What’s On My Phone

posted on 04/06/10 at 12:10:36 am by Joel Ross

I've been relatively quiet lately, and part of it's because I've been so busy with work and the NCAA tournament that I haven't had time. And in recent months, I've switched to be more a consumer of technology than a producer - in the form of a new phone. Well, not new, but relatively so. Back in November, I got a Motorola Droid - I actually got it the day it was released. I turned in my Touch Pro 2 (which I really liked) and moved to Android. It's not a move I've ever regretted.

Anyway, today, Dan Hounshell tweeted that he'd like to see a list of the apps I'm using on my phone, along with a promise to follow up with is own. I responded saying that sounded like a great idea - with the hope being that someone will point out an application that I'm missing.

I'll preface this by pointing out that I haven't purchased an app yet - every app listed is either free or the "light" version of a paid application. I'm not against paying for an app - it's just that I'm cheap, and I haven't found a key feature or app that's justified it.

So let's get started. The three apps I use the most are built-in: Mail, calendar and browser. I have 5 email accounts that I've added to my phone - my personal one (which is actually a consolidation of quite a few), my work one and three for Develomatic. They're all Google Apps accounts, so the integration is seamless. I've granted access to my work calendar from my personal Google account, and have various calendars for my personal account anyway, and they're all synced to my phone as well. I even have The Wife's calendar on my phone, so I no longer have to check the fridge to find out what's going on this weekend. The browser is also very sold, and I have a couple of bookmarks that I use all the time: Google Reader and Instapaper.

But that's not the real reason we're here, right? We're talking about what I've grabbed from the Marketplace. So let's get to it. I'll start with the apps on my home screen:

  • Twidroid: From every review I've seen of twitter clients on Android, Twidroid is always number one. I tried a couple others early on, and none even came close.
  • Google Maps: It's technically built in as well, but it's worth highlighting. It comes with free voice navigation which works very well. I love that it zooms in and out based on how fast I'm going.
  • Foursquare: I don't use Foursquare like most people do, I don't think. I have no friends on it, and when I check in somewhere, it doesn't tweet that or post it to Facebook. But I still try to check in where ever I go. I used it extensively on our recent trip to Hawaii and have used it to remember a few places that we went to while we were there. I do find it a bit ironic that I'm the "mayor" of more places in Hawaii than in Michigan though!
  • Bible from YouVersion.com: I like that they have quite a few reading plans and it syncs those plans between the web and my phone so I can remember where I am.
  • CalWidget: While not technically an application, it does take up 1/2 of my main screen. The default calendar widget doesn't do it for me. This gives me a lot of customizations for what I want to show up from my calendar, what size I want it to be, and how I want it to look. Both The Wife and I use it and love it.

The Droid only has 3 screens. What's listed above covers the main screen. One of the other screens contains links to direct dial contacts - The Wife (both home and mobile), parents, friends, etc. I also have the "Power Control" widget so I can quickly turn on and off wireless and Bluetooth.

The last screen contains programs I use often, but not all the time.

