Phil's Apps for 2011

We go through a lot of Applications here at Android Central. Some are good. Some ... not so good. Some are awesome, but I don't need them.

Here's a look at the apps that get me through the day, whether it's at home or on the road.

1. Twitter - Switching from Seesmic to Tweetdeck

I used to be a huge Seesmic supporter. But I've recently weened myself, as the app just hasn't kept up with all of the changes Twitter's forced on developers. And it still has no proper tablet design, never mind that we got a peek of it back back in May, and Seemsic itself showed it off at Google IO a week later. Where the hell is an update? Seemsic hasn't been touched since June 17.

So, I've moved to Tweetdeck. Or, more specifically, Paul O'Brien's tweaked version, appropriately called "Tweakdeck."

2. Google+

Google rolled out its social network this year, and there's a lot to love about it. I've not actually touched my personal blog since Google+ came out. (Sorry, Tumblr!) Yeah, it needs noise controls. But the photo sharing is stellar, as is the instant upload feature from phones. I'd love to see more noise control (and it's coming). 

The bottom line is Google+ has become my go-to method of sharing with you guys.


3. Facebook

Yeah, it's still around. And it's still pretty evil. And it's still where most of my friends and family are. And I've decided to keep it that way. Since just about none of my family is on Google+, I pared Facebook back to just people I actually know. The rest of you can get me on Google+.

4. Google Music

I've long crowed about Microsoft's Zune Pass. But Microsoft killed one of the best parts of it this year -- the ability to keep 10 downloaded songs a month for free. I'm grandfathered into that, which is awesome, and I still love the ability to download a song or full album and listen to it as part of a subscription fee; I'll pay extra if I want to break it out of the Zune ecosystem.

But Google Music has come onto the scene. And if you're on Android, it's absolutely a must-have. You can upload up to 20,000 songs for free, download as much of that back to your device as you want, or just stream all your songs. Once everything's uploaded, it's pretty painless.

One area that does need some work is Google's music store. Three of the four major labels are on board, but the fourth is obviously missing, and I'm supplementing Google with the Amazon MP3 store. Let's hope that changes.

5. Gmail

Can't live without it. Android has the best Gmail experience, as it should.

6. Pure Calendar

Gotta gave me some calendar widget action. Pure Calendar has been a little wonky in Ice Cream Sandwich, but things are settling back down.


7. Travel - Tripit, FlightTrack, Fly Delta, Google Maps

I was on the road for two months of 2011, in three countries, 19 cities and  45,901 miles (more or less) traveled. I know that thanks to Tripit -- an indespensable app for anyone away from home more than a couple times a year. The free version gives you basic itinerary management, with in-app ads. (There's an ad-free version available for $3.99.) But the Tripit Pro service ($50 a year) gives you instant alerts, lists alternate flights, tracks all your points, lets you share trips automatically with trusted friends and family, and gives you discounts with a few other businesses. Huge fan.

FlightTrack is the best flight tracker app I've been able to find. It's got an extremely clean UI and does a great job of showing you at a glance what your next flight is, and what time it leaves. If you step up for FlightTrack Pro, the app will then tie into your Tripit account. So you get real-time updates within the FlightTrack app, too, and your Tripit itineraries automatically populate in FlightTrack. It's not cheap -- $4.99 for the basic app, and another $4.99 for Flight Track Pro. And it does duplicate a bit of what Tripit does. But I use Tripit for the service, and FlightTrack for the app.

And then there's Delta, which has an excellent Android application. It keeps track of your Delta flights (natch), lets you track other flights, see alternate flights, airport and weather info -- even change your seat assignment and track any checked baggage. A number of airports allow for paperless boarding passes, too, meaning I can just show up at the airport, show a QR code on my phone, and breeze through security and the boarding gate. My only complaint is that the app's still pretty slow to process data. Hopefully Delta's working on that.

And finally there's Google Maps. Needs no introduction, really. It keeps my from getting (overly) lost in all these new cities.

8. Google Voice

Phones come and go through this office. Google Voice is a must for making it easy to actually use them as if they were my own. One easy install, and all my calls and text messages are routed to the new phone. 

