Senin, 17 November 2014

TechSource: How to Build Awesome Android Apps

TechSource: How to Build Awesome Android Apps

How to Build Awesome Android Apps

Posted: 17 Nov 2014 03:59 AM PST

Over the years, Android has grown from a simple mobile operating system to a highly profitable ecosystem. Among the people to benefit from this growth are Google, gadget manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, Motorola), and millions of app developers from around the world. With multiple ways to monetize applications, Android has been responsible for turning many small-time developers into the "rich geeks" who have made quite a following for themselves in the pop culture.

What makes Android app development so appealing is that it is based on Java, which is a language pretty much every guy or girl with a computer science degree knows. Secondly, Android being open-source and free to develop with, anyone can start making apps right away without spending a single buck. All you need is an Internet connection and some coding skills. This is a far cry from Apple's model wherein you have to pay Apple to become a developer.

Making apps on Android can be fun, informative, as well as monetarily rewarding. If you are willing to put in some time and effort into learning the basics of Android app development, you will be making good apps very quickly. If your idea is unique enough and the app is relatively bug free, you can release it in the Google Play Store and watch it become popular. You can also monetize it by enabling in-app payments, ads, and even putting a small price for your app.

So, if you are excited about learning how to develop Android apps, read on as we have links to some of the best tutorials out there for getting started.

Official Android Tutorials

Google offers a lot of official tutorials that can help you learn Android from the guys who made it. These go a lot in depth and are easy and fun to follow along. A great place to start is the Android Training Guide that starts off by helping you create your first Android project. Then, as the course moves forward, you'll learn to deal with various elements of the development process thus helping you create solid, well-designed apps that look exactly the way Google intended them to. If you are starting off, take some time and read through all of the notes. These will help you with everything be it security, notifications, or even monetization. For additional help you can check out the Android Developers YouTube channel which has a lot of hands-on examples on the development process.


Vogella is a training and consulting website that has a lot of free tutorials. One of them is Android Development by Lars Vogel. This tutorial takes you from the very basics like "What is Android" to advanced stuff like modifying XML files. Complete in itself, Vogella takes you from the basic steps of downloading the SDK to the more advanced steps of emulating the app, testing it, and finally deploying it. The whole tutorial can be read from the single web page and is full of useful diagrams and images. If you are following it, make sure you keep it bookmarked.

Android Fundamentals/Udacity Free Course (By Google)

Google wants to make sure that more and more people start taking advantage of its huge ecosystem. That's why, partnering with Udacity, the search giant has created a full course that combines both practice and theory. The course starts right away with the UI then moves to more advanced topics like responsive layouts, background services, and third-party integration. This course, unlike others on the list, requires you to have at least 3 years of programming experience in Java or any other programming language.

Android Application Development Tutorials (by thenewboston)

Thenewboston is a popular YouTube channel that has a fantastic set of tutorials on various tech skills. One of them is its playlist on Android application development. The tutorial covers pretty much all basics of Android app development with most of the concepts neatly explained by the narrator. Instead of talking to the screen, the host demonstrates the coding process in action thus helping you learn a lot.

Android Development for Beginners by Derek Banas (YouTube)

This playlist by Derek Banas on YouTube is great for someone who wants to make a simple Android app in a week or so. It focuses mainly on App Inventor, which is a WYSIWYG tool for creating simple Android apps. While this tutorial won't help you build the next WhatsApp or Snapchat, it will definitely give you some head start in creating some simple apps.

Android Training Tutorials by is a popular subscription-based website that gives you access to hundreds of great online tutorials. Android Training tutorial is one of their courses which is quite useful if you are a complete beginner and are looking for something that's both easy-to-follow and useful. In the course, you'll be creating an Android app from scratch as you build it with Java. Though a paid course, it's not a bad investment for someone who is looking for something comprehensive and beginner-friendly.

Android Design Guidelines

This is not a tutorial but a set of principles and guidelines that will help you make your app look like the way it's meant to be on Android. Many rookie developers -- and some big ones too -- make the mistake of creating apps that look and feel completely out of place. They go in with the thinking that they'll create two apps, one for Android and one for iOS while keeping the design same for both of them. This not only makes the apps you have look weird and clunky, it also shies many customers away from your app. A great way to remedy this problem is study the guidelines first, make a blueprint for the app, and then start creating it.

Learn by Doing - Android for Beginners

This is a great free course with more than seven hours of content that teaches you Android programming in a more practical way. Learn by Doing teaches exactly the way you want it to -- in practical hands-on videos aided by elaborate videos. Accompanying the instructions are exercises to test and hone your skills. Overall, the course is targeted towards helping you get an app running as quickly and as efficiently as possible. If you are looking for something in-depth, make sure you go through Android's official guide, which is quite exhaustive and covers a lot of important concepts. That being said, you'll definitely end up learning a lot of stuff about Android development thus helping you springboard to more complex development topics.

Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps by Coursera

If you are excited about creating your first Android app but also want to learn more about the science of what goes behind building it, this next course is just for you. Created by University of Illinois, this is an 8-week course that will take you through creating your Android app, working with various libraries, and yes, along with that you get to learn all the computer science fundamentals. If you are planning to take this course, expect investing around 7 hours a week in it. This is a great starting off point for anyone who wants to get into Android development, as it requires no prior experience in computing. Passing all the tests and completing the course diligently will earn you a verified certificate from the University of Illinois.

Kamis, 06 November 2014

TechSource: Best Android Apps Created by Celebrities

TechSource: Best Android Apps Created by Celebrities

Best Android Apps Created by Celebrities

Posted: 05 Nov 2014 10:49 PM PST

When Kim Kardashian came up with her own game and it made her millions of dollars, the whole world went a bit crazy. Among the critics of this new phenomenon were many "app purists" who were a bit perturbed by the success of an allegedly second-rate application. However, upon actually using the app, many users have loved it. In fact, there are many people who aren't fans of Kim Kardashian and her reality TV clan; however, they do enjoy the game quite a lot.

In today's interconnected world many apps created by celebrities are usually looked down upon. And yes, many of them are really, really bad. However, some of them do stand out. Some of them are actually worth trying. So, in today's article we're listing some of the best applications created by celebrities:

Shatoetry by William Shatner

Have you ever wanted to write poetry? Okay, well, have you ever written good poetry? And how about somehow you could get William Shatner to read your poetry? Wouldn't that be cool, eh? Well, this next app brings a similar experience to your Android smartphone or tablet. Created by William Shatner himself, the app lets you arrange words so as to create poetry or witty quotations. Then, once you are done, you can have it read in William Shatner's voice. Though not really exciting at first, but it is a very unique idea since you can keep using the app endlessly. 

Snoopify by Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion

Apart from being a famous musician, Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion is known for his distinct look and his laid-back persona. This app is probably as close as you can get to taking a picture with him. Though this at first looks like yet another "Photobooth with celebs" kind of app, it does prove itself much more useful. All you have to do is take a picture or add a picture from your gallery. Add a funky sticker from a sticker pack (stickers like bling bling, some cool-looking shades, or even pictures of Snoop Lion) and then add them to your own photo. The stickers when added to the photo make it look quite funky and the effects don't look out of place at all. The app can be quite fun to play around with, even more so if you are a big Snoop Dogg fan.  

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood by Kim Kardashian

While many consider this a bad application, we have quite a different opinion. What makes Kim Kardashian Hollywood so special is that it lets ordinary people experience the Hollywood lifestyle without burning giant holes in their pockets. The whole celebrity lifestyle in one game is quite entertaining and can quickly become a guilty pleasure for even those who don't like the posh LA lifestyle. This is definitely an app that looks quite simplistic at first but then quickly gets addictive. 

Taylor Swift Greeting Cards by Taylor Swift

This is a great application that lets you create and send customized greeting cards to your loved ones. Created by Taylor Swift, the app creates cards that are quite attuned with Taylor's style and personality. Once installed, you start out by choosing a template for the card. This could be a picture of a cute dog, a Happy Birthday message, or even an inspiring quote by Taylor Swift. Then, add your message, sign the card, preview it and send it. What makes this app special is its simplicity and ease of use. It is a great greeting card app to use even if you aren't a big fan of Taylor Swift. 

Alicia Keys: Mama Mae & LeeLee by Alicia Keys

Probably the best app on the list, Alicia Keys' foray into the world of apps seems to have struck quite a chord amongst the kids. Specially designed as a unique storytelling experience for children, this app is about an eight-year-old girl facing everyday challenges with the help of her wise grandmother, Mama Mae. The character of Mamma Mae is voiced by the popular actress Della Reese with songs by Alicia Keys herself. If you have a kid at home, this is a great app to have. 

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Senin, 27 Oktober 2014

TechSource: 7 Nifty VLC Tricks You Should Know

TechSource: 7 Nifty VLC Tricks You Should Know

7 Nifty VLC Tricks You Should Know

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:47 AM PDT

VLC started as an academic project in 1996 and back then it was called "VideoLAN Client", and hence the name VLC. Soon, however, it grew to become a client as well as server that can be used to stream videos across the network. Its popularity showed steady growth leading up to the development of Version 1.0 that was released in 2009. In other words, the project took 13 years of development to reach its first major release, something that shows us how stable the open-source tool has indeed become.

