Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: Best Free and Open Source Apps For Android?

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the best-of-the-best dept.

Android 134

First time accepted submitter aNonnyMouseCowered writes "One of my favorite freeware Android applications has been pulled from the Google Play app store. While I found a replacement for the app, I've decided to install only apps that won't become obsolete merely because of the developer's whim or lack of interest. With the exception of games, which I don't deem essential for work, I don't want to install potential abandonware even if they cost the pauperly sum of $0.00. My decision has thus far meant installing a relatively crude text editor like BusyBox's version of vi, rather than any one of those full-blown mobile office suites. I've found a short list of open source Android apps at Wikipedia, including the usual suspects, Firefox and the VLC media player. There are also links to two other sites at the end of the article. But even the more comprehensive listings have large gaps in them even when compared 'merely' to the programs available in a typical GNU/Linux repository. So can anyone recommend useful or even just fun Free, Libre and Open Source Software for an Android smartphone or tablet? Free virtual beer to those that can find links for FLOSS programs for editing audiovisual media (Blender for Android?) and documents more sophisticated than HTML."

cancel ×

134 comments

Pulled app (2)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about a year ago | (#42714895)

I wonder what the app was that got pulled. Why it was pulled would be good to know too.

http://f-droid.org/ (5, Informative)

mrops (927562) | about a year ago | (#42715171)

That is your one stop shop for all open source android software. You won't find the f-droid app in the play store, but you can install it from http://f-droid.org/ [f-droid.org]

Other than that, two of my favorite are AirDroid and Skifta.

Plex is disqualified as its not free, but its great.

Re:http://f-droid.org/ (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about a year ago | (#42715205)

skifta is open source??? The OP is not looking for "free as in beer"

That said, it's an excellent app but doesn't meet the OP's needs.

OSMAnd is a bit of an oddball - if you want precompiled auto-updatable APKs, you need to pay a few dollars for OSMAnd+

However, you can grab the source and compile the free unrestricted version on your own if you want. Personally, I paid due to laziness. ;)

RetroArch is a new (as in released 2-3 days ago) emulator that is mostly opensource. Some of the specific emulator cores have binary blobs within them.

XBMC is open source.

Re:http://f-droid.org/ (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42715583)

OSMAnd is a bit of an oddball - if you want precompiled auto-updatable APKs, you need to pay a few dollars for OSMAnd+

If you have F-Droid installed, then they have OSMAnd~, which is OSMAnd compiled by them from the upstream sources. I never bought OSMAnd+, but I sent them a donation once I discovered OSMAnd~ (of more than the cost of OSMAnd+, even before Google takes their cut). It's incredibly useful.

Re:http://f-droid.org/ (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about a year ago | (#42715747)

My experience was that OSMAnd~ had the same limitations as free OSMAnd from the Play Store. (I believe they did this out of respect for the developer.)

It's possible to build an unrestricted version of OSMAnd from source, but I'm lazy. :)

Re:http://f-droid.org/ (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42716067)

OSMAnd~, at least on the device where I've tried it, has no download limits and can show offline wikipedia entries. The unlimited downloads thing was what made me donate.

Re:http://f-droid.org/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716365)

I'm sure the guy's at f-droid would love a free virtual beer. Heck, they even accept Bitcoin!

Re:http://f-droid.org/ (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year ago | (#42716445)

You won't find the f-droid app in the play store, but you can install it from...

You know, my mind automatically inserted an "ucking" into the above sentence, presuming you were at work or too polite to spell it out. Off topic, sorry, but that's all I'll every think about that app now.

bitcoin wallet app (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714937)

http://code.google.com/p/bitcoin-wallet/ i find this pretty nice. hopefully it will become also useful when bitcoin will become more popular. (i know you probably don't give a damn about it, but this post with no comments was so sad)

Re:bitcoin wallet app (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715361)

No one uses bitcoin anymore, its all about litecoin now.

Re:bitcoin wallet app (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#42717965)

Except there virtually no app that can meet his requirement, which that the app will be developed/supported indefintely.

Developers get new jobs, or move or get sick or don't want to work on the app any more, companies plans change, whatever.

IMHO, it's stupid to think like this [that I won't install an app unless it'll always be there]. Apps get dropped by, well, everyone, from individuals who could no longer be bothered with it, to the largest companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple.

It would probably be better to find apps that, if they stop being supported, you can get your data out of the app in a format that can be imported into another app [sqlite, xml, plain text, etc].

Easy! (1)

Vlijmen Fileer (120268) | about a year ago | (#42714941)

NetHack :)

It seems arrogant (5, Insightful)

mpbrede (820514) | about a year ago | (#42714945)

To imply that you can predict (or ask others to predict) which applications will become abandonware. Free, open-source program repositories are littered with abandonware. That is one of the real hurdles for open-source adoption in enterprises. Android will be no different. Besides, some programs will work fine even if they never get updated again.

Re:It seems arrogant (4, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#42715019)

Even if the author abandoned an FOSS program, he can keep a copy of the apk and install it on whatever devices he wants to. If the author pulls an app from play.google.com, he is out of lock.

For this reason I only use programs for which I can download an apk file for any device.

