2011-03-13

My list of favorite Android apps

I recently had to hard reset (i.e. factory reset) my Nexus One, meaning all the apps I had installed were gone, so I thought I'd list the apps I had on it or want on it to help me reinstall all of them and for future reference. Admittedly I should have done this before the hard reset since my brain's memory isn't very reliable. But what the hey!

The side effect is that my faithful readers may benefit from my suggestions. I will probably update this post as I see fit.
  • Words with Friends: The Android version of this game is extremely buggy at the moment (it crashes about 6000 times before I manage to finish a turn), but it was the first app I reinstalled so I could continue the games I was playing with my friends. A pleasant side effect of the hard reset was that games that had disappeared (due to bugs in the game I presume) magically reappeared. My opinion is that many of the bugs are due to the profuse use of ads. I would buy the paid version, but there isn't any for Android yet.
  • Scrabble Helper: For amazing your friends on how many obscure words you know in Words With Friends. OK, so it's cheating.
  • Google Sky Map: This is simply awesome! Don't know what that shiny thing in the night sky is? Just start up Google Sky Map, point your phone at it, and you'll amaze your friends with your astounding knowledge of astronomy. ("Oh, that's Venus.") Or point it at the day sky to see what you would see if the sun wasn't blotting everything out.
  • Satellite AR: Google Sky Map only shows you natural objects, but this app shows you satellites, space junk and all kinds of other man-made objects in the sky. It's especially fun to follow the International Space Station, which you can actually see with the naked eye, but who knew that without this app?
  • Iridium Flare Forecast: Satellite AR will show you what's happening right now, but this app will tell you when and where in the sky to look for the next pass of a satellite or the ISS. Now you can plan ahead for when to amaze your friends!
  • Google Goggles: There's not much I can add to what's already been said about this amazing app. Am I using the word "amaze" too much here? Well, I am amazed at everything you can do with these tiny handheld devices.
  • Barcode Scanner: Google Goggles does what this does and more. So why did I add this? I don't know. Go ask your mother.
  • Microsoft Tag Reader: You know those 2D "barcodes" with little black-and-white squares instead of bars that are called QR codes? Those things are great. You can do all kinds of stuff with them after you scan them with Google Goggles. So what does Microsoft do? The same thing they do with all great ideas. They reinvent them so they can brand them with the Microsoft name. I'm surprised they haven't come up with the "Microsoft Wheel" yet. Anyway, in case you see 2D "barcodes" with little colorful triangles (or other shapes) instead of black-and-white squares, they serve the same purpose as QR codes but are called Microsoft tags and you need a separate app to be able to read them. This is it. I only ever needed it to see a video about body painting after seeing a Microsoft tag in a magazine ad for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. (By the way, barcodes [with bars instead of squares or triangles] are 1D.)
  • Google Translate: This isn't quite a Star Trek universal translator, but it's getting there! Did I say it's amazing?
  • LEO dictionary: My favorite German-English dictionary. I also use it for German-French, German-Spanish and German-Italian.
  • Amazon Kindle: I didn't consciously choose this over other e-book readers. It's just the first one I happened to install. Still working my way through the free e-books.
  • Cardio Trainer: This is similar to Google's My Tracks, except that you're not limited to exercise where you move from one place to another. I use it mostly at the gym. Another advantage is that it automatically exports to Google Health, which Google's own app doesn't! The free version is adequate for me.
  • Blood Pressure Log: I use this to record and analyze my blood pressure, pulse and weight. It makes great graphs that you can export or send to e-mail addresses. It was worth it to me to make a small donation so it's ad-free. It doesn't export to Google Health yet, but the developer has said he's working on it. I don't know of any Android blood pressure app that exports to Google Health.
  • Catch Notes: This used to be called 3banana, and I use it to take text notes in all kinds of situations. No more searching around for pen and paper. It also syncs automatically to the web version. Its features have grown immensely since I first installed it. I just hope it doesn't get too bloated.
  • D-Measures: I work for a company that makes shower enclosures. With this app you can, for example, take a picture of your bathroom, then add little measurement lines with arrow points. For example, you can add dimensions of where you want your shower, e.g. 90 x 100 cm and 200 cm high. You can also add angles. Then e-mail the result to your bathroom supplier for an offer. The uses are (almost) endless. It costs $1.99 and has a 15-day free trial version.
  • Compass: For when you need a compass. I don't recommend using it while driving on the freeway to figure out if you're going the wrong way.
