It’s embarrassing being a blogger when something you have written in the past comes back and bites you on the arse! Late last year I wrote a post about the use of smartphones and mobile/cloud computing which in hindsight was penned in a negative way largely because at that time I was using a series of Nokia phones – the N95 and then then 5800 – which were running the Symbian operating system.
Since then I have come to the conclusion that Symbian is dead in the water and needed to be put out of mine if not its own misery. Two weeks ago I decided to bite the bullet and bought a HTC Android phone and I have to admit to being totally blown away by it, not just because of the cute interface and slick action but because of the freedom it allows me in cloud computing and social media.
From the moment I slipped in the SIM card and turned the phone on it seamlessly linked me to my webside activities. Over the last 14 days or so I have gradually added a stack of apps which has given rise to the only downside that I can find so far.
Why do I have to download everything slowly over a non 3g connection from Android Market when I could download an apk file within seconds and install it via the PC sync? OK, I can understand that Google wants to monetise the programs but a lot of the free stuff should be more easily available.
Rant over, it linked to my Gmail and Gcal services immediately and as I set up my social media accounts it started to slurp down the latest tweets before I had a chance to realise it was doing so.
So what have I installed and why?
First to go on was Pocket Informant. Years ago when I was running PDAs on Windows Mobile – I even ran a blog called PDA Pro – Pocket Informant was the mutt’s nuts, the dog’s bollocks, the bee’s knees – just the best PIM there was around and I was so happy when I was able to get it onto my Android phone. Alex Kac has to be one of the best and most conscientious developers around and I cannot wait for PI to come out of beta so I can give him my money.
Dropbox has long been one of my staple PC tools – well, between fluctuating between that and Sugarsync – and now I have access to a stack of vital information wherever I am and at whatever time.
Similarly, I am increasingly using Evernote to clip information I find on the web and the ability to plug into my database and access all that increasing data makes life so much easier. Since I have had the Android I find I am clipping more and more with Evernote because I know I can access it when on the road.
One of the great programs for Symbian was Gravity which worked fabulously for Twitter. Sadly there isn’t an Android version. Although I use HootSuite on my desktop I found that I preferred the Tweetdeck mobile app. No doubt I will revisit mobile HootSuite over time because it’s what sad geeks do!
I am still in the early stages of discovering Foursquare but in case I have a Road To Damascus moment it is there on the phone in case I need it. Hell, it will even tell everyone where on the Road to Damascus I am!
Opera Mini saved my mobile experience when I was on Symbian and it was a no brainer to make this one of the first apps to install on my HTC. Great page rendering and fast, just what you need. I loaded Skyfire and had a play with it but my first five or so outings were not too impressive so that has been removed.
I am not a huge Facebook fan but when I am away from home it keeps me up to date with what friends and colleagues are up to so it has found its way on to the install list.
I have long been a supporter of SBSH mobile software and its SafeWallet package keeps reams of vital data safe. Amit Regev and his team are on a par with Alex Kac in the development stakes and I sacrificed a goat and two chickens to assorted heathen deities when I discovered SafeWallet was available on Android (that was a joke by the way.)
My wife says I’d forget my balls if they weren’t in a bag and I do not always remember to take my iPod with me so when I bought the HTC I bought a 16gb memory card and stashed a stack of albums on it. Rather than use the built-in MP3 player I opted for Winamp beta for Android. Although I use Media Monkey for my desktop MP3 needs, Winamp works well on the mobile.
Another “note” program I have started to use now I am an Android owner is Springpad which enables me to make a stack of notes on the desktop program and then sync over a connection and tall the information is there regardless of whether or not I am online.
I guess all of the above can be called “essentials” but the one truly geeky program I have installed is Shazam. If you don’t know a piece of music playing on the radio – fire up Shazam which listens to the track and searches a database and then comes back with the artist, song title, album and label details.