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Droid Android Apps - Flash-Lights

We know that the cell phone is a multi-function device, but one of the more prosaic uses is to light up the screen and use it as a flashlight. Cell phones have replaced cigarette lighters to sway along with music in arenas (see New York Times article from 1998), and the kids in our neighborhood use them while running around at dusk playing capture the flag.

And smartphones offer even larger displays to illuminate even better, which has lead to fun and free Flashlight apps on the Apple iPhone, with features like control of brightness and color.

Developers for the new Verizon Droid smartphone also have created free flashlight apps, particularly as a way to get experience with programming for the Google Android platform. Since the Android development tools are openly available (see previous post), and there's no iPhone-like gatekeeper process inhibiting the release applications through the Android Market, developers are freer to experiment with new ideas, and can respond more rapidly to user feedback with updated releases.

For example, the FlashLight app from Flash-the-Brain lights up the screen with a bright circle.

You simply swipe vertically on the screen to adjust the circle's size and therefore the light's intensity.

You also can choose the color of the light, and there's an option to display an overlay with the brightness percent (apparently some users like it, and some want it off).

FlashLight is a simple app, nicely implemented, and has been quite popular -- it crossed 100,000 downloads in mid November.

But the Droid phone has another hardware component that can be used for lighting -- the LED flash light next to the camera lens on the back of the phone.

And since the Android development tools are available for anyone from individual developers to large companies, Motorola (the developer of the Droid hardware) has released a DroidLight LED Flash app (see AndroLib) that lights the flash -- powering on the LED to provide a rather intense light.

The simple DroidLight interface displays an image of a light bulb -- tap to turn the LED on and off. And you can leave the LED on even if you exit the app to do something else on the phone -- a recent update to the app now displays a notification in the status bar that the light is still on.

Another fun flash-light app to brighten up the Droid screen in a different way is Lightning Bug from 1908 Media.

Lightning Bug is a visual sound machine and an alarm clock.

As a sound machine to help you drift into a peaceful sleep, it displays a scene with calming rain and flashes of lightning. You can choose different scenes -- including beach, monastery, city skyline, white noise -- which add other optional sounds like birds, bells, and cars.

Lightning Bug also is a clock, alarm, and sleep timer integrated with the Android system clock. You also can set the screen to time out while still playing the sound effects for good dreams.

See my full article, Verizon Droid from Motorola: Android 2.0, for more on the Droid's design and features and technical specifications.

See my Mobile Communications Gallery for more on smartphones.

Find the Verizon Droid from Motorola on Amazon.com

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