What My Droid Does – Part 5

If you are a Droid owner, you should have by now received your system update. It came with some pretty cool enhancements like:

  • New support for voice-to-text entry – tap on the microphone whenever a text-entry box appears on the virtual keyboard and speak (this has worked fairly well for me)
  • New Gallery application with 3D layout. (This reminds me of http://www.cooliris.com/)
  • Supposedly there’s a new night mode in Google Maps Navigation that automatically changes
    the screen at night to adjust to the lighting, but I haven’t had a chance to try it.
  • Read about the rest on the .pdf that Verizon sent out to Droid owners here.

Also, If you haven’t already, take a look at the Google for Android web page. Your Android powered phone most likely came with these applications already installed, but here you can find videos, more information or even the link to download the mobile app should you want it. Some of the applications listed here are:

Many of us have been waiting for Skype to come to the Android phone. Actually, I have blogged about using Skype Lite on my Droid to use the chat feature of Skype, but this is the full application – WITH ONE THING MISSING. Verizon has set the limitation that you can only use Skypemobile on the 3G network. So if you thought you were going to save on data charges by using your wifi to make Skype-to-Skype calls, it’s not going to happen.

Here are the Terms of Service that come up when you go to install it on your phone:

“Skype mobile is available within the National and Extended National Enhanced Services Coverage Areas, but not when using WiFi. Skype mobile features may vary from Skype on your PC. Domestic calls made from Skype mobile are carried by Verizon Wireless, not Skype, and are billed according to your Verizon Wireless plan. Skype calls to international numbers are billed by Skype at Skype international rates. Calls to 911 will be completed by Verizon Wireless. Skype mobile is not available when using per-line or per-call caller ID blocking. In the event of a conflict between these Verizon Wireless Skype mobile Terms and the Skype EULA, Skype TOS, or any other applicable terms, the provisions of the Verizon Wireless Skype mobile Terms shall apply.”

Yet, this is pretty cool as I communicate with many educators via Skype that I don’t have cell phone number for, and now I can talk to them without being tethered to a laptop/desktop.

I know from some Tweets I’ve seen that many Android users have been waiting for a version of Tweetdeck for the Android to be released. In the meantime, we have HootSuite. As listed on their site, here are some of the benefits of HootSuite that I would utilize when away from my laptop. (Actually, I frequently recommend Hootsuite to educators that use Twitter in school but don’t have the administrative rights to install Tweetdeck to their computers.)

  • Managing multiple identities and accounts
  • Creating custom views for tags and searches
  • Adding followers to lists and accounts
  • Sharing photos and shortening URLs

There’s a paid version for $2.99  and then the HootSuite for Android Lite for free.

ChaCha Droid

ChaCha – this neat little app allows you to query by voice and returns the answers by text right on your screen. Some of us have used ChaCha in the past by calling their 1-800 number or using a text message to send our question in, but this bypasses that process and the bonus is you can query by voice. I tried a few with success. If you go to the ChaCha Droid for Android page, their is a QR Code you can scan and install the app on your phone.

If you were a user of wpToGo to edit your WordPress blog from your Android phone, you may want upgrade to the new and improved WordPress for Android app. I don’t typically post from my Droid, but I will approve and reply to comments right from the WordPress for Android application. wpToGo is going to be discontinued, so upgrade soon. Here’s their video:

Google Buzz for the Android used to be just a web shortcut. Now there’s a widget that can be added to your Android desktop one of two ways. The first way is you can find it in the Android Market. The second way is you can scan the QR Code.   I scanned the code using my Barcode Scanner and then it brought me to the Google Buzz Widget.

I read the four points listed on the installation screen

  • Quickly post buzz publicly or privately
  • Add photos to your post from the camera or gallery
  • Share your location or place
  • Quickly access buzz.google.com

and realized that this widget was for posting to Buzz and not for staying connected to your Buzz contacts. So I went back to the site to read some of the comments. There was some concern about this as well as it not working on all Android phones and a desire for the QR Code (which had been added). Still, if you are using Buzz, this is a handy widget to have.

www.cooliris.com/

What My Droid Does – Part 4

Image Source http://segmentnext.com

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.)

