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 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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Getting Google Music out of the United States

Google Music elevates your music media to the Cloud. It allows you access to all your songs anywhere in the world, purchase music (only when based in US), and download them back to your computer or phone for offline access when needed. The only catch: Google Music would not work in Singapore as you would need to be ‘based’ in US for the initial registration. And location can easily be spoofed.

The following is a quick guide to enable Google Music

  1. Download and install Hide-My-Ip which comes with a 14 day trial. Choose a US Proxy.
  2. Alternatively, try out http://www.superfreevpn.com/win7-free-vpn/ – preferred method
  3. Turn on Incognito mode or Privacy mode for your browser. This ensures a clean new connection without any pre-existing cookie or cache.
  4. Visit music.google.com or through play.google.com and start using the service. You can try adding a couple of the free playlists and upload a couple of songs through the music manager. The upload feature continues to work even after you deactivate the proxy.
  5. And that’s it. Google music activated. The Play Store limits access to the Google Music application if you are not in US but you can download it separately through the XDA Forums.Note: You can probably use other VPN services such as anonymisers or hotspot shield, but the easiest way for me was through SuperFreeVPN and then Hide-My-Ip.
Did it worked for you? Let me know through the comments, thanks!

I am in the process of moving my music collection on to Google Music.The free online storage locker for music has space for up to 20,000 songs that can be streamed through a browser on any computer or mobile device (including even iOS). With all my devices connected to the net, I don’t see a need for storing them on my hard disk offline and well, for those devices that I need to transfer music to, it shouldn’t be that much of a hassle to download a couple of albums or play lists for offline access. The quality of the music through the browser interface is good and it has a Pandora-esque instant mix function for quickly finding similar songs catered to your taste. It looks like it will take at least another two more weeks before I finish uploading all my songs, but the cloud does indeed seem the way to go.