Monday, June 21, 2010

Google Android Nexus One - Tips, Apps & Tricks

Earlier today the 'Best Places To Work Institute' published the results of it's survey (in association with  The Economic Times) regarding the best companies to work for in India, and I am mighty pleased to announce that Google India has topped the list this time around! I have a feeling that this result had something to do with the fact that all Googlers (Google employees) received a free Nexus One a few days back:)

Ever since I laid my hands on this 'greatest gadget of them all', I have been waking up early and going to sleep late just to spend more time with my N1. A big advantage for me, compared to my colleagues, has been the fact that my wife is also a Googler and she has received the same phone. Which means I have not had to part with my favourite new toy.

A lot has already been written about the best apps, practices, tips and tricks about the Nexus One. This blog post by Matt Cutts is one of my favourite repository so far. Here's adding my two cents.



1. Recommended Apps

I will highly recommend the following apps for the N1  

1. Official Facebook & Twitter apps for Android - beats every other app in the market. 

2. Google Gestures - You can find your contacts by writing their names with your fingers on the contact screen. Convenient and very impressive!

3. Shazam - The most mind blowing app according to me! If you are playing some music and then turn on Shazam, it will listen to the music and then tell you details like the album, singer, lyrics etc. It will also  try to connect with related YT videos if available.

4. Note Pad - The N1 doesn't have an inbuilt notepad, you can download any of the various ones available in the market. I am trying one called 'Note Pad' and is quite nice.

5. Net Counter - This helps you track your data usage - over GPRS/EDGE as well as wi-fi. If you're on a personal data plan this will be very handy.

6. Google Goggles - Should come pre-installed in most phones, if not must try it. Brilliant reverse image  search app, works with pictures taken from the mobile camera.

7. Google Translate - Self explanatory, works with 40+ languages including Hindi. 

8. Google Buzz - Again, self explanatory. Works very well with location based Buzz. 

9. Battery Time - A quick & easy one touch app which tells you about the state of your battery and how much of various activities (voice, video, audio, browsing) you can do with it.

10. Barcode Scanner - Must have for Barcodes and QR codes.

11. Where's My Droid - Super App to find your phone if you leave it somewhere while in silent/vibrate  mode. You can send a code to your phone by a message from some other phone and it activates the loud mode and starts ringing. Found it very helpful already.

12. Pintail - Again found this to be a very helpful app to find your phone should you lose it. You set a code and then if you find it missing you can send this as a message to your phone from another one. The phone from which you sent the message will get a reply with the location of your phone with a Google Maps link, very accurate, very helpful!

13. Ringdroid - You can record anything and then set it as your ringtone. 



14. TuneWiki - A much better music app than the in built one. Gives an ipod kind of feel. 

15. Stop Watch - Again, many available, you can download any one.

16. Colour Flashlight - This makes your screen into a flashlight/torchlight. Interesting and fun. Also, useful.

17. Dialer One - A very convenient Dialing app where you can just tap the Alpha Numeric keys like a normal T9 keyboard and the most intuitive entries will populate. Can work for both names and numbers.

18. Paint - A must have app again. Just use your fingers and draw what you want on the screen. Of course you can change colours, thickness of the lines, erase bits of it etc. Super thrilling for kids. Also, there's a Kids mode where random colours and line thickness appears everytime you take off your finger from the screen and start afresh.

19. GDocs Notepad - Another Notepad app, but the USP is that it syncs all the Notes with your Google  Docs account. All notes are created as new files in a Folder in your Docs account.

20. Astro File Manager - A basic file management utility which is lacking in the official build. You need  to connect the device to a computer to do any of the basic file management functions, here it's a breeze.

21. Battery Graph - More of an aesthetic rather than useful app, but definitely on my home page. It shows the battery graph, how and at what rate it gets used, and then when you charge it how the graph goes up and to the right. You can also find what's the % age of battery left at any given time, or was at any time in the past 24 hours.

21. mSpot - You need to install this app on your machine and your phone. Through your machine you  can upload your music to the clouds (upto 2 GB for free accounts) and then using the app on your phone you can listen to the same music, streaming from the clouds.

22. Metal Detector - A simple and not very useful app but good as a gimmick. It starts beeping in the usual metal detector tone when taken near metallic objects. You can change it's sensitivity. Good show off.

23. Speed Test - You can check the internet download and upload speed at any place, if you can access the wifi network. Makes you look rather smart.

24. Compass - Works as it should, like a normal magnetic compass. Has multiple types such as Analog, Antqiue, Digital, GPS, Night and Simple Digital.

25. Gmote - This app turns your phone into a remote for your computer. You just need to download the  Gmote app on your phone and machine, and once you are logged on to this from your machine, you need to connect to the same IP address from your phone. Once done you can use your phone to browse your machine and also play music, open picture, video files etc. Just a basic requirement, both the devices should be connected to the same wifi network.











2. Tips & Tricks


1. Copy/Pasting - This is not as intuitive as one would imagine. So when on a page with text, keep your finger pressed at one point for sometime (2 seconds or so) and you will get the option to copy the text, this works like most touch devices. Now when you go to a text field, you can press the trackball and should get a paste option.

2. Arranging Desktop/Icons - This again is a little bit of a trick! Keep your finger on an icon for sometime and then it will become a movable one, you can then move and drop it wherever you want to on the home page. Similarly to remove an icon from a page, keep it pressed for 2 seconds and then when it becomes movable you will notice a trash can icon at the bottom of the page, you can just drag and drop it there and it's gone.

3. Adding widgets, shortcuts to the home pages - Touch an empty area of the screen for 2 seconds and a prompt will come up to add widgets, shortcuts, wallpapers etc You can also use this for speed dialling (a feature not otherwise available on the N1).

Have not been so thrilled with a gadget since my Dad got me a remote operated robot 20 years back!

Please let me know of other apps that you come across and feel should be shared with others. I will be updating this space regularly.

P.S: There is also a special app for the Vuvuzela during the World Cup season!

Lots of thanks to Gulzar, Varun, Pankaj, Arjun and Ashwin.
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