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Android

Tethered shooting Android apps for Canon and Nikon DSLRs

I discovered Helicon Remote a few days ago. It allows you to hook your Android phone to a Canon or Nikon DSLR via the camera’s USB port and control many aspects of photo taking. It even has live preview on the phone screen which is a nice bonus.

The app itself is free to download but is limited in that it won’t allow you to shoot RAW images. It also doesn’t restore the camera settings when you shut it down so you may need to fix those after using it. If you register it by handing over $38 (discounted price, it’s normally $48!) you’ll be able to make RAW photos.

There is also the free remote release app by Chainfire and his (much) more advanced DSLR Controller costing only €7.13 that looks to be similar to the Helicon app but more reasonably priced.

I tried the Helicon app with my SGSII, an OTG USB cable and my Canon 40D. Images are stored on your phone just in case you’re wondering where they’ve disappeared to after disconnecting everything!

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Android

Android: auto connect to Bluetooth speakers

I have two bluetooth speakers at home. One is a Jawbone Jambox and also a Creative D100. The Jambox speaker looks for a bluetooth device when I switch it on that makes connecting a synch but the D100 does not. That necessitates clicking the Bluetooth Android notification and tapping the D100 device to connect. A small inconvenience I grant you but one nonetheless.

This is where Bluetooth Auto Connect comes in. As the name suggests, this app automatically connects to other bluetooth devices. After installing it I selected the Creative D100 so that device will auto connect. When both speakers are switched on it connects to the Jambox which is fine by me. The D100 now connects whenever I switch bluetooth on!

Finally, I wanted to enable bluetooth if I fired up Podkicker to listen to some podcasts but only if I was at home. Llama Profiles to the rescue! I created a new event that checks if Podkicker is running, if wifi is connected to my home network and the phone is charging. If all conditions are true then it enables bluetooth. Bluetooth then connects to whichever speaker is active and I get nice pleasant wireless sound.

It might be a pain if I’m downstairs and my speakers were on in my office upstairs but that’ll teach me not to waste electricity while I’m afk won’t it? If I ever get an NFC tag I could do something with that and my Nexus 7 to do something similar but more localised!

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Android

Android gaming with an Xbox 360 Controller

This afternoon I took delivery of an OTG USB cable for my mobile devices. I’ve previously blogged about using a PS3 controller with an Android phone but I was curious how well my wired Xbox 360 controller would work.

Plugging the OTG cable into my Nexus 7 and then into the Xbox controller was of course simple, and I had mixed results with the couple of games I tried. If you’re willing to root your Nexus 7 you can install another app that makes it easier to get things working but even with a stock Nexus 7 it worked.

First off I tried Frodo and Vice, the C64 emulators. I thought they might have support for this. Unfortunately not. Luckily Mupen64 Plus, the N64 emulator, does support an external controller! I had to redefine a few buttons, and the left analog stick but I was soon leading the races in Mario Kart 64!

I tried Shadowgun: Deadzone next. It was my first time playing this multiplayer over-the-shoulder third person shooter. The game picked up my controller perfectly! All I had to do was invert the Y axis as I normally do. I’d like to say I kicked ass but I didn’t. I got one kill to six deaths before I gave up. Looks like a good game, but it must be next to impossible to play on a small screen.

I wanted to try GTA III but I never got past the loading screen on my Nexus 7. Dead Trigger is next on my todo list. That should be fun.

I used the OTG cable to connect an external USB flash drive to my devices too. Unrooted the Nexus 7 ignores it unfortunately but my Galaxy S II picked it up and displayed a familiar USB storage notification. Here’s a video of someone playing GTA III on an SGS III. I really have to get that game working on my Nexus 7!

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Android

Android: auto brightness and mute your phone

I have two great (and free) Android apps for you today:

Yet Another Auto Brightness is a useful app that will reduce the brightness of your phone display. Here’s the XDA thead about it.

