Wednesday, September 7th, 2011...1:28 am

Android Post of Awesome

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I was going to say something about why I haven’t posted here in forever, but really, who cares, right? I had the worst summer of my life and don’t really have anything good to say, so let’s just move on.

Instead of talking about my summer, let’s talk about Android apps! I’ve started to leave a few comments about this in various places, but it turns out that I have so many feelings about this that I rapidly outgrew character limits on comments, plus I figured that it couldn’t hurt anything to have this all archived neatly somewhere.

So, phones. Right now I’ve got an HTC EVO; before this, I had an HTC Hero, which I’ve since given to Nick. Before I go any further, I should probably do the obligatory disclaimers: I really, really love my phones, and I use them constantly, and I’m way more invested in them than I probably ought to be. I’ve used iPhones and don’t especially like them, plus I super hate iTunes and the “Apple Experience”, so I’m not at all interest in hearing comments about iPhones being better or whatever. Go make your own post about iPhones. (That said, if you’re thinking about switching to Android and would like to say “My iPhone does this–can I make an Android do that?” I’m totally happy to talk about that, and I’m happy to talk about apps with platform overlap.)

Also, this is all just my opinion–I don’t know everything about Android, and I’m sure that there are many really useful, awesome things that I’m missing, but since I’m missing them, I’m not talking about them. Feel free to edify me–nicely–in the comments. (Remember what I said about the worst summer ever? Seriously, please be nice.)

Anyhow, biases admitted up front. Moving on.

This post is, as it turns out, super fucking long, so I’m sticking the rest of it under a cut so those of you who have iPhones/Blackberries/hate cell phones and eschew modern technology don’t have to read about it.


First, my suggestion for any Android user is to root your phone. This LifeHacker guide will walk you through it. Yes, it’s possible that you’re going to brick your phone. No, it’s really, really, really not likely. When I rooted my Hero, there weren’t any one-click apps available, and I had to fumble my way through it using a terminal emulator and a bunch of crappy guides from forums. I fucked it up–badly–several times, and had to pull the battery and reboot and reboot and reboot. And I still didn’t brick it. The chances that you’re going to manage to seriously damage your phone by using a one-click root method or something similar are almost none, imo. Suck it up and do it.

After rooting, I put a custom ROM on my phone. This is basically an operating system. You know how Linux has Linux-the-OS, but when you’re actually installing Linux, there’s Ubuntu and FreeBSD and CentOS? For Linux, they’re called distros; for Android, they’re called ROMs. This is a brief and incomplete list of why ROMs are awesome:

  • They stay up to date. The Hero I mentioned earlier is currently running Android 2.3.3. The official firmware is still on 2.1, and they don’t expect any further updates.

  • You can ditch all the bloatware that your carrier put on your phone. Really, did I need a NASCAR app? No. What about NFL Live? Still no. (Technically this is a point in favor of rooting, as you can do this on a rooted phone. But still.)
  • ROMs have more options than the stock firmware does. My ROM, for example, has the option to put music controls on my lockscreen. I’ve also got a sound on/off/vibrate thing on my lock screen. You can force the phone to install any app to your SD card, which is great if you’re an app junkie. There’s a built-in thing (again, on my ROM) to set quiet hours for your phone to mute notifications. It’s a bunch of little tweaks, sure, but they make the phone a lot more enjoyable.
  • Literally every ROM I’ve used–and I’ve used a bunch–is faster than the interface that the phone came with. HTC’s Sense interface is, yes, gorgeous…but it’s laggy as hell, in my experience. Motorola’s MotoBlur is the same way. Even a phone running Android without an overlay isn’t as fast as most of the ROMs I’ve used.

If you decide to install a ROM–and you don’t have to–you have to pick one. If your phone is supported, I strongly suggest CyanogenMod–it supports a ton of devices and is, frankly, awesome. It’s really fast, it’s really stable, it has a fantastic dev community, and if the people who developed Cyanogen came out with an operating system tomorrow, I would buy it without hesitation. I’ve also used Modaco, Damage Control, and Fresh ROM–I don’t like them as much as Cyanogen, but would still rec any of them. (Based, I should note, on the versions that I’ve used, all of which are a year or more old at this point.) It’s worth mentioning that Modaco’s community seems especially welcoming to people who are new to rooting and ROMs–they have an entire forum section for absolute beginners, which isn’t something I’ve seen anywhere else.

