Here are some handy, useful, essential, life-saving apps which I use nearly every day.
Common to them all is their high quality and utility. I tend to be untolerating towards apps which suck and uninstall them very quickly… (Case in point: the latest Google Music update. Slow, ugly, inconsistent UI, permissions to do just about anything (it’s just a damn music player, or at least should be!) – it didn’t stay many minutes in my phone.)
So check these out, they are free and have no ads. For some apps it’s possible to donate money.
Reading the news
Pulse News is my newsfeed reader. I tried Feedly too, but I liked this one better. The UI is good, you can star interesting articles and access them at pulse.me later.
The only thing missing is easy exporting of the feeds – all “cloud enabled” apps should have the possibility to export data locally. We don’t want lock-in, now do we?
(You can get an account from Read It Later and kind of export through that, though.)
Keeping track of my books
These are actually two different apps which work well together. Load up the Book Catalogue and beep the EAN codes of the books from your bookshelf with the Barcode Scanner – it’s surprisingly fast – the app looks up information about your book and stores it.
If you loan books, just mark them as loaned. No more wondering 8 months afterwards “where the hell is that book”.
The best parts? It just works very well, and, it’s not tied to some cloud service! You can connect it to LibraryThing if you want, but you don’t need to. Your library can be exported to mass storage, so you can access your library on your computer or other devices too. Awesome!
For the Book Catalogue, none really… A wishlist item could be more diverse list/bookshelf viewing possibilities.
For the Barcode Scanner, the only thing I’ve found out so far is that the Barcode Scanner does not understand GS1 DataBar Stacked Omnidirectional barcodes. And so what? Scanning an apple from Chile didn’t work, not exactly a major issue :)
The best app I’ve found is ColorNote.
Works perfectly well, supports checklists (for e.g. shopping lists), you can set reminders, a note can be chosen with a widget. No ads, no cloud service required. Local backup possibility (password protected, too)!
Sometimes on the go you need a calculator, not just a regular four-function one, but a real scientific calculator.
My choice is RealCalc. It’s free, but if you want, you can donate by buying the version which has a price. Even so, the free version has no ads or nags.
It’s like having my trusted Casio with me, in my phone. (And it might not sound like much, but it is actually very high praise)
This app is perfect in making commuting just whizz by. It’s basically a front-end to TED, where you can find a lot of short videoed speeches about many different subjects. The talks are to-the-point and given by experts in their field. No matter what you’re interested in, you’ll find something to watch.
Sometimes it can be even more interesting to watch something you have absolutely no interest in beforehand.
You can browse talks also by tags, speakers and themes. The best feature to me is the ability to download the videos to your device. Then you can watch it even without network coverage – no need to stream it. Pro tip: connect your device at home with WLAN, download the videos you’re going to watch the next day.
For the current weather, just look out the window. For a prediction of the weather, try Aix Weather. No ads, free app, but like RealCalc you can donate by buying a priced version.
Aix Weather is a widget that draws the (predicted) temperature curve along with rainfall and a symbol of cloudy, sunny, etc. You can set multiple locations and have more instances of the widget at the same time. Handy if you move a lot between two different places.
The weather data comes from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute so the accuracy is probably better inside Europe than outside of Europe. But try it.
RFID tags snooping
The Nexus S phone which I have can read RFID tags with the NFC APIs and hardware. The bundled Tags app from the Big Brother is quite simplistic, and a bit more geekier choice is NFC TagInfo by the good folks from NFC Research Lab at Hagenberg, Austria.