I recently got a new phone – the Galaxy Nexus – and as any geek would know, the first week or so with a new gadget can be the most fun. That I’ve been alone at home for the week only means I’ve had a chance to spend crazy amounts of time with the new phone, which is a huge step up from my old LG Optimus One. So of all the apps I’ve tried, picking the top of the lot is a bit of a challenge. But I’m going to try and do it anyway. Here are the five apps that really made my week with the new phone.
Mobisle Notes is not a new app by any means. I’ve been using it on my old phone for a good year now. I’ve tried at least a few dozen apps for making quick checklists or notes, but decided to stick with Mobisle Notes for its super snappy interface and no-nonsense functionality. The app keeps things simple. You create notes that can either be plain text or checklists. In a checklist, every new line is a new item and you can swipe right to indent and create sub-lists. As far as features go, that’s pretty much it.
The only problem I ever had with the app was that my data was stuck on my phone. They did have a Pro version that synced all data with Google Docs, but I somehow never liked the idea of using Google Docs for this. Thankfully, their latest update introduced free online sync for all your notes. Along with a web interface, you can now have an account and sync all your notes with the web, as well as with any other Android or iOS devices you may have. So I can now finally have notes and grocery lists that sync with my wife’s phone and are always up to date.
Continuing the simple-is-good theme, another app that I recently discovered and have been in love with is Ovo Timer. You see, I’m quite absent minded, so when I keep milk on the stove or something similar, I need something to remind me after a specific amount of time. That’s what Ovo Timer does. Actually, that’s all the app does. You simply swipe your finger over the screen to set the time and forget about it. Once the timer counts down, the app plays an alarm. Simple, beautiful and usable.
What better way to show off the brilliant HD screen on my new Galaxy Nexus than some HD videos? Unfortunately, the stock movie player is not capable of handling most codecs and can’t run any of my videos. That’s where MX Player comes in. The app can play pretty much any video you throw at it, and does a brilliant job of it. No load times, no choppy playback and no controls cluttering the screen. Just pure video viewing pleasure.
Of course, there are other features that make it my app of choice here. It supports subtitles in pretty much any format you have them, and can resume playback of a file from where you left off. You can even pinch to zoom in or out of the video, something I do when I want to show off how well the screen reproduces details in the video.
I’ve been on the hunt for a good file manager on Android for quite some time now. After months looking at alternatives, I even did a roundup of the Top 10 File Managers for Android right here on this site, only to find the best app about a month later. Solid Explorer is a very new file manager for Android that easily beats every other similar app I’ve tried. In fact it is still in Beta, so things can only improve from here on.
The app does a lot of things other file managers do, but what sets it apart is how well it does everything – and how awesome it looks doing that. There are always two panes available. In vertical orientation, you swipe sideways to switch between panes. Select one or more files and drag them to the edge of the screen to quickly switch to the other pane and drop them in. Create and extract ZIP archives, access FTP folders, even access files in your Dropbox or Box accounts. The list goes on. If you are still looking for the top file manager for you phone or tablet, trust me, the search ends here.
Okay, so this is not exactly an app you can download from the Play store. But the Face Unlock feature in Android 4.0 has been such a revelation, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been getting more positive press. The most I’ve heard about it how it can be fooled using a photograph. I don’t really care about that so much. For me, it’s more of a convenience than a security feature.
So here’s how it works. You set it up by simply looking into the phone. Then, when you press the power button to unlock the phone, simply look into it and the phone will unlock if it recognizes your face. Easy as that. Of course, if it doesn’t recognize your face – because you’re wearing a hat or glasses, or it is too dark – it simply switches to the usual slide-to-unlock. (Or in my case, to the pattern lock.) So it doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, the freedom of unlocking your phone without having to touch the screen is quite liberating.