Now you’ve got a ROM! This is awesome, right? I mean, ok, it probably doesn’t look like exactly what you’re used to, but I promise, you’ll get used to it fast.

Let’s talk about apps and widgets now, then. First I’m going to put up a couple screenshots of my home screens, and then I’m going to talk about the apps in groups, yes? Yes.


That’s my home screen.


Left of the home screen.


Right of the home screen.

(There are two other home screens, as well, but one is all shortcuts to phoning/texting people, and the other is a homescreen that has stuff for Maura on it.)

Maybe you’ve already guessed this, but I use a lot of apps. I’m going to talk about widgets first, because I’ve got a lot of them on display up there.

Widgets

First up is Beautiful Widgets. This isn’t free–it’s about $3–but it’s worth it. My gorgeous home screen clock/weather/date thing up there? That’s Beautiful Widgets. Hit the clock, and it takes you to the alarm. Hit the weather icon, and you go to a four-day forecast and more details on the current weather. Hit the date, and you go to the calendar. It’s fantastic. There are also a bunch of widgets for things like turning the WiFi on and off, or enabling airplane mode, or whatever.

At the bottom of my home screen, I have a calendar display. This is Smooth Calendar. All it does is show you whatever the next [x] events on your calendar are, but it does so in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. It’s surprisingly customizable–you can set the color of the calendar icon, set the transparency of the background, set what calendars it’s displaying from, set how many events it shows… When you touch the icon, you’re taken to a the full calendar.

Gmail Unread Count is a little widget that puts a Gmail icon up and gives it a tag telling you how many unread emails you have. If you’re one of those people who has 9823 unread emails, you’ll hate this. If, like me, you’re somewhat obsessive about having your inbox all neat and tidy, all the time, you’ll love it. It costs 99c.

Basics

Astro is a lovely file manager that’s well worth installing if your device didn’t come with one pre-installed. (If your device did come with one pre-installed, I don’t think that Astro has any killer features or anything that make it worth changing.)

Barnacle WiFi Tether is a helpful WiFi tethering app. It supports secure connections, too, so you don’t have to share your data plan with everyone within a hundred feet of you.

Days Left Widget is a simple little countdown widget, but I like it.

Dialer One is a replacement for the stock dialer. I like it for a bunch of reasons, but most importantly, you can dial by starting to type someone’s name on the number pad. So if I’m phoning Nick, I hit 6-4-2… For whatever reason, the stock dialer doesn’t do this, and it makes me crazy.

Dolphin Browser Mini is a replacement for the stock browser. There are lot of these out there, including Firefox and Opera, but I really like Dolphin. It’s fast, it’s very stable, it has infinite tabs, it has Flash support, and when you open it, you’re on
a speed dial page that has (customizable) links to commonly used sites.

Google Search is what you’d expect–a nice search widget.

Google Voice is a must-have if you’re on Android. It takes and transcribes voicemail, and then emails you a copy. (And, obviously, a copy’s on your phone.) It
also makes cheap international calls, which is fantastic. The widget can be seen on the left-of-home-screen screen, above.

Handcent is a SMS alternative. You can change the backgrounds of your conversations, change the way that it’s laid out (iPhone style, stock Android style, HTC style, etc.)…basically, everything is customizable. There are even font packs so you can change fonts. It also lets you schedule texts, blacklist numbers, and there’s an option to back up all your SMS messages to My Handcent. (As I have no interest in this, I don’t know if there’s a fee or not.)

Google Maps is an atlas and a GPS in one.

Ringdroid lets you make your own ringtones, either by recording something or by chopping up an existing audio file.

ClockworkROM isn’t necessary unless you’ve rooted and are using a ROM, but if you are, this makes backing up and installing new ROMs totally mindless.

Screenshot lets you screencap your phone. This requires root and probably Superuser.

Seek Droid is a 99c app that will help you find your phone if you lose it or if it’s stolen. You set up an account when you download the app, and if the phone is lost/stolen, you go onto the website and push a button. Within a minute or two, the phone will start chirping and you’ll get a GPS fix on where it is. You can also use this app to wipe data (from the phone and/or SD card) remotely. Where’s My Droid is similar to Seek Droid, only you text (instead of logging into a website) and you can’t wipe the data. They’re both awesome.

Sugar Sync lets you sync from your phone to your Sugar Sync account. (See also: Dropbox, though I don’t like it as well.)

Superuser allows apps to run with superuser permissions. If you’re rooted, you need to have this installed. (If you’re not rooted, it doesn’t do you any good, so
don’t bother.)

