Android this week: Custom ROM updates; Census app outed; AirPlay for Android


Fans of custom Android software should be happier this week thanks to a centralized service created for developers. Called OTA Update Center, it gives the creators of custom ROMs a place to store their software; helpful because without the service, these developers have to maintain or rent server space for their software. And Android device owners gain one place to get new ROMs or update their current ones, with full support for updates over the air.

Put together, this provides an infrastructure similar to what the network operators and handset makers have at their disposal for Android updates. The big difference, of course, is that OTA Update Center cuts out both of those parties and places control of Android software in the hands of users and developers. This would let device owners grab incremental ROM updates when they become available and would eliminate any need to connect their Android phone or tablet to a computer for the software installation.

If it seems like everyone is creating apps, these days, maybe that’s because they are. The U.S. Census Bureau released an Android app this week, but don’t get too excited: The software doesn’t take the place of the paper census forms we fill out every decade. Instead, the free app, called America’s Economy, provides updated information on the country’s economy. More than a dozen key economic indicators are shown in the app, updated in real-time as new data becomes available.

Since the economy is still in the doldrums, I may pass on that app, but I’m using Android HiFi now on a daily basis. This free software uses Apple’s AirPlay technology to stream an iTunes library to an Android phone or tablet over a Wi-Fi network. It works well and alleviates the need to keep an iTunes library in sync with an Android device. Making it better is a second app I found later in the week called Remote for iTunes.

I’m using the trial version of Remote for iTunes now and the full, paid version costs $4.99. While Android HiFi is good for listening to iTunes music, it doesn’t allow for remote control of that music; essentially, it acts as a server to play music. That’s where Remote for iTunes comes in to play. Now I can change tracks, albums, playlists or more in iTunes from my Android and even choose which speakers to use for playback. Of course, because of Android HiFi, one of those speaker choices is my Android device, making these apps a perfect pair.


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