Android Starter Kit: What every new Droid owner should download: Appbrain, WiFi Login, CallUsage, and more

Introduction

Following are some of the most useful items for Android Phone users. Some may be useful for Android tablet as well.

The apps mentioned are all free. Some may have pay versions that provide additional functions, but they are optional.

These programs range from utilities to backups to customization tools and others. Try them. You should like them. Keep in mind that NONE of these programs are required. These provide functions better than what's available in Android OS itself, or provide new capabilities.

These were tested on Android OS 2.2. Most should work on older Android phones as well, but no guarantees.

Source

Free Android Guide

Read the full guide to Android OS online, or order the eBook or the Paperback book for offline reading. This guide covers everything you need to know as a new Android device owner. 


Call Meter NG

Call Meter NG gets data about your calls, your texts, AND your data usage, no matter what billing plan you use. Set up the plan once, including plan start date, your quota, and such. And you can track exactly how much you used. If you STILL go over, it's your own fault.

Download Call Meter NG from Appbrain

Other similar apps include Call Meter 3G, PhoneUsage, and Droidstats

See other Call Utilities for Android

CallTrack

CallTrack backs up all your call log onto your Google Calendar. ALL of them. Each appears as an event. Create a new calendar for it, set it up, and you'll never lose track of any calls.

While the built-in "call log" is useful, that only tracks last 500 calls. This gives you infinite history.

Download CallTrack from Appbrain

Similar app would be GCal Call Logger

See other Android Call Utilities


SMS Backup+

CallTrack backed up your call log. If you want your SMS backed up as well, SMS will back that up for you, as well as any MMS, and your call log, by giving it your Gmail and Google Calendar credentials.

Download SMS Backup+ from Appbrain

Similar app is SMS Backup

See other Android Call Utilities

Dialer One

DialerOne is one of the most updated Dialer app that access your contacts easily. Enter a few letters and it will find your contacts easily. It works well in both portrait and landscape modes, and can be white or black, plus many other tweaks.

You can use the built-in Dialer, but this one is better, really. Try it.

Download Dialer One from Appbrain

Similar app is SuperDial

See other Android Call Utilities

Improved Email

Improved Email is a better version of the normal Email app. It is compatible with Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail without any changes, just enter your account name and password and it will do the rest. It also has many other UI enhancements over the normal Email app.

You can use the existing Email app, but this one is better, really.

Download Improved Email from Appbrain

Similar apps are Hot Email, MailDroid

RingDroid

RingDroid allow you to cut any onboard MP3 into Ringtones and save it as a tone so it can be used easily in system notifications and/or ringtones.

You don't need this, but if you want to make your own ringtones, this is for you. Similar program would be aRing.

Download RingDroid from Appbrain

Learn more about Android Ringtone utilities


Barcode Scanner

The original barcode scanner app, this lets you scan a QR code (2D barcode) and get the embedded information, such as URL, contact information, and so on. It's optional, but it's useful to keep around.

A similar program would be ScanLife.

Download Barcode Scanner from Appbrain

DiskUsage

DiskUsage displays a live map of either your SD card or Internal Storage, so you can see exactly how much room each of your app or apps are using up. It also takes up very little space itself, and you can figure out exactly where did all your disk space went.

Download DiskUsage from Appbrain


App 2 SD

App 2 SD is one of the first app for Android 2.2 (Froyo) to move any apps that can be moved onto the SD card, save the space for actual apps to run. There's a hidden "batch mode" for moving many apps at once, only revealed if you hit the menu key.

It's not required, as you can check individual apps under Settings / Applications / Manage Applications, then try to see if each app can be moved. This app do it all for you.

Download App 2 SD from Appbrain

DropBox

Dropbox is really a PC utility, but any DropBox account you got is now also accessible on your Android mobile as long as you have Internet connectivity. And the first 2GB is free.

Dropbox by itself is incredibly useful for variety of reasons. On Android, it can be used to store your password file (we'll discuss that in the next part), and if you do backups, make backups for all your apps into your Dropbox account.

Download Dropbox from Appbrain

KeePassDroid

KeePassDroid is the Android version of KeePass, the "password vault" that keeps copies of your passwords encrypted, so you can pull them out when you need them without remembering too many different ones.

What's good about this is it will read the PC version of the vault file. So you can use DropBox to sync the file you use on the PC over to your Android phone, so you don't have to worry about keeping too many different passwords on too many different devices.

Download KeePassDroid from AppBrain

SeePU

SeePU shows you how busy your CPU is, and how much RAM is free (roughly speaking), in the notification bar, similar to the Windows "task manager".

You don't need this if you have a late model Android phone, but it's nice to see how busy your phone really is.

