I say “lists” because I find I have different needs at different times. This depends on if I’m using my Android devices for work or play.
Essential apps for “play”
Social Network / Chat Apps
It goes without saying, Facebook is one of the required apps by “most” people these days. There are many Facebook apps to pick from in the Android Market, but the one I’ve stuck with is Facebook for Android. This app has been updated quite a bit since the first version I’d seen 2 years ago when I first got my Samsung Galaxy S (I-9000). The latest versions of the application include access to pretty much every feature on Facebook now, including Facebook Chat.
That brings me the next app, Trillian (by Cerulean Studios, LLC). I’ve been using Trillian off and on pretty much since it came out, must be the best part of 10 years now. This is a great mutli-IM platform with lots of features (a few drawbacks too, but what “all-in-one” tool doesn’t have it’s drawbacks). When Trillian came out for Android I jumped on it right away. Some of the features of Trillian that I find useful are the I can now share my chat history between all my devices (Android, PC, Web). You can debate with yourself if storing your chat history either locally or in the cloud is a good or bad thing. I’ve been down that road and have found that in general having my chat history has been a good thing. Searching for shared URL’s or other info has been a time savings for me.
Twitter (<- click to get to my twitter ID) is another social network I frequently use. For this I choose to use Tweetdeck. I also use Tweetdeck on the PC so this works very well when I’m also using it on my Android devices. My preferences are stored and shared with my various devices that use the app, also making things convenient, just sign in and you’re good to go.
The final chat application Pingchat, is a mobile device only application, but it’s cross platform, making it quite useful. This app should save you loads over using SMS to communicate with your friends, especially International friends. It works very much like RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger, but it’s not limited to only one platform. You can send messages, pictures, videos, voice messages, etc. It’s very similar to another application called WhatsApp Messenger, I also use this, but not as much as Pingchat.
The Kindle app from Amazon is a very nicely done application for reading. However, from my personal experience reading on a phone or even an a tablet isn’t nearly as good as using a real Kindle Device. The screens are just not as nice to read from as that which is offered by the E-Ink technology used by Kindle. However, it’s still a very good and simple application to use an easy to browse the Kindle Bookstore and purchase new books for immediate delivery to your device.
The Dropbox app is another must have if you want easy document access between devices. I have been a long time user of JungleDisk, and even though they have decided to completely abandon Android users, but they have got a iPhone/iPad version available and I would still recommend it for PC and the Apple devices, it really is worth the small price. Anyhow, since i don’t have JungleDisk for Android I’ve been forced to use Dropbox (<- click for my affiliate link, it’ll get you some extra space when you sign up). I have to stay that Dropbox does work very well but the cost of space beyond the free space is more expensive then Amazon S3 Storage, which JungleDisk uses.
Quickoffice Pro is my mobile Office application of choice. It provides all the usual tools for creating, editing, viewing Microsoft Office documents. It supports Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF’s. When it comes to documents you can use local documents stored on your device (Android, iPhone/iPad) or stored in various cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Docs, Box.net, etc.
Titanium Backup Pro is a fantastic application but it will only worked on rooted devices, which is something I think most people will do to their Android devices, it makes them more usable (in my Opinion). This application will also allow you to remove some of the bloatware that comes on some Android devices. You can not only back up to your local storage on the device but also to Dropbox for all it’s cloudy goodness.
Tasker is a full automation application for your Android device. Think CRON for unix, but inject Schwarzenegger levels of steroids into it. Some of the automation I use on my phone include, keeping my GPS turned off at all times but Tasker will turn it on when I start an application that needs it, then switches it off again when I exit the app. When my phone connects to my home Wifi network it will switch off Bluetooth and force GPS off since I don’t need at home, also, while at home, between 11pm and 7am if the device is plugged in it will silence the phone so I’m not annoyed at night. The possibilities are just about endless for this app, and it’s worth every penny.
There are so many games available it’s really hard to list the ones I’ve played and liked, but I suppose a short list would have to be:
Angry Birds. There are different versions and personally, I think they should all be downloaded and played
Airport Mania (Free) – You get to control the process of incoming and outgoing air planes. It’s not as simple as landing them and taking them off though, you need to get to them to the terminals, get them fuelled up, cargo loaded, washed if their dirty and repaired if they need maintenance. I’m considering buying the paid for version as I’ve completed the free version, it really was quite addictive.
Jewellust is another must have game. Spring for the paid for version, you won’t be disappointed. The kids also love playing this game.
Essential apps for “work” (or geeks)
These are a few apps that I feel are a must off for work or just geeking about on the Internet
ConnectBot is a must for SSH. It not only supports SSH Keys but also port tunnelling. This is very useful to get access to internal destinations on a network that allows you to SSH into.
LogMeIn Ignition isn’t a cheap app, and it’s about the only thing people complain the most about, the price. But, if you have a load of machines setup to use LogMeIn you will not regret paying the price for the application. I have 5 or 6 PC’s configured with LogMeIn (Free) and I find this tool simply awesome. I can access my PC’s with the phone (or tablet) over pretty much any sort of connection and it just works. GPRS is a bit slow but it does work, which is impressive.
This is the best RDP/VNC client I’ve used on Android, it also supports VMWare View if your company uses this. I’ve not actually tried this function myself, but the VNC and RDP are very good, couple this with ConnectBot and you can tunnel your way into a network and access RDP over the SSH tunnels.
This is a great tool for doing Wifi surveys with, you will need an additional installed app to use it. Check out the screen shots of it on the Market, it really does a very nice job.
A few others I must also mention are:
Shark for Root – Wireshark network sniffer (also get Shark Reader to read the output on the Android Device)
Net Scan – Scan your local network for devices and open ports
Root Explorer (for rooted devices) – Poke through everything on your Android and mount areas Read/Write so you can modify system files – Danger Will Robinson, Danger
I hope you find this helpful, and I’d love to hear what apps you MUST have on your Android, and tell us why.