Favorite Android Apps 9/2011

I’ve had an Android phone for a couple years now and one of the few things I don’t like about it is how hard it is to find decent apps for it. The comments on the Android Market leave much to be desired when you’re trying to decide if an app is worth installing.

To help with that I decided to put together a list of the apps that I use on a near daily basis. Hopefully this will help somebody out there save some time.

Yup, I use Google’s default Gmail app. It’s quick, it’s easy and doesn’t get in the way. It also supports multiple Gmail accounts which is a big plus as I have several different email addresses that I use on a daily basis. The new Priority Inbox is a huge help in cutting down the signal to noise ratio.

I honestly don’t know what I’d do without this app. I use a different, long, random password on every site I frequent so there is absolutely no way that I could memorize them all. With KeePassDroid on my phone and KeePass Password Safe on my PC I don’t have to. It will generate a random password of any length you want and lets you choose whether you want upper and lower-case, numerals, special characters, etc. Unlike most of the other password generators/managers in the market it also doesn’t require any permissions other than the ability to write and save its database to your SD card. KeePass has versions for Android, iPhone, Windows, Linux, J2ME and Mac OS/X so you’ll always be able to have your passwords with you.

I own a lot of ebooks. FBReader is my ebook reader of choice for Android. It supports ePub, oeb, fb2 and mobi formats. It’s light-weight and page-turning is quick and responsive. My only beef with the app is that it can be very slow listing all the books in a directory if you’ve got dozens of books in there. If you’re running a rooted Android device you can install FBSync which allows you to sync where you’re at in a book among multiple Android devices.

I’m subscribed to a ton of different feeds and I use Google Reader to read and manage them. While Google Reader does have a mobile web interface it runs slow and leaves a lot to be desired on my Samsung Moment. Enter gReader. gReader syncs automatically with my Google Reader account and keeps me updated when I have new posts to read. You can set how often you want it to sync to your Google Reader account, whether or not you want it to only sync when you’re connected to WiFi and allows you to limit how many items you want to sync. If you pony up for the pro version you can get rid of the (completely unobtrusive) ads and receive support for syncing podcasts as well.

imo instant messenger (beta version)
I don’t get on AIM, Facebook chat, etc. very often on my phone, but when I do I’m glad I have imo instant messenger installed. It has the cleanest interface of any IM app I’ve used and unlike, say, eBuddy, it doesn’t require you to setup an account (and deal with the associated issues when that login goes down) on their servers in order to log in to your IM accounts. I’m currently running the beta version of imo and I’ve yet to have any issues. If you don’t like running betas they have a stable release available as well. imo instant messenger supports Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Skype, MSN, ICQ/AIM, Yahoo, Jabber and Myspace.

SMS Popup
I use the stock messaging app in Android, but I wanted incoming texts to popup and allow a quick reply without having to go in to the messaging app itself. SMS Popup does exactly like it’s name says and it does it well.

SDX Stock App Remover
Your phone probably came with a ton of apps you never use or wanted. If you’ve rooted your phone the SDX Stock App Remover is just what you need to get rid of those apps. It allows allows you to backup and remove any app on your phone that you normally wouldn’t be able to uninstall. You have no idea the joy it brought me to finally get rid of the Bejeweled Demo and Nascar app that came on my Samsung Moment. Please note that this app requires that you have a rooted device and that it is not available in the Market. Follow the link above to download the app.

Dropsync uses your Dropbox account to keep files in sync between your desktop and phone. I tried many different Dropbox sync apps before finding this one and hopefully this will save somebody else the wasted time. It supports two-way, one-way and other syncing modes and “just works”. I personally use it to sync my KeePass database and to upload pictures I take on my phone.

Opera Mini
I use the stock browser for the majority of my browsing, but I occasionally hit a site that it can’t handle. Opera Mini is the only Android web browser I know of that isn’t based off Webkit so the chances are good if the stock browser can’t handle that Opera Mini can. I’m using Opera Mini over the more robust Opera Mobile because I only use it occasionally and the size difference – 700k vs. 12MB! – is huge.

RockPlayer Lite
On long trips I occasionally feel like watching something, and RockPlayer Lite is my media player of choice. Unlike the default movie viewer RockPlayer supports a multitude of formats including DivX, Xvid, WMV, mp4 and more. Large files sometimes stutter occasionally, but its better than nothing.

The official Facebook client for Android sucks. A lot. FriendCaster sucks a little bit less and that’s why I use it. It supports private messages, viewing your feed, profiles, sharing pictures, etc.

Tapatalk allows you to browse, search and post to forums that have installed their server-side client. It has issues – doesn’t save your favorites in the cloud so you’re stuck searching for them every time you install it and has an absolutely horrendous search ability. That said, it is still better than trying to browse and post via your mobile web browser.

You knew this one would be on here. The WordPress client for Android is pretty slick. It supports blogs hosted on wordpress.com as well as self-hosted blogs. You can post, approve/view comments, edit posts and pages and it allows you to have multiple blogs set up. It also can be set up to notify you when someone comments on your blog.

There you have it. Those are my current favorite apps for Android.


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