2011-Jan-30 17:45
Essential Android apps
For my friends who recently bought Android apps, here are the apps that I use on a daily basis:

  • Catch Notes for Android
    Unlike the iPhone, Android doesn't come with a free note-taking application. Fortunately there are a lot of good third-party programs. I settled on Catch notes and have been very happy with it. One really great feature is two-way sync with your free account on Catch.com. This made it really easy for me to transfer my notes from my old phone - I simply emailed my old notes from my iPhone to myself, then pasted those into new notes on Catch.com, and that was it. Any edits you make on your phone are quickly reflected on the website, which acts as a nice backup.

  • Facebook
    The company treated the Android app as a second-class citizen for a long time, but has been fast to catch up in the past few months. Works about as well as the iPhone app.

  • Twitter for Android
    On my old iPhone I used TweetDeck, but the official Twitter app works great on Android, especially on a huge screen like the Droid X.

  • OneBusAway
    This is a great app for Seattle bus riders. When I arrive at my bus stop I'll check this to find out if the bus is going to be on time, or if a better bus is on its way.

  • Google Goggles
    This is a great multi-purpose tool for analyzing things with your phone's camera. It will read QR codes, identify products, and even translate text.

  • Google Listen for Android
    This is a great way to subscribe to podcasts on your phone. The UI might not be as polished as the iPod app on the iPhone, but a huge advantage over the iPhone is that it will download new episodes over the air. With iTunes you had to physically connect the phone to your computer to get any new podcast episodes, but Listen will do this automatically. That's a big win for me since I rarely attach the phone. (My favorite podcasts - This American Life, Left Right & Center, On The Media.)

  • SoundHound
    Ever hear a song and wonder who the artist is? Just record a few seconds of it with SoundHound, and it will do a great job of identifying it. Works great even in noisy environments like in a car. This also exists on the iPhone, but the free Android app has unlimited tagging, supported by little ads that definitely don't interfere with its core functionality.

  • Album Art
    When I first transferred my iTunes music to my Droid X, I was disappointed that none of the album artwork came with it. I spent a few days trying out different programs, and re-ripping the music with Windows Media Player, etc. I wish I'd found this app earlier because in a few minutes it can download album art for all your music, and it's totally free. Works great.

  • TeslaLED
    There are a couple flashlight apps that work great with the Droid X, but my favorite feature of TeslaLED is that it can be added to your home screen as a widget. That means you can turn the flashlight on and off without having to launch into a full-screen app like other competitors. The Droid's flash is really bright and I've used this countless times - you'd be surprised how often you find yourself using it.

  • FM Radio
    This app is built right into the stock Droid X but a lot of people don't realize it's there. It doesn't download data off the web, it actually receives live radio over the air like a real radio. This is really handy when you're taking the dog for a walk, riding the bus, etc. (Unfortunately not all Android phones have the ability to receive FM.)

  • MyVerizon
    If you are on Verizon and don't have an unlimited data plan, this will really come in handy. It shows you exactly how much data you've used, how many text messages you've sent and received, and how many phone minutes you have used. It will even show you when your billing cycle ends, since most people don't begin their cycle exactly on the first of the month.

  • Oblique Strategies
    Brian Eno's famous card deck. No-frills, but it does the job and does it for free.