So perhaps I’m a little behind, but when I was in Australia a couple of weeks ago at the GTASYD someone mentioned something called Google Cloud Print.
On my home network, I have been having a problem getting my Win7 laptop to print over my wireless network. Not having read the FAQs for Google Cloud Print, I thought it might be an easy solution. The bad news is that after reading a post about it on the Google Mobile Blog, I learned that this application only works on mobile devices, so it will not work from my Win7 laptop.
Who needs the Win7 laptop at this point anyway? Really!
If you have a mobile device such as the ones listed above, or an iPhone, consider adding Google Cloud Print to your list of tools. All you will need to do is alter some settings, in Chrome, on the computer that is attached to your printer. Follow the directions here and you’ll be able to print form the Cloud.
So, where is a good place to go if you need answers to some of your Droid questions? My favorite forum is at http://androidforums.com. Here seems to be where I can get the answers to my questions about the operating system. But Mashable has been a great source for learning about the different apps that are available in the Marketplace. Check out some of these resource lists that they have compiled:
I like the ease in which you can contact via the phone your local district reps, keep up-to-date on what laws are bring introduced to Congress and search by “just introduced” as well as by the legislature name, state or zip code. The app developers list:
Read the latest bills, laws, and see what bills were recently voted on.
Find members of Congress by using your phone’s location, a zipcode, a last name, or a state.
Read tweets and watch videos from members’ Twitter and YouTube accounts.
Reply to a member of Congress on Twitter from within the app, using your own account.
There have been two things that I have wanted my Droid to be able to do in the last month or so that it hasn’t been able to. It’s not really my Droid though. See the cases in point:
ISTE released an app for the iPhone. As I went to the conference this year, I would have liked an app for my Android phone as well. I made due with the mobile app, but I am hoping that next year they play “equal time” as my grandfather used to call it.
I want to be able to tether my Droid to my iPad as I do to my laptop and my netbook for Internet access where there is no wifi. It’s physically impossible as there is no connection that will run from a Droid to an iPad. But I did see while I was at ISTE a link to this resource go by in the Twitter stream. I re-Tweeted How to: WiFi Tether a Motorola Droid to an iPad and was asked by Chris Craft whether I was willing to root my phone. I’ve read up on Rooting quite a bit and have not yet taken the plunge. When and if I do decide to root my Droid, I will then be able to use it as wifi for my iPad.
I looked back at the previous six posts I have written about what my Droid does for me and I have some updates to make on a few of the apps.
In addition to the standard Twitter functions, TweetCaster features:
Multiple Twitter account support
Integrated Twitter lists
Offline tweet caching
URL shortening (and previews)
Threaded direct messages
WordPress for Android made some major updates to their app earlier this month.
With the recent version 1.3 you can now:
see your page views
see your post views
see your referrers
check out your search terms
and view your number of clicks
I have also been happy that I can now moderate multiple comments at once using their new “bulk edit” feature
and should I choose to post from my phone, I can really format my text using their visual editor.
There are a few new things that I wanted to mention.
So over time, the concept behind Open Spot is pretty cool. To save time, gas, and to reduce pollution, Google released this app to help users find open parking spaces easily.
It will only find the open spaces of Open Spot users, so until lots of people are using it, the app is not going to be effective, but to make it work, all you so it place a pin on a map within the Android app to share the space you are abandoning. The pins are left color coded as empty to fellow users for 20 minutes until they expire.
I installed Barnes and Noble’s new Nook app for the Droid today. I received an e-mail from B&N yesterday and was easily able to browse for it in the Android Market and download and install the free app. Once launched, I logged in using the B&N credentials I signed up with for my free iPad books (but that expired a while ago) and there they were on my Droid. Awesome.
I’m waiting for Android 2.2
I’m talking about Froyo – the next update to the Android operating system. If you have one of the newer Droids, you already have it. I have one of the older ones (I bought it waaaaaay back in November 2009) so I have to wait until Verizon pushes the update down to me. I’ll be writing about that and my top 10 apps as well as my experience using my Droid in the UK in my next post.
