Android: Tweaking the Desire & recommended apps

Day 2 of having the Desire, and I’m finding that the phone itself is pretty awesome. Tweaking the phone takes a bit of work, because you have to think about what widgets and apps on the main screens would suit your needs, more of an accessibility issue than anything else.

To do a brief compare & contrast between interfaces, seeing as I have both the iPhone 4 and the Desire:

  • iPhone’s interface is more simplified, not much customisation and easy to use, everything is relatively intuitive, seeing as you don’t have much choices to begin with. (Unless you want to jailbreak it of course!)
  • HTC’s Android provides lots of room for tweaking even before rooting, but especially so after it’s been rooted. Allowing widgets is a great thing, and one thing I like is about keeping installed apps separate from the home screen – put stuff you want within easy access, and let the rest of the rarely used apps stew in that list. Having the Desire just makes me want to play around with it more, to make it do what I want.

If you’re looking for help, the HTC help for Desire should be the first place to begin. Next up would be Google, and the various forums that pop up as search results.

Audio alert customisation’s not exactly very intuitive so I thought I’ll explain it here for other people. The procedure’s basically the same throughout:

  • Connect your phone to the computer via USB
  • Now this part differs according to what you want.
    • If it’s an alarm tone, the folder should be named Alarms.
    • Text messaging alert? The folder should be named Notifications.
    • Ringtone? The folder should be named Ringtones.
  • Dump the file(s) inside the folder.
  • Disconnect the USB connection, and the phone will show those files as choices thereafter.

Simple, but I probably wouldn’t have thought of it on my own. Might’ve been easier for HTC to create the folders in advance, so we know where to dump.

Recommended apps:

  • JuiceDefender: very useful, gives options to save battery e.g. turning off 3G/Wi-Fi during specified hours (esp when you sleep!), tweak CPU speed, good stuff when free, great stuff when you pay a few bucks for it.
  • Tasker: ultimate in customisation for Android phones, choose all sorts of situations and corresponding actions you want taken e.g. use Wi-Fi automatically when you’re at home, set a super annoying morning, lengthen the screen timeout when you’re reading ebooks, possibilities are seriously endless – you just have to come up with it. That being said, super customisation takes a bit of work, and you should look at the Tasker wiki for readily downloadable profiles.
  • 3G Watchdog: Watch your data usage – very important especially in Australia. Use in conjunction with JuiceDefender, cut your 3G usage once it hits your monthly quota. Also works as a widget on the home screen so you can monitor it all the time. One note, you should set the
  • Battery Widget: always good to have around, seeing as the default battery icon is very very tiny.
  • AppBrain: good place for app hunting.
  • Whatsapp: Think of it as text messaging via the internet, very popular alternative to MSN on smartphones. Did you know this is free on Android?
  • Vlingo: Speak into the phone and get stuff done, how cool is that? I spoke: “Text Ellen I will be home late don’t wait for me to have dinner”. Dialog came up confirming which of Ellen’s numbers I wanted to use, and the message was 100% accurate, all ready to be sent.
  • Aldiko: ebook reader (.epub anyone?), rave reviews seen but yet to test on my own.
  • Anti-Theft: F-Secure provides an easy way to remotely lock, locate and even wipe your phone just by sending a text – handy stuff IMO.
  • Pro Basketball: NBA news and scores, choose your favourite team even. Must-have for every NBA fan. CELTICS HOORAH!
  • Angry Birds: One of the most popular games on the iPhone, which involves launching grumpy red birds on a catapult to knock stuff over. Did you know the full version is free on Android? Check out the trailer below.
  • Not recommended – app killers: these apps provide an interface for you to kill apps, think of Task Manager in Windows. You should not be using one because it messes with the way Android works. Read the lengthy FAQ provided by Geek For Me if you’re really interested.

That’s all I have for now, more recommendations to come in a later post when I find really good stuff.

Have your say!