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Getting to Know Droid

By: , On Sunday, December 13th, 2009

droidI’ve recently (about a month ago) purchased the Motorola Droid with the Verizon network and my verdict is so far so good. In my experience this phone can do anything any other smart phones can do and then some. Upon first handling the phone the thing that stood out the most was the large screen with a higher resolution than most other smart phones. The battery life is respectable, when constantly surfing the web using the GPS and the bluetooth I get a full days use from it, and can get a full charge in a little over an hour.

When setting up your phone for the first time you’re prompted to enter your Google credentials or create a new Google account, if you set up your phone with an existing account all of your Google contacts will be imported to your phones contacts, your phones calendar will also be synced with your Google Calendar

The phone comes pre-installed with Google Maps Navigation which can easily hold its own against any standalone GPS on the market, the Google Voice app which can be set up to manage some or all of your phones calls and basic text messaging, a Facebook app which can import all of your Facebook contacts into your phones contacts.

Google’s voice search is great as well, it does a comprehensive search of your phone and the web and is usually pretty accurate. I must note for novice users like myself there is a difference between Google’s voice search and the phones voice dialer, you should use voice search if you want to look up John Doe’s contact information on your phone, or to find the closest restaurant with a Google search, you should use the voice dialer if your actually want to “Call John Doe” or “Call 555-444-777″ or even if you want to “Open Gmail”. After playing around with the two voice apps some more I’ve come to the conclusion that the Google Voice Search App is actually better and more accurate to using for calling contacts by name by saying Call John Doe for example.

My Tips

If you have a contact whose information you would like synced with their Facebook account information all you have to do is change their name in your contacts to match exactly what is listed on their Facebook profile exit your contact manager and reopen it and the information should be synced.
If you’re using Google Voice, in order to prevent the multiple SMS notifications sign into your Google Voice account via the web, click on settings at the top, click the edit button under your mobile number, then uncheck the box that says “Receive SMS on this phone” then click the save button.
If you would like to stop receiving email SMS and voice-mail alerts on your phone as well but would still like to be able to reply to them from your computer the following is what worked for me. I simply signed into my Gmail account, created a filter to automatically archive any messages from “voice” this will cause them to bypass your inbox and you wont be notified on your phone but will still see them when you sign into Gmail from your computer, I also placed a “googlevoice” label on the messages to keep them organized.
To help conserve battery life I recommend placing the Power Control Widget on your desktop and installing Advanced Task Killer FREE .
Use the physical keyboard for launching apps, many of the phones default apps already have quick launch keys set up which consist of the search key on the key board and some other button, additional quick launch keys can be set up in the phones settings under applications.
Long press the physical home button on the screen to see recently used apps, this allows for quick switching between apps, long press the search button on the screen to launch Google voice search.

Apps I like

Social Networking

So far in my opinion there’s no dominate twitter app for android just yet they all seem to be missing at least one this that the another one has, but my favorite at the moment is Seesmic, I like it because it’s not buggy, it has a nice looking interface, you can manually add your geolocation to your messages, the only thing missing from this is multiple account support and a search feature, other twitter clients I use and like are TwitDroid and Swift.
I like the MySpace app for Android as well the thing I like most about the MySpace app is the ability to update my status with my voice, which then updates my Twitter status, which in turn updates my Facebook Status.

Utilities

Pandora is a great internet radio app (best used over a wi-fi connection) it displays album art and minimalist controls for music yours listing to and also has a widget you can use from your droid desktop.
Skype (Beta) the VOIP doesn’t seem to work well but it gives you a toll-free option for making Skype to Skype calls.
Voice Recorder (does what the name implies)
AK Notepad allows you to create notes that you can also add reminders to and share with others
TooDoo lets you create task list on your phone.
I highly recommend Glympse which allows you to share your current location or your destination with others via phone or email, Glympse also gives you the ability to let who ever you chose track where you are for the amount of time you chose rather it be “Current Location Only” or for the “Next Four Hours” the good thing about Glympse is that you and your friends don’t need to sign up for anything you just download it and its ready to go.
Barcode Scanner scans product bar codes and then searches for product information on the web, it can also create and scan QR codes for sharing contact information.
Google Goggles another very cool app from google allows you to search the web using pictures and geolocation info, it also does OTR.
Scoreboard is another app from Google which is a must have for any sports fan, it keeps you up to date with team schedules and alerts you with game updates when your favorite teams are playing.
Evernote (Beta) is a gem for any one already using the ultimate note taking and organizational web app. It’s not available in the android market as of this post, but can be downloaded at http://s.evernote.com/androidbeta.
Google Skymap is a nice app for helping to identify and learn more about stars and planets.
Yelp is great for finding restaurants, bars, cafes, stores, banks, gas stations and just about any other kind of business near you using your current location, it also gives you reviews from other Yelp users.
My Tracks is another app from Google which allows you to track, save, and share information about your outdoor activities. It records stats like distance, speed, and elevation and lets you save it to google docs and / or Google My Maps.
Photoshop.com Mobile lets you crop and make basic edits to pictures on your phone.
iNap (could have used better name) is a nice app for anyone who’s ever fallen asleep on a train or bus and missed their stop. This app lets you set your destination and uses your GPS to alert you when you are close to your stop.

Fun and Games

Here are a few free games which I usually find myself playing from time to time.

  • Hyperspace LITE
  • Light Racer 3D Basic
  • Abduction
  • Speed Forge 3D Demo
  • ShottGunn (not for those opposed to guns or fake guns)
  • Android LightSaber a must have for any Star Wars fans.

Do you have a Droid? If so what do you like most about it? What are your favorite apps? What accessories do you recommend?

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