Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Top Android Apps for the Google Nexus One

Sorry about the delay in getting this post up.  Like any blogger/geek, we all have our lists and this is my list of favorite Android Apps available for the Nexus One.  These apps are available for most other Android devices, but my experience with them are limited to the Nexus One and Android 2.1.  I will also cover a few other hacks/tweaks that i've played around with and if they are worth the time of doing/learning.

Keep reading for the full list (including root required apps)!

  • Google Voice (free) - This app lets you integrate Google Voice into the Android OS.  If you have a google voice account and a nexus one; you need this app.  You can view and listen to Voice messages and also change your settings. Text messages of course go through the Android Messaging app.  You can also setup your phone to use Google Voice exclusively as the provider.

  • Google Sky Map (free) - This app will utilize the phone's GPS and Compass abilities and let you view any major planet and constellation by holding up your phone to the sky and pointing. There is search feature that has an arrow that you follow to find the object in the sky.  Night mode is also included (uses a red background to prevent your eyes from going out of 'night' mode when looking at screen).  Runs very smoothly and does not require internet access to use, another pleasant surprise for us visiting areas of no cell coverage.

  • Pandora Radio (free) - Any phone with a decent data plan should have this app. :)  if you use Pandora (i'm even a paying customer now!), you need this app.  Identical to iPhone version, runs very smoothly and has a Homescreen widget on the Nexus One.  I use it for longer trips in the car; no commercials if you pay the yearly fee.  You can set between a normal and higher quality stream; higher quality works very well on wifi but can stutter over 3G if your dropping in and out of service.

  • Google Maps (free) - Again, all Android phones should have Google Maps.  The Nexus One and now Droid versions of Maps has built-in, free Turn-By-Turn Navigation.  Streetview is very fast and can take use of the compass to point and change view with.  I've tested Navigation against my Honda Navigation unit in my car and i actually prefer Google Navigation over my cars.  However, the car navigation still wins overall since it can deal with areas without cell coverage since maps on are locally stored. If google allowed caching of trips/locations, they could really be a threat to GPS makers.

  • Seesmic for Twitter (free) - Imo, the best twitter client/app on the Android Market Place.  Some people stand by twidroid, but i just didn't like the interface or ui. Seesmic lets you attach photos, videos, url shrinking, geotagging and more.  You can choose between the major providers for attachments (twictpic, twitvid,, etc).  Multiple accounts are also allowed.

  • TimeTracker (free) - If you need to track time for work or tasks/projects. TimeTracker is a pretty decent, basic tracking app. You can setup multiple categories and export time to a csv file on the sd card.  Nothing fancy but does what it says.

  • Flip Clock beta (free) - This app has both an app and widget interface. It is your classic flip style clock.  The widget comes in two sizes, normal (2 cells) or large (2 rows).  It also has a standalone clock that can be enabled to auto start when charging.

  • ShopSavvy (free) - This app lets you snap barcodes or qcodes and returns searches for price / information on each.  Works well and can be handy at times.

  • Ringdroid (free) - A great ring creating software.  This lets you take basically any mp3 song on your sdcard and turn it into a ringer. you can even crop the area of the song you want created.  It will then add the ringer to your list and make it available to use in the system.

  • Talk To Me (free) - A pretty good voice/text to voice/text translating app.  It lets you either speak or type in a word or phrase you want translated. It can also speak back the translations using the google api.  Not all languages supported but still a very huge list.

  • Earth Live Wallpaper (free) -Very cool Live wallpaper of Earth. Can have realtime clouds and daylight view.

  • Reality Browser 3.0 (free) - An augmented reality app that uses your phones camera, gps, and compass to overlay realtime data as you look around. You can point your phone and see on screen whats around you (ie people tweeting, local businesses, photos, notes). Runs very well if you have a solid data signal.

  • NewsRob (free) - if you use Google Reader for your RSS consumption/reading; then NewsRob is for you.  This app will sync two-ways with Google Reader and also allow you to save content offline and prefetch data.  You can setup syncing to only occur when on wifi and amount of data to fetch (mobile webpage or full page)


These next few apps require root access on your Nexus One / Android phone. Some of these apps may be worth rooting your phone for. :)

  • Shootme (free / root required) -  This app requires you to root your phone. Shootme is a screenshot utility that runs as a background service and when activated, will take screenshots whenever you shake your phone.  They are then saved to a folder, shootme, on your sd card.  A great app for those writing documentation or sharing their homescreens.

  • Nexus One Torch (free / root required) - A very useful app that lets you turn on the LED light to use as a flashlight. You can also use strobe or flash modes. Includes a Homescreen widget to turn on and off LED.

  • appInstaller (free / root required) - Lets you install .apk files from your SDCard.  Does require root access.

  • Wireless Tether (free / root required) - This app turns your phone into a wireless access point. Root access is required.  You can share your phones internet via WiFi or Bluetooth.  You can use basic wep encryption and/or client access control.  This app is not in the market place, you will need to download from here and install from sdcard using app2sd or another apk installer app.


Power Users / Modders

Finally, here are a few of the latest tweaks/hacks for the Nexus One that I've tried and played with and my feedback on them.  Again, remember to read up on what your doing, these tweaks can brick your device.

Custom / Modded Roms:

These are roms that users have custom tweaked for specific devices.  They may contain hacked addons such as trackball color led to rotation being available in all apps and in any direction (including upside down).

So far, the only one i've tried and am currently using is:

CyanogenMod - ( view xda-developer thread here)

This rom basically requires you to backup all your data and do a nandroid backup.  Wipe your device and wipe settings.  Then flash the custom rom zip file via Amon Ra's Recovery menu.  Then install the Google Apps (not included in roms due to legal issues) and voila have a custom rom that does all of the original stuff but more!  Led trackball now is green for email/notifications, can be set to any color for sms messages. Extended menus, pre-rooted with developer tools, ability to rotate any app in all four directions, and more.

I've also tried and like the HTC_IME  keyboard hack for  the Nexus One too.  It works on other devices including the Droid.  More info can be found over at the XDA-Developers thread.  I have much better success typing with this keyboard over the android one.  The list of additional features really let you customize it to your liking.  This app requires you to copy two apk files to your sdcard and install via AppInstaller or any other apk installing app.  It also has a calibration tool; however it is kind of hidden a few menus deep in the settings screen.

So theres my quick round-up of my current fave Nexus One / Android apps and hacks.  As a side note, i did just pre-order an iPad 16GB WiFi so expect some posts on that too. :) Geek out.