Re:It seems arrogant (2)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#42715061)

It's trivial to create a backup apk file of just about any installed app, FOSS or not.

Re:It seems arrogant (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#42715189)

Are not APKs from play.google.com restricted to a single device?

Re:It seems arrogant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715265)

No

Re:It seems arrogant (4, Informative)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year ago | (#42715389)

The answer is, it depends. Some apps tie themselves to the system ID. Most will just re-download and re-install if your system ID changes. I recently unlocked my Asus TF700T tablet and one of the things that the Asus unlock tool does is change the system ID. Fortunately, I had Titanium Backup Pro installed and it allowed me to revert back to the original system ID.

Re:It seems arrogant (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42716907)

Are not APKs from play.google.com restricted to a single device?

Depends. If your device is a pre-4.2 Android, there is no DRM in the APK (Play for Android 4.2 added DRM on APKs to prevent ripping and distributing).

An older one is where an APK will use Google APIs to get a license, but I believe the APK can still be ripped from your Android and moved to another, as long as it's still associated with your account. It just "can't" be moved to another Android phone and used pirated.

I say "can't" as there are many Android APK patchers that can remove the license check - often they have a heuristic scan to work in most cases, and some require extra patching to work properly.

It's been a reason why Android piracy tends to be fairly large - and why Google still hasn't made it possible to just get the APK on your PC without involving your Android device so you can have a backup.

Re:It seems arrogant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715207)

>It's trivial to create a backup apk file of just about any installed app, FOSS or not.

OK, you nailed it. The user just needs the awareness to hold onto an apk and self-install, so there is no problem here.

Re:It seems arrogant (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715263)

For this reason I only use programs for which I can download an apk file for any device.

Which is all of them, thanks to standard Android tools. No need for FOSS here, author is just an idiot.

Re:It seems arrogant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716055)

If the author pulled the app from the google play store, the app is still on the user's phone.
If the user wants all those gnu/linux apps, install debian in a chroot and use a android vnc viewer to access those apps. Use the screen as a giant touch pad and you can see what you are doing.

Re:It seems arrogant (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42715023)

Its a "new device" problem. So you get a new device and you want to re-install XYZ, but the dev discontinued it and pulled it from the marketplace. Works fine, just got pulled / sold / merged into something you don't want / whatever.

If its OS I think you can assume it'll be downloadable forever as a .apk from "somewhere" perhaps your own desktop if nowhere else. May never be updated, but who cares if it works.

Re:It seems arrogant (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#42715145)

Its a "new device" problem. So you get a new device and you want to re-install XYZ, but the dev discontinued it and pulled it from the marketplace. Works fine, just got pulled / sold / merged into something you don't want / whatever.

If its OS I think you can assume it'll be downloadable forever as a .apk from "somewhere" perhaps your own desktop if nowhere else. May never be updated, but who cares if it works.

This raises (for me at least) the interesting question of what causes an app to be pulled from the marketplace... Seems that since there is no cost to leaving it there, that it will stay forever unless the developer is just tired of getting emails about how old\/buggy it is. There are plenty of apps in plain sight in the play store that are years old.

I do think Google could do a better job at inspiring/enforcing open source licenses, given that they have the means to repo the source code quite easily and could probably even go as far as to detect suspected GPL-based tools that are required to share their source. But then again, they are really just in it to make money.

Re:It seems arrogant (3, Informative)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | about a year ago | (#42715619)

Without knowing which app, we can't know for sure if it was pulled. The App Store filters (by default) apps based on whether they are compatible with your device(s) -- if you de-registered your old device and only have the new device registered,then incompatible apps will not be shown.

Re:It seems arrogant (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about a year ago | (#42715843)

Or you can go to the Play store on your PC and see all the listings. The infobar to the left will tell you whether the devices you currently have registered are compatible or not.

Re:It seems arrogant (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42717569)

This raises (for me at least) the interesting question of what causes an app to be pulled from the marketplace...

Up there for awhile, no one cares, Oprah / MSM discovers it and oh oh creepy gotta pull it (that girl radar thing for 4sq)

I wrote this myself for learning purposes, now I got a great job where "da man" says I am not allowed to directly compete with his line of work

You know how I said this was free? Well I wanna dollar now.

You can look at arbitrary files with this. Oh apple noticed that pr0n is a subset of arbitrary files. Pulled.

Don't devs have to pay money to be listed on the store? That kinda sets a hard limit, if someone wants to get out of the biz with no further liability...

Re:It seems arrogant (3, Interesting)

rknop (240417) | about a year ago | (#42715377)

Free, open-source program repositories are littered with abandonware. That is one of the real hurdles for open-source adoption in enterprises

While strictly true, there is a difference. If something is proprietary, and the developer either goes out of business or decides not to update it any more, and if the developer doesn't sell or otherwise give away the rights, that's it. You're done. The app cannot legally be updated any more, and often can't even legally be available.

With free software, however, there's no guarantee that it will continue to be updated. However, it's at least possible. This is a huge difference. This is why it was so great that Blender went Free Software when it's company gave up on it; there would be no Blender now if it weren't for the fact that it went free.

