I received a Nexus 5 for Christmas and retired my Samsung Galaxy S2. It has no SD card slot, but has 32gb built in. So far, the space has been enough – though I fill it to 27 or 28 gb pretty easily. Most of that is audio teaching and books that I really could keep somewhere else most of the time. I have had no reason to root or run anything other than the latest Android from Google. That’s the beauty of the Nexus line! I get the latest Android quickly. That’s a huge benefit, in my experience. The performance of the phone is so good and the screen so nice that I’m finding I rarely use my Nexus 7 tablet. Another really nice feature is the wireless charging. After having so much trouble with micro-USB connectors growing finicky in the past, I really like just being able to lay the phone down on a charging pad. I keep one for nighttime charging and one by my desk at work. The camera is quite good, too. The Nexus 5 is an excellent phone: as good today as the Nexus One was compared to the competition when it was new… maybe better!
As I wrote before… I started using Android when the G1 came out and have never looked back to my blackberry or to Windows Mobile. I have T-Mobile unlimited everything service. (Actually, my data is throttled after 2gb… I mostly use wi-fi and have not seen a need to upgrade to more high-speed data.) It’s cheap and T-Mobile phone reps 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 or other neighborhoods where mostly well-to-do people live. Evidently rich people don’t use T-Mobile, so T-Mobile coverage is often sketchy in higher-income neighborhoods. It works great where I normally hang out, though. (Note: it didn’t work so well in South Dakota, and AT&T roaming access had a low cap that I exceeded quickly. I really hated that.)
So, what do I run on my phone and why? Here’s the list as of May 13, 2014.
Air Droid – This app lets me connect to my phone as a web server using a web browser. I can get files from it, copy files to it, install apps, and more. Nice. However, the file browser does not handle large lists of files in one directory very well; it is far too slow. I find that I have been using file managers on my phone and an FTP server more than Air Droid. Still installed, though.
Amazon Kindle – I use my phone as my kindle. 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. I have the unlimited audio track storage service from Amazon.
America’s National Parks – An info app.
APG – There are certain files on my phone that I don’t want others to be able to read – like files that have personal data in them that would be useful for identity theft. So, I encrypt them. This is a tool that does that. You can encrypt your entire phone file system, but I think that would be so invasive that it would be self-compromising. This allows me to pick and choose so that stuff I protect is really protected without slowing down access to other stuff.
Audible – I am an audiobook junkie. 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 and for walking. And driving.
Authenticator – This is a way to use the Google two-factor authentication system for many other security purposes. It is not useful unless you use stuff that supports it. My ISP supports it and I use it.
Barcode Scanner – Scans bar codes. Useful for many things, but I don’t use it as frequently as one might expect.
Battery Solo Widget – For displaying battery status on a home screen.
BatteryGuru – If you have a SnapDragon processor, you probably want this. It learns how you use your phone and then configures the system to conserve battery life. I have found it to be effective.
Beautiful Widgets and Beautiful Widgets Animation add-on – Very nice home screen information display. I use it for time and weather and battery status with nice appearance. This hasn’t changed much in several years. But I have not found a better alternative.
BeyondPod – This is an excellent podcast app. If you listen to regular podcasts, consider it. I paid for the unlocked version.
Bible – This is the Android app from Logos. I use it almost exclusively for Bible study. I have some Kindle bibles, also. Logos has deep features but doesn’t do simple reading well since Libronix 3 on the PC.
Bible Gateway – This is a nice fast lightweight app for Bible reading. I find it is crisper and easier to bring up quickly than the Logos app. So I use it for simple Bible reading.
Camera Zoom FX – This is a highly-rated camera app for Android that purchased to overcome the weak cyanogenmod camera app. However, the Nexus 5 native camera app is fine, so I don’t use it any more. Still installed because I paid for it, just in case.
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 straightens, crops, processes, and turns them into nice images in a pdf. The images and pdf can be shared gmail and and other means. 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. It’s quite nice for straightening and flattening pictures of flat things taken with weird perspective.
Carbon – This is the Twitter app I use.
Circa – a news reader that I rarely use.
Chrome – The Chrome web browser for Android phones. I use this almost all the time now, after recent performance improvements. The time I don’t use it is when I need flash, as when watching Amazon video. (Amazon, why not have your video app on Android? This is silly.)
