About one year ago, I purchased a Droid X. It was a struggle deciding between an iPhone and Android as a I work for a marketing software company with a bunch of opinionated co-workers with compelling reasons to purchase either. Some close friends and co-workers own iPhones and they are partial to the iPhone. Why? To quote my brother, “the iPhone is super easy to use, even my 2 year old son can navigate it.” In fact, the iPhone has a camera, iTunes, and applications which can save you time. However, I spoke with some engineers at my company and they told me Android is the future. Why? One engineer said Android OS is a completely open platform for developers to build applications and submit, versus iPhone which has a protected App Store that Apple monitors and there are more strict terms of service which limits the ability to publish certain applications. Frankly, I am a sales rep, not an engineer. As much as I would love the ability to develop applications for either Andriod or iPhone, that statement didnt mean much to me. I asked the engineer more simply, why would I want to buy an Android over an iPhone. He said, “since our company uses Gmail, Android has a tighter integration into Gmail and calendar than the iPhone for obvious reasons: Google purchased Android in 2005. Another reason, Android comes with a GPS Navigation out of the box which is FREE (no need to purchase a Garmin).
In the end, I chose the Android. Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot about the benefits of the Android OS and found some essential android apps that every android user should have. Specifically, if you are a non-web developer, here are some applications you should download if you have not done so already.
Android App Security
Lookout Mobile Security App – FREE – There are hundreds of thousands of Applications to download from the Android App Marketplace. How do you know there isn’t any Malware that will corrupt your Android smartphone? Lookout will scan each application as you download to ensure there is no Malware or anything that may potentially corrupt your phone or leak private information to a 3rd party. Please do yourself a favor and download Lookout Mobile Security.
Android Battery Life Saver
Advanced Task Killer – FREE – Many non-techies, like myself, don’t realize that android applications are running in the background even though you may not be “using” them. When applications are running the background, that can kill your battery life. Advanced Task Killer to the rescue. Download the Free Version of the Advanced Task Killer and you will be able to easily shut down those applications that you do not want running to save battery life.
Android Web Browser
Dolphin Browser HD – FREE – The Google search bar comes as a default, out of the box search. In fact, you can use the audio-version and talk into the browser and find search results. The Dolphin Browser allows for a similar browsing experience that you have with your desktop or lap top computer as it has a “tabbed” interface. You can run multiple tabs within the same browser and toggle back and forth between web pages without opening multiple browsers. Another reason I really like Dolphin is that you can share blog articles or web pages with one-click to twitter.
Spotify PRO – $10.00/month for unlimited streaming music. Remember back in the late 90s and early 2000s when we all used to leverage NapSter to download and share music files online illegally? Well, Spotify is a legal service where you can stream music from your android at any time. Just about every song is available on Spotify and you will never have to purchase a song from the iTunes store ever again or worry about losing that music if your computer breaks or if you lose your iphone/ipod/nano. Personally, I love music. Walking to work, I listen to music. At work, when i am not on the phone, I will listen to music while typing emails or doing research. In my car, I plug in my phone into an adapter and listen to any song I want on the road. Spotify doesn’t suck.
Shazam – FREE – Have you ever been at a bar/club/party/in a car and heard a song that you like, but you don’t know the name of the song? Yeah, I’ve been there too. Shazam is an android application that will automatically identify what the song is and you can instantly either purchase that song, share it to a social media profile or simply identify the song, then add it to your Spotify Playlist.
Pandora – FREE – Want to listen to a radio station of streaming music of your choice? If you like listening to a genre of music without having control of hearing an exact song, then Pandora is for you. I personally have not used Pandora since I purchased Spotify.
Android Social Media
Facebook – FREE – No need to explain what facebook is. If you found your way to this blog article, you certainly know about facebook. I’m not a big user of facebook, but it is nice to see what your friends are up to. I do enjoy facebook for finding out what is happening in my friends lives that I haven’t seen in a while. Maybe it’s someones’ birthday, someone maybe had a child. It’s good to check out once in a while to stay in touch with people. Or maybe you just want to use facebook to creep out your friends. Don’t pretend like you don’t spy on others.
Twitter – FREE – Twitter as become a big part of my life. I’m not afraid to say it either. Twitter is a real-time information network that allows the average Joe to connect with people that they may not have access to, share opinions, articles and make connections that otherwise was not possible prior to Twitter launching. I enjoy learning what’s happening in the world from a news, business and sports perspective. It’s really incredible the people you can meet on twitter by simply sharing an opinion or article you found interesting.
Linkedin – Free – Slick App. Linkedin helps with professional connections online. This is probably widely used by Recruiters and HR departments. I don’t use this app that much, but I really like the User Interface compared to Facebook and Google Plus.
