I’ve been doing this every 6 months for the last couple years, so it’s time for another “top Android app” list. As of June 2010, here are the apps I recommend for those with Android devices (several are also available for iPhone and iPod Touch). These apps are all free or close enough, with the exception of Documents To Go. They can all be downloaded from the Android Market:
Productivity/document management stuff (or “tricks you wish you could teach your smart phone”)
- Blackmoon File Browser (allows all kinds of Gmail attachments, not just images and PDFs). This is a must-have if you want to attach anything other than photos to your emails.
- Astro: A free file manager that lets you navigate around your phone and SD card, unzip files, etc. It also allows an “Open As” option — so you can open word docs as text, etc.
- DroidBox: If you store your files on DropBox, DroidBox is worth the $1-2.
- NewsRob: A nice, free news reader that syncs to GoogleReader. I still like BeyondPod for nice podcast/news reader integration on Android. You can set it up to grab your favorite podcasts on a schedule, or only if there is wifi around. It’s worth the few dollars they want.
- Docs Pics: This app lets you connect with Google Docs and upload/download your latest docs and photos.
- Documents To Go: The free version lets you view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files (along with PDFs, but that doesn’t matter as much now that Adobe Reader for Android is out). I don’t normally need to edit Office documents from my phone, but it’s nice to be able to pull it off in a pinch so I paid for the full app when I saw it for $10.
- ROM Manager: This app does a nice job simplifying the process of updating new ROMs and backing up old ones for those of us who use Cyanogen Mod and other custom Android system software. CM Updater is also nice, and basically acts as an alternative to the over-the-air updates for rooted Android phones.
Fun and games:
- doubleTwist is an app that allows Android devices to integrate more smoothly with iTunes, including sending existing iTunes playlists to Android. This surely beats recreating the same playlists on Android!
- Movies is a must-have. It pulls in show times, trailers, and Rotten Tomatoes reviews. Plus it also integrates with Flickster, Facebook, and even Netflix. This is the best app I have found for filling up my instant and movie queues from my Android phone.
- Twitter is the “official” app and is pretty nice, although I still sometimes prefer the clean interface of Twidroid. If you are into Twitter you may as well try both free apps and see which you prefer.
- C:geo is a sweet little geocaching app. Probably the best I’ve ever found on any platform for locating geocaches in the field. If you know what geocaching is, you’ll know why this is cool. If not, move on.
- GPS Logger is one I haven’t used much, but it promises to be a favorite. It’s a data logger that lets you record location data while you take pictures with your digital camera. Assuming the date/time of your camera and Android device are the same, you can use the file GPS Logger creates to geotag your photos using something like GPSPhotoLinker (Mac only) or GPicSync (Mac/PC/Linux). Your geotagged photos will look exactly the same, but each one will have hidden location data that Picasa, Flickr, iPhoto, and other apps can use to plot your photos on a map. This is awesome if you like to hike or travel!
- My Tracks is the best tracking app I have found. Allows users to records their hikes, runs, rides, trips, etc. and share the trip via Google Maps, or export the raw data points via GPX, KML, or CSV. RideTrac and Trail Guru are also good apps, but I like My Tracks better for its clean user interface and seamless Google Maps integration. I think I can use My Tracks to record the same data I need to go back and geotag my photos as well, and if this is the case it would be the clear choice.
- Tux Rider only works on newer phones like the Droid and the Nexus One, and I think it’s because it has some kind of 3D graphics acceleration going on. If you have one of these devices, it’s definitely worth a try. It’s the Android version of Tux Racer, and you steer by tipping the device from side to side. I think there is an iPhone/iPod Touch version out as well.
- Gem Miner is a very addictive little game that lets you play the role of a miner, digging gems, buying equipment, etc. Very fun!
OK, so maybe this isn’t a “complete” guide, but it brings together many of the bits and pieces of tutorials I have found for importing contacts into Gmail from several of the major email and address book applications. Feel free to add or suggest additional ones in the comments, but as I have mentioned in other tutorials, I am only posting to be helpful (use at your own risk, etc, etc). This does not make me your technical support for life.
