Update, as of August 7, 2012. In late 2011, I gave up my Nexus One for a Samsung Galaxy S2… If you continue, you’re reading historical details of my phone life.
I started using Android when the G1 came out and have never looked back to my blackberry. I have T-Mobile unlimited everything service. It’s cheap and they are pleasant and helpful to talk to. Neither AT&T nor Verizon can make these claims today. When I talk to their reps on the phone, my blood pressure is up for a week. T-Mobile service works well for me most of the time, but not on Balboa Island. Now I have a Nexus One.
My Google Nexus One is a great phone – by far the best I’ve ever owned. My only complaint is the app space limitation it has compared to some of the newer generation of phones. (This bothers me more and more as time passes.) Performance is great and I really like its size and feel. The screen is terrific except that it is not so good in bright sunlight. So, if you see me ducking into the shadow of a light pole when I’m walking down the sidewalk, it is surely phone-related.
I have unlocked the bootloader and rooted my phone. If you don’t know what this means you probably don’t need to know. I liked stock Gingerbread, but the app space hacks available when running a custom Android drew me in. I am running Cyanogenmod 7.0.3. I find that I like it for more reasons than simply being able to move applications to the SD card – but that’s the huge win. The pull down toggles for wi-fi, bluetooth, GPS, and sound are very useful. The extra status info is helpful. The curved lock screen is nice. And so on. The value of being able to get android updates quickly, whether from the stock OS or from custom software is invaluable. I don’t think I’ll ever purchase a phone for which up-to-date versions of Android are not easily available, either rooted or stock.
So, what do I run on my phone and why? Here’s the list as of October 2, 2011.
Amazon Kindle – I use my phone as my kindle. The text formatting is not always good, but it works well enough to read books on my phone.
Amazon MP3 – This would be a waste for me save for the Amazon Cloud Player features. It is nice to be able to store music in the Amazon cloud and play it anywhere without using my own SD card space.
Angry Birds Seasons Free – This is for those rare moments when I need a mindless diversion. Like if I want to stop a train of thought and go to sleep.
Apps 2 SD Pro – This makes moving apps to the SD card very simple. I like that it reminds me when I haven’t moved something. It doesn’t use the features of Cyanogenmod to force apps to the SD, though. I wonder if I am missing something here, like a rooted version?
Appstore – The Amazon app store is installed. I like getting free apps from Amazon, but otherwise the new standard market is better.
Astrid Tasks – This is my to-do list. It works very well and syncs with Google tasks. Tried Evernote, but it was overkill for me.
Astro Pro – Astro is my Android file manager of choice. I’ve been using it for years. The app backup feature is nice. Paid for Pro; this guy deserves to be paid. Regret that SMB support does not work on the latest versions of Android.
Audible – I am an audiobook junkie. You folks who say reading is not the same as listening are right. I usually do better listening, even though I love to read. Good for the gym.
Barcode Scanner – Don’t use it much because I shop online. But when I want it while in a store, it is great.
Battery Widget – Started using this on my main home screen long ago. It is very helpful – just what I wanted. Not sure how it stacks up against newer battery monitors. It works; I’m happy. How much time do I want to spend scouting battery monitors?
Beautiful Widgets and Beautiful Widgets Animation Addon – Very nice home screen information display. I use it for time and weather and nice appearance.
BeyondPod – This is the class of the podcast software for Android. If you listen to regular podcasts, get it and pay for it.
Bible (from YouVersion) – I was an OliveTree user. The free YouVersion Bible software blew them away. Too bad it was after I paid money for a few OliveTree Bibles and books. I found that I don’t use OliveTree any longer and uninstalled it.
Biblia.com – I use this website for Android access to my thousand or so Logos books in addition to the new logos app. Not sure why I still use both, but I do.
Brightness Level – I wanted easy access to setting my brightness level high for watching video at the gym. This was the nice, free control I found for that.
BuzzBox – Can’t decide between this news reader and Pulse.
Camera360 Ultimate – I like this camera software a lot. The image stabilization is great. Pay the guy. Complaint: have to use a different video recorder.