Re:It seems arrogant (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716579)

Use Creator Studio Lite to provoke new thinking and new ideas, and to apply them to creative problem solving, to create new solutions, inventions and innovations. Creator Studio Lite offers a variety of Creativity Studios. Each Studio is specialized for achieving a specific type of creative thinking task and composed of a select group of automated Creativity Tools.

Creator Studio Lite is FREE.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.compxpressinc.CreatorStudioLite

We have no plans to pull this app from the Google Play store.

Wishing You many Great Ideas!
CompXpress, Inc.

Re:It seems arrogant (1)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#42716967)

Closed-source abandonware can't be rescued. Sure, you can keep hold of binaries, but it'll never see another bug fix or new feature. It'll never get ported to another OS. If a change to the OS breaks it, it'll stay broken -- short of editing the binary, which is a fairly rare skill.

Open source abandonware can be rescued. If a bug needs fixing, or you want a feature, you can make it happen -- either by hacking at it yourself, or by paying someone else to do it for you.

Help porting them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714955)

Considering that Android devices even remotely appropriate for handling content creation tasks haven't been around that long (not to mention that Android only really hit stability/usability critical mass at/around Ice Cream Sandwich) it seems like there may just not have been enough developers or time yet to port every FOSS project over to Android. Especially something as complex as Blender... One possibility to is pick something you'd really like to see and try to organize work on a port yourself. Or find one that's in progress and contribute something. Might have to give a little before you can take in this case.

F-Droid is your friend (5, Informative)

cerberusss (660701) | about a year ago | (#42714957)

F-Droid is the Android open source repository.

http://f-droid.org/ [f-droid.org]

F-Droid is pretty much all you need, too. (1)

Benanov (583592) | about a year ago | (#42715247)

All the other comments really just sort of become unnecessary when you consider the capability of F-Droid.

You can run your own repos with it, it's not just a gateway to the website.

Re:F-Droid is pretty much all you need, too. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715533)

All the other comments really just sort of become unnecessary when you consider the capability of F-Droid.

Most of the other comments were unnecessary anyway, considering that most of them are focused on questioning the author's motives/capabilities/intelligence, because plenty of Slashdot denizens are dicks like that.

Re:F-Droid is your friend (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42716179)

Ah, neat. If you only see a dozen odd apps, click on 'What's New' and change that to 'All'. It wasn't clearly obvious to me (brand new JB install) that this was a menu widget.

Re:F-Droid is your friend (2)

Weezul (52464) | about a year ago | (#42716557)

Android security software is largely organized by guardianproject.info [guardianproject.info] .

F-droid (0)

ameen.ross (2498000) | about a year ago | (#42714961)

is an appstore with just FLOSS applications and it's growing.

Not quite (1)

Benanov (583592) | about a year ago | (#42715237)

It's not an "appstore" unless by "store" you mean "repository" instead of "shop" - F-Droid is more accurately a repository client, that ships with the F-Droid FLOSS Repository pre-configured.

You can run your OWN repository; some people use this to back up purchased .APKs, as F-Droid supports versioning.

First? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714963)

Frdroid http://f-droid.org/ is a market that only has foss apps.Everything you install from there is open source.
It has nearly everything from great emulators,a few games over navigation software up to office programs.Should fit your bill

f-droid.org (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714975)

http://f-droid.org/

F-Droid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714977)

F-Droid is a tolerable replacement for the google play store. Everything on there is FOSS to my knowledge.

Exercise in Futility (1)

Terry Pearson (935552) | about a year ago | (#42714979)

This is just an exercise in futility. Most software gets abandoned at some point. One usually owns a cell phone for two years. If it works for that time period, who cares if it is abandoned later? This is not an attack on open source solutions (I'm all for them), I just feel that restricting yourself to only open source for fear of abandonment is a little bit like a single guy staying away from all girls because one dumped him once.

Re:Exercise in Futility (4, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#42715041)

If an application is no longer available from play.google.com, he cannot download it to his next phone. If he downloaded an unrestricted APK from the author or f-droid, he can install it on his next phone.

Re:Exercise in Futility (2)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#42715065)

The assumption is that in 2 years, you'll get a new phone......of the same platform (Android in this case). And the first thing you'll do is try to install all of the applications that you had on your old phone. If the app has been pulled between original install and new phone, you're out of luck -- and if that app is part of your daily flow, your flow is now disrupted until you find a suitable replacement.

Of course, I'm more interested in features, so I'd use the closed source app and then deal with the problem if/when it comes into play rather than limit my selection to FOSS apps.

Re:Exercise in Futility (2)

Benanov (583592) | about a year ago | (#42715253)

And actually, F-Droid *works* for that scenario. You can run your own repo, so you can back up your .APKs to that.

Re:Exercise in Futility (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year ago | (#42715439)

> If the app has been pulled between original install
> and new phone, you're out of luck

Really? Is Android's store really that restricted, or do people depend on "the cloud" too much? People bitch a lot about Apple, but BY DEFAULT it will make local copies of your apps when syncing/backing up. I've never lost an iOS app, and there are a handful I use that aren't in the store that have survived multiple rounds of backup/restore and new phone purchases. The only bad thing I've run into is old apps that no longer work on the current OS.

