Jerry's most-used apps of 2011

I'm not a big app guy, I'll admit.  I like to check them out, and maybe even keep them around for a week or so, but there's just a few I keep around forever.  I do happen to like buying them and checking them out, though, so I go through a lot of them.  Here's my list of "keepers." Check them out after the break.

Also: Phil's most-used apps of 2011

1. Wifi File Explorer Pro

I hate hooking my phone up to a computer.  Scrounging up a cable and mounting drives seems to take longer than whatever I need to do, so I found a solution that keeps me from having to do it.  Run Wifi File Explorer from a shortcut on my homescreen, then click a bookmark in my browser window and I have access to what's on my phone.  You can download, upload, delete, rename -- anything you could do if you were connected.  Best couple of bucks I ever spent. 

2. AudioManager Pro

Not only is it a quick way to access all the volume controls (even the ones you can't get to from settings), but AudioManager Pro has profile support and scheduling.  I can set my phone to shut the hell up when I am getting my beauty sleep, or be loud and proud when I'm awake and it does it all automagically.  And when I need to mute the volume for a call or a meeting of some sort, I can set it to automatically restore my profile after a set time.  I love it when things are automated -- it feels like the future.

3. Vlingo

Yes, I talk to my phone.  I usually only do it when nobody is looking, and I don't want it to talk back or try to tell me jokes -- I want it to listen, do as it's told, then leave me alone until the next time.  And I want it to do it over Bluetooth (wow, I never realized how demanding I was).  I've not yet found any application on any platform that will do all this, except for Vlingo.  It works so well I'm not upset about having to buy it on three different platforms, nor do I worry about the $10 I spent right before it went free on Android.  Being able to tell my phone to e-mail or message someone while it's in my pocket, then trusting that it will do it right is more than worth it.

4. Swiftkey X

Sometimes I can't talk to my phone, or I don't want to look like "that guy" talking to his phone at the mall or the train station.  And I'm a man with large, non-transparent thumbs, so swiping letters is out of the question -- I need to see what I'm typing.  Swiftkey is also magical, and can almost finish every sentence I start.  This impresses me, and anytime I can feel that "cool factor" we all felt when we first used an Android phone again is OK in my book.  When the Android browser reaches a point where we can write blog posts from our phones or tablets, I'll be writing mine with Swiftkey X.

5. mSecure

I'll admit it -- I'm a tiny bit paranoid when it comes to computer security and my passwords.  I never use the same one twice, and I like absolutely random strings of symbols, numbers, and letters instead of just "pa55w0rd."  I'm also a bit forgetful, so I need a password manager.  With mSecure, I can use the same password database across my desktop and my mobile via Dropbox, and all I have to do is copy/paste.  I like things that make it easy, and will try everything until I find something that works well for me, and mSecure does just that.

6. Google+

When the Internet changed from IRC and Usenet to WWW and chat rooms, I gave up on being social.  You nerdly types out there know what I'm talking about.  Google+ has brought me back.  I find myself sharing pictures and my boring life much more than I ever thought I would, and the Hangout feature makes me eat my words about "nobody will ever use a front facing camera".  Goodbye, Twitter. Hello, G+! 

7. Riptide GP

Everyone needs some time for games, and Riptide GP is the game for me.  It's simple (complicated controls are an easy way to get me to uninstall a game), beautiful, and runs amazingly smooth on my tablet.  Get out the HDMI cable and connect it to the big screen, and you have console quality gaming right from your Android device. 

Granted, I'm not very good at it, but I have a ton of fun with it and that's what matters most.

8. ReadItLater

Every one of us has found something on the web that we want to save for viewing on our computer.  Mobile browsing has come a long way, but for many it will never replace the desktop -- and I'm one of that many.  ReadItLater lets me web surf on my phone, from anywhere, and send those few articles or websites that I want access to on the PC without bookmarking or emailing a link.  It does a great job at it, and one account syncs across all my devices. 

Bonus points -- I can check my Google Reader list on my phone, and send a few to ReadItLater without having to worry about what's marked as read and hard to find later.  This alone makes it worth keeping.

9. ConnectBot and Android VNC Viewer

I AM A NERD.  I have more computers that I want to admit to, most of them are running some flavor of Unix, and all of them are running an SSH or a VNC server.  Granted, it's not very often I want to connect from a tiny screen, but I want to be able to do it well when I need to.  ConnectBot offers everything I want in an SSH client -- it's lightweight, can copy paste between apps, works with secure tunnels, and run more than one session.  Android VNC Viewer is just as perfect for me.  Session management, light on system resources, and fast are what I'm looking for.  The fact that both are open-source makes it even better.

10. Google Music

20,000 of my songs, stored for free and available from any Android device or computer?  Yes, please.  I'll admit that uploading them is a bit of a pain now that it's open to the public and the bandwidth is getting hammered, but it's a small price to pay.  Music used to fill a pile of SD cards here, but no longer -- I'm in the cloud now, baby.  If you haven't played around with Google Music yet, you need to go try it.  It might not be for you, and that's OK, but it sure works for me.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.