Monday, May 28, 2012

Choosing Apps for My First Smartphone

My New Droid RAZR

Well, I finally decided to replace my nearly 10-year old flip phone. Even though you could make a strong case that my Virgin Mobile pre-paid flip phone was already overkill for me, I finally tossed the flip phone and upgraded to a Motorola Droid RAZR.

Android smartphone apps & widgets for Motorola Droid RAZR
Motorola Droid RAZR

My home phone is still my primary phone; my mobile phone doesn't get very much use. So, if the increase in the cost of my mobile phone service from $5 to close to $80 a month is going to be worth it, the increase will have to be justified by apps, not phone calls. Here are the apps that I have so far.

Droid RAZR Home Pages 

The Droid RAZR has five home pages that you can use to organize your apps.  Each of my home pages has a theme: communications, social networking, productivity, entertainment or phone utilities.  I describe each of these home pages in more detail below.

The Dock Row Apps

The same four shortcuts are docked on the bottom row of each of the five home pages; you get to choose three of the four. The fourth is always the shortcut to your apps catalog (a list of all of the apps on your phone).

I chose the phone shortcut, My Music, and Xfinity Mobile.  Xfinity Mobile is Comcast Cable's app.  It gives me access to my Comcast email account to send and receive emails, access to my Comcast voice mail, and free text messaging.

The Central Home Page (Page #3): My Communications Apps

If you tap the "home" icon, it generally takes you to the third/middle home page. I use this page for my communications apps.

Headline Widget: (note: This is the widget that I have at the top of the page.  Widgets are basically shortcuts that have a little bit of functionality built in to them.)
  • Favorite Contacts (portraits of the people I contact most frequently, with easy links to phone, text or e-mail them -- or navigate to them).
  • Contacts
  • Voicemail
  • E-mail
  • Text Messaging (the native texting app)
  • Reminder: Shortcuts to the phone app and Xfinity Mobile app are already docked on the bottom row.
  • Skype will get added to this group one of these days, but the droid version doesn't appear to be ready for prime time yet.

Home Page #4: My Social Networking Apps

Headline Widget:
  • My Gallery: Media updates from friends (generally pictures they've added to Facebook)
  • Social Networking (Combines Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. posts)
  • Facebook
  • My Gallery (pictures)
  • Camera

Home Page #5: My Entertainment Apps

Headline Widget:
  • My Music (shows "now playing" and lets you navigate within current album)
Folder (Folders are like folders on your PC)
  • Urbanspoon (restaurant reviews)
  • Places (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, attractions)

Home Page #2: Productivity Apps

Headline Widgets:
  • Google Search
  • Calendar (shows day, date, scrollable window of upcoming appointments)

Home Page #1: Phone/utility Apps

  • My Verizon (shows billing cycle-to-date data usage)

Applications Groups

Finally, I have a couple of groups defined in the apps catalogue.

Travel Group ("Travel" is defined as away from home.)
Miscellaneous Group

What's Your Favorite App?

That's what I have so far.  Biggest downside is giving developers who you know little or nothing about access to your phone.  As a result, I try to minimize the amount of sensitive/confidential data on my phone.

I'm a newbie, so I'm sure there are still many great apps that I don't know about. If you have suggestions re great apps that I have overlooked, please leave a comment below.


The biggest challenge so far is trying to synchronize music, pictures, contacts, calendars, etc. across multiple platforms. More on that later.

Related Links

Google Play: Google's Android app market.
Amazon: Amazon's apps for Android
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Copyright © 2012               Last modified: 9/20/2012

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