Top Ten Android SmartPhone Apps

[Update September 2014 – I still use all of these apps and consider them must-haves!]

OK, so these will be ‘in my humble opinion’, but here my top ten android smartphone apps which I will not do without – and I’m even going to put them in priority order! These are the less common apps – I haven’t included GMail, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, or Google Maps, iPlayers, News apps, games etc as these you know about already and will find very easily. Most of my Top Ten Android Smartphone Apps are free, but some have more options when you upgrade (and they lose the ads too).

At time of writing the apps are either FREE or FREE + PAY which means you can try them for free then stay free with ads or upgrade to get more options and no ads. PAY means there is no free option – but you do have 15 minutes to test it and ask for a refund.

To find the app in Google Play (Store) search for the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

  1. GO LAUNCHER and some of the other Go apps. Go Launcher lets you have more 5 screens, so I have set mine up by categories ie Main has the programs I use most – GMail, Alarm, Camera, Calculator etc, one screen has mostly games, another news and similar topical stuff and so on. I also have them set to scroll round, so that when I get to the last one it starts again at the first without me having to scroll back. through them all. Also, pinching two fingers from top to bottom shows all the screens so I can quickly go to the one I want. Go Launcher gives you lots of other features and you need it to run the other Go apps. It’s free, but some of the themes you need to pay for, but don’t have to unless you really like them. FREE + PAY for some of the other Go Store apps.
  2. SPEEDVIEW is one for car drivers as well as walkers – but in your car you must use a phone holder because you need to see the display! It shows your current speed by using GPS satellites which it asks to be enabled when it starts up (used to do this itself, but Android won’t let it do that now – I have my phone’s gps on all the time anyway). Car speedos are by law (at least here in the UK), designed to read slightly high. When your speedo reads 30mph, you are actually doing anything from 26-29. The GPS speed is more accurate so when that shows as 32mph, my speedo shows 30mph. It has other useful settings too, but the speed reading is the one I use it for on my daily commute and most of my other journeys. Oh, and if you want to experiment, try the HUD (Heads Up Display). You will need a sticky mat to place the phone on top of your dashboard so that it reflects in the windscreen. Clever. FREE + PAY
  3. BRIGHTEST FLASH is a nice and simple torch app. Has some simple settings which go beyond the ones usually included in the phone software. FREE
  4. RISE UP! is an amazing alarm clock radio on your android phone. It’s a recent addition for me, (thanks to my SOs recommendation) and the only thing it doesn’t do is have a time projector. It has so many different settings to play with – wake up to tones, music, radio, vibrate as well as the option to have two or more different alarms on the same day for different times. The display can be dimmed down and it’s ideal if you have a phone stand and want to see the time all night as you can keep the display set to ‘on’. A new addition to my Top Ten Android Apps. FREE
  5. BARCODE SCANNER – a very simple app which sits on my front screen. Scan the barcode or QRcode and you can even go directly to the website it links to. PAY
  6. SPRINGPAD is a notebook on your phone which is stored in the ‘Cloud’ so can be accessed from any computer as well. Very useful for saving notes, check lists, special photos – all kinds of things. I tried other similar apps like various To-Do lists, Evernote etc, but Springpad works well for me. You can set up all kinds of categories. FREE
  7. ES FILE EXPLORER is not something I need to use very often, but it proves very useful from time to time. It links to my home network as well, so I can find music on our server and move it across to my phone (and vice versa). Let’s me look at my SD card contents more easily too. FREE
  8. XE CURRENCY is a great app for checking different currencies. I needed it to check Euros against GBP, but have ended up using it for work where I need USD, CDN$, AUS$, NZD$, HKD$ as well. I can have my main currency at the top and all the others underneath and be able to switch between them all and see the different rates when I change just one. FREE
  9. EASY PROFILER or PROFILE SCHEDULER (only one at a time!) are both excellent for setting up your mobile to change things at certain times of the day or under certain conditions. PAY.
  10. UTILITAS is another of my SOs recommendations. Has 16 useful gadgets on it including a spirit level, ruler, plumb line, and sunrise/sunset calculator. FREE


So there you are. My Top Ten Android Smartphone Apps which I won’t do without. Of them all, I would say the profilers at no 9 are the most complex to set up, which is why I have them both shown here. They work in slightly different ways and I can’t make up my mind which one I prefer!

I also use some of them on my Android Tablet, but I’ll save writing about that for another day.



Why Upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S3?

Why am I very likely to upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S3, rather than the HTC One X? Why do I need to upgrade at all?

To be honest, I do not really need to upgrade – but – I have two contracts expiring soon, so I may as well take advantage. I also like to get new gadgets.

I’ve looked closely at the One X & S3 reviews and I’m 100% sure I will go for the S3 for these 3 reasons:

1. Better battery – it’s going to have 2100MAh, so should last a bit longer than the HTC which I can hardly do anything with during the day for fear of the battery running down. What’s the point in having a SmartPhone if you can’t use it properly?

