First things first, if you don’t have an Android phone, get one. I have to say that even though I’d prefer NOT to have to sift through all the bloatware AT&T insists on installing (and refusing to allow the end user to uninstall) I still can’t see myself owning a non-Android phone now that I have had the pleasure of owning one. After playing around in the Android market for a while, here are the apps I’ve decided my phone just isn’t worth having if they aren’t installed:
- Barcode Scanner: Let’s say I’m browsing around the internet and come across a killer Android app. Do I really want to have to find that app in the market? Not really. How about an app that lets me just scan the app’s QR code to download it? Let’s say I’m shopping around for a new microwave oven and I find one that I think is a good bargain. Do I want to assume I’m getting a good deal? Not really. How about an app that allows me to scan a barcode (UPC label) then gives me the option to search the web, do a product search, or look through Google Shopper to find comparable pricing. Barcode Scanner was developed by ZXing Team and uses your phone’s camera to scan QR codes/barcodes to download applications or find information about products. It also supports bulk scanning if you want to get information on multiple barcodes at once. If you already have a basic scanner installed and want more functionality in an easy-to-use interface, scan theÂ QR code to the right to install Barcode Scanner or run a search to find it in the Android market.
- CrossConnect Bible: I’m a Theology Major so the Bible is essentially one of my textbooks. Having it on my phone is an excellent way to ensure I’m able to have a study reference available at all times. CrossConnect has a Daily Verse widget for your home screen (and a daily verse function for viewing within the app itself), audio playback which will read your selected passage to you, a randomize feature called “Inspire” which displays a random verse each time you press it, audio sermons by John Piper from DesiringGod.org that you can download or stream, and a share button that allows you to publish Scriptures across your social network (or via text message and email). The app’s settings allow you to set the text size, type, and color as well! You can find CrossConnect in the Android market or just scan the QR code to the right.
- Fake-Call Me: Imagine you’re at the park. Some wacko comes up and starts babbling on and on about a fight they had with their spouse, the way their kid keeps peeing in the wastebasket, and how Verizon keeps overcharging them on their cell phone bill. You nod and smile, hoping that your silence will give Captain Awkward a hint… but alas, it does not. Fake-Call Me gives you a way out without seeming rude (because you know, someday this person could end up teaching your child’s history class) by letting you schedule a “phone call” to come in which is obviously going to be an emergency! It allows you to program the number and name that will show up on the caller ID and choose the time delay before your phone begins to ring. There is also a 99-cent pro version that lets you choose a contact from the phonebook so that the contact’s photo displays, add an audio functionality so that a pre-recorded message is played when you ‘answer,’ store the fake call in your call log, AND schedule multiple fake calls at once – you know, because it’s urgent :) That’s well worth a buck if you ask me!
- Foursquare: Not everyone has gotten warmed up to this trend yet, but as someone who was once VERY skeptical about Foursquare, I must admit that once I started using it I’ve gotten quite addicted. I find myself checking in just about everywhere I go. I’m still pretty cautious about it and a majority of the time, I will actually check in as I’m walking out because who knows who might come lurking where you are!? It is a pretty fun app for people who are meeting up with friends or who are out of town with a group and want to keep in contact, letting one another know where they are as they bounce around from location to location. I use it around town here when I stop for sweet tea or run in Walmart to shop… I’ve gotten quite competitive trying to oust people from Mayorship of my favorite places! You can also read and leave tips about places you visit. Was there an awesome waitress that you want to recommend or a dish that was downright terrible you want to warn people about? You can do that on Foursquare. The app lets you keep up with your friends’ activity, use your GPS to suggest places in your vicinity, and show you your recent history.
- Google Voice/Maps/Navigation: I put these three in one because most of Google’s Android apps come pre-installed on the phone. If you want to know all the apps Google has available for the Android, you can find and download them on the Google for Android page. Google Voice is an excellent service which assigns you a telephone number which you can integrate with your Android seamlessly. You can set it to use ONLY Google Voice to make calls, prompt you, or disable it altogether. I love the app because it allows me to get transcripts of my Google Voice messages delivered to my handset and since I am on a family share plan with FOUR other people, I can add my Google Voice number to our A-list and use it to make unlimited free calls domestically and VERY inexpensive international calls. That sure would have come in handy when Barry was in Germany — we spent a small fortune talking on the phone! Google Maps uses the phone’s GPS to not only tell you where you are, but give you directions to where you need to go… use it along with Google’s Navigation program and you have GPS Navigation right there on your phone. Navigation also speaks to you, so there’s no fumbling with the phone or trying to look at the screen while you drive. My husband and I used it on a recent trip and it was pin-point accurate in telling us where to turn and when!
