If you're like me, you love your Android because you can personalize it beyond anything you’d be able to do with an iPhone. Unlike Apple’s iOS, the Android Market is open and does very little monitoring of the apps. Plus, you can download apps from other markets, like Amazon or GetJar, and install them directly to your phone (though beware of anything suspicious-looking—malicious apps do exist).
The stock apps that come with the phone are fine, but you’re probably looking to get a whole lot more use out of your new Android. It’s also possible to “root” most Android devices, customizing your device beyond even the intentions of Google—but you really don’t have to go that far.
Here are 10 amazingly useful apps, all found in the official Android Market, that will boost your productivity and make your phone more than just a phone.
The phone has just about completely replaced the personal planner and notebook in Gen Y’s day-to-day life. Whether capturing an ephemeral inspiration or writing a reminder to yourself, smartphones are the new post-its. And Evernote is best among virtual post-its. You can attach pictures and videos to your notes, and it’ll sync your notes to Evernote’s website, letting you access and edit your them from a computer or from your phone when you’re on the on the go.
Android’s stock calendar is great for what it does, but leaves much to be desired. Agenda Widget places all of your calendars (your Google Cal, Microsoft’s ActiveSync, and so on) in one place, marked with separate colors, so that you can instantly see everything you have going on for the next week. It even imports your friends’ birthdays from Facebook—never forget a birthday again.
3. Chase Mobile
Securely check your bank account balance, pay your bills, transfer funds, and—here’s the kicker—deposit your checks. Forgot to deposit that last paycheck? Trying to shave 15 minutes off your errands by not stopping at a bank? Chase Mobile’s instant check deposit is a reliable, safe, and convenient way to skip that idle time waiting in line at the ATM. Just take a picture of the front and back of your check and presto! The money’s in your account. (Disclaimer: You need a Chase bank account. Eventually, other banks will probably catch up, too.)
Pulse has become my new favorite way to stay on top of news, or just kill those down minutes waiting for an elevator or waiting for your date to return from the restroom. It takes news sources and websites you choose and organizes them into a colorful and interactive mosaic. With categories from “News & Analysis” to “Art & Design” to top cooking websites, there’s plenty on here for everybody.
A useful tool for anyone on the go, Vlingo translates your voice commands into actions. Tell your phone to reply to a message, send a text, search for a local restaurant, or get directions—all with just the click of a button and a simple voice command.
The Android default browser isn’t bad, especially with the 2.3 Gingerbread update, but if you’re looking for a more intelligent and more intuitive browser, look no further than Dolphin Browser. With dozens of add-ons and features, you can personalize your web browsing experience to optimize the time you spend on the web. My favorite feature: the gesture key, which lets you assign actions (say, navigate back or add a bookmark) to saved stroke patterns. Swipe your fingers, and your browser obeys.
A great reference tool for anyone. A dictionary or thesaurus to look up any word at the drop of a hat. Plus, if you are having a difficult time deciphering the pronunciation of a word—or need to settle a debate—this app will kindly pronounce the word for you.
If you live in a big city, chances are there’s that ever-buzzing ambient noise that can make falling asleep a constant battle. Lightning Bug is a great solution to that problem: an app that plays soothing sounds to help you drift off to sleep. The customizable soundscape can be programmed with sounds of a gushing creek, crickets chirping, the hum of a refrigerator, or any combination of the hundreds of sounds you can access. A sleep timer and alarm clock come built in.
9. SMS Backup+
This simple app backs up your SMS text messages to your Gmail account. This is crucial if you ever break your phone, and a nice safety net to give your peace of mind. Plus, you can read and search your text messages from your Gmail account. Stop losing addresses once and for all.
Hold your phone up to a speaker, and Shazam identifies the song and artist. Extremely useful if you listen to the radio, but even of you don’t, you’ll be surprised how often you want to figure out just what song that is that’s playing.
Photo courtesy of jnyemb.
TopicsTools & Skills
Billy is a student at Columbia studying Physics. In his spare time, he likes hacking his Android phone and visiting San Francisco.More from this Author