One of the fantastic features of the Android phones is the ability to scan QR Codes. So, what’s a QR Code, you ask? My way of explaining it is that a QR Code is a symbol that stores a URL. When your camera phone scans it using a barcode scanner (link), it automatically launches its browser and goes to that web page. This is really convenient when shopping, viewing a website (this is the QR Code for this post is to the left), or even Geocaching.
Then there’s the recent release of Google Earth for the Android phone. It works really well on my Droid. I will say, though, that I would only use it in an areawith 3G. Of course I wanted to see my house, so I went to the menu and selected my location and went to my house – and then pinched my fingers to zoom in. I then went back to the menu and clicked on the Search menu and used the voice feature to search for Disney Land. Once there I tapped the “Look Around” button and changed my view so that I could get a good look around. I also went back to the main menu and explored the different layers to see what types of information were available.
Oh, and here’s the QR Code for Google Earth in the Android Apps Market:
Lastly, I’ve been using Seesmic on my Droid. I had been noticing that many were Tweeting from it, so I thought I would give it a try. The mobile version of Seesmic seems to be a full featured application. It has:
Easy access to Twitter Lists that I’ve created and that follow me
A tutorial built right into the application
You can manage your profile from within the app
Varied selection of external services (photos, URL shorteners, video hosts)
Options for notifications
Here’s the QR Code for Seesmic in the Android Apps Market:
Also, If you haven’t already, take a look at the Google for Android web page. Your Android powered phone most likely came with these applications already installed, but here you can find videos, more information or even the link to download the mobile app should you want it. Some of the applications listed here are:
Many of us have been waiting for Skype to come to the Android phone. Actually, I have blogged about using Skype Lite on my Droid to use the chat feature of Skype, but this is the full application – WITH ONE THING MISSING. Verizon has set the limitation that you can only use Skypemobile on the 3G network. So if you thought you were going to save on data charges by using your wifi to make Skype-to-Skype calls, it’s not going to happen.
Here are the Terms of Service that come up when you go to install it on your phone:
“Skype mobile is available within the National and Extended National Enhanced Services Coverage Areas, but not when using WiFi. Skype mobile features may vary from Skype on your PC. Domestic calls made from Skype mobile are carried by Verizon Wireless, not Skype, and are billed according to your Verizon Wireless plan. Skype calls to international numbers are billed by Skype at Skype international rates. Calls to 911 will be completed by Verizon Wireless. Skype mobile is not available when using per-line or per-call caller ID blocking. In the event of a conflict between these Verizon Wireless Skype mobile Terms and the Skype EULA, Skype TOS, or any other applicable terms, the provisions of the Verizon Wireless Skype mobile Terms shall apply.”
Yet, this is pretty cool as I communicate with many educators via Skype that I don’t have cell phone number for, and now I can talk to them without being tethered to a laptop/desktop.
I know from some Tweets I’ve seen that many Android users have been waiting for a version of Tweetdeck for the Android to be released. In the meantime, we have HootSuite. As listed on their site, here are some of the benefits of HootSuite that I would utilize when away from my laptop. (Actually, I frequently recommend Hootsuite to educators that use Twitter in school but don’t have the administrative rights to install Tweetdeck to their computers.)
Managing multiple identities and accounts
Creating custom views for tags and searches
Adding followers to lists and accounts
Sharing photos and shortening URLs
There’s a paid version for $2.99 and then the HootSuite for Android Lite for free.
ChaCha – this neat little app allows you to query by voice and returns the answers by text right on your screen. Some of us have used ChaCha in the past by calling their 1-800 number or using a text message to send our question in, but this bypasses that process and the bonus is you can query by voice. I tried a few with success. If you go to the ChaCha Droid for Android page, their is a QR Code you can scan and install the app on your phone.