Clojure – A Lisp for your phone. How cool is that?
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.
DashClock Widget, Moon Extension, Sunrise Extension, Battery Extension – This is a good lock screen display widget plus modules that I use.
DMAC Screen Lock – This is a widget that you can put on your home screen to turn off the screen and lock your phone. It’s much nicer than finding the power button.
DropBox – Cloud storage app.
Duolingo – I’m kind of sort of attempting to learn some Spanish.
Easy Screenshot – This is an app that lets you capture what’s on the screen of your phone and save it as a picture.
Earth – Explore the earth using Google’s software.
Elixir 2 and various add-on modules – Excellent window into everything on your phone. High nerd appeal. I install some of the extra modules; but not what requires rooting (so far).
Email My Texts – Does what it says. It’s a way to backup or save your text messages.
ES File Explorer – An excellent file system browser with root capability and good SMB support for network browsing.
EverNote – I am using this as my standard way to take notes and save them. I don’t like that it is not integrated into the rest of my filing system. But it is very good. Still considering where this goes long term. I think Google should buy them and integrate it with Google Drive instead of pursuing Google Keep.
EveryTrail – Cool software that allows you to download maps of hiking trails to carry and access from your phone. Also capable of tracking hikes and saving the tracks in the cloud.
ezPDF Reader – I want to read PDF files. This was my solution. So far, so good.
Feedly – a news aggregator – but I don’t read it much
Fing Network Tools – an excellent tool for exploring LAN’s. Wish it were this simple on my PC!
FIOS Mobile – Verizon finally found someone who can write an adequate Android app. Previous versions were very frustrating. This one is so much better it has reaching OK status.
Firefox – I only use this for flash content. That’s all. Rarely used these days at all.
First Aid – An info app that is a first aid guide.
Flickr Folio – the new Flickr app may be slick, but it doesn’t let me set the title, description, tags, and album of photos to upload as easily as this app.
Flickr – nice for looking at Flickr, but not as nice as the old version for uploading.
Flickr Mobile – Another Flickr app that I am experimenting with.
FlightAware – nice app for tracking flights
FlightTrack – Easy real-time flight tracking for all the flights that matter to you. Not free.
Friend Locator – Share locations between friends.
FTP Droid – An FTP server for Android. Works well and does fast file transfer. I use the paid version.
FX – This is the best file manager for Android now. SMB access works well.
Gas Buddy – Find the location and price of gas nearby.
Gmail – Indispensable. I recommend the two-factor authentication for Gmail and Drive, but only if you take the time to understand it in advance. Be sure and get the emergency access codes for your account if you set two-factor up, even if you don’t know how to use them. And be sure and set up an emergency contact number for backup delivery of access codes. If you ever need them, you will be very glad to have them. Also, you should find a way to backup your messages locally. I use Mozilla Thunderbird.
[NOT] Go – I have removed all things from Go. They were free and worked pretty well, but became too invasive with too many messages trying to sell me things. The invasive messages require me to dismiss them, too!. So, no Go. Gone. Not missed.
Google Drive, Docs, Sheets – Google Drive is very convenient. This is usually better than using it from the web browser; at times the web browser can display tables that the app cannot.
Google Sky Map – Cool map of the sky… “Where’s Orion’s belt again? Oh, over there.”
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.
GPS Status – A way to find your GPS coordinates.
Groupon – I don’t like the app for anything except saving the offers I purchase and showing them to vendors.
GPS Share – Decide to share your location with other people of your choice. “Where are you? I’m HERE! (send location)”
Hacker’s Keyboard – You too can type like a programmer! If you ever want to run emacs or its ilk on your phone, you need this. If you never heard of emacs, then you probably don’t need this. It’s kind of a full function keyboard instead of the stripped down keyboard for texting and data entry.
HBO Go – If you have HBO, you can watch HBO programs and movies on your phone. On demand. Cool. I login with my Verizon FIOS ID.
History Here – An app that lets you find sites of historical interest wherever you are. Great for history nerd vacationing.
iBird Pro – Want to know what that bird is in your North American yard?
Instagram – Easily share pix on social media sites. Very popular, but has limitations.
