Must-have apps for your Android phone
| by Rossi Fernandes
Buy a brand new smartphone these days and the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out which cool apps to install on it. Of course, there are thousands of apps to choose from, but there are a few that every smartphone user must install, and we’ve put together this list for you Android users.
Any.do - To-do list (Google Play link)
Any.do - helps you keep track of your tasks, in style
An Android phone can do much more than just play Angry Birds; it can even help simplify your life. There are several tasks in a day and it’s hard to keep track of them. Not if you install this slick little app called Any.do. It’s got one of the most intuitive interfaces on any Android app and it’s also got some great features. It lets you quickly add tasks you want to do and sort them by a rough timeline. It even allows you to sync them with the online service for free and includes Google Tasks support. There’s a widget and there’s even support for voice entry.
Aldiko - eBook reader (Google Play link)
Aldiko - an easy-to-use eBook reader
As larger and higher resolution screen smartphones became common, they have also become more and more like e-book readers. They offer users the ability to fit large amounts of text in a single screen, without having to scroll too often. If you use a phone that has a decent-sized screen, then apps such as Aldiko are a must. Aldiko supports a variety of formats that include the popular EPUB and PDF formats. Users can easily bookmark pages and change the brightness of the screen on demand. Customisation for the amount of text in each screen is also possible by changing font size, page margins as well as text spacing. It’s a must-have app if you’re on the move constantly but want to catch up on your reading wherever you are.
AndChat - IRC client (Google Play link)
If you’re a gamer or a developer or just an old-time IRC user, you’ll want to stay connected with your friends on your favourite IRC channels. There is no shortage of IRC clients, but you’ll find AndChat to be just right for your needs. The app weighs a little more than 400KB and is totally free. Users can add multiple servers and quickly switch between channels on a single server by swiping their fingers across the screen.
Google Chrome - Web browser (Google Play link)
Chrome - Google's own desktop browser, now on Android
If you’re buying a new phone these days, chances are you’ll get an ICS-based phone. The default browser on ICS is decent, but you’ll probably find yourself at home if you download Google’s own Chrome browser for the Android platform. Benefits of using Chrome, of course, include the ability to sync with your Google account and carry your bookmarks and settings with you wherever you go. If you don’t like Chrome and don’t want to use the default Android browser, you should probably give Firefox for Android a shot. Things have gotten way better than they were when it was first launched as an early development build.
Google Drive - Productivity and cloud storage (Google Play link)
Google Drive - your personal drive in the cloud
Google Drive, or Google Docs as it was previously known as, is more than just a productivity app. Once known as the best web-based office suite, the service has transformed into an online storage solution, just like Dropbox. Apart from 5GB storage, you can also collaborate when you work so you can have several users working on a single document or spreadsheet. All of the services work closely together so if you want to make a list of things to buy or just write an article, this is the app to do it in.
Imo.im - All-in-one messenger (Google Play link)
Imo.im - chat with all your favourite instant messaging services at the same time
Android devices come with Google Talk preinstalled on them. But many of us use other services as well and you’ll most likely find those messenger clients on your device too. It’s a pain, however, to switch between each one of these messenger clients. An app called imo messenger lets you add several instant messenger clients and chat with all of them using a single app. There’s support for MSN, Skype, Yahoo, Google Talk, Steam, ICQ and Facebook, besides some others.
Flipboard - News reading app (Google Play link)
Flipboard - your own personal magazine
Flipboard is like your personalised newspaper on your Android phone. Forget reading your daily newspaper before leaving for work or college. You can read all of it and much fresher news in a very well-formatted manner using Flipboard. Flipboard lets you choose your interests and sites that you frequently visit. It then downloads all the text from it and formats it like a newspaper so you get all the juicy information minus ads, comments and all the unnecessary bits. It even syncs your Twitter and Facebook accounts in the same manner, so the interaction is very fluid and as user-friendly as possible. Another slightly less popular option is Zite, which does roughly the same thing.
K9-Mail - E-mail client (Google Play link)
The default GMail app on Android is more than sufficient for basic purposes. The moment you want to start doing more advanced things and handling bulk e-mails, a slightly more specialised e-mail app such as K9-Mail comes into the picture. The app lets you handle multiple accounts and offers a wide variety of customisations. The simplest of these includes the presentation of e-mail and how often e-mails are downloaded. You can even make sure you aren’t disturbed beyond work hours by setting silent hours where you won’t be notified of new mails. If you’re an e-mail warrior, then this should be your weapon of choice.
MX Player - Video player (Google Play link)
Media players change all the time and there’s always a new favourite media player app for Android. Right now, the most popular one has to be the MX Player. It’s free and only has a small ad that shows up occasionally if you use the free version. One of the great features of the app is that it hides the touch buttons found on most Android 4.0 and above devices when the movie starts playing, so you get a lot of screen space. Once you have your movie playing, you can quickly change brightness and volume levels by swiping your finger vertically on either side of the screen. Skipping to different points in the video can be done by moving your finger from one side to another. Oh, and MX Player handles pretty much every format you throw at it.
Twicca - Twitter client (Google Play link)
Twicca - a highly customisable Twitter client
Twitter is a big thing and almost everyone who’s always connected to the Internet on their phone will try and experiment with Twitter at some point in time. Twitter’s official client is simple but not necessarily fast. Twicca, a free Twitter client, offers a whole lot more, looks better and offers a long list of customisations. You can set colours for your favourite accounts you follow. You can even get in-client image previews without having to open a separate browser window. If you’re on Twitter, do follow us. Our handle is @tech2eets.
Google Reader - RSS feed reader (Google Play link)
If you visit more than 10 sites each day and don’t want to check on each one to find the latest stories, it’s a good idea to use Google Reader. It’s a free RSS feed reader by Google that checks all those sites for you and shows you only the list of new stories. You can read a brief of the news story in the client and access the complete version by opening the link in a browser.
Skype - Audio-video calling (Google Play link)
Skype - voice and video chatting for free
If you have an affordable 3G connection or Wi-Fi connectivity, it’s a cheap way to make phone calls. Using this app, you can make calls to another phone, tablet or PC connected to the web for free. Keep in mind though, the app is a little heavy, so older phones may not be able to handle it too well. You’ll also need a front-facing camera if you want to make video calls.
WhatsApp - Texting app (Google Play link)
WhatsApp - message all your friends for free
SMSes are expensive and cumbersome. This SMS replacement app needs no introduction. It allows users to send text messages to one another over the Internet for free. The app picks up all the contacts from your phone and checks to see if they’re registered on the WhatsApp service. You can even send attachments – images, videos and audio files – for free. There’s even a group chat option that allows up to 30 people to chat at the same time.
And that’s our list of recommended apps that every Android user must install on his or her new phone. If you think we missed out on apps or if you have any tips for us, post them in the comments section here. We also have a forum thread where community members post their favourite Android apps.
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