Great Apps That I Found and Use With My Droid Smartphone [Consumer]

by on November 20, 2011

in consumer

DROIDx or Droid X

I’ve now had my Motorola Droid X from Verizon Wireless for close to a year and half or so.  I love it.  And it being a Unix-based OS, on it’s own, it never needs rebooting.  On its own that is.  But it’s funny as you add apps, how the thing gets a bit flaky on you.  But as I’ve learned through the years, the more software you add to your computing platform, the more likely it is you will start to develope issues amongst competing drivers and what not.  It seems to be the name of the game.

Over the many months, I’ve tried, played and deleted many an app on the phone.

I tread wearily when I tried apps so I can avoid some of the horror stories I’ve seen, IE:  bricking the phone, etc..  Treading carefully means means that when I hit up the Droid App Store, (the Market), I look carefully at the reviews.  A lot of reviews are not from the greatest minds on the planet, so I weigh them out and ponder the sources, but if I see a pattern of issues from multiple reviews, I tend to go on my merry way and ignore the app.  Of course, there are those apps that come from outside the Market, but I only install those apps from trusted sources, or huge name companies, etc..  Organizations that I have had good dealings with.

But even large name orgs sometimes have problems, as, you will see.

So below is the ‘Consumer Bits List of Apps,’ grouped in bins of how the testing experience has gone so far!  Check it out… see if we agree or there are other apps you’ve had issues with on your phone that I don’t list here!

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Apps With Kudos

These are that apps I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate on my Droid.  These apps don’t overtly crash anything, don’t leave me hanging with a stuck phone, tend to work 100% of the time and pretty much deliver the content/product or result I fully expect from them.

“Amazon Kindle”

It’s Kindle software from WhisperSync.  I don’t know what I would do without it.  Because of the Kindle software on my Droid, I may look like I’m a phone addict, but in reality, I’m constantly reading something.  Of late, I polished off The Hunger Games and Chaos Walking book trilogies.  Now I’m on to a Michael Chricton novel, called Prey.

Used every day.

“Brightness Level”

Brightness Level, from CurveFish is simple and incredibly useful.  What it allows you to do is when you pull it up, you can set how bright or dim your phone screen is.  If you’re indoors, you can always pull up Brightness Level and set the output to 0%.  Or anywhere in increments of 25%.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a fantastic battery saver.  And makes accessing the illumination/brightness function superbly simple.

Used every day, almost hourly.

“ColorNote”

This little app, from the developer called Notes, is just that… a scratch pad where you can write out reminders or notes.  I don’t need to use it a lot, but when I do, it’s invaluable.

Used infrequently.

“Fandango”

Though this seems obvious, I don’t use the Fandango app to buy movie tickets.  I’m still not at that stage where I can feel comfortable trusting my life to my phone.  But what I can do with this app is look up movie times around me.  And it’s a superb shortcut for doing just that…. as you can check out listings by what’s near my location, what is in what theater, or by what movie and where it is playing.

I use this app weekly.

“Gmail”

The Gmail app has most of the functionality of the web interface… sure, it has app limitations, but for the most part it’s an awesome tool that doesn’t change up too much on you, like say the Facebook App does.  The Gmail app delivers your expected product, your email, as expected.  It’s well put together.

I use this app daily.

“HootSuite”

If you use HootSuite on the web from a computer, this is pretty close to that app.  The only difference between them that I don’t like is that the phone app doesn’t handle spam messages quite the same way.  Yes, I go to town marking spam messages.  When you mark a spam message in the web interface, you account gets marked for spam and blocked from your feed.  In the phone app, that seems to be two different actions that are needed by the user.

I use this app daily.

“IMDb”

It’s the app version of the online movie database.  It has about 50 to 75% of the functionality of the web interface.  It’s good enough for what I do with it on my phone, which is usually verify names or episodes.

I use this app semi-daily.

“Pace Calculator”

It does just that for the running minded athlete…  give it your distance and time and poof, a super quick pace calculator, just as the name implies.

“RealCalc”

From Quartic Software, for the nerdy at heart, this is an awesome calculator… and it simulates a real scientific calculator.  And before you ask, YES, you can set it up to work in RPN mode!  That is so sweet!  For the uninitiated, RPN means Reverse Polish Notation and is a different way to enter calculations and how the calculator stores numbers in the equation process also.

“ShopSavvy”

From Ebay Mobile, this is an awesome bar code scanner.  Take it with you shopping or heck, cruise your house looking for bar codes to scan, and watch it do its thing.  It’s impressive because if the barcode has the right info, you can see if your item is cheaper somewhere else than where you bought it, or if you’re on the road, it’s good if you’re looking at something you REALLY want…  but a quick barcode scan can tell you if you’re going to get ripped off or if you’re looking at a reasonable deal.

