Like may people, I’m certain you’ve seen this article or that article describing what the top or favorite apps are for <pick a device>. I recently saw an article from Tech Republic on this for Android (using a Nexus One to display screen shots) and it really disappointed me.
The article simply listed the apps with a few screens, and didn’t give any justification as to WHY they were listed or picked over similar apps. They also didn’t give any justification to the ranking of the apps.
HUH?! That doesn’t make any sense.
So… ok. I’m going to give you mine; but I’m also going to give you the reasons WHY I’ve chosen to list them, in the order that I’ve listed them. All of these applications with the exception of one, are free. So, if you haven’t, you need to give these a close look before passing on them for something else.
- Agenda Widget
I need to have my Agenda Visible at all times!
If I’m anal about anything in this life, its my work calendar. The normal Calendar Widget that comes with Android is BEYOND useless. It only shows the next appointment on your calendar along with today’s date, and when you bounce from meeting to meeting, having your FULL agenda in front of you on a home page is something I need. Maybe this is a hold over from my WM days and Snoopsoft’s Dashboard. Maybe not… Either way, having this information at your fingertips is always valuable.
Agenda Widget displays events from any and EVERY calendar you have on your device. You can go from a full home page to just a few lines (4×4 or 2×1). Its simple and easy to use. However, if you’re looking for JUST the right look for your particular theme, background, etc., don’t worry. This is one of the MOST customizable widgets I’ve ever seen, anywhere. The only problem it has is that sometimes, you get lost in the config screens, and finding the effect you had previously (if you tend to tinker and tweak, like I do) can often be hard to find… Agenda Widget is free and is available from the Android Market.
- Fancy Widget
Nope, its not HTC SenseUI, its Fancy Widget!
It all started with HTC Home on Windows Mobile. HTC’s digital clock display has inspired may different spin offs from a number of different developers. Fancy Widget provides a familiar digital clock and weather widget that makes use of both GPS and cellular location services to provide date, time and weather information. It does NOT provide all of the features that HTC SenseUI’s time/weather widget does. You won’t get the full screen weather animation when the weather changes or the device starts; but you will get a basic, 4 day weather forecast when you tap on the current weather conditions.
Unfortunately, HTC shut Fancy Widget down for looking too much like its SenseUI’s main widget. Its no longer available in the Android Market. However, you are still likely to find it hanging out around the internet at one of the more prominent Android forums. It was free when it was available.
- GMail Unread Count
Unread GMail Messages = 4 at this time!
This is one of the best widgets I have ever seen. It doesn’t do anything really unusual or amazing. It simply creates an icon on one of your device’s home screens with a count of unread GMail messages. It does it very well, works with multiple accounts, is available in the Android Market and is free. If you don’t have this widget for your device and its Google Account, you’re missing out.
- SMS Unread Count
Unread TXT Messages = 0 at this time!
Like GMail Unread Count, SMS Unread Count does the same kind of thing, giving you a count on the number of unread text messages you have. Its also available from the Android Market and is free.
- PDANet for Android
The device side of PdaNet
I would be dead in the water without this application. I have no personal internet access at work. As a contractor, I really have to monitor my time on the ‘Net anyway. However, when I do need to get out, PDANet allows me to tether my laptop to my Android phone and get access through my unlimited data plan. Access quality and speed depends on the strength and type of data signal you receive. I usually have a 2-bar 3G/HSPA signal at the office; but its tenuous at best.
This is only one of two paid applications that I have now, and is worth every penny. It has both a desktop and device component, and comes in both 32bit and 64bit flavors as well as a MacOS version for those that don’t do Windows. The free version will not let you surf to secure sites (SSL) after it expires. You can regain this functionality by purchasing it for $18.95 from June Fabrics, here.
- Google Voice
Its the best Voice Mail solution around…
With the ability to send and receive text messages as well as visual voice mail, and of course, Google Voice’s centralized phone number, I don’t know why EVERYONE with an Android phone isn’t using Google Voice. Yes, I know T-Mobile has its own visual voice mail service, but it doesn’t have one that allows you to use a centralized number.
This application is free, is available in the Android Market, and is now available to everyone, no invitations are required.
- Google Maps with Navigation
Awesome & free navigation from Google!
While this app isn’t available to exactly everyone (I think you either have to have an iPhone or an Android phone running Éclair (Android 2.1) or later), its truly awesome. While there are issues with navigation systems like this (those that require an internet connection to provide map data), I know that its nearly identical to all of the TeleNav implementations that all of the major US carriers are doing. Usability isn’t as smooth as the <Carrier Name> Navigator, navigating to points of interest and previous destinations is possible, but not done quite the same way, for example.
