Android Suggestions
January 28, 2014 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I have a new Android phone. I've never used Android. Any suggestions for amazing applications or games? (cat pictures inside)

I just got an LG G2 which is amazing. But the shear amount of options is a little overwhelming.
I'm mostly interested in games and music/recording apps but I'm open to suggestions for other types of apps- previously I've only had an older generation ipod touch so I don't know anything about different audio player options or various launcher options.

I would like a simple and fast image editor/hipster filter, but I didn't know that instagram was basically a social network, was really turned away by how invasive the program was. I immediately deleted a number of other free apps for adds and/or invasiveness, and now I'm worried about puchasing an app that still wants access to facebook and location information. I also plan on keeping mobile data turned off, as I'm sharing a very small data pool, so anything that requires an active internet connection is out.

I already installed games I had previously purchased in humble bundles, purchased Shadowrun, and installed the Fruity Loops mobile app, which is stripped down but still cool.

And just because here is Mitzi helping to test the phone. The camera works a lot better in the day light.
posted by kittensofthenight to Technology (20 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I also have the G2 and love it.

The pre-installed gallery app should have some editing capabilities, although maybe not filters. I don't use the built-in gallery regularly so I'm not sure. The Photos "app" that comes with Google+ does have filters. You don't need to upload the pics to the network, it will save the filtered photos locally. I call it an "app" because it's not a separate download, it's part of the Google+ package. You could also try Snapseed (another photo editing app recently purchased by Google but stilll available in the Play Store). I believe it also offers filters as well, and offers many other editing options that will eventually make their way into the stock Google gallery/photos app.

For easy mindless games I would recommend the Bubble Blast series, as well as Candy Crush (as long as you don't connect to Facebook you don't need an active data connection). Another really fun game that I was addicted to for quite a while is Granny Smith. Not free, but definitely worth the $0.99.

Activate the data compression feature in Chrome (under Settings > Bandwidth management) as that will save you some data if you ever need to turn on mobile data and search for something while away from wifi.

The G2 has NFC, so you can install Google Wallet and use it to pay for stuff too, although it needs a data connection to process the payment - so remember to turn it on when you need to use that function and turn data off again when you're done.

I would recommend some beginners guides to Android, perhaps at or similar sites to help get you set up. Also, if you have time, don't be afraid to browse the forums there too, as you will find many helpful threads about Android in general and possibly things specific to the G2 as well.
posted by trivia genius at 11:36 AM on January 28, 2014

Games: Triple Town, Sneezies, The Room, Dots, Bombcats, Tiny Thief

Other apps: Moves (tracks steps), Feedly (RSS reader), Spotify (music), MortPlayer (audiobook player), BeyondPod (podcast player)
posted by neushoorn at 11:36 AM on January 28, 2014

Ha! This is my Mitzi!

I have the Galaxy 4 = favorite apps are

Games: Sudoku Free (it's the only game I allow myself to play)
Other: Goodreads, Feedly, My Fitness Pal, Audible, Epicurious, Pinterest, Stitcher (podcasts), Where's my Droid (phone finder)
posted by Sophie1 at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

For sounds - SoundCloud
Music: Winamp, TuneInRadio, SoundHound, Shazam
Podcasts: Stitcher, Podkicker

Don't know if you have a Flickr account, but the Flickr app integrates well with DropBox and has some onboard filters if you use it as your camera.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:49 AM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by Dr. Wu at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

there are a lot of fun, free, musical instrument apps...Plasma Sound is a really awesome touch theremin with lots of sound customization to play along with music with it...SFXR makes great 8-bit sound effects.

Zedge is a must-have for free ringtones and notification sounds...if it's out there it's on there (current ringtone: 8-bit version of the StarWars cantina theme :)

One Bit Photo (literally black. and white.) and Mutable cam are fun...Sketchbook Pro is the best art program on android ($5, but there's a free version to try)'ll want to get a stylus for that one...

AIRDROID! get. it. It's for transferring files to your computer through your web browser...go to on the computer (there will be a QR code on it), launch the app on the phone and point it at the QR code and the webpage will turn into a 'desktop' of your phone...basically your entire phone on your computer. It connects over wifi (no data usage) and is free.

favorite (free) games: Zombie Tsunami, Clay Jam, Pitfall!, Pac N Jump, Pudding Monsters, Pinball Deluxe, Fruit Ninja (better with the pen on my galaxy note...ditto DrawSomething), Burger, Jetpack Joyride, Frisbee, Beach Buggy Blitz, and my current fave: StarWars:Tiny Death Star (where Darth Vader and the Emperor decide to finance the building of the Death Star by opening it as a mall :)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

also...go to YouTube and look up 'CoolLoserTech'...he reviews android apps and games (about 10 of each every week) and has a couple of hundred videos with links to the apps in the comments. Bonus: cute pet grey parrot named Mogwai often makes guest appearances.

and...Vortex Galaxy is my all-time favorite live wallpaper (free)
posted by sexyrobot at 1:00 PM on January 28, 2014

Snapseed for photo editing, AirDroid for transferring files from computer to phone over a Wifi network (cordless!), Pocket Casts for pdocasting, and Songza for music streaming.
posted by alvin545 at 1:03 PM on January 28, 2014

Air Droid looks cool. Have to dig through the rest- and I promise to try Triple Town.