Tasker is, I think, the most expensive app I have–it’s about $6.50 in the market right now. That said, it’s pretty amazing, because Tasker basically lets you automate everything on your phone. When I get to work, my phone automatically sets itself to vibrate. When I get home, the WiFi turns itself on. When I open Google Maps, the GPS turns itself on, and it turns itself off when I close Maps. My screen automatically dims itself during certain hours. Plugging in headphones launches my music player and turns the volume down to one. Maybe you want to set the phone to silent, but only if it’s face-down and between the hours of midnight and seven–you can totally do that. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Tasker is capable of, and it’s totally worth the six bucks. That said, there’s a fairly steep learning curve, and getting it to do exactly what you want to do can be tricky at first. If you install this and find yourself staring at it, flummoxed, drop me a line and I’ll see if I can help.

Tiny Flashlight is a great flashlight app. If you’ve got an LED flash, Tiny Flashlight can light it up so you can use that as a flashlight. There’s also an option to turn your screen a bright white, which works almost as well as the LED does.

Titanium Backup does like it says–it backs up everything. Contacts, messages, levels of Angry Birds beaten… If you’ve rooted but not installed a ROM, this will let you uninstall bloatware and other undesirable programs. You have to have root for this one to work.

Google Translate puts Google’s fairly amazing translation engine on your phone. Best parts: It allows for voice input, and can do text-to-speech output.

TTorrent is a torrent client for Android.

Voice Search is a magical app that means you can talk to your phone. Bring up a text, hit the mic, and dictate your text. Hit voice search and say “Text Nick C Hi, honey, go buy milk, please,” and it’ll create a text to Nick C telling him to buy milk.

Watchdog keeps an eye out for runaway apps. This doesn’t happen often to me, but every once in a while, something will get caught in a loop, and it’ll just…churn. Watchdog keeps an eye on your apps and if one starts sucking up CPU, it’ll kill
the app. (And yes, you can blacklist–never kill App X.)

Social Stuff

Facebook. I hate basically everything about Facebook…but I love how the app integrates my Facebook friends with my contacts. It’ll transfer over whatever info you have avilable to you on Facebook and make it available on your phone, basically.

Google+ is the Android G+ app, and it’s awfully shiny. Instant upload when you take photos, nice stream view, easy sharing… It also has a great widget, which you can see in the pics above. It makes it really, really easy to share things on G+, which means that I’m already using it roughly ten million times more than I use Facebook.

Hootsuite is my Twitter client of choice. I like it because it supports multiple accounts, it lets you schedule tweets, and it’s stupidly easy to use. I also like that they have a browser-based client, which means that I can use Hootsuite from my computer at work. That said, there are about a hundred great Twitter apps out there, and if you’re not using multiple accounts and/or dead set on having the same experience on your phone and in a browser, this might not be your best choice.

Tumblr has a surprisingly robust app. Nice view of your stream, really easy to post, plus has multiple blog support. A+.

Twitter‘s official app is pretty strong, too, and it sounds like it’ll only get stronger, since Twitter is eating up many of the smaller companies that used to make Twitter apps.

Urban Spoon isn’t an app that I use often, but when I’m somewhere new and don’t know what do to about supper, I pull it up. I really like that you can filter by features of the restaurants.

Yelp can really be described almost the exact same way the Urban Spoon app is, only you can use Yelp for any business. I don’t have a strong preference with these two apps, and keep both installed–sometimes Yelp will have something that US has missed, other times it’s the other way around.

Media

Amazon MP3 allows you to stream music from your Amazon Cloud Player.

Last.fm lets you listen to your Last.fm radio station and, more importantly, enables scrobbling from certain media players.

MoboPlayer is a very solid video player that handles most popular video formats without choking. It also supports subtitles and playlists, which not all Android video players do.

Moon+ Reader is my ebook reader of choice. It handles .txt, epub, and html files and is pleasing to me. (I’m currently on a quest to convert all my ebooks, including ones from Kindle, to epub, so this works great for me. If you’re a Kindle fan, though, also you’ll want the Kindle app, as well.)

Netflix brings Netflix streaming to your phone, which is great for when you’re stuck somewhere and don’t have anything else to do.

Pandora enables you to stream your Pandora stations from your phone.