With the release of Verizon’s DROID, and with several other new Android phones on the way, more and more people are making the switch from older PDAs and smart phones to Android. A big part of this involves moving contacts (names, addresses, and emails) over to Gmail, which syncs with Android. Many of us have accumulated contact information over time using other applications such as Outlook or Palm Desktop. This guide is meant to help people import contacts easily into Gmail, which will then sync automatically with their Android devices. Gmail offers a way to import contacts from other email applications and address books (up to 3000 contacts at a time).
The entire process can be divided into two main parts: (1) exporting contacts from the old program, and (2) importing contacts into Gmail. Part 1 depends on which program you are exporting from. Part 2 will be the same for all programs.
Part 1: Exporting contacts into a CSV file
Categories: Android Address Book, addresses, Android, calendar, contacts, CSV, email, Gmail, Google, import, Mozilla Thunderbird, Outlook, Palm Desktop, sync, tutorial, vCard
Keep in mind that by providing these instructions I am not agreeing to provide you with technical support for the rest of your life. The instructions are for the G1 ONLY, so if you have a MyTouch or something else you will need to look elsewhere. Use at your own risk, blah, blah, blah…
Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader runs Android! (gotta love the name… “Nook e-book” is every bit as good as the Wii for puns and jokes!) I’m not surprised to see that Nook is powered by Android, especially after running across a dual boot Android/XP netbook and a “dualbook” (part e-reader, part Android netbook) called the enTourage eDGe. The Android operating system is definitely designed for more than just cellphones. It’s an OS for mobile devices.
So while I understand there are limitations with the refresh rate of the E-Ink display, it’s hard not to get carried away thinking about the possibilities. I’ll be honest, I was not really interested in the Nook until I heard it will run Android. That changed everything. So while some complain that Nook would be great if it only had text-to-speech or a web browser, I don’t really care about the current features anymore. (Yes, their e-books are overpriced.) Someone is going to hack this thing, and that will be the point at which it becomes amazing and irresistible. Let me put it this way: 10-inch screen+wifi+micro-sd slot+color touchscreen+Android+root=Awesomeness!
Back in October 2008 I started using Google’s first Android phone, the T-mobile G1. By the end of January 2009 there were 800 Android apps compared to over 15,000 iPhone apps. Of course, the iPhone had been around for well over a year at that point. But I think 2009 will be the year that Google Android really comes into its own as more than a dozen new models of Android phones are introduced. There are definite pros and cons to going with an open platform like Android, and I hope I can offer a realistic view of the good and the not-so-good that I have experienced with my Android G1 phone so far.
New Favorite Apps
I am still very happy overall with my G1. Especially now that I have root access to my phone I can do even more, like tether my laptop to my phone’s Internet connection via wifi. At the 1-month mark I made a list of my top 20 Android apps. That list has changed quite a bit, so here is my new list of top 20 Android apps. Interestingly, only 5 of these apps were on my first list 9 months ago. They are marked in bold. All the apps below are free unless marked otherwise.
- Where – Displays movies, weather, etc. based on your location. It also has voice recognition and Yellowbook search, which presents you with address and phone numbers of businesses based on your location which you can then call or look up on a GoogleMap with a click or two.
- BeyondPod ($2.99) – A Podcast app that allows you to manage podcasts and even update them over wifi. (So iPod Touch, why can’t you do this?)
- Sky Map – Allows you to see stars, planets, and constellations just by holding your G1 in the direction you want to look (including the ones beneath the horizon). The digital compass, accelerometer, and GPS to move your phone around and see different areas of the sky. A very cool example of what augmented reality (AR) apps can do.
- Wikitude – This is another great augmented reality app, but this one lets you “see” cities and landmarks close to you by holding the phone in front of you and turning in any direction. Selecting the names on the screen pulls up the web page for that city or point of interest in wikipedia.
- Places Directory – Google’s version of Where. I can’t decide which one I like best so I use them both. Places uses you location to look up restaurants, shops, parks, and other points of interest. You get addresses and phone numbers you can use to locate or call whatever it is you are trying to find.