However, the application is free, available in the Android Market, and a sure-fire winner, provided you have the right Android OS level.
- The Weather Channel
They’re still the most accurate forecasts around…
Until The Weather Channel starts showing, you know… WEATHER forecasts on a regular basis again (instead of all the other weather based shows and other gratuitous stuff…) their weather widget can provide you with up to date information.
The only thing you’re going to have to adjust with this widget is the frequency and type of weather alerts it generates. If you don’t choose "Moderately Severe," you may find yourself pestered with every single item that hits their alert system, which, I’m saddened to say, will make you want to take the widget off your device.
The Weather Channel is a free application, and available in the Android Market
- Seesmic for Android
Awesome app; but missing Facebook integration on my Android device…
With both a dedicated application and home screen widget, Seesmic for Android goes a long way of making monitoring your social networks fun and easy to do. This is a great app. (and the folks you see above are GREAT for following on Twitter, so you might want to given them a follow and see for yourself!)
However, Seesmic for Android only supports Twitter and Google Buzz right now (really..?? Google Buzz..? Is anyone using Buzz??), and Buzz is a recent add. Seesmic Desktop supports Twitter, Buzz and FACEBOOK. Why the Android client DOESN’T support Facebook is confusing and frustrating. Its also a HUGE hole.
Dear Seesmic, please include Facebook functionality in Seesmic for Android. Signed, Every Single Android Device User on the Entire Planet
Seesmic for Android is free and available in the Android Market.
- Facebook for Android
My friend Chrissy is having fun today!
Recent Facebook for Android updates go a long way to bringing the Android client’s functionality closer to that of the iPhone client, but there’s still some stuff that you’re pushed to your device’s browser for. That shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying this app if you’re a dedicated Facebook user, however. The app is great; but it still won’t let you save pictures to your device’s gallery, which is a huge issue. Your device views FB pictures in the FB app, not through the web and unfortunately, I find that my Nexus One seamlessly swaps between the two, and I don’t even know it…until I try to view pictures or save them to my device and then I’m stuck.
Dear Facebook, please allow me to save pictures to my device’s gallery so I can take them with me. Signed, Every Single Android Device User on the Entire Planet
It was really hard to limit this list to just 10 apps. There’s over 70,000 apps in the Android Market right now, and finding the ones that YOU like best is a personal choice. Here are a few additional apps that I use and deserve some kind of mention.
Love the camera…LOVE the camera!
My Nexus One has a great 5MP camera with a built in LED flash. The camera takes stills as well as movies, and is awesome. I love that it has such a great camera and am glad to be using a device with a camera of this caliber.
This is a great way to view photos!
While I know friends don’t always love looking at pictures of your kids, YOU do. The 3D gallery in CyanogenMOD and the other MoDaCo cooked ROM’s that I’m using for the Nexus One, is really awesome. The Gallery also makes it very easy to share pictures and movies with just about every social networking/picture sharing site available to man.
Love the mobile movies!
The app comes standard on just about every Android device out there and makes collecting MY movies very easy. Sharing movies via Facebook from YouTube is also very important to me, as well as viewing the funny Johnny Carson segment of the day, or Achmed the Dead Terrorist.
Free, User developed Navigate may be the Waze to go…
For those of you that don’t have Android 2.1 or higher, Waze is the BEST freeware GPS navigation app available. There are a couple of stipulations, however. 1) All of the maps are user generated and retrieved from the Waze servers (and again, an internet connection is required during navigation) 2) GPS navigation is limited to 200 mile trips. If you have to go farther than that, you’re going to have to navigate to a specified way-point and then navigate from there to another 200 way-point or to your destination if the next leg of your trip is less than 200 miles.
Once this limitation is removed, its going to give Google Maps with Navigation a nice run for its money. Until then, for me, its a runner up in my top 10 list.
As with everything, your mileage may vary. However, I find myself going after, and using these same apps over and over again, and in many ways IGNORING everything else under the hood. As I said before, there’s a whole bunch o’ stuff out there. Finding your Top 10 apps, or top free apps, or heck… TOP APPS is a personal choice that everyone is entitled to make.
These are the ones that I currently like and can afford on my limited budget. If you have any other suggestions, ideas, or favorites that you’d like to share, I know most everyone would appreciate you chiming in, in the comments and letting us know.