Android App Recommendations, In Which I Tell You How To Live Your Life

Let’s go over which applications are essential and why. At the moment I use the Motorola Moto G, model XT1045, using Android 4.4.4.

Essential List (without Pete Tong)

LastPass

This is a full-featured password manager. It is the first thing you get on any new device, including work computers, smart phones, public computers, et cetera. Sign up for LastPass Premium service for $1 USD per month and BAM, you will never forget a password ever again. Store notes, financial information like credit and debit cards, application credentials, network passwords, and anything else you can put into text. Retrieve this info efficiently with their browser add-ons, mobile applications, standalone applications, website, or bookmarklets. Auto-fill most web forms, create secure passwords that can be as long and complex as you wish since you don’t have to remember or even type them, easily change your passwords, auto-complete credit card information for online purchases, get through site registrations in seconds without typing a word. Ensure you disable browsers’ sub-par password synchronization and auto-complete features. Recommending LastPass is more like recommending exercise, healthy eating, and regular sleep schedules as a way to improve your daily life than it is an app recommendation. Just do it – first.

Swype (+ Dragon)

This keyboard lets you graduate from grade school, thumb mashing tiny on-screen keyboards, to join the big boys with Swype technology. You just drag your finger over the letters et voila, your mind-stream appears. Just get it. It’ll be a pain and you’ll complain for a week. Suck it up. You’ll be able to type faster than any Neanderthalic finger tapper with little relative experience.

Watchdog Task Manager Lite

I have used Advanced Task Killer until recently, but have since seen the light – since Android 4.0 came out with their stock application manager, that is. Why shouldn’t you use a task killer? As explained in a howtogeek.com article, background applications mostly behave properly, and shutting them down with these programs is so heavy handed that it may end up increasing battery use and slowing down your overall experience.

Use Watchdog Task Manager Lite instead. It identifies misbehaving applications and shuts them down individually.

Battery Mix

Tracks power statistics more accurately than the stock tracker. Identify gluttonous apps and wimpy chargers, and give yourself an actual number for remaining battery.

 My Data Manager – Data Usage

Track data statistics more accurately than the stock tracker. Ration your data use to daily amounts, set warnings and caps, and even track shared data plan usage. Learn which activities burn through data and which are light. Answer important questions like ‘How many times can I watch this cat video this month?’ (Answer: none.)

G Cloud Backup

Automatic backup services for the things you don’t normally think to backup, like contacts, call logs, text messages, and other documents. It can backup photos, videos, and music, but let’s use something else for that. Google keeps some data on their servers, allowing you to swap devices and retain contacts if stored properly, but there’s more to it than that.

Google DriveDropboxOneDrive, Copy, …

The plethora of available cloud storage solutions overwhelm the consumer, and we end up going with whatever is most popular and easiest. This isn’t a terrible strategy, as those at the top of the list are actually great! CNet has the full breakdown if you follow this finely crafted hyperlink. Get both Dropbox and Google DriveDropbox is best for general file sharing between environments; Google Drive is best for seamless integration in the Android and Google+ environment, and allows unlimited storage of photos less than 2048 pixels square (the Moto G camera is 2592 by 1944 pixels). Don’t like some things about these? Use them all at the same time, then keep that which you like best after a few weeks. Just make sure you use something with automatic uploads.

File Expert

We’ll always need a full-fledged file explorer, and the one that comes stock doesn’t cut it. This one does. Internal storage and external SD operations, wireless (Wi-Fi) file transfers, cloud support, etc. It’s complicated – it’s supposed to be. Get it.

Improve The Quality Of Your Life And Get These Apps

Amazon Kindle

You don’t need a Kindle to enjoy the benefits of ebooks. It’s better than other ebook readers. Get over it, Nook.

Google Goggles

Use this to analyze QR and bar codes. Also does reverse image searches, image to text searching, translates text, and a whack of other stuff.

Maps

Google Maps isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. Alternatives all have downsides which, when encountered, you solve by loading up Google Maps. Go straight to the solution and save yourself the hassle.

Mint

Automatically tracks your finances. Sign up at mint.com and start making smart budgeting decisions. Speeds up bill payment, especially credit cards, and gives you an excellent overview of all of your finances, including trends over various periods.

YouTube

User experience is much better with this app than a web browser.

AudioTagger

Make your music easier to find, identify, and group.

Xmarks

The best bookmark manager, and it integrates with LastPass. Sign up and get your browser add-ons at their website xmarks.com. Ensure you disable your browsers’ bookmark synchronization.

Dolphin Browser For Android

I like this browser more than the stock one, Firefox, or Chrome. It’s just light and easy. Get Dolphin Premium to get rid of ads; get Dolphin Jetpack to speed it up; get LastPass for Dolphin and Xmarks for Dolphin for obvious reasons.

Pushbullet

Push notifications are shared between your devices, often allowing you to follow up on them with whichever you happen to be using. For example, replying to a WhatsApp conversation on your cell phone with your Chrome browser on your laptop, sending a webpage from one browser to another, or pushing screen-caps from a movie you’re watching on your tablet to your phone.

MX Player

This is the best video player available. Supports a wide range of formats, with intuitive controls. It’s better than VLC.

Poweramp Music Player

This is the best music player available.

Sleep as Android

Are you getting enough sleep? Of course not, hardly anyone does. Well, it’s important. Start tracking your sleep habits so you can make informed decisions about it. Also, get the plug-in apps Sleepcloud Backup and tie it in with whichever cloud services you have so you can’t lose your data.

Plume for Twitter

Access your Twitter feed using this app, with a full-page widget for updates at a glance. Don’t use Twitter? Get off my lawn.

Podcast Addict

Use this app to search for, subscribe to, download, organize, and play podcasts. Sign up for RadioLab and Stuff You Should Know, turn off the popcrap radio and tune in to knowledge.

VPN by Private Internet Access

Government agencies and large corporations are using our own technology against our interests, building data profiles and making decisions about our freedoms based on them. While not a solution to this glaring problem, it gets you out of the problem: subscribe to a virtual private network (VPN) service that encrypts all data and obfuscates your location by changing your IP. One of the best providers is Private Internet Access. This may slow your data connection, use more battery than without, and use some processor time, but it’s worth it. Connect all of your machines through their servers. Upgrade yourself from pawn to queen. Check out this LifeHacker article: Why You Should Start Using a VPN.

Have some suggestions for this list? Of course you do, everyone does. Submit it to the comments and maybe someone will listen.

Hey, check out my cool new smartphone!

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