R2D2 on God, 42, the Universe and everything else

Top 10 Android application I use

I’m an avid fan of Android platform. I was an avid fan of Windows Mobile 2003 SE edition on a Harrier device for approx 6 years, until the Telco’s network type migration forced me to move on. I had an iPhone 4S which literally went down the drain a couple of years ago (had it for about a month). Was a very hard time for me – I guess my brain is wired differently. I had absolutely no problem with Android first time use. I still have an iPhone and an iPad for testing, but my device of choice is my Sony Xperia S 26i running ICS.

I have two other Android tablets, my son runs Android on his mobile and I’ve tried to switch my wife’s old flip-top Samsung to an Android, but without success (such is life).

 Anyway, the point of this entry is to share with you the top ten applications I use on a regular basis on my Android, so here it goes:

 #1         LinkedIn
Being an active chap on LinkedIn (it’s really interesting and useful to find out what other colleagues think, are interested in, and share, as well as keeping in touch and sharing oneself), I use this on a daily basis. It’s part of my morning rounds, alongside news sites and e-mail. While there is still a reasonable gap between the full browser interface and the Android client, recent releases have assisted in narrowing this gap. Some bugs still occur, but there is always a balance between development cycles and time to market – at the same time, real usage increases the useful feedback developers can take into consideration. Highly recommended for keeping in touch with your professional network, gaining visibility, and hands-free maintenance of contact details for your professional network list. I’m available at  if you want to get in touch.

#2         Opera Mobile
I love Opera – they did a GREAT job on mobile. I use the full, not the mini version. While I use Firefox on my desktop, I have tried several browsers available on Android and none connected with my habits better than Opera. I like the start page shortcut tabs, the ability to sync bookmarks, the responsiveness, compatibility and feature-rich options. I’ve attempted to give several other browsers at least a week’s try and after pain and suffering I’ve always reverted back to Opera. Well done team! Used in my morning rounds.

#3         Glass widgets
With Xperia being a high-resolution display, I was looking for a multifunctional widget that can give me the time, news, and weather. Glass Widgets mad the cut for me with flying colours, and I’ve been using it for a while (paid version). Colours and layout integrate with my phone’s theme quite nice, and I’ve managed to add three separate news feeds on my main screen, alongside time, weather and calendar. “Is nice, I like!”, as Borat would have said. Used in my morning rounds.

#4         Tasker
Well…where do I start? Tasker is basically an automation integration tool that can check, read and react on a multitude of parameters change. Is not for the faint hearted and I highly recommend you give it a good try before you discard it – might take a slight paradigm shift in your logical thinking – similar to moving from linear to object-oriented programming. It is amazing in its ability to interpret and react to changing conditions, and can turn your Android device into a virtual assistant with a bit of lateral thinking. Wished windows would have had something similar. Strongly suggest you check out the documentation and the cook-book recipes already available.
I’m sure it COULD fix the Millennium Falcon if you’d spend enough time on it…and would save you installing a lot of other nice-type applications. Always active in the background on my phone.

#5         Fing
A swiss knife networking tool. Can do subnet scan, port scan, tracert, etc… I found this particular useful when trying to bring up a secondary WLAN ID on my DD-WRT, as it helped narrowing down the possible root causes. Besides being able to find your Ips easily… Again, every network enthusiast should run a copy. Also helps me figure our quickly new guest stations connected to my secondary (and now public) WLAN ID. While at it, check the Overlook Whiz as well – been using this to watch my URLs…

#6         Weather Australia
Sourced locally, it’s a really good tool to have, especially in Brisbane. Besides the many statistics and forecast, it integrates rain radar sourced from BoM. This is priceless, as most of the other weather services are sourced overseas – and highly inaccurate. Recommended if you want to avoid getting wet (either through rain or sweat). Used on my morning rounds and on requests from my wife, wanting to know if she should water the garden or do the laundry.

# 7        WordPress for Android
A must for WordPress bloggers/users on the move, and WordPress admins. Good stats, good responsiveness and rendering, including access to WordPress dashboard, ability to post, comment and generally administer your stats. Used in my morning rounds to check who’s been on my blog overnight (“not many, if any!”)

#8         Torque
Again, with the risk of sounding (reading?) like a broken record – a MUST HAVE for auto enthusiasts. If you have a car that has an OBDII interface, grab a cheap ELM Bluetooth clone of the Internet  – don’t get a wireless one for Android, they are a pain to set up. This is where Android has a +1 (or 10) over iPhone. Can read a lot of fault codes from your vehicle, clear them, and generally being very handy in troubleshooting or simple monitoring the correct operation of your engine. I used it regularly with my JGC 96 and it helped me solve several issues that would have proven costly. Also keeps dealerships/stealerships honest. A few basic parameters that it can watch: oil temp, RPM, STFT, LTFT, coolant temp, air temp, pressure… and many more. It’s on my list of “to do” posts for an individual review and a bit of story sharing around how I found two injectors with crossed wiring. NO LONGER USED ON A DAILY BASIS (this is a good thing for my Jeep). I wish my FORD would have an OBD II interface instead of the silly proprietary system.

#9         Aldiko Book Reader
I remember when my brother told me he’s moved from traditional paper-based books to e-books. I was using Windows mobile at that point and the available format was .LIT for Window Reader. I now use regularly eBooks (.epub mostly) and absolutely love Aldiko. Best eBook reader in my opinion, full of useful features, like turning luminosity down, bookmarks, etc. I ended up paying for the full version to support the good effort. Well done team! My brother has since moved on to audio books.

#10       Sweet Home! (Aplha)
Not entirely sure if it will end-up as a paid version, but the current alpha version has run well for me (although with some nag screens). Basically can kick off and start synchronising (uploading) your phone’s pictures (and videos) with a NAS or computer-based Samba-style share. I have mine set up to upload when I plug in the charger (which is normally when I go to bed).

Well, I guess that’s all for now. I am really interested if you have any comments about YOUR preferred apps – please let me know.

I also use fairly regularly and recommend:

Ghost Commander (file manager)
Fast Reboot (quick memory cleanup tool)
Time2FishLite (solunar and tide calculations)
Wifi Analyzer (good tool to find unused channels)
MyPhoneExplore  (sync, including Outlook notes)
Startup Cleaner 2.0 (selectively kills annoying auto start modules)
Network Signal Info  (both wireless and Telco stats)
JEFIT  (candidate for a separate fitness blog entry)
Google Sky Maps  (self-explanatory – good for kids)
7Zipper  (compress/uncompress)
MixZing Basic   (media player, including video)
TrackId (music recognition)
Terminal Emulator  (cmd/shell prompt in local Android)
Remote RDP  (RDP client)

Until next time