Android made easy
July 9, 2011 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I just my first Android phone. What's the easiest way to get my NPR and BBC podcasts onto it? And what are your favourite must-have apps in general?

I currently use iTunes to sync my Mac with my iPod but I'm not attached to keeping iTunes - I do need to keep the Mac, however, or I could just download the podcasts directly onto the phone without messing around with my laptop which sounds like it would be easier. I've googled this and get a very confusing array of answers. I don't mind paying a few quid for good software.

I'm also just looking for fun apps to get the most out of the phone. So far I have facebook, googletalk, googlemaps and kindle apps.
posted by hazyjane to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I just my first Android phone too! Here's what I put on it last night:

- Shazam, for identifying that cool song playing in the hip cafe late at night.
- Barcode Reader, for those nifty QR splotches
- Starbucks card app (total shill)
- Firefox, in case I get tired of the built-in browser
- Google+ & Facebook apps, cuz I'm on a social network or two
- All three free Angry Birds games
- Dropbox, for syncing files (already had an account)
- Bank app, from my bank
- Words With Friends (Scrabble clone)

And then I deleted as much bloatware as possible (Blockbuster? Really?) with a locked bootloader and started fooling around.
posted by carsonb at 7:14 AM on July 9, 2011

Those were just the free ones, too. I also just installed the D7 Google Reader and got All Songs Considered playing within 10 minutes. (I was making breakfast too. =)

Next up is for-pay apps:

- Shazam upgrade
- Vignette, for stylized photography
- ?
posted by carsonb at 7:25 AM on July 9, 2011

I prefer Word Feud to words with friends, for what that's worth.

For the podcasts, just download them directly to the phone. I use BeyondPod (free trial, few bucks to purchase) which schedules a download every morning when I ask it to, and can be configured to only download on wifi if you're enrolled in a small data plan. Listen (free) by google is less featurefull but works.

Other go-to apps, for me. There are plenty more, but these are some of my most used.
Dolphin browser.
Agenda Widget Plus
Smooth Calendar

Other games? I'm not really a games player, but I do enjoy Kona's Crate, TurboFly 3d and Drop Words.
posted by devbrain at 7:26 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

also, of course, swype. You can't beat it (yet) for a keyboard.
posted by devbrain at 7:27 AM on July 9, 2011

Thanks, all. I do have a small data plan so BeyondPod sounds good as I would indeed prefer to download only while I'm on wifi. I just downloaded Listen but it seems like my podcasts queue until I want to hear and then only start downloading when I go to play them which doesn't really work for me. Also I should have said I'm not into games.
posted by hazyjane at 7:30 AM on July 9, 2011

Google Listen is what I used for podcasts for a while; and both NPR and the BBC have their own dedicated apps.

For music sync, you have a variety of options. DoubleTwist is a fairly direct standin for iTunes sync; and there's a paid option for wifi sync as well. If you're feeling adventurous, there are apps that'll (full disclosure, I'm a dev on this) sync over 3G with iTunes too.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 7:30 AM on July 9, 2011

Blargh, should have previewed.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 7:32 AM on July 9, 2011

I have a Galaxy S and gave up trying to get the various music apps (DoubleTwist, Songbird, etc) to sync properly. Now I just download podcasts to my PC, and use Microsoft's SyncToy to sync the folder on my PC with the folder on my Android.
posted by sleepcrime at 7:49 AM on July 9, 2011

-YouTube is great for nearly instant help when you think of a song you want to hear but don't own it.

-Amazon Barcode is really good for instant comparison shopping in stores (not just books)

-Get chrome to phone for your browser so you can send stuff to yr phone when you find it

-Gasbuddy is what it says on the tin

-Reqall and Evernote for organizing and easily keeping track of things you want to save.

posted by O Blitiri at 7:56 AM on July 9, 2011

I highly, highly recommend BeyondPod for podcast management. It isn't free, but it's miles better than the BBC and NPR official apps in any case.

Oh, and get the Amazon AppStore. I keep it around mainly because they give away a normally paid app for free every single day. And every day is a different one. I'd estimate I only actually download 1/4 of them, but hey, it's worth it. I've saved probably $30 on apps this way.

