Dumbo, meet SmartPhone
June 20, 2012 3:03 AM   Subscribe

I've just bought my first smart phone. An android (HTC One X). What are your recommended apps?

I want to get fit, track calories, organize my life, do C25K, enjoy music, take pics and, ah, um, ... whatever else can I do with a smart phone that will simplify, improve or extend my life.

App cost: Free is great. Low cost is good. High cost - must be worth it.

I was gifted a Psion pda about 15yrs ago and loved it like it was an appendage. It held my life for a few years until it died. Since then I haven't had an electronic organizer. Having lived for nearly half a C without a smart phone I don't know what it can do for me but I am hoping it is a lot.
posted by Kerasia to Technology (35 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Endomondo for running/walking/biking.
JEFIT to track weightlifting goals.
Remember the Milk (payware) for online todo lists
Beautiful Widgets has a nice translucent weather forecast widget for your front page.
Simple Calendar have a useful calendar widget that just shows your next appointment. It's easy to click through, find the appointment location and sat nav there.
SwiftKey X (payware) is the most fantastic keyboard replacement. It is psychic and knows what you want to say before you know it yourself.
Tripit when I am flying
Camscanner has replaced an actual scanner for me.
Draw Something is good for mucking around playing pictionary with friends.
posted by emilyw at 3:18 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


For tracking calories I liked MyFitnessPal.
posted by PCup at 3:24 AM on June 20, 2012

Organizing life - Google calender (free) is an awesome way to organize your schedule once you have a smart phone. If you get the app, you can put a widget on your home screen, and it can remind you about stuff you have to do/parties you have to go to etc. You can edit it from your phone or computer.

Track calories - Calorie counter (free) is a great app. It also comes with a widget that helps you track how many calories you've got left for the day. It's great for accountability.

Enjoy music - There's an app called MixZing that will sort through your music library and make playlists based on the "mood" of the songs you pick. This app is paid, but worth it.

Other neat stuff - If you get a dropbox folder on your computer and the dropbox app (both free), you can access all the files you put into the folder on your computer on the go.
posted by MFZ at 3:40 AM on June 20, 2012

Zombies, Run! is new on Android for $8.

I also like Couch to 5k by RunDouble, which has two week trials.
posted by plaintiff6r at 3:43 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Instapaper is my go to recommendation on IOS. it has been ported to Android, so recommending it seems a no-brainer
posted by backwards guitar at 4:14 AM on June 20, 2012

All these are free apps. Silent Timer; if you ever put your phone on silent and forget to take it off this is a timer you can set to take it off silent mode at a convenient time. SMS Backup; will make copies of all texts and your call log and put them in a folder in your Gmail account. Prey, and Where's My Droid; will help you locate a missing phone by variously locating it by gps and/or remotely taking it off silent mode so you can call it and hear it.
posted by moneyjane at 4:17 AM on June 20, 2012

Oh yeah, if you need to be updated by Facebook for some reason in more-or-less real time, use Friendcaster. I am an on-call casual at work and we have a Facebook group in which people post shifts that are up for grabs or when emergency coverage is needed so it's a lifesaver. Real time notification through Facebook itself is notoriously unreliable.
posted by moneyjane at 4:23 AM on June 20, 2012

If you ever come to Melbourne you can use tramhunter
posted by mattoxic at 4:26 AM on June 20, 2012

Best answer: Swiftkey is indeed awesome, and well worth it. It really is psychic (well, at least after you've used it a bit and it learns your patterns). Prey is also a good idea.

Other apps that are good: Google Voice/Skype (if you want/need to call internationally for cheap, though Skype might work depending on who you're calling), Kindle App, Evernote, JuiceDefender, Llama (makes it really "smart" if you're willing to put a little time into setting it up. You can set it to automatically turn on WiFi when you get home, or go to quiet when you're at work, all of which it determines by which cell towers you are near).

