Top Apps for Android Gingerbread 2.3 (Huawei Honor)

Just like the Huawei Honor, my LG Optimus 2X have no official ICS release. In comparison, the Huawei Honor is in a better position as the ICS ROM while being a beta, is generally bug free. The fragmentation problem of Android OS is huge with only approximately 16% of Android Devices running on ICS today. In fact, if you are a Gingerbread OS user, be proud! You belong to 60.8% of the Android population. This is a sad problem of the Android community with many users stuck on older generation software due in part to manufacturer support.

As with all Android phones, the apps play a big part in the user experience. Hence, even without the newest and greatest operating system, it is often mitigated by the software applications that we install. Hence, I would like to recommend the following list of software for your Gingerbread phone. They were handy in keeping me satisfied on my Optimus 2X Gingerbread ROM.

  1. Holo Launcher (link)

    Holo Launcher looks like ICS, but supports Android 2.2 and higher. You get the same look and feel as the default ICS launcher, complete with long-press to edit folder and shortcuts (and their icons), a scrollable dock with up to seven icons on it, multi-touch gestures to launch apps right on the home screen or preview running apps, and ICS icons, logos, and design for your apps and menus. Thumbs up for its simplicity.
  2. Go Launcher Ex (link)

    Go Launcher is one of the most popular launcher / homescreen replacement for Android. It is feature rich, with many default widgets designed for it, support for themes and icon packs, and unique transitions. The Go Calendar widget is amazing, as it is one, if not the only, free widget that provide a monthly calendar as well as agenda view. The Go Calendar widget is the deal breaker for me and the other weidgets such as Notes aren’t too shabby either. In fact, the other Go applications such as GoContacts or the SMS are pretty good replacement for the default apps on the Huawei and LG default ROMs which are rather dated.The trade off is the bloat and while I generally find it responsive enough, it might be considered slower than others such as Holo Launcher.

  3. Dolphin Browser (link)

    Have you tried Dolphin Browser? It’s a great, feature rich and yet fast browser that puts the original Gingerbread browser to shame. On ICS or Jelly Bean, there are more options such as Chrome but on Gingerbread, I am a staunch supporter of the Dolphin Browser. The additional plugins make it easy to bookmark sync, translate, export to PDF, and browse in full screen mode which are important features to me. It has recently been updated and the new web render engine should speed things up quite a bit as well, especially if you come from the default browser.

  4. ICS Keyboard (link)

    The default ICS keyboard is easy to type on, with better touch and spell prediction features. I am not a big fan of the default Huawei or LG keyboard and an alternative keyboard is always one of my first installs. It doesn’t support Chinese input though. The Huawei keyboard TouchPal appears to be designed for use on a much larger screen, with the buttons appearing too close together. This means that taking advantage of the features is fiddly and requires a fair amount of finger dexterity, and therefore more often than not it’s quicker typing on the basic Android keyboard. If you still need Chinese input, how about the Google Pinyin IME? I feel that its a good alternative for those who still need chinese input.
  5. D7 Reader (link)

    RSS feeds are still an easy way to aggregate information for me without needing to constantly visiting to all my websites of interest. Our GadgetReactor feed is here. D7 Reader is a simple, fast and powerful Google Reader client for Android, which is always in sync with Google Reader. It has a nice reading interface, both day and night modes, and generally very fast.

  6. Google Maps & Navigation (link)

    Never carry a paper map again. The ability to use my phone as a GPS turn by turn navigation tool is a great feature. My trusty phone has brought me on road trips all across France and England without too much of a problem. In the future, this will only get better especially when how it all integrates together such as in Google Now, and that will be discussed at a later date. Read our related GadgetReactor post to see how to install it in Singapore.

  7. Google Play Music (link)

    Listen to all your music instantly. Anywhere.

    See our related Gadgetreactor post to find out how to get Google Music. All your music is stored online, so no need to worry about syncing or storage space. Music purchases from Google Play automatically appear in the app. Access your entire music library instantly with the Google Play Music app, and save your favorites for offline playback.

Google Handwrite: Search by Scribbling

Google has just added a new feature called “Handwrite” to its mobile search. Handwrite allows you to write on the screen of your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet when you’re on the Google search page.