The only downside is when GV acts up. It's not all the time, but some calls go straight to voicemail. Annoying, but not a deal-breaker. The voicemail transcription is pretty much a joke, but you can send corrections back to Google, so you can be part of the solution.

9. Swiftkey X

My keyboard of choice. Not to say there aren't other great ones -- I use Swype a fair amount, and HTC's keybaord is my other go-to when on its phones. But if I'm left to download my own keyboard, Swiftkey X is what I turn to -- if only because unlike Swype, it's actually in the Android Market. I'm lazy like that, even if setting up Swiftkey takes far too many steps. And just as good as the prediction is the UI. They've done a nice job with the key layout, and the time it takes to trigger a secondary character.

10. Phone Tester Pro and Elixir 2

It's impossible to remember ever spec of every phone. And sometimes it's just quicker (and better) to check on the phone itself instead of looking for a spec sheet. I use a couple apps for that -- Phone Tester Pro and Elixir 2.

And there you have it -- what I use on my phone on a daily basis. Pretty boring, now that I look at it. But then again, I'm a pretty boring guy. Sure, there's the odd game, and a few others that I flirt with. But what you see above is what gets me through life. Hope you enjoyed!


Reader comments

Phil's most-used Android apps of 2011


OMG TweetDeck had all the potential in the world... then Twitter Bought it now its DEAD. Even TWEAKDeck is missing basic features... like Giving me a list when I press the @ button... how else am I supposed to @ someone? Manually? . . . also trending topics. I've moved on to TweetCasterPro

It was sad when I heard Twitter bought up TweetDeck. For now I really love TweakDeck (and/or TweetDark) - to @ someone afaik you've always just needed to hit the Add Contact button and either choose from your "bookmarked" list of scroll down and select. One more step I suppose.

One of the killer features for me with TweakDeck is the Facebook integration. I try not to have Facebook installed so this helps me keep track of that world at arms length :).

I do miss the Zip feature of TweetCaster sometimes ...

I totally agree with you on that on and a lot of people don't know but TweetCasterPro is my fave, works like a charm and has all the basic features and also features that I didn't even know about but that have been super helpful like "shorten post" and "retweet with comment". LOVE LOVE !!!

Swiftkey X has one killer feature now that trackballs are going the way of the dodo.. cursor arrow keys. Off by default, but find them in settings if you have ever beat your head against the wall trying to position a cursor for editing.

Cheers mate. Just tried that app on your recommendation. Really good. Concise, well presented, and seems to work well. (ICS, Galaxy Nexus. He could charge for that!

I liked that widget as well and used it for a couple of years. But then when I upgraded to my Nexus I found Simple Calendar Widget which offers more features (ability to scroll your events within the widget is nice and not offered by Smooth Calendar). It offers several different widget layouts including one that lets you configure it to look a lot like Smooth Calendar. If you like Smooth Calendar I'd recommend you give this one a try and it's free as well.

Agreed. Haven't found a Twitter app that's better then Plume. It's not free but then again most really good things never are. :)

Plume itself is free, but there's a Plume Premium addon that removes ads and adds a couple features.

Must not have read the article then. He doesn't even use the twitter app, nor does he mention it (although some of us do). Facebook is still necessary, especially for those of us with corporate accounts, which google+ doesn't yet support (all google accounts have to be in an individual's name, not a organization or business).

Actually they have this little thing called Pages for a business or product, and they just recently updated it to allow multiple admin signon. I had to make sure this post wasn't somehow from the past since i assumed everyone who used Google+ would know that. Android Central page.......

Honestly, the apps I use most are Google+, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter (Plume specifically), Chrome to Phone, Google Maps, and Doggcatcher.

If you don't use those apps, you must not use your phone like Phil does specifically. SHOCKER!

"The voicemail transcription is pretty much a joke"

I hear a lot of people say this, but my voicemails always come through transcribed really well. Sometimes, the service literally only misses a few words out of the entire message (like "uhms", "uhhh's"). I think my favorite was one when my cable provider left me an automated message from a female robot voice. The transcription was literally perfect (one robot to another :) )

My favorite feature is that when the caller leaves their number, google NEVER (never seen this happen personally) transcribes the number wrong, and you can just click it to call the person.

