Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 12th Oct 2011 18:28 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless So, today I finally joined the ranks of millions and millions of Android users, meaning I now have access to three of the major mobile platforms (Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7). I am, however, a complete Android noob, and I'm suspecting there will be many more Android noobs in the years to come - among OSNews readers as well. Hence, I figured this might be as good a time as any for an OSNews Asks item: Android all the things! Okay, technically that's not a question, but these are: what are the best Android applications? The most useful widgets? The most beautiful themes? Should you root your Android device? Is there any reason to add the Amazon App Store? Are there any tweaks to improve the Android experience? And so on.
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by Morgan on Wed 12th Oct 2011 18:44 UTC
Member since:

I don't use my Android as much as my BlackBerry these days due to work requirements, but a few thoughts:

Get the Amazon store, if nothing else for the daily free apps. Sometimes there are amazing deals to be found there too.

I've never used a Samsung so I'm not familiar with its interface, but if it's anything like the HTC Sense UI you will LOVE the widget features. My most used widgets in Sense were the task list, email notifier and "FriendStream".

I never rooted the MyTouch 4G because it simply wasn't necessary; T-Mobile left the built in tethering functions alone and that would have been the only reason for me to root. My Moto Cliq is rooted, but it's pretty much a necessity on that old dinosaur.

Other than that, it's mostly a matter of figuring out how the freaking thing works! I don't really care for Android itself from a usability standpoint; the custom HTC interface went a long way towards making it more user-friendly. I haven't used WP7 but for now I'll maintain that the iOS interface is the easiest for me to use. I don't have any iOS devices anymore but I've always liked the way they work.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Well...
by weebnuts on Wed 12th Oct 2011 21:29 UTC in reply to "Well..."
weebnuts Member since:

Get the Amazon store, if nothing else for the daily free apps. Sometimes there are amazing deals to be found there too.

I never rooted the MyTouch 4G because it simply wasn't necessary; T-Mobile left the built in tethering functions alone and that would have been the only reason for me to root.

I rooted mine to get rid of the bloatware, also you want to do it to install Titanium backup to get a full backup working.

I use Astro File Manager, or Root Explorer if you are rooted, Advanced Task Killer (just in case something is messing up and don't want to reboot), Barcode Scanner, Google Goggles, Pulse reader, Rom Manager (if you are rooted) and wp clock is a great home screen live wallpaper.

Reply Score: 1

Replace the homescreen launcher
by debio on Wed 12th Oct 2011 18:53 UTC
Member since:

This is of course a personal call/taste issue, but remember that your experience of the interface (animations, smoothness, responsiveness, behaviour as relates to creating folders, mechanism of uninstalling apps, etc etc) are to a large extent a function also of the particular "launcher". For good or ill, the "experience" on Android is variable. In much the same way as you can choose between KDE, Gnome, xfce, etc on Linux desktops, there is a thriving ecosystem of different "launchers".

I have a Samsung Galaxy S I and the Samsung TouchWiz UI never really did it for me. Managing apps from the app screen (like deleting/uninstalling) was painful and nothing like the simplicity of iOS. In fact, I've long since rooted/re-flashed with different ROMs, but that's a different story.

What I will say is that in my quest for a "launcher" I like, I've settled on LauncherPro. A whole different experience, and in my opinion, much better than TouchWiz. Give it a try! It's a free download on the app store and you can always revert back to stock with trivial effort. There is a paid version, too, which adds support for LauncherPro widgets (in fact the Facebook widget in LauncherPro is the best I've seen bar none).

Reply Score: 1

RE: I'll just leave this here:
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:11 UTC in reply to "I'll just leave this here:"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:

Yeah I was in a Reddit mood when I wrote this. Sorry :/.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: I'll just leave this here:
by CruelAngel on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:22 UTC in reply to "RE: I'll just leave this here:"
CruelAngel Member since:

np. it gave me the inspiration to create the above picture XD

Reply Score: 1

Firewalls are cool, right?
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:09 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:

Its sort of nice that the android market tells you what permissions the app needs to run. However, Angry birds doesn't really need to display that advertisement banner in order to function. So Droid wall and I are pretty good friends. It makes every non internet using app much better.

Its one of two reasons why I root, the other being to change android to allow me to install non-market aps, like google's own Android Scripting Environment. Why isn't that in the market? I have no idea.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Firewalls are cool, right?
by Neolander on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:13 UTC in reply to "Firewalls are cool, right? "
Neolander Member since:

I've heard that there are also Android apps which allow you to go deeper, and remove every app security permission which you don't think is necessary. Can you confirm that ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Firewalls are cool, right?
by zlynx on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Firewalls are cool, right? "
zlynx Member since:

The new version of Cyanogen mod is supposed to have that built in.

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

Not sure. I'll look into that. it would be nice if that were possible.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Firewalls are cool, right?
by gerg on Thu 13th Oct 2011 20:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Firewalls are cool, right? "
gerg Member since:

As was already pointed out, CyanogenMod allows this but it comes with caveats. Removing permissions may violate hard-coded assumptions used by the developer when they created the application in question. As such, frequently applications explode because failures which should never happen suddenly do happen. Granted, defensively written applications will be far more immune to this but it also opens the door for a completely untested runtime matrix.

