Stories by Brent W. Hopkins

PAW Server for Android

PAW Server turns your Android device into a password-protected Web server. It's a neat and useful little app that can transform your phone into a streaming Webcam or a remote audio recording device. You can also use PAW Server to upload files to your phone, download files, stream MP3s, and view photos located on your phone by using a Web browser on your PC.

Stop Android malware with AVG anti-virus free

Android phones are extremely practical devices, properly wielded: You can use them to cut the time required to do many tasks, such as checking and responding to your e-mail. But your phone's power could become a devastating weapon used against you if your handset is lost, stolen, or compromised by malware. Although you can avoid many problems by following basic security precautions, it's also wise to install an app like AVG Anti-Virus Free (Pro version $5). The AVG app provides continual, automatically updated protection against rapidly evolving Android security threats. It also offers some useful tools, such as data backup, remote phone tracking, and remote wipe.

Back up your Android phone with MyBackup Pro

As Android phones become more powerful and more useful, they also store more of your important personal data. Losing that data can be more than a minor inconvenience, and given the fragility of electronic devices, it's something that's likely to happen at some point. MyBackup Pro is an app that will give you peace of mind if your phone gets destroyed in a mishap such as an impromptu dip in the toilet or a shattering drop to the pavement. You can schedule automatic backups and restore your apps, data, and settings to a new phone (or to the same phone if the data was accidentally erased) in just minutes. Considering how much time it would take to manually enter such data, this app is a worthwhile purchase at the current price of $5.

Explore the Moon With Moon Maps

Have you ever wanted to explore the moon? With the free Moon Maps Android app, you can. You can choose between imagery from the Clementine Mosaic or the Lunar orbiter Mosaic--though the Clementine imagery is generally better.

Google Books: A library on your Android phone

E-book readers, such as the Kindle and Nook, have become popular thanks to the convenience of carrying an entire library's worth of books on one device. But if you don't have room in your budget for a Kindle, fret not: Your Android phone can serve as a capable and pocket-size e-reader in its own right. Google has joined the e-publishing fray with its Google Books service, and now the Google Books app for Android brings the vast Google Books catalog to your phone.

Mustard

The Mustard app for Android is a bare-bones microbloging client for posting and reading status updates on Twitter and on Twitter-like, open-source StatusNet social networks such as Identi.ca. If you like to tweet but would like to get a taste of what open-source microblogging is like, you can use this app to do both.

Twitter app for Android

The official Twitter app for Android provides a simple, no-frills way to tweet and view your home feed from your phone. To begin, you log in or create an account. If you choose to create an account, the app will open the mobile Twitter Website in the Android Web browser. If you want to import your contacts from Gmail, LinkedIn, Yahoo, or Hotmail, you'll have to use the Web browser for that too. After you create your account, reopen the Twitter app and log in. It's an awkward way to start; being able to do everything without leaving the Twitter app would be preferable. However, you need do this only once -- all your subsequent Twitter activities can be performed in-app.

First Look: Google's Gmail app for Froyo

Most Android users should be familiar with the stock Gmail app that comes loaded on every Android phone. Now there's an update for Android 2.2 (Froyo) and higher (you must download it manually in the Market app) which adds some additional useful features. Google has decided that incremental Gmail updates should no longer be tied to Android OS releases -- a wise choice. After all, some devices will never receive OS updates, so why lock those users out of new Gmail features? Oops, I forgot about Android's fragmentation problem -- many devices will never be updated to Android 2.2, either. Tough luck for those users...

Google Maps

When I say that Google Maps for Android is one of the most useful programs ever offered on any platform, you might think I'm exaggerating. But I'm completely serious, and what's more, I'm confident that once you begin to unlock its potential you will agree with me.

AndroZip File Manager

One of the most glaring deficiencies of the Android OS is its lack of an integrated file manager. The free AndroZip comes to the rescue, providing a file explorer, task manager, archive manager, app backup tool, and more, all within a simple and intuitive interface. It should be one of the first apps you install on your Android phone.

Onion News Network

In an era when corporate news outlets compete to be the first to release breaking news updates, only one -- The Onion -- manages to report the news before it happens. With features such as "News from the Year 2137," "Girl Raised From Birth by Wolf Blitzer Taken Into Protective Custody," "New Google Phone Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly Into Users' Ears," and "Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard," the Onion News Network has rightfully asserted its preeminent place among America's finest faux news networks.

Infinity Web browser

The Android OS comes with a decent stock Web browser, but it lacks many features, such as tabs, text-to-speech, RSS feed subscriptions, and language translation, that are common to desktop browsers. Infinity Web Browser offers these features, but unfortunately, they are poorly executed.

Install the latest Firefox 3.6.6 in Ubuntu Linux

Firefox 3.6.6 with crash protection is now available, and according to Mozilla it "provides uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins.

[]