Mar 10

Droid Apps I’m Using – March 2010

UPDATE March 2010:

It’s been four months now since I bought a Motorola Droid super-smart-phone, and I’ve come to love my little pocket PC in a way I’ve never loved another phone/gadget. I was worried at first that I’d be annoyed by not being able to type on it one-handed, or that the larger form factor would feel heavy and clunky. Neither of those initial concerns causes me a moment’s pause after a few months of use, and the interface issues that confused me at first aren’t an issue today. It is without a doubt the best gadget purchase I’ve made to date.

In the interest of keeping a good log of the apps I’m using, I figured I should update my original post to remove the apps I ended up never using and adding the ones I’ve found since early December. So here’s the updated list.

Use Daily/Very Frequently:

Advanced Task Manager
Handy for seeing what’s running on the phone and killing it if necessary

AP mobile
News n stuff, pretty self explanatory.

A To Do list that synchs with Remember the Milk which synchs with Gmail. nice!

Synchs pix from Droid to my Flickr account, lets me know when someone favorites or comments on a pic on Flickr.  Great app.

SSH/telnet client on yer phone.

Synchs with my Evernote account on the web, best notemaking software I’ve found on mobile OR web.

Fun to see who else frequents the RL locations you visit.  I’m the mayor of my favorite breakfast place.  😉

Google Voice
Synchs your Google Voice account with your phone, can make outgoing calls from your GVoice # or just get messages/vmails

Augmented reality here at last!  Point your camera in any direction and choose the layer of data you want to appear on top – everything from who’s tweeting near you to local pizza joints to.. whatever.  Very fun.

Linda File Manager
Manage/view/use files on the SD card in your phone or local memory though that sounds like you can hose things if you don’t know what you’re doing.

NPR News
I hardly listen to NPR on the actual radio anymore, I can catch all my fave shows every day right on Droid.  I have such a crush on Ira Glass’ voice. *swoon*

Plays a radio station based on your music tastes. LOVE this app.

Instant live vide streaming to the intarnetz. V.cool! Will also auto publish to YouTube and alert your friends on Twitter when you start a live stream if you set it up that way.

Twitter client that works really well.  I check this wayyyy too frequently 🙂

GoogleTalk, all your gmail contacts available for IM

Wikitude Premium
Sort of like Layar but includes different data sets – layer data on top of your reality, including flickr, youtube, wikipedia entries, and lots of other stuff.  Funny though, it shows my Flickr pix taken here at home as being 3km away.  Hmmmm.  Still, if you’re interested in augmented reality, it’s an alternative to Layar and they’ve been adding more data sets over time.

Use Less Frequently But Good To Have

Aldiko and Aldiko premium
Books! Lots o books! I can actually read on this thing. Who needs Kindle?

Amazon and Amazon MP3
I was browsing for holiday gifts..

Another file manager that lets you work with zip, rar, tar, gzip and other compressed files.

Beam Reader
PDF Reader for Droid

Barcode Scanner
Snap a pic of a bardcode on any product, searches google for product description and price comparisons

It’s a compass. 🙂

FTP files to/from your phone.

Viewing google docs on the phone.

Turns your phone into a remote for the PC, play music, videos, etc.

AOL IM client, not too pleased with this one but I haven’t found a good alternative yet.

Mother TED
TED Talks on your Droid. yay, I’m a big fan.

News headlines

Photoshop Mobile
Edit, crop, touch up photos right on your phone

Record your voice, send the files to Gmail.

Find stuff around you, weather, news, movies, gas stations, coupons, traffic, etc.

Scans for wireless networks, occasionally finds networks the phone doesn’t seem to find by default.

Post to your WordPress blog from your phone.

What great apps am I missing??

Nov 09

Twitter Lists, Google Wave, & Verizon’s Droid Phone

Twitter Lists

Twitter recently added the ability to categorize the people you follow into “Lists”, with quick links on your right sidebar to the status updates of all the people in that category.  Your lists can be public or private, with private lists only visible to you, and other people can follow your lists en masse or see the individual people you’ve added.

You can check out my Twitter lists to see if any of them interest you (though I’m not done adding people yet!).

TheNextWeb has a “how-to” guide if you’re not sure how Twitter Lists work, and so far it seems like it’s working out pretty well for me, despite the fact I’ve only got some small percentage of the people I follow categorized. Wow, talk about tedious work to add people!  New twitter users won’t have this problem since they can add folks to lists as they go along, but for those of us who have been around a while, this is a major chore.  I’m trying to do a few more each time I sit down at the PC, but it’s kind of slow going.

Still, the functionality seems worth the effort, since this gives you an easy way to “check in” with different categories or communities of people you follow, much like we’ve been able to do with 3rd party apps like Groups on TweetDeck.  As I posted to Twitter, I’m creating lists based on what’s most useful for _me_, not with the intention of creating a great list for someone else to follow, though if someone else finds a list of mine useful, more power to them.