If you were a user of wpToGo to edit your WordPress blog from your Android phone, you may want upgrade to the new and improved WordPress for Android app. I don’t typically post from my Droid, but I will approve and reply to comments right from the WordPress for Android application. wpToGo is going to be discontinued, so upgrade soon. Here’s their video:
Google Buzz for the Android used to be just a web shortcut. Now there’s a widget that can be added to your Android desktop one of two ways. The first way is you can find it in the Android Market. The second way is you can scan the QR Code. I scanned the code using my Barcode Scanner and then it brought me to the Google Buzz Widget.
I read the four points listed on the installation screen
Quickly post buzz publicly or privately
Add photos to your post from the camera or gallery
Share your location or place
Quickly access buzz.google.com
and realized that this widget was for posting to Buzz and not for staying connected to your Buzz contacts. So I went back to the site to read some of the comments. There was some concern about this as well as it not working on all Android phones and a desire for the QR Code (which had been added). Still, if you are using Buzz, this is a handy widget to have.
It all started a couple of weeks ago at the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Hank Thiele and Cory Pavicich did a fifteen minute segment on how to effectively use your Gmail. I have to admit, that even though I’m a major Google Apps user, I was still pretty much relying on Microsoft Outlook to keep myself organized. I must have been crazy.
When Hank and Cory started speaking I had over 14,000 e-mails in my inbox. I am happy to report that as of today, just about 14 days later, I am at inbox zero. Here’s what I did:
I was not archiving my e-mails at all. When you archive an e-mail it moves out of your inbox, yet it will still come up in your search results. All you have to do is click the Archive button when you are in an e-mail or select a group of e-mails and click More Actions – Archive.
Once I started searching through my e-mails, I realized how much junk was in there. I deleted all the Mailer-Daemons and the solicited coupons /ads / catalogs that had expired.
I created three Labels (or folders) for my mail. The easy ones to quickly lower the number in my inbox were Labels for Twitter, Facebook and my administrator. I started with Twitter and did a search for anything from Twitter and then created a label named “Twitter” and moved it all there. I then did the same thing for Facebook and for my boss.
So, I am proud to say that about 30 minutes after Hank and Cory were done with their presentation, I had reduced my inbox from over 14,000 to about 8,000 just with the first 3 steps.
Over the next week or so I took the following actions to further reduce and organize my inbox:
I created filters for mail coming in and applied them to existing messages. I took a look at the mail each day to see what I was receiving and created Labels and then filters based on what was appearing in my inbox. This took a few days as different e-mails come on different days of the week and it’s easier to organize your inbox a little at a time.
5. Mark as read
I went into each of the Labels that I had created and selected all the mail in the Label. I then “marked as read” and Archived all the messages in each of the Labels to ensure that none would remain linked to my inbox.
Since I accumulated numerous Labels, I began color coding them based on my personal system. But the colors are definitely helpful and if you use the filters, much of your mail will appear in your inbox with the colored Label attached to it. This helps me make a decision quickly as to whether or not it needs my immediate attention.
7. Delete some more
It did get to a point that I was not sure which Label to move some e-mails into and I did not want to make a “Miscellaneous” Label, so I needed to either select where to put things or make a decision as to if it was okay for me to permanently delete them. It was tough at first, but did I really need registration confirmations from January 2008?
8. Starred messages
Since I was used to using the feature in MS Outlook that allowed me to flag e-mails for follow-up, I needed to find a replacement in Gmail. The Starred messages feature in Gmail would accomplish exactly what I needed with a couple of additional features. I took a look at what I had marked in Outlook that still needed attention and Starred it in Gmail. I then click on the “Starred” button and was able to view all of my Starred messages regardless of their Label.
9. Check out a few more things
Subscribe to the Office Gmail Blog to keep on top of new features as they are released as there is an entire Gmail Labs section that is worth taking a look at. While logged in, click on Settings and then on the Labs tab. Here you will see all the Gadgets that have been developed for Gmail. By default, they are set to “disable”, but you can choose those that you would like to enable and then click “save changes”. One that I chose to enable was the “Green Robot“. It changed the icons in the Google Chat window to indicate whether someone was chatting from an Android phone (which I frequently do).