My favorite reason for gvoice though? I'm on sprint, so I can text and call from my PC all day with my cell number, not my gvoice number. People don't know which I'm calling from.

1) Now, how about a list of apps that everyone doesn't already have?

2) Swiftkey is good, if you still like poking at a keyboard. Now that I've gotten used to swiping one, though, going back isn't an option. I can't wait for Swype to become available on the GNex, but in the meantime I'm using TouchPal. It's ok, but it's not Swype...does anyone else have any suggestions for Swype alternatives?

no, he's not a mutant. The only one out of these I use "regularly" (if you can call it that) is Google Maps. Gmail is not my primary email account (frankly, I hate Gmail's layout...) Not all of us are locked into social networks.

IMHO, this is a great thread starter for the forums - NOT an article on the front page of AC. First there's no news. Second, "Phil's" needs most likely aren't shared by anyone else.

As this is the holiday season where many new Android users fumble around, why not make articles that cater to them? Or how about catering to the iOS users who are wondering if Android is now "safe" with ICS out.

What's next, a review of apps that reminds "Phil" when to make a podcast?

I am with you on ZunePass. I still use it and my Zune HD 64GB and I keep my 10 songs a month. But I find that I like being able to get my non-zune pass music via Google Music a real joy. Can't wait to see how it will grow in 2012!

Based on the title of the post it sounded like you were going to be talking about applications that came about in 2011. Half the list has been around for more than a couple of years. Blah.

Does Google Voice still have that obnoxious voice delay? I abandoned it about a year ago because people kept thinking I was talking over them, when really GV was just taking an extra 3-5 seconds to route the audio from my call.

No, but it has an obnoxious ring delay. Usually by the time my phone starts to ring it's already being forwarded to voicemail.

I Hate Google Music. I like to be able to download the much to my phone like on Amazon and know that I own the music. With Google music you have to use that player and I dont mind the play but when you have Power AMP nothing compares). Maybe Im wrong and just dont know how to put the musci on my phone and use it on another player, but I haven't figured out how to yet. I had to buy a song to figure this crap out. Google I want my money back or give me full rights to the music.I uninstalled Goggle Music and will just take the 5 dollar lose for the music. I HATE GOOGLE MUSIC!!!

I prefer Amazon still as well. Google Music you can download the music to your phone but it doesn't put it in a folder that's viewable by other players. It's a pain if you use another player and my biggest gripe about it. I'm hoping one of these two companies will partner with one of the well known aftermarket players to allow streaming but I doubt it will ever happen.

PowerAMP was definitely my favorite. Killer features and the design is second to none. Since getting a D3 though, I've had nothing but issues with PowerAMP. And the last 3 updates have made it so unstable that I had to uninstall. FCs like crazy. When playing a playlist, it plays all songs. Scans take a while and can FC. I am saddened by this loss. WinAMP has been filling the void and I'm really back into the Shoutcast thing. Hooking up with some great stations which I had forgotten about. I'd still like to have my PowerAMP back though! His design is brilliant but functionality is in the tank.

Actually, PowerAmp allows you to choose the folders it searches for music in, GMusic being one of them. I just tried it and mine show up as "mp3." It's annoying but that is something that can probably be fixed.

Amusing. I don't use a single one of those apps (except Google Maps, barely mentioned as a partial group app) and have no interest in any of them, at all.

Goes to show you that different strokes for different folks!

I know plenty of social people that, like myself, wouldn't go near Facebook/Twitter/Google+ at gunpoint. Yet we all manage to communicate between ourselves just fine.

The idea of Facebook and Twitter for your normal everyday person is absurd. They exist to do nothing more than to make very boring people seem interesting in their own mind.

The sad truth is most people's lives aren't interesting enough to warrant a fucking haiku, nevermind an entire webpage so unless you REALLY care about the meaningless mundane details of other people's lives Facebook is about as useful as a good case of the clap and Twitter manages to out do Facebook in terms of being completely and totally fucking useless.

I could not have put this more eloquently myself. The three privacy sucking programs that you mentioned above are nowhere within the realm of my existence.