If you got an Android smartphone for Christmas, here are some must-have apps for bringing it up to business par.
Any time you move to a new phone, you've got to determine if the software you've grown accustomed to or dependent upon will work on your new device. If you're moving from one device to another that uses the same mobile OS, this isn't a huge issue, but when moving from, say, a Blackberry to an Android smartphone, you have some big decisions to make.
There's a great deal of valuable software in the Android Market that can help you make the switch. Finding it is the hard part. Here are my suggestions for must-have apps that can help busy road warriors integrate a new Android phone into their daily routine.
Android Agenda Widget. Whether you are a C-level exec or a busy soccer mom, having your schedule in front of you when you turn on your device is a must. Unfortunately, the Android Calendar widget leaves a great deal to be desired. Android Agenda Widget from Everybody all the Time comes to the rescue. With its ability to display multiple calendars and support a number of different display sizes, this free Android widget fills a huge hole and makes it easy to keep your next appointment in front of you.
Go Weather. Everyone I know loves the HTC Clock & Weather widget. It's too bad you'd have to root your non-HTC device with a custom ROM to enjoy the same features. Fortunately, plenty of Android Market developers have jumped in with their own weather apps that provide a similar look and feel to HTC's popular widget. One of my favorite freebies is Go Weather.
Like the HTC widget, the app can display not only the current time and weather conditions on your home screen, but extended local forecast information. The app supports skinning and full-motion HD video, and has live wallpaper as well as a status bar icon that displays current temperature information for the location you're currently "following." This temperature status bar alone is worth installing Go Weather on any device you have.
Android's stock program launcher is okay, but there are better launchers out there at very reasonable prices. Take Launcher Pro, a free launcher that provides access to not only the standard Android application tray but also an unlimited number of scrollable docks. Launcher Pro also uses less memory than HTC's Sense UI widget. The $3.49 registered version gives you access to the app's custom home screen widgets.
Note: Using Launcher Pro on a Sense UI device might disable the interface.
Google Voice. Any Android phone can benefit from Google Voice. Its deep OS integration allows free, unlimited text messaging through your standard cellular data connection. Regardless of your carrier or voice and data plan, Google Voice's coveted visual voice mail features let you manage your voice mails like online emails, including filing and archiving. Sprint users get the added benefit of using their standard cell number as their Google Voice number without having to port their number to Google Voice, thanks to an agreement between Google and Sprint.
Google Maps with Navigation.
Although Google Maps is a standard application from Google, not every Android device has it installed. This might be the case for you if your wireless carrier has a branded navigation app. In that case, installing and using this free, turn-by-turn navigation app is high on my recommended application list. It's one of the best free navigation apps available, and its data connection dependency for map delivery insures that you've always got the latest maps for your geographic area.
What's your favorite must-have Android app for busy prosumers or business people who use their smartphones for work?