Must Have Android Apps and Widgets for Business Users

For those that got an Android smartphone for Christmas, finding the right software to assist you in your work and personal life can be a bit of a challenge. Here are some great suggestions to get you started.

Any time you move to a new phone, you’ve got to determine if the software you’ve grown accustomed to or dependent upon will work on your new device. If you’re moving from one device to another that uses the same mobile OS, this isn’t a huge issue, however, when moving from, let’s say a Blackberry to an Android smartphone, this can be a problem.

A good friend of mine recently took a position at a new company and had to leave his Blackberry behind. He chose a new HTC EVO Shift 4G from Sprint; and while he loves the phone, moving from standard BB fare to something as connected and capable as the EVO Shift 4G can be a bit daunting, especially when you’ve got to integrate one device for both work and play into your life. There’s a great deal of valuable software in the Android Market that can help do that for you. Finding it, is the hard part. Here are my suggestions for must have applications that can help the busy work and road warrior integrate a new Android Phone into their daily routine.

Android Agenda Widget
Whether you’re a C-level exec or a busy soccer mom, having your schedule in front of you when you turn your device on, is a must have for many smartphone users. Unfortunately, the Android Calendar widget leaves a great deal to be desired. Thankfully, I found the Android Agenda Widget from Everybody all the Time. With the ability to display multiple calendars and supporting a number of different display sizes, this free Android widget fills a huge hole; and makes it easy to keep your next appointment in front of you.

Go Weather
EVERYBODY that I know of, loves the HTC Clock & Weather widget that their SenseUI interface made famous. Unfortunately, unless you root your non-HTC/non-SenseUI device and install a custom ROM on it, non-SenseUI devices won’t have anything similar available to them by default. Thankfully, a similar look and feel is available through apps from many different developers in the Android Market. One of my favorite freebies is Go Weather.

Like the HTC widget, the app is Location Services compatible, and will give you not only current time and weather conditions on your home screen, but a separate app that displays your extended, local forecast information. The application supports skinning, full motion HD video, has live wallpaper as well as a status bar icon that displays current temperature information for the location you’re currently “following.” The application is worth installing, regardless of the type of device you have, solely for its status bar, temperature icon.

 This gets your schedule and a decent weather presence on your device. It also gives you a healthy sense of how location services can provide value without compromising too much personal information. Come back next time, and I’ll give you my final recommendations for must have Android apps.

Launcher Pro
Android’s stock program launcher is ok; but there are other launchers available that offer increased functionality at a very reasonable price. Launcher Pro provides access to not only the standard Android application tray, but also an unlimited number of scrollable docks. The launcher is free, and is less memory intensive than SenseUI. The registered version is $3.49USD, and offers users access to its custom home screen widgets.

If you use Launcher Pro on a SenseUI device, you may disable SenseUI, so you’ll need to be aware of this.

Google Voice
All Android phones can benefit from Google Voice. Its deep OS integration provides for free, unlimited text messaging through your standard cellular data connection. Its visual voice mail features bring this highly coveted feature to all users regardless of what your carrier and specific voice/data plans provide for. Sprint users get the added benefit of using their standard cell number as their Google Voice number without having to port their number to Google Voice thanks to an agreement between Google and the number three US carrier.

Google Maps with Navigation
While Google Maps is a standard application from Google, not every Android device has it installed. This may be the case if your wireless carrier has a branded navigation app. In that case, installing and using this data connection dependent, free, turn-by-turn navigation app is high on my recommended application list. For a freebie, it’s one of the best navigation applications available, and its data connection dependency for map delivery insures that you’ve always got the latest maps for your geographic area.

There are a TON of other apps in the Android Market that are more than likely, part of the MUST have list in your mind. These, really are just a few, and despite what most anyone thinks, they’re safe and solid choices; and they WILL provide you with value.

Do you know of any other must have Android Apps for the business professional bringing their personal smartphone to the office, or for the busy prosumer? Why not join us in the discussion below and tell us about them?

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11 must-have Android apps that are free and really cool

Watchdog Task Manager Lite – there is one thing people don’t know for sure about Android: it doesn’t need a task managers. We need to get ride of the mindset that killing off tasks is a good thing. Why? Because Android kernels have their own task manager and it should be left up to them to decide when to free up memory. What you really need is an app which monitors your device and when an application malfunctions and starts using all your CPU power (without a reason), to kill that single app. This is what Watchdog does and that’s all you really need.


Astro File Manager – this app allows you to manage files on your phone without the need for a PC. You can perform actions such as copy, paste, move, delete, open with other apps and create folders. Additionally, you can select multiple files to perform actions which is really useful sometimes.Talking about what’s oh-so-cool, this file manager has the ability to backup Android Apps to SD card and quite a few more nice features.