KD Collage – Make those photo collages on your phone. This is an OK app for that.
KeePassDroid – This is a password keeper that supports Android and Windows and more. It provides a good way to keep track of your passwords and use different passwords for your various logins.
Kingsoft Office – the free version reads Office docs on your phone – but without editing.
Lookout – This was the best security software for Android when I needed some and checked it out thoroughly, which was years ago. Still working well. It scans apps for safety. It can track down your phone from the web when it is lost and lock it or wipe it clean if it is in someone hands who shouldn’t have it. It also does backups; but I don’t use it for backup.
LoseIt! – a calorie tracker
Maps – Google Maps is great. Who needs a separate GPS? This is one of the best features of a good Android phone.
Meridian Player – This is a good media player. No EQ. Great features and stability for people who have their own media files and want to manipulate and play them. Updated frequently.
Messaging – I don’t like using Google Hangouts for text messaging. So I loaded this.
MoboPlayer – plays the most video formats of any video player I know of.
Ol File Manager – This file manager was required in order to select files in some other app. I don’t use it otherwise.
Photo Grid – Make photo collages on your phone. Lots of features. Works very well. I use this one.
Pinterest – Occasionally I use this app instead of the web browser.
Pixlr Express – A reasonable picture editor.
PowerAmp – This is a really nice audio app. I find that I use different apps for different listening or watching contexts. This allows me to resume one context while leaving another context in place. I listen to audio on PowerAmp. Then I can stop and watch video on Meridian. Then I finish listening to audio on PowerAmp from where I left off without searching. This should just work in one media app! Context is lost too easily. Poweramp gives much of control over the sound. I purchased the full version.
QuickPic – Fast gallery replacement for viewing photos. Not so necessary in the latest Android but habits die hard…
RadarNow! – A weather radar app. That is all.
Screen Filter – If you use your phone at night and want it to be less bright, use this.
SlingPlayer – Watch your Slingbox on your phone.
Smart Tools – Measuring tools for your phone. Very cool to play with. Useful? Hmmm. Soft of, if you don’t need precision. “It’s about 12 feet to that wall over there.” But it has a nice LED flashlight feature.
Snapseed – This is my preferred phone editor on Android.
StopWatch & Timer – Just what it says it is.
Storage Analyzer – a good tool for figuring out what files are using up your memory.
Study Bible – A Logos study Bible
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? I do. But, redundancy. (FYI, you must restart the linux server with a cron job every few hours or it will go belly up and stop responding.)
Swype + Dragon – Was the best keyboard for Android. Now I’m having problems with freezing. The stock keyboard swipes now, so less critical. Until it starts working better, I’m using stock.
Sygic – This is navigation software from eastern Europe. Cheaper than other offline alternatives and works OK. I prefer Google Maps and Nav when available, but they are not operable offline. Yes, I know about downloading Google maps for offline access. That’s nice, but not good enough.
SystemPanel – A very nice app backup and management tool. Somewhat redundant with Elixir. Will also do app backup.
T-Mobile My Account – check how much you’re using your features. The health status of your phone is junk; it assumes you are a dweeb.
Tape-a-Talk Pro – Record extended audio with this app.
TextWarrior – Geeky test editor. Not super fast, but works well enough for me to search files and update my text file notes.
TiVo – This is the remote from my Tivo. Very nice. Not from the Tivo company; not free.
TVFoodie, TVFoodMaps – This is how you remember and find all those cool places to eat that you saw on the Food Channel. It is easier than the web.
Tumblr – Micro-blogging app. I have it but have not started using it.
TuneIn Radio – For listening to radio broadcasts over the internet.
US Army Survival Guide – another info app
USB Host Diagnostics, USB Stick Plugin – trying to use external USB sticks from my phone.
Ustream – a Ustream client. I watched the Mars Curiosity landing coverage from NASA using this, for example. And this is how you check what is going on in the LBFC sanctuary on Sunday.
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…
Wunderground – a nice weather app – lots of info.
Yahoo Weather – another nice weather app. Pretty.
Yelp – Find good places to eat.
Zoom Camera Pro – Another replacement for the weak Cyanogenmod camera that I paid for but don’t use much any longer.