Saturday, 26 May 2012

Must-have Android apps

I get asked this a lot: what are the Android applications I would struggle to manage without? Here's a list. I'll add links as I go along, but if you can't find an app and I haven't linked, drop a comment and ask for it, and I'll update the page for you.


  • Dropbox - this is a biggie. I have Dropbox on just about every computer and device I use, and it's completely indispensable for me. You create a file in your Dropbox directory, and every other device receives and is kept up-to-date with it. It's my hippocampus, and I'd be in a major pickle without it. I use the app to access files in my main Dropbox, but don't often create new ones for Dropbox from my 'Droid. Which is why I need a couple more Cloud applications:
  • Xmarks. It's Dropbox for browser bookmarks, and I have it on every browser I have.
  • Catch Notes. It's Dropbox for ad-hoc notes. Enough said.
  • Skype. When you're on a decent hotel wi-fi, thousands of miles from base, and you don't want to pay roaming costs to call home, or fire up the laptop, there's nothing better. Sorry, SIPP fans, but there it is.
  • Documents To Go. Yes, I punted cash for the full version. DTG isn't perfect, and it doesn't yet support OpenOffice/LibreOffice formats, but it's the best office suite I've tried on Android so far.
  • Barcode Scanner. Does what it says, and understands quite a few 2D code types too.
  • CamCard. I recently tried to revive my business card scanner, only to find that Kensington, dear little moppets that they are, haven't bothered paying someone a few quid to recompile their drivers for the 64-bit version of Windows 7. The current crop of card scanners isn't that cheap. Then I had a bright idea, and checked out what was available for Android. Bingo! CamCard does vastly better recognition than any PC app I've tried, and can add to the phone contacts, to Google Contacts, and also maintains its own list. Job done. The free version's recognition's just as good, but it's worth punting for the paid one. It's a damn sight cheaper than a hardware scanner, so let's not be stingy!
  • CallRecorder. For when you need to remember what you said!


  • AndroZip. It's a file manager and decompresser rolled into one.
  • Battery Indicator. Your battery level shown as a percentage. Simple, effective and completely necessary.
  • AVG Mobilation Antivirus. Possibly the worst ever name for a product, but it does the job.
  • London Travel. Not the most sophisticated or attractive app of all time, but it's perfect for finding out the next train from anywhere to anywhere else (not just London!), seeing the latest Tube line status, working out the nearest London bus stop, and so on.


  • Google Sky Map. For any astronomer, this is a must-have. Just wave your phone at a part of the sky, and the digital compass, GPS and accelerometers allow the app to show you exactly which stars or planets you're looking at. Bonus points to Google for "Night mode", when it renders in red on black, so you don't lose your night vision. If only I could interface it to my 'scope, for a point'n'slew operation!
  • Google Earth. You know it, you use it, and you need it on your 'Droid.
  • Aldiko. By no means perfect, but probably the best e-book reader for the Android at the moment.
  • TED. It's like giving your brain cosmetic surgery. Loads of inspirational videos for free.

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