Hello Android

Well, for my first post, I thought that I would give you a run down of the Android applications I can’t live without.  I know there are a TON of other articles on the net devoted to this very same thing, but none of them list all the ones that I particularly like.  So here it goes…

I’m going to fore-go the social network software, as there are already a million lists about Facebook for Android and twitter apps.  Except I’ll say that I’ve found that the apps released by the networks themselves are the best, imo.

Handcent SMS – I love this app.  I used ChompSMS when I got my phone, but after trying Handcent I’ve been happy ever since.  It supports pop up messaging, and has a nice interface.  I truly think that if you aren’t using this already, give it a try you’ll be glad you did.

FeedR – This is an RSS Feed Reader, and it’s great.  I really like that it will seemlessly connect to your Google Reader account.  So if you already have a lot of feeds set up there, you don’t have to re-setup your lists when you get your phone.  Also, it supports feed organization and categorization.  I read a LOT of feeds, political news, top and world news, hacking feeds, food blogs, photography blogs…  The first RSS app I used didn’t offer the organization of feeds, so I just got a LONG list of my feeds, which can really suck if you have a lot of feeds to go through, or if you’re trying to read all the new recipes on the food blogs you follow.

Google Voice – If you haven’t used Google Voice yet, you’re missing out.  I am an IT admin for a school and I was being called ALL the time by coworkers trying to get me to help them do this or that, even when I was off the clock.  So I could either get a second cell for work and turn it off when I’m not on the clock, or I could get a Voice account and give them that number, then when I’m off the clock, turn on the Do Not Disturb function and then only people that have my direct number will get my phone to ring.  Also, when you make calls you can decide to call using the number your provider gave you, or your Voice number which means you can keep your real number secret.

Voice Choice – This is a must have if you have Google Voice.  The Google Voice app has one draw back, in my opinion.  When it’s activated, EVERY TIME you make an outgoing call you have to choose whether to dial out using Voice or without.  If you make a lot of calls like I do, that can be a pain.  So with Voice Choice, you setup a list of numbers that you always want to use Voice to call (or, vice-versa if that list is too long) then you just set the voice app to always use voice for outgoing calls and it’ll automatically make that choice for you.  Great!

Spot Message – Have you ever needed to do something when you got to a place, but then you went there and left realizing you forgot?  I needed to pick up my extra air hose for my air compressor and my jack stands from my mothers house for a month before I remembered to get it, on my 4th visit.  Now that doesn’t happen anymore.  With spot message I enter an address, what it is I need to remind myself of. Then my phone will periodically check my GPS location and when I’m close to that address it’ll notify me so I can do it.  Ever need to pick up milk on the way home, then pass the store on the way home and not stop?  That’s not gonna happen again with this app.

FoxyRing – FoxyRing has a lot of functionality, it can take measurements of the ambient noise and adjust the ring volume so you’ll hear it, or change your ringtone based on your location (great if you don’t want your mom to hear the ringtone where the squirrel is screaming about your phone ringing using every four letter word in the book,)  but the reason I use it?  You can setup a time schedule for your ringer to be off.  There is another great app that does this called Sweetdreams, but where FoxyRing has that app outfoxed is that you can setup a list of people that are allowed to call you during that time and have the phone ring.  That’s a great feature.

Plugin-Launcher – This is awesome if you use your phone as a music player in your car.  With this app you can setup your phone so when you plug headphones or the cable to your car stereo into your phone it will launch the media player of your choosing automatically.  Saves time when trying to jump in the car and go.  It also has the ability to setup actions for when you plug it into a computer or into the wall charger.  For example you could have it auto-launch the DeskClock app when you put your phone on it’s dock, or it could launch your USB tether app when you plug your phone into your computer.  I really like this app.

Pandora – I really don’t listen to the radio anymore.  I have an MP3 collection that makes most of my friends very jealous, so I don’t really need to listen to it.  Also, there are so many commercials on the radio, and some stations just play the same 5 or 10 songs 50 times a day it seems, it’s enough to keep me off my FM dial.  But, Pandora is great.  You put in the artist you want to listen to, and Pandora will play that artist and music that is similar.  I have actually been introduced to many new artists I’d never heard of, and am really enjoying their music.  Also, with an unlimited 3G/4G data plan, you can have music even in areas with only 2 radio stations.  I was able to listen to Pandora on a trip from my home in California all the way to Las Vegas, Nevada.  I truly think everyone should have this.

Graffiti for Android – I HATE Android’s on screen keyboard, and I haven’t found a replacement that I like.  Now, I have a slide out keyboard, but I don’t always want to use it, so I got Graffiti.  If you used any Palm PDAs 10 or so years ago, it’s just like that.  You get to write out letters and they get translated into text.  Nuff said.

Now these last few I use for my personal side work.  I’m a photographer, website designer/developer, and a general PC tech when I’m not working for the school and these apps help me do my job.

Chase Banking App – This app does what you’d expect, you can log into your account, check balances, see transaction history, transfer money, etc.  Great when you’re out and about and making purchases.

Package Buddy – I build PCs for people a lot, and repair, so when I’m waiting for a package I want to know exactly where it is and when it’s due to be at my door and I want to know NOW.  This app allows you to do that, just enter the tracking number and it’ll alert you when the package is on the truck to be at your door and when it’s AT your door.  This is especially useful when UPS decides to leave $600 worth of computer equipment on your doorstep without getting a signature.

Square –  If you want to take credit card payments, this is the way to go.  Square sends you a free credit card reader to use with your phone and you just download the free app from the market.  Then, you’re ready to accept credit card payments, ANYWHERE.  Can’t beat that.  Check out the square site for more info.


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