And for fun, Google Goggles and Google Sky Map are neat (and free). I love seeing a bright star in the sky, firing up Sky Map and discovering that it's actually Mars or something!
posted by Grither at 4:51 AM on June 20, 2012

Nthing Swiftkey. Best keyboard out there.

Make sure to download Amazon's App Store and check it daily - they have a free app every day and some of them are really useful and would normally cost way more than a buck. I still regret missing out on Polaris' Office equivalent.

Splashtop lets you remote-control your computer from your phone. Very handy when you need something from your home PC, and just neat the rest of the time. (Warning: does not work with swiftkey)

There are a few different apps that create a "car panel" version of the homescreen for easy access to commonly used programs while driving. HTC pre-installs their version, but it's locked down, so you can only use the programs they pre-select; Car Panel Ultra is paid but cheap (under two bucks) and is fully customizable. I have my phone playing music pretty much constantly while I'm driving, so my favorite feature is that it lets you designate buttons for track skip and play/pause on your music software, rather than having to actually open the program.

Speaking of which, Winamp works the best of the music players I've tried. The menus are a bit clunky but the compatibility is king - it plays everything and works with Voice Search (Android's less-hyped, less powerful equivalent of Siri; hold down the Search button for a couple of seconds and then give it a command).

Dolphin Browser HD is my favorite browser. No real special features worth mentioning unless you love gestures more than I do, but it works well and has quick access to bookmarks.

noodles is a low-feature but very easy-to-use to-do list application, particularly good for grocery lists or other tasks where you have a bunch of things to do in a short time.

If you've got a bunch of stuff on the cloud, look into SanDisk's Memory Zone program. It lets you browse through a bunch of different cloud servers (Amazon, Google Drive, SkyDrive, etc.) in one place, pretty transparently.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:24 AM on June 20, 2012

Libra is a free and amazing weight tracker moving average app.

Androminion is an Android version of the game Dominion and is the reason I no longer look at anything except my phone whilst muttering about witches.

I use Listen and the NHS couch to 5k podcasts. (also other podcasts)

Laputa is a good eReader
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:26 AM on June 20, 2012

Browser: Dolphin - Mouse gestures, fast, fits in one column
Battery saver, junk saver: Cosmos - Ability to change battery settings with one click
File manager: File manager - Find your downloads
Address book: Go Contacts - Skins, looks nice, easy to search
SMS/MMS: Go SMS - Skins, looks nice, fast
Twitter: Plume - Has ads but is the fastest and looks pretty good
Music player: Double Twist - Looks good, great features
posted by toerinishuman at 5:59 AM on June 20, 2012

DoggCatcher is the best of the podcast apps. Google's podcast app (Listen) is buggy in the extreme.

There's an app called C25K (by Guy Hoffman) that works well for tracking runs. There's a free and a paid version available.
posted by ourobouros at 6:01 AM on June 20, 2012

Best answer: ColorNote is a lovely note-taking and checklist app. You can have checklists as home screen widgets which I find amazingly useful for things like shopping or packing. I have tried countless todo list apps on both Android and iOS and none of them beat this.

Pocket, similar to Instapaper mentioned above, is a great offline reader for web articles. There's a handy extension for (desktop) Chrome for adding articles, including from Google Reader.

Those are the only third-party apps I used on a daily basis.
posted by liebchen at 6:14 AM on June 20, 2012

Er, that I use on a daily basis.
posted by liebchen at 6:22 AM on June 20, 2012

depending on your phone, the flashlight app is pretty much the best thing ever.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:36 AM on June 20, 2012

Rather than the usual Gallery app i now use "Just Pictures". I turn off all the sync to remote servers/services and use it to browse the local directories. Just faster and better.

For twitter i use twicca . In big part because you can set white on black text.

I also find GPS tool really useful.
posted by stuartmm at 6:42 AM on June 20, 2012

If you are ever curious about the network you are connected to, check out fing. It does network discovery, port scan, ping, tracert. You too could reboot a hotels wireless router!

