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Favorite Android Apps June 18, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Technology.
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I moved from iOS to Android in December. I pulled a lot of my same apps from Apple iPod Touch to Samsung phone. But there were some things that are differently and needed Android-specific functions. I suppose this isn’t just a review of Android apps, but I am pretty sure some of them run better or have different functionality because of the different features on Google operating system (like flash support).

So what are my top favorite apps I go to on a regular basis? What I need on my phone are apps that I can use and make my life easier. I have not figured out how to incorporate Evernote and other all-encompassing productivity apps like it into my work flow. But have lots of apps that have unique and valuable features, all available in the Google Play Store. I am not going to bother to cover the core Google Apps. And I am use going to list them as I see or think about them, not in any particular order.

playerpro PlayerPro – This is a great audio player. It costs $4.95 and I don’t like paying for things I don’t have to! It is worth the money. It has all the features I was looking for. It an equalizer, though I don’t use it much. It has a Sleep Timer, which I use all the time. it can be setup to appear on the locked home screen and/or in the notification bar (or not). Many different skins are available (though I just use the default). It handles playlist and allows creation/modification very easily. And it auto-creation recently played and recently added which I find helpful. The one small feature I would like them to add some timer indicator once you start the sleep timer. It also does not do a great job with videos, but I stick it audio use and love it. It could also use a x2 playback mode, but I don’t miss it too much.

airsync Air Sync for Double Twist – Coming from iOS which I used with my MacBook and iTunes, I needed something that would automate getting my files to my device. After a few syncing issues, I have been using this app with very little effort. Once configured, it just works (as long as the DoubleTwist app is running on my laptop). It is a little annoying that it needs to have the screen active during the sync and doesn’t know what to do when I accidentally hit the screen shutoff button during a sync, but very minor issue. It automatically pulls all my smart playlists from iTunes and transfers the selected ones to my phone. It works well and have only had one or two videos that would not transcode correctly. The other thing that is disappointing is that it will not (yet) sync play count back to iTunes. They say it is coming, but I am not sure it would work if I am using PlayerPro rather than the DoubleTwist audio player anyway. It costs $4.99 and is worth every penny not to have to plug my phone into my computer (ever)!

sdrescan The next app was not something I knew I would need when I moved to Android. I knew for months I would need DoubleTwist. But after a few syncs and not seeing my content, I did some research online. It turns out that the Android OS did not know I was adding content through the Sync. So, the amazing problem solvers of the web created apps like SDrescan. It has a simple function to just check my SD card for content and reindex it for the OS and it only takes a couple of seconds on a 64 GB (half full) card. Simply and it works. Free. The only drawback is that you have to hit a button to close the app when it is done its work, but it is also nice to know when it was done.

tasker The one big thing I did like about iOS and Apple in general is how locked down they are. I get they are trying to protect the average user, but for people who want to take control of their devices, Android is the place to be. And the app that truly takes that responsibility is Tasker. Tasker runs in the background and makes your device do what you say when you want it – without having to do anything! Once you configure your phone to do something when something happens, it just does it. For example, this is what I use it for:
a) At 10pm, put all external sound to quiet.
b) When connected to my home network, turn off Mobile data.
c) When I leave my home network, turn mobile data and bluetooth back on and turn off wi-fi.
d) I have run SDrescan every morning so I know anything came to my phone via AirSync will show up.
It costs $2.99, but it makes phone automation very handy and easy.

rr3 The absolute Best Car Racing Game – and it is free – has to be Real Racing 3. It has incredible graphics and life-like physics. It provides different camera angles and all of them make you fee like you are there. Simply amazing. They have tons of actual car models that you buy for game money that you earn from each race. You also have to fix your car based on the damage you have done during the races. Race clean and have less repairs. It has multiplayer but it is only in time-shifted against Facebook friends or other random users. I wish you could connect over wi-fi or bluetooth and race friends, but that is the only gripe. I can not understand how this one is free.
Update: At the beginning of July, EA overhauled this game interface. The game play itself did not change, nor did existing progress in the game. But requirements around repairing vehicles has been simplified and a set of time trial races have been added to each race series – which has the effect of lowering progress percent across all series temporarily. I like this new race mode since it gives a better sense how you compare as a driver across the world.

So, that is my top 5. I use others and when I get to it, I will definitely do another post, but I have been meaning to get this one out, so I hope people read and enjoy.

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