A3 – Android App Attack: The Basics

Hidy Ho there, neighbors! I’m back, with a new gadget and a whole slew of information!

A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and got an early upgrade to the Motorola Droid 2. This being my first smartphone, I was ecstatic to see what all it could do. My inner technophile jumped for joy. The first couple of weeks went by with me just downloading a few meaningless apps, setting up my Facebook and Twitter accounts, tweaking settings, etc. Then came the time I began researching USEFUL apps as well as the idea of Rooting my phone (the Android version of Jailbreaking, essentially).

So, after taking some time to figure out how the Android OS works and messing with some apps, I now present, for your reading pleasure, a list of apps that I feel are excellent for an Android user to have. This list will encompass several things, including Social Networking, basic user experience improvement, a few games, and some other entertaining widgets and gadgets. Apps will be listed by title in the Market, followed by the developer, so that you know exactly what to look for when you download them. Also, all the apps listed are free or have a free version.

Ready? Here we go!

  • LauncherPro by Federico Carnales – This app replaces your basic home screen with one which is a bit more customizable. You have the option of having 5 rows of icons rather than 4, as well as up to 7 home screens to scroll through. You can also customize the icons at the bottom of the home screen with things such as shortcuts to your gmail, including an option to show the number of unread text messages or e-mail. It can be kind of slow if you have a lot of apps running, but that’s what this next app is for.
  • Advanced Task Killer by ReChild – You know how, on your Windows PC, you hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and can open Task Manager to kill off programs that are running in the background? This is essentially the Android version of Task Manager. It uses very little memory and battery power, and automatically ends unused apps in order to preserve the precious internal memory and battery power. I believe it was the very first app I downloaded. You can change how often it kills apps, and can also do it manually if need be. There’s also a white list you can add apps to so that ATK ignores them. You won’t normally have to, though; this thing’s pretty intelligent.
  • Coin Flip by AJAS – Pretty simple. A digital quarter you can flip. I’m sure I don’t need to list the uses. Actually uses your phone’s motion detection, so you only have to flick your phone to flip the coin. You can also tap the screen if you’re accident prone.
  • Last.fm by Last.fm Ltd. – Most people have heard of Pandora Radio by now, and they also have an app for Android if you’ve used it in the past. Last.fm is almost the same as Pandora, in that it plays music according to what you’ve listened to. For instance, if you start a station for Linkin Park, you’ll not only get songs from LP, you’ll hear from bands such as Creed, Fort Minor, and Godsmack. Once you’ve listened to a couple stations, you’ll be given your own “library”, which plays music according to ALL the music you’ve listened to on Last.fm’s network. Pretty cool, especially if you use the Firefox plugin. (Also has a widget you can place on a home screen so you don’t have to go in the app each time you want to change stations.)
  • Wi-Fi Locator by YOUniversal Ideas – A simple app that uses your GPS location along with Google Maps to show you nearby public Wi-Fi hotspots. Pretty nice if you’re hunting a place to set up your laptop. Note that your GPS must be turned on for this to work effectively.
  • Trap! by Matt Wachowski – A pretty entertaining game where you’re presented with a box, and inside the box are a bunch of bouncing balls. The object of the game is to draw lines which section off the box, trying to fill as much of the area inside as possible. The catch? The balls can’t touch your line while it’s being drawn. Special powerups such as Freeze Ball, Ghost Ball, and score multipliers make for an addictive experience. How high can you score?
  • Urbanspoon by Urbanspoon Team – Ever been in that situation where everyone’s hungry but no one knows what they want? Let me introduce Urbanspoon. This app will determine your general location, and will randomly determine a restaurant from criteria such as City, Type of food (Mexican, Italian, Sushi, Burgers, etc.), and price range (From 1 to 3 $ signs, with $$$ being the most expensive). Tight on money? Just lock the price slot at $. Don’t want to go out of town? Lock in your city. Surprisingly useful pretty often.
  • OpenSpark by Akop Karapetyan – This one’s for the Xbox Live people out there. This app, upon installation, will ask for your Xbox Live information such as Gamertag and Windows Live ID. After that, it will list your Xbox Live friends, show their and your profile information, and even allows you to message and add your friends! No more writing down gamertags just to lose and forget them 2 hours later.
  • Paypal by Paypal Mobile – Should be pretty obvious on this one. Allows you to check your balance in your Paypal account, and send and receive money on the fly. Even includes the Bump function that Apple advertised for the iPhone. Speaking of Bumping…
  • Bump by Bump Technologies, Inc. – Want to exchange more than money with people? How about pictures? Video? Maybe some contact info? Bump is your app. Simply select the information to send, bump phones with your buddy, and BOOM! it’s sent. Supposedly works with iPhones too!
  • Paper Toss by Backflip Studios Inc. – Remember when you were shooting paper balls at the trash can, and your boss yelled at you? Fear not, for now you can do it on your phone (if your boss allows phones, that is)! It even has fans set up so you have to account for wind. How many can you make in a row?
  • GetGlue by AdaptiveBlue – A social networking app. It can stand alone, or it can tie into Facebook and Twitter. Glue allows you to check in, comment on, and review various things such as movies, video games, and the random wine you’re drinking. It has a sort of achievement system, awarding stickers which, once you’ve collected enough, you can actually order so as to decorate things with. A good way to find new movies or games, as well as to let the world know how much you suck at Halo: Reach.
  • Foursquare by foursquare – the big cousin to Glue, Foursquare can tie into Facebook, allowing you to check in to places you travel to. What’s interesting about this, is that certain places such as restaurants have specials for the “mayor” of that particular location. For example, the local Pizza Hut here offers a free order of breadsticks once a week to the mayor with the purchase of any pizza. Pretty cool, especially if you travel a lot.
