Monday 7 November 2011

Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend Part 1

Image from

Is our English Playground turning into a mobile technology blog? Nope, but really, mobile technology has become my recent favourite topic of research. Anyway, the election just finished in Hong Kong yesterday was boring, stock market has been quiet, Toy Story Playland hasn't officially opened, so, might as well return to the funniest topic!

So continuing this morning's 2am entry Living & Technology: Lithium Battery Care, Your Phones and Cameras, I mentioned that I'm recommending some apps for you guys, including some games and the ones which will help to lengthen your battery lifespan, and here they are!!!!!

Android Only

Angry Birds (Original, Rio, Seasons)
Image from digitaltrends
Image from software2tech 
Image from http://www.symbiantweet
First of all, yes, Angry Birds games by Rovio, but wouldn't it be a bit out to recommend them now? Nope, because there are a lot of iPhone users out there not knowing that these games are free on Android phones. Those free versions on iPhone are the trial versions, but these on Android are FREE FULL versions! Download here: Original, Rio, Seasons.

TouchTalk is a real-time translator. You can choose which language as input and which language as output, and then it will translate that for you right away. I haven't checked with all the languages, but English <--> Mandarin and English <--> Japanese are quite accurate! Fun to play with!


JuiceDefender is a software which helps you save battery power, which is an important app addressing to the battery drain issue. It has pay and free versions. The free version offers limited functionality but are good enough for most standard users of smartphones. It also simplifies the process quite a bit by offering less. If you want to get full control of the power-saving policy, then you will need to buy the Ultimate version.

Image from Android Market
Battery Monitor 3 (free)

Battery Monitor 3 provides great control for those who actually knows the lithium batteries. You can set an alarm to remind you when the upper limit and the lower limit have been reached when recharging and discharging respectively. The upper limit and lower limit are adjustable at your own will. I set the upper limit at 93%, so I will not forget to remove the charger.

iPhone Only

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone is a must have for those of you who have iPhone. There has been cases which the owners of the stolen iPhones have been successfully recovered because of this app. It is a free app which requires GPS for accurate positioning.


Audiobooks offers almost 3000 free audiobooks for listening. English Playground readers, this is a must-have for your listening practice.

Available on Android & iPhone

LINE (Android, iPhone)

Whatsapps' strongest competitor, LINE took the world by surprise by bringing down Whatsapp from the top position of the most popular app chart on App Store. No wonder there are rumours that LINE is charging its users secretly, except that it DOESN'T!!! App Store didn't want to take any chance and so LINE was removed from it while Android Market remains unmoved by the rumour. Now LINE is back on App Store, proving that the rumours are untrue and it was only a false alarm, or that some other companies were freaking out and had to come up with something to bring LINE down. Anyway, LINE is kind of like Viber-and-Whatsapp-in-1, combining free messaging and free calls, and it is more fun than Whatsapp to use! Emoji and Stickers adds fun to messaging and Shake it! searching users nearby (making connection will still need approval by the other end-users, so it is pretty safe). Then just like Whatsapp, Group chats, individual chats are available, but unlike Whatsapp, you can add your own profile photo to show your friends. And the most competitive point about LINE? It is FREE!!!!! Battery drains faster because of using LINE? I don't think so! I use it to make free calls to my mum in Ireland and it was roughly the same as making normal calls in terms of battery usage.

Vlingo (Android, iPhone)
If you don't want to wait for an iPhone 4S upgrade or Siri to start including Hong Kong's data in its server, then Vlingo is your answer. Other than the fact that Vlingo doesn't really talk back to you and it has to follow certain pattern in your sentence structure when giving commands, Vlingo can almost do whatever Siri can. Vlingo on iPhone has 3 functions missing on iOS compared to Android, 1) to "Open" apps through voice command, 2) integration to the Voice Input for the Android phone into all typing apps, including Whatsapp, LINE, Facebook, etc. 3) Driving Mode (with simulated voice similar to that of Siri), allowing Vlingo to talk to you, read you incoming notification messages and take your voice commands.

Dropbox (Android, iPhone)
Online storage system app has to be Dropbox. It allows you to upload and download through your iPhone, iPad, and Android phones (since Bluetooth doesn't work between iPhones and Android phones). The uploading and downloading are a little bit clumsy as it doesn't allow multiple selection and everything has to be up and downloaded one by one, but it is still a great app to have. It is not one of those apps you must have, but you know it is useful when you need it.

With all these free apps for you to try, I guess I can take a break and let you digest them a bit before the next entry.


Civic Party falls from Peak @ The Standard

Greece on brink of agreeing to unity Cabinet @ The Standard

Toy Story Playland @ Wikipedia

Living & Technology: Lithium Battery Care, Your Phones and Cameras @ Locky's English Playground

Technology & Opinions: iPhone 4(S) VS Samsung Galaxy SII @ Locky's English Playground

News & Technology: iPhone 4S Battery Problem? @ Locky's English Playground

Angry Birds @ Android Market

Angry Birds Rio @ Android Market

Angry Birds Seasons @ Android Market

TouchTalk @ Android Market

Juice Defender @ Android Market

Battery Monitor 3 @ Android Market

Find My iPhone @ App Store

Audiobooks @ App Store

What Android fans think of iPhone users @ Computerworld

iPhone 4S Battery Sucks? Try This Philips App [Philips Releases App To Help You Manage Your iPhone Battery Better] @ TFTS

LINE @ Android Market

LINE @ App Store

Vlingo @ Android Market

Vlingo @ App Store

Dropbox @ Android Market

Dropbox@ App Store

Downloader for Dropbox @ Android Market

Living & Technology: Lithium Battery Care, Your Phones and Cameras

(Updated 2011-11-09)
Battery Drain Problem of iPhone 4S
Ever since I started using Galaxy SII, I realise that the issue of battery drain is really quite serious, (but iPhone 4S also has this problem). So I have been trying all sorts of methods to reduce battery loss, there are some apps I am using and I do think they are quite good but I will leave it to the next blog entry to introduce them. Today, I want to talk about some research I did about the most important component of power in a smartphone, the battery -- Lithium-ion (Li) battery.

