The Android Apps I Use

There has been a discussion about the apps we use in our phones in the Techzim Whatsapp group and I thought I should list mine here and why I use them. These, then, are my favorite Android apps, the ones I install on every Android device- and all of them are free.

  1. Inbox by Gmail: This is my preferred email client.
  2. Twitter: No explanation required. I use the official app. It works for me.
  3. Facebook Lite: For Facebook I prefer Facebook Lite because it doesn’t gobble as much data and works even when I have shitty network- which, in this part of the world, is plenty of times.
  4. Instagram: I recently discovered Instagram and occassionally post a pic. Mostly however I just look at how fat or rich classmates are now and at nice cars.

    My homescreen, showing some of the Apps I use most
  5. Reddit Offline: I’m a big fan of Reddit, as I’ve mentioned before. Reddit Offline allows me to download subreddits and then read them later such as in a kombi, bus, when I don’t have data or when I’m just plain bored.
  6. Google Keep: I take plenty of random notes, from reminders of what i should buy to interesting quotes. I use Keep for this because it works across all my devices. There are many Android Apps for Note taking but I love Keep for its simplicity.
  7. Google Chrome: My preferred browser on all platforms. I used to like Opera Mini for Android but not anymore. I occasionally use it but I can probably do without it now.
  8. Facebook Messenger: Messenger makes communicating with people on Facebook easier. Not a huge fan but it serves.
  9. WhatsApp: The first app I install. Whatsapp is called App in these parts, and for a reason. I use it to call, to communicate, to catch up on the news and try to be civil in family groups.
  10. Feedly: Feedly allows me to subscribe to the feeds of my favorite sites. This brings all their headlines and stories to one platform. Useful for going through the news in the morning.
  11. Journey: Successful people keep diaries and journals. And since I want to be successful I keep a journal. Journey is the app of choice for this task, allowing online backup and offering a very minimalist and smart UI.
  12. Sofascore: I watch a lot of football and Sofascore allows me to track games in almost every league in the world. There are plenty others but I like Sofascore best. It allows me to reviews player and team statistics, highlights, in game stats, a discussion forum that’s like watching a game with lunatics and many other functions. It also has many other sports but I use it exclusively for football.
  13. Shazaam: Shazaam is one of those incredibly simple apps that perform trivial tasks that we seemingly don’t need until we do. It identifies songs and it does so very well. Useful for when you hear a new song on the kombi or even in a bar.
  14. Google Calendar: A calendar. Of course. I like all things Google, so I use the default one.
  15. Here Maps: I learnt about Here Maps when I used Windows Phone. It’s main advantage is that you can download the maps and use it offline. Very useful, it has helped me make some rendezvous at places I didn’t know. Works extremely well.
  16. Reddit: I love Reddit and I use the official app to “lurk” and very rarely post on my favourite subreddits.
  17. WordPress: The means with which I sometimes update this-and other- blogs.
  18. Aldiko: While I don’t usually read on my Phone, prefering, instead, my Kindle, occasionally I download a new book and have to check it out on the phone. Also for those times I don’t have my Kindle with me. It is the best ebook software out there.
  19. WordWeb: I also write here and there. Coupled with reading it means I sometimes need to check the meaning of words. WordWeb is the finest dictionary for Android.
  20. Podcast Addict: A friend recently introduced me to Podcasts and I have grown to like a couple. Podcast addict allows me to listen to my favorite podcasts.
  21. Rocket Player: My preferred music player though rarely used since I hardly ever listen to music on my phone. It’s, however, useful in the gym.
  22. SwiftKey: Odd that this should be so far down. In truth I probably install SwiftKey before any other app because it’s the best Keyboard app of all and without it I cannot type a damn thing.

So I’m looking for a new phone 

A couple of days ago, at work, I dropped my phone and the screen cracked. Well that’s probably an understatement. The screen shattered, it’s ruined. Surprisingly it still works like it did though it’s now very difficult to read certain parts of the screen.