The best way to understand what all this is about is to watch the short Google video below:

To use Handwrite, go to the Google search (mobile), scroll down until you see “Settings,” and click on it. There are lots of choices on the menu, but the one you want is Handwrite. Click on the button and you’ve got it. Apparently, it only works for the default browser but I tried with Dolphin on a Huawei Honor and it worked well. Is it easier to use than a keyboard? I am not sure. The small size of the screen does make it hard to scribble a long search word and perhaps it might be useful if I’m in a bumpy vehicle or I am driving, which then, I shouldn’t be using the phone, right? I would think the voice search function might work better instead.

 

Google Maps Navigation – Enabled anywhere in the world

Google Maps Turn by Turn Navigation is one of the best features of having an android phone. It can navigate to any location that you can identify in Google Maps, has turn by turn voice instructions including street names, live traffic updates, street view and its one of the best app for an in-phone GPS. The live traffic updates and street view are but two features that commercial GPS would find it hard to match. The deal breaker for some is that requires a data connection to operate and  there isn’t an offline navigation feature yet.
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How to terminate your starhub digital voice line

If you didn’t know, it’s going to cost money for the digital voice line that you’ve been getting free as part of the Starhub Hubbing pack. Although Starhub is still advertising the Starhub Hubbing pack as inclusive of a free digital voice line, the small print says the following:

Valid till 31 August 2012. A promotional rate of $2.10 per month applies thereafter.

Which means that you will have to start paying $2.10 on top of your hubbing pack if you would still like to enjoy your digital voice line. However with VOIP and our mobile lines, few might see the value of paying for an additional digital voice line.

To cancel your digital voice line, visit this link and fill up the digital home line termination form. Starhub will be sending mailers to all their customers to inform of this upcoming change.

Of course, if you have signed up as part of a promotional package, then you should be fine. Do take note of extra charges once your contract expires though.

Huawei Honor Non Camera for $398 (Brand New)

Update: Apologies. We were not able to accomplish the deal as the Telco has withheld the distribution of stocks to their resellers. We will continue to be on the look out for better deals in the meantime.

For those interested in getting the Huawei Honor Non Camera, do drop me an email. If there is sufficient interest (high chance as of now), I would be able to get it at $398 each for all of us. Included with the purchase would be an OEM certificate certifying that the camera has been removed (similar to what you get when you purchase the phone from starhub or m1), as well as a invoice from an official Singapore telco retailer.

Check out this review if you need to know more. Hopefully we’ll be able to install Android Jelly bean onto the phone. Otherwise, there is still ICS.

 

The iNo-Sun A908 (iNo-One) Non-Camera Phone

This is the next non-camera phone that is expected to be launched in Singapore. It is a factory removed camera phone model and certification would be provided as well. It is expected to be priced at a relatively low cost of S$228 and would appeal to those whose contract is not up for renewal yet.  It is currently on pre-order and is expected to launch in August. Besides the price, the next interesting feature is that it has Dual-SIM support and could appeal to those with multiple phone lines to manage.At its price point, it could be the next mass phone for reservists to have access to a smart phone, browser, and more importantly, GAMES to pass time during their in-camp-training.

http://www.inomobile.com.sg/

Specifications

  •  Android Gingerbread 2.3.6
  • 1.0 GHz Single Core
  • 512 MB Ram
  • Dual-SIM card slots
  • 4.0″ capacitive 480 x 800 screen
  • GPS and Bluetooth
  • 124 mm x 64 mm x 10.95 mm
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable with microSD

The phone specifications are nothing to shout about and in fact, I would expect some minor slowdown due to the processor and lack of RAM as compared to the superior Huawei Honor. I would only recommend this phone if you are looking to use this phone for short periods of time and/or if the Dual-SIM feature is important, else the Huawei Honor especially at the promotion price of $400 would be a much better deal. Lastly, they really should have came up with a more attractive name for this phone.

Update (11 Aug 12): The iNo-Sun A908 has been replaced by the iNo-One. Read more about it here.

Nexus 7 vs the iPad – Survival!

The Nexus 7 has launched and it has rave reviews for its great specifications and low price. So did Google cut any corners in terms of the build quality?

The above review pitted the Nexus 7 vs the iPad and the Nexus 7 impressively survived and trounced the iPad in the 3 categories that SquareTrade, the Gadget insurance company, had put them through. The Nexus 7 looks like it is going to be worth every penny. I’m not sure if the results were due to luck as to the angle that the iPad fell but perhaps Google had invested in such amazing engineering that precisely compensated the centre of gravity to determine the orientation if it were to be dropped. Well, at least there’s a pretty good chance that your Nexus 7 would survive a fall.