free and practical apps for android

3 Oct

Last September, I finally decided to upgrade my “dumb” phone to a “smart” phone. I think it’s safe to say that there are 3 different types of phones out there that form the large part of the smartphone market – Android, Blackberry and iPhone. I didn’t want a Blackberry because there aren’t as many apps (not that I use a ton anyways) and I don’t like the idea of people knowing when you read their messages! So Blackberry was a no. Everyone has an iPhone so I didn’t want that, although, I wish I had one now because my phone is a piece.

So I went with the Android OS, specifically in the Motorola Flipout offered through Rogers. It is running 2.1 and Motorola has said they will never update it. Thanks. The only thing I like about it is the fact that it is a unique phone and pretty much everyone I meet asks “Is that your phone? It’s so cool looking” and then I always reply “Yeah, it looks cool but it so slow and I wish I had an iPhone…”Here’s a picture of my phone / GPS as some people like to call it:

While I like the customizability of Android phones, I prefer apps from the App Store and the simplicity of the iPhone. I am waiting for the announcement (tomorrow!) and release of a new iPhone but until then, I would like to share some of the Android apps that I’ve found particularly useful  until I complete my collection of Apple products.

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Note: I don’t really play games on my phone so most of the apps are very practical. Examples of my practicality include asking for a Barbie alarm clock when I was 7, buying my boyfriend towels and asking for a vacuum when I was 19 for Christmas.

ANYWAYS, several of my favourite apps in no special order:

1. APNdroid, Free: Let’s you turn on/off your 3G. Useful for when you want to conserve battery life or if you want to make sure your data does not turn mysteriously while in the USA.

2. Last Call Widget, Free: I don’t know about your phones, but mine didn’t come with a tool to view your last calls or who you last called as a widget on your home screen. I like to have a button that shows me this information.

3. Google Maps, Free: I am pretty sure everyone’s phone has Google Maps already but it is seriously my favourite app. I use it daily to check bus schedules. Just zoom into the bus stop you want and you should see a little bus symbol. Click on that and you should get a listing of the upcoming bus schedules. Beats having to call your friend and asking for the schedule or texting 33333 with the # of the bus stop you do not know (Translink in Vancouver).

4. SilentSnap, Free: Even though the camera on my phone is 3.1 megapixels, sometimes I need to take a photo with it. When using the stock camera app, I get a loud click when I take the picture. With SilentSnap, I can take a picture without the clicking noise. You will have to use the app to take photos, it won’t do anything if you continue using the stock app.

5. Watchdog, Free: Watches your 3G usage. I use the widget so I can see it on my homescreen. I rarely go over 125mb a month which is good I guess but I am paying for 500mb so I don’t bother using my wi-fi near the end of the month to get my money’s worth!

6. Juice Defender, Free: My phone has a terrible battery life. It used to die halfway during the day which is a pain. I don’t know what we did before we had cell phones… Anyways, Juice Defender optimizes your battery life by having it monitor certain settings. It can automatically enable and disable 3G, allow background syncing for emails at different frequencies rather than having it on all of the time, and a bunch of other things. I only have the free version but the Pro version has a lot more to offer. On the app it says that the Plus version is .99 and the Ultimate version is 3.49 in “EUR/USD.” Not sure how that works but it might be an app worth buying.

Other popular apps include: Handcent, Dolphin Browser, Google Plus, Ringdroid, and Smooth Calendar.

I’ve never bought an app for my phone but I am more than willing to by apps for my iPad. I think it’s clear which platform I prefer!

 

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