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Android "Rolling" TOP "20" Apps and my Galaxy S2

Posted by Rene C Schutte on October 12, 2011 at 2:40 PM

I wonder how many apps the general smartphone user has on their phone, and what they really use. Having read quite a few "Top 20" app list articles of course it was only natural that I would jump on this bandwagon, except, in my case perhaps hook on a trailer as I seem to use 45 apps to the point where I feel a need to share my thoughts on these wonderfull applications, many completely free from the Android Market Place.

Allow me another paragraph or two of rambling before I jump to the list ;-). I just love the storage on my Samsung Galaxy S2, which I had to get as my previous HTC Desire was simply pathetic with regards to RAM, and internal storage. Having a super smartphone without the capacity to be used as the mini-tablet it has become, is just plain frustrating... to me at least.

As for many super smartphone users out there, the reasons for having them are both diverse and similar. Some (like you know who ;-) are fairly high up on the geek scale and therefore need to squeeze every last bit of battery and CPU cycles out of the poor little electronic gadget, critising a modern technological miracle to the point where it would blush if it could when they should be hailed perhaps as the modern marvels they are. But then we wouldn't be the digital consumers we are if we went that route would we?

It is clear as crystal that we've moved (in case you missed it) way down on the geek scale when it comes to the emotive attachments we place on todays smartphone. We strap it, we wear it, we colour code it, we sleep with it next to us, we charge it all the time, and have mini heart palpatations when we realise we may run out of battery life. 

How many non-geeks are livid about their BBM being down. How many non-geeks are saddened by the passing of visionary, Steve Jobs? And how many non-geeks play the modern day evolutionary equivalent of PacMan, i.e. Angry Birds? The answer to these questions are of course the same; that many non-geeks have become as attached to their gadgets as their geek friends.

So for geeks and non-geeks alike here then are for the Android platform with a mega trolley in the form of a Galaxy S2 my list of applications, that I use, like and prefer:

TOP APPS (Must! Have) (In alphabetical order)

  1. Airdroid - Ultra convenient for when you don't want to fish out your USB cable just to copy a few files to or from your phone. Just use your wifi and browser.

  2. Android Agenda Widget - Must have if you have a busy calendar and want the best completely customisable calendar widget available in a variety of screen real estate sizes.

  3. Battery Left - Mainly because the battery charge level is displayd in the title bar, which is great if you don't want to root and custom theme your phone.

  4. Color Note - for my shopping, packing lists. Many would say EverNote is better and it is able to sync to your PC. If you want to use something like EverNote then rather just use MS Outlook Tasks. Gives the same and better functionality than EverNote. Color Note on the other hand is handy with it's check lists, and as a place you might want to just temporarily use to paste some text.

  5. ConvertPad - For converting my scuba tank pressure from PSi to Bar (wish I can use it more! ;-P)

  6. CoolReader - For reading all my eBooks.

  7. Dolphin Web Browser - My favourite browser above all the others on Android.  Allowing multi-tabs and builtin + customizable excellent gesture feature.

  8. Extended Controls - To have sweep & click access to my torch (flashlight), Wifi Access Point, airplane mode, and much much more.

  9. "File Manager" by Rhythm Soft - The name says it but added the developer name as the product name is so generic. Worth mentioning why I like File Manager more than other popular file managers

    The quick nav ribbon at the top with quick access to Windows network shares. Easily to download/upload content between your PC and Android using your wireless network.

    The ability to fit onto the screen (by default) the full file names even for long file names.

    The extremely handy Bookmarks feature, to have quick access to all your folders like, photos, videos, recordings, music, documents, etc. accross your internal as well as SD Card storage.

    The ability to run it in super user mode if you're so inclined.

  10. Google News - Personalised edition.

  11. Gtalk (Talk) - Native Android Gtalk application ensure you're always available to chat.

  12. Hi-Q MP3 Recorder - Luv the fact it recordsdirectly to MP3. Clean, simple, effective.

  13. Olive Office - Even better than Polaris? Well, it gives the ability to not only view MS Office documents, but also to edit them!

  14. PlayerPro - Great music player, coz you can browse your file system if like me your music is categorised on your hard drive in folders. How painful is it to have to re-setup playlists everytime you use a different player? I far rather file my songs ONCE manually into my personal music folder structure.

  15. Plume - Best app for Twitter imho. Love the built-in URL shortening feature (to bit.ly). It generally picks up the headers and links perfectly from articles you wish to tweet.

  16. PocketCloud - For remotely controlling my desktop PCs, such as using it as a Video Remote Control adjusting the volume on the big screen desktop from the comfort of the couch.

  17. Polaris - View your Microsoft Office documents, and even edit them.

  18. Pulse News Reader - My favourite News (RSS Feeds) reader. And I can easily import all my Google Reader feeds.

  19. ReadItLater - Luv it. For saving really useful articles, as well as content I might want to read offline. 

  20. Swift Key - IMHO, next to Swype, the best predictive text keyboard with support for multiple languages, including Afrikaans! If you don't like Swype, then get SwiftKey. Having tried almost half a dozen different touch keyboards, I found SwiftKey way ahead of the others, with it's seemingly unique learning engine and it's very impressive predictive capabilities.

  21. Swype - For text input these keyboards are TOPS!

  22. Touchdown - For full Active Sync Exchange or Zimbra integration Having fully tested on both. For email I find it better than native Android app purely because it supports viewing your email in HTML so you see it as you would in Outlook (or other rich email client) . I need to add I only use Touchdown for Email and have disabled Calendar Sync and Contacts Sync, which I do via the Android native application. The reason for this is I find the phone dialer integration better with native Android and the calendar Android app widget was the decider for the calndar being native Android.

