Top 5 Android Applications

My 5 most used and favourite Android applications.

Having owned a  HTC Magic for all of a few months, I thought I would give you my unbiased and expert ;op opinion regarding my favourite Android applications. There are absolutely thousands of applications to choose from, mostly free, but after playing, downloading , discarding, these are five that I still use, rely on and enjoy.

1. Twidroid

TwiroidTwidroid is , unsurprisingly, a Twitter client.  There is a free and ‘Pro’ version, the Pro version offering additional features including multiple accounts, bit.ly integration, desktop widgets, video posting, followers and friends.

Once you are logged into the application it displays the latest 50 tweets.  The list length can be increased via the settings menu.  Tweets can be refreshed by using the appropriate button at the bottom of the screen or by shaking the phone. Tapping a tweet creates a popup containing any available links. Selecting the little button to the right of a tweet displays a menu allowing you to reply, show profile of tweeter, favourite, retweet, send DM, delete or copy the contents of the tweet to the clipboard.  Additional functionality includes viewing and managing lists,  setting up notifications for when there are new tweets, if you receive a direct message or are mentioned.  You can also show/hide various buttons, display real names instead of user names and set up your favourite photo, video and URL shortening services.  The application also integrates with your phones GPS to allow you to annotate tweets and photos with your location.  Other miscellaneous settings include the ability to merge your accounts, refresh tweets on launch, auto-complete for DMs and disable profile images for improved speed.

I have tried a number of Twitter clients, free and paid, and found this to be the most stable and feature rich of all.  In the majority of cases I think the free version will cover most peoples needs however for a small price you may be tempted to upgrade to pro for the additional functionality and to support the future development of this app.

2. DoggCatcher

DoggcatcherDoggcatcher is primarily a podcast subscriber although it is capable of subscribing to standard RSS and video feeds also.  Podcasts were not something I had explored in any great detail until I bought this application (yes, sorry, this is not a freebee). Mainly because I have very little time at home and 3G connectivity out here in the sticks is limited at best. With this application you can set to download your favourite podcasts  only when attached to WiFi and/or when connected to a power source.  It allows you to specify the maximum number of casts to download and can be set to delete them from your phone once you have listened to them, or marked them as ‘done’ thus automating the clean up process and keeping your phones storage free.  I tend to switch the WiFi on when I get home at night and the latest feeds are downloaded to my phone for my listening pleasure the next day.

Podcasts can be subscribed to by entering the URL, browsing Doggcatchers top 100 casts or by a very nifty utility which allows you to see what others listening to similar feeds subscribe to. Download queues are easily managed and you can dip in and out of podcasts as the application remembers the play position of each podcast.  For me it means that I never miss an episode of The Archers and have an alternative to music when at a loose end away from home.

Why is it called Doggcatcher? I’ve no idea.

3. MixZing Music Player

MixZing Music PLayerThe standard Android player is pretty basic so I had a hunt around on the market for something with a bit more oomph and came up with this.  Having bought a 16gb card for my phone I tend to just dump albums onto it but there is always the odd track that once heard you don’t really want to hear again e.g. Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin.  MixZing allows you to delete as you listen an option that is missing from the standard player an my most wanted utility.

This player does all the usual stuff like play lists, random mixes, album art and if you download Scrobble Droid it will update your Last.fm account listened to list and library.

Selecting the ‘i’ button in the top left of the screen brings up the artists biography including photos and the button opposite shows your current play list.

The real strength of this player (apart from being free) is that it will recommend other songs based on your current play list and you can agree or disagree with its suggestion via the + and x buttons, bottom right.  This will then adjust  further recommendations accordingly.

In the blurb for this player it indicates that you also get recommendations from the internet although I have not witnessed this feature.

All in all for a free player you can’t go far wrong, the interface is clean and easy to use and the automatically downloaded album art looks great.

4. My Tracks

The last two applications on my list are not ones that I use heavily but I think they are just fantastic freebees which make use of the HTC Magic’s compass and GPS.  My Tracks allows you to plot your favourite walks, runs etc. in real time and upload them to Google Maps to share with your friends.  It records distance, elevation, and the time it takes to complete the route.  You can create way points, link photos to them and it also integrates with all your messaging applications like Twidroid, Facebook Mobile, Google Mail and standard SMS.  Ever been for a lovely walk and wondered how far it was or wanted to share it with someone else? Then this is the application for you.

5. Google Sky Map

For my daughters 16th birthday her Grandfather bought her a star.  This year she was eighteen and her boyfriend bought her a telescope so she could properly find it.  Google Sky Map is a fantastic application for the budding astronomer or for those clear star filled evenings when you are not quite sure what you are looking at.  Simply fire up the application and hold your phone in the direction and elevation that you are looking.  Displayed on the screen is a replica of the stars and planets you are viewing along with their names.  A horizontal line defines the horizon and there is a night mode for easier viewing.  You can even use the sky map in the day or when light pollution is too intense.  I have found it amazingly accurate even with the GPS switched of.  A fantastic fun application and a must for camping holidays.

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