Saturday, October 26, 2013

My top (15) apps on Android

Sometimes I get asked, which apps I have installed on my smartphone or tablet and which of this I really use. Well, I have installed a lot of apps, I think most of the time around 100 on each of my devices and I use most of them at some degree. Apps I don't use at all getting uninstalled from time to time to clear up my devices. Of course, only a few of this getting used on a daily base and that is what I want to talk about now, the apps I use nearly every day.

Apps I use on a daily base


Well, of course. I am doing all my mail communication by Gmail and I do nearly all of it on my smartphone or tablet. so basically, this app is being used every day. The big benefit of it is that what I do on my smartphone, even writing a new mail, is also available on my tablet or PC. The same counts for my whole address book, all contacts I have on my Google account are available on each of my devices.


I use it for business and private appointments so this gets used a lot as well. Especially I like features like the reminding to start traveling when its time to. To use this you just need to put in the address of the meeting into the entries location field and you will automatically get reminded when you have to start. It also provides navigation from this reminder so you can directly start maps.
I am also using the lock-screen widget to get a short overview of what to come next and where I need to go to as the location is shown along with the title.


I listen a lot to pod-casts every day and this app allows me to set up my subscriptions and download them automatically by a plan that I can define. In my case that means the app downloads the current episodes at night only when its connected to WiFi.
What am I listening to?
Well, mostly tech news, most of it dealing with the mobile world or android, but also some regular news about politics and whats happening in the world and a little bit of comedy and game content. 
As I use it a lot when I am traveling I like to use the lock-screen widget of this app too to just control the current playlist.


I guess its not really needed to explain what WhatsApp is about but just in case you have never heard about ... WhatsApp is a messenger similar to SMS with a bit more features like sending pictures or voice messages. It works on your mobile data connection over the internet and does not cost money for sending messages like SMS usually does.


Similar to WhatsApp I use Hangouts for some basic text conversations.
Sometimes I also use it for some video-calls, but not that often.


Imagine Keep as some kind of sticky note like post-its (this mostly yellow little stickers you can put everywhere). That describes the main usage of Keep as well. Get something you want to not forget, make a Keep. The notes can be colorized differently, rearranged in order and also a reminder can be set to them.
The special thing about that is the reminder can be of two different types, one is the basic reminder on a specific date (day and time), the other is a reminder on location. That means you can set a memo for you self that will trigger next time you enter a specified location. It will work with just the location finding on cell-towers but GPS would be a bit more accurate of course. For me its working great even with just the cell-tower positioning. 
Oh and there is one more important thing about Keep. There is a lock-screen widget as well. Not only that it shows the notes taken, new notes can also be added without unlocking the phone.


Tasker is running always in the background and doing some tasks for me automatically like some of the following examples:
  • automatically switching on WiFi when I am at defined locations like at home
  • automatically turning ringtone and notification off when I am in a meeting (checking calender entries)
  • automatically turning my lock-screen off, but ONLY when my device is connected to my WiFi at home
  • automatically enable GPS when specified apps are launched (needs root access on the device for this one)
  • automatically turn up brightness when I want to watch/show pictures in my gallery and set it back to automatic once the gallery is closed again
  • ... and many more things Tasker assists me with
I might write more on this topic in another post at another time. ;-)


Currents is where I read news every day. Mostly its tech news I read there but also some other stuff. One of the benefits of Currents to me is that it has a very good appearance and usability. It also shows the full article and not only a preview and then you have to load the original article on a webpage (that's by the way the reason I don't use Flipboard, otherwise it would be a app I could like too).


When I want to download a webpage or some other articles or what ever, I use Pocket. This way the content will be available on all my devices (including PC) and it will be formatted in a very responsive way for showing on mobile devices. Also once it's downloaded you have it available on your device with out bothering your mobile connection or data-volume. There is also a plugin for the desktop Chrome browser to save webpages directly into Pocket. It also offers the option to synchronize your progress over several devices.


