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2 years ago

Android developer Stephen Erickson open-sources his BusyBox installer -- we're all free to learn from it

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If you're an Android hacker or developer, you know about BusyBox.  For the lay-people among us, it's a utility that extends the limited commands provided by the Android toolkit in the shell -- copying and renaming files, reading and writing data, that sort of thing.  Here's a chance to learn a little more, as Stephen Erickson has open-sourced his BusyBox installer application.  A look at the source will show you not only how to download and install BusyBox, but how to add all sorts of shell commands and assets to your custom application.  You can then add these commands into custom menus in your ROM, or even write your own Android app with a little more study.  It's things like that make us all love open-source software.  Thanks, Stephen!

Source:Google Code pages; via +Stephen Erickson

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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for Jan 21, 2012

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Looking for some new apps for your beloved Android device, well you are in luck today. Hit the break with us and let's check out some of the teams favorite applications from this week.

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2 years ago

Google Sky Map getting open sourced

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Google's own window into the night sky is all set to head down the open-source road. The Google Sky Map application has been massively successful, currently boasting over 20 million users. Not bad considering this app was created in part just to show off the capabilities of the early Android smartphones. 

Now though, Google has decided that it is "donating Sky Map to the community." Through a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, future development of the application will be the result of student projects. In addition to this, the app itself has been open-sourced, allowing budding astronomers to take the code and "augment it as they wish."

You'll find download links to Google Sky Map after the break -- it's still a brilliant way to show off what Android can do. 

Source:Google Research Blog

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2 years ago

Android A to Z: What is the JIT?

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What is the JIT?  JIT stands for "Just In Time," and we use it to describe a Dalvik JIT compiler, which was added to Android with the 2.2 release.  It compiles bytecode into native machine code at runtime.  Essentially it takes the code for an app, analyzes it and converts it into something that runs faster.  It does all this while the application is running, and that's where the "just in time" tag comes from.  The JIT compiler designed for Android also can do this with a very short "warm up" time, meaning it doesn't take very long to analyze the code before it starts working.  It stores information in a cache in your phone's RAM, which means it's not an ideal solution for devices with low memory.  It's been optimized to have a small footprint -- about 100K per process -- but even that is enough to impact performance on older models like the G1 or HTC Magic.  This is why most phones that came before the Nexus One never got an official version from Google -- hardware limitations.

You hear terms like "runs faster" or 4 to 5 times performance increase anytime you talk about Android's JIT compiler.  A JIT compiler simply saves CPU cycles -- more work can be done for each clock cycle.  This means applications that were throttled by CPU performance get faster, and apps that are "rate-limited" (run until they are finished without taxing the processor to the maximum) finish faster and use less battery because of it.  Not all applications see a significant speed increase, and most applications written with the NDK or in native code won't see an increase at all, as they don't use the Dalvik virtual machine.  

If all this reads like Greek to you, that's OK.  To the end user (that's you and me) all we should see is better performance in most of our applications.  We certainly saw that when Froyo was released for the Nexus One, and things have just gotten better with every release.  For the more technically inclined, check out the video from Android engineers Ben Cheng and Bill Buzbee during Google I/O 2010 where the JIT compiler was introduced.

Previously on Android A to Z: What's an IPS display?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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2 years ago

BlueStacks app player out of alpha, beta-bound "soon"

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BlueStacks, that nifty little Android app player bound for PCs everywhere, is out of its alpha stage and heading into beta "soon." BlueStacks will sync the apps on your smartphone or tablet and store them in its own cloud, where they will then be accessbile on your Windows Vista or 7-powered PC. BlueStacks is free and works so well that it earned itself CNET's coveted "Best of CES" title at this year's show. Hit the source link to sign up for the beta and be sure to sing out when you become one of the lucky chosen ones. 

Source: BlueStacks

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2 years ago

Carbon for Android Twitter client gets a sneak peek, on Twitter, natch

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We've been kind of down on Android Twitter clients of late. Sure, the "official" Twitter app has gotten a lot better, but other favorites seem to be dying off. Tweetdeck was purchased by Twitter, so it's no great surprise to see it languish as a standalone app. Our old favorite Seesmic hasn't been updated in months (though they do say an update is on the way), and there's still a dearth of really good tablet-designed Twitter apps.

That's why we're pretty excited to see webOS-favorite Carbon getting into the Android game. As we first told you last year, developer dots & lines is bringing the popular Carbon app to Android (and Windows Phone). And last night, UX director Saleh Esmaeili gave us a sneak peek at how things are going. Of course, still (black-and-white) images only show you so much, the clean lines are very much piquing our interest here. 

Stay tuned for updates, folks.

Source: @dot1ne; more: @CarbonAndroid

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2 years ago

Call of Duty: ELITE arrives on the Android Market from Activision

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Activision has unleashed a new companion app for you all you Call of Duty fans out there. The new mobile app -- Call of Duty: Elite ties into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and pulls information from all your recent matches and more:

  • Check your Career Summary for deep details on your multiplayer activity. Analyze your progress over time to see which areas you need to improve in and which areas you excel in.
  • Review Recent Matches to track your performance on a match-by-match basis.
  • View and edit your Custom Classes on the go. Push your changes into the game so you’re ready to play the moment you load up multiplayer.
  • Track your Challenge progress to help you work toward the highest XP gains.

If you're looking to get more interactive with your Call of Duty gaming then this is the app for you. It's available for devices Android 2.2 and up, though it doesn't appear to fully support tablets so keep that in mind. A few shots of the app can be found past the break, as well as the download.

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2 years ago

Google Maps updates to version 6.1.1, fixes 'bugs on tablets and phones'

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If you're a Google Maps user, you'll find a new app update waiting for you in the Android Market this morning. The new version 6.1.1 fixes "bugs on tablets and phones" according to the latest change log. We're not aware of any serious problems with earlier versions of Maps, but if you've been experiencing any issues in the past, hopefully this latest revision will have you fixed up.

You should see an automatic update notification if you've already got Maps installed. Otherwise, head past the break for the Market link and QR code.

Update: According to feedback down in the comments, this update fixes a bug involving starting the Navigation app directly on certain Honeycomb devices, as well as an issue with phone numbers on the search result page.

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2 years ago

Angry Birds Seasons: Year of the Dragon now available

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Following on from last week's announcement, Rovio has released the latest instalment of Angry Birds Seasons. In celebration of the year of the dragon, this latest batch of levels have a Chinese New Year theme, and the mighty eagle has even transformed into the mighty dragon for the occasion. Rovio's also made the mighty dragon free to use throughout this latest chapter, meaning you'll be able to unleash the wrath of the dragon to destroy levels without paying a penny.

If you don't already have Angry Birds Seasons installed, you'll find Android Market links after the jump.

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2 years ago

Amazon Mobile updated to v1.4, includes compatibility fixes for Ice Cream Sandwich

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We've been seeing a lot of apps get updated for Ice Cream Sandwich and now we can add Amazon Mobile to that list. v1.4 is available in the Android Market for all you Amazon shoppers and you'll find not only fixes for Ice Cream Sandwich but also the Galaxy Nexus in general:

  • Now compatible with Android 4.0
  • We hate bugs as much as you do, so we fixed a few (including "New & Used crash issue on the Galaxy Nexus)

Bug fixes are nice and OS compatibility is great. Now you can shop Amazon on the go with less crashiness hopefully. Android Market link is past the break for you all.

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