Monday, September 19, 2011

Android apps

I had previously written about the usefulness of having a net book. It weighs less than a kilogram, has a battery power of nearly 11 hours and can be used extensively during travel.

However, during travelling, especially when it is only for a few hours, one does not even feel like editing any text (except for small corrections). It is a good time to read books/papers and listen to music. I use olivepad, which is the Indian version to the Ipad and costs around Rs. 15,000. The advantage of olivepad is that it is touch screen, weighs less than 400 g and switches on instantly. It is directly synchronized to Gmail, Google calendar, Google tasks and Google docs. It runs on my favorite system, Android and has a number of free applications, including a heart rate monitor. I list below the applications that I have installed and often use.

The olivepad comes loaded with the software, "Documents to Go", which can read Doc,xls,ppt and pdf but can not edit any of these documents. You need to pay for the premium version if you need to edit the documents. OliveOfficePremium can view to view and edit Microsoft Word(doc/docx), Excel(xls/xlsx) and PowerPoint(ppt/pptx) files. In addition, it can view pdf and chm files. There are several instances where you just need a good editor for simple text. One of the best software for this is the Jota Text Editor.

Considering the large number of books available in the epub and pdf format, the best epub and pdf readers are Aldiko book reader and APV PDF viewer. The former (effective version 2.0) can read PDF but the APV PDF viewer is much better.

The android system was designed to manage its own memory and the concept of closing/exiting an app does not exist because the operating systems manages the memory and apps ensuring that the apps that run in the background do not use much resources. However, one needs to know which apps are running, memory used etc. This can be done by the software called ZDBox.

The olivepad comes with a browser but it is not as good as the Opera Mini browser in terms of speed and functionality. The olivepad also comes with a music player but it can not play some formats (like flv) and the moboplayer is probably the best software for playing videos. I used to be a state chess player and I found the software Chess Free to be quite good, though it is adware.

Please let me know if you have any favorite Android apps, especially for reading, viewing/listening to media and browsing.


milieu said...

Thank you for the informative post! I just bought an android smartphone, so will definitely try these out.

At the risk of starting a flamewar, Android looks to me like the future and Apple iOS the past.

Anonymous said...

Another useful software is to monitor your usage,

Anonymous said...

Is the olive pad responsive in terms of interface?

Ankur Kulkarni said...

Prof Giri,

I have been using a 10" android tablet for the last 3-4 months too. Although tablet were designed for recreation, it is very useful routine academic work. I strongly recommend the following apps:

exPDF reader - outstanding PDF reader and editor. Makes lots of annotations which can be read and edited by others using Adobe. Intelligent zooming, especially for two column papers, wherein it fits each column to the screen width.

TabNotes - you can write copious notes with a stylus or even your finger. Very good interface, nice organisation etc. After getting this app, I have moved to almost paperless operation.

Ankur Kulkarni said...

Correction above: ezPdf reader (not expdf). Also, if possible, do try to get Android honeycomb on your tablet.

Google books app is also decent - it gives many classics free (I have some gems from Tagore in my collection)

EbookDroid is also a good app for reading djvu, if you use that for books.

Anonymous said...

ezPDF is not free. I think he is talking about freeware.

TabNotes is good. But colornote is also very good. Better than Jorte.

Ankur Kulkarni said...

TabNotes lets you take handwritten notes. I find that far more versatile than typing - especially when you have equations to write. Does colornote allow handwritten notes?

Anonymous said...

The new Lenovo thinkpad tablet running android supports an active digitizer which is very useful if you want to create notes containing lots of equations. A colleague uses it along with writepad stylus for lecturing and saving the notes created in real-time to pdf. It seems the passive HP HDMI-VGA adapter works so this device can be used with old VGA projectors. Personally, I think nothing can beat the dynamism of chalk & talk and I am not yet fully persuaded to change how I teach.

As the years are passing me by, I am finding it more and more difficult to lug around my 17" MBP while travelling. A lightweight android tablet with an active digitizer looks tempting for editing the drafts that my students produce and making presentations. There are two other android devices on the market which supports active digitizers (HTC Flyer and Puccini/Jetstream).

If only there was a port of latex to android so that I can make last minute changes to presentations without relying on a network connection. The makeshift solution for the time being is to use ezpdf to correct/add material to the existing pdf presentation. I can live with that.

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