Removing permissions is not an advisable path to follow and you would have to be a complete jerk to even attempt to file bug reports on either the application or with the OS, should you encounter issues. In other words, do so at your own risk/reward and don't bother others if you encounter problems.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Firewalls are cool, right?
by renam on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:27 UTC in reply to "Firewalls are cool, right? "
renam Member since:

You don't really need to root to install non-market apps. I mean I know that AT&T or some other operator in the US blocked their android from installing non-market apps, aside from that you can install any app you want

Reply Score: 1

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

Yes, my carrier has blocked non market app installation. Sorry, I should have made that more clear that its not Android itself that prevents it.

Reply Score: 2

File Manager, SPB Shell 3D, Amazon Store
by leonalpha on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:15 UTC
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- I'm sort of a geek, but I never opted to root my phone as I didn't really need it in my daily usage.

- Definitely get the Amazon App store as it gives you a free app per day. Beware, however, that if you reset your phone, apps that you download for free cannot be redownloaded for free later (after they've gone back to paid). I tried redownloading an app and ended up paying for it.

- In terms of theming, I found SPB Shell 3D to be the best. You have to pay, but it works really well (although it drains the battery a bit quicker and there's some lag here and there).

- The stock Android camera app doesn't provide any video editing tools. Check out VidTrim for simple video editing.

- File managers are really cool too as they allow you to move your files around on the phone. I have ASTRO File Manager and it works rather well.

Reply Score: 1

broken_symlink Member since:

My s2 came with an app called video maker. I'm not sure if all s2's do though.

Reply Score: 2

Morgan Member since:

Definitely get the Amazon App store as it gives you a free app per day. Beware, however, that if you reset your phone, apps that you download for free cannot be redownloaded for free later (after they've gone back to paid). I tried redownloading an app and ended up paying for it.

Huh? You're doing something wrong, I've never had an issue redownloading a promo app after the sale or giveaway is over. Make sure you install it from the "My Apps" part of the app store instead of searching for it.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by renam
by renam on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:24 UTC
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I've been an android user for almost two years now, and I love it. After a while you will get used to how the back button works and leaving a page to load on the browser while you answer an email and them go back to the page already loaded. When I use an iOS or WP7 device I always feel that the OS is limiting me.
I know the benefits of limitation on less-technically inclined user, but that's not the case. The important thing is how my phone feels to me.

I have to say, great choice for a device. I have a Galaxy S2 too and it feels great. The thinness makes it a very nice fit to my hands.

About apps, here are some tips:

All google applications are great, if you use docs, use the native app, if you use google+ use the native app, if you use calendar them it should auto-sync to your calendar, same as if you use picassa.
If you use your device for music you should really get a decent player, both UberMusic and PowerAmp are great, the first has a themeable interface which is very cool and PowerAmp has a great equalizer and flac support. Personally, I use the later, but they are both good. The native player is not bad but these apps are updated every few weeks and the native one every android release.
Twicca is the best twitter client, it's pure twitter and it looks like a native android app. It's very fast too.
You should really get a battery saving app like JuiceDefender for when you are travelling and really need your phone on. If you leave 4g and wifi always on your battery rans out pretty fast. Usually that's not a problem for me, but if I need to stay away from a power source for along while it's nice having an app that manager the screen/connections for me.
SwiftKey keyboard. It's the best keyboard short of a hardware one. The keys are easy to reach and it's prediction system is almost of a mind-reading-quality. I know that most new android users want to try swype and other unorthodox keyboards. I tried most of them and still SwiftKey came on top.
Swipe Pad is very cool too. Provides a fast way to swift between tasks.

You should try some launchers too, there are some pretty crazy shit in android market, pure breeze from samsung is very cool and different. I am using ADW ex because It's very customizable and easy to leave it the way I want.

I had a Cliq XT before and I had to root to update from android 1.5 and overclock so I could get a decent speed, but I don't see any reasons to root my SGS2, it's already up to date and so fast. There are some good apps for rooted users though, search for "root" in market to see what I'm talking about.

Reply Score: 2

Some Suggestions
by intangible on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:26 UTC
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Definitely install the Amazon Market, if nothing else, the daily free app is sometimes a great deal. When you have multiple Android devices, you'll see that stuff you bought in the Market or the Amazon store is easily shared between multiple devices.

I'm seriously addicted to the Google Voice integration, I've migrated my number over so I can switch phones and numbers with ease.... Even if you don't use Voice for your dialing, it's great for your Voicemails, I love the voicemail transcribing and avoiding the phone company's Voicemail menus.

For Google Reader, I really like d7Reader or NewsRob, though some people like the less useful but prettier readers like Pulse and such. The latest Reader app from Google is pretty good too though... I'd definitely suggest disabling background downloads on any of these if you follow a lot of feeds though, they can chew up some serious battery.

The Google Calendar and Exchange Calendar integration is beyond useful for me... I use 5 Calendars and CalWidget for the great widget support, though it's a bit of effort to configure and customize the colors the first time you use it... A Calendar widget of some sort is a requirement for me.
The only other widgets I use are Widgetzoid and Aix Weather Widget.

