Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What Android Apps Do I Use?

There are so many Android applications out there but I suspect my choice of apps is probably very mundane in comparison to others. My usage has evolved some as the Android devices are much more powerful and capable than the G1 I first had, although I miss the physical keyboard of the G1 and G2. In fact, my wife used a G1 until it physically broke. She cursed the HTC One S that replaced it until recently moving to a Moto G. The Moto G is a very nice phone for the price and she is pleased with it. But this is not about how my family feels about their phones, it is about the apps I use so here are the apps I use:

  • Google apps - I am just going to lump the ones I use into one bullet item. I use Gmail, Calendar, Messenger for SMS/MMS, Chrome, News, Maps, Drive for documents (not backup), Voice, Translate, YouTube occasionally, and am experimenting with Keep.
  • K-9 Mail - I probably spend more time in this application than any other. I used the Google Email client for years until I started getting complaints that sometimes messages from me did not thread properly in the RTEMS mailing list discussions. Chris Johns had me send email from every computer and client I used. Turned out that the Google Email client does not send the proper headers. This means that the threading that is relied on by open source community mailing lists is broken, has had a long outstanding bug, and doesn't seem like it will ever get fixed. I tried K-9 and never looked back. It is a very capable Email client for "work" accounts. I used Gmail for my personal mail.
  • Apps which help when traveling:
    • TVFoodMaps - This is one I used when traveling to see which restaurants have been featured on television shows on the FoodTV network. It sounds kitschy but it is a neat way to find a local place I would never think of trying otherwise. Review sites often recommend the same places but often travelers don't find the truly historic, unique places, or know what a local specialty that shouldn't be missed.
    • TripIt Travel Organizer - Another handy app for traveling which provides a mobile interface to the web site. TripIt works by you forwarding email with hotel reservations, car reservations, and plane tickets to it. It then builds an itinerary for you and reminds you of upcoming travel. When on travel, it makes it easy to get destination addresses, confirmation numbers, etc. This is much easier than carrying paper.
    • Fly Delta -  This app has improved a lot since I first used it. Everyone hates some airline but Delta has the best options from Huntsville. This gives me notices on gates, arrival time, bar code for paperless boarding, and Sky Club locations. Not essential since I could likely do all this with the website (except paperless boarding) but handy.
  • Utilities
    • OpenIntents - This project has a collection of apps which include a Notepad, Shopping List, and a File Manager. The shopping list is one of those specialty apps which is very handy.
    • Astro File Manager - Just a nice file browser.
  • Miscelaneous
    • Untappd - Log beers, earn badges, see what friends are drinking and get recommendations. I am a big fan of craft and unusual beers. I like to try different beers as much as I can and this helps me keep track. 
    • Vintage Comic Droid - This is a neat application that lets you read comic books that have fallen into the public domain. I primarily use it in off-line mode to kill time. 
    • TV Guide - An application with functionality that matches its name. It is nothing more than TV listings but it does know cable systems and highlights new shows as well as let you search, and set alerts. A bit painful to use on small screens but handy.
Probably not that unique a set of applications but it is how I get by. Most of these I have used for years and through multiple Android versions.

In most cases, I refuse to load apps which are only a front end to a website. I can just use Chrome and get there. And I get irritated when a site pushes me to load an app -- LinkedIn comes up high on this list. If anyone is listening, asking me every time if I want to load your stupid site specific app is a turn off for your site in general. If you want to lose me as a user, remember my preference.