Phil's most-used Android apps of 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!

Phil Nickinson