Best Droid Apps Revisited: Five New Fun Apps and Some Honorable Mentions

Rounding out my best Droid apps reprise are five additions to my “Most Fun” apps list:

  1. Furry Creatures 11 Clocks Set – A collection of clock widgets for your home screen that are shortcuts to the stock alarm settings. Not for everyone, but all the fuzzy beast clock widgets made me go squee. I’m a girl. They’re cute.
  2. iLightr Virtual Lighter – It’s a Zippo lighter you can flip open, flick to light, and blow out. The flame even responds if you tip the phone. It’ll make you the hit of any party…so long as no one needs a real light.
  3. IMDB Movies and TV – Been waiting for this one. The perfect companion to the Flixster Movies app.
  4. Instant Heart Rate – It measures your heart rate using your phone’s camera! You put your finger over the camera lens for ten seconds, and it displays your current heart rate. How cool is that? But do keep a soft, lint-free cloth handy to wipe the smudgy prints off your camera when you’re done.
  5. MyPod Podcast Manager – I was looking for a more feature rich podcatcher/player for my Droid than Listen. This is it. MyPod is not a basic podcast app. It’s a bit complicated to set up and use, tech-intimdated be warned, but it does everything you could ever want a podcast app to do.

And some honorable mentions:

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Best Droid Apps Revisited: Five New Most Useful Apps

As promised, following my review of five new “Most Essential” apps for my Droid, herein five additions to my “Most Useful” apps list:

  1. WordPress for Android – I’m typing this post into my WordPress blog on my WordPress website, so it’s not much of a surprise that when the WordPress for Android app came out, I glomped on it. “Write, edit, publish, and manage comments from my Droid?” I thought, “What could be sweeter?” But it was glitchy, full of bugs, unreliable. I left it installed for emergency WordPress updates on the go (I develop WordPress websites on the side and support/maintain several different sites) but was unimpressed-unto-disappointed.

    Then the developers put out a couple updates, fixed the glitches and bugs, added some shiny features, and it turned from “meh” to “squee!”

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Best Droid Apps Revisited: Five New Most Essential Apps

I compiled lists of my Top 10 Essential, Useful, and Fun Droid apps back in January, and since then, my Droid has been upgraded to Android 2.2 (Froyo), accompanied me to the Nebula Awards and Atlantis shuttle launch, and weathered Dragon*Con with me, and I’ve discovered new apps and retired old ones. I figured it’s high time I revisited my “Best Apps” lists.

Today I’ll review five additions to my “Most Essential” apps:

  1. LauncherPro - This is my most recent essential app find, and it has quickly gone from “essential” to ESSENTIAL.

    It’s a super-slick, super-smooth, super-fast home screen replacement to end all home screen replacements. It’s completely customizable with up to seven home screens and up to three scrollable docks, with each dock icon able to do two actions–the standard “tap here to launch app/do something” as well as a “swipe here to launch app/do something.” (So the dock, all by itself, can perform 30 separate actions–five icons in three docks multiplied by two!) LauncherPro also has a snazzy preview feature, i.e., see+select all your home screens on one screen; lets you hide apps in the app drawer that you don’t use (or just to keep things tidy); specify what the home key does; change how icons are highlighted when you select them; and specify how many rows and columns you want on your home screens. You can also choose from a number of stock docks, download custom docks from the dedicated forum, or create your own custom dock. And that’s just the free version. It is the god-king of home screen apps.

    LauncherPro epitomizes what I love about the Android platform: it improves on the stock, provides a dizzying array of options, is completely customizable, and has a thriving and enthusiastic user community. If I ever meet the developer, I will hug him.

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E-books and Returning My Sister’s Face

A few folks have asked me about the availability of an e-book version of Returning My Sister’s Face.  I’ve actually been thinking about that and e-books in general for a while.  It’s hard to avoid all the industry fuss and furor about e-books, their pricing, and electronic rights in general.

Until I got my Droid, e-books hadn’t made much of an impression on me as a reader.  I had my laptop and have been reading a lot of fiction, primarily short stories, in various formats for years now: PDF, Word/RTF, HTML, and epub mostly.   And while I d0 prefer the convenience and portability of electronic files, I wasn’t sold on it as the evolution of printed books.  It was just a convenient medium that had its advantages and disadvantages–the primary disadvantage being that even though my VAIO is teeny (11.1″ screen, 2.8lbs, less than an inch thick), I couldn’t just pop it out of my purse or backpack and flip it open like I could a good ole paperback. I had to be somewhere where I could set it down and boot it, a process that took a minute or so.  And it was too awkward to juggle while standing.  While its size made standing use possible, unlike my behemoth of an HP laptop which is clunky as an anvil and nearly as heavy,  I was always too afraid it would get jostled out of my hands or I’d fumble and drop it.

And then I got my Droid. 

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My French is Beyond Redemption, but I’m Fluent in Tech-ese

My contrib. copies of Ténèbres 2010 arrived. And, upon eagerly opening the lovely volume to my story, I discovered that my French is so far gone as to be pushing up the daisies. Sigh. Well, it’s not like it was all that healthy to begin with.

In a totally unrelated segue, I’ve discovered the virtues of Twitter! Yeah, I’ve had a Twitter account for ages, but it always seemed a cumbersome, clunky networking tool until this year when I started heavily incorporating the Daily Dragon‘s Twitter feed into this year’s Dragon*Con update notification schedule, discovering in the process why I’d always found it clunky. Twitter is really not optimized for a web browser interface; it’s optimized, ideal even, for a mobile, i.e., smartphone, interface.

And this year, I have a Droid.

Total geeky efficiency is being able to dash through the bowels of the Hyatt and pimp the charity auction while getting direct messages from my staff. I have become a convert to the 140-characters-or-fewer mode of information dissemination.

Although, granted, there were a few technical issues that almost sent me twitching into a corner:

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Droid X, Multitouch Keyboard, and Swype Beta

So Motorola, Verizon, and Google announced yesterday that the Droid X will be coming out next month, and units have been pre-released to the media.

The Droid X looks impressive—faster processer, 8MP camera, HDMI output port, Adobe Flash, and a bunch of other shiny features. It also has a 4.3-inch screen (compared to the Droid’s 3.7-inch). Thing is, I actually prefer the smaller profile of my Droid. My hands and fingers are small, and I don’t like the idea of possibly having to strain to single-hand commands. Also, the Droid X doesn’t have a physical keyboard, which an hour ago was a definite deal breaker for me. But now I’m less adament. Why the sudden position wobbling, you ask?

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Back in Atlanta, Spanish Sale of “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest”

Back in Atlanta after visiting the in-laws in Illinois. There’s a dead zone smack dab in the middle of Kentucky where I can get cell reception but no GPS or data connectivity, either 3G or 1X, on my Droid. Weird. I thought data and GPS rode on the cell signal, so I was rather baffled to find that I had full cell service but nothing else. My Droid found it confusing too and rebooted itself a couple times until I told it to quit already.

Didn’t get nearly as much done over the holiday as I’d hoped, of course, but in what might be a first, I did manage to get some writing done. Being able to take out my phone—and not have to boot my laptop—to write a paragraph here or there, really ups the convenience factor. Droid win.

Managed 1Kish new words on the editing pass/massive rewrite of “Rampion.” I’d say I’m in the final stretch, but I sort of feel I’ve been there for so long that I’ve lost touch with the meaning of that term.

And sold Spanish language reprint of “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” to Cuásar, slated for their special edition issue #50. Spanish is another new language that my work will appear in—making it the fourth for this story and my seventh overall. Coolio.