Re:Exercise in Futility (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#42716549)

I'm not running Android, so I can't say for sure (well, my original Kindle Fire is, but it's on an island compared to most Android installs), but you aren't going to just back-up and restore from say an HTC to a Motorola phone because you are not only changing OS versions but also changing hardware vendors. So your natural path would be to go back to the app store and click "install". If the app has been pulled, that path isn't available. You might resort to copying the APK from one to the other, but "your grandma" (in other words, some random less technical person -- your specific grandma might be an exception) won't do that.

Re:Exercise in Futility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715071)

I think your right in both your examples but I don't get your point. You insensitive clod.

Re:Exercise in Futility (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#42715153)

restricting yourself to only open source for fear of abandonment is a little bit like a single guy staying away from all girls because one dumped him once.

This is slashdot, jeez. Car metaphor (simile) please.

Joey Sneddon DEAD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715021)

BREAKING NEWS: JOEY-ELIJAH SNEDDON FOUND DEAD
OMG! Ubuntu! Founder found dead at his London flat

Police believe the young genius, who practically invented micro-peen pornography, committed suicide.

"He once looked at the W3C specs on HTML5, the Internet would not work without him."
-- Snoop Dogg

"He was a true genius. He put Ubuntu on my laptop when I wasn't looking, I was angry at the time, but now I think it was a true act of rebellion, of protest, an expression of angst and almost desperation to create a better world. The Internet has lost a wise man and its greatest prophet this day."
-- Milena Velba

It is believed Sneddon wanked himself to death after being harrased by the evil government for not paying a parking ticket.

The overweening, overbearing government of the UK had sent several harassing letters to the poor, depressed man-boy, politely requesting payment.

music and pdf (1)

oever (233119) | about a year ago | (#42715027)

MuseScore Player [google.com]
Partly closed but based on MuseScore from the same people.

EbookDroid [google.com] Nice PDF reader.

Great collection of F/LOSS security/privacy tools (4, Informative)

griffjon (14945) | about a year ago | (#42715033)

The Guardian Project develops and maintains a list of great security and privacy tools (Tor for android, secure chat, encrypted VOIP, PGP support for email... ). They're generally cross-posted on f-droid, and you can find play, f-droid and source links here: https://guardianproject.info/apps/ [guardianproject.info]

What is the point? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715045)

Have fun with all that. The rest of us will be actually using our devices and being productive.

don't rely on the play store (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about a year ago | (#42715051)

There are loads of free apps but not many open source ones, which is a shame but many developers give away apps in order to entice you to a paid version.

For developers that hope to make money from apps you may find it forked and sold. A shame really as there is a lot to be learnt from working code.

However wouldn't applications like titanium backup allow you to create your own local repository of applications.

Just one further thing in the play store it used to be possible to sort out your application history so you could easily find the apps you already paid for so you could reinstall them this doesnt seem to be possible now and is annoying
         

free (or too cheap) is not sustainable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715059)

Dude, the quest to avoid "abandonware" on the android or linux platforms is almost pointless. If you find a useful application, install it. Do not worry that this latest text editor will go obsolete (most likely since the developer has to get a real job), just use what you have.

The android marketplace (and also Apple's) have economic issues where the application price is not really enough to cover multiple years of support for an application.

But there are a great deal of free applications that are good enough to use. It is just that their developers eventually need to make more money and abandon these applications as they no longer can put in any time for free.

Re:free (or too cheap) is not sustainable (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42715319)

If you find a useful application, install it.

The problem here involves finding a useful application, replacing one's device, and being unable to reinstall it because it has been removed from the repository.

Re:free (or too cheap) is not sustainable (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about a year ago | (#42715997)

So backup your apps from the device you originally installed them on. Some apps are restricted from being backed up without a rooted device, but 90% of them are not.

Re:free (or too cheap) is not sustainable (1)

Wookact (2804191) | about a year ago | (#42716003)

It is real easy to use any of the backup tools on the app store to create apks of installed apps. I used this to keep a copy of the local newspaper app that became bloated and full of ads. I was even easily able to copy the app to other devices to install it there.

For a good time install... (2)

bestadvocate (816742) | about a year ago | (#42715063)

Freeciv. Clunky and old but graphics don't make or break civ games.

Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#42715099)

You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

Ok I think you need to step back for a glass of perspective and soda. Smart phones and tablets are cool devices. In particular smart phones because it means you can get e-mail, web, etc anywhere you are. That is really useful. However they are really only good at content consumption. A touch screen interface is not very efficient for most software out there, at least at this point, and isn't very good for most creation in general since you hand obscure what you are working on.

The bigger problem is just power. For example I have a Galaxy Note II, one of the most powerful smartphones you can get right now. For all that it features 2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit processor that gets maybe 2 MIPS per MHz per core in the real world, and 16GB of total storage. Compare that to my desktop, which is not all that pricey, that has 2GB just for video RAM, 16GB of system RAM a 3.6GHz 64-bit processor that pulls 114 GIPS no problem on a real world benchmark and has a few TB of storage.

For A/V work, you really, really, want a real system. Heck for pretty much any creation, you want a real system. A tablet is fine for watching a video, it would suck for editing one. A smartphone is fine for reading a website, but I sure wouldn't want tot type this post out on one.

