Android Apps On My G1 October 21st, 2009
Everyone has different ideas as to what are the best apps available for the Android, and as with a lot of things it’s always going to be subjective. After all, an app which serves a purpose for me may not for you and vice versa. So, I thought I would compile a little list of the apps which I have on my G1 right now. Some I use everyday and I couldn’t live without, others are more of a novelty and I rarely use. The list of course changes regularly depending on my mood or need.
I have added where I can the direct link to the Android Market for each app so all you need to do is scan the barcode and it’ll take you directly to the appropriate page for you to download the app, for this to work you’ll need a barcode scanner installed. If you do not already have one, just download from the Android market and you’ll be good to go.
Bit of a geeky one this, perhaps of little use to the majority of users but its one app which I always have installed. The notion behind the app is quite simple, it uses cell information to identify which cell tower your phone is connected too and calculates an approximate distance from the tower based on your signal strength. Then, it takes a gps fix and interfaces with Google Maps to give you a map view showing your location and the location of the cell tower. Now unless you are an RF engineer this is probably not that exciting but I use it when I am in an area of poor signal to see how far I am from the cell tower, just out of curiosity.
Battery Status – Free
Now we all accept that just as with the iPhone, the battery on most android devices is pretty shameful, certainly on the HTC Dream/G1 you can expect to just about get through a day before having to find somewhere to plug in. What makes matters worse, is that the battery display doesn’t really give you a lot of information, sure, it goes from green to orange to red to critical but just as with a cars fuel gauge, the whole process doesn’t seem to be very linear. So, this little app is a useful way of showing more information. Basically, it runs in the system area of your home screen and gives you a numerical value for the amount of battery remaining out of 100, so half battery would be 50 etc. It gives you more faith in your ability to ensure you have enough battery left to get you through the day, no more leaving the house thinking you have plenty of battery only for the inbuilt gauge to suddenly drop to red! The app doesn’t appear to use much in the way of system resources, it’s certainly one app I couldn’t live without.
Pkt Auctions eBay
As you would expect by its name this is simply an eBay app. It’s not very easy to search for new items but then that’s what we have home computers for, but, if you are already bidding or watching an item and you know you are not going to be at home when it’s due to finish or you just want to check on its progress then this little app is great. It gives you full access to ‘my eBay’ so you can see items you are watching, ones that you are selling and ones that you have outstanding bids on. Of course it also allows you to place bids on items. Doesn’t do much more than that if I am honest but if you are an active eBayer then this is a useful tool, certainly much easier and quicker than navigating the mobile eBay site on your androids browser.
Twidroid for Twitter
Twitter, the new facebook, or so they say. If like me you spend a lot of time using Twitter then this app is one you cannot be without. There are a lot of others in the Android Market, each with its own unique set of features but as an all round Twitter client I don’t think you can get much better than Twidroid. The app gives you full access to your Twitter features and allows you to include pictures and geo-data in your tweets. It also makes use of various URL shortening services, needless to say. The app runs in the background and alerts you to new tweets in the same way as the android OS natively alerts you to email and text messages, so you are never away from the action! Being that the app runs in the background and monitors your Twitter account, it is going to eat a little bit more battery on your device and take up some additional system resources. I personally have not found this to be a huge problem although have throttled it back so that it only checks for tweets every hour. As with any app which uses background data, it should be configured for your needs – it’s pointless having it check every few minutes unless you really need it to.
A relatively simple app brought to you by Google. Using your gps it finds where you are and gives you a list of local places based on your search criteria. So, you want a local restaurant or a need to book a hotel nearby – no problem. It also gives you access to user reviews and contact details using the power of its Google origins. So you can for example find a local hotel, look up it’s details and call to make a reservation all from one place. I have to admit I don’t use this much but I’m sure it’ll come in more useful one day when I am in an area I am not familiar with and need to find a local amenity. It doesn’t do anything in the background so I’m not worried about leaving it installed ready for the day it’ll be more useful.
Wikitude World Browser
Now this is a great app, although I have to say I am yet to use it! Wikitude presents you with data about your surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of your android. So if for example you take a trip to London and are up in the London Eye, you simply look at your screen and point your android around and it’ll point out Big Ben and Waterloo station for example. It’s like having a personal tour guide with you. This has to be one of the most popular downloads on Android market and I look forward to using it properly when I am next on holiday.