“TeslaLED”

This is a flashlight mode app for your Droid, from TeslaCoil Software.  It’s pretty handy for those moments you might need a light and the interface is super easy to figure out… seriously.  It uses your flash as a flashlight and it even has a strobe and morse code mode, for those so inclined.  It’s a great, bright light source!

“TV Guide”

This app comes from TV Guide.  I have not had a perfect experience with it, but for what it is, and that’s the smartphone version of the TV Guide listings online, it’s fine.  Every now and then, it needs a kick in the pants and once, after one of their updates, I had to uninstall it and reinstall it.  And the masses that were complaining or asking for help to this particular dilemma where the data wasn’t updated, were left to their own devices.  I think for this instance, I was one of the first to figure out the fix and spread the work, but the sad part was that though the issue went on for several hours, no one from the app source ever stepped up to with any feedback.

This experience led me to this next app, which I’m very glad it did, because this has become my go-to app….

“TVListings”

From maker TV24, this might take a tiny bit of getting used to, but if you can, it’s pretty awesome.  When you pull up the app, it shows you what is on, right now,  but the display is sorted by channel.  And in that channel, is the next three programs scheduled on that channel!  Each channel channel is like that.  And unlike TV Guide, you can go backwards if you want to see something about something that was on before that.

You can look at all listings, sports or movies.  When you pull up movies, it will show you what’s playing, with a status bar showing how much of the movie has played.  It’s pretty cool.

It took a wee bit of getting used to, but thanks to the TV Guide app, I found this one and it’s neat. I like this one better,  I can pull up a show and see what’s next, what was on before it and so forth.

It has a limited number of channels, IE:  no pay channels, but I’m OK with that.  It’s also much easier to read than the tiny-fonted TV Guide App.



“Wifi Analyzer”

From FarProc…  this does exactly what it says…. if you’re trying to figure out signal strength, this app has a few modes that are rather interesting…  I don’t use this that much, but it doesn’t crash on me when I do.

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Consumer news, Consumer alerts and a Consumer's opinion

Disappointments, But Still Use

“CardioTrainer”

From WorkSmart Labs, this app taps into your GPS and tracks your runs, bikes, walks or whatever.  It’s neat to have if it’s all you have.  BUT.

The GPS on our phones (or maybe it’s this app) is not as accurate as I’d like it to be… the differences in what the app/phone says versus real distance is surprisingly bigger than I’d expect from a civilian app.  After a 14 mile ride, it reported an incorrect 13.5 mile distance.  I didn’t think that was that big of a deal, but my show stopper for me was when I was using the “post to facebook” mode recently, for when my run or bike ride is done.

A new feature that came with one of the app updates was that as it posted my time/pace to my facebook account, it posted an ad on Facebook in my post!!!  That pissed me off and I stopped using it for that and I’ve relegated it to an emergency app only, when my Garmin dies or something!

“Facebook”

This app does the basics of Facebook, and is from Facebook.  It’s mostly OK but it’s a wee bit different than the web interface so it’s a whole new world to figure out and more often than not, me or my wife seem to be making some grumble about it.

Sure, it’s great for check ins… though some months back when I tried to check in to Facebook itself (I was outside their offices), it took a crapper.  How poetic is that?

And it’s fun for super quick updates.  Plus, since I never type any more, I use the speech recognition mode of my Droid to do most of my updates to FB and/or Gmail….  so there’s that.

BUT I am getting tired of being told by this crap app that I have messages.  Messages that I had already read or acknowledged multiple times in the app.  It’s stupid on some levels, that’s for sure, but it’s our Facebook app.  And as we all know, users are second in mind when things are created by the FB gang.

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Potentials But Haven’t Tested Thoroughly Yet:

These three apps look like they have potential, but I’ve never tried them extensively.  If you remember that you’re carrying a AAA card, you can look up places that give you discounts.  If you’re looking for AAA approved hotels, you can find them.  I haven’t even tinkered with the TripTik yet.  But in theory, they do look promising.

“AAA Discounts”

“AAA Roadside”

“AAA TripTik”

Warning:  Don’t let things update automatically… because they update at the worse times sometimes!!!

I’ve set all my apps to manual updates.  For one, Google Maps has messed me up on more than one occasion.  When it updates, it uses resources and suddenly you’re out of apps for several minutes while it does it’s automatic thing.  One of those updates took place during the worse time possible and I couldn’t even make a call for about a minute.

So I take the time and check for updates and do manual updates when I’m at home, watching TV or what not.

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