Also, perhaps you should define your desired use better, since Blender is really a 3D creation program, not an A/V editor. Sony Vegas would be an example of an A/V editor.

If you are just fishing for programs, well then stop. There's no reason. Programs on any platform, smartphone, desktop, whatever, exist to solve problems, to do things we need done. So figure out what it is you need to do, then you can ask about software.

However keep it realistic. If you want a suggestion for something to read eBooks, I can give you a good one. If you want an SSH or RDP client, I can suggest one though you'll find they are really good for emergencies only, real work is best done on a computer. If you want to cut a movie, then put down the tablet, and grab a real system.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715155)

Blender's controls take a bit of practice with a mouse and keyboard, I cant imagine how you would try with a touchscreen.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715261)

iMovie for iPhone

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imovie/id377298193?mt=8

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715347)

iMovie for iPhone

Checkmate, fandroids. Android is toast.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Interesting)

MacDork (560499) | about a year ago | (#42715277)

they are really only good at content consumption

I've installed ubuntu on my SGSIII. With a bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and 23' TV, it makes a half decent desktop. I'm looking forward to the faster processors this year. If they're fast enough, I may ditch my laptop. A padphone type device with a keyboard would be ideal.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715639)

Yep use the phone for everything, and when you inevitably drop it in the toilet you will be SOL.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715369)

Talking about perspective, we have been editing video in computers from quite a long time now; I remember a a friend of my father who filmed weedings and such and edited the video in a couple of amigas. about then years later my brother edited his videos in a Pentium III desktop not very far in specs from your phone. I don't see the problem here.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | about a year ago | (#42715427)

Heck for pretty much any creation, you want a real system. A tablet is fine for watching a video, it would suck for editing one.

Ummm. No. This is knee-jerk conservatism. There are already video editing apps for the iPad, one of them by Avid, 3d modeling apps from players like Autodesk, and absolutely no end of audio apps, some of them being used to crank out pro-quality product.

Sure, a full-blown workstation will provide more screen real-estate, storage and processing power - but those little phones have more oomph in them than professional workstations used to model Jurassic Park or compose and master the Fight Club soundtrack. Software options are catching up rapidly as developers and users learn how to work with the new user interface constraints.

Projects like Blender need to start figuring out how their application is going to work without a mouse and keyboard, as that's where the users are going. Once upon a time, it was inconceivable you'd need to develop a GUI for your application, too - non-touch interfaces are starting to look a lot like Word Perfect for DOS.

Sticker shock of "a real system" (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42715431)

You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

Yes. A cell phone includes a camcorder, and based on my sample, a growing number of people choose to own only a cell phone and not a desktop computer.

However they are really only good at content consumption.

I'll assume that by "content consumption" you mean "viewing works created by others". Being able to do limited creation on a pocket computer eases the barrier to entry for people who want to step up from viewing to creating. See my other comment about upward mobility [slashdot.org] .

The bigger problem is just power.

The "2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit [multicore] processor" is more than a lot of PC owners had during the Windows XP era.

Heck for pretty much any creation, you want a real system.

Not everybody has the money to spare in the checking account to buy "a real system" today. An application for a phone or tablet lets the user get started with creation while saving up for "a real system". As more people choose to buy only a smartphone and/or a tablet instead of "a real system", the economies of scale that currently make desktop PCs affordable are likely to evaporate. Look at how the price of a small laptop has shot up over the past couple months.

A smartphone is fine for reading a website, but I sure wouldn't want tot type this post out on one.

I've typed Slashdot posts on a Bluetooth keyboard paired to a tablet whose screen isn't much bigger than a Galaxy Note "phablet".

Re:Sticker shock of "a real system" (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#42715957)

"The "2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit [multicore] processor" is more than a lot of PC owners had during the Windows XP era."

You try editing video on a desktop back in that era? You were only doing SD, and it was rather painful. You did a lot of waiting, a lot of bouncing to disk. Hence you saw professional work done almost exclusively on hardware assisted systems. Now? Not too bad to edit HD video on a desktop, particularly if you have a GPU to assist with rendering.

Technology progresses, what we can do with it changes. A time may come when editing video is a trivial on a smartphone. That time is not now. It only recently became pretty decent on good desktop hardware.

Re:Sticker shock of "a real system" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716095)

the only issue is *software*, not *hardware*.

there are quadcore android devices coming out. with quite fast gpus

you can bet your ass that good written software could do video editing on a device like that.

Edit LD while building a script to edit SD/HD (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42716393)

You try editing video on a desktop back in that era?

Yes.

You were only doing SD, and it was rather painful. You did a lot of waiting, a lot of bouncing to disk.

You also do "a lot of waiting" while you save up hundreds of dollars of your disposable income for a PC.

A processor- and memory-efficient editor will make a copy of the source videos scaled down to LD (e.g. 240p), let the user manipulate those videos, and save the user's edit decision list [wikipedia.org] for later rendering to SD or HD. Even if the full-resolution render takes overnight while the phone is on the charger, it's still better than having to wait until you've bought a PC.

