Friday, July 26, 2013

3G Watchdog: Great app to keep track of your 3G or WiFi data usage

A smartphone is a powerful medium to gain knowledge by allowing users to access informative websites, to pass time by allowing to download games, apps, movies, songs etc., but at the same time it is a great tool to incur heavy data usage (internet) charges if user is not carefully paying attention to it. I know you keenly follow my blog and download the apps and games I have written about on my blog posts :), but at the same time you are consuming your quota of your internet plan (3G, Wi-FI etc.). No need to worry, there are apps and tools available on Google Play store to monitor and control the data usage.

3G Watchdog is one of best utility app for tracking your data usage. Well, it may not appeal to the smartphone users who are on an unlimited data plan as probably they do not need to care about the usage, but for mere mortals like me, it is important to track the data usage. Important because, everything which is related to money is important, you see :).

Before going into details of 3G watchdog app, let me tell you that starting from Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), Google introduced a feature to help user to track and see the internet data usage. This option can be accessed by choosing ‘Usage’ from ‘Settings’ menu. It shows a nice graphical representation of data usage and below that one can find apps-wise breakup of it. User can select time window to see the data usage for both 3G (Cellular) and Wi-Fi. All this is good, but it is still a bit cumbersome to use, as it does not provide any widget to quickly check the current data usage stats if you are not much interested in seeing whole lot of details. 3G Watchdog comes handy in such situation, and can be used just for that.

Android: Data Usage graphical representation
Data Usage graphical representation

Android:App-wise breakup of data usage
App-wise breakup of data usage
3G Watchdog is a simple looking yet a useful and well-built app. The basic purpose of this app is to track your Internet data usage be it 3G or Wi-Fi; and it does that just perfectly.  

To use this app, first you need to provide few details about your data plan from app's settings menu, where it allows you to:
  1. set your download quota as per your data plan and the unit of cycle like per month
  2. instruct 3G Watchdog as to when it should start warning you once you have consumed a specific % of your quota
  3. set the refresh frequency for notification and widget (more in the later part of the post)
  4. specify when it should show the notification icon in the notification bar
3G Watchdog: Specifying the update frequency
Specifying the update frequency

3G watchdog: Specifying the data plan details
Specifying the data plan details
That's it, 3G Watchdog is ready to monitor your data usage. You will see a notification icon in the notification bar as well as a permanent item in notification area. Selecting the notification will launch the app and present you the summary stats of your 3G data usage and below that, details of it in a table format. Where columns represents 'Received', 'Sent' and 'Total' data, and row represents the monitoring period like 'Today', 'Week', 'Month' etc.

3G Watchdog: App Showing your 3G data usage pattern
Showing your 3G data usage 
To see the Wi-Fi usage select the respective tab located just above the table.

3G Watchdog: App Showing your Wi-Fi data usage pattern
Showing your Wi-Fi data usage
By long pressing on the 'Today' row you can choose to see the day wise details of the data usage.

3G Watchdog: Showing day-wise data usage
Showing day-wise data usage
And finally, it provides two widgets of different sizes showing the Quota usage in actual numbers as well as % wise, and one widget to enable / disable the mobile data network. This enables the user to quickly check the data usage without even launching the app.

3G Watchdog: Widgets options to choose
Widgets options to choose

How much it costs you: Not a single penny. 

A paid version is also available (3G watchdog Pro) with added features like roaming data usage, usage history with graphs, few more widgets, usage by application etc.

Note: From this post onward I will be using this text size, as I think it looks better. 
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Beach Buggy Blitz : A fantastic racing game which will transport you to a stunning island, that too for free

This is one of the games I am currently playing almost every day. I like racing games as much as the FPS shooting games, but it is a different racing game. While playing Beach Buggy Blitz you will feel like you are roaming on a lonely island with pristine water and beaches. Playing this game simply reminds me of my trip to the Island country of Vanuatu.

Even if you are not interested particularly in racing, the surrounding, visuals and locations shown in this game will definitely amuse you. Enough talking :), let's see what this game is all about.

