mala::home Davide “+mala” Eynard’s website


Android apps you can live without (but that I like)

I had decided to write a post about SL4A (Scripting Layer for Android) this week, but I have just started learning it and do not have much to say yet. What I learned, however, is that the space on my Hero is quite limited, especially now that more applications (highly) above 1MB of size are available.

I have always tried to keep my list of apps as clean as I can, but of course many times I have forgotten something clearly unuseful between them, or left something that I thought would have been useful sooner or later... Now, trying to free some space in my phone, I have started to classify apps as "removable" for next time I run out of space, "unremovable", "probably going to be useful sooner or later" and so on (I don't know how many of these classes one should have, I just made up some in my  mind - let me know if you think I should add more or remove some). Here are some of the applications I have now on my Hero and the categories I have associated to them.

Apps I'd remove if I could

These are apps that I cannot (easily) remove because they come with the firmware, but I'd really like to remove them:

  • Stocks and Footprints: I am not using them at all;
  • Peep: I found it nice at the beginning, but later realised it is pretty limited especially if compared to other Twitter clients for Android;
  • Teeter: this is a really nice app, but I have already finished it plenty of times and got bored. It would be so much better if it had more levels...


Well, at least for now... This is the list of apps that I use regularly, but I might change them if I found better alternatives.

  • Dropbox: I find it very useful whenever I want to bring something with me (like a pdf that I want to read later while I'm commuting) or, conversely, when I want to copy something to my PC without using the USB cable;
  • Game Dev Story: this is a game that is totally addictive for me. The same night I have tried the free version I have decided to buy the full one. Only now, after plenty of hours of playing and twenty years in the videogame, I am starting to get bored (as now it starts to get a little too repetitive);
  • Lazy Geek: I am not using it that much, but when I did it it has proved to be very useful, allowing me to run batch scripts to quickly check server-related stuff from my mobile;
  • Of course Perl for Android, even if I still haven't still extensively used it;
  • Scan2PDF mobile: ok, this is not the kind of app you use everyday but I found it useful in many circumstances, from scanning documents I had to email to quickly PDFfing notes taken on a whiteboard during meetings;
  • Sipdroid, to connect my phone to my VOIP account. I like it much more than Skype, it works perfectly with my Messagenet account and all in just 860KB;
  • TED Mobile: I like to watch TED talks and this is my favorite way to see them while I'm travelling. I think I will also install RSA Vision soon for the same reason;
  • Tubemate: I use it to download YouTube videos for my son and watch them while offline;
  • TuneIn Radio, to listen to streaming radios (and in particular The Bone!) from wherever I am;
  • Train timetables for Italy (Orari Trenitalia) and Switzerland (Timetable Switzerland), absolutely indispensable for me :)

Nice, but only for a while

  • Air control lite: a cool game that I played a lot... after a while it gets a little too repetitive but I'd suggest it for a try;
  • Overbite Android: actually you must be a little more into gopher than I am to really appreciate it, but I think it is great to know not only that gopher is still alive, but also that you can access it from mobile devices. Indispensable if you want to access online resources in a very cheap way, but they need to be there and you need to know where they are. By the way, I think this is a great topic for a new blog post, so stay tuned;
  • Skype: one word: bah! Of course some might need it at all costs, but fortunately I can use something else for cheap calls (see Sipdroid above) and avoid having people bug me all day long with IM. And the size... That's what I call an overbloated app! Next one I'll remove when I need some space;
  • SMS Backup and restore: simple, free, and works perfectly. Of course, unless you're paranoid about losing your text messages, you won't need it very often. I used it once when I was upgrading Android on my phone and it worked fine... even if next time I'll probably just backup messages without restoring them ;)

Useful, but substitutable

These are apps that I consider useful, but that probably can (or sometimes need to) be substituted by other applications: any suggestion about this is welcome!

  • Aldiko: this is a really cool ebook reader. I liked it so much that I decided to support it and buy the Premium version. But damn... it is SO huge for an ebook reader! Should I switch to something smaller?
  • Droid Comic Viewer: this is a nice app to read comics in different formats (such as CBR, CBZ, JPG, and so on). I found it nice, albeit not perfect... So I am open to alternatives if you think there are better ones;
  • ES File Explorer: it looks cool but I think I am not using at its full potential. I guess there might be another, less powerful, lighter app that's probably better for me;
  • Note Everything: a very powerful note-taking application. I use it very much and like it, but again I think I'm not exploiting its full potential;
  • Taskiller: the first task killer I have installed. I don't know if it is better or worse than others, but it works fine for me;
  • Shuffle: it's a free GTD todo list manager. It is quite customizable and the nice things is that it allows you to check your list according to different facets: for instance you can see all the tasks you have to do today, or the ones related to a specific context or a given project. This app is at the same time one I would not live without (I always keep many todo lists), something you might get bored of (I am currently not using it much) and something that can be substituted (in my case, lately, by lists on paper!). The main reason I stopped using it is that I'm experimenting with another, more physical, medium, and I kind of like it, but apart from this I still think it's a very good app.


