Android Applications - 10 of my picks

15 Aug 2010
Posted by Kiran

Android is a powerful Mobile OS and it is growing. However, as I had earlier mentioned you'll need to install applications from the Android Market to tailor its behavior to your liking.

Here are some of the applications that I use frequently. These are the ones that have helped me tailor my Android experience just the way I like it.

The applications listed below are those that you can make use of without any tweaks to your phone. You do not need to be Root on your phone to run these.

 
 
 

Android does not come with an out-of-the-box File Manager. This is very inconvenient if you use your smartphone to store, organize and edit files on the go. Fortunately the Astro File Manager is available for free on the Android market. This is a very nicely written application which provides you with basic tools you'd need to manage files as well as applications and processes on your smartphone.

In my opinion, this is a no-brainer — a must have application.

 
 
 

Another, very irritating, limitation of Android is its Calendar reminder functionality. Calendar reminders on Android come with a standard 5 minute snooze time. Hence, if your meeting was starting in an hour and you wanted to snooze your reminders till then, you would have to contend with 12 reminders before your meeting actually started! Being accustomed to the Windows Mobile system of multiple choices while snoozing reminders, this came as a huge disappointment.

Calendar Snooze bridged this gap beautifully. The development team behind the app is also very supportive and respond to queries and bug reports/problems very promptly.

Though there is an ad-supported free option, I personally found the advertisements too intrusive and would recommend that you go for the paid option instead.

Update (20-Sep-2010): Though I continue to use Calendar Snooze on my Android, I think you should read my more recent post: Why you don't need snooze with Google Calendar before you decide on whether or not you want to buy this application.

 
 
 
3
Free
 
 

Let us say you are working on your phone — editing a document, reading a webpage, finding a route, whatever — and a call comes in. After you are done answering that call, you will find that your phone locks up! Hence, each time you are done answering a call you will then have to unlock your phone.

This can be especially irritating if you are navigating with your GPS and Google Maps. Your phone locking up in the middle of a crowded street is probably the last thing you'd need. Call Light is a simple application that prevents this.

 
 
 

Android comes with an application called QuickOffice, which allows viewing of Office documents. Hence, unless you plan to make edits to your Office documents, QuickOffice should serve you fine. However, if you are one of those users who like to have the ability to type out a document or create a skeleton presentation on the move, you've got to have Documents To Go.

The application is a bit expensive at $14.99 off the Android Market. But, with the features you get, I believe it is money well spent.

 
 
 
 
 

Android lacks the options for varying Ringer Profiles such as "Increasing Ring", which I was accustomed to on my Windows Mobile device. Whenever a call came in, I would have the phone start ringing at the lowest ringer volume and then gradually increase the volume till I heard it and picked it up.

This is especially useful when you are in a quiet office and didn't want a shrill ring to provide a jarring distraction for everyone.

For those missing this feature on Android this application gives you the Increasing Ring ringer profile.

 
 
 

This application allows you more fine-grained control over when you want to keep your screen from timing out. KeepScreen allows you to select applications, which when running should prevent the screen from timing out and getting locked.

Very helpful when you are reading a book, browsing the internet or navigating using Google Maps.

 
 
 

If you setup an Exchange Account on your Android Phone, the Server will enforce password policies on the phone. The intent behind this is good — it ensures that the Exchange Account and possibly sensitive emails aren't accidentally accessed by unauthorized people. However it also means that each time you want to make a quick phone call, you have to fiddle around with the phone to enter an alphanumeric password! Inconvenient!

LockPicker will disable the Keyguard on the phone and provide you with the normal Pattern Unlock screen — much more convenient for quickly unlocking your phone on the go.

One limitation, however, is that LockPicker only works on Android version 2.1 and below. If you are running the latest iteration of Android — Frozen Yogurt (Froyo) — LockPicker is not for you. Not yet, at least.

 
 
 

Lookout provides a useful set of tools to secure your smartphone. It includes malware protection, data backup options as well as device locator options.

Each time you download a new application, Lookout will scan the application to make sure it is malware-free. Antivirus scanning and device data backup can be scheduled. You also get a web application online that allows you find the phone either by making it emit a loud noise or use the GPS option to send back its location.

 
 
 
9
€ 4.99
 
 

Android phones usually come with built-in RSS readers. Hence, you will probably not feel the need to buy another RSS reader. However, most of these RSS readers are self contained — you have to add and manage RSS feeds on your phone.

NewsRob Pro is different in that integrates with your Google Reader account. Hence, if you add any feeds to Google Reader, those feeds become available on your device as well. You can star items on your Laptop and defer reading the starred items on your phone when on the move, or vice versa.

The PC-Device integration is what I love the most.

 
 
 

When you receive a call on your Android Phone, this application will basically speak out the caller's details. If the number is in your Contacts List, it will say the Contact's name. If not, you can set it to either read out the whole number or simply say "Unknown"

The application does its job well. However, I did notice it struggling with pronunciation of non-American names. Over time though, you get used to how it pronounces the names of your contacts.

I would not call it a must-have. But a good one to consider if you are looking for such functionality.

 
 

There are many interesting applications available in the market. There are a few that I make use of but haven't mentioned above, primarily because I am still trying them out and haven't become as comfortable as I would like with their usage. I will perhaps talk about them in a different post sometime later.

The ones I have listed above are simple ones that I like; they provide me with functionality I need.

Which Android app is your favorite? Do let me know — leave a comment.

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