Play by Yahoo! Music–this, ok, really doesn’t sound like it’s the kind of thing that would be awesome. It turns out, though, that Play is my favorite music player for Android. It has the normal music player stuff, but it’s got nice bonuses–if you have last.fm installed, it’ll automatically scrobble what you’re listening to, and there’s an “identify this song” button for
times when you’re in Starbucks or whatever and just have to know what the song on the radio is. (In other words, it replaces Shazam/SoundHound.)

Productivity

Adobe Reader reads PDFs. If you have no call to do that, then you don’t need this at all. If you find yourself using the cursed PDF more often than not, though, this is a worthwhile download. There are a lot of third-party apps that do the same thing, but none of them do anything particularly special, and Adobe’s made a pretty solid app.

AK Notepad is a really basic, simple notetaking app. It looks like a piece of yellow-lined paper, and you type on it. (You can have multiple pieces of paper.) If you’re an Evernote person, Evernote also has a great app, but for whatever reason, I just don’t like it.

Astrid Task is a nice little to-do app that, in addition to the normal to-do lists stuff, lets you share lists with people and syncs with Google Tasks. I’d say more about this, but, tbh, I’ve only been using it for about a week, so I don’t feel like I’m in a great position to do so. I do, however, like it so far. (For the record, prior to this I was using GTasks, which I didn’t dislike, but felt like there had to be a better option.)

Google Docs is the app for–surprise–Google Docs. I use Docs all the time, both on my phone and on my computer, and this app makes my life so much easier. I have files for recipes, for addresses, for all kinds of stuff, and they’re always right there. The app is simple to use and works really, really well.

Documents To Go is a viewer for basically any Office-supported file. There’s a paid version (for about $15 right now) that enables editing on docs, but, frankly, I’d just as soon use Google Docs for free. I have this mostly to deal with the occasional Excel file from work.

Google Goggles is actually a visual search–take a picture, and Google will spit back information about it. (In theory–sometimes it works perfectly; other times, less so.) What it’s really amazing for, though, is taking a photo of a business card or something similar and saving the information–I don’t even keep people’s cards most of the time anymore, I just take a picture and hand the card back.

Google Reader maybe isn’t technically a productivity app, but maybe you use Greader to keep up with blogs for work? Maybe? Ok, so maybe it’s the anti-productivity app. Whatever. It’s a nice app with a clean interface, and you could find worse ways to waste your time.

WordPress puts all the controls for your WordPress blog–self-hosted or hosted on WordPress.com–at your fingertips.

Health

Daily Ab Workout is a five-to-ten minute workout. I like it not because I have any particular give-a-fuck about my abs (if you’d met me, you’d realize how laughable this idea is) but because it doesn’t require any equipment to do, so it’s easy to do it on those days when you’re feeling extra energetic. (Or when you’re just so tired of sitting in your chair that you have to do *something*.)

Daily Cardio Workout can be described the exact same way that Daily Ab Workout can.

Fertility Friend is probably the app to use if you’re trying to get pregnant. I assume that if you’re trying to get pregnant, you’re already using the Fertility Friend website, and this puts that on your phone. It’s a pretty new app–it only came out a couple months ago–so it’s still a bit buggy sometimes, but is almost certainly the best and most comprehensive fertility-tracking app out there.

Lightning Bug is a white noise generator. (It also works as an alarm clock, but I prefer Sleep As An Droid for that.) It has a bunch of inbuilt sound scenes, and you can customize them by enabling or disabling different tracks. There are also a ton of add-ons available in the market.

My Days is a great app to use if you’re just trying to track your period and don’t care about what your cervical fluid feels like on any given day. Very nice app, works really well, and has a little countdown-to-your-period widget, if you want it.

Sleep As An Droid is a sleep tracking app. It graphs your sleep history, it keeps tabs on how much sleep you’re short on, and it has one of those alarms that monitors your sleep pattern and wakes you up when you’re not in REM, which makes getting up easier. It also has the option to wake you up slowly, with a quiet noise that gets louder, and to use a CAPTCHA to turn off your alarm, proving that you’re really awake.

Pocket Yoga is a lovely little yoga app. You can either get an overview of positions, or you can select one of several yoga routines to do. I love this app and sometimes will do one of the routines on my lunch break. If you’re not following the link here, though, make sure that you get Pocket Yoga by Rainfrog–there’s another company that makes an app called Pocket Yoga, but it’s shit.

Shopping and Money

Your bank’s app. No link, because I don’t know what bank you use, but I’m willing to bet that they’ve got an app. I use a tiny regional bank that only has branches in three states, and even they have an app. Your bank has an app. Go find it. Get the app.