This app interfaces with your Google Analytics account to give you access to your stats for any websites which are using the Analytics service. This is one of my most used apps and I couldn’t be without it. It doesn’t give you are much information as the proper web client but it gives you snapshot information which is often more useful at a glance. So, for example I can quickly and easily see how many unique visitors I’ve had today, yesterday or this week. See where my traffic has come from and what people were searching for to happen across my site. It doesn’t give you all of the trend information or goals as you get in the web client but it gives more than enough information to appreciate what is happening across your websites.
Google Sky Map
Not really that useful unless you are an astronomer but a great party trick app with the all important ‘wow’ factor. Essentially it imposes a sky map on your screen so you point your phone (as if you were using the camera) around the sky you’ll be able to see the stars and planets on your screen, making it easy to find Jupiter or Mars etc. Also it has a search facility so you tell it you want to find Saturn for example and an arrow on the screen tells you to move left or right, up or down and there you go, you’re looking at Saturn! Of course you’ll need a nice clear night to use the app otherwise you’ll just be looking at a cloud but that’s something which is outside of the apps control.
A simple app which acts as a TV guide displaying information for UK television channels; there is also a paid upgrade available which does interface with your Sky+ box so that you are able to set programmes to record directly from your android. I keep thinking about getting this as it would be a useful feature but am too tight to click the ‘buy’ button. One day perhaps when the credit crunch is over! There are a lot of other apps in the market which act as TV guides, I have tried a few and always seem to come back to this, of course it is down to personal choice but this remains my favourite.
Doesn’t do a great deal but I use this in conjunction with Pkt Auctions eBay. This app allows you to perform basic PayPal tasks such as send money or check on your account balance and transaction history. It’s been developed directly by PayPal so is well designed to securely interface with the PayPal systems. Rather annoyingly, I have recently signed up for a PayPal secure card which uses a scambled code to further enhance account security, a great idea day to day but I did not realise it would mean I had to use it everytime I used the android app too. So now I have to carry the smart card in my wallet too if I want to use this app.
Another geeky tool which will serve no purpose for most people as it is designed to act as a tool. Essentially it is an audio signal generator which can create white noise, pink noise and sine waves. I have it installed as you can use the sine generator and your finger to control the slide (changing the frequency) to make a noise like R2D2! It’s the simple things in life. So not really very useful but it’s not talking up much space so it can stay for noe.
I’ve used this quite a few times now when I hear a tune on the radio or on a TV advert that I really like but am not sure who releases it. Shazam uses the androids built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played. An acoustic fingerprint is created based on the sample, and is compared against a central database for a match. If a match is found – which it usually is – information such as the artist, song title, and album are relayed back to you on your screen. Relevant links to YouTube and Amazon MP3 are also given to you so you can then go and listen or buy the track. It’s uncanny just how many obscure tracks this is able to correctly identify across all genres, impressive stuff.
This app interfaces with data supplied by the BBC to show both visually on a Map and in text format live traffic conditions in a given area. What is also unique is that under each traffic instance a progress bar is shown letting you know an approximate time for the delay. It’s proven quite accurate so far but as with any traffic app, this is only going to be as good as the data it is given, I’d have liked to have seen the developer add support for multiple sources such as the Highways Agency as well as BBC etc. I’m sure this comes down to licensing, hopefully it will be addressed in futher releases, making it even more accurate and reliable.
A simple app that brings you the latest BBC news headlines, nothing more and nothing less. I like this as it allows me to quickly find information on any breaking news without having to search for it.
This app uses the Google Translation service to provide translations for given text in just about any language you can think of. It’s another one of those applications which actually don’t serve much use but it’s always fun to send random sentences in a foreign language when using instant messengers. I guess the inner child in use never grows up! Had it been given the ability to translate full web pages on demand then it would have been far more useful, but this obviously would change the development of the app significantly and probably change it from a free app to a commercial app.
This application improves on the in-built software for the android camera which makes it useful in anyone’s book. We all know how basic the camera is and this app improves things by adding a proper digital zoom, a timer, burst shooting mode, various filters, white balance adjustment and autofocus. Of course the quality of the finished photo is always going to be subject to the quality of the hardware which in HTCs case isn’t the best but this app definitely makes the pictures better than the standard camera app.
Feel free to discuss any of these apps below in the comment field or suggest some useful apps that you have come across.