There’s an App for that

I’ve been playing with the phone for a week now. Here’s what I have found:

  • The green notification light does not work as advertised.
  • I miss the voice-recorder button on my old T3…
  • …but not as much as I though I would
  • The phone needs to be “rebooted” about once a day, otherwise it starts to slow down.
  • It once rebooted spontaneously when I plugged it into a dock…
  • …but it only happened once. Hum.
  • It senses when it is close to your head, and turns off the screen. Cool!

The Android interface is quite interesting. There are seven screens that you can slide between, each has 16 icon slots (plus three persistent slots at the bottom.) and you can put anything you want anywhere. In addition, the phone also supports three “profiles: — three sets of screens that you can switch between (mine are “Home”, “Work” and “Play”). Here are a selection of my favorite apps; all are free, though some have modestly-priced bigger brothers , which I highly recommend if you want to support the programmers.

Must-have Apps:

  • Y5:  This ingenious little app watches your movements using the built-in GPS. If you arrive at a location where there is a Wi-Fi location to which you have connected before, it switches on Wi-Fi. When you leave that location, it turns off Wi-Fi, saving your battery.
  • Barcode Reader: QR-codes — those square barcodes that first appeared on packages some years ago — are popping up everywhere. They are often displayed on websites. This app allows you to read them, which comes in useful when installing other apps; find the app on your desktop or laptop computer, read the code from the screen using your phone, and it takes you right where you need to go.
  • Netflix: If you have a Netflix account, this allows you to stream movies to your phone, which is super cool. the Netflix app is not supported on the Droid X2, but I am sure that it will be soon. In the meantime, there is a “hacked” version that bypasses the machine id check. There is nothing nefarious about this if you are paying for the service, it’s just a support issue.
  • GasBuddy: Find out where gas is cheap!
  • KeyRing: Keep the BarCodes of all those loyalty cards on your smartphone.
  • Prey/Lookout: If you misplace your phone, these app/web service combinations will help you figure out where you left it. If it has been stolen, it will help you track down the basta… er… scoundrel who stole it. Lookout also includes anti-malware functionality.
  • Moboplayer: There are many video players available; this is my personal favorite.

My favorite Apps

  • Amazon Kindle: I have no plans to buy a Kindle; both the hardware and the books are overpriced, and DRM is a big turn-off for me. However, there are plenty of free or very cheap books on the Kindle Store — I’m currently reading one that cost only 99c.
  • Groupon/LivingSocial/Daily Deals/DealDrop/Ben’s Bargains/eBay/Craigslist Notification — if you like to keep up with the latest bargains around the net without wasting lots of time, these apps are highly recommended… and a whole lot quicker than surfing for the information.
  • Adobe Reader — gotta read those PDFs, particularly since the manual comes in this format…
  • To-Do List — I am not a fan of digital to-do lists; the best I ever encountered was “Agenda” on the Psion Series 3 and 5 machines. The Palm had a passable one, but the problem with To-do lists on Android machines is the overhead required to navigate to the app, open it and then type it in. I prefer handwritten to-do lists, as they do not interrupt workflow. Having said all that, T-Do List’s killer feature is that it syncs with Toodledo, a killer online to-do list.
  • EverNote — Similar to To-do list, this allows you to take notes on your phone, synced to the EverNote web service.
  • Twitter — If you have a Twitter account, there are literally dozens of apps that will allow you to keep track of it. Seesmic is recommended if you do lots of social networking, but if, like me, you refuse to to open a FaceBook account, this is the better bet.
  • Wallswitch: So many wallpapers, so little time. This neat little app will automagically change the wallpaper at an interval of your choosing.
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