Thursday, February 23, 2012

How Android makes my life better

I'm a little late entering the smartphone world, but thanks to my parents I'm the proud new owner of the HTC Amaze. (Slightly off-topic post for today. There is some relevance!)

I've been addicted to the show Alcatraz, where prison inmates magically reappear in society after they mysteriously disappeared 50 years ago. In one scene, someone is trying to explain to one of them what the Internet was.

As I'm sitting there playing with my phone, trying to figure out what one of the songs was on Glee (Verdict: Lenny Kravitz, Stand), I'm thinking: "Man, just wait til he sees one of these things."

I was slightly terrified it at first. But fast forward one week and I can't live without it.

I've barely browsed the Internet on it. I've only made a few calls. What really makes it worth it are the apps. And every single one of these either came with the phone or was a free download.

It's made my life a lot better, and a little bit worse.

WAYS THIS CRAZY TECHNOLOGY HAS IMPROVED MY LIFE (In alphabetical order, because that's how my phone operates)

365 Photo App! (That's right, with an exclamation point): I've been jealous of a lot of my friends who did the 365 project (take a photo every day for a year). But now I can too. This app lets me snap the photo with my phone and upload it right to Facebook.

CamCard: I'm horrible with business cards, I always lose them. With this app I can take a picture of the card and it will immediately save all the information in my phone.

Chase: Since I've opted not to create a "ways to depress myself throughout the day" category, I'll put this one here. I can check my bank account anytime now.

Diet and calorie counter from Sparkpeople: There are a ton of calorie counting apps out there, but I've been using Sparkpeople for awhile now and am a huge fan. This makes it really easy to track everything I eat during the day. If I eat something with a barcode it has an option where I can scan it, but the results are sometimes off. They also have a recipes app which I've downloaded but haven't used.

Grocery IQ: A really easy to use shopping list. I enter stuff as I realize I need it then have access to it while I'm at the store, and it's easy to check items off. It also has a barcode feature that I haven't used yet. There's one major downside though, which may lead me to explore similar apps: While the database of products is huge and I've always found something close, there's no way to manually enter something that's not in there.

Money Lover: Mom, you'll be proud of me for downloading this one. This is a really easy way to track my spending. I enter all my purchases and categorize them, then it gives me the analytics. All those little purchases for food do add up!

Reader (Google): I finally got around to cleaning out and organizing my RSS feed a few weeks ago, and since then it's become a vital part of my job. Now I have access to it on my phone.

Words with Friends: I have about 12 games going right now and am loving it. At least it makes me smarter and allows me to connect with people. I can't figure out how to keep my phone from buzzing everytime someone plays a word, though, and it's getting annoying...


Alarm Clock Xtreme: I just downloaded this one today, and I'm looking forward to using it. I'm the queen of subconsciously hitting the snooze button. Among other features, this app will make me solve math problems before I can.

Blogger: Will I blog from my phone? We'll see! 

Evernote: Another one I downloaded today. It's a notekeeping/listmaking/organizational tool. I need one of those. I'll play with it later.

FM Radio (came with the phone): Haven't used it yet, but I'm excited to finally have a way to get sound for the TVs at the Y.

Groupon: This app allows me to present my Groupons on the phone instead of having to print them out and present them (which is a huge hassle for me since I don't have a printer at home, so I need to remember to do it at work). I haven't used it yet.

Google navigation, maps and latitude: GPS that came with the phone. I haven't used it yet, but I'm sure I will!

MP3 Player: I love my iPod nano, but it doesn't work for me while teaching cycling because it's so hard to tell where you are timewise in the song. (You have 1 MINUTE left on this hill, keep pushing!) So, I've been using CDs. I'm hoping there's a way I can use my phone now, but it's something I have yet to explore.

Netflix: Haven't used it yet, but I'm sure I will! I don't plan on streaming stuff on my phone because of the data plan, but I do plan on using the app to find stuff and add it to my queue so it shows up on my Roku box.

Posture perfect: Now that I know that I'm lopsided and fundamentally screwed up, the chiropractor is getting on me about my posture. Somehow with this app, you put it in your pocket and it will vibrate when you slouch. Awesome concept, but I can't seem to get the settings right. Plus it eats away at battery life. I'm very much on the fence about this one.

The many running apps: There are a zillion apps out there for recording and tracking runs. But I'm still on the DL at the moment so I haven't had the opportunity. I'm unsure about them though, I really don't want to take my phone with me on the run.


That's right, in some ways it does.

A general note: This thing is mega distracting. I'm still figuring out how to set the notifications. I've learned that it goes off (not silent, off) when I walk into meetings or am writing stories, and face down and out of reach when I teach spin, because I get distracted way too easily (granted, a lot of it is still the newness of the phone).

Instant access to email and Facebook: That's right, these are going in the negative category. I have an obsession with checking email and Facebook. I've found it healthy to escape from it for a few hours when I'm out and about, but now it's always with me.

Roller Ball: Addicting, but it didn't take long to get sick of it.

Shoot Bubble: Super addicting. Am not yet sick of it. I will continue to stay away from Angry Birds.

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