Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Favorite Android Apps

I was late to the game, but I finally got a 3G Smart Phone just over a month ago. It's not an iPhone. Mine uses Google's Android operating system. It's a My Touch from T-Mobile, but any Android phone can use these apps.

I've been trying out a lot of apps and quite frankly, I've been blown away by how many things my "phone" can do. I put "phone" in quotes because actually being a phone is a minuscule fraction of what this thing does.

Because the Android operating system was developed by Google, my phone is seamlessly integrated with Google Maps. Using the Navigation Launcher app, I can search for an address with either text or voice, hit "Navigate", and my phone will give me turn by turn voice directions to my destination. It will display my progress on a Google Map that includes a satellite overlay. At each turn, the map zooms in so you can clearly see where you should turn. As you approach your destination, it zooms in to the Google Street View so you can actually see your destination. I saved my home location and named it "Android, take me home." So wherever I find myself, anywhere in the world, I can tap the speaker and say "Android, take me home" and it will plot a route and guide me there. Pretty fucking cool.

To conveniently use the GPS Navigator, I bought a suction cup windshield mount to hold my phone. I quickly realized that by judiciously positioning my phone's mount, I could use the video camera in the phone as a dashcam. By touching the screen, I can start recording up to 30 minutes worth of video. It's like a black box that records my drive. I can even provide a voice-over explaining what's going on.

After I've finished recording, I can immediately share my video on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or any number of other sites, directly from my phone.

This app uses your phone's camera and Google's engine to search and match images. For instance, say you are on the Plaza and see a fountain or sculpture and wonder who created it. Take a picture of it with Google Goggles and it will search the Internet for a match and display the results Somewhat frighteningly, this same technology could also someday do the same thing with people's faces. Take a picture of a stranger and you might be able to find out who they are, where they live and what their credit rating is.

My work blocks Twitter and Facebook so I can't access them from my my employer's network. But I can access them from my phone even when I'm in a training class or meeting.

This app ascertains my location via GPS, accesses local traffic conditions within a default (but configurable) 10 mile radius, and displays in real time any slow traffic, accidents or road construction. I never have to get stuck in a traffic jam again.

Much like US Traffic, this app determines my location via GPS, then displays a real-time radar map of surrounding weather conditions and alerts. I don't need Katie Horner. I have a phone.

It's just what it sounds like. It uses the phone's camera to scan barcodes and QR codes. It searches the web for info and displays the results.

I can watch youtube videos on my phone. 'Nuff said.

Is that picture crooked? Use the Bubble Level app to find out. It looks and functions exactly like a bubble app and it's accurate. Would you normally carry a bubble level around with you? Probably not. But if it doesn't take up any space, weigh anything or cost anything? Why the hell not?

Astronomically challenged? Not sure if that is Venus, Mars, Jupiter or a star? Point your phone at what you are looking at and Sky Map will overlay it with astronomical data and constellation diagrams.

Do you have a little card on your key ring with a barcode from your grocery store, video rental store or library? You can scan that shit into your phone. Next time you want to rent a movie at Blockbuster, they can scan the screen of your phone.

This is a simple list app. But using the Android's awesome speech-to-text capabilities, I can just walk through the house saying "toilet paper", "milk", "laundry detergent", "Huge, MAGNUM Sized, Ribbed Condoms with Extra Large Reservoir Tips" and the List Master app will create a shopping list for me.

Just what it sounds like. It uses the phone's compass as a metal detector. It might not be sensitive enough to detect buried pirate treasure 30 feet underground, but I have successfully used it as a stud finder by locating the nail heads in the studs in my garage.

This app shows you what movies are playing at which theaters and at what times within 25 miles of your location. You can even watch trailers and buy your tickets online over the phone.

Haven't really tried this one yet, but I understand the concept. You are in a store and you see something you want to buy. Using your phone's camera or barcode scanner, this app will search for manufacturer coupons or comparative pricing from retailers close to your GPS location. That's pretty fucking cool.

There are a lot of other fun apps like Star Wars Light Sabers, Star Trek Tricorders (that actually use the sensors and instruments in your phone to do real shit), Magic 8 Balls and fart soundboards.

All in all, it's a pretty amazing and futuristic piece of technology to be carrying around with you wherever you go.

Now, if they could just put all of that shit in a brain implant that displays the data on my retinas like a heads up display, I'd be in heaven.


sjwaters said...

Fabulous list. I have many of those, but will need to check out the list and radar ones. Thanks!

A Librarian said...

We have clearly created a monster by encouraging you to upgrade your phone. Do you need an intervention? Hmmm....