2. Performance on the S3 looks very promising with that quad-core processor – sooooo tempting.

3. Storage – no need to worry about running out of space as the S3 takes a micro SD card – the HTC has no facility to add any more memory (a bit short-sighted IMHO; I’m already running 145 extra apps on my phone and it’s struggling. I NEED SPACE).

So, for just those 3 reasons the Samsung Galaxy S3 looks as if it’s coming into my hands very soon. I’ll go for the white I think. Now I just need to talk to my friendly Vodafone consultant and wait for the car kit to come out and I’ll be well away.

(Might let my SO have my HTC Sensation – good enough for what he will do with it.)


Android Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade – HTC Sensation

Android Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade – HTC Sensation

Just this minute found out that Vodafone has made available the Android Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade for my mobile. As they are rolling it out to their own schedule, I have grabbed the upgrade myself and it is installing as I write.

It’s a mega- download of over 300MB!

To see if your phone can get it yet, see if what I did for my HTC Sensation will work for you:

1. Settings

2. About phone

3. Software

4. Check for updates – use Wi-Fi if you can.

The first time I did this it said there wasn’t an update, but I tried about 2 minutes later and it was there – Android version 4.

Needless to say I have noidea how my apps will work on the new software, but what the heck.

I will let you know how I get on.

Siri for Android – I don’t think so!

Siri for Android – I don’t think so!

My daughter has just bought herself an iPhone which has the Siri voice service app. It’s a neat little program, so thinking I might like it for my Android phone I ran a Google search. Lo and behold – we already have similar built-in on our Android mobiles! It may not be as amusing, but don’t pay out for something which is just a knock-off.

Here’s just one of the hundreds of articles/blogposts about this scam.

Ten Tips For Setting Up Your Android Mobile

Android mobiles are very easy to use, have a wealth of features – some of which you will find you can NEVER live without – and thousands and thousands of apps (applications) you can try and/or buy. But there are a few things you need to get right to start with. Here’s my top ten:

1. Be careful which Googlemail (gmail) account you set up for your Android account. I’ve put this in bold because it’s one that really bugs me! As an early adopter, this was something which never occurred to me. In short, you need to link a credit card to your Google account so that you can buy apps instantaneously, but as you can also link emails and contacts, you need to consider which account to use. I set up my main, busiest, account and now regret the thousands of contacts which are synchronised with my phone. It’s going to take me ages to sort this out, so I advise you to set it up properly in the first place to save yourself aggravation long-term.

2. Emails are great when they come through all the time, especially if you need to watch out for those important ones and on more than one account. You can set up different ringtones for each email account if you want to, as well as choose whether to synchronise your calendars and contacts.

3. There are some great ways to write using your Android phone. I prefer ‘sliding’ and purchased Slide-It. after trying it out. This allows me to slide between letters and can be very fast. There are different versions of the same thing, so you can easily check them out before you buy them. Lots of different settings you can adjust to suit how you like to use the program.

4. If you do a lot of texting or writing when you are sitting at your computer, you can set up your phone with a wireless keyboard app which will let you write these messages from your computer. Wifi Keyboard is one to look at.

5. Battery life can be poor if you have a lot running, so only have wireless on when you need it, ie at home in the evening.There are battery monitor apps you can get which may be more accurate than the one on your phone.

6. Likewise, only run updates and big downloads when you can use the wifi. You will eat into your data allowance if you do these when you are out and about.

7. ‘Profile’ is another word for how your phone is set up at any given time. For example, at home you may want wi-fi, but not bluetooth. You may want to turn off all sound and vibrate at 10pm and restart it all at 7am. A profile app such as PhoneWeaver (the one I use) can change the settings on your phone according to lots of different ‘triggers’ ie time, place, connection. There are lots you can try for free in the Android market, so try before you buy.

8. Backup your files, data, contacts – in fact anything important – from time to time. If you use Gmail, then your contacts and calendar will be safe enough, but it’s all the other stuff you have. There are lots of apps, but the one I decided to stick with is My Backup Pro. Incidentally, it was this app which alerted me to the email problem in item #1. Try a few and see how you get on. Don;t wait until after you have a problem to realise you didn’t backup!

9. If you want apps like task reminders, or notepads, you need to be sure they don’t disappear when you change phones or have a problem. Some automatically save to the SD card, but if you change to a different brand phone, it may not read the card. Go for apps which use universal formats and you should be all right, but you may need to test a few first.

10. Finally, check how other uses have rated the app before you consider using it. 4 or 5 stars is good, but any less and I’d look for a different version.

That’s all for now. This is not by any means an exhaustive list as 10 ideas is just the tip of the very big android iceberg. Why not add your experiences and ideas too?