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Android Apps Alert 7: Run fast, type faster, and twist rings [Nov. 30, 2009]

November 30, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka

Android Apps, Featured post

Android Apps Alert 7: Run fast, type faster, and twist rings [Nov. 30, 2009]

Looking for the best Android apps? Good luck finding them on your own. But if you do stumble across apps people will love, let the world know. encourages users to tweet great apps with the #androidapps tag on Twitter, and we plan to incorporate that into our weekly notifications of new, updated, or recommended apps. Get to downloading and keep telling us about those exciting #androidapps.

In the seventh edition of Android Apps Alert, late because of a hectic Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the theme of the week is speed. We’ve got a great app for running, another for typing without typing, a homescreen replacement app faster than the others, and a couple of games built around quick-thinking. The video previews of these apps are below, along with text explanations and QR codes for those who want to focus on the words only.

Home ++


Though the trend of Android home screen replacements has tapered off a bit, there are some people who still want to replace the stock Android home screen. The “vanilla” default doesn’t have as many screens or customization options, but with apps like Home++, users can change a few things around. Home++ has no notification bar or app drawer, instead launching those features and more from a dock at the bottom of the screen. There are also shortcuts for the search widgets, favorites, and a built-in task killer. Though the app has some lag when used on a G1, I’m told that the app runs fairly well on a Droid.

Ringz (FREE, $1.99 expansion packs)


Aside from the interesting revenue model its creators have added to the Android Market, Ringz is a polished game, especially if you’re a fan of puzzle games. The object of Ringz is to adjust the orbs on a group of rotating disks until three red orbs match a pattern shown on-screen. The game includes three tiers that move circularly or vertically in one row until the pattern is matched. Once a user has mastered the standard levels, expansion packs of new levels are available in the Android Market.

Shapewriter (FREE 30-day trial, $9.99)


Swype makes me salivate…until I realize it’s on Windows Mobile and won’t hit Android until 2010. Shapewriter may be something that fills the void for you. As a person moves their finger across the screen, Shapewriter predicts the words that the user attempts to spell. With a few swoops, your message appears on-screen rather than having to type each letter (though, that’s also an option). The $9.99 price tag will set you back and the text-prediction algorithm doesn’t seem to be as accurate as Swype, but Shapewriter can greatly increase typing speed on your phone.



Thanksgiving dinner made people loosen their belts but it’s time to shed those pounds. RunStar is an unfinished but already worthy app for losing weight. RunStar looks beautiful – a little like what we see on that other OS – and has an easy-to-use interface. Using GPS tracking, the app details distance, time, and goal completion for each workout, as well as long-term results and goals. A number of features are on deck to appear soon, but with the built-in media player and data tracking, RunStar is quickly heading towards being one of the leading Android apps.

Blockx 3D (FREE with ads, £ 1.50 pro)


Tetris…The Next Frontier. Blockx 3D is a three-dimensional game that adds on to the tradition of falling blocks games. Players are required to position blocks inside “pits” until a layer of cubes are removed. Rather than focus on lines, players must consider how the blocks will fit within a three-dimensional pane and work towards earning more points for each pit released.  I’m not very good, but there’s an included tutorial to help you fare better than me.