Image Source http://2.bp.blogspot.com

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.

What My Droid Does – Part 2

On January 5, I sat waiting for the live feed from CNN on the new Nexus One, but all I got was this Twitter update. Bummer. I was able to watch the recorded video a bit later and read about the phone to determine if I had made the wrong decision purchasing the Motorola Droid rather than waiting for the release of the Nexus One. I remain happy with my decision.

Here’s what my Droid does:

I recently uninstalled Skype Lite on my Droid as all it let me do was chat. That was nifty for about a week. But what I really wanted to be able to do was use the features of Skype. I started searching and found Fring. You have to check this out!

Fring allows me to call and chat with my Skype contacts using 3G or wifi. I have the option to add additional accounts as well including AIM, Google Talk, Twitter and Yahoo, but as of today I have kept it just to Skype and it is working very well.

Source: http://www.geardiary.com

The next app I wanted to write about has been around for iPhones and iPod Touches a while now. I was excited to see that there is a Bump app in the Android Market. Before I explain what Bump is, let me just say that the applications are compatible from iPhones to Androids, so Bump away.

Bump was designed so that people can easily swap contact information. There is no longer the need to manually type in someone’s cell phone number or any information. All you need to do to use Bump is for both users to have it installed. (It is FREE). You literally bump phones (but not too hard – just ask the folks I hung out with last summer at BLC09).

Make sure to install this app before your next conference, convention or social gathering.

I mentioned Twidroid in my first post about the Droid. I don’t think that this application could be any easier to use. (Of course this is coming from someone who Tweeted from a Blackberry.) I can:

  • easily follow the hyperlink in a Tweet
  • easily RT (re-tweet someone)
  • look up someone’s profile
  • send someone a direct message
  • attach a photo or video to a Tweet
  • Search by hashtag
  • save a search and then revisit it another time
  • view lists I subscribe to
  • check out the Twitter Trends

There are more features available if you purchase the Pro version, but for right now, this version suits me just fine.

Something to look forward to:

Tether – formally Tetherberry is working on an Android app. You can sign up for their Beta here http://www.tether.com/android-beta. This is something that I miss and am looking forward to being able to tether my netbook to my Android when I need to.

What My Droid Does – Part 1

My goal since I purchased my Droid at the end of November has been to use it productively. But let’s face it. Most people ask me what I can do with it? It’s pretty much been a conversation of how it compares to a Blackberry or an iPhone.

Here’s what my Droid does:

I’ve downloaded and installed the UStream app from the Android Market. Since I already have login credentials for UStream, all I had to do was type in my username and password on my Droid and I was live on UStream. It couldn’t have been easier. I contemplated inviting my Twitter network to see my dog, Jazz, but thought perhaps another time.

After I was done experimenting with UStream, it occurred to me that many people prefer using Qik. I checked and there is an app for that in the Android Market.

More and more educators are using Evernote. This is also available in the Android Market for free. I can leave audio recordings, take pictures, upload files, or type in text and it all syncs with my Evernote account.

WordPress for the Droid – There’s an app you can find in Android Market called “wpToG0”. From this Android application, I can moderate comments on my WordPress blog, publish posts, and work on drafts. It has pretty decent functionality when it comes to tagging, categories, formating and uploading images.

Layar – This is so cool!!


“Layar is a free application on your mobile phone which shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone.”

Notepad – “Note Pad is a simple text processor, which lists all notes in a linear structure. Users can only add, edit and delete notes.” This is so simple, yet when I’m parking the car, sometimes I need to jot down which level or which row so that I can find it 6 hours later. You can find this app listed at http://www.androidfreeware.org/.

