5 Android Applications I like
We all love a good Android App, and there’s literally thousands of them on the app store of your choice. But which ones are worth downloading and hogging your system resources with? Colin Harris takes a look at his 5 favourites.
WordPress Mobile App
Of course, a list like this on a Website Development company blog wouldn’t be correct without something to do with website development. The majority of websites we develop for clients are based on the WordPress development framework, and traditionally clients can update their sites using a computer via their web browser.
However WordPress have kindly published a mobile phone application which allows users to quickly add posts, pages and manage website content such as comments and categories. It’s very lightweight but powerful and a must for all our clients who enjoy updating their website on a regular basis, no bad thing.
The joy of this app is that instead of visiting lots of different websites to see if there are any new content, you can use just one application to do that. What a great timesaver – using a relatively old piece of technology called RSS.
RSS feeds are small text files that are generated by websites – mainly news, blogs and other dynamic sites. Your site may generate a RSS feed without you knowing – it’s not something that many sites publicise. But what’s good about them? Every time new content is published on a website, RSS feeds update with a summary of the change – the title, a snippet and the time it was updated.
Now this is where Feedly comes it, it is an aggregator – it is an app which sniffs out and loads RSS feeds from sources you add and constantly polls them for updates. You can categorise your feeds so you can view a list of updated content on various topics, and Feedly has lots of helpful tools to allow you to read, share and save for later content. There is also a web browser version for cross-platform support should your mobile not be to hand.
Another aggregator is Podcast Addict. It enables users to load up a list of their favourite podcasts and present them in a user-friendly way for on-the-go listening. What makes this app special is the number of great features it has. It auto deletes listened-to podcasts, options to download on Wi-Fi only, uses multiple search engines when looking for new pods and has an audio enhancer and speed controls for speech-based casts. You haven’t lived until you have listened on Infinite Monkey Cage on double speed.
Fed up of receiving spam calls on your mobile? Whoscall is a great real-time app which monitors your incoming calls. For numbers not on your contact list it quickly looks up the number from its database to see if the number has been reported as spam and why – for example it categorises a number as Spam, PPI, Nuisance Calls and other categories. You can then disconnect and add the number to your block list so they will not hassle you any more.
For numbers with no Whoscall entry which you discover are spam, you can report the number to be submitted to the Whoscall database. This handy feature then makes the tool a dynamic user community system, whereby in real time people are contributing to lists – keeping everyone up to date.
Why buy expensive Sat Navs which are always out of date, wrong and leading you into rivers (erm…well sometimes)? You can have the power of a fully updated, intelligent satellite navigation system on a device you already have – your mobile phone. Waze is a full Sat Nav application with everything you’d expect – route planning, world-wide maps, changeable voices – but it also a user contributed project.
From a variety of sources – public notices, user alerts and the data it gains from users – it can tell travellers in real time about the routes ahead, judging road speeds and adjusting to roadworks and traffic conditions. It also has a handy “report it” function which allows users to let others know if there’s been an accident or a road closure, and you can thank other users with one click. As the app is (of course) web enabled, new maps and updates are automatically downloaded to each device.
Bonus: Thomas Was Alone
This is a cheat as Thomas is a game, not an app, but it’s a little fun video game which I’ve taken into my heart. It harks back to 8-bit computing, the Ataris and Commodores of this world on which I was raised. You control a series of polygon shapes, which represent Artificial Intelligence, whom are trying to escape from their computer. It’s a simple game that could have be written 30 years ago, but what lifts it above is its character. Each level has a voice-over documenting the little shapes thoughts and feelings as they explore their world and gain sentience. In a world of Grand Theft Auto and Fruit Ninja, this game makes a refreshing change on a quiet, thoughtful level.