Android Starter Kit: What every new Droid owner should download: Appbrain, WiFi Login, CallUsage, and more
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.
Free Android Guide
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.
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.
Similar app would be GCal Call Logger
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.
Similar app is SuperDial
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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