, which I would have found a lot faster had I not first searched for “remote desktop”.

When I looked up PwdHash again, a tool for having unique passwords for every website without needing to either memorize or store them all, I found that there are multiple implementations for Android. The one I settled on is Password Hash, because it has published source, properly avoids any Android privileges (so you know it’s not sending your passwords elsewhere), and the resulting hash can be read off the screen. That last thing is not so good if someone else can see, of course, but it means you can use it together with other machines you don’t trust with your master password(s). Within the Android browser, the page sharing feature is used to call up the hasher with the site filled in, and you can paste the hash.

I went looking for a different launcher mostly because I find it annoying that the layout has the same grid size no matter how the screen is oriented in ADW Launcher. I did not find one that fixed that. I did however find a tool to reduce the pointless wait in task swapping. Normally, you have to long-press home, and the most recent apps list fades in slowly. With SwipePad, you can swipe from the edge of the screen to launch pretty much anything – although making it aware of what programs are running takes a modestly priced add-on. If you find yourself demanding multiple of those addons, perhaps Power Strip or Wave Launcher is a better option.

I’ve also added a few network tools, like AndFTP (which does file transfers with a bunch of protocols) and Fing (which is a more general network toolbox starting with a scanner like nmap), but I haven’t actually had much use or need for them yet. They were suggested by AppBrain, a service for cataloguing Android software slightly better than the Market – albeit only slightly. For instance, I can filter on free apps, but not ad-free ones.

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