My Most Essential Android Apps, Part I


Ever since I got my Virgin Mobile Optimus V smartphone, I’ve been downloading apps like a madman. The bummer, of course, is the phone’s extremely limited memory that gets maxed out in no time at all.

Once I made this discovery I decided that if an app was going to be on my phone, it had to be worth the memory it was occupying (read: little to no games; mostly productivity). I’d now like to entertain you with a list of some of my most essential apps which will be divided up into a few posts. Note that they are not in any order of preference.

amazon-app-store-app_thumbAmazon Appstore (free): Although their selection isn’t as wide as the Android Marketplace, the Amazon Appstore is great in that it offers a free paid app every day. Sometimes the apps are worthy of jumping on right away and other times you don’t want to give them a second thought because of their ratings. Either way, offering an app that will be regular price the next day is a great way to try it and if you decide you don’t like it, you haven’t lost a dime – and you can always go back and download it again if you’re one of those indecisive types like me. I’ve saved a ton of money with this app and it’s pretty much where I get most of my apps now.

hi-124-1SMS Popup (free; full version available): As I had mentioned in my review of the LG Optimus V, one thing the phone lacks is any kind of visual alert (in silent mode) for text messages. And being I work in a rather quite place, I need to keep my phone volume off and can’t always hear it vibrate since I listen to my iPod all day while I work. SMS Popup solves this issue by popping up a dialog box on my screen with the sender’s info and their SMS. It takes a little configuring to get it just right (disabling SMS alerts in the main Android settings) but once I figured it out, it was well worth the effort. The app also allows you to assign different notification sounds to your contacts so you know where the incoming message is coming from without looking at the screen. Highly recommended.

hi-124-21Office Calculator Free (free; full version available): I suck at math, which pretty much explains why I live from paycheck to paycheck. And while I know my fractions/percentages fairly well and can figure out what the discount may be when something’s on sale, most of the time I need a little help. That’s why Office Calculator Free is by far the best calculator app I’ve tried. Why? One key: %=. That’s right, one little key has separated this one from the pack. Say something is $247.99 and there’s a 33% discount. Hey, no problem! The price is $166.15. But tax is 8.75%! Okay, the total will be $189.69. I just used it to figure those out. Cool, eh? It also has a faux tape of your running calculations so you can go back and see what you’ve done. I like this one a lot because, well, I suck at math.

71oqDV7iSrLApp 2 SD Pro (downloaded for free as part of Amazon’s Free App of the Day, regular $1.49; free version also available): App 2 SD is a simple app that does a few things. First, it offers an easy way to view, move, and uninstall apps from your phone and separates them by Moveable, On SD Card, and Phone Only categories. The good thing is that it doesn’t list all those useless bloatware apps like Twidroyd and airG Chat that can’t be deleted; it only lists those that can. Once you install an app that is capable of being moved to your SD card, it will prompt you and ask if you would like to move it. Easy stuff but note that if the app offers a widget and you love it to the SD card, chances are that the widget will not be functional and not show up when you want to add it to your Home screen. App 2 SD also lets you easily (and that’s the keyword here) clear up space from your cache so your phone has more memory to work with. I have not been disappointed by this one, especially since I got it for free.

817fEX QIbLTweetCaster Premium (downloaded for free as part of Amazon’s Free App of the Day, regular $4.99; free version also available): Up until I started using TweetCaster, I tried my share of Twitter apps and each had their faults. Seesmic was a bit clunky, and HootSuite and TweetDeck gave me serious heck when it came to configuring. I solved most of those issues once I started using TweetCaster which also encouraged me to do a bit more tweeting. TweetCaster allows you to post to multiple Twitter accounts as well as your Facebook status, both of which can be the same (but under 140 characters, naturally). True, I still have to use a separate app for Facebook browsing but I that’s okay; I use Twitter as more of a news-gathering site anyhow. Facebook is more of a social thing that gets cluttered with too much other stuff when I just want some quick news from those I’m following. TweetCaster does the trick beautifully and functionally.

Well, there’s the first five of what will be, well, I don’t know how many I plan to write about. Just keep checking back for more as I continue to use my phone and make note of my most often used apps. All I know is that there are a bunch of photography apps that I use regularly. Okay, tomorrow I’ll write about those.

Oh and special thanks to reader Branni Mikal who left a nice comment on my review of the Optimus V that inspired this and the following posts. Hopefully this will help them and any others who might be wondering what to download to their phone next.

Thanks Branni, and congrats on your purchase. You will love this phone!

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2 thoughts on “My Most Essential Android Apps, Part I

    • SMS Popup is awesome. Just remember to disable all SMS alerts in Android and set them up in the app. I failed to mention that you can also assign individual notification sounds to your contacts so you know who it is without looking. Glad I discovered this one.

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