  • Mein A1: The remarkably featureless app of my mobile phone plan provider. For example, it doesn't tell me how high I've run my roaming fees or warn me if it gets higher than a certain amount.
  • Kik Messenger: Send text messages without paying highway-robbery texting fees. Supposedly similar to BlackBerry Messenger, but I don't have a BlackBerry, so I wouldn't know. The disadvantage is that both partners need Kik Messenger, so if your partner doesn't have a smartphone you're out of luck.
  • Skype: Use your data plan instead of your telephony plan to call someone for times when it would be cheaper that way.
  • Microsoft Tag Reader: You know those 2D "barcodes" with little black and white squares instead of bars that are called QR codes? Those things are great. You can do all kinds of stuff with them. So what does Microsoft do? The same thing they do with all great ideas. They reinvent them so they can brand them with the Microsoft name and hope to make billions of dollars with it. I'm surprised they haven't come up with the "Microsoft Wheel" yet. Anyway, in case you see little 2D "barcodes" with little colorful triangles instead of black and white squares, they serve the same purpose as QR codes but are called Microsoft tags, and you need a separate app to be able to read them. This is it. I only ever needed it to see a video of the history of body painting after seeing a Microsoft tag in a magazine ad for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. (OK, I know you can store more information in them because of the colors, but basically it's a reinvention of the wheel.)
  • Labyrinth Lite: One of the few games in my list, I don't play it much, but I like to keep it installed to show people some of the amazing things you can do with a smartphone. Yes, I still have some friends who don't have a smartphone.
  • Lotus Notes Traveler: My work mail, calendar and contacts apps. Unfortunately they don't sync with Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts, but at least I can check both calendars when making a new appointment, and I can answer work e-mails when I'm at a seminar or whatever for work.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: 'Nuff said.
  • Daily Dilbert: 'Nuff said.
  • Dropbox: Syncs your files online and across devices for access anywhere. Also a good way to send someone large files.
  • eBay: Everybody's favorite auction site.
I don't really see much point in installing competing apps to the ones pre-installed on my phone such as: Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Clock, Facebook, Gmail, Gallery, Maps, Navigation, News and Weather, and YouTube. The two exceptions are:
  • Winamp: Since Google Music is still vaporware and even if it was available wouldn't be available outside the US for about umpteen years, I used the Winamp app along with Winamp on my PC to import my iTunes library and sync that with my Nexus One. UPDATE: I would probably prefer Amazon Cloud Player, but it's not available outside the US. Darn!
  • TweetDeck: Lets you manage several Twitter accounts without having to log off and on all the time.
Following are apps that I'd kinda love to have or at least try out but can't because they're not available outside the US. Come on, guys!
  • Google Voice: Competition for Skype.
  • Square: Accept payments from anyone with an e-mail address on your Android device. Not even PayPal can do that, because the payee needs to have a PayPal account. People are much more likely to have an e-mail address than a PayPal account.
  • Amazon MP3: Including Cloud Player
And finally I'm testing the following:
  • Qype: A place rating service that seems to be based in the UK. It doesn't recognize some large cities in the US, for example Fairbanks, AK.
  • Xing: A business-oriented social network sorta like LinkedIn.
I'm looking forward to your comments on the apps above and on your favorite apps. I plan to update mine above as occasions arise.

4 comments:

  1. I just got my droidX. My favorite app is called "What's for Lunch?". It's an app to help you find a place to eat based on GPS zip code. The funny part is the monkey who will find a random place for you to eat. He does funny things and the backgrounds look like Jersey shore crew, Howard Stern and Charlie Sheen. Funny app.

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  2. One of my favorite apps for my phone is DISH Remote Access from DISH Network. To sum it all up, that app with the help of their Sling Adapter and DISH services lets me watch live and recorded TV through my phone anywhere I go as long as there is a Wifi or 3G connection. It's really cool! I heard about it when it first came out since I work with DISH and got mine right away! It's any TV lovers dream! :)

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  3. I like the DISH Remote Access too cause I have my 2 hours a day when I want to watch tv wherever I go! You've made me curious about the "What's for Lunch?" app, I'm a fan of all the fun applications!

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  4. Shopping is either pure bliss or torture depending on who you ask. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are on, Android apps will help you save money and allow you to become a more efficient shopper (which I'm sure appeals to most of you).

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