looks like i’m getting an Android phone after all — talk to me about apps

I have an enormous rant to make about what an awful process it’s been to switch cell phones, but i’ll make that its own post.  I didn’t even want to stop using my old cell phone, but it is a nearly-5-year-old smartphone and she’s starting to slow down a bit.  Rest well, mighty Pigwidgeon!

So Andy and i switched back to Credo Mobile1, which means we’re both going to be using Android phones now because apparently smartphones don’t actually come in “we’ll leave you alone to do your thing without making you live in ‘the cloud'” varieties anymore.  [sob]  Andy got his last week; mine will be here next week2.

Now i have to figure out how to replicate my beloved Pigwidgeon on this weird new gadget.  Let’s talk apps!  My phone will be the HTC EVO Shift™ 4G.  The apps i’m already planning to get (because i’ve been using the old Windows Mobile version on Pigwidgeon and i love/need them) are:

  • Evernote
  • Last.fm
  • OneBusAway
  • Seattle Public Library

I’m also going to try:

  • Remember the Milk (I’m a subscriber, but there wasn’t an app for Windows Mobile.)
  • Happy Cow (Because i want to eat more vegetarian, and it’s hard when you’re in unfamiliar territory.)
  • Winamp (Because it really whips the llama’s ass.)  [And if Winamp doesn’t work, i’ll try the Android version of MortPlayer Music, because i’ve been pretty happy using the Windows Mobile version on Pigwidgeon.]
  • WordPress (Because you all want me to be able to update this blog from the bathroom, right??)

And then there’s everything else, which is where i have questions — not least of which because some of my absolute favorite Pigwidgeon apps do not all have Android verions.


I need a Twitter app, because Twitter is where so many of my friends live.  On Pigwidgeon i’ve been using moTweets, which has been pretty great over the years (i’d almost stick with this awful, irritating Windows Phone 7 just to keep moTweets).  What do you like for Twitter on your Android?

app monitor

I need something that will show me what apps are running and will allow me to turn them off.  I know Android has some functionality like that (i’ve been poking around at Andy’s phone), but i’ve read varying reports on its usefulness.  I want to be able to fully shut down an app, not just send it to the background.  Pigwidgeon’s Windows Mobile had a built-in system monitor where i could shut down any app, and it’s been baffling me that Windows Phone 7 doesn’t have anything like that.

Outlook syncing

I maintain both my calendar and my contacts in Outlook.  Suggestions for syncing to Android?  Keeping in mind i want to keep maintaining my calendar and contacts in Outlook.  Ay, there’s the rub, because, no, i don’t want to maintain this shit in Google.  Yeah, i get that Android is probably going to put this stuff into Google whether i like it or not, but i don’t want to muck about with using Google as the method for maintaining the data.  So, yes, i’ll want to be syncing my Outlook data with my phone once or twice a week.  Suggestions?  I’ve been reviewing PC Magazine’s article for ideas.

office suite

I use Windows Office for documents and spreadsheets, and i’m a pretty skilled user who doesn’t want to switch from Office right now — thus, any documents that i might want to put on my phone to read/edit later are going to be Word and Excel docs.  Andy’s already warned me that he hates Android’s built-in document editors, so i’m sure to hate them even more.  Any suggestions for apps that have good Word/Excel reading/editing functions?  I need to be able to carry my zine library list on my phone so i don’t wind up with duplicates, and it’s an Excel spreadsheet.


I’ve been using SPB Time for timing functions, and it’s been absolutely brilliant.  It’s not just a stopwatch function, but also has 5 pre-set countdown timers.  I use the stopwatch function, and it’s been useful, but having pre-set countdown timers is what i really need.  My 5 are: 3 for teas, 1 for 20-minute bursts of productivity (tidying the house, writing emails, &c.), and 1 for my office lunch break (because if i don’t come back in time, the office manager becomes enraged).  It looks like there’s an Android version of SPB Time, so i’ll probably try that, but for one thing, it doesn’t look like it comes with a free trial (booo!!), and for another it looks like a version i tried on Pigwidgeon the other year and didn’t really like, so if you have a time app you like that has both robust pre-set countdown timers and a stopwatch, let me know!  I don’t need something fancy, i just need to time my tea.


It’s hard to fully express my love for SPB Traveler (which, alas, they don’t seem to have ported over to the Android yet).  It combines things i’ve seen individual apps for — clocks and weather for cities around the world3, conversions for clothing sizes and currency, a calculator for figuring tips.  Plus the travel function itself, where you can enter all the niggling details of your trip — flight/plane times, hotel check-in/check-out — and it both keeps track of it in the app (with a handy count-down function so i know exactly how many days until WisCon) and also adds the details to the system calendar.  And, i know, there are probably apps out there that do one or more of these things, but i’ve loved having an app that manages them all in one integrated package.


I’m an astronomy nerd, so keeping track of the stars on my phone is fun.  I’ve been using Pocket Stars, and i like it well enough but i’m not quite as married to it as i am moTweets.  Any suggestions for Android?