  23. What's App - Chat across Android, iPhone, BlackBerry or Symbian, sharing text, audio, photos, or videos with your friends.

  1. Angry Birds - Well, of course! In all three flavours, "Classic" , "Rio" and "Seasons"
  2. Field Runners HD - Warning: Highly addictive
  3. Geared - Great brain exercise game
  4. GT Free+ - Great racing game with superb graphics. I still can't drive it though... LoL. NOTE: The game download is in excess of a couple of hundred MB so you may not want to download it via your 3G.
  5. Google Sky Map - If like me on a clear night at the campfire you struggle to find the southern cross, or Jupiter ;-)
  6. Mahjong - Game
  7. MatchUp - Game
  8. Memory Trainer - Cool
  9. Paper Toss - Game
  10. Pool Master - Game
  11. Wordfeud - Always have a scrabble partner (or 10)
  12. Chess (AI Factory)
  13. Ping Pong 3D
  14. Tank Hero
  15. Tetris

  1. Google Goggles - Great for scanning business cards to your contacts
  2. IP Address Widget - Handy in a number of cases to see what your IP address is.
  3. Merriam Webster - Dictionary
  4. Mini Info - Quite handy for quick storage info
  5. Magnetic Field Tracker - (also See Startrek Tricorder ;-D) -coz it's fun
  6. Open Office Document Reader - For Open Office documents ;-)
  7. Photoshop Express - Quick and easy to make your mobile pics pretty.
  8. Google Translate - Надо ли говорить больше?
  9. Waze - Free & Open Source Voice Navigation. Very cool!!
  10. Titanium Backup - Backup your precious....
  11. SBMX -- Very cool drawing by hand application.
  12. Alarm Clock Xtreme - Make sure you're awake by doing some simple math before being able to dismiss the alarm. Xtremely configurable.
  13. Big Digital Clock - Able to set it very dim you get a non-instrusive lighted deskside digital clock in full screen portrait or landscape.
  14. IP Camera Viewer - Allows me to monitor the outside security gate via my connected connected wirelessly to the  installed networked CCTV camera. 
  15. Screencast - Record your actions on your Android phone as an AVI video clip.
  16. OS Monitor - Look under the hood of your Android to see what's taking up memory, CPU, Network and Internet traffic.






  1. Seesmic and Tweetdeck - I prefer Plume for Twitter and either the Android Facebook client or full desktop Facebook through Dolphin
  2. EverNote - Great if it were free, but Outlook Tasks does the same and works natively between Android and Windows. The PRICE of Evernote completely put me off from using it.
  3. TotalCommander - Still need to compare it with "File Manager"
  4. Google+ - Hmmm, actually not using it much lately, but will leave it on the list as having a Top 44 App List will be too weird.
  5. Skype - I just tend to Gtalk more than Skype




.... THE END


Categories: Techie Stuff, General Ramblings

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Reply Wynand
8:01 AM on October 14, 2011 
By now I've gone through a few itterations re. android apps and the core apps I need and not mentioned above include:

1. Lightning Bug - Alarm Clock with ambient sounds...drift off to sleep with a babbling brook, breaking surf, rain....
2. Angry Birds - Seriously :)
3. Fish Bowl Photo - Browse your photo's
4. Moon+ Reader - IMHO one of the best eBook readers out there
5. uTorrent Remote - Manage your PC's torrents from anywhere
6. Shush! - Return your ringer volume to normal after a set time
7. TuneIn Radio - Internet radio
8. Photo Tools - all the tools/calculators/advice that a photographer needs
9. MX Video Player - If you're addicted to tv-series....
10. Pulse - RSS feed reader - I have to mention this amazing app even if it's already in your list!
Reply Anke
2:46 AM on October 16, 2011 
Great article. They should pay you for this possitive feedback.
Reply Rene C Schutte
6:06 PM on October 18, 2011 
Thanks for the comments :-). As for getting paid I guess it might affect the level of independence associated with the article? ;-)

Anke says...
Great article. They should pay you for this possitive feedback.
Reply adsema
12:53 AM on November 3, 2011 
I now understand why you get so little sleep. You should really get paid for this !!
Reply Rene C Schutte
3:15 AM on November 7, 2011 
hehehe .. I wish :-D

adsema says...
I now understand why you get so little sleep. You should really get paid for this !!
Reply Francois
2:30 AM on January 17, 2013 
Nice list Rene.

I can't believe SMS Backup+ isn't in there.
The problem with SMS messages is that you don't have the history.
With this app, is stores every SMS in gmail and if the number in the sms is in your contacts then it's linked to that contact.
You can then search for any SMS in gmail and the app also stored call information, which can be synced to a dedicated Call calendar in GCal.
Reply Rene C Schutte
12:23 PM on January 17, 2013 
Thanks Francois!

Yeah, one thing about the list is I need to update it more often. Nea, amazing tools are being developed all the time, and together with the fierce competition between the existing software packages, this list is bound to get outdated quite quickly, and simply become a nostaligia page.

So thanks for your input as well. I will aim to update this page in the next few weeks to reflect more truly that which is the current "hot list" of super apps.

Francois says...
Nice list Rene.

I can't believe SMS Backup+ isn't in there.
The problem with SMS messages is that you don't have the history.
With this app, is stores every SMS in gmail and if the number in the sms is in your contacts then it's linked to that contact.
You can then search for any SMS in gmail and the app also stored call information, which can be synced to a dedicated Call calendar in GCal.