  • Wheres My Droid by alienmanfc6 – So, tell me if you’ve ever been in this situation: You have no idea where your phone is, and you can’t just call it because it’s on vibrate or silent. With Wheres My Droid, you don’t have that problem anymore as long as you can text yourself. Once you install this app, your phone watches for a key phrase in text messages. If it receives it, the app will bring your phone out of silent mode and start ringing. Nice, eh?
  • EasyTether Lite by Mobile Stream – You know the commercial where Verizon advertises the 3G Mobile Hotspot ability of some of their phones? What they don’t tell you is that it costs $20 a month extra to use it, and it’s capped at 2 gigabytes of data. Why pay that, when there’s a free solution? EasyTether Lite allows you to connect your phone to your computer, and use your 3G Web connection to access most websites. The free version, however, doesn’t allow secure, encrypted pages (aka Https:// sites). Great for facebook and the like, though! (Note for those who have rooted their phones: try out Barnacle Wifi by syzm.net. It actually does the Wifi hotspot, allowing more than just one computer or device to connect. I had to use the Legacy version for my laptop running Ubuntu to connect, however.)
  • Dropbox by Dropbox, Inc. – Here’s a great one for students. Ever worked hard on an essay, just to leave your flash drive at home? Dropbox allows a user to store their files online. Just set it up on your phone and your PC, and anything you put in your dropbox folder is automatically synced to any other device tied to your account. So, type that paper on your desktop, and almost instantly pull it up on your laptop or phone for e-mailing or printing. Dropbox even has a web interface, so you can even pull up your files and download them to a school computer or at your friend’s house. They even give your files their own special URL, so you can share them with friends! Free accounts have a 2 GB storage capacity, with the option to subscribe for larger space. Great for sharing pictures!
  • Barcode Scanner by ZXing Team – You wouldn’t think you’d need this app, but with the advent of QR codes being used on webpages, it becomes epically more useful. This app uses your phone’s camera to scan and read the information from barcodes. From there, you can do a variety of things including, but not limited to: Go to the URL embedded in the code, search for product information and reviews, find out what the product’s price is online. Definitely has saved me a ton of time when trying out apps that are still in beta, such as Trillian.
  • BLEEP Me! by Foncannon Inc – Got a potty-mouthed friend? Now you can exercise FCC-level censorship with your very own BLEEP button! Simply touch the screen and you’ve instantly bleeped those sorry mother *******. Comes with a variety of sounds, including the doinging spring and a chattering dolphin.
  • Tweetcaster for Twitter by Handmark – Probably the best Twitter app I’ve found on the market. Supports multiple accounts (unlike the official Twitter app), has a fairly easy interface, and allows you to quickly retweet, view links, and tweet yourself. Searching for people to follow, and following them once you’ve found them, could definitely be improved however. The cool part about this app is that you can create a widget on your home page for EACH account, allowing you to instantly tweet without needing to load the app, switch accounts, etc. The widgets could do with updating a bit more often, however.
  • Volumer++ by mokkouyou – An app that gives you a bit more control over the different volume levels on your phone. For example, you can change the volume level for apps and videos without actually loading one, while leaving your ringer volume untouched. Also has toggles for vibrate, total silence, and even a Wifi toggle. Also leaves a notification, so that you can quickly change volume levels without leaving your current app.
  • Best Matrix Live Wallpaper by Yu Xin – This isn’t actually an app, but I figured other fans like me would like it. Gives you a wallpaper of characters raining down from the top of your screen, just like in the Keanu Reeves movie, The Matrix. You can even change the color, if green isn’t your thing.
  • Taskos To Do List | Task List by Taskos.com – Pretty simple to-do list. Simply add something to it, and check it off when it’s done. Great for when you’ve got a hectic schedule .
  • FREE Caller ID & 411 Search! by phonetell – PhoneTell is a substitute for your normal dialer on your phone. It has a real-time caller ID, using internet-style name lookup so it can even ID numbers that aren’t in your contact list. Also has a yellowpages feature for when you can’t remember the number to the Dominoes up the street. Even better though, is the answering-machine-like feature. If you set yourself to busy, PhoneTell will automatically send any calls to voicemail, and can even send an automatic text message telling people you’re busy.
  • Shake – Uninstall by Zosq Labs – A pretty fun little piece of software for app whores like myself. When you enable its service, Shake will monitor any apps you run and, if you shake your phone, gives you the option to uninstall them. Good for doing a massive cleanup of your phone. Don’t worry though, it won’t allow you to uninstall core applications like G-Mail (or bloatware like the Blockbuster app :S). It also can’t uninstall itself. If you’re still worried, however, just use the notification it places to open and disable the service. And even if you DO uninstall an app accidentally, all apps can be redownloaded free of charge.

Whew! That was a long list! I’ll be back another time with more apps for your app-whorish inner technophile, but I think that covers the basics and then some for now. Special thanks goes out to @Cool3stNerd for suggesting several of the apps above! Follow him on Facebook, or on Twitter by clicking his name. You can also find his official blog at this link right here. You can also follow me @MadWhiteNerd on Twitter, as well as be my fan on Facebook right over here.

Thanks for reading, and check back for more apps, and more random tech! Matter of fact, why don’t you subscribe over in the sidebar?

Till next time!


~ by chadanthony07 on October 4, 2010.

2 Responses to “A3 – Android App Attack: The Basics”

  1. Wow!! Thank You

    • No problem! Subscribe or follow me on facebook/twitter for future updates to the series. 🙂

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