Android gets handwriting recognition across all apps

Google has just released Google Handwriting Input app for Android in Google Play. The app supports Android 4.0.3 and above and works across all your apps on a smartphone or tablet. In our tests it showed impressive results even when detecting very poor handwriting. Most of the times it was accurate, in some cases we had to select the correct letter from the probable matches shown in the detection results. Continue reading Android gets handwriting recognition across all apps

LibreOffice Viewer Beta debuts on Android

Efforts to port LibreOffice and OpenOffice on Android have been going on for a while now. The first sustainable breakthrough comes from LibreOffice as the Beta Viewer hit the Android market today. There are bugs to be fixed, features to be added, polishing to be done but it’s a welcome first step.

The Viewer can currently recognize and render the following document types:

  • Open Document Format (.odt, .odp, .ods, .ots, .ott, .otp)
  • Microsoft Office 2007/2010/2013 (.docx, .pptx, .xlsx, .dotx, .xltx, .ppsx)
  • Microsoft Office 97/2000/XP/2003 (.doc, .ppt, .xls, .dot, .xlt, .pps)

The app uses the same engine as the desktop LibreOffice and is from the same organization, Collabora. Rendering is a bit slow in the Beta and there are issues with browsing SD card. However, expect these to be fixed soon.

Upcoming releases will see the following features:

  • Interactive document elements (e.g. URLs)
  • Support for browsing external SD storage
  • Many more…

Head on to the Google Play page for LibreOffice Viewer Beta and check it out. Report bugs to help the devs fix them.

Home Remote Control: Ubuntu from Android

android_compWe explored lrc, a tool to control Linux from a smartphone browser earlier. Recently we found another Android app that does the job better by communicating over SSH – Home Remote Control. Home Remote Control works best when both your smartphone and the Ubuntu box are connected to the same WiFi router. In theory it should work as long as the devices can reach each other using IP address.

Features

  • keyboard
  • mouse/touchpad
  • list and download files from filesystem
  • system monitor (CPU, RAM, disk, battery…)
  • custom shortcuts
  • custom commands
  • sound control
  • future tasks
  • login via QR Code scanner
  • rename, delete and upload files on your filesystem
  • terminal
  • linux command library
  • ssh login

App features

  • remote control widget
  • wake on lan widget
  • export/import remote controls via a file
  • display cpu,memory,battery,bluetooth,network info of android device

Install

You can tall the app from its Google Play page (link below).

SSH server and xdotool (for mouse and keyboard control) needs to be set up on Ubuntu. Run:

$ sudo apt-get install openssh-server
$ sudo apt-get install openssh-client
$ sudo service ssh restart
$ sudo apt-get install xdotool

Now you can connect your device to your Ubuntu system. Open the Android app, navigate to “new device” -> “Linux” and enter Ubuntu LAN IP. You will have to enter the username and password to complete the SSH authentication.

Wake-on-LAN

If your hardware supports Wake-On-LAN, you do not need to leave the Ubuntu system running to control it remotely any time you want. If your system goes to sleep after an interval, setup Wake-On-LAN to wake it us whenever you try to connect to it. Steps:

  • Check and activate Wake-On-Lan and/or Wake-On-PCI(E) from BIOS
  • Run the following on Ubuntu:
    $ sudo apt-get install ethtool
    $ sudo ethtool -s eth0 wol g
  • Insert the following two lines into the autostart script (/etc/rc.local)
    sleep 5
    ethtool -s eth0 wol g
  • Open /etc/init.d/halt and set
    NETDOWN=no

You can also generate SSH key to enhance the security of the connection.

Webpage: Home Remote Control

Palm Note: useful smartphone note manager

palm_note_compPalm Note is a rich note manager with powerful features. It communicates with several web services in order to store or provide accurate information. It is easier to use on bigger screens and has a clean look and feel. Top features include:

  • Google Maps integration
  • Barcode scanner
  • Real-time note syncing across all devices
  • Built-in OCR to extract text from photos
  • Supports markdown
  • Supports Android (4.0+ and iOS 7+)
  • Free of cost

Cons:

The devs should revisit certain areas to turn this into a winner.

  • Takes a long time to start up of a reasonably fast Android. The tagline claim “…built for speed” fails in results.
  • The bulk shows in the user experience. The apk is 16MB.
  • Needs Google or FB login before taking a single note! Holy crap!
  • Android apk has to be downloaded manually. Not available in Google Play yet.

However, if the features still seem useful to you and you have a powerful processor on your smartphone or tablet, I would recommend trying it out.

Webpage: Palm Note

Cosmos Browser: SMS based Android browser

android_compIf you ever used elinks on Linux, you know how efficient and low-bandwidth text only browsing can be. Of course, it will not work out if you are visiting a website for downloading wallpapers, but it could be if you want to read some information from the web. Slow network speeds and costly bandwidth are real problems in developing countries and developer Stefan Aleksic of ColdSauce tries to find a solution in an SMS (text) based browser – Cosmos Browser. This browser will not need any data plan or WiFi.

Here’s how it would work:

Once the user inputs a url, the app texts the Twilio number which forwards the URL as a POST request to a Node.JS backend. The backend takes the url, gets the HTML source of the website, minifies it, gets rid of the css, javascript, and images, GZIP compresses it, encodes it in Base64, and sends the data as a series of SMSes. The phone receives this stream at a rate of 3 messages per second, orders them, decompresses them, and displays the content.