- Pandora: This app is an absolute LIFESAVER on long trips. When you’re tired of listening to the same old songs on your mp3 player or rotating out CD after CD and flipping through every radio station or satellite radio channel known to man, you can plug your phone up to your vehicle and feed the Pandora radio stream through your car’s audio system. Alternately, if your spouse is like mine and actually ENJOYS listening to the same horrible music for hours on end, you can always plug in some ear buds and listen all by yourself :) It’s also useful when you’re jogging or even just sitting at your PC — I plug my phone up to my computer using a 3.5mm jack and listen to Pandora as I work!
- PayPal: The PayPal app for Android is amazing. You sign in using your phone number and a 4-digit PIN to access your PayPal balance, transaction history, and account information. You can also send/receive money, request money, and it supports the all too popular “bump” mechanism which allows the transfer of funds between two PayPal customers simply by bumping the phones together. There are also some pretty cool tools in the app like a bill reminder and a function that lets you actually split a bill while you’re out with a group. It’s a pretty simple app; there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s certainly handy to have for those like myself who use PayPal on a daily basis for business. It allows me to check my PayPal balance within seconds so I’m not embarrassed when I try to pay for something with my PayPal card and the funds aren’t available :) It will also pull email addresses and phone numbers from your phone’s contacts to help you send money or an invoice while you’re on the go and has a quick search field so you don’t have to sort through 453 records to find who you’re looking for. I couldn’t find a QR code for the PayPal app, but it’s searchable in the Android market.
- TweetCaster: TweetCaster is by far my favorite and most used Android app. It allows me to view the tweet timeline of all the people I follow on Twitter, find and follow people, view who is following me, reply, retweet, and direct message all from one screen. It also lets me see the lists I’m on as well as the lists I’m following and see as well as add to my favorites. I can upload photos to TwitPic (or yfrog/tweetphoto) and videos to TwitVid, filter my stream by a search term (great for following a hashtag), and even update my Facebook status when I publish a tweet (or update my Facebook status without publishing a tweet and vice versa). I can also manage MULTIPLE twitter accounts on this thing – I can switch between accounts with two taps of the screen. There’s also a couple of nifty little features like ‘shake to refresh’ and finding tweets of people near me by entering my zip code or using my current GPS location. Seriously this app does everything but cook me pancakes.
- SMS Popup: While I love the way Android’s notification menu slides down and up I’m one of those people that can appreciate the “old” way of doing things… I like my text messages to display on my screen without having to click over to view my messages. SMS Popup is a simple tool that does just what the name says – pops the new text message up on the screen and has four buttons whose functions you can choose out of the following commands: close, delete, delete with no confirmation, reply, quick reply (this lets you select a pre-typed response to send), reply to phone number, text-to-speech, and inbox. You also have the option to disable any of the buttons if you don’t have a need for all four. There are also a ton of other little nit-picky options for you to customize the way this app operates.
- WordPress: As a blogger, there is nothing more valuable to me than a tool that gives me the opportunity to draft articles while I’m waiting in line at a checkout, a drive through, or anywhere else for that matter. With the WordPress for Android app, I can add ALL of my blogs into the UI, regardless of whether they are self-hosted or hosted on WordPress.com (and for those who don’t yet have a blog, this app will help you create one – SWEET!) and it stores all of my login information so that a simple touch brings up my dashboard where I can moderate comments, view and edit posts, publish articles, modify or add pages, and view my stats. When I add a blog posts, I can format the text, add media from my phone, select tags and categories, and publishing is optional which means I can save drafts to my blog directly from my phone so that I can add custom fields and whatnot before actually publishing them for the world to see. That would be my only gripe about this app – I would LOVE to be able to manipulate the custom fields… then my life would be complete :)
Are you an Android owner?
What apps could you not possibly live without? Leave me a comment and let me know what I’m missing!