Beautiful Widgets – is one of the most popular standalone widgets for Android. Well, the Lite version sports less than half the features of the full version but still, it is better than most other free clock and weather widgets out there. Beautiful Widgets free comes with a total of six widgets. These include four Super Clock (weather and clock) widgets and two Weather widgets.


Backgrounds HD Wallpapers – is an app which helps you find amazing background wallpapers & contact themes.You can choice from a huge selection and great variety of high quality wallpaper. The only bad thing is that it takes a little while to change pages and load the images but still… I love it! Take a look through the categories (funny, cute, sunsets, cars, girly, games, sports, scary, music, movies, animals, etc) and find the right wallpaper for your smartphone, every time you get bored of the one which you have right now.


Launcher Pro – is a great alternative to your Android application launcher which adds some exciting features to your device such as 3-D app launcher, super-smooth screen switching, a suite of Sense UI-like widgets, a scrolling dock at the bottom of the screen, and much much more. I’ve been using it for the past few months and I have to say that I’ve never been this pleased with the smoothness of any other launcher. Simply fast & highly customizable.


Google Goggles – this app is really cool. Basically, it uses image recognition technology to recognize objects and return search results. You can use it to identify products, landmarks, artwork, and popular images found online. For example, while skimming through a magazine, you see the picture of an actress that you like but you can’t remember her name. Well, you can use Goggles to find her name. All you need is your phone to be equipped with an auto-focus camera.


ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner – I’ve been using this from the first day I bought my phone. You can use it to scan barcodes on CDs, books and so on, then look up prices and reviews. Also, with it, you’re at liberty to scan QR codes to download apps, add a contact to your phone or jump to a Web link such as Youtube or any other without having to write the link in your Android browser.


handyCalc Calculator – is by far one of the best calculator you can find on the Android Market and much better than the one that comes with your device. Do you need to perform complex mathematical equations or functions ? Well, you can do them all. My only complains is that the buttons are a little too small and sometimes they are not that easy to hit. Oh, one more thing, the app also has some other capabilities like currency and unit converter.


Evernote – is probably the best cloud-based app you can find to helps you remember things across all of the devices you use. Use it to take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.


mVideoPlayer – is what I personally use as a video player replacement for my Android-powered phone. It has a lot of useful and handy features and a nice and clean interface. Perfect if your watching movie on your phone or video podcast! It will play mkv, avi, mp4, m4v and 3gp files and will also add a subtitle track if there is one with the same name as the video file itself. One thing that I like quite the most is that mVideoPlayer remembers the moment you stopped watching a video file and also that you can gesture seek forwards and backwards while watching.


Titanium Backup – I like to try all sorts of Android ROMs. Cyanogen, MIUI, Darky’s rom, you name them. Well, all cool but every time I had to reinstall my apps which is quite annoying.. Well, thanks Titanium Backup, there is no need to do this anymore. You can use this app to backup system and paid apps as well as their associated data, plus all your non-market installed apps. So, for example, Inotia3 (the cool RPG game) saves the game progress in a system directory which you can’t backup when you decide to upgrade your firmware or try other ROM. Well, thanks to this app, you can backup the game + the associated data (Savegames) and restore everything back when you’re done. Drawbacks? Well, there is one: your phone must be rooted.


That’s all for now but I still have many other great apps in mind. If you’re interested, check back later please because I’ll update this article with them.

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Launcher Pro – a great alternative to your Android application launcher

I’ve been using Launcher Pro for the past few months and I have to say that I’ve never been this pleased with the smoothness of any other launcher.

What is Launcher Pro? Basically, an alternative to your Android application launcher which adds some exciting features to your device such as 3-D app launcher, super-smooth screen switching, a suite of Sense UI-like widgets, a scrolling dock at the bottom of the screen, and much much more.

 

Recent changes in the latest version (0.8.5):

For all users:

– Considerably reduced memory usage. Should reduce memory-related FCs.
– LauncherPro Plus Unlocker is now available on the Android Market.

For Plus users:

– New skinning support for LauncherPro widgets! Search and install skins from the market, then go to Preferences > LP Widget Settings, choose the widget that you want to apply the skin to, choose one of your installed skins, and restart LauncherPro.
– Fixed daylight savings time bugs in the Calendar widget.

Note: Launcher Pro Plus is the paid version of the launcher which adds some cool features.

If you’re interested, you can download this application from the Android Market by searching for ‘Launcher Pro’.

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