The Google+ app is great in my opinion. It works fast and easy, sharing with your selected circles is done at no effort as well as reading through the posts of different circles/topics/communities or all together. I think parts of it is also a personal preference but I really enjoy browsing through my Google+ streams. As part of the Google eco-system it also benefits from the linked content like pictures, posts on blogger and so on.

Google Play Music

My preferred music player is the basic Google PlayMusic. I uploaded lots of my music so I can stream it when I am in a WiFi network. I also can just select what I want to download on a new device and it will be made offline available for that device too. Playlists and ratings are all linked together over the different devices I use.


A fast browser with good functions and appearance. One of the major benefits is once again, the linking of content for several devices. This way I can access the favorites I took on my smartphone also on my tablet and PC or the other way around. The browser can handle several tabs and allows to switch between them just by a slide with the finger.

Reading Trainer

Some of you may know techniques like power reading. There are plenty of courses, trainings and seminars out there covering this topic. But what after this few hours of getting to know this techniques? Right, you need to practice to actually get better in it. 
This is where Reading Trainer comes in. The app offers lots of different techniques to enhance your reading speed and all of them are explained before each unit. The sessions are set up for a 10 min practice then a 30 min break before you can go on with the next session.
The app is designed to allow you to start with your reading training right away without any knowledge about power reading before, but I would suggest at least to read a book or some articles in the web about that topic before you get started.

Note L!st

A very comfortable text editor with folders and basic text formatting options. It does not store the documents online on any server and that's the main reason I came to this one. On the other side it allows to export/import all your notes including the folder structure to do a backup or transfer it to another device. With the resent version they also made the app available for other developers to create plugins and stuff like that. This feature must be enabled within the app explicit.


Right, lots of apps I was talking about require to enter some content at least at some degree by a keyboard. Most of you might not have thought about but for Android there are plenty of keyboards available to replace the build in one. All of them have pros and cons and lots of them even very different ways to write on them.
  • tipping to input, maybe even with 10 fingers
  • sliding to input
  • split the keyboard for tablet landscape mode
  • unlock the keyboard to float everywhere on the screen
  • change theme of the keyboard
  • ...

For me there are at the moment two keyboards very much head to head and I have not finally decided between this two yet. There are much more keyboards available so I just show my two current favorites.

All in all this is a large topic that will be covered in a separate post soon. 
Just so much being said, for me the fastest and most comfortable way to write on a screen-keyboard is to use some kind of sliding...

Google all around me

As you see I am using lots of Google apps. For me this has several reasons:
  • similar appearance
  • similar controls
  • linked content
  • they just work
  • linked over several devices (and even PC)
But there are some other apps too that I prefer over the Google product.


This are not all apps I use by far but a fair look into what I am using most. It also only shows what I am using now, means it is subject to change. Nearly every week I discover new or other apps, test some out for a while, might change to another app or go back to one I used before. This is always changing.

Also it just shows the apps I use because they fit best into my using scenarios and work for me but might not cover your scenarios the same way so just take them as a proposal and find what ever suits you best.

If you have a special app that you use every day, please let me know in the comments. Maybe I will find another app to play with that even might replace one I am using right now.

Some other apps I also use but not that often

Of course, there are a lot more apps I often use but not that often to list them within the daily usage area, but I wanted to list at least a few of them to show some examples of apps I use maybe once or twice a week, some maybe even less often:
  • Evernote (more notes to take and sync)
  • Maps / Navigation (just not that often but its my only car navigation)
  • Amazon (shopping)
  • PayPal (paying)
  • different camera apps (that's another story / post too)
  • ES File Explorer (file explorer)
  • Super Beam (file transfer on a direct WiFi connection)
  • Dropbox (file storage online)
  • TeamViewer (remote control/administrate my fathers PC)
  • Speedtest (check internet connection speed)
  • Talk (text to speech)
  • YouTube (videos streaming to TV)
  • Riptide GP2 (game)
  • Miseria (game)
  • Prime Guide (TV Guide)
  • Smart Remote (Remote control for my TV)
  • TuneIn Radio (internet radio)
  • Xing (social network)
  • Skype (messenger)
  • TeamSpeak (voice chat)
  • Steam (online game shopping portal with social network)
  • and even more ...