Do any of you use a launcher? Is there any benefit? Seems like the cool thing to do.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:09 PM on January 28, 2014

Two that I love and wish more people would use:

Screen Filter - it darkens your screen. It darkens it so well. You have such a dark screen. Why does no one in any cinema or anywhere use this?
Twilight - This can also darken your screen, but the big thing it does is give it your phone a lovely red filter at night - fantastic for late-night checking

Two because I'm lazy:
WiFi OnOff - it's a 1x1 widget that can sit on the first home screen on your phone and instantly turn on the wifi.
2G-3G OnOff - it's just a shortcut to your 3G settings, but that's a few steps I don't need to do, so it's a winner

And as much as I love Triple Town (and I do as well), I'm currently obsessed with Color Flood. So devilishly simple and so soothing.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:08 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Music making: SunVox, and Caustic
Pitch: PitchLab Guitar Tuner
File management: OI File Explorer (the OI stands for "Open Intents" but in my mind I yell "OI!" every single time I launch it)
posted by otherchaz at 2:09 PM on January 28, 2014

OH MAN the guitar tuner will be so useful.

The wi-fi widget will also benefit me, as a lazy person.

Great suggestions.
SunVox looks right up my alley.

Seems like Mefi consensus is that using a Launcher is not even worth talking about. I'm okay with that.
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:11 PM on January 28, 2014

If you text and spend any amount of time at a desktop, laptop, or tablet, I can't recommend MightyText enough. With the app and a Chrome extension you can send and receive texts without using your phone.They've just added a picture messaging feature as well. And did I mention, FREE?
posted by PaulaSchultz at 4:18 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Launchers depend on my mood. Sometimes I just want the "figure it out for me" of Smart Launcher by GinLemon.
Right now just using the stock launcher for KitKat.
When I get around to it, I will experiment with creating tasks in Tasker App Factory and then use AnyTag NFC Launcher to associate them with NFC tags glued to alphabet blocks scattered on my desk.
posted by otherchaz at 4:47 PM on January 28, 2014

(the CoolLoserTech videos on YouTube I mentioned...the weekly app review usually starts with a review of a new launcher or similar widget...the weekly game review usually starts with a new live wallpaper)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:47 PM on January 28, 2014

I have a LG G2 as well, and I also love it. I didn't change the SMS messaging tool as the floating app that it uses by default is just so useful. I did change the launcher as I prefer the options you can get on custom ones.

I highly recommend this thread which lists all the pretty cool things about the phone. Some of it requires root, some doesn't. Theres a summary at this link by a user called Admira75 (yep thats me).

Apps/games I love (in no order):
AIX Weather Widget.
Google Translate (though the LG translation tool is also quite cool)
gReader (RSS Feed reader, syncs with feedly, does offline)
Holo Locker (if you hate the LG lock screen)
MeteoEarth (I like in typhoon territory, this is worth it)
Nova Launcher
Transparent clock & weather
XE Currency
Pixel Dungeon
2x Battery Saver
posted by Admira at 10:42 PM on January 28, 2014

Evernote and Google Keep to keep notes and web clippings synched between devices.
mSecure password manager on my devices and laptop.
This Battery Widget lets me control WiFi and other stuff directly.
posted by mbarryf at 5:53 AM on January 29, 2014

Your cat is precious!!

I have the GS3. Apps I can't live without: LoseIt for weight tracking, FitBit to sync with my device, TickTick (tasks/reminders, and I tested just about all of them), PocketCasts for podcasts, PowerAmp (paid) music player, Audible for audiobooks, Lookout (AV and "find my phone"), Evernote, Waze for maps/traffic. I also really like the IMDB and wikipedia apps, but YMMV on how important those are to you.

(also Candy Crush, Words with Friends, "Grumpy Cat Unimpressed" for games)
posted by getawaysticks at 6:45 AM on January 29, 2014

Vignette (Demo or Pro version currently on sale) has lots of filters, effects, and frames. I've been using it for years and Vignette does not require an internet connection to process pictures like some apps, and does not upload your pictures to a central server like Instagram. Your pictures do not leave your device until you choose to share them. I've used ZoomFX, RetroCamera and PaperCamera too.

BeyondPod is the podcast app that I love, and the price of the upgrade was worth every penny to me. I find it much easier and intuitive than the others I tried. It has a lot of features and things to tweak--the only thing it seems to lack is multiple playlists.

Llama will adjust settings on your phone based on your location (found from signal towers, not GPS or mobile data). So you can quickly set your phone to be silent at work, loud at home, quiet after 10pm, wifi off unless you're at work/home/regular coffeeshop, mobile data always off except at [location], etc. Also intuitive and easy to use. And free. Tasker does this and more but I found it fussy with no added benefit for me.

SkyMap will show you the constellations and planets wherever you're pointing.

I prefer Jorte over any other calendar I've tried and Timers4Me for timers.

Games I'm pleased with (and aren't on the usual lists): ZenBound, World of Goo, The Room(!), Spirits, Apparatus, Space Physics, Rocket Bunnies, Nun Attack R&G, and Grandpa's Table.
posted by K.P. at 7:59 AM on January 29, 2014

> Do any of you use a launcher? Is there any benefit? Seems like the cool thing to do.

I use Nova Launcher and just do some basic things with it:
* More icons on home screens, which means I can get the time, date, forecast, Google search, alarm, battery life and agenda for my calendars all on my home screen.
* Speed up the animations, so the phone feels faster
* Use the up gesture on icons, so when I slide my Maps icon app up, it navigates me home, e-mail icon up composes a new message, Chrome icon up opens downloads, etc.
* Tabs for the app drawer. I have Apps, Widgets, Utilities and Unused. This declutters the app drawer in favor of stuff I actually use.
* Remove Google search bar from the top of my home screens. I replace this with a 1x1 widget that has a magnifying glass for Google Search and a microphone for Voice Search.
* Custom icon pack, purely for decoration

There are lots of other things you can do, but those are the ones I found useful.
posted by cnc at 9:44 AM on January 29, 2014

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