Saturday, May 21, 2011

Android apps that rock my world

I've had an Android phone now for a couple of years. I'm actually on my second droid. The first was the HTC Dream, which I chose because it was the first Android device offered by Rogers here in Canada. I was sold on the OS, the apps and the open source philosophy... however the phone was definitely a first gen device. The phone was a bit bigger than others (though it held a full slide-out keyboard as well, which is cool) and the processor was kind of slow. 

I moved on to the Sony Ericson Xperia X10 last fall and I haven't looked back. Though it lacks the physical keyboard, the on-screen one is sufficient and I find it makes a lot less embarrassing auto-correct decisions than iPhones seem to do.  The processor is fast and it rocks an 8.1mp camera. I'm loving it. 

In the past couple of years, I've downloaded and tried a lot of apps. So what apps am I smitten with at the moment? Here's my short list:

Gauge Battery Widget
I like what it looks like and I like that it keeps my remaining battery level right there at a glance. I know there are other versions of these battery widgets, but really, I like this one just because it looks cool. It looks like a little tach on the dashboard of my phone. It feels kind of hot-rod.

Advanced Task Killer
This runs on my phone all the time. Although some people complain that it's a battery drain in itself, I haven't found that to be the case. What it does help with is to give you the ability to force-close applications. Sometimes if you've had your phone on for a long time, there can be a long list of apps that aren't closed. The task killer gives an easy checkbox-driven list of apps that you can kill. Sometimes this comes in really handy. 
Handcent SMS
This SMS app is just a nicer interface (in my opinion) than the stock texting software that comes with the phone. It's customizable, globally for all your contacts, or on a per-contact basis. It also has an iPhone-style speech-bubble-look scheme, if you're into that iPhone kind of thing. You can even customize the color of the LED that lights up on your phone when you have an incoming message. I'll admit that I find the sheer amount of options for customizations a little bit confusing and had at one point, accidentally customized one of my contacts so every SMS conversation from her showed on my phone with a garish cheetah print background for a while. It's back to normal now and all is well. 

I think my favourite thing about this app though, is that will display an incoming text on the screen, with the ability to quick-reply right there, even when the screen is locked. That's convenient in that it's one less step between me and my text. To me, that's a leap forward in usability.

QR Droid
Reads QR codes using the phone's camera like other QR code readers but also allows you to create QR codes from your contacts, bookmarks, calendar events, phone numbers, GEO-locations, SMS, or any text you want. From there, you can save the code or if you want to share it immediately, just let your friend scan it off your phone to share the information with them.

It seems that the hungrier I get, the less likely I'll be to think of and find a restaurant to eat at. This app does the trick famously! Even at my hungriest, this app makes choosing a restaurant easy! With a slot-machine style interface, this app allows you to lock in any of your food preferences (style, price, location) or none, if you're looking for something completely random, and then spin the wheel to see what comes up. From there, you can check out reviews on its restaurant suggestion and head off for your bite to eat. ( which point you can use the Google Map app to see where to find the place!)

Flashlight zaphrox

This might be a little bit gimmicky, but it has already come in handy for me on several locations. This flashlight app looks like a mini Maglight. On my Sony Ericson Xperia, pressing the on button on the maglight image not only turns the image of the flashlight "on" but also turns on my camera flash on the back side of my phone. That light is very bright, so it's helpful in the dark when you're just looking for something quickly, or, like me, if you've lost something in the bottom of your purse, it's invaluable!


Anonymous said...

Good list. I started with the Dream as well because of the physical keyboard which i did like. But the thing about the Dream that was frustrating was that the OS couldn't be upgraded. Rogers had a trade in for pissed off Dream owners like me and I swapped it for a Magic about a year and a half ago. I still miss a physical keyboard, but the auto-correct is, like you said, a bit more forgiving than the i-stuff, which makes it easier for fat fingers like mine :).

Bobbi said...

That's interesting. I didn't realize Rogers actually had an upgrade plan for the Dream. I ended up getting a good deal from them on an upgraded phone later, but they didn't really offer it up very easily. ;)