We asked our Technology Director, Tim Ocock, what apps he uses everyday on his Android phone.
A long time Symbian phone user, Tim finally switched to Android last year. Tim says “I really need to have a keyboard, I can’t do without it. iPhones are marvellous but until they make a model with a real keyboard, they’re not for me. Android phones might still have shockingly poor battery life, but as a power user that demands a high level of customisation Android is really the only choice.“
In Tim’s own words, here are the apps Tim finds himself using regularly.
Oyster Mate – Market – Free: Living and working in London necessitates the use of the Oyster RFID card. Few things are more annoying than running out of credit on a cold, snowy day when you just want to get home as quickly as possible. Oyster Mate is a simple app that does one job very well – it shows you your Oyster card balance, also letting you easily load the Oyster topup website, which unfortunately is not mobile optimised. In the year 2012 I find it incredulous that there is neither an official app for anything but iPhone, nor a mobile optimised website, for something that you are most likely to need when out and about.
My Allowance – Market – £0.69: The official Vodafone UK Android app is a prime example of how big organisations just don’t “get it” – inaccurate information, and a constant torrent of upselling unwanted addon services, in this case the BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots (does anyone even use hotspots now that HSPA+ is here??), which in any case does nothing but interfere with the smooth operation of the phone’s usual wifi management and was the cause of at least two total phone crashes. Anyway, back to My Allowance, and again it’s down to an individual developer to ‘scratch that itch’ and make an app that meets his needs and therefore the needs of thousands of other Vodafone and O2 customers. With a homescreen widget included, it has everything I need to keep track of my account and doesn’t require me to type in any details about my tariff. Why can’t the operators themselves do this? It’s not hard.
ReadItLater – Market – Free (Paid version available): It was Instapaper that first turned me on to these strip-a-page-to-its-raw-document state and cache for offline reading services. However, the Instapaper guy’s stubborn refusal to produce an Android port, and poor state of unofficial Android clients, led me to switch to ReadItLater. Did you know you can import your Instapaper lists into RIL? That sealed the deal.
GTasks – Market – Free (with ads): One area that has taken a massive step backwards from the days of Palm PDAs and P900 smartphones, is the PIM functionality. Both Android and iPhone suffer from terrible calendaring applications and the third party options available don’t seem to be able to improve the situation. But one glaring omission in Android’s Calendar app is support for their very own Tasks feature. GTasks keeps things simple, filling up this gap perfectly nicely, without any unnecessary frills or pretentious emperor’s new clothes UI designs.
Plume – Market – Free (with ads): Nothing beats Gravity, the best all round Twitter app for Symbian phones, but Plume comes the closest on Android. The only thing I don’t like about it is the way it handles multiple accounts.
Go Launcher EX – Market – Free: Android OEMs love to furtle with the standard Android launcher, always thinking they know better in the name of differentiation. But change for change’s sake is never a good thing. There are plenty of third party launchers out there that embrace and extend the standard Google interface in truly innovative ways but my favourite is Go Launcher, from its infinite configurability, to its cool animations, to the simple task management features, Go Launcher is what boots up first on my Android device.
Works On Mobile – Market – Free: Steely Eye’s very own quick testing tool comes in very handy whenever you come across an ad campaign or brand site that should work on mobile, and doesn’t, and you want to save that for later. Of course, Works On Mobile’s search feature also makes it easy to run a Google search cross referenced against our mobile-compatible site database so that when you’re in a hurry you know you won’t be stuck waiting a minute or more to load a site that probably has never been tested for mobile friendliness. Watch out for more news about Works On Mobile, including support for iOS, coming soon.