After getting lots of comments on the frank discussion of my new Droid, I decided it was time to give the other part of the story. In general, I really like this new superphone. Yes, I’m still having battery issues. I recently had a day in NYC, away from my home office, and I was down to 15% by noon. But lets not dwell on that.
I have downloaded about 30 free apps for my phone. I have kept about half of them and trashed the rest. My advice is to stick to brand name content and carefully reviewed apps. If you just browse and download whatever you like, you will have many apps that don’t work or worse…
While the HTC Friends widget gets lots of publicity, the individual Facebook and Twitter Apps are better for me. For the record I use “Peep” for Twitter. The Foursquare app works well, the LinkedIn app – not.
Many of the most useful apps are targeted at managing your Droid phone. Among these I recommend “Lookout”. This is a combined virus scan, backup and lost phone locater – and is presently free. As I mentioned in my first review a Droid is more like a PC. When you download “Caveat Emptor” For the lost phone feature, you can locate your phone on a Google Map on the Web and even have it emit a siren sound. Warning- don’t give your web lookout password to anyone or you will likely have a siren in your pocket at the worst possible time!
The widgets that come prepackaged for managing Bluetooth, WIFI , GPS and mobile networking are very useful in managing battery life. Just keep everything off that you really don’t need. I have found the GPS is a particular battery hog.
For syncing music, I finally got SallingMedia to work. The trick is to create playlists for anything you want to sync and then to just sync those lists. For video you can just drag an mp4 into the video folder on your phone.
One of the pleasant battery surprises was that I was able to watch a 2-hour movie on my phone and still have over 50% battery left! There are a couple of decent free video players in the app store. You should try mvideoplayer or stream media player. ( A free shout out to anyone who correctly guesses which movie I debuted on my droid – there is a hint in this article)
A key to the usability of my Droid is mastering the notification pull down. Just slide down your finger from the top Verizon logo and you bring down a list of recent emails, messages, program alerts, etc.
For sheer fun there are many “soundboards” in the app store. These soundboards provide famous sound clips for many movies and TV shows. I downloaded several and keep them in a folder.
Another app that I like is “barcode”. It is a build in barcode reader that auto generates a search and shopper price comparison. Don’t know if I ever will really use it “in real life”- but it’s pretty slick.
I also downloaded “SkyDroid”. This is the one paid app I have. It cost 99 cents. It provides a GPS function linked to golf courses. I am playing a round on Friday, so I’ll let you know how it works. The website has a nice interface to map out any golf course that is not yet in their database, and of course it uses Google maps. It took me about 30 minutes to enter the local course. I am sure it will not help my golf game, but it is a cool thing to have.
There are apps that are un-Verizon-like in the store. These include porn, a way to download “free” mp3s and a program to turn your Droid into a broadband modem for your laptop. The former is surprising for the normally protective Carrier, the later 2 are ways to violate your contact TOS and bypass Verizon’s own broadband connect service. The world of openness has its consequences. You have to exert personal responsibility – just like the real world. Just be careful if you give one of these to a minor.
Lastly, my absolute favorite feature on my Droid is the voice recognition with speech to text. This is really great. I thought my biggest issue would be with the virtual keyboard – however I respond to most messages and emails by speaking into the phone. Imagine – a phone you can speak to! What a concept. The voice recognition can be used for almost any text input field. I have used it for emails, SMS, Google searches and contact searches. Its accuracy is very good – although it needs a little work on its Yiddish!