I also like Million Moments by Sony for viewing pictures. Elegant.

I use google currents to read some news sites.

Trust is an event logger if you think some people are using your phone without permission.
posted by Admira at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh and I love greader for offline google reader access. Lifesaver!
posted by Admira at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2012

Best answer: American Red Cross first aid app
Gleeo Time Tracker helps me keep track of how much time I've spent on freelance projects
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2012

posted by robertc at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2012

Be cautious of some recommendations, from the buzz around Android forums on Reddit and Android Police (you should check that place out), a lot of recommendations aren't as needed on ICS as they were on older versions of Android. Things like launchers, browsers, battery savers, task killers, aren't really an improvement.

I use Tasks (Team Tasks) there's free and paid versions, syncs to Google Tasks. There's also Any.do. Google Apps for Calendar, Goggles, Sky Maps, yadda yadda.

AirDroid is awesome, access your phone from your computer browser. Key Ring for all those scannable Club Cards. Air Push Detector to find apps that use annoying notification ads.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:13 AM on June 20, 2012

Oh and 2nding the android police site... their app and game roundups are incredible.
posted by Admira at 7:25 AM on June 20, 2012

I like Jorte as a calendar; you can use it as a stand-alone calendar app or as an interface to your Google calendar(s).

Widgetsoid in place of the default toggle switches for frequently changed phone settings; you can put up to 10 toggle switches in a 4x1 space, and there are dozens of switches to choose from.

Handcent as an SMS app.

Wapedia as an interface to Wikipedia and many other popular wikis; it's optimized for Wikipedia-type pages, so I like it better than just viewing wiki pages in a mobile web browser.

Seconding MyFitnessPal to track calories; one nice feature is a barcode scanner, so you can just scan a prepackaged food and it finds it and looks up the nutritional info.

My Tracks to track time and distance of hikes/runs/bikes/etc.; also, it's neat to see where you've been afterwards.

ATM Hunter to find ATMs. In particular, I use it to find credit union ATMs, most of which offer no-fee withdrawals to cards from other credit unions in the same network, including mine.

Gas Buddy to compary prices at nearby gas stations.

Lunafaqt gives you a 2x1 widget which displays sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, and moon phase for your location. Lots of apps can show you sunrise and sunset; moonrise and moonset are much less common. Maybe not a huge thing, but I like it.

RealCalc if you want a scientific calculator.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:28 AM on June 20, 2012

Pocket, SMS Backup & Restore, Mightytext, Solid explorer, GTasks to sync google tasks, Business Calendar widgets to display Google calendars, Aix Weather widget, FolderSync, PrinterShare, Google+ Instant Upload, MyTrails for hiking/biking, Strava, Subsonic if you run your own media server, VLC remote, aTimer, Copilot

Some will cost you a few $ to get the pro version, but you save hours wading through the crap. Also, make a quick search keyword so you can type "play aix" in your browser address bar to search and install from the play store.
posted by Akeem at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2012

I loooove Slide Screen. Development stopped when Google cut developer access to Gmail's data in Android - I use an old version of the Gmail app so Slide Screen still works correctly. The app is now free for download here.

For music, Poweramp has met all my needs. It is powerful and customizable, so you can probably get it to behave how you want, too. I like its lock screen controls (much better then WinAmp) and headphone remote/button options.

I also like what Pocket has been doing, lately. Their paging mode is great.
posted by SirNovember at 10:22 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd add in:

SoundHound - let the app listen to just about any song and it will identify the song, artist, album, and maybe pull up lyrics too :)

Tasker - bit on the advanced side but Oh My Goodness so amazing what you can do with it. It lets u set different things to happen based on... well just about anything that happens on the phone (apps opening, unlocking, etc) or outside the phone (rotation, light levels, GPS position, etc) I've used it to switch the phone into car mode, change the volume, turn on maps and GPS any time I left my house wifi. (aka driving away from home :)
- (I also used it to make a friend's phone turn up the volume and speak "[name] u asshole!" every time he opened facebook XD now he's changed it to tell him he's sexy every time he opens the music app :P)
- there is a 6 day trial version here (note: u might have to allow non-market apps to install to use this trial and the next app too)

