I have finally defected from Windows Phones. There was nothing inherently wrong with my old Lumia 925 but my contract was up and I had heard too many mixed stories about the 950 for me to pay the extra monthly cost. There was the option of the 640 but this had worse specifications than my existing phone.
This left me the option of Apple or Android. As per my previous app review, I have my corporate iPhone 5. To be honest, while it does the job, I did not see it being much of an improvement on my existing phone and, frankly, the interface was awkward in comparison. The other deciding factor was my Samsung Galaxy Tab S10.5 which I still enjoy as a device for the home. I figured another Android device in the house would not be the end of the world.
Being cheap, and with the reviews being largely glowing, I went for the Samsung S5. While it is true the S6 and S7 are out, the S5 had comparable, if not slightly better, specifications than my Lumia 925 and was going for a song. No complaints so far and, owning the Tab meant it was an easy interface to navigate.
As with the Apple, I have gone through the app review lists and the apps I already had on my Windows and Apple phone to come up with a list of apps which I think are worth having on an Android phone. Please note that some apps are not available on all versions of Android so apologies in advance if you get excited about an app only for it not to be available for your device. Also note that I am inherently Microsoft-biased so you will see, for example, OneDrive in my list instead of Dropbox and OneNote instead of Evernote. Adjust as needed.
So many free games and distractions. Here are the ones I have which are both games of my own choosing and ones my son plays on the Tab.
- Star Wars Heroes: Turn-based group attack game with lots of daily missions
- Star Wars Commander: A Clash of Clans-like game where you play the Empire or the Rebels
- Jurassic Park Builder/Jurassic World: Two games, similar play. Grow dinosaurs and expand your park
- Unblock King: Free the block by sliding the other blocks about. Good brain exerciser when reading email doesn’t cut it
- Alto: A Peruvian snowboarder collecting llamas and doing tricks. Beautiful execution
- Fallout Shelter: The first in the franchise. While the figures are quite small on the phone, it is still very playable and addictive
- Duolingo: More of an education app than a game, this is a great way to learn the essentials of another language. I use it to maintain my dodgy Spanish
- Doctor Who Legacy: Candy Crush with Timelords, Companions, and villains
- Plants vs Zombies: The classic Tower Defence game
- World Series of Poker: Not road tested this much yet but, as long as I can play with pretend money, I will be happy
- Ingress: Capture the Flag meets Geocaching in this virtual battle to save the world
- Peel Smart Remote: Seriously awesome remote control app that will operate your TV and Sound Receiver all from the one screen. The visual TV guide is also great.
- Google Play Music: More of a legacy thing for me. All my old purchased music is sitting in Google Play gathering dust. This lets me access it easily
- Pandora: Feed it a song or artist and it creates a playlist. Great for car rides with the kids (feed it ‘Let it Go’ for a singalong) or for reliving the eighties
- Spotify: Not one I use a lot but great for finding that song you have to listen to in that moment
- Netflix: If you have not jumped on board the streaming TV bandwagon yet, you’re seriously missing out. Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,and The Seven Deadly Sins are some of my go to programs but there is plenty to choose from for all ages
- Khan Academy: Online education videos from K-University
- Chromecast: Not sure when I will need to stream my phone to the television but it is there, waiting when I do
- Easy xkcd: Access to the funniest comic for mathematicians and physicists
- The usual suspects (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)
- Boomerang: I am yet to try it but it is a video clip extension of Instagram
- Messenger: The latest ubiquitous messaging app (I still remember ICQ)
- Skype: VOIP phone calls. Handy when overseas.
- Voiper: So I can hook my phone to my non-Skype VOIP service
- LinkedIn: Not as friendly as the web version but still useful when you are trying to place someone at a gathering
- GroupMe/WhatsApp: More call/messaging services used in my social circles
- Google Maps: Detailed but can be bandwidth-hungry
- HERE Maps: Map application which can run offline
- Waze: Seriously awesome GPS application
- Uber: Taxi service which auto-charges your credit card
- Opal Travel: Specific for NSW, Australia. Good for planning travel on public transport
I have not had much of a chance to test these out yet so see how you go.