CamScanner – This is a convenience app that packages up using your camera to capture images of receipts and labels and business cards and so on. It turns them into pdf and allows you to share them via email and other social media or just save them to your sd card. I find that I use this nearly every day. I use this to capture handwritten notes, nutrition info from labels, and any written material I want to save and not have to carry with me on paper.
Cloud Print – Hmmm. Still deciding about this one. Allows me to print to cloud printers from my phone.
ConnectBot – I am geeky enough to need an ssh client on my phone. If you know what that is, this is a good free version.
Docs – Google Docs is very convenient, though imperfect. This is better than using it from the web browser.
Elixir and Elixir Personal Add-on – Excellent window into everything on your phone. High nerd appeal, but it eventually succumbed to my app space shortage. I just reinstall it when I want it.
EveryTrail – Cool software that allows you to download maps of hiking trails to carry and access from your phone.
ezPDF Reader – I want to read PDF files. This was my solution. So far, so good.
FIOS Mobile Remote – Sometimes Susie can’t find the remote. Other times she has it and I want it but am too lazy to go get it. This is the answer. I always have my phone, so I can always control the Verizon DVR, which I don’t like nearly as much as my TIVO. (But Susie likes it better.)
FlightTrack – Easy real-time flight tracking for all the flights that matter to you. Not free.
Gmail – Indispensable once I got mad enough to abandon Outlook. And Gmail has fantastic spam filtering built in, so I can give up managing my own mail server. The phone access to my mail archives once I switched them over (no mean trick) is a “how did I ever live without this” kind of thing. I live by email and having it all available through my phone is a huge win.
Go SMS Pro (and Simple Blue Theme) – Got it free from Amazon. Great SMS app. Not sure I’d pay for it, but it is good. It includes backup of your text messages, something that often comes as a separate app.
Google+ – I hope they win. Facebook is acting like a bunch of losers.
Google Voice – Stop using your phone service’s voice mail and start using Google Voice. It will transcribe your messages and email them to you. T-mobile’s visual voice mail is problematic; I gave up on it.
LauncherPro – Excellent app launcher. I like it better than the stock launcher. I was using stock when I bought it to make my screens better, but I’m not sure if it is necessary given the Cyanogenmod launcher. I’m using it because I already had it.
Logos – It’s over for OliveTree. They’re kind of lame in comparison.
Lookout – This is the best security software for Android last time I checked it out, which was months ago. Working well. It scans apps for safety (not something I was thinking I needed), but the nice thing is the ability to track down your phone from the web when it is lost and lock it or wipe it clear if it is in someone else’s hands who shouldn’t have it. It also does backups.
Maps – Google Maps is great. Who needs a separate GPS?
Meridian – This is the best media player that I know of. I want it to remember its place in more than one item of each type, but it doesn’t. No EQ, but you can get that from Cyanogenmod. Great features and stability for people who have their own media files and want to manipulate and play them. Updated frequently.
My Account – Just how many text message have I sent this month, anyway? This lets me answer that question.
(not) Nexus One LED Flashlight – there’s a built-in version of this in cyanogenmod, but used this for a while anyway. Let’s me use the camera flash as a flashlight. Can’t leave on for too long or the LED will overheat. Replaced with Torch app.
PrinterShare – I’m still deciding about this one. Wanted to be able to print email messages and attachments from android.
Pulse – Can’t decide between this news reader and BuzzBox, but I finally uninstalled Pulse because I needed app space.
QuickSSHd – Truly a geek toy. Let’s me connect to my phone via ssh. Would you like to type linux shell commands to your phone?
(not) Ring Toggle – I used this for controlling the noisiness of my phone. Now I use the CyanogenMod drop down toggler and saved a very small amount of app space.
ROM Manager – The best ROM manager. I finally paid for the pro version that notifies me when a new cyanogenmod ROM is available. I don’t really need this a lot, but the guy deserves to be paid. Very nice software.
