Educate me on Android

I have been increasingly tired of my old Nokia E60 smartphone and Nokia in general. Lately there had been some solid Android phones appearing in sub-$300 range… So I decided it is time to follow the crowd, jumping of sinking Symbian ship, and ordered new Android smartphone, that will arrive tomorrow.

I know there are probably hardcore Android users among regular readers. Seven of them. That sounded creepy. If you hadn’t dropped your phone – you are not personally identifiable in accordance with privacy policy. ;)

So, let me ask you – what would you recommend new Android user? Shoot!


To list few things I still actively use on Symbian:

  • alarm clock;
  • timer;
  • map;
  • notes.

Which of these Android nails natively? What are the apps for the rest? What do you consider must-have applications in general?


I follow mobile industry very loosely (it makes cool tech scandals) so I have no idea on which sites to start reading.

What is your daily reading on Android? Which sites or blogs deliver quality and fluff-less reviews and information?


So far I had managed to evade touchscreen keyboards, but that is about to change. I know that phone will have Swype preinstalled (looks quite usable in videos I watched), but what are alternatives?

How do you get your text in phone quickly, conveniently and reliably?

Killer features

What does wow you most in Android? What made you buy your Android phone? What is first you show someone who asks what it can do?


Looking forward to your answers! Will most certainly share my own findings and review the phone in following days.

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  • nicbot #

    alarm clock; Stock or Alarm Clock PlusV2 free timer; Stock map; Google (stock I guess) notes; Stock (memo) is ok but ColorNotes is better imo. Sites: www.androidguys.com and androidcommunity.com Not sure how they stack up, but it's all I've needed so far. Also, XDA Developer forums is a great resource for all your device hacking and tweeking needs. forum.xda-developers.com/ Keyboards.. So you're going with Samsung. Swipe is good and there is a learning curve, but overall I like it. Other than that the Android keyboard is my next choice, which should come installed on your Galaxy S class device. Unless you use the Swipe function though I would go with the Android keyboard for touch typing. I bought this phone because I strongly disagree with the Apple environment and philosphy as well as don't like Blackberry or Palm/HP anymore. Android is the geek/nerd platform hands down. You can tweek and geek to your desire, or leave it out of the box stock for a fully and amazingly functional device. The only thing i will warn you about with a Galaxy S device is the GPS. Its been hit or miss. Some devices lock and track just fine, and others not so much. Apps that are a must have for nerdz IMO: LauncherPro ROM Manager Titanium Backup Astro File explorer Google Voice Tasker AppBrain Terminal Barcode Scanner Dropbox VLC Remote (VLC Player) MyRemote (Windows Media Center/Player) Transdroid (remote torrent management) Handcent SMS (feature rich alternative to the stock SMS client) QuickSettings GPS Status Network Info II WiFi Anaylyzer Also, if you decide to root and install custom ROM's look at Cognition's. Currently the best Froyo ROMs for SGS devices IMO. www.ponack.net/designgears/index.html Hope this helps :)
  • Rarst #

    @nicbot Thank you for extensive comment!
    The only thing i will warn you about with a Galaxy S device
    Mine is going to be Galaxy 580, hadn't seen any GPS complaints, will see how it goes. I won't go for expensive models... Appeal is definitely there but I know that I don't use phone in practice much and it would be waste for my needs.
    Also, if you decide to root and install custom ROM’s look at Cognition’s.
    Unlikely, at least for now. :) I will have a lot of fun figuring out stuff as it is.
  • JeeMan #

    I completely agree with nicbot's comment. I find that the stock android apps handle OK the alarm, timer, map and notes. I did not root my sgs yet, because I did not feel the need for it yet. Maybe if it takes too long to get 2.2, then I'll reconsider. First thing to install on your android phone is AppBrain, a better app for managing apps. Through AppBrain, you can browse popular apps of the day, popular apps of all times... to give you a feeling of what apps are useful. You can also share your list of installed apps, which is useful to tell friends what to install. Then, tasker is a must. It is not free, but it allows to automate a lot of things. I found that it can replace a lot of free apps. It is the only app I bought so far, and it is marvelous. Finally: Album art grabber Barcode Scanner App Referer Angry birds <- game Bartender <- for those party nights doubleTwist <- to play all mp3 Dope Wars <- game Dropbox GTasks <- sync google tasks KeyPassDroid <- used with dropbox to sync my keepass db to my pc RockPlayer <- to play all videos This is just the beginning.... And welcome aboard! :D
  • Rarst #