A concise list of must have apps follow:

Swype (if your phone doesn't come with this keyboard, get it)
Folder Organizer (manage home screen icons in folders defined by tags with custom icons)
Google Docs
Google Reader or d7Reader or some other reader
Google Music Beta (LOVE THIS)
Tango (great video chat app)
Movies (by Flixter)
Adobe Photoshop Express
Barcode Scanner (or maybe QR Droid)
Google Authenticator (two factor Auth for your google accounts)
Google Chrome to Phone
Google Sky Map
KeePassDroid (I use this and dropbox for all my password management)
kWS (a web server for your phone, makes sharing files super easy)
Square :-D
TeslaLED Flashlight

If you're a big nerd:
Android VNC Viewer
ConnectBot (SSH)
AndFTP (SFTP and such)
Titanium Backup (ugly, but useful)

I usually only root a phone so I can use the "force uninstall" using Titanium Backup of carrier crud apps on the phone, but be aware, this may make OTA upgrades not apply properly... If your phone isn't full of crud that you can't turn off in the background, then I wouldn't do it unless you want to try a custom ROM down the road.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Some Suggestions
by Boldie on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:30 UTC in reply to "Some Suggestions"
Boldie Member since:

I'll add Listen, Google's pod catcher. It plays the podcast and remember where you pause.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Some Suggestions
by zima on Wed 12th Oct 2011 21:40 UTC in reply to "Some Suggestions"
zima Member since:

Google Voice isn't really very available in all minus one places; not when it comes to its real niceties of integration with usual phone service / incoming calls / voicemail (with only English and maybe Spanish transcription?).
Generally, voicemail seems to be used much, much less throughout the world than the US average, so it's not that big of a deal (possibly similar dynamics to how automatic answering machines didn't seem to have much uptake - I've seen first-hand how virtually no messages were left on one for a ~decade - maybe something related to different billing methods or such). And now, SMS is for times when it's not urgent.

Similar with such "must haves" like Google Music Beta, Hulu, Netflix, or Movies (by Flixter).

Reply Score: 2

It's a Google phone
by No it isnt on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:32 UTC
No it isnt
Member since:

When I got my phone, the browser's home page had been replaced with some Sony Ericsson specific garbage, hiding the fact that the homepage for mobile actually has some nice localised tweaks, for instance to find local restaurants and ATMs, well integrated with Google Maps. After discovering that (which took months!), I've had a few "you need an app for that?!" moments from Apple fanboys gushing over how easy iTunes has made it to spend money to find a burger joint or a bar.

I find that I don't really need all that many apps, apart from some specialised crap like a tuner for musical instruments, which certainly isn't a must have for everyone.

Reply Score: 2

A long time Android User
by JacksonATL on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:50 UTC
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I've been using Android since the first dev Phone came out. LauncherPro is worth purchasing, as mentioned, for the widgets and speed. Rooting is probably worth it, particularly if you plan on trying out other ROMs and Titanium Backup is a lifesaver. Root will also allow you to use AdFree and DroidWall. Other apps of note are B&N's Nook app which is a great reader; Chrome to Phone lets you send links from Firefox to your phone; the DuckDuckGo app can replace the nice google search widget; GrooveIP sometimes works to make VoIP calls via Google Voice; Meridian will play most video files; MoonPhase is a nice widget; MPDroid for controlling your MPD server; RemoteDroid is old but does work as a mouse/keyboard for your desktop; Scoreboard is the best app for sports fans; VLC DirectPro will let you stream video from your PC to your phone (sometimes); VuDroid will let you read dejavu files; WeatherBug shows the temp in the status bar but does need some configuring to make it sane (turn off location and alert notifications and turn on battery monitoring); and lastly XDA Premium is nicer than their website for following development.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Radio
by Radio on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:07 UTC
Member since:

The killer app for Android is Tasker…

…Automate all the things!

The Google+ app is also very nice; Firefox, Kongregate, Darkmaze, Earthquake!, Noled, RemoteDroid, SeePU, SpeedX 3D, Sunset on air, TuneIn, Twicca, Youtube.

Oh, Barcode Scanner too. QRCodes are fun.

As for snappiness, the blog of Notion Ink explains well why: Android does not have motion blur.
Another insightful post by Rohan Shravan.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by satan666
by satan666 on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:07 UTC
Member since:

I've bought my first Android phone a few months ago. It's a Samsung Galaxy S II. I absolutely love it. I like the fact that I can access freely all my files in the device. A nice feature is the ability to pull down the status bar (at the top of the screen) which gives quick access to a manager that helps you enable/disable services like sound, wi-fi, bluetooth, gps. The only issue I had was with Kies which prevents you from connecting your device to a Linux box. The trick is to enable debugging USB, then pull down the status bar and connect as USB storage. I also killed Kies, just to be sure.

Reply Score: 2

by JAlexoid on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:27 UTC
Member since:

If you have email other than GMail, then switch to K9 Mail.
Picturen Lite for pictures
Firefox Mobile
Google Earth
Gesture Search - Exceptionally helpful app. It's like Gnome Do/Launchy/Quicksilver for our phone.
CSipSimple - for a reasonbly good SIPphone
Google Translate
handyCalc - is better than the stock
OnTheFly - for travel info.
RSA Vision
Philips MyRemote(if you have a Philips smart tv)
Mapdroyd for offline maps or MapQuest.