  • Games Folder
    • ThrottleCopter: Such a simple game, but it's addicting. Basically, you press the screen, the copter goes up. Release and it goes down, and your goal is not to hit the top or bottom of the cave.
    • Robo Defense: I haven't played this in a while because it's too addicting. I played quite a few games over the course of a couple of weeks, and realized I was wasting 30-45 minutes at a time. Still, I love the tower defense type games.
    • Flight Director: This is probably my favorite game I have. Planes come on the screen and you use your finger to draw a path to the runway. Your goal? Land as many planes as you can without any crashing.
    • Toss It: Another simple game. Take a balled up piece of paper and "toss" it into a trash can while a fan is blowing at different speeds. I think it would be a lot cooler if it used the accelerometer, but it's still something that you can play for to kill a few minutes.
  • ShopSavvy: Two weeks after I got my Droid, my garbage disposal decided that leaking water into the area where the power connected would be a good idea. After numerous blown circuits, I headed to Home Depot to get a replacement. I found a 1/2 HP replacement. On a whim, I scanned it with ShopSavvy and found it online for 1/2 the price, and realized it's reviews were awful. As a result, I bought a 1 HP garbage disposal that was highly rated for the same price. Yeah, ShopSavvy is a keeper.
  • KeePassDroid: I've use KeePass to save all of my passwords on my laptop/desktop for years. Being able to access that same info on my phone is nice, although I do wish that it supported the 2.x file format, but alas, I'm stuck on 1.x for now.
  • Pandora: I work from home, so I use my desktop machine to play music most of the time, but the combo of my Droid and the AUX input on my car stereo is killer.
  • Facebook: The Android Facebook app is pretty weak. I don't use this a lot other than for its ability to sync Facebook contacts with my phone contacts. If I want to go to Facebook, I'll just go to their mobile interface (not m.facebook.com though - touch.facebook.com is a far better experience).
  • Key Ring: This stores all of the store shopping cards in my phone so I don't have to carry them. Sounds great, except a lot of scanners don't work well with the shiny screen on the Droid. But for the ones that work, it's great!
  • Aldiko: I haven't found a book reader that I love (Amazon, where are you?) but Aldiko is best I've found. It's slow, but it allows me to read an ebook on the go.
  • TripIt: I use this rarely, since I don't travel like I used to, but when I do travel, it's nice to have all of my travel plans handy.
  • Fring: IM and Skype on my phone. Not sure I really want to have IM capabilities on my phone, but at times it does come in handy.
  • Google Voice: I don't use this to it's full extent mainly because I don't want to go through the hassle of telling everyone I know I have a new number. But I do give out my Voice number any time I have to fill out a phone number online or call someone that I really don't want to have my number.
  • Evernote: I use this mainly for reading notes I've taken on my desktop, but it's nice to have the option to take notes if I have to.

Those are the main applications that I use. I have others installed, and while they're decent applications, they're just not ones I use all the time:

  • AppBrain: I like the idea here. Install this, and then go to their website. You can search the market place and select apps to install and they get installed on your phone. And it keeps track of the apps you have installed for you online. This seems like the perfect thing to have if I ever needed to swap out my phone for another one.
  • Gesture Search: Google released this and it's pretty cool. I just don't think to open it. It seems to me that this belongs as part of the OS rather than an app living in isolation.
  • PapiRiver: I'm a sucker for games that use the accelerometer. This is one that does.
  • Read Later: This isn't really an application. It provides an option for the browser's "Share" menu to save the current URL to Instapaper, which I use all the time.
  • Skype mobile: The official Skype app on Android. It only works over 3G, which seems a little odd to me, but whatever. It works good in test. I'll have to try doing our daily stand up meeting one day.
  • TasKiller: I use this rarely, but every now and then, I use it to kill an app. Simple, but effective.
  • The Weather Channel: This one ends up living in the Notification area and I can always see the current temp where I'm at. It also shows me any warnings in the area by turning red. It's one I end up using all the time, but never really think about the fact that I'm using it.

I linked a few of the apps, but for the rest, they either don't have a dedicated web page, or it's just easier to search in the Android Marketplace.

There are a few things that I'm missing though and would really, really like to see:

  • DropBox: I already use Dropbox to sync my Keepass password file between different machines. I'd like to have it automatically do that on my phone too. It's coming, but I want it now!
  • Kindle App: I recently turned 3G on my Kindle on long enough to sync where I was in a book between it and my desktop (because The Wife keeps stealing the Kindle!). If there was a version of the Kindle software for Android, I'd leave it on permanantly.
  • Instapaper: Yeah, the mobile web page is nice, but I'd really like to see a native application. The author of Instapaper states he has no plans for this, because he doesn't have time. That's unfortunate. What's more unfortunate is that the API doesn't allow you to build your own. Maybe someday.

That's what's on my phone. What's on yours? What am I missing?

Categories: Software