When a new Android user enters the Google Play store for the first time, you can imagine how overwhelming the experience could be. After all, there are some 600,000 apps available now. So where do you start? Well, right here. As an Android enthusiast and device reviewer that goes through new phones and tablets on an almost weekly basis, I thought I would share the first 5 that I download each time I load one up. All of them help with enhancing the Android experience.
1. Swiftkey 3
Swiftkey is hands-down the best alternative keyboard you will find on any smartphone platform. It predicts text so well, that you are guaranteed to take a least 5 minutes to tap on predictions only to see what kinds of sentences it can create on its own. What gets even crazier, is once you have allowed it to learn from you and it starts completing sentences using your favorite slang or abbreviations that wouldn’t normally be on any keyboard’s radar. A keyboard shouldn’t work against you – it should make your life easier. Swiftkey does just that and then some.
2. Google Chrome
The stock browser that comes with Android has improved greatly over time, but wouldn’t you rather your daily driver be tied directly to the most popular web browser in the world? Yes, I’m talking about Google Chrome. Popularity shouldn’t actually be your reason to download this though, because the most important part is that with Chrome for Android, your web experience from PC to tablet to phone becomes seamless. Thanks to a tab for “Other Devices,” you can access the tabs you left on your computer at work, home or phone, from anywhere. All it takes from you is couple of simple taps and you can finish your summer BBQ shopping list from the exact spot you left it hours ago during your “lunch break.”
When I was first introduced to Evernote, I thought, “Why do I need a glorified list app?” Then one day, I actually gave it a shot and realized how powerful of an organizational tool this app is. Evernote is a cloud-based app that allows you to access your stored notes from anywhere. But forget that fact for a second. Let’s talk about the power that I mentioned above. Evernote takes notes and lists beyond the boring and into the exciting. For example, I scan every business card I receive right into Evernote rather than keeping them in some card holder that I’ll never revisit. If I need to find someone, I simply search for it, since I have tagged and named them all individually. I also take photos of every medical bill, utility bill, or other expense that refuses to let me go paperless and file them away for safe keeping. I can take voice notes that remind me of chores for later or quickly share my favorite web pages (recipes, photo galleries, etc.) into a specific note folder. Again, all of this is accessed from anywhere in the world.
4. Google Voice
If you haven’t heard of Google Voice before, then before I go into this explanation, prepare to be slightly confused, then amazed, and potentially with a headache afterwards for smacking yourself for not having jumped into the GV game sooner. So what is it? It’s Google’s take on a phone and texting service. Well, better put, it’s like a hub for your entire phone number existence. What I mean is that Google Voice lets you pick a phone number to be handed out to everyone as your 1-and-only. You then attach every other phone you own (including home and work) to this Google Voice number. Then whenever someone calls you through your Google Voice number, it doesn’t matter which phone you have, it will ring. You can also send text messages for free, check out visual voicemail for free, and have either sent to you in an email incase your mobile goes missing.
5. Dropbox or Box
The future of storage does not include the microSD card or internal drive that you are currently storing all of your phone’s photos and files on. Nope, the cloud is where you should be focusing. Dropbox and Box are probably the top two choices for most, with both offering massive amounts of cloud-based storage for reasonable prices (in some cases free). Why would you want to give your digital life to some third party app? Access. It won’t matter where you are or what phone or tablet you are using, but you will be able to access your information once you give yourself to the cloud.