Archive for the ‘Downloads’ Category

Gingerbread ROMs Available for Testing on Many Android Phones

If our screenshot tourwasn’t enough to satiate your Gingerbread lust, a bunch of Android developers have already started porting the Android 2.3 SDK to various Android devices, so rooted users can play around with it now and see what’s new.

These ROMs won’t get you by on day-to-day use, since they’re just the SDK—certain basic phone functions won’t work on your device when you flash these ROMs. That said, if you just make a backup of your phone before flashing (which you do regularly anyway, right?), you can check out what Gingerbread will actually look and run like on your specific device, which is pretty neat—and then when you’re done just restore to your more functional backup. And, of course, if you like what you see, the new Gingerbread keyboard andlauncher are already available for daily use on your 2.2 phone.

The Gingerbread SDK ROMs are free downloads for various rooted Android devices, including the Droid Eris, Hero, Evo, Incredible, and Sapphire. More ROMs are always being added, so keep an eye on the page below for your own device.


8pen (Gesture-based)
The newest and most ambitious of the bunch, 8pen redesigns the mobile touch keyboard completely by splitting the keyboard area into quadrants. To type, you swipe circles around the quadrants that specify letters based on what quadrant your circle started and ended in. The 8pen keyboard takes dedication and time to learn, but once you do, text entry is very fast with big targets fit for big fingers. You can program certain gestures to output frequently used phrases, too. For example, a circle could output your email address or full name. The 8pen keyboard is free in the Android Market.

Pros: 8pen’s large quadrants and function keys are almost impossible to miss. Custom gestures for frequently-used phrases is a powerful time saver.

Cons: 8pen’s learning curve is extremely steep. Plan to work through the 8pen tutorial and spend at least 20 minutes just learning the placement of the letters in the quadrants.
Skip to 1:18 to go right to seeing what it’s like to type with 8pen:

Graffiti (Gesture-based)
Like Google’s own Gesture Search input, Graffiti offers Palm-like writing on your Android device. To use it, draw a letter similar to the way you would with a pen on a piece of paper onto the touch canvas. Graffiti is free in the Android Market.

Pros: No pecking, just intuitive swiping, familiar to Palm graffiti lovers.

Cons: There’s a medium learning curve while getting all of Graffiti’s gestures down pat; also, tapping a letter key takes a lot less time than swiping it out Graffiti-style.

Graffiti demonstration:

SlideIT (Gesture-based on traditional keyboard layout)
Similar to Swype and ShapeWriter, SlideIT is a gesture-based keyboard that uses the key layout you already know. To type a word, slide your finger from letter to letter on a standard QWERTY keyboard. SlideIT involves a bit of getting-used-to, but once you’re there, it’s easy to type very fast even with some inaccuracy in your gestures. SlideIT is about $8 (depending on the exchange rate) right now in the Android Market.

Pros: Easy to learn gestures for people who don’t like pecking; also offers a graffiti mode.

Cons: Takes some time to teach it words it doesn’t know through old-school pecking, like proper names.

SlideIT demonstration:

ThickButtons (Traditional keys)
ThickButtons is the same keyboard layout you already know, but it integrates smart text prediction into the keys themselves. With ThickButtons enabled, as you type, it enlarges the particular keys it anticipates you want to tap next based on the word you’re inputting. ThickButtons is free in the Android Market.

Pros: Zero learning curve.

Cons: Removes Android’s voice input button from the keyboard.


SwiftKey (Traditional keys)
SwiftKey is also a traditional keyboard, but with souped-up text prediction smarts. Instead of basing its predictions only on the letters of the current word you’re typing, it also uses the word that appeared before it. It learns how you write as you use it, and will predict words in phrases you type often. SwiftKey is free in the Android Market.

Pros: Virtually no learning curve and highly accurate predictions. Also adds other shortcuts, like the ability to swipe across the keyboard to delete the last word you typed.

Cons: SwiftKey crashed my Nexus One once, right after installation, and requires you install a language module to enable predictions.

SwiftKey demonstration:

Mobile keyboard preferences are a personal thing, but out of all five, I liked two of these keyboards the best. If you’re into gesture-based input, go with SlideIT. If you like tapping as usual but just want better text prediction, SwiftKey is a great start—with ThickButtons a close second.

And, of course, there is Swype. But I don’t really think there is any need to review that one anyways. 🙂

Until our smartphones are smart enough to read our minds, happy hunting, pecking, and sliding. [Gizmodo]

DX/D2 Overclocker is here!

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Downloads

While the more popular and more cross-device SetCPU is a great overclocking (and underclocking) tool for advanced users, folks looking to just eke a bit more speed out of their rooted device might prefer DX/D2 Overclocker. Instead of having a number of maximum and minimum settings, profiles, and custom kernels (that you have to seek out, download and flash), this app condenses everything into one, simple menu with a few presets. Just open it up, tap the setting you want, and apply the settings. What’s even cooler is that DX/D2 Overclocker has a stress test function, so you can see if your phone can actually handle a low voltage or high speed before putting it to regular use. [Unstable Apps via Gizmodo]

Itching Thumb is an Android task manager that displays running tasks (in a fashion similar to the alt-tab function in Windows) with live preview and enables gesture-based application launching.

The default Android task switcher simply displays recently run application icons—you can switch to the app you were using a moment ago by clicking the icon to return the focus to the app or starting it again. Itching Thumb actually shows you thumbnails of the active applications. In the space beneath the application previews you can swipe gestures to launch applications like G for Gmail or a C for your contacts list. [Gizmodo]

Ahh, the old days. When touch screens ALL used that little area at the bottom of the screen for text input. Want to bring it back? Try Graffiti for Android.

Winamp for Android

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Downloads

Winamp for Android (beta) offers a complete media management solution for 2.1 OS & above. Sync your music from the Winamp desktop player over USB or Wi-Fi.

Source: AppBrain

A new video player, now in Alpha, called VPlayer is now on the market. VPlayer offers support for virtually any video format you’re likely to want (or need)—DivX, Xvid, FLV, MKV, and WMV, just to start. As mentioned, it’s only an alpha, so might be on the crashy side, but you’ve got nothing to lose if format diversity is part of your life.