Since upgrading to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, I’ve been working out which Android apps can make a real difference to me on the road.
Here is my list of great Android apps, and the reason why I like them:
Lookout is just fantastic. A combined virus checker, cloud backup and phone locator, Lookout is the only solution you need to install to provide security and peace of mind.
Lookout will check any installed applications to see if they harbour anything nasty, and test new installations on-the-fly after they’ve downloaded from the Marketplace. It also backs up your entire phone - contacts, pictures and even calls - so that if you replace it, you’re only a click away from a full restore.
The standout feature is the locator, which will not only find your phone (assuming it can get a GPS fix), but allows you to make the phone ‘scream’ very loudly to help you or others locate it.
Advanced Task Killer
Probably the first app many Android users install, this helps you to keep the apps that are running in the background to just those that are required, saving memory and extending battery life.
Just like the iDevice equivalent, Bump allows you to share your contact details, photos, phonebook entries and even apps by just bumping the phone with another Android user.
The Android version doesn’t have the features of the iDevice edition, such as the ‘compare contacts’ or Facebook Friend options, but it is still the easiest way to swap information.
Everyone knows I love Dropbox, and the Android mobile app has finally launched. Now I can enjoy my documents, videos, pictures and other Dropbox contents on the go. On the Android version, you can take a picture directly into a Dropbox folder where others - who you may have shared that folder with - can grab the contents instantly.
Google’s Goggles and Sky Map apps
Goggles is good fun - it allows you to take a picture of an object, such as a DVD, CD, book or film poster, and see instant Google search results. The results include comparison shopping details so you can buy the product at the best price.
Sky Map helps me to satisfy my astronomy fix. Move the phone around, and it will show you what celestial objects you’re looking at in the sky. It isn’t an augmented reality app since the camera doesn’t show what you’re looking at, but it does do a good job of panning across the sky to show what is there.
This app allows you to set a sleep time on your phone, and then decide what services should be switched off during that time. For example, you can have it automatically turn off your Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth between midnight and 6am.
Sweet Dreams can also ‘wake up’ your device and those services should you either move the phone, make a loud noise or even take it out of a predefined area.
Finally, Share QR isn’t really an app. It installs a new option in the Share menu of your browser so that you can create an on-screen QR Code from any URL. This then means that anyone with a QR Code scanner, such as the Barcode Scanner app on Android or any of the various QR Code readers on Blackberry, iDevice or Java phones (like Beetag etc.) can read the code from your screen and immediately visit the same URL.
Great for sharing without having to get email addresses etc. when the person you want to share with is with you.