SMS bomber - pick contacts, type a text, and select how many messages u want to shower them with :D ur phone is newer so it might stop around 130 text messages until the app is updated but I've seen it send 1000+ before on other phones :)

Llama - location profiles; basically u set it to learn where you are, and when ur near there it will change your ringtone, volume, etc etc however u want. Tasker does this too, but this app is simpler, smaller, runs faster in the background and works better without GPS (using GPS all the time kill the battery :P, Llama is designed specifically not to use the GPS)

Tubemate (not in the app store) - download youtube videos to ur phone - oh so useful
posted by rmathew1 at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2012

2nding Poweramp (trial, but the full version is very much worth it if you have a lot of music to manage). And Evernote.

For sports, I use Scoremobile, and MLB AtBat.

You may also wanna look into classic game emulators like SNESDroid and MAME4droid (arcade). Although using on-screen buttons can be frustrating.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:12 PM on June 20, 2012

If you're into Geocaching c:geo is completely awesome. It stores cache data offline so you can go hunting for those elusive tiny parcels anywhere in the world. It's completely free, and - surprisingly - one of the most polished and intuitive apps I've ever used.

If you're not into Geocaching ignore this comment.
posted by hnnrs at 3:20 PM on June 20, 2012

FlickNote -- If you're a SimpleNote user, this is indispensable.

Haven't used it yet, but on{x} is quite similar to Tasker, but lets you write scripts to automate stuff on your phone with JavaScript. Inexplicably made by Microsoft. Looks promising; like GreaseMonkey for your phone.

DeskSMS send texts to/from your browser using your normal mobile number. Like MightyText, but less buggy (or, at least it was the last time I tried both)

Runkeeper for (cardio) GPS-based fitness tracking.

Impetus is a silly little interval timer, which is great for certain kinds of workouts.

The new version of the Spotify app is phenomenal.

SwiftKey is the best keyboard you will ever use on a mobile device. It's on sale for $1.99 today. If you pay for one Android app, this should be the one.

(And, agh. I'm also mourning the loss of SlideScreen. It was *the best*)
posted by schmod at 9:01 AM on June 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all.

Follow up question. How do I secure my data from some of the malicious openings that are warned about in many apps?
posted by Kerasia at 10:23 PM on June 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all again. You have given me great tips and ideas. I've downloaded and deleted a number of food/fitness apps but I realised I need an app that tracks Australian food. I'm thriving on Robert Ullreys C25K podcasts but not using a fitness app just a calendar. For anyone interested my new phone app list now includes:
Amazon Kindle
avast! Mobile Security (hopefully solving my question above)
First Aid
Google Sky Map
gStrings (string tuner)
Horse Weight (for worming quantities etc).
jetAudio Basic (neat, simple manual audio player)
Juice Defender
MyBook Droid
OzAtlas (CSIRO atlas of living Australia)
Podcast Player (simple, skip function, good for audio books)
QR Droid
Smart Tools (we'll see...)
SwiftKey 3 (excellent!)
posted by Kerasia at 3:22 AM on June 30, 2012

May I ask (either Kerasia or anyone else who has used both) why you chose to use both ColorNote and Evernote? Are there advantages to each that make it worthwhile to have both? Or are you just trying them out for now?

I ask because I currently use ColorNote, but was thinking about switching to Evernote, mainly because it keeps things "in the cloud" and I could edit things from my laptop when my phone is all the way in another room on its charger. But I was contemplating using Evernote instead of ColorNote—are there reasons one would use Evernote in addition to ColorNote?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:27 AM on July 3, 2012

Response by poster: I'm using Evernote for clipping things that I want to go into the cloud and Colornote for quick disposable things like shopping lists.
posted by Kerasia at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2012

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