Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Favorite Android Apps

A friend asked me which smartphone I thought he should get, and here's my response, edited for a generic audience and more specific information.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S. It's a couple years old.

There's a new version out, the Galaxy S2.

I guess a lot of people have had problems with the one I have. It freezes up and then they don't get txt or phone calls and they don't know it's frozen. I haven't had that problem, but I'm not using it as a phone. It's just a more modern Palm Pilot for me. It has Wifi, so I access the internet with its Wifi.

I'm still using my old phone for a phone. The main reason I still use my old phone, a Palm 755, is because it has buttons instead of just a touch screen. I find the touch screen to be impossible to type on. I did find a new app for the Android that uses the old Palm Graffiti style text input system, and that has made it a lot easier to use. But I like having a button for the camera, button for phone, button for email, button for home screen, button for voice dial. It's much faster to pick up the phone, hit one button and get the screen I want right away rather than turn it on, unlock the screen, find the app, and touch its icon.

The Android has a much better camera though, and I have a whole bunch of camera 'apps' that allow you to take images that look like polaroids, or sketches, or old box camera photos, which is fun. I like Paper Camera, and I have every camera app I could find. I haven't used Instagram because it forces you to sign into some sort of account when you start the app. I don't want an account, I just want to take a picture.

Here are some other totally cool apps you can get for an Android or iPhone.

The Night Sky is the most amazing app I have. It shows you the constellations in the night sky in the area of the sky where you are aiming the phone, and as you pan the phone across the sky the constellations on the phone slide along with you. It's amazing. It's like magic.

I also got the Audubon bird guide, by Green Mountain Digital and Audubon, and not only does it have pictures of every bird, it has several recordings of each bird's calls. I just got it two days ago and I've already identified a snipe and a Swainson's thrush (

I also have NASA Space Weather app that has pictures of the Sun and charts of solar weather so I can see when Northern Lights might be coming out.

And I really enjoy playing a scrabble game called Words With Friends with an old friend from Wisconsin.

It's an MP3 player too, and I go for walks and listen to Internet marketing stuff.

It has an Amazon Kindle book reading app. Amazon gives away a free kindle book every day (some random book). Amazon also gives away a free Android app every day in their app market, which is how I got the Audubon field guide app.

It has a GPS in it and I can look on Google maps and see exactly where I am, and which direction I am headed.

I also use the GPS with a wardriving program called Wigle. Wardriving is an activity where you map Wifi and Cell networks. It doesn't have anything to do with war, nor necessarily driving. It's just locating wifi networks, and for some reason I really like go for walks and collect new wifi network locations. Oh, well, anything to get some excersise.

Of course it has email, and calculator, and calendar.

My daughter uses it to tune her Ukulele because it has a string tuning app that shows you how far off your strings are from the correct pitch. She also has a Uke music app that allows her to download sheet music for the Uke (In tab format)

It has a meditation program called Insight Timer that plays the sounds of tibetan singing bowls, on a timer, six different types of bowls.

It has a go-to-sleep app called Sound Sleep that plays sounds of rain, the shore, crackling campfire, etc, and also peaceful music, and embedded in the sounds are sound waves at the frequency of brain Alpha waves, which are the waves that your brain runs at when you're asleep. I was having a really hard time sleeping after my mom got cancer...not any longer...

I have a couple apps that shut down other apps. For some reason every damn app wants to run all the time. Advanced Task Killer and Task Manager help keep the weeds from growing.

Oh, and one last thing...a secure password keeper. I use DataVault. There are a lot of password keeper apps out there and you want to make sure you get one that allows you to get your data back out of it. If you move from Android to iPhone you don't want to have to manually type in all your passwords again. It's also nice if you can sync your data between phone and computer. And in this situation I have a password file that I share with two colleagues and we can all get synced up with DataVault.

But I still don't know which phone would be the best one for you to get. I haven't done any research, so I don't even know if mine is more stable, or more powerful or anything than any other phone. I think the iPhones are probably a really good product. I've played with a colleague's and it was nice. You can just talk to it and it'll try to do what you wanted. I don't know how well the wifi access point functions, either.