Download SeePU from Appbrain


Task Tray

Task Tray (beta) is a simple task switcher. It takes over the camera button. Press it, and it will pop up a list of all open apps, so you can switch to a different one.

Download Task Tray (beta) from Appbrain

Advanced Task Killer Froyo

Advanced Task Killer, also known as ATK, is the best known task killer on Android, and this is the Froyo (Android 2.2) specific version. This app is useful for killing runaway apps (that refuse to die and is eating up the battery). Keep it around for such circumstances. There are a lot of similar apps, but this is the original and still the best.

You don't strictly need this, as there is a manual way to kill apps (settings / applications / manage apps, select the app, force stop) but that is complicated and this makes things very simple.

Download Advanced Task Killer Froyo from Appbrain

WiFi Browser Login

WiFi Browser Login detects any free WiFi that requires a simple browser login (such as Starbucks or McDonalds), and can pop up window for you to login immediately, or just notify you.

Download WiFi Browser Login from AppBrain

Dolphin Mini

Dolphin Mini is a new version of the Dolphin browser for faster operation and smaller footprint. Well under 1 MB in size, it is full featured and better than the default browser, and thus worth a try. If you don't like it, uninstall it and go back to the default browser.

Download Dolphin Mini from AppBrain

Read reviews of other Android browsers

GTasks

Put Google Tasks, the task list inside GMail, on your phone. Simple to use, multiple size of widgets available, syncs with Google so you can't lose it. It is that simple.

You don't strictly need this, as you can just bookmark the Google Tasks web app on your browser, but then, you don't get to use the Widgets and such.

Download GTasks from Appbrain

VPlayer

VPlayer (Beta) is current the best AVI player for Android, just ahead of Rockplayer. It can play a wide variety of video formats, such as MKV, M4V, WMV, 3GP, FLV, and so on.

You strictly do not need this app as the built-in "Movies" app is a decent MP4 player, but you will need to convert your AVI to MP4 first to use it. This avoids the conversion.

Download Vplayer from Appbrain

Read reviews of other AVI players on Android

Screebl and JuiceDefender

Screebl and JuiceDefender are the two apps I found that actually saved power on my phone, without compromising usability. They are so useful, I paid for both to get extra capabilities, but the free versions of both are plenty powerful. Also, they are not strictly necessary, as power savings can be achieved through proper setup.

Screebl

Screebl is a program that checks your phone's orientation and determine whether to time-out your screen or not. This way, you can spend your time reading this webpage without having it time-out on you, but it will timeout if you flip the phone face down. As display is the biggest consumer of power in a phone, this will save you power. Pro version is available.

Download Screebl Lite from Appbrain

JuiceDefender

JuiceDefenderis an app that smartly manage your network connection so you don't end up connected to the Internet all the time and drain your battery, but still allow your apps to work properly. Ultimate version is available.

Download JuiceDefender from Appbrain


Conclusion

I have personally found these programs to be very helpful on my Motorola Droid, and I believe they are useful on ANY Android phone. I hope you enjoy these apps I have discovered.

More by this Author


9 comments

danatheteacher profile image

danatheteacher 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Excellent list and reviews!


nick 5 years ago

First time I've heard of calltrack - thanks for recommending it


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

I saw a few I might try, however, I noticed they all seem to be from Appbrain - are you their marketing guru or something?

Also Google tracks enough of what I do, I don't need them tracking my phone calls too, but I am sure its a great app for those who don't care.

- Harlan


kschang profile image

kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA Author

@Harlan Colt

A1) Appbrain was the ONLY way to link to an app before Android Marketplace website went live (i.e. market.android.com ) I always find Appbrain's website to be better designed than Android Marketplace, with more search filters.

A2) Technically it's just an event in your Google Calendar. Doubt they actually "read" it in any way.


myi4u profile image

myi4u 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Nice hub! Your list makes me realise that I forgot to install the useful Barcode Scanner! I have just wipe my Android phone a couple of weeks ago and in the process of reinstalling some of my frequently used apps. I better backup my applist next time I want to wipe my phone.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 5 years ago from United Kingdom

There are certainly some useful apps out there and Android seems to be dominating the app market at the moment. My only real concern is that the software doesn't go through a screening process like they do with iPhone apps therefore you should be careful when downloading apps from unkown publishers.


Bob 5 years ago

Great guide! You should add Google Navigation as well.

FYI - look at JuiceDefender. There is a missing space .in the first line


JPB 5 years ago

No Tasker?

It just isn't a smartphone without Tasker (or Locale).

My phone tells me if I have groceries to buy if I drive near the Shop Rite or A&P.

What??? Yours doesn't do that? I thought you told me you had a smartphone! :-)


kschang profile image

kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA Author

I *do* have Tasker, but I don't consider it a "beginner's tool".

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