Reply Score: 2

As a hardcore android user...
by Spoonman on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:37 UTC
Member since:

...i have been with samsung androids since the Galaxy i7500 and can clearly give you some advice on if you want to root or not:

biggest reasons for rooting are either if you want to customize your device to a degree that can not be done with apps (remove bloatware, install themes do some in depth changes to the system), or if you want to run apps that require root permissions to do some tasks not possible without, i will list some of those apps later.

in my opinion a device without root access is not what an expirienced linux user would want, as with root you can access low level linux like on your desktop box. also i think it is even more secure to have your device rooted, as then every app that needs root rights (remember those malware apps in market that used an exploit to root the device without the user to recognize) will giuve you a popup and ask for permission. i think this would also have been tha case with those malware apps back then.

the apps i was talking about earlier:

1. Titanium Backup (can backup your apps including their data and market links, remove system apps eg bloatware, freeze apps if you dont need them atm...)
2. Tasker (a highly customizable scripting app that can control and automate virtually everything in your device, it replaces lots of small apps like power savers and such stuff, that need to run a process each and helps you to safe battery, can wipe your phone if it got lost, automate bluetooth, wifi and much more u and even i cant think about)
3. Root Explorer (a file manager for all areas of your phone)
4. AddFree (selfexplanatory, uses hosts file)
5. ClockSync (syncs with a ntp server automagically)
6. Samba Filesharing (imagine your phone mounted as a network drive)
7. DiskUsage (visualizes where your storage is gone)

also i recomend to think about using cyanogenmod, i am not sure how far the sgs2 port has evolved now, but the sgs1 port is close to perfect and way more resopnsive and feature rich than stock samsung firmware.
the new touchwiz launcher that comes with the sgs2 is a fine thing compared to its predecessor on the i9000, but you definitely should check out other launchers as well, LauncherPro was already mentioned, but also have a look at ADW Launcher and its pro variant ADW-EX.
For widgets i recomend Fancy Widgets and BatteryLeft all other stuff is depending on your personal likeings.
For me a media player has to work with folders as the md3 tags are very messy for me most of the time, thats why i use MortPlayer which is free on market and the MortPlayer Widget (seperate app)

Reply Score: 1

Cyanogenmod, if possible; GO if not
by phoenix on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:44 UTC
Member since:

I've had a Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro for almost two months now, running Android 2.3.3 (patched such that GingerBreak can't root it). Cyanogenmod support is coming with CM 7.1.

There's no "need" to root an Android phone. However, you can do a few fun/useful things with it if you do. Like uninstall all the crap the carrier installs; do proper backups of the phone; customise everything; tweak everything; install extra stuff that needs root; etc. Fun and useful for a geek; not needed to use/enjoy the phone.

If you want the most out of your phone, see if it will run Cyanogenmod. It's pretty much Android as it was meant to be. ;)

If you can't run Cyanogenmod, or don't want to go down the "root and mod" router just yet, you can get most of the way there using the GO tools:
* Go Launcher Ex
* Go Dialer Ex
* Go Contacts Ex
* Go Widgets Ex
* Go SMS Pro
* Go Keyboard Ex
Those replace the default Android apps, and are leagues ahead of the default apps. Plus, you can theme them all together and get a much nicer looking/feeling phone.

Beyond that, it all depends on what you want to do with the phone. ;)

Here's my current list of "must-haves":
* All the Go tools listed above
* JuiceDefender (power management done right)
* 3G Watchdog (data usage monitoring done right)
* PowerAmp (media player extraordinaire)
* SkyFire (nicer browser than the default)
* SoundHound (identify music playing around you)
* WifiAnalyzer (lots of info about wifi networks)

Reply Score: 3

What you need for your new Android
by amadensor on Wed 12th Oct 2011 20:49 UTC
Member since:

1) Launcher pro, unless they didn't mess with the default launcher, then you are fine (I used it to get rid of most of Motoblur)
2) Llama, time/location/connection aware settings and profiles. Very cool. It turns on or off wifi depending on whether I am near home, switches on bluetooth when I leave work, etc.
3) K9-Mail, great IMAP client, handles SSL and everything.
4) Dolphin HD, because it is the best browser on the platform.

As for root, I did, but just to remove a really annoying pre-installed application that wanted to translate every app to Arabic (I am in the USA, but my phone was originally destined for UAE before my carrier bought it.) The Amazon store is worth it for the free apps, sometimes they have a cool game.

Reply Score: 1

by Moredhas on Wed 12th Oct 2011 21:01 UTC
Member since:

I invariably install Handcent SMS on my new Android handsets. I've been using Android since 1.5, on the first Samsung 'droid to bear the name "Galaxy", the i7500 Galaxy Icon, and I found the built in SMS app to be plain deficient, back then. It's improved, these days, and you don't really need Handcent, but it still offers a few cool features. It allows you to theme your message interface, so iOS style speech bubbles, boxes, or a chat style "Name: message" layout. It also lets you change the colours of those boxes, change the font style, and the size! My mother's eyesight is failing, so the first thing I did for her Galaxy S was install Handcent and bump the font size up to something comfortable. That's not a huge issue with the Galaxy S II's AMAZING screen, though.