Well, this is more or less the list of apps I have now on my Android. Of course there were many others I have already uninstalled, however I thought it wouldn't have been very useful to describe them too... ;) I hope that in this list you can find something that might be useful to you too. However, I'm always fearing that this list is too biased by the fact that most of these apps are the first ones that appear in the market for popularity: this always leaves me with the doubt that there might be something very good in the long queue but that I'll never have a chance to try. So, please, if you have other good apps to suggest, especially lighter substitutes of the ones I already have, but also new ones that you think I might like to try, just let me know: I'll be happy to try them.

Filed under: android Leave a comment
Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Grazie per un altro interessante post. Android è sicuramente sulla mia lista di cose da fare.

    Sembrano utili le due applicazioni che riguardano gli orari di treni, sia come utilizzo quotidiano sia per gli aspetti tecnici.

    Non è male sfogliare i feed RSS di domenica mattina. Meglio ancora se poi ci sono blogger in giro che ci pensano a pubblicare cose belle:)

    • Hi Olja, thx a lot! ;) Beh, alla fine pubblicare post di questo tipo e’ utile anche per me, così ottengo feedback (ho visto ora quello di Carlo che commenterò a breve) che mi possono essere molto utili!
      Per quanto riguarda gli orari dei treni, si’, sono davvero utili per chi fa il pendolare in modo irregolare come me. E’ vero che dopo un po’ si tendono a imparare i pattern, pero’ ogni tanto gli orari cambiano e se uno vuol essere sicuro di non perdere il treno e’ sempre bene darci un’occhiata rapida. E’ proprio questo “rapido” che manca in genere ai siti delle fs… ;)
      Tempo fa (beh, direi un bel po’ oramai) avevo scritto uno scraper che mi restituisse gli orari in semplicissimo testo dopo averli estratti dalle pagine di trenitalia. La cosa bella e’ che funziona ancora (!) a distanza di un sacco di tempo, pero’ senza GUI e’ un po’ poco pratico. Beh, se lo volete provare sta qui:

      (naturalmente e’ possibile cambiare i nomi delle citta’, ma ancora piu’ naturalmente se i nomi non sono quelli corretti non da’ nessun errore… ma semplicemente pagina bianca ;)). Una delle caratteristiche che mi piace di piu’ e’ il testo semplice: lo puoi dare in pasto a script bash, trasferire con gprs a pochi centesimi… insomma, e’ ancora il formato piu’ versatile ed economico che ci possa essere. A questo proposito, date un occhio a todo.txt di Gina Trapani (il post, il tool e l’app), l’idea e’ molto bella ;)

  2. Dalla tua lista ne deduco che hai ancora il sistema originale.
    Secondo me installando una cyanogen7 (girgerbread) dovresti risparmiarti un po’ di spazio e guadagnare in velocità.

    – Stocks, footprints etc sono gia’ tolti
    – Sipdroid non è più necessario (VOIP incluso nel sistema ben funzionante)
    – per i treni preferisco che nella versione lite mi sembra migliore

    inoltre se vai spesso in macchina ti consiglio e

    mentre invece se sei di milano e usi il bikemi…

    per il task killer preferisco non metterlo, pero’ ho abilitato la possibilità di killare l’applicazione corrente tenendo premuto a lungo il bottone back

    comunque grazie dei consigli

    • Ciao Carlo, grazie a te per i consigli! In effetti è da tempo che vorrei passare a Cyanogen e seguo il progetto da un po’, ma mi sembrava che la versione per Hero avesse ancora qualche problema… Non so, non mi ero mai fatto problemi a scegliere soluzioni aperte anche se questo comportava ricompilarmi kernel a nastro e avere un sistema che magari non supportava ancora l’hardware installato, però ora forse il pensiero di farlo con un telefono (e probabilmente anche l’età ;)) mi hanno fatto esitare. Devo dire però che con Cyanogen mi ero fermato alla 6 e qualcosa, quindi se mi dici che con la 7 non ci sono problemi potrebbe essere un buon esperimento da documentare nel blog ;)

Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.