    @JeeMan Thanks for suggestions! btw I am well aware that Google maps is major part of Android. But it can't work without Internet connection and data rates are very bad around here. For now I went with same maps I used on Symbian (Yandex) because I can dump pre-loaded cache on SD card and use it with none/very little (searches and location) traffic spent. Got phone already! Screen could be better, but software and functionality is a bliss after Symbian. Alarms are verrry nice indeed, not that happy about timer (no presets). Got screwed with Swype, turned out there is no support for my native language and no idea when (if) it gets updated. So keyboard suggestions still welcomed. Anyone known why it loses WiFi when idle?.. Googling shows it seems to be a common problem with Android phones, but hadn't found anything definitive on it.
  • nicbot #

    I think by default the wifi sleep policy is enabled to turn off wifi when the screen sleeps. To change it go to settings--> wifi settings--> press menue--> advanced--> change sleep policy to never. Bumer on the swype language...
  • Rarst #

    @nicbot Already googled and applied that. Not the issue... I actually set really long sleep time (10 minutes) and it keeps loosing connection even if phone never went to sleep. If I just leave it lying at the table for several minutes then it fails to connect to anything until I toggle WiFi off and on again. Just installed some network status app to see what is going on with connection.
  • dan l #

    late to the party, sorry: appbrain is absolutely a must have. Ditto dropbox. Other general must haves: Evernote. It's pretty slick for android. Remember the Milk: You're either an RTM guy or you're not. If you are, you must have this app. google Voice: just for vm transcription. Android Notifier Chrome to Phone
  • Rob Dunn #

    @Rarst Youlou = Contact manager and dialer replacement. Pulse = NewsReader with selective Google Reader implementation (you decide what you want to import) K-9 = email client, supposedly can support Exchange, but I've not gotten it to work arcMedia = Video player gTasks = Google Tasks "client" .Podkast. or Google Listen = Podcast catchers QuickDesk = Give yourself an extra screen page WiFi Widget = Nice widget that gives you wifi IP, MAC address, Speed and toggle switch Edwin = Entertaining but useful speech to text app (requires data connectivity) Skype = VOIP over wifi (not Skype Mobile) Stumbleupon = Great way to find fun and useful apps (for the Android!) Enjoy! I love mine (Droid Incredible)
  • Rarst #

    @dan l Yeah, discovered conveniences of AppBrain already. It's strange native market is not something like that (I hear some updates coming in that department). I am not much into GTD... Tried RTM in the padt but didn't "get it". Not sure what "Android Notifier" you mean, don't see exact match in market. @Rob Dunn How does Pulse compares to mobile version of Google Reader? Decent one at /i/ not terrible one at m.google.com Second mention of gtasks, but I can't find it in the market. :( btw Samsung did quite nice job with their TouchWiz UI, so I have little immediate need for alternate launchers/togglers/etc. Also for the context - data rates are killer around here, so I mostly need apps that work offline or on minimal traffic.
  • Rob Dunn #

    @Rarst Re: Google Reader - I find myself using both. I use Pulse as a way to quickly check the nerdy tech blogs as it offers up a picture snapshot of the article, but Reader scales nicely with large lists of feeds (and is fast).
  • Rarst #

    @Rob Dunn Lately I just mostly prefer to read feeds at my desktop through FeedDemon. Too many conveniences with filters and such. I wish Google Reader implemented some of that functionality. Really, sync is cool but totally no synergy between Feed Demon and reader.
  • nicbot #

    If you're in to old NES, SNES, Genesis, etc... games scope out: nesoid lite (emulator) snesoid lite (emulator) gensoid lite (emulator) ROM Gripper (game rom catalog and download client) Also, I believe MapDrid and/or Rmaps do a good job of offline map caching/storage. I haven't played with them much, but heard good things about both so check em out. Ringdroid is a great app for cutting ringtones from music on your phone. Super easy to use if you're in to ringtone mania and don't want to waste data use or edit on your desktop.
  • Rarst #

    @nicbot Not much into games. Installed sudoku and several prominent titles like Angry Birds. For a map - as above. Went with Yandex maps. Good map of my city and I could just download 600MB of cache and drop on SD card for very complete traffic-less coverage. Took a look at Ringdroid, but mostly when looking up way to assign custom ringtones to Google contacts (which is all of mine since I migrated that way). Went with Ringo Lite in the end.
  • dan l #

    Heh. RTM is one of those things. You've got about 30 days between the time you try it and commit to the thing for a while or just dump it. And here's android notifier: http://lifehacker.com/5633074/android-notifier-sends-notifications-from-your-phone-to-growl Pushes notifications from the phone to your PC.
  • Rarst #

    @dan l Thanks, will take a look. Although WiFi connection seems somehow restricted (Samsung tweak or something?)... I am unable to ping phone over WiFi and was unable to connect to couple of HTTP/FTP servers on the phone.