Edit: The key thing to remember about Android is, if you don't like the way a built in app does something, a replacement that is more to your liking is probably in the market. This is true of the music player, the SMS, the dialler, phone book, and I think even the camera.

Edited 2011-10-12 21:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

by kragil on Wed 12th Oct 2011 21:28 UTC
Member since:

7.1 gives you way more control over your phone. Where other phones force you to live with certain limitation Cyanogen will offer options. For example a single notification can be swiped away like in WebOS. Or you can limit apps. Say you want to play Angry Birds, but don't want to be tracked by advertisers and Rovio, so just revoke Angry Birds permissions to use the Internet and your location.
Great writeup:

PS. Check the forums before you install. 7.1.0 is still a .0 in some sense. My advise would be to stay with Samsung for a while and then switch. You will be much more knowable then and will see the improvements a lot more.

My favorite app is WebSMS (lets me send free texts (SMS) via my carries web page and in deeply integrated into Android. Replaces the normal SMS app in company with SMSdroid. Only Android can so that kind of stuff afaik )

Reply Score: 2

by _xmv on Wed 12th Oct 2011 21:45 UTC
Member since:

connectbot irssi

Reply Score: 2

Tweak suggestion for ALL android users
by WorknMan on Wed 12th Oct 2011 22:10 UTC
Member since:

My only two tweak suggestions...

- If there are any stable 'vanilla' custom roms, then root your phone and blow away the craptastic bloatware. Don't listen to anybody who tells you that you can install a launcher to get rid of the bloatware - that's like somebody telling you that you can get rid of Internet Explorer on Windows by deleting the IE icon on the desktop.

- Keep the singing/dancing widgets (use only what you absolutely NEED) and animating wallpapers to a minimum. Trust me, your CPU and battery will thank you.

Edited 2011-10-12 22:10 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Gym apps
by sagum on Wed 12th Oct 2011 22:36 UTC
Member since:

I'm currently using my ipod for the Gym. Music plus a Gym program called EasyGymLog

It lets me work out and keep track of what I've been doing, so I can see my progress.

Is there any decent gym apps on android that'll let me add my own workouts with weights/reps/times etc?

OR, how easy is it to get into android development, I'd not mind creating an app if I didn't have to pay for a $99 license fee like with Apple.

Reply Score: 1

by fadingdust on Wed 12th Oct 2011 23:01 UTC
Member since:

The single-best "launcher" app was SlideScreen Pro. You can still download the beta-final for free.

It shows all the info you need, and has a built-in reader. Loved it, they need to open-source it.

Otherwise I've defaulted to GoLauncher. The best free launcher available. Android Pro Widgets are handy (scrollable widgets), but suck the life & brains out of my Captivate.

Toothtag is also an interesting idea, but the implementation is weak.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Launchers..
by Moochman on Thu 13th Oct 2011 00:26 UTC in reply to "Launchers.."
Moochman Member since:

Here's another vote for Go Launcher. It combines the best features of the "classics" LauncherPro and ADW Launcher, with the addition of a really nice, customizable and useful app drawer. There are also lots of beautiful themes available. Highly recommended!

Reply Score: 3

Here's my list...
by rklrkl on Wed 12th Oct 2011 23:23 UTC
Member since:

Before I start, don't forget that you can log into with your Gmail username/password to see the list of apps on your phone ("My Library" link). Here's some of the better ones on my phone:

AppBrain App Market - a much better way to filter Market apps, IMHO (filtering on the standard Android Market app is dismal - free/paid/top and that's it)

ASTRO File Manager - I mainly use it to install .apk files (non-Market apps).

Andanced Task Killer - A widget on my home screen that I touch to kill background apps.

Anti-Virus Free - AVG For Android. Scans any downloads for viruses.

Apps 2 SD - Moves apps from the phone RAM onto the SD card or vice versa.

BBC iPlayer (limited to UK?) - Includes live streaming of BBC TV channels plus catch up on progs in the last week.

Box - Free cloud storage: mainly installed because I got 50GB free when signing up via my HP TouchPad

Chess for Android - Flexible chess game that can load many different engines.

Cover Art Downloader - Scans your SD card for music and downloads matching cover art that's shown in your music player.

DroidFish Chess - Probably the strongest chess program ported to Android

DroidIris - Eye candy version of an image search on Google/Bing/etc.

DroidZebra Reversi - Port of the extremely strong WZebra Windows Othello program

Firefox Beta - Gradually improving Android Firefox

Kindle - Nicely syncs with your Kindle's e-books

Prey Anti-Theft - Some nice features should your phone get lost or stolen

Pulse - Possibly the best general-purpose RSS reader out there

QR Droid - If you must have a QR reader, this is the one to get

Speedx 3D full&free - Just a fun little free 3D game

Sudoku Free - Never completed it on Extreme, but a good Sudoku implementation (from Remember to turn off all the hints otherwise you're cheating :-)

Wifi Analyzer - Handy graphs of current wi-fi spots - I used it to avoid overlap with my neighbour's frequency

Winamp - Yep, an Android port of the famous Windows music player

aTilt 3D Labyrinth Free - Lovely use of the gyroscope with this classic puzzle

I would recommend installing the Android SDK on your PC as well - it's the only way to get screenshots from your phone without rooting it!

