Monday, March 23, 2009

Android must-have and nice-to-have

I've had an android / g1 / htc dream for a little while now, and i've settled on the following 'keepers'.  I've installed many, many more apps or games or utilities, but none of them have lasted as long as those below.

Used daily:

  • BatteryStatus (Monmonja) - so, it just displays "28%" or whatever in big letters. I like.  I used Watts for a while, which helped me realise wifi just kills battery (and now remains mostly off)
  • KeePassDroid (Brian Pellin) - fantastic, since I use keepass on assorted computers already (i've long since abandoned SplashID)
  • Picassa Upload (Google) - fantastic - I had a similar thing on a SonyEricsson phone (in fact, it uploaded to blogger), but this is much nicer.
  • Shake Awake (Maplekey Company) - i'm on conference calls a lot, and this is really very helpful; quick wiggle and phone is awake.  Sorted.
  • Text Edit (Paul Mach) - very useful for quick notes, often todo lists.  Nice that it saves on memory card too.
  • ToggleWifi (Andrew Schwimmer) - used frequently, a must-have battery saver
  • Tricorder (Moonblink) - save the geeky star-trek ui (which I kind of like...), it's a nice way to track wifi hotspots, and to check GPS is actually working (google maps kind of hides the detail)

Used weekly:

  • My Tracks (My Tracks team) - this is sooo handy, I wish I had it when I was (more) in training.
  • Pkt Auctions (Bonfire Media, Inc.) - whenever i've got something to sell, or something to watch on ebay, this is brilliant.  Searching ebay isn't worth the hassle.
  • Quickpedia (Next Mobile Web) - my preferred way to browse wikipedia (nicer than via browser or other apps) due to a nice clean interface
  • Sandblaster (Logan Hanks) - how can you not have a falling sand game?
  • Zombie, Run! (Peter Dolan) - makes a quick stroll to the shops much more fun.  Scares the kids too.

Used less often:

  • aFileShare (mAPPNn Inc.) - used it once or twice, to find stuff
  • BetterBookmarks - the way to get nice favicon bookmarks on homescreen (instead of dull browser icon over and over again).  it's one of those must-haves, but only when you want to add bookmarks to homescreen (ie not very often)
  • Cinema (Greg Millam) - although I haven't actually used it - can't get movies in right format!
  • Compass (Bill Basaraba) - nice, but rarely used.  Maybe if I get lost with no mobile data signal...
  • Finance (Google) - mostly to track my employers share price, but it's not a daily kind of thing...
  • Mahjongg Solitaire (nitoware) - a really nice implementation, something to occupy 10 minutes on a bus
  • ShopSavvy (Big in Japan, Inc.) - on those rare occasions when i'm buying something kind of expensive, this is fantastic
  • SkyMap (Sky Map Team) - I really like this, but can't say I use it much. I find occasional views of the bright screen messes up my night vision...
  • Sodoku ( - not that i'm a fan, but it's nice to have it, for the odd 10 minutes here and there
  • Speedtest (Xtreme Labs) - handy to demonstrate HSDPA at work is faster than ADSL at home
  • ToggleBlu & ToggleGPS (Andrew Schwimmer) - installed alongside toggle wifi, but rarely used
I would add that Zombie, Run!, ShopSavvy, Skymap and Compass are probably my preferred 'show off android' apps, since they nicely blend features available (ie maps, gps, camera sensors) into something really new and interesting that i've not seen on other phones before.  You'll also note that these apps are all lower down in my 'most used' lists...  The dull stuff wins on true value-add.

UPDATE: Sept 2010 update here.  One thing I noticed is that many of these things are now  part of the core android, regardless of manufacturer (with some minor exceptions).  That is, apps are now true additions to the OS, not partly making up for absences in the OS.  Nice.


Neil said...

Ok, now having Magic with 1.5, list changed...
BatteryStatus, Shakeawake, and ToggleXXX not used; can't be bothered. And the cupcake/1.5 lock is easy enough. Picassa is built in, as is BetterBookmarks (kind of; built in now better on 1.5 - get a thumbnail favicon)
Google maps *edit* app is very, very good.
MyTracks is ok for rambling; CardioTrainer better for specific 'runs'.
Pointhome was written by a friend of mine, and I like. (hello Martin!)
ShopSavvy is preferable to Google's barcode thing, by a long shot; much more hits.
Astrid is *fantastic* for RememberTheMilk sync, and NewsRob is very good indeed for offline Google Reader, although I don't sync it regularly - so that when I come to use it, it's out of date...
I've added many many photos to contacts, and use those as shortcuts a lot.
Oh, and eRepublik renders very nicely indeed - much better than Firefox 3.0x on Ubuntu 9 NBR (which can't display pages properly).

Neil said...

And now with Cliq/Dext:
beebplayer - nice
bubble - simple...
cardio trainer - v. nice
compass - good, but I think I have duff hardware... [no compass in any app..]
facebook - yay..
flashlight - handy
sky map - as ever
here i am - this, I like... - fantastic
metal detector - neat, pointless
my maps editor - for rare use
my tracks - see cardio trainer
pkt auctions - rare use
quickpedia - v. nice
shopsavvy - v. nice too
voice search - oh yes...
uk traffic - helpful on occasion

as for widgets, no. gave upon rtm/astrid.

did have spotify on magic, didn't appear in dext market - perhaps US / UK differences?

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