Android Must-Have Apps

Not too long ago, I switched from my beloved HTC Touch Pro 2 (which runs Windows Mobile) device to a Motorola Droid X (which runs Android) device. I never thought I’d give up my Touch Pro 2, but after a very short adjustment phase, I now adore my Droid X and the Android platform.

During my exploration of the Droid, I’ve run across several applications that are, to me, mandatory. Here’s my list. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve got any “must-have” apps for your Android device.

  • Android Market: Sure, this is included with most (all?) Android devices, but it’s really a great connection to the world of apps, both free and pay.
  • Amazon Appstore: Amazon’s entry into the world of Android apps is notable because they’re currently doing a promotion where they give away a free app every day. Sometimes the apps are more useful than others, but it’s always worth a look.
  • Folder Organizer: Adds folder support to Android. This is great because you can assign each app a user-defined folder (or multiple folders). For example, you might assign Angry Birds to a folder of “Games”. Folder Organizer provides widgets to display folders on your home screen. Following this example, I have a folder for Games. When I touch that folder on my home screen, a window pops up displaying all the games on my device. Very nice!
  • Group Manager: The Group Manager app allows you to assign your Contacts to Google Groups. This is useful to me because it enables me to use my Google Voice number by group, so I can dial co-workers using my work number and friends from my personal number. It’s a little slow, but it gets the job done nicely.
  • PhoneWeaver: This is an absolute must-have application if you’ve ever been “that guy” whose phone rings during a meeting. Using PhoneWeaver, you can define profiles that control various settings (sound, communication, and more) on your device. These profiles can be automatically activated by time, agenda, power connections, manually, and by location (this one is especially neat – I’ve set my phone to automatically go into vibrate mode when I’m within 1 mile of my office, so I’m never “that guy”!). I loved this application on my Windows Mobile device, and was delighted to find it on the Android.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox has had some attention recently based on their strangely-worded & changing Terms of Service. However, if you’re careful with what you store on Dropbox, it is an incredibly valuable service. I store most of my documents (properly encrypted, of course) on Dropbox so that I’ve got backups ‘just-in-case’. The Dropbox app for Android allows you to access anything in your Dropbox.
  • Pocket Informant: Calendaring and task management for Android. I loved Pocket Informant on my Windows Mobile device, and the Android version is nearly as good. It (optionally) synchronizes with Google Calendar.
  • Audible: I love audiobooks. I absolutely adore them. Audible’s app for Android is my tool of choice for listening to my audiobooks. If you’re an audiobook fan and an Android user, this is the tool for you.
  • aCar: I do a lot of driving for my job. I need to track mileage, and aCar is the easiest and most feature-rich application I’ve found for the Android. At the pump, I enter the odometer of my car, the cost of the gasoline, and the total volume of fuel I’ve put in my car. aCar provides informative graphs, charts, and much, much more. Plus, it interfaces with Dropbox so I can export my records to Dropbox.
  • gReader Pro: If you’re a fan of RSS feeds and a user of Google Reader, gReader Pro is the best app for Android I’ve found. It’s fast, fairly stable, and well-supported by the developers. I’ve got several hundred RSS feeds, and this app allows me to read them easily.
  • Wireless Tether/Root: As a road-warrior, I often need to connect – from wherever I am – to the internet. I don’t have time to seek out free WiFi hotspots. Wireless Tether is a great tool that turns your Android device into a wireless hotspot so you can get on the net. It requires that you’ve “rooted” your phone (a process beyond the scope of this article), a process that can violate Terms of Service with your carrier. However, once you’ve done that (reversible) process, you can wirelessly tether several devices to your phone.
  • Titanium Backup/Root: This is a tool that can automatically back up your entire Android device. If you’d be lost without your Android device, you should get this application!

So, there you have it… My first pass at required applications for Android devices. In the comments, please let me know if you’ve got other must-have apps for your Android device.

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