Re:Sticker shock of "a real system" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42718411)

The "2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit [multicore] processor" is more than a lot of PC owners had during the Windows XP era.

But were those PC owners editing 1080p HD videos on a 4" touch screen?

You are in for a shock very soon (1)

Gibgezr (2025238) | about a year ago | (#42715589)

At the Montreal International Game Summit last fall, I believe it was Tim Sweeney that told the audience that the quickest growth in system power was going to be in the area of cell phones. He stated that in a very short time the average smart phone would be as powerful as our current desktops.

Given power like that is coming down the pipe fast, I expect MANY people will be editing videos on their smart phones in the near future.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#42716449)

You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

Ok I think you need to step back for a glass of perspective and soda.

I think you need to step forward and see what people are doing on iPads and iPhones today. There are a lot of video CREATION and editing applications.

Why should Android users have to suffer with lower capabilities just because the technical elite deem some task silly, or only fit for "real computers"?

It's the worst form of technical snobbery to claim that device X "cannot do" Y, and undermines the very sprit of hacking itself that anything should be possible on ANYTHING with enough effort.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year ago | (#42716769)

You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

Ok I think you need to step back for a glass of perspective and soda.

I think you need to step forward and see what people are doing on iPads and iPhones today. There are a lot of video CREATION and editing applications.

Why should Android users have to suffer with lower capabilities just because the technical elite deem some task silly, or only fit for "real computers"?

It's the worst form of technical snobbery to claim that device X "cannot do" Y, and undermines the very sprit of hacking itself that anything should be possible on ANYTHING with enough effort.

Hmmm...I was leaning towards the OP's position at first, but you make a very good point.

You also reminded me of one of my own pet peeves: the fact that the Handbrake developers decided that people should not be able to use their software on a netbook, despite the interface being pretty much completely scalable. They even throw in a snotty little dialog box that tells people that Handbrake won't work for screen resolutions under 1024x620...but it can operate just fine as long as you take out that artificial limitation, as this fellow [wordpress.com] demonstrates. Yes, it's slower (if you're actually running it on your netbook and not on an RDP session), and yes, the screen's a bit crowded, but it works and it allows me to re-encode video while away from my main systems. I set up an encode queue for overnight, and boom, it's done in the morning. On. My. Netbook.

Apparently it's been such an issue for Handbrake that it's made their FAQ page. The dev's response? "Please note, we do not intend to support netbooks or systems with low resolution screens." Now that's just being elitist.

So I suppose video editing on a tablet or phone should be just as possible, within limitations, as it is on a netbook. Yes, it'll typically take longer than it would using a 'proper' system, but that's one of the trade-offs one should expect. At least provide the tools, and let us decide how and where to use them!

Re:Wait, what? (1)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#42717063)

You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

My Samsung S2 (so, last gen) has a video editing app as standard.

It's pretty basic - string together a series of videos or stills from the gallery - stuff you've filmed on your phone, or imported in - add transition effects and a soundtrack - tell it to render then upload it to YouTube. But it works. It's more intuitive than iMovie; it would be fine for the video equivalent of the holiday photo album.

I think it's a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715185)

to refuse to use non-open software because it might get discontinued. You're trading a situation where you can use the software to your advantage now, and fall back on another product later, for one where you have to fall back immediately. Assuming you're smart enough to be able to handle both pieces of software, the closed one is superior, and there's no data lock-in, one should use the superior software for as long as they can.

If my assumptions are incorrect, please disregard, and have a wonderful day either way.

Can I suggest "be more practical"? (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year ago | (#42715305)

> I've decided to install only apps that won't become obsolete merely
> because of the developer's whim or lack of interest... I don't want to
> install potential abandonware...

Life is full of uncertainty. Just as "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all", I'd rather use a helpful app and then lose it than not have ever used it at all. If it's important, then by all means, do what you can to keep your data usable if the worst should happen, but even OSS apps can become abandoned. Unless you're willing to code them yourself, there are no guarantees.

Personally, my bigger problem is apps changing over time into something I don't like. This happens with open-souce apps, closed apps from the biggest companies in the world, and everything in between. Such is life.

What constitutes abandonware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715315)

I've known many stable software releases to go years at a time between updates because there isn't anything to fix.

Focus on Open Storage Formats (2)

Frightened_Turtle (592418) | about a year ago | (#42715371)

Programs will come and go, whether commercial or not. What was more important to me was that the data I created was easily accessible by other programs should the need arise to replace what I was using. I've been burned a few times by using a word processor that was discontinued, and being stuck for trying to get my writings out of the files in which my work contained. Going from Wordperfect to Word to other word processors has been a pain. Whenever many programs are updated, their proprietary file formats also undergo a change that often means no backwards compatibility. This, too, can be a pain. Image processing programs (e.g. Photoshop, GIMP, Painter, etc.) have the same issues.

I finally learned to focus on programs that save in a format that is openly accessible to other programs. Or even better, store that data in a "human readable" format such as XML. When XML-based, it is a simple matter to write a script in PHP or Python to strip my data from the file and save it in another format that another program can use.