Easy Mute will pause or mute music and podcasts on your phone just by placing your hand over the device. It uses the proximity sensor and you can tell it to only activate if the phone is lying flat.

It works great and it remembers it’s state when the phone is moved. This confused me at first but to replicate, cover the front of the camera to pause and then lift the phone. It will still be paused when you lift your hand off the front. After putting the phone down wave your hand over the front again and it will resume (or just unlock and hit play, the old fashioned way). (via)

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Android

My Favourite Android timer app: Chef’s Kitchen Timer

Timing things is something you might not think much about but when you have to make the dinner and various dishes take different times to cook then juggling the time in your head can be a pain.

That’s where a smartphone timer app comes in handy.

For the longest time my wife and I used Kitchen Timer and it works great but it has one drawback. The screen has to be unlocked to reset the alarm. There’s nothing more annoying than a loud beeping noise and you’re waiting for the screen to unlock and hit the off button.

I’ve looked for alternatives in the past but couldn’t find any until last week when I found Chef’s Kitchen Timer. It’s an app that does much the same but also shows the timer controls on the lockscreen. The UI is radically different and I never bother changing the timer names but it works a treat.

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Android

Love the new Android 4.2 Keyboard

I’m a big fan of Swype, an Android keyboard that allows you to swype your finger across the screen to type so when I read on Android Police that Android 4.2 would have a similar feature, and you could install it on a pre-4.2 phone I jumped at the chance.

It’s very similar to Swype, picking a word is better and worse. It’s better because it doesn’t block the text window like Swype would on long messages, but it’s not as good at spacing or even guessing the right word sometimes. That latter complaint may improve with time if it learns how I type.

It works fine on my Samsung Galaxy S 2 and didn’t need root access to install. There are download links and instructions on the post above.

While on the subject of Android bits and bobs, go look for SwipePad too. It runs in the background and if you swype your finger in from a designated corner or edge of the screen a menu pops up allowing you to run a new app or widget. Hat tip to the commenters on this post.

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Android

Control your Android phone with a PS3 controller

Now, this isn’t going to work on all phones but the Sixaxis Controller Android app allows you to replicate touch, keyboard and mouse controls on your Android phone. I used it briefly with a profile from here to control Minecraft. The profile is for the SGS3 so I need to adjust it slightly for the smaller screen of my Galaxy S 2 but it worked reasonably well.

Check if your phone is compatible by using this free compatibility checker first. You pair the controller with your phone by using your PC first to set the “master MAC address”, then hope the phone pairs. It’s not for the faint hearted but it does work.

Also keep an eye on this Reddit thread.

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Android

Update Android apps from your browser

From a recent Lifehacker video I discovered that I can update the apps on my Android phone from the Google Play Store! I can even update my wife’s phone too which led to her asking me why her phone was updating stuff yesterday. Oops!

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Android

Google I/O 2012 Skydive

I watched some of the Google I/O presentation yesterday. I love the look of the Nexus 7 and if the Nexus Q was cheaper I’d love to buy that too. Unfortunately I switched off just before the most impressive part. The skydive in a Google Plus Hangout. Well, here it is, and in the second video, they do it again but this time Sergey Brin explains how it was done.

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Android

Flipboard on Android

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I’m really liking Flipboard on my Samsung galaxy s 2. I think it may become the way I digest Facebook content, and to a lesser extent Twitter too.

Accounts and adding feeds was confusing until I figured out the UI.  Importing my Google account was fairly tricky because I have 2 step auth enabled. I try logging in, see the request for the auth code, switch quickly to the authenticator app, get the code and hope I can switch back in time! I always did, but it was a race! The ICS task switcher makes it easier!

I also have way too many feeds in google reader and the anxiety of missing a good post while I skim through them makes me slow to browse this way. So my unread count remains on the thousands…

Loving the flipboard app. How’s it working for you? Better or the same as the ios version?