(Protip: If you even think you might, maybe, possibly could later want an app that is free for a day on Amazon but don't need it now, download it and then delete it. As long as you've downloaded it once it counts as a purchase, you'll never have to pay for it again to re-download it. I did this with a nifty $15 orienteering GPS app. I'll probably never use it, but if I want it I can re-download it for free later on.)
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:41 AM on July 9, 2011

Ok I'm currently running BeyondPod and like it so far except the learning curve is slightly steep, in that I can't figure out the difference between feeds and podcasts and I keep playing stuff I mean to download. But I'm sure I'll catch on eventually.

The amazon appstore sounds great but I'm in the UK and it's not available unfortunately. Same problem with gasbuddy which would be awesome if I could use it here. Thanks again, all.
posted by hazyjane at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2011

I couldn't get Google Listen to work right for the life of me, and I wasn't very happy with iTunes -> Doubletwist, but I'm very happy so far with Pocket Casts; if you have problems with BeyondPod at any point (I haven't tried it, so I hope it works well for you!), give Pocket Casts a shot. I think I found it through Lifehacker (or a similar blog) rating it as [one of?] the best of Android podcast sync apps.
posted by bah213 at 12:44 PM on July 9, 2011

Dolphin browser.
Handcent SMS.
K9 Mail if you have an IMAP account you want to use.
WinAMP (wireless music syncing!)
Google Sky Map
Grafitti for Android (seriously, really neat. Moreso if you're an old Palm Pilot user).
BBC News
MixMate (a neat little app that will tell you which Windsor and Newton paints you'd need to mix up to get a particular colour captured on the camera)

I also have abunch of kid/light entertainment stuff:
SP Finger Paint
Funny Race
Doodle Kids

Third-party camera apps: I run my X10 mini pro on a custom 2.2 ROM and initially couldn't run the standard S-E camera app. In the mean time I've tried:

* Vingette
* lgCamera and
* CameraAdvance

They all some some handy features (lgCamera can often run movie capture from your phone at a higher res than normal, for example), but I've found that while they all slaughter the standard Android camera app, they're a lot slower than the S-E camera app.
posted by rodgerd at 1:26 PM on July 9, 2011

First, your still in scotland, right? I believe you can get Spotify, and it's mobile app, which is supposedly awesome for music. We americans can't.

What phone are you on, incidentally?

I believe there are both NPR and BBC apps that include podcasts.

Basically, think about what you do during the day, and there is often an app to help you. Go shopping for your family? There are several excellent free shopping apps, such as Out of Milk. Need help managing tasks, getting organized and the like? Try Astrid.

Want to carry notes with you on your phone? Most people will say evernote, but springpad has better local storage, and might be worth a look.

Need to split the bill and calculate tips? there's a bunch of apps. Want to manage your checkbook and have it sync to the cloud? There's a bunch of apps.

If you want to discuss more of what you do daily, I can maybe make some suggestions.

There are also a bunch of ways to modify your phone, without any sort of custom ROM. You can install replacement keyboards, home screens, dialers, cameras, sms programs, lockscreens all of which are usually enhanced from the basic one built into the phone. You can also download new wallpapers, notification tones, ring tones, and so on.

try browsing around
and checking stuff out. You can also search for scotland and find apps for traffic, public transportation etc for your area. Finally I found a list of UK specific android apps.
posted by gryftir at 2:42 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks a lot for posting those Uk-specific apps, gryftir, just when I was getting frustrated with all the US ones I want but can't have. Do you happen to have any suggestions for something like Mint to track finances for the UK?

In terms of my lifestyle, I live in a remote country cottage so don't need city-based apps like bus and underground timetables. I'm the treasurer for a local community group so an app to help me keep track of that would be great. I'm on a low-carb diet, am into gardening and reading and keeping up my French. Oh, and I'm searching for a job and have found a good app (indeed job search) but more would be great. I have a Galaxy Ace. Thanks again.
posted by hazyjane at 2:36 AM on July 10, 2011

Thanks, all. I do have a small data plan so BeyondPod sounds good as I would indeed prefer to download only while I'm on wifi. I just downloaded Listen but it seems like my podcasts queue until I want to hear and then only start downloading when I go to play them which doesn't really work for me.

Wait until you are on a wifi connection, and then hit the menu button and it should give you an option to download them before listening.
posted by Big_B at 6:26 AM on July 10, 2011

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