I have been traveling quite a bit lately and relying on my Droid to keep me organised, connected and occupied. I also have had the opportunity to tap into many educators in my PLN face-to-face to find out what apps they are using on their Android phones.
I must admit that the only feature I had been missing since switching from Blackberry to the Droid was the ability to tether. A while back I had purchased Tetherberry so that I could pull data from my Blackberry and get access to the Internet on my laptop even when I was not in a wireless environment. When I first purchased my Droid back in November, this was not yet an option, but since browsing the web on it was so easy, I decided it was not a deal breaker.
When I was out in San Antonio a week ago, Cory Pavicich and I spent some time tinkering with our Droids. We were a little frustrated with the wireless at one point during the event we were attending and I noticed that he had Tweeted that he had tethered his phone. I asked what app he was using and he gave me the link to PdaNet. I installed the free version and was tethered to my Droid in just a couple of minutes. Verbiage on their site indicates that you must pay for the full version of PdaNet if you want to browse secure web sites, but I have been able to access both http and https sites with the free version so far. (Note that since I installed this free tethering software I did receive an invitation to download the Android Beta Test from Tether, formerly Tetherberry.)
I learned about Gesture Search from Dana Nguyen, a Googler (someone that works for Google) I have the honor of working with Dana when I present at the Google Teacher Academies. She also has to same Android phone as I do, so I know that I can also count on her for some great tips. You can download Gesture Search in the Android Market or from the Google Labs page. It lets you search your Android-powered device by drawing alphabet gestures on the touch screen. It allows you to quickly find a contact, a bookmark, an application, or a music track from hundreds or thousands of items, all in one place. You must have Android 2.0 or above for this application to work.
Dana also started my quest for the perfect flashlight app. Everyone that owns an Android phone or an iPhone has some variation of a flashlight app. But Dana introduced me to an app that utilized the built-in camera’s flash to shed light rather than the phone’s screen. My application of choice is the free one called MotoTorch LED
This application will allow you to use the LEDs as a strobe light and as a MORSE CODE sender should you need to. The app is free, but there’s a paid version available in the Android Market as well that is identical, should you want to donate money to the developer.
Another Android user at the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators was Miguel Guhlin. The first app that Miguel introduced me to that I hadn’t heard of was Handcent. At first I didn’t see the value of using a different SMS app. But then, after a few days of using it, I don’t think I could go back to the texting app that came installed on my Droid. Here are just a few of the features that Handcent offers:
- Group send SMS
- Different themes and different conversation bubble styles
- Additional font packs you can download in the Android Market
Miguel also told me about Bloo. I was asking about an alternative Facebook app and this was what he suggested trying. So when Corey and I had some down time at ASCD the next day, we both installed and gave it a try. I did have some trouble as every time I went to went to read a Feed it would ask to “Enable Permission”, but this is addressed on their blog at http://fbandroid.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/i-am-alive-and-so-is-1-4-4/. I still would like to see Facebook messages handled better, but I’m sure we’ll see that soon.
I certainly don’t want to leave this one out. The next day I went to the circus with my family and I was sharing some of the apps I had learned about with a family friend and he showed me Key Ring by Froogloid. My wallet is much lighter now that I’ve digitized all my discount/reward cards. All I have to do is display the barcode on my Droid and I receive my discount. Check out this video from http://www.wirefly.net/. You just scan your cards and select the store they are from, and you are set to go.