Amazon.com I don’t even think that I need to explain this. It makes Amazon fast and easily accessible from your phone, which is exactly what your credit card didn’t need, right? Right.

GasBuddy is a magical, wonderful app. You open it up and press “find gas by me”, and you get a list of nearby gas stations and the current cost of gas at each. Within a mile of where I am right now, I’ve got gas at anywhere from $3.57/gal to $3.79/gal. Guess what station I’m going to.

Key Ring makes shopping suck less, becuase you no longer have to carry three dozen different rewards cards on your keychain. Take a picture of the barcode and Key Ring will store it. Next time you’re at the store, you just bring up the app and scan the barcode from your phone. It also has a grocery coupons feature, but I’ve never used it, so can’t say anything useful about it.

Mint is the app for the uber-popular site. If you use Mint, this app is fantastic. (I don’t use Mint anymore, though I did for a while, and I used the app during that time. I’m mentioning it here mostly because it seemed like a solid app, and I know a ton of people use Mint.)

PayPal gives access to your PayPal account from your phone. Possibly more compelling, though, it offers the option to take a photo of a check and deposit it to your
PayPal account. Remember what I said before about how I use a regional bank? They’re not anywhere near offering deposits by phone yet, and PayPal lets me push them a tiny bit closer to the twenty-first century.

Shop Savvy is a barcode scanner. Scan the code, and you’ll get a popup of purchase options, both local and online, as well as the prices at each place. I’ve saved a fair bit of money by scanning things before purchasing them.

Photos and Art

Multitouch Paint is a simple drawing app. The controls are fairly limited, and you won’t be making Great Art, but it’s nice to have around for the occasional smiley face and to give kids something to do on your phone.

Photoshop Express is a simple photo editing app. You have to have a Photoshop online account, and I find the interface a little tedious, but I keep it around, mostly to crop photos. (Inexplicably, this is something that most other photo editors don’t do.)

PicSay Pro is $4 in the market, and it’s totally worth it. You can add speech bubbles, text, and stickers (noses, beards, emoticons, eyes, arrows, holiday themed stickers…there’s a ton of them) to photos quickly and easily. More importantly to me, there are a ton of adjustments–exposure, contrast, brightness, make the image black and white save for a single color, sharpen, blur, fix red eye… And there are a ton of effects, too: pencil sketch, lomo, faux HRD, cross processed (for that ’70s look), sepia, tilt shift, vignette, instant film… It also supports the ability to mask the effects, so they’re only applied to part of the photo. To be honest, this is what I expected the Photoshop app to be like. Totally worth the $4.

PicsIn Kaleidoscope is oddly mesmeric. It’s a pretty simple app–pick a brush size and a color, and move your finger around on the screen. The app will reproduce the finger path over a bunch of segments, and the effect is very pretty. Um, screencap; I’m explaining this poorly.

See? Pretty.

Games

Ancient Frog is a zen-like thing in which you have a set number of moves to move a frog from start to eating a fly. I find it weirdly compelling, but…well, I’m weird.

Angry Birds probably doesn’t really need an introduction, right? It’s worth mentioning that Amazon has ad-free versions of Angry Birds for 99c/game.

Angry Birds Rio is…more Angry Birds!

Angry Birds Seasons is a seasonally-updated Angry Birds game. This is probably my favorite of the three–it’s certainly the only one in which I’ve beaten all the levels.

Bonsai Blast is a bit like Popcap’s Zuma–fire colored balls at a chain of colored balls, make colored balls disappear. I’ve used this app to get more than one person used to using the touch screen–it’s a very simple game to play, and trains people fairly quickly in how to touch the screen so things will go where you want them to go.

Doodle Fit is about a buck fifty, and it’s a clever little puzzle game for the price. (That said, there’s also a free version–just search and it’ll come up.) You get a shape, and have to fit a bunch of other shapes into it. Which sounds pretty easy, but isn’t. This is definitely the best jigsaw-type game I’ve found on Android.

Dragon, Fly! is friggin’ adorable. I mean, that’s it–you’re a baby dragon, you slide down hills. That’s the whole game. But it’s so goddamn cute that I don’t care.

Dragon Hunter is a charming tower defense game in which you defend your tower from dragons. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? Predictably, my favorite bits are the sea monsters.

Dropwords is kind of like Boggle, if the boggle tiles disappeared and were replaced by new letters after you’d used them to make a word.