Learn to save backup files in formats that are open for other programs to access. Focus on programs that save to open formats that can either be used by other programs or in the event of an emergency, you can extract your work from the file manually. A good example of this in a word processor is Redler's Mellel [redlers.com] . Their "native" format is a zip-compressed XML file, similar in concept to an EPUB file. Microsoft's DOCX file is also an XML file that can have the data extracted by a shell script if needed.

Sometimes I wish there weren't updates (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year ago | (#42715423)

Slightly off-topic, but sometimes I wish there weren't updates - or, rather, that the authors did a better job of keeping in mind the ramifications of their updates. Google's Play store doesn't help, though.

Just to venture on-topic for a moment.. keep the APK files around. Even if there's never an update, at least you'll still have the app. If the app also relies on a service, and that service goes down, you're still screwed. (F/L)OSS can help there, but only if you feel like compiling things yourself and actually know how the service worked.

Back off-topic.. an example of a bad update, Flightradar24 (Pro). I'm not even talking about the recent breaking of features, I'm sure that will be fixed. I am, however, talking about the 10MB+ that the app now is thanks to high resolution graphics for 'retina display' tablets getting included. For the top of the line phones, that doesn't matter - especially if they're running Android 4.whatever. For anything else, 10MB+ over the 2MB it used to be means you may have to juggle things around to get 20MB+ of free space before you can grab the app and have it not complain about free space. Even for the phones that don't have that problem, though, that's a bunch of resources being used for no particularly good reason.
One solution would be to split this out to different apps. But then of course the popularity of the app gets split out (which means you rank lower in Google Play, etc.), users end up downloading wrong versions, etc. So I can understand why most developers don't (some do split out HD versions, usually with a higher price on that version).

Another solution would be for the Play store to actually only serve up an APK with resources applicable to your device. It already knows whether an app can or cannot run on it, based on hardware specifications, the APK already has resources split out to various resolutions, and not too long ago the Play store started serving up update 'patches' rather than the full APK if the app is already installed. Would be nice if they put these things to good use.

Time for a '(system) storage is cheap'-phone upgrade, I suppose.

Re:Sometimes I wish there weren't updates (2)

nevermore94 (789194) | about a year ago | (#42718459)

I am not familiar with this particular app, but I would say that this is totally the fault of the developer. The Android/Google Play Store is capable of and designed to have separate optionally downloadable resource content from the main apk. Many games do this by downloading the appropriate resolution of graphics for the device that they are installed on after the main apk has been installed. If the developer is just lumping all of their HD graphics into the same apk they are probably just being lazy or don't know how to split the content out, but this is not Google or Android's problem.

I also consider anytime you see separate regular and HD versions of an app to be a bad thing as this has not been necessary for a long time. Particularly with paid apps, I think it is just an attempt to get you to buy it twice for phone and tablet, and not the result of any technical limitation.

Backups? (2)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about a year ago | (#42715447)

How about you don't worry about abandonware and, instead, keep a backup of all your apps (and any associated data) using something like Titanium Backup? Then, if something is pulled off the store you still have an apk you can install from if necessary. I know this doesn't handle new features but it would let you keep using something you really like.

Not a good policy to avoid abandonware (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | about a year ago | (#42715449)

To avoid abandonware you have to look for software developed by a strong group of well-organized developers that have a history of maintaining their software. The most reliable may be open-source developers or they may be commercial. If a project like VLC is abandoned, are you really going to take over developing VLC yourself, fixing all the bugs when the new version of Android comes out? Is that really better than just learning whatever video player has replaced VLC?

SDL apps (1)

Dennis Sheil (1706056) | about a year ago | (#42715515)

The Simple Directmedia Library (SDL) is a cross-platform library which there are many apps for, especially games. These games are ofte cross platform for Windows, Mac and Linux, and there are some fairly popular ones.

There is a lot of software out there under SDL 1.2 and before. SDL 1.3 and on was completely rewritten, relicensed and there is not anywhere near as much software out there using it. There are ports of both to Android - the SDL team did a 1.3 and on port, a fellow named Sergii Pylypenko ported SDL 1.2 to Android, as well as a lot of supporting libraries, as well as a number of games.

The best of them is the Quake III Arena clone OpenArena [google.com] . It was just release and still has a little cleanup to do, but is not that buggy and has a 4.0 rating. He has been fixing it up more and those problems are sure to be dealth with. He has other [google.com] ports of popular open source games to Android as well - OpenTTD, and GemRB (Baldur's Gate engine). Gerhard Stein [google.com] has put out some of these - Free Heroes and VCMI (Heroes of Might and Magic engine), Commander Genius and OpenTyrian.

I have done a few of these open source SDL ports as well, with two on Google Play right now. One is an anime-style puzzle game Lily Hop [google.com] , based off the open source Hex-a-hop game. I think the port came out well, although it is not popular and even if it was I am not exactly sure how I would monetize it even with ads.

Another open source SDL port I did is of the popular Linux math game Tux of Math Command, which I call
Free Math Games for Kids [google.com] . That one is more popular - it has been downloaded over 35,000 times since the summer, and gets several hundred downloads a day. It could probably be more popular if I did more work on it - the original has translations to many languages, but I only offer it in English and Spanish currently. I have just been too busy to implement the other translations.

