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.