Edited 2011-10-12 23:34 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Here's my list...
by c0m47053 on Thu 13th Oct 2011 03:09 UTC in reply to "Here's my list..."
c0m47053 Member since:

I would recommend installing the Android SDK on your PC as well - it's the only way to get screenshots from your phone without rooting it!

True for most devices, but the Galaxy S II has a screenshot function built in. If you press Home button and power together, it will put the screenshot in /sdcard/ScreenCapture.

Reply Score: 2

If you travel a lot...
by Bruno on Wed 12th Oct 2011 23:42 UTC
Member since:

This is a must have app:

Full disclosure, I wrote it. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: If you travel a lot...
by zima on Thu 13th Oct 2011 00:22 UTC in reply to "If you travel a lot..."
zima Member since:

Why is it a must have, I'm curious? Are there many places where just saving all numbers with "+(country code of the number)" in front of them, dialling all of them like that, doesn't work? ("+" AFAIK essentially making all calls on a given carrier dialled with local, to this carrier, international dialling prefix - and what's the harm in that?)

PS. Hm, yes, a quick glance (that's as fair as I go with this) on Wiki ( ) would seem to suggest the app to be mostly pointless? ;) (emphasis below mine)

When phone numbers are published for use abroad they typically include the country calling code, but show a plus sign (+) prefix in place of any international call prefix, to signify that the caller should use the prefix code appropriate for their country.[2]

Many phones allow this "+" to be entered in their saved number lists, often by holding down the '0' key (most GSM mobile phones) or with two consecutive presses of the * key. When making a call the system then automatically converts the "+" to the correct international prefix, depending on where the phone is being used, which enables callers to use the same stored number from any country.[1]

Edited 2011-10-13 00:28 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: If you travel a lot...
by henderson101 on Thu 13th Oct 2011 07:38 UTC in reply to "RE: If you travel a lot..."
henderson101 Member since:

You've obviously never accidentally dialed a UK number in the Canada. You end up dialling the US and get DOUBLE hit by international charges.

All UK numbers begin 0, most land lines national dialling codes begin 01 and 01 is the US international dialling code from Canada (001 from UK) so having +44 would have been a lot better.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: If you travel a lot...
by zima on Wed 19th Oct 2011 23:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: If you travel a lot..."
zima Member since:

Obviously not... but, that would be separate "+" anyway? (which just dials the locally proper "out" number, something which the app claims to fix by manipulating it on the phone; and, UK numbers don't begin with 0, they begin with +44)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: If you travel a lot...
by Bruno on Thu 13th Oct 2011 17:33 UTC in reply to "RE: If you travel a lot..."
Bruno Member since:

You could not be more wrong about it. "+" dialing is operator dependent. Even in countries where, in theory, you could use it, you still need support from the carrier (hint: More often then not, you won't have it).

Other than that, some countries have mandated carrier code selection, so + dialing does not work (there is no concept of carrier code).

And, to make things even more interesting, people tend to have their numbers in their contacts in the local dialing format (for the US, for example, (209) 5550000, which will not work anywhere else in the world.

Right Number takes care of all that (and much, much more) automatically.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: If you travel a lot...
by zima on Wed 19th Oct 2011 23:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: If you travel a lot..."
zima Member since:

You can't just say "could not be more wrong" when I'm asking about a quote coming, ultimately, from a website which seems dedicated exclusively to "abroad calling" and... an ITU document.

"+" dialling certainly depends on the networks having proper basic configuration, sure... so that's why I asked, and you seem to suggest that most carriers neglect this absolutely basic configuration step - but then, it's apparently hardly reflected in sources of the snippet quote.
It seems fairly standard, "even in countries where, in theory, you could use it" seems to be most, in practise.
Certainly I haven't heard from anybody about this being a problem (but then, with travels mostly limited to where cellular networks don't really seem to be among the poorly maintained or misconfigured ones)

Yes, some (heck, in most there's no need for +, just 00 will work...) countries might force one to choose international carrier, that's also what I left space for with "mostly" - not exactly "must have" ...just maybe, sometimes useful when the numbers once, sometimes, turn out to be not working.

And yes, people often have local format of numbers... so they could just start saving them with +? (heck, that's how a new numbers shows up when they call us the first time, it requires effort to not save them like that)
A simpler & almost always working app would be one which just changes the format permanently, in the contact list... (but then, being less visible pays, in whatever "currency" / form, less ;) )

Edited 2011-10-20 00:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Google Talk with Voice/Video
by sb56637 on Wed 12th Oct 2011 23:56 UTC
Member since:

Does your phone run Android 2.3.4? If not, it probably doesn't have voice/video support in Google Talk, which is a must-have in my opinion. After rooting your phone, you can install the latest version of Google Talk with this:

Reply Score: 2

by broken_symlink on Thu 13th Oct 2011 00:22 UTC
Member since:

I don't understand the need for another launcher on the s2. I think touchwiz is fine. The one annoying thing is that there isn't a way to reduce the number of homescreens, but other than that I've customized everything exactly the way i want.