ServeStream (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715537)

ServeStream is great for listening to online radio streams and/or streaming music from a media server.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/servestream/

Re:ServeStream (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about a year ago | (#42716485)

That's excellent, I've been looking for a good streaming media player. Everything in the market is rubbish!

Total Commander (4, Insightful)

Frederic54 (3788) | about a year ago | (#42715553)

20 years ago I used NortonCommander aka NC in MSDOS, in Windows 3 I started using WindowsCommander, a NC clone running in Windows. It has been renamed TotalCommander years ago because of TM.

It is still being developped, and is avalaible for free in Android. Best app ever.

ServeStream (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715633)

ServeStream is open source. It's good for listening to online radio streams and/or streaming from a media server.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/servestream/

Re:ServeStream (1)

William Seemann (2826545) | about a year ago | (#42716001)

I developed this application, hopefully someone finds it to be useful. As always, I welcome feedback and/or contributions.

Reality Check, Please! (0)

macs4all (973270) | about a year ago | (#42715681)

The OP is living in a fantasy world, and needs some mental help. Seriously.

So he's going to spend his life maintaining software for himself. I mean REALLY? And what happens when he simply CAN'T do the updating, due to lack of skill or time? VLC, Firefox, and anything but the simplest of other packages typically require a whole group of developers to maintain them, so goo luck with that!

Also, with things like VLC and Firefox, the "world" itself, that is to say things like CODECs used, HTML versions, etc. can, and will change. Is he then going to chase THAT, too?!?

Listen up, buddy: NO ONE likes it when their favorite software package, music, TV show, or book-series gets abandoned. But (unlike you), we have learned that life is too short to try and keep our own personal version of "reality" going all by ourselves.

In short: Grow up, dude!!!

It's 'just another RPG', but... (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year ago | (#42715825)

Check out Andor's Trail [google.com] by Oskar Wiksten and Scott Devaney (primary devs, others have also contributed of course). It's also available through the Play store. [google.com]

If you're a fan of old-school hack & slash RPG's like Legend of Zelda, this is a delightful variant with hours (and hours and hours) of addicting gameplay :o)

Re:It's 'just another RPG', but... (1)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#42716193)

Well, I played andor's trail a year ago. I pretty much finished it, in the sense that there was nothing more to do. The game was not complete at this point. It did not take me hours and hours and hours to finish it: maybe a week of playing before going to bed.

It is definitely worth checking out and maybe there is more content now. But if you are going for hours and hours of content, one will be disappointed.

OwnCloud (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715835)

If you have a (freeware, open source) OwnCloud (private cloud) server, you may want the following for Android.
OwnCloud client - (a few bucks, open source, free if you build it yourself) sync files with OwnCloud.
CardDav-sync - (a few bucks, open source, free if you build it yourself) sync contacts with OwnCloud into your contact managers.
CalDav-sync - (a few bucks, open source, free if you build it yourself) sync calendars in OwnCloud into your calender apps.
Just Player - (freeware, open source) sync music with OwnCloud and play it.

"won't become obsolete" - on mobile hardware!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716523)

Mobile hardware has a six-month half life. Even if you use the old devices after they're obsolete, the batteries can't be changed and they eventually brick themselves. Software being abandoned is not a big concern.

Root, install Titanium Backup Pro... Profit!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716539)

Just root your phone, install Titanium Backup Pro and set your app apks to be backed up periodically. You could even have it push backups to the cloud (Dropbox, etc). If any app gets pulled, you will still have the backup to restore. Op's reaction is a bit ridiculous in how extreme it is. There is tons of FOSS abandonware out there and if you are willing to maintain an improve an abandoned FOSS app yourself...perhaps you should begin developing your own app. That way you can a) Sell it on the app store and b) always have a free copy with full access to the source code!

Calm down (1)

itsphilip (934602) | about a year ago | (#42716545)

"I've decided to install only apps that won't become obsolete merely because of the developer's whim or lack of interest. With the exception of games, which I don't deem essential for work, I don't want to install potential abandonware even if they cost the pauperly sum of $0.00." Why are you so angry at people that give you stuff for free? Your tone is really unappreciative; developers often make OSS for FREE.

Necessitas - Qt for Android (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716631)

Just forget about crappy Android apps and write a proper Qt one with Necessitas [kde.org] ! :)

Not a naysayer but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717203)

I've had an android and now iPhone and to be honest, I can't really think of any apps outside of the basic browser, email, phone, and whatnot that come with them as any good, and outside of the camera and the phone, I actually prefer to use a real computer for the other ones, and only choose the phone versions for convenience or if I am bored or something.

OK, evernote can be handy, but again I use the computer version most often and if the phone version didn't exist, I wouldn't complain. Why I posted this here, is because after hours of being posted on slashdot, not an app has been posted of value. Only a FOSS app repository, and not a single need to have app. So, I throw this back into the lion's den here, what apps are of any value on a "smart" phone?

Re:Not a naysayer but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717465)

If it works for you then fine, but some of us use our devices differently. For example, a fuel economy app is great since I usually have my phone with me when I refuel my car. Or sync my contacts to a CalDAV server which is only possible with an add-on. The list goes on...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...