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Topic: Less obvious Android uses (Read 2690 times)

  • Frenzie
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Less obvious Android uses
The other day I was musing about proper portable keyboards.
On a separate note, I came across this interesting portable keyboard. It'd work with my Android phone's USB OTG functionality, making it potentially useful in certain use cases. It'd be more pleasant to use than my netbook's keyboard, but on the other hand the netbook is definitely a lot more capable than my phone...


In my eyes the obvious answer is not a regular Android editing app, but rather something console-based. I decided to investigate just what exactly my phone does and does not support.

The good, my terminal emulator comes with:

  • Vim (and nano)
  • SSH
  • rsync


That's all you need for writing and syncing basic notes. But the dream, of course, is git. It seems the simple solution evades me because even though I have 120MB free on my phone's memory (and more on SD), it runs out of space while installing. So much for that plan. If I wanted to go in this direction, I guess I'd need a less elegant GUI option. Or perhaps a Debian chroot...

Do you have any ideas or dreams about unintended ways to use your phone?

  • Barulheira
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #25
I meant projectors.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #26
I knew it's impossible to survive with just a sock.
It would be if screens were still in a slight incline like they used to be. In any case, it's a better safe than sorry in the unlikely event that I drop it while it's not in the sock. I somehow managed not to break it in the first month or two before I acquired the case. :P

The touchscreen and processing power are great for viewing videos and clicking around the web (better than netbook), but atrocious for text input (this is where netbook is better).
That's exactly what I said, so I really haven't got a clue what you've been disagreeing with.

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #27
The touchscreen and processing power are great for viewing videos and clicking around the web (better than netbook), but atrocious for text input (this is where netbook is better).
That's exactly what I said, so I really haven't got a clue what you've been disagreeing with.
The point of our disagreement was elsewhere, in a little nuance of something I said at first. I say MHL is awesome, just like an external screen via HDMI for netbooks/laptops. You say not so, because smartphones don't have an opsys with windowing. This is not even a disagreement really...

I meant projectors.
Good idea, but those are not lying around in homes just so too often.

  • Barulheira
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #28

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #29
homes
I meant at work.
Yes, I sometimes do presentations at work with one of those things. No photo slideshows though, I'm not so friendly with colleagues. And not from a smartphone. My use case, the reason why I brought up the topic was related to equipment that people have at hand in their homes.

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #30
As to multitasking on Android, things get close to it when you use Tinyapps or Smallapps (I had Smallapps preinstalled). Or, things would get close to it if the functionality of Tinyapps were properly expanded this way:

- Instead of a separate set of apps in Tinyapps (apps specifically designed to work inside the Tinyapps frame). design the Tinyapps frame so that it can include anything and everything from the apps installed in the system
- Designed as described, make Tinyapps an additional optional home screen
- Android interface specs should already be providing an API (if I am using the right word) that would permit any app have a floating mode that can continue working when the user switches to the next app. For example, in Android Youtube and Xperia Video apps you can float the video and browse the rest of the app interface while the video is floating like a tiny button. Unfortunately, as soon as you switch away from the app, the floating video vanishes. It should be possible to browse everything in the device while the floating video stays on. It works this way in tiling window managers such as i3wm and I'd say that Android interface as a tiling window manager would make a whole lot of sense.

Edit: Miniapps, not Smallapps. For some purposes in some places they identify as Smallapps. Fuzzy thing with app names on Android...
  • Last Edit: 2016-04-30, 08:05:14 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #31
I meant at work.
Is that something you'd really do except in emergencies? It'd really limit your ability to load links or videos from the Internet, for example, and a wired connection is much more dependable than wireless. On top of which, wireless is better on laptops too thanks to larger antennas. If anything the natural smartphone use would seem to be as a remote.

I think ersi's use sounds more plausible. You're visiting some friends or family, or you're on vacation with them, and all you've got is your "smart"phone to show some photos or videos. Plus it's something I've seen in practice with a P&S camera back in '03.

  • Barulheira
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #32
emergencies
It's quite trivial here. I could have in my smartphone[1] some stuff to present in a meeting at work, in a fairly large room, no big screens available, and a projector ready to use. No need to connect to another computer to present that stuff; no pendrives etc. A simple USB or HDMI cable should suffice, or better, a Bluetooth connection. But I haven't seen such uses actually, so far.
Actually, I don't own one.

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #33
emergencies
It's quite trivial here. [...] But I haven't seen such uses actually, so far.
If you haven't seen such uses, then it's not trivial. I just made an experiment and I can confirm that it's not trivial at all.

I have an advanced smartphone, Xperia M5 by Sony. It has top-notch cameras on board (hardware-wise), so it makes good sense to make use of those cameras.  I also have some cables to go along with the smartphone, to connect the thing to other things. It obviously has wifi and Bluetooth that should connect even more stuff. The problem with wireless connections is that the other stuff, such as TV or printer or projector, should have the same wireless capability and it should stay on the waiting. This is not a realistic scenario.