It is a very fresh project and the developers are trying to get the first release out as soon as possible. Pitch in if you can.

Website: Cosmos Browser

Viber: free calls and sharing

Viber is one of the best applications when it comes to platform-agnostic VoIP calls and communication for free. Viber is a complete instant messaging cum file sharing cum VoIP app available for the desktop as well as smartphones. In general Viber to Viber calls are free but you can also call contacts who do not use Viber using ViberOut – a paid service. Features:

  • Multiplatform – Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Nokia and Bada
  • Easy registration and account creation. Viber uses phone number to identify users.
  • Simple and easy to use interface
  • No ads in the apps
  • Text, photo and sticker messages
  • Group conversations
  • Call any Viber user for free (including international)
  • Full sync between your mobile and your device
  • Transfer ongoing calls between your mobile and your desktop
  • If you use ViberOut, recharge your account with Auto Top-Up if balance is < $2

Webpage: Viber

PirateApp: The Pirate Bay on Android

pirateapp_comp

NOTE: The Pirate Bay has been taken now and the app is no longer available on Google Play.

Search and download torrents from The Pirate Bay (TPB) faster using PirateApp on Android. While you can always visit TPB using the browser, the app makes it easier to navigate and use different features of TPB on a smaller interface. Features:

  • Optimized UI for handhelds
  • Open magnet links
  • Save favourite uploaders for quick access (TV series fan?)
  • Automatically find out the fastest TPB proxy for you
  • Use as a remote for downloading with torrent files
  • Works with uTorrent, aTorrent, tTorrent Lite, BitTorrent app
  • Works with uTorrent remote, Transmission remote gui, Bittorrent remote

The free version of the app is ad-supported.

On Google Play: PirateApp [app removed from Google Play]

Tomi File Manager: quickly access files on Android

tomi_compThere are plenty of file managers available on Google Play. Most of them do the same things and some come with extra features like support for different archive types. However, being a smartphone user, I expect a file manager to have a clean interface and the ability to give me quick access to my files. Today I received an email from the Tomitools team to check out their file manager app for Android – Tomi File Manager with the capability to categorize and arrange files on your smartphone. To be frank, I am more than impressed by this smart app. The usual directory browser becomes a second preference with this app because it can instantly show your files grouped together by file type and sorted by applicable criteria. For example, you can sort the images by date of shooting (timeline) and documents by name, size, last modified time and type both in ascending or descending order. So you do not need to remember locations and change directories to reach the image you took 5 minutes back. Isn’t that cool? It can scan and organize music, pictures, videos, documents and apps. Feature highlights of Tomi File Manager:

  • Free Root Explorer (for rooted device) can change file owner, permissions, remount system as rw, edit several system files and manage them with root explorer.
  • Music Manager can set music as ringtone, sort music by songs, albums, artists and years, share songs via bluetooth, manage recordings, delete duplicate music.
  • Picture Manager can display pics by shooting date, show slideshow, hide pics, share on FB, send over WiFi, compress and share pics.
  • Video Manager can sort and share on Instagram and FB.
  • Document Manager cum editor cum viewer for text, list and group by type, send to Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and other cloud storage. Supports PDF, Office Word, Office Excel, Office PowerPoint, Text, and etc.
  • Application Manager with advanced features in root mode.
  • Directory Manager and Folder Mount can hide files and directories, send to desktop etc.
  • Free disk space viewer by file types.
  • Free app.

I did find an issue with  screen rotation not working for images (and no option to rotate either). But when I contacted the team they welcomed the idea as that will give a better view in landscape mode.

On Google Play: Tomi File Manager

OpenOffice and LibreOffice on Android

android_compIf you are a heavy open source software user you might crave for some of your favourite desktop applications on Android. How about your office suite? OpenOffice or LibreOffice? Let’s explore the current options.

OpenOffice

Already ported to Android as AndrOpen Office. View or edit your documents at will. All the major components – Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base have been ported. This project is not affiliated to the original Apache project though it is forked from the same codebase.

LibreOffice

This is not ready yet but in progress with daily builds available for testing. Head on to the main page with links to daily builds, developer page etc. Remember that the test builds are not quite something that you’ld like to try out at the time of writing.

Now Browser: lightweight browser for Android

now_browser_compUpdate: Now Browser seems to be discontinued.

Android doesn’t have any shortage of browsers. However, many of the well-known browsers are quite bulky. Now Browser is the latest name in the list with a minimal footprint – 171KB at the time of first release. It has received rave reviews from several sources and performed very well in our testing too. It has a free version and a pro version. The free version has the following features:

  • Google Now / Material Design themed
  • Powerful tabbed browsing*
  • Navigation gestures:
    – Swipe from left to right to go to the next page
    – Swipe from right to left to go to the previous page
    – Double-tap on a zoomed page to fit the screen perfectly
    – Long press a tab to close it
    – Long press the back button to exit from the browser
  • Support for Flash Player, to play web games on your smartphone!
  • Incognito Mode
  • Full screen mode
  • and much more …

The Pro version has some more features to accelerate your browsing but the free version fares very well as a regular browser for your Android smartphone.

On Google Play: app removed