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My list of must-have Android apps

Ever since I ordered and got my Android Dev Phone 1 (a.k.a. ADP1), I have been taking it through various updates. The phone shipped with Android version 1.0 and upgraded to version 1.6. After 1.6, I opted to go for ROMs from CynaogenMod.

Each time, I upgrade my phone, I wipe off its data. This is because I took the upgrades as an opportunity to wipe off applications which I install, but do not use or use occasionally. But, following is the list of Android applications which I crave to install after each wipe off. These applications are my must-haves on my Android phone.

1. android-wifi-tether
A computer or PC/Laptop can be connected to a phone via USB, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to use the phone’s Internet connection – typically GPRS/EDGE/3G. This kind of connection sharing (with the phone) is called tethering. ADP1 does not ship with tethering capabilities. But thanks to the android-wifi-tether app which can be found here. Don’t go by the “Wifi” in the app’s name. It supports tethering through Bluetooth too. I have used tethering via Wifi, till I switched to CyanogenMod (see below). Once installed, it turns your phone into a Wi-Fi ad-hoc point! Think about it as a Wireless Access Point. Therefore, no hassle of downloading drivers to connect to it from a laptop.

Android Wifi Tether app for phone's Internet connection sharing via Wifi/Bluetooth

android-wifi-tether app for phone's Internet connection sharing via Wifi/Bluetooth


Features:

  • Tethering through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Access control based on MAC address. Notification, about connecting clients, on the phone’s notification bar – with sound.
  • 128-bit WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)

Pros:

  • Behaves as a Wi-Fi ad-hoc point. This means, typically, no configuration/driver hassles on a PC/Laptop.
  • MAC address based access control.
  • Lots of configuration options for Wi-Fi, like SSID, channel, IP range etc.

Cons:

  • Requires ROM update (a kernel update)
Go to Settings>Wireless controls and check Internet tethering. Works with CyanogenMod Android ROMs

Go to Settings>Wireless controls and check Internet tethering. Works with CyanogenMod Android ROMs

I no longer use android-wifi-tether – after flashing my phone with  CyanogenMod. With Cyanogen ROMs, the capability to tether via USB is built-in. USB tethering works both on Linux and Windows – I have it working on Fedora 12 Linux and Windows 7. android-wifi-tether works with the CyanogenMod (version 4.2.13, as of this wiring) without requiring the kernel update. But you will need to download and install the app from here. With android-wifi-tether and CyanogenMod, you may like to enjoy the flexibility of tethering through USB, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth! Though, I’m my happy self with USB tethering.

2. BlueRSS
Once I discovered this free RSS reader named BlueRSS, from the Android Market, I never felt the need to look for an alternative. Lots of features, yet fast and responsive. This is what sets this app apart, for my daily routine, to check out the tech world through RSS feeds. I’m using version 3.0.1 of BlueRSS, as of this writing.

BlueRSS: A fast and feature rich RSS reader for Android phones

BlueRSS: A fast and feature rich RSS reader for Android phones

Features:

  • Discover RSS feeds on Websites or using keywords
  • Exports feeds to OPML, opens GMail (or the default mail client) with the OPML file attached, to send.
  • Automatic background update
  • Ability to refresh all feeds as well as individual feeds
  • Add feed items to Favourites
  • Full screen mode

Pros:

  • Fast and responsive. Don’t remember if I ever had to “Force Close” it
  • Import from Google reader

Cons:

  • No feed categories
  • The feed item’s description/summary does not open in landscape mode.

3. Twidroid (free version)
This app does not require an introduction to Android users. It is undoubtedly the best Twitter client for Android. I started with using Twidroid as the Twitter client on my Android phone. I switched to numerous other Twitter apps to check out the alternatives. I tried Swift, Seesmic, Twidgit and TwitterRide (now called TweetsRide). But I kept coming back to Twidroid and have settled down to it. Twidroid is available from the Android Market and I’m using version 3.0.9.

Twidroid: The feature-rich Twitter client for Andorid

Twidroid: The feature-rich Twitter client for Andorid

Features

  • Supports Twitter lists and the new Retweet feature (or API) of Twitter
  • Ability to upload photos
  • Twitter Trends, Search and Favorites
  • Built it browser to open URLs
  • Options to choose a preferred URL shortening service and image upload service
  • Built-in profile browser with option to follow/unfollow
  • Autocomplete of Twitter usernames while Reply-ing or Direct Message
  • Share Tweets via Email, SMS and Bluetooth
  • Stores data on the SD card

Pros

  • Fast and responsive UI
  • One touch access to most functions like Reply, Direct Message and Retweet
  • New tweets notification, with the Tweets’ text, in the Notification bar of the phone.
  • Automatically shortens the URLs
  • Remembers the scroll position with an option to jump to the latest Tweet
  • Frequent new releases.

Cons

  • Features like widgets, video and multiple accounts available only in the Pro version

4. Nav4All
I have been living in New Delhi, India for 31 years. But Connaught Place a.k.a. CP is a place where I always lose my way to the destination and back home. Thanks to the large number of roundabouts. I recall driving for more than a hour in CP to figure out my way. That’s when I desperately started looking for a navigation app for my GPS capable Android phone. Nav4All is what I got and what I use. It works great for the Delhi roads. Nav4All is available in the Android Market and I’m using version 9.0.25. To be true, I haven’t used all its features. Yet following is the jot down of the features that I see on the application’s screen:

Nav4All: A simple and free app that works for turn-by-turn voice based navigation

Nav4All: A simple and free app that works for turn-by-turn voice based navigation

Features

  • A huge list of countries
  • Option of large number of voices (for turn-by-turn navigation)
  • Can pick addresses from the phone’s contacts
  • View route to destination with turn by turn textual instructions and on the map
  • Details like distance, driving speed and journey time
  • “Start follow me” feature to trace your current route
  • Alternate routes

Pros

  • Free
  • Precise, numbered, exit points on roundabouts
  • Works in New Delhi, India
  • Narrows down to the building name!

