Thursday, 10 March 2011

Android Apps

In recent times, many companies are providing iPhone applications for their customers.  I have an Android phone and thought I would share the list of applications that I use on a daily, if not, weekly basis.  I am interested to hear of other useful applications you use. 
I actually have three email accounts for different purposes.  I have a gmail, Hotmail and a Lotus Notes email account.  

On my Android I use the native email client for my Hotmail, which seems to work well at downloading messages, but it does not synchronise back to the server if I delete, or that I have read a message.  I think this is poor.  One thing I do like is that I can set a limit to download a certain kb limit of mails, and it will automatically download the pictures, if it falls within the limit.

I use the google mail application for my gmail account.  This is a great app and synchronises everything I do on the handset back to gmail.  I can read, delete, categorise and move the mails in different folders.  Unfortunately I have used Hotmail for a considerable amount of time and am worried about moving over to gmail on a permanent basis.

Finally, we have traveler working at my current client site and I am able to use the Nitro desk Touchdown application to hook into the traveler service and retrieve my mail.  I find this application to be quite resource hungry and it reduces the life of my battery considerably.  Maybe I should set the polling for each hour, but the idea of this application is to let me know when I have a mail.  This application is useful to see my calendar and means that I no longer have to synchronise my work calendar with my google calendar.

Other apps
Peek - is the native HTC application for twitter.  I do not use twitter much and therefore have not investigated the range of applications available.  This seems to work well and allows me to read and post efficently.

Facebook - Facebook on the Android is excellent.  I am not an "avid updater" but I use it maybe once every two days or so.  The new version allows for places, photos, updates, groups and indicates that you have new notices.

Tasker - Tasker is an application that every Android owner should have installed.  This allows you to automate almost any task by almost any event.  For example; when I plug in my headphones, it opens my music player ready for me to play a song.  Another example; at night, between 22:00-07:00 my phone automatically switches itself to silent, no vibrate and dims the screen to a low level.  This is just a couple of examples, but I have around 5 automated tasks.  You can even change your ring tone on your birthday.  Basically, any task can be captured, such as location, time, date & time, the starting or closing of an applications or even the position of the phone.  Once an event is captured, you can then perform any task, such as change the volume, screen brightness, start an application or change a setting.

copilot/navigon - I have two satellite navigation applications.  The first copilot, I have used for a couple of years and have used throughout Europe.  It seems to be very accurate and the maps are up to date with some new roads.  It has the benefit of speed camera warnings and has the standard functions that most satellite navigation systems have such as avoiding toll roads, find near me and different route type (avoid motorways, fastest, shortest etc..).  Navigon is a similar but has the disadvantage of no speed cameras, however coming across a complicated junction, Navigon display almost a phot of the road ahead, with yellow lines in the lanes that you should be in.  This was a great help driving through Paris in the summer.

shazam - This is a useful app for finding the artist, song title, album and other information about a music track that is playing.  I can be in the car, kitchen or in front of the television and press a button on my phone and it will listen for about 10 seconds before telling me the relevant information.

UK train departures - This allows me to check my next train times as I am approaching the station.  It uses GPS to know where you are and can automatically select your nearest station.  It then shows the journey information, letting you know what time you will arrive/department the next stations on the route.

skype - I used to use Skype to text friends and family, as the mobile version was never designed to call.  The new version of Skype for Android was released a couple of months ago and it now includes the option of calling.  This works very well from both wireless and 3g connections.  It saves money as it uses your monthly web allowance, if connected over 3g, rather than your minutes.  This means I can call my family in New Zealand for free. 

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