Besides the obvious, I see a few other good or interesting uses for Twitter Lists:

  • Vanity list checking: It may be completely vain on my part, but I’m finding it interesting to see how people categorize my tweets and what tags they use to describe me when they put me on a list.  Many of them are obvious like “secondlife” or “education” but some of them have been surprising.  It’s also another example of how YOU are not always in control of your “brand” or your identity on the web.  What if someone put me on a list called “totaljerks” or something?
  • Making lists for your followers, instead of for yourself. I’ve seen some folks making lists called “recommended” or “moversandshakers” where it seems like people are aggregating lists less for their own consumption and more to help their followers find OTHERS to follow.  If that makes sense.  I definitely would be more judicious in my choices if I made a “recommended tweeters” list than I have been with the lists I’ve created so far, so perhaps curating a good list will become a useful Twitter skill.  I think I might try that once I get through the first phase of adding folks to lists.
  • Lists as another metric of quality. I don’t think this is very useful yet, as most established twitterers are probably, like me, still in the process of getting all their followers categorized.  But once lists are being used ubiquitously (and I think they will be), this feature adds a new metric to judge the quality of a tweeter before you add them.  Now, in addition to their profile and number of people they follow/follow them, you can also see how many people took the time to add them to a list, and what kinds of tags they use to describe them.   Hopefully this will be a less game-able metric than sheer numbers of followers, but I guess we’ll see.
  • Lists will be great for newbie Twitterers. I hope lists will help people new to Twitter get engaged with communities of interest more quickly than before.  If I introduce someone to Twitter and I know they also dig Second Life, I can point to that list as a great starting point.   They can either follow the whole list, or sort through it to pick and choose individual people to follow.
  • As a corollary, raiding your friends’ lists for new people to follow just got a whole lot easier since you can follow people only from the communities you’re most interested in.

My biggest complaint, other than not having an easy way to add multiple people to a list quickly, is that Twitter perversely orders your lists in the REVERSE order you created them, so my most frequently used lists are at the bottom rather than the top.  I hope they fix that little issue quickly.

Also, has anyone come across any iPod/iPhone apps that include list functionality yet?  It looks like Tweetie2, my favorite Twitter app, doesn’t do that yet.

Other than those complaints, I’d say Twitter Lists is two thumbs up.  Yay for tools that help break big info streams down into more manageable chunks!

Google Wave

Wish I could offer the same enthusiasm about Google Wave, touted as an alternative to email, but I must say my initial experience is “less than impressed”.  (And no, I don’t have any invites to give yet, I’ll let you know as soon as I do!)

I know this is still a beta service (what google service isn’t in perpetual beta?) but I guess I expected something more.. intuitive? easy? fast? useful?    At least on my machine, Google Wave is very slow to load everything – contact lists, inbox, and especially the content of the wave.   I even get such terrible typing lag when I try to make a reply that it sometimes takes 3 or 4 seconds for what I’ve typed to show up on the screen.  Reminds me of the 1200 baud modem days, waiting for things to appear.

Other sundry complaints:   Navigating through a wave is kind of tedious, I can’t tell what I’ve already seen and what’s new.  The scroll bar dealie on the right confuses me, the arrows at the top and bottom don’t actually jump you to the top or bottom of the wave.  Playback on a big wave either doesn’t work at all or goes very slowly and I can’t figure out how to speed it up (plus it seems to crash FF from time to time).  In general, I just can’t figure out why I would use this instead of email..?

I’ll give it some time and keep playing.   As I said, I know it’s early days for Wave, so perhaps I’ll see more utility when it’s more useable from a lag/organization standpoint.  But first impressions can be tough to shake and my first impression of Wave is it’s doing the opposite of Twitter Lists, instead of making big info streams more manageable, it seems to turn manageable email chunks into one big info stream.  Not a fan yet.

Verizon’s Droid Phone

Ok, I lied, I haven’t actually gotten my hands on one yet, even though @tom_streeter had one in the office last week, I was too darned busy at work to pester him about it.

For those of us who are on Verizon’s network, and thus unable to get an iPhone (insert major annoyance here), we’ve been waiting and waiting for a smartphone alternative to the iPhone and the web chatter says the Motorola Droid is Verizon’s first possible competitor.    CNet has the best review I’ve seen so far, and several Cincinnati area tweeters were given a first look through a Verizon promotion #droiddoescincy so you can see some real people reviews.

Me, I’m definitely keep an eye on it, but I don’t want “the next best thing” to an iPhone.  I want something equal to or better than an iPhone, otherwise, I think I’ve got most bases covered between my current phone and the iPod Touch I recently picked up.

So, uh, Tom, if you still have it next week, can I take a peek?  🙂