My experiment confirmed that, alas, even the wired connections do not work as easily as one would expect in 2016. I powered up my monitor which has a USB connector and I connected it to the phone via USB. Just connecting the things, nothing happens. Trying to make the phone re-recognise the USB device (there's a specific function like that on the phone, to re-wire the USB connection, which is nice), also nothing. Then there are functions like "Throw" and "Miracast" on the phone, which should somehow connect external screens, but pressing those functions makes it blatantly obvious that they only fire up wifi and Bluetooth. They do not consider the possibility that I could be connecting via USB.

Then I connected the smartphone to a TV by means of the charger cable. The same cable is used to connect the smartphone to PC and it automagically does stuff, such as browse the files on the phone or work as a modem. Alas, when connected to TV, nothing happens. The TV does not recognise the phone as anything, as a storage device or as an external source or whatever. Neither does the smartphone recognise the TV, except as a power source to charge the battery.

This is frustrating because PC's recognise TV's as external monitors and smartphones are really handheld PC's. Because this is 2016. Moreover, digital cameras recognise TV's as external screens since forever and smartphones are digital cameras, among other functions. Moreover, Sony makes digital cameras and their smartphones should not be stupider than their digital cameras are. All things considered, the situation is beyond stupid.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #34
All things considered, the situation is beyond stupid.
Android and iOS in a nutshell. Fortunately I don't really care as long as they're no worse than the feature phone I had 10 years ago. As a matter of fact they're minutely better, or at least Android is. For iOS I'm not so sure. It can't even send or receive files over Bluetooth like basically every phone I've had in the past 10+ years.

  • Barulheira
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #35
I mean: what's trivial is the need to connect a device to a projector.
But I give up. I'm not succeeding on making myself understood. I hoped it wouldn't be that complicated.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #36
I think I'm saying the need is so trivial no one even sees it. :P

Btw, what about one of these? It comes with all the connectors missing from Android.

https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/pages/pyra/ (via)


Quote

You will not find as many ports on other mobile systems

These days, mobile devices only offer one, maybe two ports. The Pyra is different.
It features one USB 3.0 OTG port, two full-sized USB 2.0 ports (one has additional SATA output, available via an adapter), one Micro-USB Serial Output-Port (which can also be used to charge the system), a headset port (that supports ALL TRRS standards) and a MicroHDMI port.

You can easily connect a mouse, keyboard and monitor without any additional hardware and use it as a desktop PC!

[...]

For even more features, you can get the 4G version. Besides mobile internet (and turning the Pyra into some sort of telephone), it adds GPS, a 6-axis digital compass, a pressure, humidity and gas sensor.
 

I think it sounds really cool, but if I'm honest with myself I'd rather just buy a new laptop of some sort.

  • Sparta
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #37
I have mouse + keyboard. 

It works well on my 8core android. 

The only thing cant works  is my wireless joystick.

Since it demanding drivers.

Perhaps if there is joystick drivers for android i guess the joystick will work.,

Or maybe connect it via Bluetooth. 

However,   i cant figure how to  make an android detect the joystick bluetooth.

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #38
The only thing cant works  is my wireless joystick.

Since it demanding drivers.
On Android, there's an app for everything. An app can totally re-design homescreens for you, it can upgrade your camera and connectors, it can provide drivers, etc.

Btw, what about one of these? It comes with all the connectors missing from Android.
Does it make phonecalls?

  • Macallan
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #39
Btw, what about one of these? It comes with all the connectors missing from Android.
This thing looks suspiciously like something called Pandora years ago, and which was intended as some sort of gaming device. Specs were something like OMAP 3530 SoC ( 700MHz Cortex-A8 + DSP ), 256MB or 512MB RAM etc. Interesting, but ( for me at least ) too expensive.

I'm actually using my cubietruck as kinda-sorta desktop. Serves me better than a Raspberry Pi 2 even though the latter has twice the number of CPUs. Problem with the Pi is:
- only 1GB of RAM. In order to compile anything C++-heavy you'll need about 1GB RAM per compiler instance, so for this use the Pi would either swap itself to death or effectively use only one core, while the cubie ( with 2GB of RAM ) can keep its two cores busy with useful stuff
- onboard ethernet is USB, as are all other storage options except that one SD slot. Cubie got real gigabit ethernet and SATA.
- no real time clock, although that can be fixed for $5

What I'd like to see is an affordable ARM or MIPS board with a bunch of 64bit cores, sufficient RAM ( as in, at least 1GB per core ), and real ethernet and SATA. PCIe would be nice too but that would probably make things too expensive. Unfortunately most SoCs are made for tablets, phones and TV boxes.