Also after installing juice defender i don't understand the need for it when the status bar has the ability to turn wifi, bluetooth, and gps on off all the tap of a button.

Reply Score: 2

RE: launcher?
by phoenix on Thu 13th Oct 2011 00:37 UTC in reply to "launcher?"
phoenix Member since:

Which is easier:
1. Configure JuiceDefender once; use phone; or
2. Pull down status bar, toggle wifi/data/gps/etc, dismiss status bar; do your things; repeat to reverse.

One is "set it and forget it". The other is "constantly doing everything manually".

The nice thing about JuiceDefender is that it doesn't prevent you from doing things manually when you want. ;)

Reply Score: 2

by demosthenese on Thu 13th Oct 2011 01:48 UTC
Member since:

Widgetsoid - a sort of widget toolbox.
Overlook Fing - lan/network information overview

+1 for GO Dialer/Contacts/SMS
+1 for LauncherPro

Reply Score: 1

Android on my Kubuntu 11.10 netbook?
by lemur2 on Thu 13th Oct 2011 03:40 UTC
Member since:

Perhaps it may become possible:

The Myriad Group today announced the launch of 'Alien Dalvik' – a variant of the virtual machine used by Android, that will allow for Android apps to run seamlessly and without any performance loss on non-Android platforms.

Maybe even Ubuntu.

"By extending Android to other platforms, we are opening up the market even further, creating new audiences and revenue opportunities," said Myriad Group's Chief Executive Officer Simon Wilkinson on the launch.

Reply Score: 2

by bornagainenguin on Thu 13th Oct 2011 03:44 UTC
Member since:

IMHO its the best feed reader available for a mobile device! Not only does it make it easy to read your feeds it also works offline so you will still have a way to catch up on your stuff even in areas where you do not have a signal. (Or if you just want to keep your data use low.)

Once you root, be sure to install the Big Tin Can's AdFree Android application which will install a customized host file specifically intended to reduce your wasted data!

I also second the suggestions to find a vanilla R0M that works well with your phone and switch to that.


Reply Score: 2

Stop recommending Astro
by 3rdalbum on Thu 13th Oct 2011 05:59 UTC
Member since:

People, please stop recommending Astro File Manager. Some of its features are broken on Android 2.3.

Instead, I started using File Expert. It's free with no ads and I think it's got all the features of Astro. The interface is a little odd, but then I guess Astro's is too.

And you can actually use SMB on Android 2.3, which is important to me.

Other than File Expert, I use Opera Mini to cut down on the amount of data I have to download when web surfing. I also use AK Notepad for quick notes, and Dialer2 as my dialler because you can use T9 predictive text to search for contacts.

I don't really have much else on my phone. I have Tunes Access which gives me a cloud-playback solution for my phone; I can listen to all my music without it having to actually be on the phone.

I also have Google Goggles for the 'wow' factor. The only use I've actually found for it is to take a picture of the back of a French novel and translate its text into English, so I can see what it's about and whether my French-speaking girlfriend would like it. There are other cool tricks you can do with Goggles, but this one is actually useful.

Reply Score: 2

My recommendations
by pandronic on Thu 13th Oct 2011 07:13 UTC
Member since:

Unrooted Galaxy S owner here.


Barcode scanner - Scan every code under the sun

Connect bot - SSH client

ES File Explorer - Best file manager IMO (includes FTP, SFTP, SMB, picture & video player and a lot more)

Firefox - It's kinda slow but it's constantly improving and I keep it for the rare cases when I can't see a page with the default browser

Gesture Search - A cool and useful way to search your phone (I use it mainly to call people)

GPS Status & Toolbox - gives you info like latitude, longitude, altitude, GPS signal strength, compass etc

GTasks - to do list (syncs with GMail tasks). Simple Notepad is also pretty good.

IMO instant messenger - nice user friendly interface

Kindle - When my real kindle died, I've used it to finish a 600 page book in a holiday. I know it sounds strange, but you can totally use your phone to read books. Just set the app to white on black. Your eyes will thank you.

LauncherPro - Default interface replacement ... GO Launcher EX is also a solid alternative, but a little slower IMO

Locus (Free) - Offline map support for when you are abroad. Lots of features. RMaps is a cleaner alternative with less features.

mVideoPlayer - Video player with subtitle support and tons of features

Palmary Weather / Weather bug - The first app looks better, the second has more features, but both are good

Quick settings - Quickly tweak some common settings to save power, also has a handy flashlight feature (makes your screen bright white)

Resize Lite - Resizes pictures

Songbird - Nice looking music player. Has all the features you'd expect + a widget

Teamviewer Free - Best app of its kind

tTorrent Lite - Works as expected

Unrar - Unpacks rar archives

VidTrim - Trim your videos

WidgetLocker - Replace your lock screen. Has a lot of themes and lockers and you can also add widgets to your lock screen.

iGO - Navigation that works most of the time (best I've found so far and I've tested them all). A little expensive, but there are other ways to get it ... if you catch my drift ...

