A Roundup of Geeky, Useful, and Fun Android Apps
Command Line, Social Media, Notes and Tasks
September 14, 2010
The huge number of apps available for Android is both a joy and something of a trial. Finding an app that does the thing you want can be something of a hit-and-miss experience. Here's a roundup of a few of the most useful ones.
Working on the command line
- ConnectBot is one of the classics for the Android-using geek: a very usable SSH client. It allows you to set a passphrase, works very smoothly with the soft keyboard, and even has good documentation.
- The ASTRO file manager fills a big hole in Android, allowing you to manage the files on your SD card, back up applications, send files as attachments, and work with compressed files. An excellent app that I wouldn't be without, although unfortunately the free version does have ads at the bottom.
Social media and the internet
- Twidroyd is a fully-featured Twitter app, with a handful more features (such as full list support and multiple accounts) if you choose to pay for them. It handles pretty much everything you could want from Twitter as an average single-account user, and does it smoothly and with plenty of configurability.
- NewsRob is an RSS reader which integrates fully with Google Reader (a must-have feature for a lot of folk). It syncs offline automatically, and deals well with folders.
- If you don't like the built-in mail app, an excellent IMAP/POP3 alternative is K9Mail. I prefer the interface, and can scan mail much faster.
- Read It Later allows you to mark webpages on your browser to read, well, later. The app Paperdroid then downloads marked pages to your phone for offline reading. Curiously, I couldn't get this to show up in the Market and had to download it from SlideMe, but once installed, it worked nicely (although at the moment it doesn't work with Google Reader). Unfortunately there's no browser plugin available for RIL in the normal browser; you'll need to install Dolphin Browser instead, or only mark pages on another device. Paperdroid does remember where you were reading from if you stop reading halfway through an article; even more impressively, it also syncs that information back to RIL so if you start reading on another device, you'll be in the right place.
Notes and tasks
- Far and away my favourite multi-platform notes app is Evernote. It syncs with the cloud (and from there with your desktop, iPad, laptop, or wherever else you have an Evernote app installed), simplifying the job of getting data back off the phone. The Android app isn't anywhere near as slick as the desktop or iPad apps, and it unfortunately can't handle rich text or offline use, but it does the job.
- NoteMe is great for taking brief notes, and also allows you to tag them, search them, and add reminders. It will export notes to a variety of other Android apps, including Evernote, K9Mail, Google Mail, Twidroyd, and can import from the SD card, although I couldn't find any way of exporting to the SD card. I prefer the 'new note' interface to the one in Evernote, so sometimes write in NoteMe and copy to Evernote for syncing.
- The well-known task manager Remember The Milk has a good Android interface. Again, it syncs with the cloud, so your to-do list can live on all your devices at once, depriving you forever of any excuse for forgetting things. Adding new to-dos with tags, location, deadlines, and a specified list to add them to is easy, and the interface for interacting with them after that is very slick. Unfortunately, you'll need the pay version to use it with Android.