Be it Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux, VLC still remains the undisputed king of media players. From playing YouTube videos and MP3s to helping you enjoy Blu-ray movies, this open-source tool is regarded as one of the indispensable tools every desktop user should have installed. If you are using Linux right now, chances are you are a VLC user too. And if you are, we've got some useful tips for you that will help you get the most out of it.

1. Taking Screenshots of the Currently Playing Video

Whenever you are playing a video, you can grab a quick screencap without even pausing. All you have to do is press the combination Shift + S and your screenshot will automatically show up in the Pictures folder. If, however, you are using Mac OS X, use the shortcut Cmd + Alt + S and the snapshot will be waiting for you in the Pictures folder. 

2. Bookmark a Position in a Video

Imagine you are busy watching your favorite movie and suddenly your smartphone rings. It is a bummer right? Start the video again and then seeking to the last position you were on. Thankfully, VLC saves you the trouble by letting you bookmark a position in the video so that you can come back to it whenever you want.

All you have to do is go to the menubar and then Playback -> Custom Bookmarks -> Manage. A new window will pop up. Here, simply click on the button that says "Create" and you will have the bookmark at your disposal whenever you want.

Note that you can also use this for listening to audiobooks as well where bookmarking plays an important role.

3. Record the Currently Playing Video/Audio

If you listen to streaming audio or watch a lot of online videos natively, this next tip will help you keep the best bits to yourself. By recording a currently playing song or video, you can re-listen to it whenever you want.

To start recording, simply go to the menu bar and navigate to View -> Advanced Controls. Once you do that, a small red button will show up below the video or audio. Click on it and the stream will be saved to your default Videos or Music folder.

4. Record from a Webcam

If you are a wannabe rising YouTube star, this tip might help you a lot. VLC, apart from playing your favorite movies, also lets you do a recording from the webcam. Simply go to Media -> Open Capture Device. There, you'll find a dropdown menu. There, select DirectShow to select your webcam. Once that is done, start recording by hitting the red button. The video will be stored in the default videos folder.

5. Play Video Files in .zip and .rar Archives

The next time someone hands you a bunch of video files packed in a .rar archive, simply open it in VLC and it will play. VLC reads through the archive letting you play the video files contained in it.

6. Watch a YouTube Video Without a Browser

Instead of watching a YouTube video in a distraction-ridden webpage, you can use VLC to watch it on your desktop. Simply click on the menu bar -> Media and click Open Network Stream. There, paste the URL of your favorite video and it will start playing automatically. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + N anytime and paste the video directly.

7. VLC Does Podcasts Too

VLC can do a lot more than playing videos and music. It also acts as a full-fledged podcast downloader and player. Open VLC and if the playlist view isn't showing up yet, press Ctrl + L or hit the playlist button at the bottom. In the left pane under Internet, you'll find an option that says Podcasts. Hit the grey button besides it and paste your favorite podcast URL.

Selasa, 21 Oktober 2014

TechSource: Best Android Games that let you Build your Own Farms and Towns

TechSource: Best Android Games that let you Build your Own Farms and Towns

Best Android Games that let you Build your Own Farms and Towns

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 11:56 PM PDT

Being a farmer in the bustling cityscape might not be the ideal dream for you. However, if you are still keen on doing that, you can do it anywhere. But wait, before you head out to your lawn and start planting seeds, relax and pull out your Android smartphone or tablet.

Yes, do that now because in this list, we are going to help you build not only your own farms but your own towns as well. Of course, these are just games, but you'll be surprised how hooked you'll be once you start playing them.

Green Farm

Imagine inheriting an old manor from your uncle. However, despite your really good luck, it isn't as good as you'd wanted it to be. Your mission in this game is to secure it, beautify, and grow a complete farm in front of the manor. Once you start building the farm, you'll come across many missions that involve full farming, harvesting, and even crafting. Of course, you'll have help from your friends and neighbors, but most of the time, you'll be on your own. The game works quite well on tablets as well as smartphones.

Farm Story

With over 150 varieties of fruits, flowers and vegetables, Farm Story is a game that lets you build beautiful farms in no time. You can design your own farm by decorating it with trees, fences, and buildings. Once you've designed your ideal farm, plant the crops so that they start growing. You can even invite neighbors to watch your crops grow, making this game even more fun. As with many titles in this genre, Farm Story is free to play but also offers paid in-game upgrades. Worth giving a shot if you love building farms.

Farm Town: Happy Day

This game is one where you get to do pure farming. You can grow variety of crops, hay, vegetables, fruits, and berries. Moreover, you get to help your neighbors build their own farms too. Apart from basic farming, you also get to take care of cute pets as you keep gathering resources in building your dream farm. 

