Nov 26th, 2010

phanmailFriday is here, and so is another edition of PhanMail, the feature where we answer reader questions to give a bit of personal insight into the Android world. The questions keep getting better and better each week, and if you’d like to submit your own just head over to out PhanMail contact form and ask away.

What is the best application for recording calls?

While there are several options for recording calls available in the Android Market, you might be surprised to find out the in addition to handling your voicemail and giving you a single number that can be forwarded to multiple phones, Google Voice does a great job of handling call recording. The main drawback is the call you want to record has to be directed to your Google Voice number, but recording the call is as easy as pressing a few numbers on your keypad. Once the recording is finished it is automatically stored online and accessible via Google Voice on your computer.

Why does the Market have so few categories for apps? I’d prefer more categories with the “apps” or perhaps subcategories within the main categories section. Also, why no ability to sort by “most downloads” or “best rated”?

The Android Market has been a thorn in the operating system’s side since the beginning. If it wasn’t the fact that it initially held far less apps than the competing iOS store (it still trails by a large margin, but I don’t think you’ll be complaining about the 100,000+ available apps), complaints have rested on Google’s handling of the Market presentation. Third party sites like AppBrain have already done a great deal to enhance the Market browsing experience via your phone and PC, but Google is gearing up for a major overhaul to their Market website. Expect the advanced sorting options to be present in that new version, as well as the ability to push app downloads to your phone while browsing on your computer.

Hello , I have an HTC evo 4g. And I want to know if there is some kind of website or app that will change the notification/status bar color to look like the notification bar on , lets say a Nexus One for example instead of the original HTC sence notification bar, although the bar is nice i want to start something new , thank you.

When it comes to customizing the look of your Android, you have several options on the HTC EVO 4G and other handsets. For a less technical way to gain access to UI changes you could download what is known as a Launcher application, which places a new skin overtop of your existing Android interface. One favorite is ADW Launcher, which allows some notification customization through its various themes. A more advanced option would be to dabble with rooting your handset and installing one of the numerous custom ROMs available. Before you consider rooting you should most definitely read up on it at AndroidForums, as there is a risk you could brick your device.

Which no-contract carrier would be best for a Galaxy Tab?

This choice will boil down to preference and plan pricing more than anything else. Each carrier has some unique advantages as well as drawbacks. Personally I would skip AT&T all together, I have never had much luck with their network, but between T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint the choice is a little more difficult. All run on 3G and have month to month plans priced around $30, though the T-Mobile version might see a slight speed boost due to backwards compatibility with their HSPA+ network (which in itself is an advanced 3G technology, even if touted as 4G). You may find that you don’t even need coverage from a carrier, in which case you might want to wait a bit longer for the Wi-Fi only version, which will land at a lower price.

I would like to know when the program iks coming out that would allow u to add apps to yr SD card. I have a Motorola Cliq.

Unless you root your device (see HTC EVO questions above), there is no application that will allow you to move apps to your SD card. This functionality is built into Android as part of the 2.2 Froyo update, but seeing as the Motorola Cliq struggled to even make it to Android 2.1, we don’t feel good about Froyo making it to the handset. The update timeline currently lists no plans to move in that direction.

For others wondering, in Froyo apps that are designed to include the functionality have the option to be moved to the SD card via your Settings/Applications menu. If your phone memory is full and an app can be SD installed, Android will install it to the SD card automatically.

I would really like to get rid of my ipod touch. As much as I’d like my Droid X to be an all-in-one, memory and battery life prevent that from happening for a power user like myself. Do you think the US will ever see a true android pmp competitor to the ipod touch? I’d like to see something with at least 64gb

Android PMPs are few and far between it seems. Samsung has been working on a variant of its Galaxy S line for use as a PMP, and many tablet makers are beginning to offer 4-inch versions that are sized like a phone while being focused on media exclusively. We definitely haven’t seen a device with the type of storage you are talking about. Will the US see a competitor to the iPod Touch? We hope so, but it might take a while until we see a really good one.

Why do you guys showcase Android apps for porn? Arn’t there some things people can just find out for themselves on the Android market? Just wonderin’ :P

Because Android is for porn ;). No, seriously, we don’t intend to “showcase” porn applications any more than other applications, but we do highlight them from time to time as we feel it opens up an interesting area of debate. Android, unlike iOS, is much more open in terms of what sorts of applications can and can’t be on devices. It has been a raging debate and a main point of contention from Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

We aren’t by any means encouraging or imploring our readers to be massive horndogs with Android phones filled to the brim with porn, but the mere fact that it is possible on an Android phone opens up an important discussion concerning how much control we have over our phones and the content we access via them.

So that’s that. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoys the rest of their weekend. See you next week!

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