Finally, I want to mention the free version of  Advanced Task Killer. I noticed that sometimes my Droid was a bit sluggish, so I researched it and it turned out that many of the apps I had been launching were still running in the background. I installed this application so that I could manage all my apps in one place. You can uninstall from here as well as exit out of any applications you currently don’t need running.

I’m always looking for new resources to add to my bookmarks and new apps to install on my Droid if you have any suggestions.

My Droid, My Dream Come True

Image Source: http://www.productqas.com

I’ve been using my Blackberry 8830 since November 2007. I got it around the same time lots of my techie friends were getting their iPhones, but I refused to switch providers as my family has four lines and it was just too much to go through that kind of hassle. I’m sure you understand.

My Blackberry did everything I wanted it to. I was able to communicate through e-mail, Twitter and ultimately Facebook as well. But as time went by, browsing became an issue. The model I had did not have a built in camera and the multimedia functions of it were just not fulfilling my needs. So much so that when I was in my own home and other Wi-Fi environments, I got in the habit of using my iPod Touch to access all of my social networks and communication needs.

Then came the Droid.

This is an early holiday gift from my husband. (You’re welcome Chris. Now you don’t have to go shopping for me.) After reading and researching the Android Market and checking out the many features of the phone itself, I took a field trip to my provider’s store this past Sunday. Here are the initial features that sold me:

  • 3G network
  • camera (by the way it’s a 5 megapixels)
  • video camera
  • 3.7 inch touch screen
  • pre-installed apps (like Facebook and YouTube)
  • Wi-Fi capable

I turned off my Blackberry forever. It was funny. A few days later my 6-year old asked me if I missed it and I realized that for the last couple of years she’s known me to pretty much always have it with me. But the answer was easy. I didn’t miss it at all.

I walked out of the store, got in my car and just for fun used the Google Maps with Navigation over speakerphone to get home. The voice over the Droid gave me ACCURATE, turn-by-turn directions to get right to my driveway. Not that I won’t still use my Garmin GPS, but it’s nice to have an alternative.

One thing that the gentleman at the store explained to me is that I would no longer be able to use Microsoft Outlook to sync my Calendar and Contacts. Bummer. So, when I got inside, I fired up my computer and exported everything out of Outlook and imported everything into my Google Account. This is something I had planned to ultimately do anyway, I guess I just needed a reason. Check this out:

  • Google Over the Air updates – no need for a wire to sync your phone – it happens over the air and automatically – Holy Cow!!
  • Integrated Google and Facebook contacts – so someone calls me and I see their Facebook picture
  • Rotate the Droid and the screen changes to landscape, rotate again it goes back to the portrait orientation
  • Android Market
Image Source: http://www.dialaphone.co.uk

I’ve been downloading and using a few of the apps from the Android Market. There are about 10,000 apps there. I realize that for you iPhone users, there’s still no comparison, and I’m not writing about the Droid to bring it into the classroom, but because it’s such a great productivity tool for me. So here are the apps that I have downloaded and used so far with thanks to Damian Bariexca and Paula White:

  • Twidroid“twidroid is the industry-standard twitter client for android and among the most used twitter applications across all platforms. it’s available as a free and commercial pro version that supports all twitter features as well as functionality that is customized to the capabilities of android devices.”
  • Flashlightsimple white screen allows you to see in dark places
  • Mother TED“Mother TED allows you to watch the latest TED videos based on Themes, Talks and Tags.”
  • Where“WHERE is a bundle of cool GPS apps all wrapped into one. Are you looking for the hottest restaurants, jonesing for your next coffee fix, or need a cheap fill-up? Maybe you want to know the local weather, traffic or headlines? Whatever you are after, WHERE has it.”

It’s not quite yet a week. I have so much to learn. I’ve been bookmarking some great resources and I plan on posting more on the Droid in the near future. If you have one and care to share your experiences or some apps that have been helpful, please do. If you are thinking about getting one,  don’t hesitate to ask me about mine.