Google + – FREE – The Google Plus App is Google’s response to Facebook and Twitter Social Media Networks. I’m adding the Google Plus App to the Essential List because I think I will be using it much more in the coming months.
FourSquare – FREE – I used this app for about 3 months, but no local retailers picked it up and leveraged it with special offers. I felt there was no value-add, therefore i dropped it.
Android Business Apps
Evernote – FREE – Evernote is an application to take notes, organize, store and share them across mobile, laptop, desktop and tablet. Every day I take notes on my computer. Over the last few years, I realized I can type faster than I can write, not to mention, I can barely read my own chicken-scratch handwriting. With Evernote, I will now be able to take notes on my computer, or on my Android if I am in a meeting without my laptop and not skip a beat. Evernote allows for saving, tagging and organizing webpages and pictures to associate wit notes, as well. Blogging for business ideas come to mind on a daily basis and if I don;t write those ideas down, I wont remember them.
QuickOffice – FREE – We all receive emails with Word Documents, PDF documents and Excel Spreadsheets as attachments. Wouldn’t it be cool to actually view the word document, PDF document or excel spreadsheet and have the ability to edit the document and email it back to someone? With QuickOffice, you can do just that, all from your Android smartphone.
Bank of America – FREE – Check your Account on the fly whenever you want. Pay Bills, Transfer money, you name it, it can happen with the Android Bank of America App.
Gmail – FREE – Gmail’s Android App is awesome. Threaded conversations for easy scrolling, replying, and forwarding of messages. My company uses Gmail as our Email Service Provider so all of my email is easily synced to my phone.
Calendar – FREE – Google Calendar automatically syncs with the Android Calendar Application. I use my company Gmail Calendar to schedule everything in my life. All of those events scheduled from my desktop are automatically synced to my Android and vice-versa. Every morning, I can plan my day around my meetings on the Calendar.
Navigation – FREE – GPS Navigation – this is a turn-by-turn navigation with audio, someone telling you exactly where to turn and when. You actually get distances, estimated time until arrival, pockets of traffic, and the option to choose alternative routes to your desitnation.
Android News / Leisure Apps
Google Reader – FREE – Instead of purchasing the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe or any other newspaper on a daily basis, all of that news is automatically send to my Google Reader on a daily basis, instantaneously. My Google Reader Android App is my newspaper.
Weather.com – FREE – Find out the forecaset every day. What’s the weather going to be in your local area? If you are travelling, you can properly pack and prepare for those road trips.
Android Sports Apps
ScoreCenter – FREE – ESPN’s Scorecenter Application is like having a travelling version of ESPN’s flagship TV show, “SportsCenter” on your phone at all times. You can easily customize your ScoreCenter Application to track your favorite teams, based on Sport, City, Country, you name it. Easily get real-time updates on games. If you are at dinner with your family and the redsox game is on, easily spin up the scorecenter app underneath the dinner table and get the live updated score.
ESPN Fantasy Football 2011 App – FREE – If you play fantasy football and use ESPN for your fantasy league, then you are in luck! There is a killer ESPn Fantasy Football App that provides real time updates on your teams score and sends you notifications when you either take the lead against your competition. Easily Add/Drop players, change your line up, or check football scores in general.
NFL Mobile – FREE – You need to have an Android and need to have a Verizon contract in order to take advantage of this insane application. Why am I calling this application insane, you ask? The NFL Mobile App has LIVE FOOTBALL GAMES STREAMING FROM YOUR PHONE. YES, THAT INCLUDES THE NFL REDZONE CHANNEL. Hypotheically speaking, (this didn’t happen yesterday, i swear) if the 4:15pm EST football games come on TV and your fiance wants to watch re-runs of Keeping Up with the Khardashians, then you can simply, dowload the NFL MObile App, press play on the NFL Red Zone Channel and watch the best parts of every single game. FTW!
GolfShotGPS – $30 – one time fee – If you are a golfer, suck it up. Buy the app. Why? Golfshot GPS was introduced to me by Brian Fenwick, a competitive golfer. GolfShot GPS allows you to see the exact distance to the front, middle and back of every green. You can see distances to land marks on each fairway – how far is it to a a bunker or how far is it to carry the water? Golfshot GPS answers those questions AND tracks your scores on each hole, fairways hit, greens in regulation, penalties, sandies, etc.
BONUS Android APP – Social Fun
HeyTell – FREE – Remember those people that had the Nextel cell phones which doubled as a walkie-talkie? If you don’t remember those phones, think about a walkie-talkie. With the HeyTell Android App, you simply press a button on your phone and talk to someone on your contact list. Let’s say you are watching a Red Sox versus Yankees baseball game and your friend really likes the yankees. If the Red Sox take a big lead, maybe you want to send a “HeyTell” message to your yankee-loving friend how you wish the yankees well moving forward, but tonight is not their night.
What are your essential android applications? Did I miss anything?