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:
- 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.
- K-9 Mail – I was dissatisfied with the stock email clients, both the Email and the Gmail ones, not having all the features and functionality I wanted. K-9 fixed all that and then some. It can search, cut & paste, and push mail; has multifolder sync, flagging, and refiling; and lets you set signatures, adjust font sizes for every single field, and it even lets you change the color of the little LED flashing alert for each email account so you can tell at glance which of your accounts received new email. And the icon is K-9 from Doctor Who! So much fangirl geek love.
- Dolphin Browser HD – My new default browser. Tabs, bookmark sync, snazzy interface. Better than the Dolphin non-HD browser, imo, because of all the plugins and themes. It’s like having Firefox on your phone. (And I have looked at the new Firefox mobile browser for Android. I’m withholding final judgment because it’s still in beta, but so far, not impressed. 40MB+ of internal memory to install and can’t be moved to SD? Really, Mozilla? I was annoyed with Flash requiring 10MB…)
- PdaNet - I’ve already discussed this one in a previous post. Essentially, it lets you tether your Droid to any computer (laptop, PC, Mac, whatever) and provide Internet service to that computer via your phone. For free. No monthly service charge or other recurring fees.
The free version blocks secure sites after the 14-day trial period but still works. I found paying for this app well worth the one-time $18.95 cost. It’s only the second (out of two) app that I’ve thought worth shelling out money for. (It also lets you to send or receive SMS messages from your computer, which I guess is cool, ‘cept I don’t text.)
- Swype (beta) – Ditto I’ve also already reviewed Swype. It’s an alternate virtual keyboard, and it rocks my world. Hard.
Stay tuned for my “Most Useful” and “Most Fun” reprises and a few honorable mentions coming up next.