Samba File Sharing – This is how I access the file system on my phone over the network now. Let’s me get files from my phone and put media files to listen to or watch on my phone. Far better than other options. Occasionally punks out after copying many large video files to the phone, but not often.
Skype – Works much better since Froyo. Be sure you know how to sign out in case it goes crazy and you need to switch to another device to continue your conversation. I haven’t needed to do this since Froyo, however. I use Skype on my phone a lot now. I is still a little flaky.
SlingPlayer – You need a SlingBox to use this. Neil and I used this to watch the Lakers on my home TIVO while eating dinner at a restaurant one night. Works even over 3G!
(not) StartTalking – Finally removed this to recover app space. It has a major gee whiz factor, but was not that useful to me. Me: “Nexus One Awake” N1: “Phone here.” Me: “Text Sam Ginder” or “What time is it?” And so on. Worked pretty well: a very cool toy! (I wanted to set it to answer me with “By your command” but you can’t set it to use a 70’s Cylon voice. So I dropped it. You do get to tell it what command to answer to and how to answer.)
Subsonic – I am such a nerd that I run a freeware subsonic server on linux to serve my entire library of audio and video. This is the client for Android. So why do I use the Amazon Cloud, you ask? Good question. Exploring. Redundancy. (You need to restart the linux server with a cron job every day or it will go belly up and stop responding.)
Swype – By far the best keyboard for Android. Take the short time to get used to it; you will become much faster at typing, not need a hardware keyboard, and hate having to live without it. Swype is not perfect. There are some tricks it could learn from the stock keyboard even, and certainly from SwiftKey. Even from Smart.
SystemPanel – A very nice app backup and management tool. Somewhat redundant with Elixir.
(not) Talkback – Why did I have this, again? I honestly forget.
Terminal Emulator – Part of my geek world.
TivoRemote – This is the remote from my Tivo. Very nice. Not from the Tivo company; not free.
Torch – This is now my preferred flashlight app.
Tweetdeck – This is the tweeting and facebook status client I’ve settled on so far. Not perfect, but better than the competition so far. I admit I have not explored other options for months.
Voice Search – Very useful for, well, voice searching. You speak what you want to search for instead of typing it.
Vyrso – Checking out this new reader from Logos. Not sure how different it is from the Logos app.
WebDAV Nav Lite – I use this to access a certain online file storage service that has features I want. Not sure if it will last, but so far I use it occasionally. Once the Mozy client has android personal encryption support, this will probably lose out.
Wifi Analyzer and Wifi Connector Library – I maintain wifi networks. I like being able to find out what is happening in wifiland around me. And so…
(not) Wifi File Explorer Pro – Cool app that lets me access the file system on my phone from the web browser on my laptop or desktop. I can move files back and forth without a wire. I used it to load music and video onto my phone. Now I use Samba.
(not) Wikipedia Search – Nice idea, but I rarely used it. I just browse wikipedia instead. So I uninstalled it.
(not) WW Mobile – Support for my diet. Ironically, this is the fattest app I have ever had on my phone. Weightwatchers needs to slim it down dramatically. It is three times larger that Google Maps. What’s up with that? It worked pretty well but I killed it for the app space. What a pig! Really.
XScope Pro – This is the fastest Android web browser. I like it. Did I mention that I started using it on my G1? Maybe I should try that stock browser again… Definitely liked it better than Dolphin, which is also not bad. I paid for this.
YouTube – Nice youtube client.
I also use BusyBox Installer and Root Check; but these need not remain installed once I use them. This is nerd stuff.
I do have Flash installed now. It has slimmed down and is a lot more stable and responsive. It’s still kind of a pig.
Other apps that I like but that have been sacrificed to the space god include: BeyondPod, AndFTP, Bump, Compass, EverNote, Go Long Beach, Google Sky Map, handyCalc, Poynt, Shopper, Thrutu, Toddler Lock, Ultimate Stopwatch, Urbanspoon, Ustream, Wordfeud, and World Clock. My next phone will have more app space. I think I might want a Nexus Prime. Or a Samsung Galaxy S2. Or something like that.