Ni-Cd Batteries
Image from
There are many myths about rechargeable batteries, and we are going to crack them! But before we start, we have to learn 2 terms, "charge" is to add power to the battery, and "discharge" is to use the power from the battery.

Lithium-ion polymer battery
Image from Wikipedia
Lithium-ion battery is different from the traditional nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or nickel cadmium battery (NiCd) battery in many ways. The differences are listed below:

  1. Li-ion battery has a slow loss of charge (about 5-10% per month) , allowing the power to be stored in the battery for a longer time when not used. [1] This explains why the lithium batteries available in shops and supermarkets are usually charged to a certain amount. Cell phone batteries, known as Lithium-ion polymer batteries, are similar to the above, carries about 50% of a full charge for long period storage [3]. 
  2. Li battery has no "memory effect" which NiCd battery has. In simple words, NiCd batteries require overcharging in the first charge, then should be charged fully or even overcharged in the subsequent charges. [2] On the other hand, Li battery does not and MUST NOT be overcharged. [1]
  3. Li-ion polymer battery should not be fully-discharged (reaching 0% and idling the battery for a long period of time),  or else it may be damaged and may lose certain amount of capacity[3].

Image from
Summarising the points above, I have come to understand why my old Sony VAIO's laptop comes with a Battery Care Function which used to fix my Li-ion battery at 80% charge. In my entry Technology & Opinions: Hate. Believe. SONY, I talked about how much I hated this because Sony said this Function gives longer battery life, and I thought Sony was just bluffing! And so in the entry Message: SONY VAIO Battery Care, "I OWN YOU!!!" I mentioned that I have finally removed that Function and I finally get to charge my laptop 20% more, but looks like Sony was right all along! Full charging your Li-ion battery does shorten its lifespan.

So, after going through the researches , I have come to a simple conclusion of dealing with Li-ion batteries,

No 0%, No 100%, No memory.

It means that we should not leave battery at 0%, we should not full charge the battery, but we can charge as many times as we like.

Sounds great isn't it? But you might have to watch your battery charge from now on because your phone will  full charge itself without stopping, what can we do?

I have a solution for you in the next entry, if you are using Android smartphones.

(Updated 2011-11-09)
Apple has a nice and clear article on how Lithium battery works, and the key information have been extracted below for your better learning.

Lithium-ion Batteries
Rechargeable lithium-based technology currently provides the best performance for your Apple notebook computer, iPod, iPhone, or iPad. You can also find this standard battery technology in many other devices. Apple batteries share the characteristics common to lithium-based technology in other devices. Like other rechargeable batteries, these batteries may eventually require replacement.

Standard Technology

Lithium-ion polymer batteries pack in a higher power density than nickel-based batteries. This gives you a longer battery life in a lighter package, as lithium is the lightest metal. You can also recharge a lithium-ion polymer battery whenever convenient, without the full charge or discharge cycle necessary to keep nickel-based batteries at peak performance. (Over time, crystals build up in nickel-based batteries and prevent you from charging them completely, necessitating an inconvenient full discharge.)
Chart illustrating lithium-polymer battery voltage/cell and charge current over time during the fast and trickle charge stages

Standard Charging

Most lithium-ion polymer batteries use a fast charge to charge your device to 80% battery capacity, then switch to trickle charging. That’s about two hours of charge time to power an iPod to 80% capacity, then another two hours to fully charge it, if you are not using the iPod while charging. You can charge all lithium-ion batteries a large but finite number of times, as defined by charge cycle.
Charge Cycle. Using and recharging 100% of battery capacity equals one full charge cycle.
A charge cycle means using all of the battery’s power, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a single charge. For instance, you could listen to your iPod for a few hours one day, using half its power, and then recharge it fully. If you did the same thing the next day, it would count as one charge cycle, not two, so you may take several days to complete a cycle. Each time you complete a charge cycle, it diminishes battery capacity slightly, but you can put notebook, iPod, and iPhone batteries through many charge cycles before they will only hold 80% of original battery capacity. As with other rechargeable batteries, you may eventually need to replace your battery.

bluff -- (vb) [I or T] to deceive someone by making them think either that you are going to do something when you really have no intention of doing it, or that you have knowledge that you do not really have, or that you are someone else

Lithium-ion battery @ Wikipedia

Memory Effect @ Wikipedia

Lithium-ion polymer battery @ Wikipedia


News & Technology: iPhone 4S Battery Problem? @ Locky's English Playground

Technology & Opinions: Hate. Believe. SONY @ Locky's English Playground

Message: SONY VAIO Battery Care, "I OWN YOU!!!" @ Locky's English Playground

Apple -- Lithium ion Batteries