Cons

  • Bad user interface, looks like wireframes
  • Buggy with the hardware keyboard of ADP1
  • Address search asks for too many details
  • Not so good looking map

I haven’t been able to use the address search for Nav4All. It asks for too many details – upto the house number. The best way I use Nav4All is to record the destination coordinates – when I somehow reach the destination for the first time. On the contrary, Nav4All amazed me by telling the name of a client’s office building – located in the midest of a large number of houses.

Note that the Nav4All website hints that the app will remain free until 1st Jan 2010. But I have been using it for free, on my Android phone, till now. Hope it continues to remain free.

5. Car Mode
How many times it has happened, that, while driving you get a phone call. You, then, struggle to put the phone on the speaker phone mode. Car Mode is a nifty app which when clicked, places itself on the phone’s notification bar. Subsequently, it automatically enables the speaker phone for subsequent calls. Car Mode can be disabled by clicking on its icon on the notification bar. It can be downloaded from the Android Market. I’m using version 1.2.0 of this app.

Pros

  • A simple and free app which works!

Cons

  • It’s encourages to attend phone calls which driving 😉

That’s all folks. Five must have Android apps that I live with. Note that this list does not include the built-in apps – like GMail, Calendar, Contacts, etc – else GMail will Gmail Push (instant push E-mail) is my most used app. Will keep this blog post updated with any future must-have apps which I get used to.

Update (February 2, 2010): I said above that Nav4All may become paid, but the latest update is worse. Got an E-mail announcing that  Nav4All will be discontinued.  Following is the exact copy of the E-mail as sent by CEO of Nav4All:

Subject: Nav4All navigation shut down by Navteq

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 28-01-2010 16:30 GMT+1

Subject: Nav4All navigation shut down by Navteq

Letter to 27,625,631 Nav4All navigation customers

Dear Customers,

It is with the deepest regret that we hereby notify you that the
global navigation of Nav4All and the Tracking & Tracing will go
offline in 3 days. The reason for the same is that the data licence
agreement with Navteq (a 100% Nokia subsidiary) was not extended, in
a totally unexpected manner. It is not possible to implement data
from another supplier in our Nav4All systems within the short term.
The Nav4All navigation system was developed for Navteq data. Nav4All
has therefore been constrained to stop.

We greatly regret the fact that we have to suspend the operation of
our service. With your help, we have developed Nav4All into a global
product with 27.5 million users in 56 languages, in 5 years. This has
made Nav4All the largest navigation supplier. This large number of
users also has to do with the fact that Nav4All works on hundreds of
different mobile telephones of many makes such as Blackberry, Sony
Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola, Android, HTC, Nokia, LG, Iphone, Ipod
etc.

After 5 years of testing and market development, we witnessed rapid -
in fact, exponential - growth during the last two years. That growth
was reported in the licence reports to Navteq. In mid-December 2009,
the global coverage was extended to include the Philippines, Morocco
and Kenya.

Please contact the Nav4All support desk in case you have any
questions: www.nav4all.com/support. If there is any further
information from Nav4All concerning the subject of this letter, the
same will be published on our website: www.nav4all.com. For reasons
of privacy, Nav4All does not have the email addresses of all its
customers, and we therefore request you to forward this email to the
maximum extent possible, in order to ensure that everyone is
informed.

Kind Regards,

Hennie J.M. Groot Koerkamp (CEO)

Nav4All BV

Keizersgracht 62-64

1015 CS Amsterdam NL
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My list of must-have Android apps, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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Discussion

5 comments for “My list of must-have Android apps”

  1. Got a nexus one. From Bombay. Had a question regarding the wiring tether thing. .

    My phone doesn’t connect to adhoc wifi networks. I.e. the one created on my laptop so that I can use wifi on the phone. .
    Apparently no android device can do this?
    Well how does one manage it?

    And also…
    How does one buy paid apps in India?

    Posted by Ekalavya | February 13, 2010, 3:33 pm
  2. My phone doesn’t connect to adhoc wifi networks. I.e. the one created on my laptop so that I can use wifi on the phone. .
    Apparently no android device can do this?

    Refer to http://blog.joint.net/2009/07/connecting-android-phone-through-adhoc.html Note: this is not tried and tested by me 😉

    How does one buy paid apps in India?

    Hmm this indeed is an issue. I have been using only free apps.

    But most vendors, who have their apps on Android Market, also have it for download on their websites.

    You can pay, download and install the app, that you are interested in, using the web browser in Android.

    Note that, to install such non-Market apps, you will have to allow applications to install from unknown sources. In ADP1, this option can be found at Settings>Applications.

    Posted by Shekhar | February 15, 2010, 1:13 am
  3. thanks a lot shekhar. the info ws very useful. i ws just looking out fr such suggestions. thanks once again.
    prashant

    Posted by prashant | June 8, 2011, 8:14 pm
  4. Check out my app called Map Dood, it allows you to doodle on a google map and share it with people.

    Posted by Matt | June 30, 2011, 10:39 pm
  5. […] … and check Internet tethering. Works with CyanogenMod Android ROMs – Download Here […]

    Posted by Android Usb Tethering Driver Download | Android Driver Database | August 24, 2015, 5:00 pm

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