Friday, August 6, 2010

More Android Apps you must try

Shortly after getting my first Android phone, the HTC EVO 4G by Sprint, I wrote an article about Android Apps you must try. It’s been a couple of months, and I thought it was a good time to dust off that article with some of the latest Applications for the Android that I have found to make my mobile experience better. Things change so rapidly with smart-phones and with the recent release of Android Operating System 2.2 (Froyo) to the EVO 4G, this seemed like a good time to revisit this topic.

Once again I will provide links to the AppBrain website for all of these apps, unless they are not available from the Android Market yet.

Brightness Profiles – In my first list I had a widget/app called Brightness Toggle Widget. While BTW is a fine widget, I found it didn’t quite have the flexibility I wanted. With Brightness Profiles you can set any number of custom brightness levels which can be changed from a single App shortcut on your home screen. You can also set Auto-brightness or set your brightness manually to any level you like from 0-100% via a slider. Handy, fast and easily customizable, all things I really like.

SwiftKey Keyboard Beta – Last time I extolled the virtues of the Swype keyboard. After using it for several weeks I liked it a lot, but found it was really a headache with longer words and even had trouble with getting the right word for some of the smallest words. Since then I have switched to SwiftKey Beta. This add on keyboard takes the idea of word prediction a step further. Not only does it predict which word you are typing after you start, but it can often predict what the next word you will type is before you press a key! It uses standard English grammar rules for this prediction, and I find it is like having a keyboard that reads my mind. I can type faster than I could with Swype, and with fewer errors to correct. It is a beta product, and will likely cost something when it is finally released. But then again, so is Swype. SwiftKey is also available in multiple languages.

Grocery IQ – My wife actually found this one back on her iPod Touch. It provides a sophisticated way to create shopping lists with reminders of items you need to pick up the next time you get to the grocery store. Grocery IQ has favorite item lists so you can quickly add anything you buy regularly without having to search through the hundreds of items it the main database. You can also have multiple people sharing an account. So when I remember I am out of Starbucks Frappacino, I can add it on my list and it automatically goes to my wife’s. Having it on our new Android phones means our lists stay in sync no matter where we are now.

LastPass for Premium Customers – LastPass is a password vault that you can access from anywhere on the web and from pretty much every device/browser you can imagine. The Mobile version of the Application is only available for paying customers, but since the subscription is just US$12/year. That’s a buck a month to remember your passwords. If you are not sure about keeping your passwords available like this, consider that LastPass has been recommended by some of the biggest security experts there are. The new wisdom is that it is better to have complex and hard to guess passwords that you can get to when you need to remember them than it is to keep using the same simple password everywhere. Unfortunately LastPass doesn’t have a plug-in to work with the default Android browser, but you can set up bookmarklets which help you get your passwords when you need them. Plus LastPass does have it’s own built in browser on the Android for easier use.

I know there are others, and I am still finding new apps for my Android every day. See you in a couple of months with more recommendations.

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