For the last few years I’ve happily rocked my iPhone, which I moved to after several years of (mostly unsuccessfully) syncing my Blackberry to my Mac laptops. Getting an iPhone felt like a step up, a move toward better connectivity. Mac people were cool, trendy, and interested in what their machines did as well as how they did it … right? I remembered that from playing with Macs years ago, when they were still low-resolution cubes squatting heavily on the desk, and as they evolved into sleek portable computers with super-fast processors and hipster advertising.
Over the years Mac has become the company for the plug-n-play crowd. Buy expensive piece of tech, plug other expensive piece of tech into it, and you don’t have to have any idea how it all works together. But hey! It does! And that’s all that matters! To some people, sure, but to me it feels as if tech has been dumbed down and made shiny. I got to know it as best I could, installing apps and configuring settings. Just as I eventually moved to Linux-based desktop computing, the end I decided I have to find a better fit for my mobile needs.
For me, the next great mobile OS is Android. Because it’s open-source, more developers can work with it, improve it, and use it on devices from a variety of manufacturers. I’ve got it on a Nexus 7 tablet that I use for social networking, checking email, reading ebooks, surfing the Internet, and even writing prep. When my phone contract is up in a few months I intend to switch to an Android phone as well.
The Android apps I used the most are …
Aldiko: A customizable ebook reader that includes all of the basic functions: a night-time reading mode, dictionary, search, the ability to bookmark passages, tag books, organize them into collections, and make notes while you’re reading. Supports PDF, Epub and ACSM files (which means you can read DRM-locked Adobe Epub files). Note: in some cases Aldiko will strip the formatting from a book, meaning you won’t see italics, for example. There are other readers which won’t do this, and I like Mantano Ebook Reader quite a bit, but the free version is ad supported, and the ad-free version is $6.99.
Astrid Tasks & To Do List: An easy way to create to do lists, set deadlines for yourself, and even share your lists with friends. Why tackle that pile of tasks alone?
Camera Launcher for Nexus 7: adds the ability to take pictures to your tablet – only useful if you have the Nexus 7 but very important if you do.
Chrome: This is the mobile version of the Chrome web browser. My favorite thing about Chrome is that it automatically syncs your bookmarks across devices, so you won’t have to remember a lengthy url.
Dropbox: I can save copies of my ebooks to a Dropbox folder from anywhere and then download the books to my tablet in an instant. Also useful for storing pdf copies of your work-in-progress so you can read over it whenever you want. Bonus: adding the Android version of the software gives you a little extra space at Dropbox.com.
Evernote: Since I can have it on all of my devices and via the Web, it’s the perfect tool for keeping track of random story ideas and useful bits of research. Whenever I’m ready to write, wherever I am, I can get those notes back.
Facebook Messenger: Because it updates instantly and can notify the recipient of a message, it’s essentially a free Internet-based text messaging system. As long as the other person has Messenger on their phone or mobile device too, you can talk back and forth without using up your phone’s texts. Bonus: You can now sign up without a Facebook account, just a phone number.
File Manager HD: Search, share files, compress, decompress, edit text and images, and more. Makes your mobile device a lot more like a handheld computer. This is the tablet version; you can find the phone version here. Note: the free versions are ad supported but it’s not intrusive, and the ad-free version is available for a small fee.
Goodreads: Having access to my Goodreads account via a mobile device makes it much easier for me to consistently update, and I can keep better track of my reading habits.
Pocket: This lets you save articles, videos, and more, so that you can view them when you’re no longer attached to an Internet connection.
Podkicker Podcast Player: Stream or download podcasts; you can also search their database to find new podcasts and get recommendations based on your current subscriptions.
Tumblr: It took much longer than expected but the Tumblr app for Android is finally available. If you use Tumblr you’re going to want the mobile app that goes with it. This isn’t too different from the iOS version or viewing Tumblr through the web.
WordPress: This version of the WordPress dashboard is clean and simple to navigate. Supports both WordPress.com and WordPress hosted blogs.
The links all go to the Google Play store so if you view this list on an Android device, you can download the apps right now.