With new android phones just out and even more on the way, I thought it would be a good time to release another list of neat-o Android apps. My last Android post (part 1 and part 2) focused on apps specifically for increasing your productivity; this post includes all manner of apps. Some will help you be more productive, some will just help you have more fun.
(Note: Some of these are paid applications. As with iPhone apps, an initial rush of free applications in the Android store seems to be giving way to higher-quality, low-priced applications that allow developers to devote more time and effort to upkeep and support.)
1. AK Notepad
AK Notepad is a basic memo pad for Android, with a few niceties. The interface color and text size are nicely customizable, and it can be set to automatically convert email addresses and URLs into clickable links (useful for remembering websites you see in ads or magazine articles while you’re out and about). Since Android doesn’t sync to a desktop the way Palm and Apple devices do, there’s no direct way to get notes off your phone, but individual notes can be sent by email (or other programs that allow it) and all your notes can be exported to the SD card and opened from the device when you plug into your PC’s USB. (Text files from your PC can also be placed on your SD card and opened in AK Notepad.)
2. Dial Zero
Route your calls around pesky (and slow) voicemail systems with Dial Zero, a database of workarounds for hundreds of companies. Each entry includes the company’s main phone number (which it will pass to the dialer if you press the green “phone dial” button), a description of how to reach an operator or agent, and comments from others who have used the app.
Meant for wilderness explorers, Hi-Hiker also functions as a great fitness app. Functions include a GPS tracker, pedometer, stopwatch, weather information, maps, an altimeter, a compass, a flashlight, and a quick-dial button to call for emergency help. Most of the functions use the GPS, so make sure you have a full charge before leaving “home base” for too long!
Greed is a Google Reader application for Android phones, which does a much better job on the small screen than Google’s web interface for Reader. One important feature is the ability to cache your feeds on the SD card for later viewing – great for when you’re about to get on a plane or driving cross country (well, riding cross country – don’t drive and read, kids!) and will be without cell-tower service for a while. Although not a specialized podcast app, you can also subscribe to podcast feeds and download the files so they’ll show up in your media player. Greed is good.
5. Places Directory
Places Directory was designed by a Google employee, so you know it’s good. It offers location-based search to help find nearby restaurants, post offices, comic book stores, or whatever. It can get your location either from the GPS or from the nearest cell tower. Give it a long-press to dial a phone number or open a map, or a short-press for info and user reviews (each press opens a different contextual menu). A compass needle will tell you what direction you’re headed and what direction to go, and you can save a list of your favorite places (to quickly find a Starbucks in a strange town, for instance).
Shoot and stream live video from your phone with Qik. You can have Qik send out a tweet whenever you’re recording, and you can embed your video in other sites using the automatically-generated embed code. The only downside is that you will burn through your battery at a pretty fast rate – but it’s useful for catching quick clips on the go if you don’t have a camcorder handy.
7. Skype Lite
Skype all you want on your Android phone using Skype Lite. Works fine over 2G, and imports all your Skype contacts and other account information. If you have SkypeIn, you can even get Skype calls on your Android phone!
Android phones multitask, meaning that there are often several applications still running in the background when you open an ew one – or even when you aren’t doing anything at all. Unfortunately, Android makes it difficult to know what’s running in the background (and using up your battery). Taskiller opens a list of all running apps and allows you to close them individually or all at once. You can also switch between apps easily using a long-press.
Wertago offers location-sensitive nightlife search coupled with social networking functions (friends, status updates, profiles, messaging, picture sharing) so you can find out what’s going on right now, where your friends are at, and what the best place to hang out might be. Nightclub listings include ratings from other users, distance from you, mapping, and search by tags (like 18+, dancing, dressy, etc.), and how many of your favorite Wertago users are there at the moment. If you’re a clubber, this is an essential app.
Got any other cool apps that Lifehack readers just have to install on their shiny new Android phones? Let us know about them in the comments.
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