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9 More Apps to Help You Get More Out of Your Android Phone

9 More Apps to Help You Get More Out of Your Android Phone

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    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

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    AKnotebook

      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

      dialzero

        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.

        3. Hi-Hiker

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        hiker2

          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!

          4. Greed

          greed

            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

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            places

              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).

              6. Qik

              qik

                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!

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                8. Taskiller

                taskiller

                  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.

                  9. Wertago

                  wertago

                    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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                    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                    The Neurology of Ownership

                    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                    More About Goals Setting

                    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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