Enjoy Sudoku is a really great free sudoku game. If you upgrade to the paid version, which is, I think, two bucks, you have unlimited puzzles. I love it and play it every day.

Plants vs. Zombies doesn’t get a link, because it’s only on Amazon, and–um, and for some eason I’ve decided not to link things that are Amazon only. It’s a cuteish tower defense game, basically. Downsides: if you have an older phone (and by “older” I mean “older than a year old”) you’re screwed, and the app is something like 80MB, which is just fucking ridiculous.

Robot Unicorn Attack is…uh. Look. Go here. Turn on your volume. Play the game. Did you think it was hilarious? Then you want this app. If you think it is annoying and pointless, you don’t want it. Stunning insight, I know. You’re welcome.

Shortyz Crosswords is a great app that pulls crossword puzzles from a bunch of online sources (my last update had Universal Crossword, USA Today, Newday, Sheffer Crosswords, Joseph Crosswords, LA Times, Washington Post, and NY Times Classic) and gives you a clean, easy to use interface to do them on your phone. Worth mentioning, I guess, is that these are American-style crosswords, which and I have recently realized are not
only unlike cryptics, but are also unlike the quick crosswords that are sometimes published with the cryptics, so if you’re not American, this is a new and exciting world of crossword frustration! (We spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to do each other’s crosswords, and both failed. If you were wondering.)

Slice It! is a geometry-based game, which sounds absurdly boring, I know. But I’m kind of faily at math, and this is great. You get a shape, and a certain number of cuts, and have to cut the shape into [x number] of equal pieces. It’s harder than it sounds, and I’m always ridiculously pleased when I get one right.

Words with Friends is a Scrabble clone with a huge user base. I’m meghanconrad–totally start games with me.

Supermarket Scramble is a Bejeweled-style game with fruit instead of gems. I like it because you have shopping lists and are meant to find certain things, not just any matches.

Keyboards

The stock Android keyboard is pretty solid, imo, but if you want to level up and type a hell of a lot faster, look into alternate keyboards.

Swype is the only app link that doesn’t take you to the Android store. Swype is still technically in beta, and I don’t expect it’s ever going to find its way to the app store–they’re making most of their money by licensing the keyboard to phone manufacturers. Which they can do, because the keyboard is amazing. No more tap-tap-tap–instead you just drag your finger from one letter to another, not picking up between. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you’ve learnt it, it’s really fast and very smooth. To get it, you have to sign up for the beta, and they’ll send you an email with a download link. Beta is open right now, but they seem to open and close it randomly, sometimes leaving it one way or the other for months at a time.

8pen is an amazing keyboard designed for phones. It looks nothing like a traditional keyboard, and it works nothing like them, and it has a staggeringly steep learning curve. If you can get past these things–and I admit that it’s a big if, and one that I can’t yet really say I’ve managed–8pen would be blazingly fucking fast, because it’s basically like forming cursive letters. I’m not there yet, but can see the possibility in it and am determined to get proficient at it. It currently costs about $1.50 in the market.

Swiftkey is great if you’re into predictive text–it actually studies your Facebook posts, tweets, and SMS messages to figure out what words you’re most likely to use next. That said, I have an unreasonable hate of predictive text, so I didn’t use this keyboard long.

Stuff that didn’t really fit anywhere else

Google Sky Map has basically no useful purpose, unless you’re trying to navigate by the stars and unsure what star is which. That said, it’s super fucking cool. You open the app and point it at the sky, and it shows you what you’re looking at, complete with labels. Maura loves this app and can play with it for hours, and I’m not really a whole lot better.

Layar is an augmented reality app, which I love saying because it sounds super futuristic and scifitastic. Basically, though, you hold your phone up so it sees what you’re seeing, and you’ll see the area around you on the phone’s screen (duh) with labels. What you see depends on what layers you’ve got enabled, but some of the more common ones are homes for sale, local businesses, restaurants and bars, and landmarks. When you tap the label, you’re off to more information about the [whatever]. The database isn’t amazing yet, and I wish that they’d add user-edited info, but even here in bumfuck Ohio, most businesses are labeled, and it’s a neat thing to play with.

The Weather Channel is worldwide weather with predictions, maps, detailed hourly forecasts, and all that other fancy stuff. I love my homescreen weather app, but sometimes I want more detailed weather, and this does that.

Ok! I think that I have officially run out of words to say. What’d I miss?

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