I’m pretty sure that after the initial “ooh”s and “aah”s have stopped echoing, the first thing a new Android (or iPhone) owner will do is head for the Marketplace and see what Apps and/or Widgets are available. There are a lot available – both free and paid – and it took me a lot of poking around, playing, and sometimes swearing, to get some that suit the way I work.
Here are a few I’ve found useful.
Tweetdeck – free, in beta
If you use Twitter or Facebook, this is a great app. While I loved the official Twitter and Facebook apps (also both free), Tweetdeck suits me much better. The only “downside” is that it’s currently in beta, and you need to sign up at the Tweetdeck site in order to download it.
I should note that Tweetdeck also allows you to connect to Buzz and Foursquare, but since I don’t use either of those, I have no idea how well they work.
Calwidget, The Weather Channel and Finance
The Samsung S comes with a widget called “Daily Briefing” that brings together weather forecasts, calendar display, stock market display and news. It takes up the full width of the screen, and (depending on what you select to be displayed) most of the height of it too. That, along with the lack of options, led me to look elsewhere.
Calwidget – Free
If you’re looking for a simple Calendar Widget for your Home Screen, then Calwidget is a good place to start. It’s simple to set up, allowing you to select the calendar(s) to display and how to display events for today and subsequent days. It has the perfect balance of options without overwhelming. It also has a huge range of sizes from 2×1, through every permutation right up to 4×4.
If you’re looking for even more options you might look into Pure Calendar Widget (agenda), which costs about €1.50. I found that while it had many more options, I couldn’t get it to be as ‘clean’ as Calwidget and so I dumped that and returned to my favourite.
The Weather Channel – Free
The Weather Channel provides three sizes of widget: Large (2×2), small (1×1) and wide, (4×1) giving a graphical indication of the current weather and temperatures. For me, apart from being simple to set up, the main bonus with this widget is the ability to display temperatures in Celcius. Yes, we Southern Antipodeans are strange.
This widget connects to Google Finance to retrieve information on your stock(s). It was a bit more complex to set this up than simply running the widget, but the compact, clean display (A 2×1 size for me) made up for that.
All-in-1 Calc – Free
My scientific/programmer’s calculator that I’ve had since my University days finally died, and it occurred to me that a smartphone should be able to handle all the functions I’d used on that dearly departed bit of tech. After playing with quite a few calculator packages, I settled on All-in-1 Calc.
All-in-1 handles standard calculator functions (including Memory storage and recall), all the usual scientific functions, various “universal constants” (Avagadro’s number, Planck’s Constant and so on), base conversion, logical operations and various unit conversions. While many calculators do all of these things (and some add graphing functionality), All-in-1 does it in a rather unique way. Instead of trying to jam all those functions on one screen, or making you press various buttons to change to the operations you want by swiping left and right. For me, this makes using All-in-1 a real joy in my work.
Talk – Free, Preinstalled; Yahoo Messenger – Free
On the Nokia N95 I used IM+ to connect to Google Talk and to Yahoo, the only two messengers I have friends on. Naturally, I installed it on the Galaxy S. However, I also played with the two official apps: Talk and Yahoo Messenger. IM+, while working beautifully in the Android world, didn’t feel as easy to use as the separate messenger programs. So IM+ has been removed, and I now use Talk and Yahoo Messenger instead. If you’re willing to pay a bit (About $US4.50), then you might want to try IM+, but give the official apps a try first.
Google Reader (gReader and NewsRob – Advertising Version/Paid Version)
Sorry to mislead you, but I have yet to find a decent Google Reader app. Google doesn’t provide one, and those I’ve played extensively with are slow and drag the phone performance down to unusable levels. Those two are gReader and NewsRob.
To be fair, NewsRob notes in its description that it’s slow on the Galaxy S. I’m not sure whether this means that (for whatever reason) the Galaxy S isn’t able to cope with any type of Google Reader, or whether there’s something that those coding Readers haven’t figured out yet.
To be continued…
There are many other applications/widgets that I’m still playing with that I’m not yet comfortable recommending. I’ll post about them if I ever do feel relaxed and comfortable.