- Microsoft Health: I used to use this on the Windows Phone a while ago for tracking calories.
- MapMyRide/Endomondo/Strava: For when I start riding to work in a couple of months
- S Health/MyFitnessPal/Google Fit: Untested but good ratings
- Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout: Untested but an interesting idea when you need a workout and the hotel gym does not look too enticing
Microsoft Office Apps and Similar
My bias showing through, here are my Microsoft productivity apps:
- Word/PowerPoint/Excel: The usual suspects
- OneNote: Note-taking and sync to all other devices
- Office Lens: Use your phone to capture documents and then bring them into your Microsoft apps such as OneNote
- OneDrive: My wife recently got the S6 and received free space for OneDrive. Alas, I got nothing with the S5
- Outlook: Microsoft have done really well to bring this to all my devices. The search does not seem to work quite as well as the PC version but very usable.
- Sunrise: A great calendar app. Combine all your events and appointment in one place
- Wunderlist: Cloud sharing task list. Perfect for family list generation and task sharing/assignment. I am really keen for this to start working with Dynamics CRM
- Next: Awesome lockscreen app. If you do not have it, you are missing out
- Microsoft Apps: Shows all the Microsoft apps. so you can see what else they have available
- Banking apps: Practically every bank these days has an app. How useful an app is over a decently designed web site
- Paypal: Becoming more and more popular in the offline world, a handy app which lets you pay with your phone
- eBay/Aliexpress: When you have too much money and not enough stuff
- MSN Money: To track the imminent demise of the Salesforce stock price at the hands of their inability to make a profit.
- Stocard: Awesome app which syncs across phones for storing loyalty card bar codes
- Groupon: My go to app for trying something new without breaking the bank
- XE Currency: Currency conversion app
- Service NSW: State government services app
- Airline frequent flyer and entertainment apps: Always handy when travelling
- SeatGuru: Great for finding the least worst seats in economy
- LoungeBuddy: Not yet tested in the field but it promises to help you find airport lounges (including free ones) and book through the app for the paid ones
- Lonely Planet Guides: Free Lonely Planet city guides for many world cities. They have Seattle, which I usually visit once per year, so it was an instant winner for me
- TripAdvisor/OpenTable: TripAdvisor for finding handy tips when on holiday and both for finding good restaurants in unfamiliar places
- Public Toilet in Australia: Another handy app which does not get used every day but for which you are very thankful for when you do have occasion to use it
- Microsoft Translator: Generally used when speaking to Spanish-speaking relatives but good to have if you travel
- AirBNB: I am yet to try it but I am quite the fan of the service, often using it when going to Seattle
- TripIt: Really, really awesome app for tracking trips, getting flight delay update and seeing when friends will be visiting the same places as you
- Optus phone app: Good for monitoring bandwidth use but very hungry on the power
- Avast Mobile Security: Android phones having the reputation they do, antivirus is good to have. I am really impressed with Avast and a few other Avast mobile apps
- Avast Wifi Finder: For locating free internet in strange cities
- Avast Cleanup: This space clearing tool literally cleared 3.5G of useless junk when I first got my phone. Being a big user of apps, taking photos, and with the kids making videos, I am always scrounging for space on my devices. This makes things a little easier.
- Avast Battery Saver: A clever utility to ensure your phone does not get drained
- Kid’s Place: A great feature of the Windows Phone was Kids Corner. A left swipe and you have a place where you can load up apps for the kids to play on while restricting their access to the rest of the phone. Kid’s Place does the same thing for Android phones
- Morecast: My go-to app for weather was MSN Weather. Morecast has a few more features and great widgets so I am seeing how it goes
- Hyperlapse: Record time-lapse videos without the shakiness. Great for recording biking trips
- Handy other apps (Magnifier, Torch, Calendar, QR Reader etc.)
There is my full list of apps. If you have some handy distractions or time savers apps, include them in the comments.