Thursday, February 11, 2010


Ever heard a nice piece of music and did not know what artist was behind it? Did you enjoy it so much that you went straight to the DJ or to that radio's web page to try and get an answer? If so, this is all you'll ever need and... it's totally free. I know this sounds a bit like the local shopping channel but it's absolutely true, all you need is an Android Phone and an internet connection, either wireless or 3G ( it will work even with 2G but it may take a bit longer to match the track). This is not absolutely new, Sony Ericsson had an app on their phones called TrackID that did pretty much the same thing, but of course this Android app is much more user friendly.

When you start Shazam you get 2 big buttons: “Tag Now” and “My Tags”.
As soon as you click on “Tag now” the app starts to listen to the music and record a sample. After the recording it tries to match the sample took against the online database that they have and most of the times you will get the answer that you were looking for. I have tried this app in noisy and loud clubs, in nice quiet restaurants and in even made it listen to my headphones and was amazed of the precision it delivered.
The “My Tags” functionality gives you the ability to see all your previous music searches. This is really neat because you don't have to write down somewhere the name of the artist and the track every time you tag some piece of music, just click on “My Tags” and there they are.

When viewing the details of a tag you get most of the times an album cover as well as other details so it's easy to get a visual impression of what you are searching for. You are also provided with the options to search Amazon MP3 and YouTube for that particular track or view the artist's MySpace page if it's available.

You can download the application from the Android Market or visit the developer's web page for more information on this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Barcode Scanner

Pretty self-explanatory. You can scan bar codes from most of the items you find in a supermarket. Just point the camera at the item and fit the bar code in the viewfinder rectangle drawn on the screen to scan it. After the application reads the bar code you can do a “Product search” on Google products or a simple web search. You'll be surprised to see how many thing you can find out. This is for the 1D code.

The really cool thing that this little app can do is read the 2D codes, or QR codes. These codes, created by a Japanese corporation in 1994, can store a much broader range of data then the simple 1D bar code but they are mostly used for encoding URLs. This enables you to point to a code -> take a picture -> visit the website, all this without having to manually enter the usually too long URL.

Most apps that are available on the Android Market have a picture like this on their developer's web page that enables you to just point at the code on the computer screen and the browser from you mobile automatically redirects to that Android Market location.

The other neat feature of this app is that you can share data by displaying a bar code on your mobile's screen and scan it with another mobile phone. For example you can convert a contact, a bookmark, an application or the contents of the clipboard to a 2D bar code and share it with another phone using this application.

More information about the Barcode Scanner on the developer's Web page:

Google Sky Map

A really nice application for the Android platform that allows you to identify the night sky objects with a lot of ease. It has a sort of “point and shoot” feel to it because you only need to point the phone at the desired portion of the sky and you will get an image on the screen with all the night sky objects that should be there complete with names. The great thing about it is that it works in full motion , meaning that no matter in what way you move your hand( pitch, yaw, roll), on the screen you will have a digital artificial image of what is actually behind the

You also get a pretty useful set of options like having the ability to choose what to display on the screen( horizon, stars, planets etc). Another cool thing is that you will always have the right representation of your local sky because the application will use GPS if it's available or use the network provided location. If both fail you can always set the location manually. The search functionality is also pretty handy in the sense that once you searched for an object you get an arrow on the screen that points toward that object and helps you move the device in the right direction on the sky. Sure enough you get a manual mode in which you can drag the sky map in any direction with your fingers without needing to actually point the device towards the desired area of the sky.

All you passionate astronomers out there worrying about the brightness of the screen, can relax: the application has a really handy “Toggle night mode” feature that will preserve the all precious night vision.

You can get the application free by browsing the Android Market or by scanning the image below with the device's bar code scanner