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: Opening screen
The opening screen
Created by the company Vector Unit, Beach Buggy Blitz racing game is set on an island. This game is supported on all my devices, but I chose to install it on my Nexus 7. This was done for the obvious reasons as the sheer power of the Nexus 7 hardware and its great display but importantly due to its NVIDIA Tegra processor, as this game has some specials effects exclusively for it.

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: The home screen
The home screen
The home screen shows the options to choose cars from the garage, choose the character and modification options and power ups. You can get a 360 degree view of the car as well as the surroundings. Also you can see your high score and the coins you have in your kitty.

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: The character options
Characters options
In this racing game a pumpkin or bunny or skeleton can be your rivals :), and you can also unlock these characters through the coins you earned. Do not underestimate your rivals, they can dash your vehicle or block your way and make sure you do not go ahead of them.

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: The vehicle options
Vehicles options
At start there is only one car available to you and you can unlock the other 6 vehicles using the coins. There are various tuning and modifications options available to beef up your vehicle. Changing the vehicle color and decal is also possible.

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: Driving the car on beach
Driving the buggy by the beach
The controls are very simple and sensitive, I chose the tilt control and it took some time to get used to it. As the race starts, you will see yourself driving the car on the beach, passing through the palm trees, huts, boats the giant crabs and seagulls on your way. It is best to avoid these obstacles, because hitting them will slowdown your speed. There is a clock ticking at the top left hand of your screen and you must reach to the next checkpoint before it shows 0 to get a new lease of life in the form of few seconds. On the way you also get coins, speed boosters, health shields as bonus.

The race take you through some stunning and beautiful locations like wooden walkway bridges, mysterious caves and let you jump from frightening heights. Have a look at some of the views.

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: Impressive visuals
Impressive visuals

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: Driving in the cave
Driving in the cave with headlights ON

Beach buggy blitz the racing game: On snowy mountain
Recently I explored the snowy mountain

How much it costs youNot a single penny.

If you like this post or know any other app / game in the same category, let me know via comments.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to take a screenshot on: Nexus 7, HTC Desire S

Android supports taking screenshot without the use of any third party app starting from 'Ice Cream Sandwich' (4.0). Still, the combination of buttons for taking screenshots is different for different devices.

Taking the screenshot on Nexus 7

This can be done by pressing the 'Power key' and the 'Volume down key' simultaneously for couple of seconds. I was following the instructions mentioned on Google Nexus 7 help page: as I was releasing the buttons combination immediately, the screenshot was not getting captured. Remember, you need to keep it pressed for couple of seconds until you see a brief animation.

The just taken screenshot can be accessed from the notification bar, or from the photo gallery where it gets stored.

Taking the screenshot on HTC Desire S

This can be done by pressing the 'Power key' first and then immediately the 'Home key'. If the operation is successful you will hear the camera click sound and a message on the screen.

The just taken screenshot can be accessed from the 'Camera shots' album in the photo gallery.

I guess the procedure should be the same for other models of HTC.

I have not looked into the screenshot procedure for Android devices from other manufactures, if anyone of you is aware, appreciate if you can add it in the comments section to help others.

See also:

Other tips:

Nexus 7 not booting up
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Clay Jam: A unique game with lots of clay and fun

Clay Jam has a refreshingly different game play. Though I must admit, it appeals to kids more than the grown ups. It gives a feeling like you are playing with colorful clay all the times.
Everything in this game appears to be made of clay of different colors, be it the background or text or game characters.

Clay Jam: The initial screen
The initial screen
The plot of the game is divided into 5 different types of level. 
Each level has a hill which is occupied by a beast and the mission is to defeat the beast with the help of a rolling pebble.

Clay Jam: The hill
The hill
Each level has some unique quests which should be fulfilled to complete the level. Quest could be like to squash only specific types of creatures in a row or reach to the bottom of hill without hitting anything etc.  