Your suggestion here….

Anything cool you really like and want to recommend?

  1. ‘Cause we’re hippies with decent paychecks. []
  2. See above re: “awful process”. []
  3. I know, the Android phone i’m getting has a built-in weather function.  But it cannot find any of the towns local to where my mother lives, whereas SPB Traveler can.  Suck it, Android. []

11 thoughts on “looks like i’m getting an Android phone after all — talk to me about apps”

  1. All my phone does is text and make phone calls, and I’ve never desired more until reading this post.

    1. OOOPS. [shuffles feet]

      Andy was in the same “i want my phone to just be a PHONE” boat as you, until i persuaded him to try an iPhone 2 years ago. Now there’s not really any going back. Personally, i’ve long LOVED the idea of having my PDA/camera/phone/music player be just one device, hence why i got Pigwidgeon in the 1st place 4+ years ago. I pack my purse with enough other stuff (silicone camping shot glasses!); i don’t want to be carrying 3 devices when 1 will do it all.

  2. Android’s native email client works with anything on a Microsoft Exchange server. Not sure if that will help in this case, though.

    Most of my apps are UK specific or games. But…
    – Advanced Task Killer is great if you need to free up memory fast. It’s the app we-the-company recommend, even if Android says it frees up memory itself. (Not as fast as they say they do.)

    – I use the Seesmic client for my Twitter needs. I tried TweetDeck but ended up being more comfortable with this, mostly because my brain doesn’t work well with light text on a dark background.

    – One word of warning–Android does not have a native autocorrect function. Your phone manufacturer should have an XT9 function available if you switch to their keyboard instead of the Android one. Not as good as Apple, but I find it manageable on my LG. Or there are apps for autocorrect ability, but I’m cheap.

    1. Yeah, i’m not on an Exchange server, unfortunately in this case — it’s just an install on my laptop. I started using it because, to my surprise, it perfectly fit my calendar needs 6 years ago. When i got my Windows Mobile phone (Pigwidgeon), i started using it for my contacts so i could manage them on my computer and just sync them to my phone (i hate managing certain things on the phone itself because the input is too small). I don’t even use Outlook for my email (i’ve been a dedicated fan of The Bat! since about 2001). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn i am the ONLY person using Outlook in this way. :P

      Thanks for the rec on a Twitter client!

      RE: autocorrect. Heh, actually, NOT having an autocorrect feature MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I HATE autocorrect. I’d rather have my own typos go out into the world than a wrong word chosen for me by autocorrect. Also, i’m dead tired of this Windows Phone (the one i’m returning) changing all my lower-case 1st person pronouns into upper-case. ;)

      Thanks for much, PK!!

  3. I use the twitter client that my Android phone came for, which is Peep. It works reasonably well, I guess.

    Mostly I am in love with Simple Tea Timer which is really easily alterable for a free app.

  4. I just use the standard Twitter app, but you already know I’m not a power user.

    I’ve heard Google’s sky map thingie is good but I’ve never used it.

    I like the Google Reader app but I assume that’s not relevant to you cuz I don’t think you use them for your RSS feed.

    I like Pomodroido for productivity.

    I use Dolphin Browser for web-surfing, at the recommendation of a colleague. It seems to work just fine (& I love that I can set up shortcuts w/gestures or whatever, but I presume you can do that w/other browsers). Um, Dropbox can be useful. I already mentioned I use Advanced Task Killer. If you are studying a language or anything else you need flash cards for, AnkiDroid is awesome. I use OpenOffice for documents though I haven’t used v. many.

    I think everything else isn’t really relevant to you (manga reader, various London or Finnish things, Crunchyroll app, etc.!).

    I like Lifehacker’s round-ups of Android apps; every now & then I go look & see if they’ve done another one & see what else I might want to get.

  5. Evernote – I only ever want to write notes on my phone, not read them, so I just use the email client for this. Although I use Evernote for GTD, not note-taking proper.

    Twitter – I use the standard app, but I ‘m not a power-user

    Outlook/Exchange – If your work has OWA set up it should work with the built in calendar and email apps. It works great – I have a widget set up on the home screen showing my “next appointment” from either exchange or google calendar.

    But really the most used app on my phone is GMail. Google maps gets pretty good use, since it knows my city bus time tables.

  6. Google Sky Map is SO NEAT. It’s the app I use to blow the minds of non-smart-phone folks like my uncles.

    j is correct about Pomodroido – (thanks, sis! I use it because you recced it!)

    I just switched Twitter apps, because Twidroyd changed hands and the “legacy” version was stripping the “in reply to” for no apparent reason. I now use Twicca and am liking it a lot. Also it’s free. (Tho you do have to download plugins for things like Twitpic.) It has a clean interface and a neat color-coding system that I haven’t fully implemented yet.

    1. I said “j is correct” b/c my brain inserted some kind of positive commentary, rather than just “i use it”. Obviously she is correct that she uses it. Med adjustments ruin thought processes. :/

Comments are closed.