13 Apps any Android Owner Should Have

Welcome to the world of Android. Now that you have bought your new Android phone, you are probably wondering just what to do next.Well, as good as your phone may be, you cannot unlock the full potential of any Android device until you start adding some applications into the mix.

The good news is there are so many apps out there, you will be able to customize your Android phone in ways you would never believe. The bad news? There are a lot of just plain useless apps, and it can be a little hard to know just where to get started.

With that in mind, I figured it would be a good idea to put together a list of apps that would be useful for just about any Android user. While I do not claim this is a definitive list by any means, it is a good place to start, and many of these apps will improve your experience with your new phone many times over.

Oh, and the best part? Every app I am about to list is free.

So here is my list of apps any Android owner should have:

  1. Barcode Scanner: Seems like an odd place to start, doesn’t it. After all, why would I mention a barcode scanner in this article, and especially as the first item on a like this. Things is, Barcode Scanner is probably one of the most useful applications you can get for your Android phone. It turns your camera into a barcode scanner, something many other programs use extensively. It does one other major thing, however; it reads QR codes. What’s a QR code you ask? It is a 2D code used to lead people to websites when scanned by barcode readers. Sounds boring? Well, they serve their purpose. One of the handiest is people reviewing Android apps can use the QR codes to lead people straight to where to download the app from the market. Trust me; get this app.
  2. Toggle Settings: As much as I like the Android interface, there are some things that could use some real improvements. One of those improvements is the way you access the various phone settings. Turning Wi-Fi on and off, changing the brightness, activating GPS; to do any of these things, you have to jump through so many hoops it can drive you mad. That’s where Toggle Settings comes in.  This app gives you instant access to some of the most commonly changed settings, including Wi-Fi, GPS, Volume Control and screen brightness. It also comes with a task killer, something you will find invaluable as Android apps have a tendancy to run in the background even after you have exited them.
  3. Apps Organizer: One of the nice things about the Android Interface is you have three home screens to play around with. You can take any application and drop a shortcut on it, as well as adding Widgets, which allow for all sorts of little nifty tricks. The only problem is that if you clutter all of your screens with shortcuts and widgets, you will slow your phone’s interface down considerably. So how do you set up shortcuts to some of your most often used apps on your home page without slowing everything down? The answer is Apps Organizer. This app allows you to organize all of your applications into handy categories, including Internet, Multimedia and Games. Icons representing each of these categories are then placed on your homepage as shortcuts to those applications. You can also select certain apps as your favorites, allowing you to filter them in in your shortcuts. It allows you to find what you are looking for much more quickly without slowing your phone down.
  4. AppsManager: One of the downfalls of Android is currently you cannot run Apps off of your SD card without rooting the phone. While word is Google is working on a way to allow for that, many Android users are running out of space in their internal phone memory. AppsManager can help with that. The program allows you to back up almost all of the free Android Apps to your SD card and then uninstall the app from your phone. Why is that useful, you ask? It allows you to download an app you like but would not use often, back it up on your SD card and uninstall the app. Then, on the rare occasion you could actually use it, you can reinstall the app quickly from the card. Those using the G1 like myself will find this very useful.
  5. Handcent SMS: While there is nothing wrong with the basic Android SMS client, it can be a little plain. Thankfully, there are several replacements you can download. Of those replacements, Handcent SMS stands out as the best. Handcent is extremely customizable, tracks conversations better than the standard app, and allows you to set you text messages to pop up on the main screen with an instant reply feature. You can also change the color the LED light flashes when you get a text so you can distinguish it from emails or calls. Word of warning, though: if you install Handcent, make sure to disable the native message app’s alerts. Otherwise, you will end up with two alerts for each text message.
  6. Missed Call: Remember what I was just saying about changing the LED for your texts with Handcent? Missed Call lets you do the same thing with all kinds of services. I currently have incoming calls blinking white and missed calls blinking red, which allows me to tell at a glance what kind of alerts I have on my phone without unlocking it.
  7. Ringdroid: Ever wanted to turn your favorite tunes into ringtones? Ringdroid lets you do that from your Android phone itself. Just upload an MP3, open it in Ringdroid, and you will be given the ability to highlight and cut the part of the song you want to use. Never pay for a ringtone again.
  8. PdaNet: PdaNet allows you to turn your phone into a 3G modem via USB. To really make this program work, you need to download PdaNet for Android and the PdaNet Android App off your carrier’s marketplace. Once you set it up, all you will have to do is activate it on your phone and your computer, hook your phone up via USB, and you can surf the web on your computer. Do not be fooled by the fact PdaNet has a limited trial; you can still use it for most web surfing after the trial period has expired.
  9. KeepScreen: Getting tired of the screen timing out when trying to use the Google Maps navigation or reading a longer article online? You need KeepScreen. Keepscreen is a simple program that lets you override the default screen timeout of your phone when using specific programs. You can customize it to keep the screen from timing out for any application you have on the phone.
  10. Flyscreen: Flyscreen is unlike any other program I have used. It turns your lock screen into an RSS reader, giving you the chance to catch up with your favorite sites without even unlocking your phone. It even has built in connectivity with Facebook and Twitter; in fact, now that I have Flyscreen, I do not use Twidroid or the Android Facebook App. I can follow and reply to tweets or read and comment on my friend’s walls directly from Flyscreen. Each feed you set up is its own separate widget, and you can scroll back 10 feeds (more for Twitter or Facebook). Seriously, you need to give this App a try.
  11. ShopSavvy: ShapSavvy is a great app for those of us who tend to be price conscious shoppers. All you have to do is scan the barcode of any item, and ShopSavvy will give you the price of said item in other local stores and many online retailers. You can even create wish lists and add price alerts to help you get that elusive deal.
  12. Meridian: If you plan on carrying music or video on your Android phone, you need a good media player. Meridian is the best on the market. It allows you to browse your SD card for music and video, set up playlists and just generally get the most out of your multimedia content.
  13. TuneWiki: There are a lot of streaming music players available for Android, including Pandora, LastFM and Slacker Radio. If you are only going to get one app for streaming music, however, it should be TuneWiki. Not only does it have LastFM functionality built in, it connects to SHOUTcast radio, an enormous network of internet radio stations. You can also listen to your music on your phone, search YouTube for music videos and try to find songs by their lyrics. In a market that is overcrowded with different multimedia apps, TuneWiki really stands out.

And there you have it. These 13 Apps will help transform your Android phone into something so much more. I really feel like my G1 is at least 10 times the phone it was when I got it thanks to these and other apps I have downloaded, and I have not paid for a single app yet.

Eric Bouchard

I am the Senior Editor and current Admin for Everyday Gamers as well as the primary editor of the podcast. While I tend to gravitate towards shooters or RPGs, I will play any genre of game which catches my eye.

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