After years of using HTC devices, I was accustomed to being able to install applications on my Windows Mobile devices from my PC through ActiveSync and also from my handset with a .cab file. When Android launched, Google was kind enough to allow users to install applications as they pleased, as long as you did it from your Android phone. The first problem was that Google didn’t include a file manager in Android, so it was impossible to locate the .apk file even if you had one on your sd card. Eventually, developers came to the rescue with multiple file managers and app installers. But there was still a something missing. You still had to download the .apk file to your desktop, transfer the file to your phone, disconnect your phone from your PC, locate the file, and then install.
Fortunately, all those steps are a thing of the past. Paul, one of the admins over at MoDaCo has releases a small desktop application that allows you to install .apk files directly from your PC, simply by double clicking the file. “installAPK is currently for Windows only. After installation on your machine, you can double click APK files to install them on your USB attached android device. Simple as that!”
I’m sure most Android users get the majority of the apps from the Market, but there’s always the exception. Just last night, Scott from AndroidGuys emailed me an app to test out. If I would have known about installAPK 24 hours ago, I could have saved myself a minute or two.
It’s always a pleasant surprise when I get an e-mail from an app developer, letting me know that they have updated their app or are pushing something new out to the Android market and want me to give it a quick run through. Yesterday, Electric Pocket let us know that their PhoneFace app is now available on the Android Market. I’m actually already a bit familiar with the app since a friend of mine uses it on his Blackberry. PhoneFace is a simple contact manager that allows you to scroll through your contacts by their picture. A quick tap on one of your contact’s pictures give you options to call, text, email, or map their address (depending on what information you already have filled in for their profile). There are a few apps on the market that already do this, but PhoneFace has a few extra features that make it stand out. If you don’t have a picture for one of your contacts, PhoneFace can connect with your FaceBook or Twitter account and grab them for your. You have the option of adding your entire contact list to PhoneFace or simply selecting the contacts you want. The app works great, but the UI could be a little more fluid. I’m still waiting for a developer to create a contacts app that look like the one HTC built inside TouchFLO 3D. Search the Android Market for PhoneFace or Electric Pocket and don’t forget to check out http://phoneface.com/
In less than two weeks, Vodafone will be launching the HTC Magic. It will be the second phone to be powered by the Android OS, but the first powered by Android 1.5 (aka the cupcake build). There are quite a few enhancements included in this new build, many of which I wrote about when I reviewed a Google build and an HTC build of Android 15 for the HTC Magic. But the one new addition that stands out the most with the introduction of Android 1.5 is the support for home screen widgets.
Android widgets aren’t anything new. Google included three of them (analog clock, search, and picture frame) in the original Android 1.0 that shipped on the T-Mobile G1. But to the developer’s disappointment, the Android team didn’t release any documentation on how additional widgets could be developed.
A few days ago, we broke the news that Google had yanked all the 3G tethering apps from the Android Market. Google pulled the apps since they did not comply with T-mobiles TOS. I guess it took Google a few days to realize that the HTC Dream (currently the only Android phone on the market) is also available in other countries and also from other service providers. Google has sent out a message to the app developers, stating:
"We inadvertently unpublished your application for all mobile providers; if you like, we can restore your app so that all Android Market users outside the T-Mobile US network will have access to your application."
Let’s just hope, Google learns from their mistake and takes a more systematic approach next time they decide to remove app from the Android Market.
Reports are coming in from all over the web, stating that Google has started pulling tethering apps from the Android Market. I currently have aNetShare installed on my rooted G1 (the app allows me to tether my 3G or EDGE connection over WiFi with multiple WiFi enabled devices), but a quick search on the Android Market shows that the app is not longer available. The assumption is that Google is getting pressure from T-mobile to remove these apps since they violate T-mobile’s user agreement policies (no internet sharing). For those of you who are disappointed with Google for doing for removing these apps, keep in mind, you can still legally install the apps if you get them from the developer or any other website that might have them posted.
If you already have a tethering app installed on your G1, I’d hang on to it even if you don’t use it that often.
The one thing I enjoy most about Facebook is that people constantly update their profile pictures. It gives you a better representation of how they see themselves or what mood they are in. Google does an adequate job of syncing all the images you gave in Gmail with your Android phone, but unless you are an avid Picasa Web user, most your contacts are pictureless. Facebook Sync is a new app on the Android Market that promises to bring images to all your contacts as long as you are friends with them on Facebook. Facebook Sync is fairly simple. When you open the app, there’s an check box at the bottom that asks if you want to replace non-Facebook photos that you might already have in your contacts. All that’s left to do is tap the "Start friend photo sync" and away you go. A web window opens up in which you will need to enter in your Facebook login info to allow that app to gain access to your friends list. Once it starts the sync process, if shows you each friend picture that it is syncing to your contacts. Once Facebook Sync has finished going through all your friends and contacts, it gives you a little readout of how many contact entries were synced.
Facebook Sync is extremely simple, but I’m sure most Android users who have a Facebook account will find that it’s an extremely useful tool to complete your contacts list. If you’re on your G1 right now, just click here in your phones browser or else just head over to the market and search "Facebook Sync"
There are a lot of different reasons to buy the T-Mobile G1. Some people simply love Google, others like Android or simply want an OpenSource OS. Me? I like my phone to be versatile enough to do almost anything. My wife thinks it’s a bit ridiculous that I check the Android Market a few times a day. What can I say, I must be addicted.
It’s been really a week since Google opened the floodgates, unleashing priced apps onto the Android market. Within that time there, more than 200 new priced apps have shown up, but something’s missing. There are a lot of useful apps out there, but I just get the feeling that there is still a huge void that app developers have yet to fill.
So what’s missing for you? Let us know. I’m sure we all have a dream app on our wish list that we’re hoping will get release on the Android Market.