This week saw me performing a factory reset on my device, so I viewed this as an opportunity for a good app clear out. Often I download apps purely because they’re ‘nice to have’ rather than because I’ll actually use them. I was, however, quite surprised to notice quite how many apps I had downloaded, and interested to note how many I do actually need and use.
This little selection of apps are those that have been particularly relevant to me this week. I probably won’t keep them all in weeks to come, but there’s a couple that are certainly a little underrated.
People might not know that, aside from writing about Android, I also write book reviews for a science fiction online magazine. The absolute best thing about this is often being sent books through the post to review. However, because they are usually from small independent publishers, it’s a little easier to send me ebooks than hard copies. Now, while I do prefer the smell of new paper and ink, I’ve been finding the Kindle Android app more and more useful.
Here’s an app that will remember where you left off in a novel – even if you remove the app, do a factory reset and start all over again. You can also add highlights and notes to certain passages of the story, which for me is great as I can annotate parts I need to include in my review. You also get different reading options: you can change the view to a more comfortable Sepia or Black (great for reading at night), as well as changing format and font size.
Then there is a slew of handy little features which, unless you use the app, you might not be aware of. The ‘Go To’ option lets you jump to various points in the story: places your made notes on, the table of contents or a set location. You can even share your progress via social networks and the like. All in all it’s far more intuitive and user-friendly than I ever thought an e-reader would be. I’m not quite ready to convert my library into digital copies just yet, but I’m more and more attracted to the idea of getting a dedicated Kindle device…
Kindle lets you highlight, add notes and picks up where you lift off.
One of the apps that I was quick to download again after the reset was ADW Flat Theme. A friend on Google+ recommended it recently and I really like the icons that come with it. While I quite like adopting ‘official’ Android looks (for example replicating the basic Gingerbread or Ice Cream Sandwich configuration), I still prefer a little originality. The icons from ADW Flat Theme let me do just that.
I use Apex Launcher Pro and change the default icons (by pressing on them and holding, then tapping Edit > Icon, then selecting an icon from the icon pack) to those contained in ADW Flat Theme. The icons replicate the icons of popular and system apps, only with a simple, flat look to them. I thought this looked a little more eye-catching than the originals and suited my approach to customisation well.
Customisation is obviously a personal thing, but I really liked the whole look of this. The app also comes with six alternative wallpapers, which are pretty good too. For a free app, it’s not bad at all.
ADW Theme Flat Icons - A great alternative to the usual icons you get with your apps
Tech Buzz is a news app and widget that delivers tech news to your Android. It draws news from a variety of places and regularly updates with new stories. What I love about this app is how you get to specify what area of tech you’re interested in. In the settings, you can choose from: Tech News, Mobile News, Android, Gadgets, Gaming and Tech videos.
Personally, I always have mine set to Android, which scours lots of different Android news and review sites to bring information about all the latest occurrences – from new hardware and software releases to more generic Google news. I’ve lost count of the apps I’ve heard about first through this neat little application, so it’s often one of the first apps I download after a reset.
Tech Buzz - Possibly one of the best apps for keeping up to date with the world of Android. For me it's a must-have.
Couch-to-5K (C25K) is my path to a much-needed level of fitness. It’s special this week as it’s started to get harder, partly because I got a injury last week. The theory behind C25K is simple; go from being couch potato to someone that can go out and run 5K, all within nine weeks.
The app works by taking it one week at a time. First you begin by alternating between running for just one minute and walking for two. You’re only exercising for around thirty minutes per time so it fits in well with a busy lifestyle. The app interrupts your music to tell you to jog, walk or warm down, often with encouraging words of support. This activity builds the following week where you run for one and a half minutes followed by a two minute walk… and so on, building up each time. In the ninth week you warm up and then jog for thirty full minutes, which should be around the 5K distance mark.
I like this because it’s gentle, you only have to do it three times a week, and it’ll gradually get me back to running five kilometers. You have the choice of three different trainers who cheer you on through the weeks. It’s a nice touch and gives you a realistic human voice to listen to. On top of this it records your distance and speed via GPS so you can compete against yourself day after day. The only problem with this cool little app is that it doesn’t stop the rain. Boo!
Couch-to-5K - Getting fit the fun way. Doesn't, however, stop rain.
Someecards are light-hearted and dark-humoured memes that you will surely have seen on someone’s social networking timeline if not elsewhere. Much like virtual postcards you can send them to friends via email, MMS, Twitter or Facebook. They cover a wide range of events – Father’s day is one of the popular ones at the moment – but also features cards with other jokes and witticisms.
The app features a nice ‘Holo’-inspired user interface that’s very intuitive and simple to use. There are various means to search for ecards by topic, newest, favourites etc. The app is free, although you can buy the full version for a wider range of cards- more akin to the full website.
It should perhaps come with the warning that some of the humour is a little ‘close to the bone’, but I find many of these quite hilarious. If you sometimes get bored with the notion of wishing someone a happy birthday with little more than a post onto their Facebook wall, this app will certainly help you identify some more lively options!
Someecards - Close to the bone humour memes, perfect for sharing
So, these are a just few apps that have been especially relevant to me this week. A couple you might already be familiar with, but others you might not have tried yet. Definitely give them a look!