Two ways to look at the apps that I can't live without, seeing as how they don't really change much from year to year. One is that I'm just a crabby old dude stuck in my ways. The other is that I've found a bunch of apps that work well for me, and so why fix it if it ain't broken? I see so many slick home screens out there. But I've kept mine pretty much the same for I don't know how long.
Maybe things will change in 2015. Maybe they won't.
But for now, these are just a few of the apps that I can't live without. The ones that get me through work at home, and work on the road.
Google Play Music
Can't live without it. The will-bloggers-shut-up-about-it-already, is-it-still-a-problem-or-not device limit is still a bone of contention, but the simple fact is Google Play Music is a great way to listen to, purchase and stream music on an Android device. Toss in Chromecast and Sonos capability and it's a must-have at home.
On the road it's even more important for me. I'm an All Access subscriber, and saving music locally is just one touch away, so I make sure to have something queued up before wheels up.
And as a child of Napster, I think it's extremely important to have good, legal ways to listen to music. And Google Play Music fits that bill.
- Download (if for some reason it's not on your phone already): Google Play Music (free)
Google Now is getting really close to being able to unseat Tripit — and for occasional travelers it probably already suffices. But I keep using Tripit (and its paid Pro service) for one reason: Control. When I forward an itinerary email to Tripit (I also let it scan my inbox for anything I might have forgotten to send), I know that flight or hotel information will end up where it's supposed to be, and it'll be there whenever I need it, on-demand. Tripit also makes it easy to share entire trip information with coworkers and family, so I don't have to scrounge up each piece on its own.
For my money, it's made keeping things organized so much easier (and I need all the help I can get on that front), and given my wife a little piece of mind that she can easily see where I am and where I'm going in just a few seconds.
- Download: TripIt for Android (free, Pro service is optional)
I get the concern over Uber as a company. I really do. And I like to think there's a pretty big gulf between the folks in suits and the folks driving the cars. And Uber as a service, meanwhile, has been excellent for me in cities like New York and San Francisco, and I'm watching how it's working in my much smaller hometown of Pensacola. And I have no real issues with the app itself. It's fairly quick to load, does what it's supposed to — shows nearby cars and your trip ETA — and it makes paying for a trip as easy as it should be. So it's become one of the first apps I install on a new phone.
- Download: Uber for Android (free)
I like sharing pictures from the places I go. And for some simple, on-device editing, I've been using Snapseed for a couple years now. There are any number of photo-editing apps available. But I'm occasionally accused of being stuck in my ways, and the simple fact is I don't want to spend a lot of time editing pictures for a quick share. I just want to get in, get out, maybe add a few too many layers of HDR in there, some cropping. And for that, Snapseed does the job just fine.
- Download: Snapseed for Android
Action Launcher 3
Launchers are pretty personal things, and truth be told I didn't actually like Action Launcher when it was first released in October 2012. But a lot has changed since then. And once I gave it a shot, I was hooked. So here we are a couple years later, with Action Launcher 3.0. And I basically can't get over the speed of the launcher. I've never been a huge fans of big grids of apps, either, so the Quickdrawer scrolling list serves me well. I'm digging the new themes, too, so the launcher can adapt to whatever wallpaper I happen to be using.
- Download: Action Launcher 3 (free, with in-app purchases)
While passwords on Android remain a clunky endeavor, and there are a lot of alternatives out there, I find myself always coming back to 1Password. It's not perfect on Android, but it's good enough for me, and it's so good on OSX that I'm OK with that trade-off.
- Download: 1Password for Android (free with in-app purchases)
A few more honorable mentions
Because I'm the boss and can list whatever I want:
- Authy: I switched from the official Google Authenticator app and haven't looked back once.
- Yahoo News Digest: A really good, concise aggregation of the day's news in a really good app.
- Press: What I'm using for RSS these days.
- Reddit News Pro: For cat gifs.
- Google Wallet: Because needing single apps for loyalty cards sucks.
- Pure Calendar Widget: That's the calendar widget I always get asked about.
- Sky Fore 2014: Spent way too much time playing this this year.
- Pocket Casts: The only podcatcher you need.