Blog post

Google Maps 5.8 update now available from the Android Market

Google have released version 5.8 of the Maps application for Android phones. The update is now available on the Android Market.

Google Maps 5.8 info screenThe update contains a few improvements for Places and Latitude:

  • You can now upload photos for a Place.
  • A new My Places page for managing your Places.
  • Places now have more descriptive terms.
  • Add a new place when checking in.

Overall this isn’t really a massive improvement, unless you use Latitude for checking in to places.

Blog post

Prevent home screen replacement launchers from constant redraws

I’ve been using LauncherPro for a long time now, but recently I’ve started getting redraw problems – mostly it happens when I’ve been using a large app (usually a game such as Cut The Rope) and after pressing Home to get back to the home screen, I am greeted with a blank screen and a wait of a few seconds before the icons are displayed again. I had initially thought that this might be down to LauncherPro, which has been awaiting a rewrite for a long time, so I changed to using GO Launcher EX, which is updated more frequently and so far seems to be very similar to LauncherPro but with a few extra features. However, the redraw problem remained.

Both LauncherPro and GO Launcher EX have an option to remain in memory which should stop this from happening, but despite activating it for both I still had the same problem. Thankfully, there is another way of trying to do this, and so far it seems to be working. It requires that your phone is rooted though, and that you have terminal access (I use Android Terminal Emulator). Simply enter the following two commands:

[code]$ su
# echo ro.HOME_APP_ADJ=1 >> /data/local.prop[/code]

Now, reboot your phone and this new setting should be active, and your launcher should now remain in memory, fixing any redraw problems!

Blog post

Embiggen – a perfectly cromulent Android app

Embiggen is an Android app developed by Pointless Software. The app allows you enter some text which is then displayed in big letters on your screen. Here are some examples:

Examples of Embiggen in actionOf course this is a very whimsical app, but could be useful, as seen in one of the reviews on the Android Market:Embiggen reviewAnother possible use is to inform drivers of how badly they are doing by flashing them a message through the window (although only if you’re a passenger, not the driver!)

Blog post

Google Maps 5.7 for Android now available

An updated version of Google Maps has been made available on the Android Market. Version 5.7 offers the following new features:

  • Transit navigation (beta) – find your way around 400+ cities worldwide using trains. In the UK this includes London overground, East Anglia, East Midlands, Scotland and the South East.
  • Updated directions so fewer button presses are required to access Navigation.
  • Improved search suggest – a much needed improvement in my opinion.
  • Photo viewer for Place pages.
  • There is also a new Labs feature allowing you to download maps for offline use – you can select a place and then download maps for a ten mile square around that place.

Google Maps v5.7 splash pageStill no sign of a current speed in Navigation, that would be the most useful update they could provide in my opinion.