With the thousands of applications available in the Android marketplace and the iTunes store, it is easy to get lost in the sheer number of choices. Here is a breakdown of the best applications that are a must-have for every smartphone user.
1. Google Music (free, Android + iOS)
Google’s completely free music service is the one to beat right now, hosting 20,000 of your songs and syncing what you want between all of your Android devices with the native app. iOS users are, for now, stuck with the webapp or third party solutions. Uploading music from your desktop is simple and can be automated for new music you get.
2. Google Chrome (free, Android + iOS)
There are so many different browsers for Android it can be hard to pick a favorite. Google Chrome get the most use, with a smooth UI, full syncing with the desktop browser via your Google account and really solid page rendering. As with all mobile browsers, you may run into some websites that act up; checkin “Request desktop site” may solve your problems.
3. Team Viewer (free, Android + iOS)
Ever realized you left that paper unsaved on your computer at home? Team Viewer lets you remotely control your Window, Mac or Linux machine via the free Android app.
4. Dropbox/Google Drive (free, Android + iOS)
The specific program that you use isn’t terribly important anymore, but everyone should be using at least one service to keep their important files synced across all their devices. UC Berkeley students have all kind of opportunities for extra cloud storage: extra Dropbox space for signing up for the Space Race at dropbox.com/spacerace, 5GB of Google Drive space once their @berkeley.edu email is Google-ified, and 25GB of space from Box.com, available at https://berkeley.box.com/login.
5. Soundhound (free, Android + iOS)
Ever wonder what song is playing when you walk into a store? Soundhound test the audio it’s taking in against its database of music. If it gets a match, it will display the song info. It keeps the previously found songs so you can look them up later.
6. Facebook (free, Android + iOS)
This one goes without saying. If you use Facebook, you should be using their mobile app. It’s pretty damn good at this point on all devices, though you still can’t get to some of the more esoteric options that are available on the desktop site.
7. YourBus AC Transit (free, Android)
While it’s only useful while you’re in or near Berkeley, it’s great to have while you’re there. It’s a simple app the uses the same data as NextBus to give you arrival times for buses.
8. iMessage (free, iOS)
iMessage lets you talk, SMS-style, with any iOS device or computer running Mountain Lion. It lets you send videos, photos, etc. Pretty much everything a unified messaging app should do.
9. Nova Launcher (free, Android)
One of the biggest changes you can make to your Android phone is changing the launcher, which encompasses your home screens and app library page. Many phones have launchers that are put on by the manufacturer on top of the stock Android OS. Pretty often, they’re pretty bad. Nova Launcher lets you configure all the options you could want. The $4 Nova Launcher Prime unlocks a number of other options, including home screen gestures and some beta labs, both welcome additions.
10. Tasker ($6.50, Android)
Though it’s the only paid app on this list, Tasker is amazing enough to justify it. It allows a deep control and automation of almost everything your phone can do. Tasks can be created for everything, from turning off the volume when you place your phone face down to turning off data and wifi when you get to class.