The apps from Google are also pretty good (I use GMail, Email, Google Maps, Google Reader)


Simple Calendar - Clean calendar widget

SiMi Clock - Time, date, weather, battery. Can be used to launch other applications

Minimalist Text - Cool looking customizable texts (date, time, battery, weather etc)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ddd_
by ddd_ on Thu 13th Oct 2011 12:27 UTC
Member since:

Coming from Windows Phone 7, it's clear Android is closer to the inconsistent mess of iOS than it is to the breathtakingly consistent and logical Metro interface, but a few nice things already stand out.

This just gave me a laugh

Reply Score: 1

Rooting droids
by Drunkula on Thu 13th Oct 2011 13:34 UTC
Member since:

I was one of those that thought I'd never root my phone (a Droid X2, by the way). I'm actually glad I finally did, if for no other reason, to deactivate some of the Verizon crapware, er bloat, that insists on starting up whenever it wants.

Reply Score: 1

by judgen on Thu 13th Oct 2011 13:41 UTC
Member since:

You mean two major plattforms and a fringe one that noone seems to want.

Reply Score: 2

My favorite Android apps
by OMRebel on Thu 13th Oct 2011 13:58 UTC
Member since:

Not gonna talk about the stock apps, so the ones I use that didn't come preloaded that I love (I have a Samsung Galaxy S Showcase):

1. Beautiful Widgets - well worth the low price, if you ask me. Gives me my clock and weather on my homescreen. There are some alternative free ones out there, but this one I just love.
2. Pulse - I love being able to open up one app and have all of my news in one place. It's a bit slow to load up, but when I use it regularly.
3. Handcent - better than the stock text message app IMO.
4. Flashlight - I don't think it really matters which one you get, I just find that I use it more than I thought I would.
5. Webroot Security - antivirus plus ability to track phone if lost or wipe the phone through a text. Very cool app.
6. Amazon AppStore - sometimes (rarely) the Free App of the Day is a really good one.
7. G+ - I'm a fan of it, yes.
8. GrooVe IP - low priced VOIP app without any necessary or complicated setup. Service at my house is pretty crappy, so I use this often. Works with my Google Voice number.
9. Astro - great file manager.
10. Netflix - yes, I do watch Netflix on my phone when I'm at lunch. Makes it very convenient.

Reply Score: 2

by jollix on Thu 13th Oct 2011 14:38 UTC
Member since:

I am new to the Android world too. After 3 days of use these are some of my preferable:
1. File manager by Rhythm Software
2. Advanced task killer by Rechild
3. WiFi Manager, WiFi Analyzer, WiFinder - everyone of them has something unique
4. NetCounter
5. Overlook
6. Opera Mini
7. Android Terminal Emulator
8. Easy Uninstaller
9. Disk Usage
10. VuDroidPlus - Djvu reader
11. KWS - web server
12. ConnectBot - SSH client
13. Samba File Sharing
14. AndFTP
15. Dr.WebLite
16. RealCalc
17. Chess Free and DroidFish
18. Mobo Player for viedo, still to find a music player that matches my taste.

Tried ADWLauncher but I like more the default SE launcher on my Xperia.
Tried Aptoide but could not choose something from his offerings.
I expect to find more in the future and I am planning
to root my phone. The default user permissions are too limited for my taste.

Reply Score: 1

lots of great apps listed
by Bounty on Thu 13th Oct 2011 16:25 UTC
Member since:

I'll just add BackCountry Navigator if you're into topo maps & GPS. Well, and using them when you're nowhere near cell service.

Reply Score: 2

rss reader?
by broken_symlink on Fri 14th Oct 2011 01:40 UTC
Member since:

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good rss reader?

Reply Score: 2

RE: rss reader?
by bornagainenguin on Fri 14th Oct 2011 04:25 UTC in reply to "rss reader?"
bornagainenguin Member since:

broken_symlink wondered...

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good rss reader?

FeedR! You can find it in the market for a reasonable cost and as far as I know it is the only feed reader on Android to offer true offline ability so you'll still be able to view your articles in all their glory even if you're in a low signal area or simply prefer to reduce your data use by only updating while on WiFi...


Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: rss reader?
by phoenix on Fri 14th Oct 2011 20:01 UTC in reply to "RE: rss reader?"
phoenix Member since:

There's also the Google Reader. Works nicely, although it does take a lot clicks to get to articles buried within sub-sub-folders. And it requires using the web version of Google Reader to manage your RSS feeds.

Reply Score: 2

RE: rss reader?
by broken_symlink on Sun 16th Oct 2011 15:09 UTC in reply to "rss reader?"
broken_symlink Member since:

I went with pulse. I didn't like the feedr widget.

Reply Score: 2

The top app picks
by Dasher42 on Fri 14th Oct 2011 17:36 UTC
Member since:

Zeam - I recommend this launcher; it's fast, light, and quite stable. It also gives you the option to put more on your screen.

Agenda widget - you can pair it with the most popular calendar apps for an effective display of what's going on

Tatpu - An easy way to catch up on your newsfeeds, Facebook included.

Welcome aboard!

Reply Score: 1

Grocery Gadgets and RockGecko
by RavinRay on Sat 15th Oct 2011 11:44 UTC
Member since:

As soon as my mom gets an Android gizmo, I'll get this for her:

And for a geologist like me, RockGecko:

Reply Score: 1