  • Macallan
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #40
emergencies
It's quite trivial here. I could have in my smartphone[1] some stuff to present in a meeting at work, in a fairly large room, no big screens available, and a projector ready to use. No need to connect to another computer to present that stuff; no pendrives etc. A simple USB or HDMI cable should suffice, or better, a Bluetooth connection. But I haven't seen such uses actually, so far.
Bluetooth is too slow to transfer graphics.
Some phones do have something called MHL - basically a stealth HDMI output hidden in a micro-USB connector. Needs a dongle with its own power supply to provide a full-sized HDMI connector.
Also, there are USB graphics devices ( basically a graphics processor with its own memory which receives commands via USB ), but wether android would support any of those is an entirely different question.
Actually, I don't own one.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #41
This thing looks suspiciously like something called Pandora years ago, and which was intended as some sort of gaming device. Specs were something like OMAP 3530 SoC ( 700MHz Cortex-A8 + DSP ), 256MB or 512MB RAM etc. Interesting, but ( for me at least ) too expensive.
Oh yeah, I remember seeing a review of it here.

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #42
Incidentally, your Pyra link also mentions Pandora. The producers of Pyra are also the producers of Pandora.

  • Sparta
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #43
Rather than rasberry,  i would prefer to buy android box tv with mediatek octacore,  2 gb of ram.

Its arround $100. 

If it not comes with the  gyroscope airmouse.

You can buy it for $15-$25.

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #44
But my previous socked smartphone looks just like the day it was new.
You wouldn't trust your e-reader to just a sock, would you?

Today I fell from bicycle pretty harshly. Luckily, all fragile things survived. Sunglasses survived because I had left them home. The mobile phone was in a chest pocket, protected by a wallet from the outside. The e-reader was in backpack in a cover (plastic imitating a book's hardcover). My head didn't touch anything, as I landed in a clean karate fall on asphalt. (Of course it was a matter of luck, a matter of how the bicycle fell, not me choosing how to land.) The bicycle appears basically unharmed too. But due to incidents like this, riding on a bicycle, lifting it and falling from it, there's no way I would put my mobile phone in just a sock.

  • ersi
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My current Android favourites
Reply #45
DOCUMENT APPS

EBookDroid - This is the one I cannot praise enough. First, it's preferable over Adobe Reader because it can handle also djvu and epub files in addition to pdf. Adobe Reader does pdf only. EBookDroid provides many per-book settings in addition to book-display settings that should apply to every newly opened file. It can align two-column text as a single-column continuous scroll on the screen. It can set any of the hardware buttons to do any function. Touch screen zones are configurable finer than in Cool Reader. And it can annotate. And more. And no ads. This is the ultimate document viewer on Android.

Xodo - pdf annotation. Came preinstalled on Galaxy Note 4.

WPS Office - preinstalled on Galaxy Note 4. Shows ebooks and xls's, edits doc(x)s. I have not noticed it miss any normal office functions, so I haven't attempted installing other office software, but my needs are small currently, so I may seriously be overlooking things in this area.

QuickEdit - responds well to an attached hardware keyboard. It allows to hide the software keyboard when typing (Skype for example plays annoyingly dumb on this point). Bad: Displays ads upon saving the document.

ColorNote - upon creating a note it asks whether to start a list or a text, and then orders the items in various ways, including date of creation. Precisely what I need for shopping lists, to-do lists, and other note-taking. (I keep hearing much praise for Evernote which is preinstalled on Galaxy Note 4, but Evernote requires to create an account first, so I never used it.)


BROWSERS

Dolphin - Really dark night mode, gestures for individual bookmarks and scrolling with volume/zoom buttons.

Lightning Browser - optionally inverts colours and enforces grayscale. On the downside, the Reader function is unconfigurable crap and can suppress wrong elements, such as the main article text on Blogspot and on some newspaper sites. Also, I consider it a missing feature when it's impossible to set the volume/zoom button to scroll the webpages. 

Opera Mini - no volume/zoom button scrolling and no invert/grayscale, but still probably the best and fastest browser in the mobile world. Most intuitive interface out of the box, remarkable data traffic compression and (unconfigurable) ad-blocking.

Naked Browser - has progressed greatly between a few months ago and now, so that Text Browser has become superfluous. Naked Browser is interesting because it's different and independent. A good light configurable startup page (home screen), allows setting the volume/zoom button either to scroll or zoom the pages or flip the tabs. It would be perfect if it could configure/invert/suppress website colours too, but even as it is now, it's already the old (desktop) Opera equivalent for Android.

Convert to PDF - do I want to save as pdf in order to get additional font&colour settings available in pdf viewers and to transfer the text conveniently to the e-reader? Yes, I do.


SOFTWARE KEYBOARD

Hacker's Keyboard - no comment.


SYSTEM

X-plore - dual-pane file browser.

CPU X - many system stats (not just the CPU), but I mainly use it to have a temp indicator on the status bar.

CPU Stats - a multi-core CPU graph indicator on the status bar.


CAMERA

Open Camera - a better camera app than probably anything preinstalled on any Android device.


GAMES

Shashki - Russian checkers with puzzles and openings.
  • Last Edit: 2016-08-14, 11:14:43 by ersi

  • ersi
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Re: Less obvious Android uses
Reply #46
Termux instantly puts Linux on your Android https://termux.com/

There was a former terminal emulator on Android that I was using, I found only one command that worked on it: exit. Whereas Termux has all the potential. Open it, type

Code: [Select]
packages install coreutils

and it will feel like home.