Clay Jam: The quest
The quest
The game starts with a small pebble rolling on the clay hill. On its way you find some creatures made of clay roaming around, which should be squashed so that the clay gets rolled on the pebble causing it to become bigger in size. The idea is to smash as many creatures to get a bigger clay ball. The player guides the pebble by sliding her finger on it in the direction of the creatures or away from the walls.

Clay Jam: The pebble and the creatures
The pebble and the creatures
Once the pebble reaches at the bottom of the hill the beast can be seen. At this time the pebble should be rolled as faster as possible so that it hits the beast hard and throw it farther the hill. For best results the pebble should be bigger in size.

Clay Jam: The beast
The beast
Power packs are available to enables the player to collect more clay easily by converting the pebble bigger in size, or set it on fire etc. 

Clay Jam: Power pack in action
Power pack in action
Well, you can not just keep on squashing the creatures to collect the clay, there is molten lava coming behind, and if the player do not move the pebble ahead quickly, the lava will swallow the pebble and game will be over.

So go ahead and play with the clay.

Clay Jam: The end is approaching
The end is approaching
How much it costs youNot a single penny.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Frontline Commando: D-Day

D-Day is really nice game from the developer GLU Mobile. They lately started coming up with really good 3rd person shooter 3D games. The graphics quality is top notch and the sound is commendable. Though I must admit, D-Day is not a fully fledged 3rd person shooter game but very close to it.

The plot of the game is set in WW2 at Normandy, voice overs and texts give details about the mission and some interesting facts about WW2.

There are various missions divided into 5 separate tracks. Objective of each mission is simple, player just has to finish the enemies while satisfying the given conditions to achieve the medals. The conditions can be like finishing the mission with 75% of health remaining, playing only with rifles, finish mission within 2 minutes etc.

Though the objective is simple, the game play is not, as the player advances to the later missions, game starts becoming more and more difficult and also interesting at the same time.

There are options to buy powerful ammos, guns, health packs etc. using GLU credits or medals, which can be bought with real money through In-app purchase.

Something to mention about the visuals, it is stunning, very detailed for example: the smoke effect the destruction and the locations. On Nexus 7’s screen it is a joy to play the game. And because of the capable hardware of Nexus 7, no lag / loss of frames to destroy the game experience.

Here are some screen shots of the game.

Frontline Commando: Game is divided in 5 tracks
Game is divided in 5 tracks

Frontline Commando: Various missions
Various missions

Frontline Commando: Objectives for the mission
Objectives for the mission

Frontline Commando: Anti-aircraft guns bringing down the planes
Anti-aircraft guns bringing down the planes

Frontline Commando: Eliminate the enemies
Eliminate the enemies

Frontline Commando: Moving to another location
Moving to another location

Frontline Commando: Wounded? no worries help is available
Wounded? no worries help is available :)

How much it costs youNot a single penny.
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Granny Smith

Granny Smith is a cool game. I downloaded the free version of this game earlier and got addicted to it and decided to buy the full version. Well it is one of the games you will always want to keep in your phone for casual gaming.

As the name of the game suggests it has to do with the granny and the granny smith (green apple). The mission of this game, you as a player plays the role of a granny who is hell bent to save the apples from a thief who is always behind the apples and does not leave any chance of stealing them.

The granny knows some cool tricks and can give a tough completion to thief :). She can jump, glide on the ropes, break walls and glass without getting hurt.

The graphics and visuals are eye catching and it traverses you through the city landscape, zoo, carnival etc. The advanced levels take you to outer space, but the main objective remains the same that is save the apples from the thief.

The music and background theme is very good. The game also has a feature to replay your played levels in old movies style (sepia effect) which adds value to the overall experience.

Here are some screen shots of the game.

Granny Smith: The opening screen
The opening screen

Granny Smith: The flashback movie
The flashback movie

Granny Smith: Various game levels
Various game levels

Granny Smith: The instructions
The instructions

Granny Smith: The factory level
The factory level

Granny Smith: Outer space level
Outer space level

How much it costs you: 1 US $ (approximately).

See also:

Other games from this developer:

1. Sprinkle
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