After a 3 year love affair with Nokia (read: Symbian and Maemo) I’m back to Android – more specifically Cyanogenmod 9. My much loved N900 and N8 are collecting dust.
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I have to say this first since I’m looking to get a new phone shortly, but I love Android. It is open, stable and not too irritating. However, the fact that I have to use a Google account to use the phone is very annoying. I’ll say that I’ve grown a little apprehensive about what they collect, but I’ll save that for another day. But like I said, I do like Android and the fact that I can do whatever I want with it. Right now I’m using an unlocked G1 running Cyanogenmod and this is what I consider essential apps for Android in no particular order:
Beem: great Jabber client – since I’m moving away from Google, this is a great alternative to the built in Talk app.
Seesmic: nice and fast Twitter client. I used to use Twidroid, but I found that it was just annoying with the constant notifications, but that is just me.
Advanced Task Manager: great for killing Twidroid.
Astro File Manager: handy for poking around the SD card.
BeamReader: best PDF viewer I could find.
CM Updater: upgrade your ROM with ease.
Shazam: music tagger – I love this so I can identify songs that I’ve never heard of before. Try it at Old Navy.
Wireless Tether for Root Users: This allows your phone to be a wireless access point. Handy for when your hotel wants to charge you 15.00 a day for internet access.
ConnectBot: Awesome SSH client – this even allows port forwarding.
Transdroid: this lets me monitor my linux distro torrents from the comfort of my couch. Also scans barcodes and searches for applicable torrents.
Did I miss any must-have apps? Let me know!
Sometimes I just don’t get it. I know that Apple is the darling of the consumer electronics industry, but I don’t think consumers know (or more likely, they don’t care) about what they are buying into. I’m sure the user experience on the iPad is amazing, but I’ve played with iPhones (I used to use one – both the first gen and a 3G) and I know that my expectations and needs will not be met. As a hacker (in the tinkering sense) at heart, I have a need to own the hardware I use. I want to know how it works and change it. This is primarily the reason I switched to an Android based G1 – I knew it was totally hackable and if I don’t like something about it, well, I can fix it.
The iPad, on the other hand, is a totally closed system unless you jailbreak it (which is a nice idea on paper, but a miserable and painful experience). What frustrates me most is that there are endless possibilities from amazing developers out there who can write amazing apps, and it all comes down to Apple saying yes or no as to whether or not it gets accepted into the store. This is not a free market system. If I were a developer, the iPhone/iPad platform is absolutely the last platform I would consider developing for. Joa Ebert sums it up best though: It is as if Apple is forcing musicians to use Garageband as the only tool to create their music. I think a better example for consumers is like being forced to shop at Wal-Mart for everything.