So I’m in the market for a new phone and I’ve been doing some research about which one to get. Ever since my transition to Android from Windows I’ve been happy with the experience and I will be getting another Android device 

I have a short checklist that I use for selecting my phones: Firstly it should be affordable. Ideally below $200, and at most $250. Like I’ve previously written, the cellphone industry is taking advantage of consumer gullibility to sell them high end phones for upwards of $700 when phones of similar performance can be had for much cheaper.

Secondly I prize good battery life. This is a major irritation with modern mobile which seemingly cannot last through a day of sustained usage. Thirdly the memory should be at least 32 Gig, and at least 2 Gig RAM.

A good camera and solid build are added considerations, as well as physical size- I prefer 5.5 inches.

Using my criteria there are only a handful of phones I can possibly buy, and I narrowed the list to three: The Motorola G5 Plus, the Lenovo P2 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Pro.

The disadvantage with all these phones is that they are not locally available. The Xiaomi is the cheapest and offers some pretty solid build quality and great specs. However its customized software is the least reputable of the lot.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

On the other hand the Motorola G5 Plus offers a clean Android experience without any addons. This means I get, out of the box, the best and unadulterated Android. It is Android as it’s meant to be, so to speak. It’s also a natural successor to my old phone, which brings in another issue of familiarity. Its main con is that I hear it is no longer waterproof, unlike the G3 that I had.
Lastly the Lenovo P2, which I discovered by Googling. It offers the best battery ever in a smartphone, according to reviews. This is a big plus in its favour. The biggest challenge is that it is being sold by one carrier in the UK and is also the most expensive of these three phones.

So obviously all these three phones satisfy my main requirements to almost the same level. The Motorola gives the best software experience, the Lenovo the best battery life, while the Xiaomi is well made and has a cool fingerprint sensor conveniently located. It’s also very affordable.

If they were all locally available I would probably just go and pick the Xiaomi because, aside from the build quality, the battery is also great and it’s the cheapest. 

I’m still leaning towards the Xiaomi but I’ll probably end up buying the one that I can get fastest and easiest.
Expect a review soon. 

Why I’m (finally) leaving Windows Phone for Android

Windows to Android
                                                                    From Windows to Android (Image from Android Authority)

For the past four or so years I’ve owned a Windows Phone. Now that’s about to change because I’ve finally decided to join the majority and use an Android device as my day to day phone.

Since I dropped my (Windows) phone sometime in December and shattered the screen I’ve been thinking of which phone to buy. My heart said I should stick to Windows because, despite the many complains especially the lack of apps, I’ve become used to the operating system and the long battery life, something that Android phones struggle with.

But with time I’ve come to fully realise the limitations of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, now simply termed Windows 10 Mobile. The lack of apps is a case in point. Though I have long believed that there are more than enough apps on the Windows Store I’ve come to realise that I was wrong.

This realisation came last week when I decided to join a gym. The program I chose to use is one called StrongLifts 5×5 and it has a great accompanying app for Android and IOS. No official app exists for Windows Phone. There are other unofficial ones, of course, but compared to the official ones they are very poorly made and lack some of the most useful features.

This lack of official apps has been one of Windows major shortcomings. I couldn’t find a decent app either when I decided to start jogging using the couch to 5k plan. In certain cases, for instance,  banking, using third party apps is not advisable.

Developers are not too keen to produce official applications for Windows mobile because, at less than 4% of the total market share, Windows Mobile powered devices are a tiny fraction that’s not worth their effort. Obviously it makes more sense for a developer to spend time on IOS and Android app development and maintenance since that’s where the bulk of their customers come from.

The important question is what Microsoft could have done- or can do to increase the number of Windows mobile devices. One such approach has been to produce low cost devices such as the Lumia 520 which proved to be very popular. With more people using the platform developers would have no option but to follow.

Windows 10 Mobile also aims to unify the PC and mobile devices and even the Xbox. This would perhaps boost Microsoft’s market share in the mobile phone OS race because most people in the developing world use Windows for their computers and it would integrate seamlessly with their other mobile devices. However such a time may be far away in the future, or may never come at all.

In the meantime I’m moving to Android, at least for my daily phone. I may get a Windows Phablet soon, but it’ll be for other purposes rather than daily, hourly use. I have tried to stand by Microsoft, against all common sense and reason, now the time has come to join the world of Google.