My Favorite Droid Apps: Spring 2011 Edition

I’m frequently asked, “Android or iPhone?” The good folks at Lifehacker provide the “Top 10 Awesome Android Features that the iPhone Doesn’t Have” and the “Top 10 Ways iOS Outdoes Android“. Truthfully, if Apple had originally opted to open the iPhone to all carriers and not just AT&T, I’d probably be an iPhone user today. But I was very happy with Verizon, and I have a long-standing grudge against AT&T. So Android it was. And now that I’m here, I have no desire to change camps. Nor am I alone in that regard.

In December 2010, I shared my favorite Droid apps. It’s time for an update.

What’s new:

CamCard (free for the lite version). CamCard uses your phone’s camera to take a photo of a business card, then it pulls the relevant information into a usable contacts entry; tap to call, email, visit the website, or see the location on a map. Additionally, organize the business card photos into categories for easy access. Create a QR code for the business card so others can bring the information into their phones.

Swiftkey X (free, currently in Beta). Like the original Swiftkey keyboard, it offers terrific text prediction. It learns from what you’ve typed before and offers suggestions based on what it thinks you’ll type next. Give it a couple letters, and its guesses are very good.

SpringPad (free). SpringPad is an EverNote alternative. With the new ability to drop notes into notebooks, and the old ability to access SpringPad via a computer’s web browser, SpringPad is a solid place to store your ideas.


A quick recap of the December 2010 list:

Andricious (free). Still a good way to access Delicious bookmarks. Now that AVOS, founded by the creators of YouTube, have purchased Delicious from Yahoo, look for increased functionality from Delicious. One of the first things they did was make Delicious work with Firefox 4.0, of which I am very grateful.

Ask-WA (free). Ask-a-librarian for those of us in the great state of Washington.

Barcode scanner (free). Essential for scanning QR codes.

Business calendar ($5.68, try the free version first). I love this calendar. I can see all of my Google calendars. Swipe to the left to move the calendar into the future. Swipe the bottom bar to increase or decrease the number of days shown. Pinch to zoom.

Documents to Go (free, $14.99 for premium features). I admit that I haven’t had much need to edit documents on my phone, but it sure has been handy when I’ve needed to.

Dropbox (free). Essential for Dropbox users. The files aren’t stored on your phone, but you can quickly download whatever you need.

Epistle (free). Great for quick notetaking. It syncs via Dropbox.

Google Voice (free). While I have a Google phone number, I don’t generally use it. I do use Google voice for voicemail however. I like the transcription feature, although sometimes the transcriptions leave something to be desired. Recently a friend called to see if I was planning on attending their crab boil, which Google Voice rendered as crap boy. In addition to the transcription, you also get the audio file. For obvious reasons.

ICE: In Case of Emergency (free). Haven’t had to use this, but I like knowing it’s there.

Movies (free). Excellent for finding out what’s playing when and where – and whether it’s worth the money.

OurGroceries (free). I’d use this if I lived alone, but it’s essential if you live with one or more people.

PdaNet (free to try, $15.95). This turns your phone into a modem by tethering it to your laptop via USB cable. I use it when I stay in hotels that charge an arm and a leg for internet access. Some carriers aren’t thrilled about you doing this, so they’re blocking it. Android market, acknowledging the carriers’ wishes, has removed PdaNet. You can still download it from the PdaNet website… and the newest version hides the tethering from your carrier. Newer Android phones, such as the Samsung Droid Charge, include the ability to turn into a Wi-Fi hotspot, so PdaNet may only be a temporary fix.

Power Control Plus ($1.99). Very handy widget. It’s customizable to include just about anything you need. I have mine set to allow me to silence/unsilence my phone, change the brightness, use the camera’s flash as a flashlight, turn on/off Wi-Fi, turn on/off the GPS.

Reader (free). Easy access to my Google Reader feeds. I’m not entirely crazy about the interface, but it’s fine for now.

Swiftkey (free to try, $2.02). One of the advantages of Android over iPhone is the ability to install different keyboards. I’m partial to this one.

Tick! (free). Easy to use timer.

Where’s My Droid (free). I haven’t had much need for this one, but, like ICE, I feel better knowing I have it.

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