10. Be Decisive
Hank gave a very wise piece of advice. He suggested that when you get a new piece of e-mail, make a decision about what to do with it. Give it a Label. Read it. Delete it. Archive it. But, don’t just leave it there. It took me 14 days to whittle down from 14,000 e-mails to zero. I feel like I’m going to be more responsive to people now as they are not going to get lost in the shuffle. Well, I hope so anyway.
Do you have any Gmail tips to share? I would love to hear them. Please share them here.
I have been traveling quite a bit lately and relying on my Droid to keep me organised, connected and occupied. I also have had the opportunity to tap into many educators in my PLN face-to-face to find out what apps they are using on their Android phones.
I must admit that the only feature I had been missing since switching from Blackberry to the Droid was the ability to tether. A while back I had purchased Tetherberry so that I could pull data from my Blackberry and get access to the Internet on my laptop even when I was not in a wireless environment. When I first purchased my Droid back in November, this was not yet an option, but since browsing the web on it was so easy, I decided it was not a deal breaker.
When I was out in San Antonio a week ago, Cory Pavicich and I spent some time tinkering with our Droids. We were a little frustrated with the wireless at one point during the event we were attending and I noticed that he had Tweeted that he had tethered his phone. I asked what app he was using and he gave me the link to PdaNet. I installed the free version and was tethered to my Droid in just a couple of minutes. Verbiage on their site indicates that you must pay for the full version of PdaNet if you want to browse secure web sites, but I have been able to access both http and https sites with the free version so far. (Note that since I installed this free tethering software I did receive an invitation to download the Android Beta Test from Tether, formerly Tetherberry.)
I learned about Gesture Search from Dana Nguyen, a Googler (someone that works for Google) I have the honor of working with Dana when I present at the Google Teacher Academies. She also has to same Android phone as I do, so I know that I can also count on her for some great tips. You can download Gesture Search in the Android Market or from the Google Labs page. It lets you search your Android-powered device by drawing alphabet gestures on the touch screen. It allows you to quickly find a contact, a bookmark, an application, or a music track from hundreds or thousands of items, all in one place. You must have Android 2.0 or above for this application to work.
Dana also started my quest for the perfect flashlight app. Everyone that owns an Android phone or an iPhone has some variation of a flashlight app. But Dana introduced me to an app that utilized the built-in camera’s flash to shed light rather than the phone’s screen. My application of choice is the free one called MotoTorch LED
This application will allow you to use the LEDs as a strobe light and as a MORSE CODE sender should you need to. The app is free, but there’s a paid version available in the Android Market as well that is identical, should you want to donate money to the developer.
Another Android user at the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators was Miguel Guhlin. The first app that Miguel introduced me to that I hadn’t heard of was Handcent. At first I didn’t see the value of using a different SMS app. But then, after a few days of using it, I don’t think I could go back to the texting app that came installed on my Droid. Here are just a few of the features that Handcent offers:
Group send SMS
Different themes and different conversation bubble styles
Additional font packs you can download in the Android Market
Miguel also told me about Bloo. I was asking about an alternative Facebook app and this was what he suggested trying. So when Corey and I had some down time at ASCD the next day, we both installed and gave it a try. I did have some trouble as every time I went to went to read a Feed it would ask to “Enable Permission”, but this is addressed on their blog at http://fbandroid.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/i-am-alive-and-so-is-1-4-4/. I still would like to see Facebook messages handled better, but I’m sure we’ll see that soon.
I certainly don’t want to leave this one out. The next day I went to the circus with my family and I was sharing some of the apps I had learned about with a family friend and he showed me Key Ring by Froogloid. My wallet is much lighter now that I’ve digitized all my discount/reward cards. All I have to do is display the barcode on my Droid and I receive my discount. Check out this video from http://www.wirefly.net/. You just scan your cards and select the store they are from, and you are set to go.