I thought I’d take a bit to write about some of the apps I use on my phone. Like many people, I do have the major apps like Facebook, the Bible app, and Gmail. But I’ll be discussing some of the other apps and why I like them. I have excluded all my apps from this list to avoid conflict of interest. But don’t feel bad about browsing and downloading them. This blog will wait.
I use a Nexus 4 running Android 4.4. Some of these apps may not be available on your device.
Link Bubble – Ever been in the Facebook app, click on a link, it opens the web browser, and when you go back to the Facebook app, you’ve lost your place? Link Bubble will actually open links by putting a small bubble off to the side. This bubble stays there until you get rid of it. Even when you’re switching apps or go to the home screen. It “floats” above the other stuff. So you can open a bunch of links at once, and then go read them later.
Beautiful Widgets – Widgets are a thing on Android where you can put something on the “desktop” and it’s not just a static icon that launches an app. Beautiful Widgets provides widgets for clock, calendar, toggle on/off functions like wireless, Bluetooth, etc, and weather. I use this app for the weather widget. It’s a small 1×1 widget that tells me the current temperature, high/low temperature, and general conditions (windy, snowy, sunny). I don’t have to open an app to get this information. I could have a bigger widget that would give me the forecast for the next few days, but I just go into the app if I want that information.
Dashclock – This shows up on the lock screen and I can customize it to show the number of unread messages, missed calls, missed text, and current temperature. The developer also make it extensible so that other developers could write apps that provide you information on your lock screen. If you search for “dashclock” in the Google Play store, you’ll see there are extensions for Facebook, battery status, sunrise, and almost anything you can imagine.
Explorer – The Android file system is broken into two parts. One is private stuff you really can’t really see and muck with. This is where private data for an app is store (for example, your Angry Birds score). But the other part is just like the hard drive on your computer. Files are in folders. With Explorer, I can move around, browse, copy, and do all sorts of things to manage files. I can even use it to copy things to and from Google Drive and Dropbox.
Light Flow – This app is awesome. What it does is control the notification LED on my phone so that I know what type of messages I have waiting without having to even power on the screen. My Nexus 4’s notification LED supports multiple colors, so if I get a text from Amie, the LED blinks orange. Text from someone else? Purple. Gmail or Facebook notification? Blue (I could separate these if I wanted to). Voicemail….well, you get the idea. Not only can you customize the color, but also the blink rate. And it supports a ton of apps. Now if Light Flow did just that, it would be a great app. But it also does vibration and sounds. So when I get a text from Amie, the vibration pattern is unique so that I know it’s from her. I don’t even have to take the phone out of my pocket. Oh, and it also does custom reminders. When I get a text, it’s just a quick woodblock sound that’s easy to miss. But if I don’t bring up the text, it will play a longer notification that’s harder to miss. So even if I miss the initial text because I’m in a noisy environment, I’ll be reminded of it soon. And yes, they have an option so you can disable this during the night. They have a lite version if you want to make sure it works with your phone first.
Pocket Casts -This app is used for listening to podcasts. Podcasts are like radio shows you download and listen to at your own convenience. This handles telling you when they’re ready, playing them, etc. They just do thing right and it’s just easy to use.
Raindar – I learned about this app from a coworker. When there’s suppose to be snow or rain, you could bring up a weather page and navigate to the radar, or you could just bring up Raindar. It automatically determines your location and shows you the oncoming storm so you can see if you’ll get hit or if it’s going around you.
Smooth Calendar – This is another widget. It’s a nice simple way to show the upcoming events on your calendar. Our personal calendar isn’t so packed that showing just a few is good enough. I find that seeing things on the calendar on the widget (so I always see it when I unlock my phone) helps remind me of them. If my calendar was more packed, I’d probably use a different calendar widget.
Swype – Swype is a keyboard that you can “swipe” words instead of typing them out. For example, to type “them”, instead of tapping ‘t’, ‘h’, ‘e’, and ‘m’, you would simply touch down on the ‘t’, slide to the ‘h’, slide to the ‘e’, slide to the ‘m’, and then release. The native keyboard on Android has a swiping keyboard, but I still like Swype’s implementation better. Typing this way is way quicker than tapping. I get frustrated when I get on the iPad and remember I’m on a tapping keyboard again. They also have a trial version.
Tasker – This app can take all sorts of events into consideration and do certain actions. There’s too many to list here, but here’s what I have mine doing: When I connect to the work wireless, put the phone into vibrate mode. When I connect to my home wireless, turn the volume up. When the time is Sunday from 9AM to 11:45 AM (aka church time), put my phone onto vibrate. When I run the Facebook app, turn off the GPS (this really sped up Facebook, and turning on the GPS unnecessarily kills the battery).
So those are some of the apps I use. What apps do you use?