FarmVille 2: Country Escape

Quite possibly the most popular game in this genre, FarmVille is a title that started it all. Not only can you build and grow your own farm, you can also do a variety of activities that traditional farming games don't offer. Making use of the right resources, you get to make various gourmet foods, raise farm animals, go fishing with fellow farmers, and build a whole new family farm by the coast. What makes this game stand out is the sheer size of its universe. Furthermore, there's offline play, multi-player, and even the ability to play co-op with your friends online. No wonder Farmville still remains the king of farming games despite having formidable competitors. 

Adventure Town

With over a million users, Adventure Town still remains one of the best titles in the town-building genre. What sets this game apart is the ability to create your own unique heroes who will defeat villains and save your town from danger. Not only does this title let you build your own town, it also lets you fight against evil monsters at every major level. This combination of light combat and city-building make it a highly engaging game.

Triple Town

Quite unlike the traditional town-building games, Triple Town stands apart by adding the puzzle element to it. The game moves forward only one premise: the larger the city you build, the more points you score. Though a turn-based, "thinking required" game, it is highly addictive even if you are looking for something casual to spend your Sunday afternoon playing. Triple Town has raked more than 5,000,000 downloads since its release and has been rated quite well by Android users worldwide. 

Town Maker

Town Maker, as the name suggests, lets you build any kind of town you want. Be it a village or a whole new city, this one got it covered. With bright funky graphics and lots of engaging elements, Town Maker excels in pushing the limits of what you can build on your Android smartphone or tablet. Be it putting the Eiffel Tower in the middle of a primitive village or the pyramids in the midst of Victorian buildings, this is a game that will let you explore your creativity. 

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Jumat, 17 Oktober 2014

TechSource: Best YouTube Players for Ubuntu

TechSource: Best YouTube Players for Ubuntu

Best YouTube Players for Ubuntu

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 08:57 PM PDT

YouTube is one of the best things that happened to the Internet. From the latest music videos to the full-length movies, this Google-owned website is used by millions of people around the world. What's more appealing about this site is that it has also given rise to thousands of "YouTube Stars" who have developed a full-time career out of making videos. In other words, YouTube has grown from being a mere video-sharing site to a content platform.

Having said that, one of the biggest gripes about the site is that it can only be accessed via a web browser. You have to start the browser, open the site, and wait for the video to buffer. Not so cool. Thankfully though, developers have come up with some nice apps to overcome that limitation. These apps allow the users to circumvent the web-only restriction of YouTube and watch their favorite videos on the desktop. Such apps are widely available on Windows and Mac and some of them even allow users to download the videos.

As for Ubuntu users, there are still plenty of reasons not to be disappointed. There are about half a dozen YouTube apps already available for Linux and in this article, we're bringing you a list of the best of them.


If you hate Flash, Minitube is your best bet when it comes to watching YouTube. This fabulously designed application looks as if was meant for the desktop and desktop only. What Minitube does is that it focuses on making sure that you do everything that you'd normally do on the YouTube website on your desktop. And yes, it does live up to its expectations. One of the best features of this application is that it allows you to subscribe to channels you like without having a YouTube account.

Other features include spelling suggestions, filtering videos by date, and a full-screen mode with cursor support. One nifty addition to the software is the ability to find parts of a video that are in a series. This means that you'll be able to enjoy long movies or concerts that are uploaded in parts, without having to search around for them after every video.

To install Minitube, type in or paste the following commands in your terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install minitube


Atraci is an amazingly simple app that focuses more on music rather than the video themselves. If you are someone who visits YouTube just to listen to your favorite songs, this app is for you. Simply search for your favorite artist and then the song will start playing instantly. You can also watch the video if you want which is shown at the bottom left corner of the screen.

To install Atraci, simply type in or paste the following commands in your terminal (Ctrl + Alt +T):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/atraci
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install atraci


VLC, though a general media player, can also function as a great YouTube player. All you have to do is copy the URL of the video you are watching on YouTube. Then, press Ctrl + N in the VLC main video. There, paste the video URL and wait for it as the video starts playing. Although this is not a convenient method for watching videos on YouTube, it is still a great trick for enjoying the familiar comforts of a desktop. 


(For the Geeks) Command line YouTube player - MPS-YouTube

If you're a geek, nerd, or a programming prodigy, a command line YouTube player will give you plenty of bragging rights. MPS-Youtube is a fabulous player that lets you search and play videos from YouTube, download them, and even view comments all using just your command line. Written in Python, the text interface is used for sifting through the videos. Then, once you've chosen the video you want to play, the software then hooks into mplayer or mpv to show you the video. Though this won't work on a full sans-X11 terminal, it will surely give you the thrills of doing the latest things in a cool old school sort of way.

To install MPS, simply paste this command in your terminal:

[sudo] pip install mps-youtube

For more information on how to use and configure the tool, check out the application's github page.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.