After years of month-to-month service without a contract, paying for our own cheap and crummy phones as the old ones broke, we were seduced by technology. We have new phones. Practically free phones. Fancy phones. Smart phones.
Why do they call them that? They make me feel dumb. Is that it? It’s a Smarter-Than-Me Phone? First I can’t find the homepage or desktop or whatever we call that starting point. Then it’s there – what did I do to get it? My finger twitches reflexively and it’s gone again. Where did it go? Help!
New technology toys make me think of this. I feel his pain:
I knew my phone had a learning curve, and I knew my own curve would end as soon as the shine was gone, so I resolved to spend as much time as possible on that curve in the first few days. I know myself and my weaknesses, and one is that I learn just enough to make a device do what I want it to do, then I lose interest. I wanted to have a good grip on my phone’s capabilities before my complacency kicked in so that I could use it to its fullest extent.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Android so far:
- It’s not an iPhone.
- Cnet was right: it’s much less intuitive than an iPhone. I’m glad I jumped on the learning curve while my enthusiasm was high.
- A smartphone can literally do anything a laptop or netbook can do, but…
- Anything that requires typing is painfully slow. I expect to get better at that, but I can’t imagine my thumb speed will ever approach my typing on a real keyboard.
- Did you know you can use your phone to check your pulse?
- What starts out as a forced march up the learning curve can turn into an adenaline-rushing freefall. I should ask someone to save me, but I’m having too much fun!
Here are my 10 favorite free apps so far:
- Gas Buddy: a savings of a few cents/gallon can add up when you drive a gas hog, and this will help the phone pay for itself month by month – if I remember to use it.
- Cadre Bible: I love E-sword and its iPhone app Pocketsword, but it’s not available for Android yet. Cadre Bible is a full featured Bible program that lets me customize the look and feel to my heart’s content. I have 2 other Bible apps with more limited features, but Cadre will be for my daily reading.
- Bump – Makes it fun and easy to share files. If 2 users open Bump on their phone/iPod, one can easily choose files or apps to share, then they hold their phones and bump to transfer the files. It’s like a knuckle bump or a toast. How fun is that?!
- Coupons – There are plenty of times I could have saved money with this, and I really want to get in the habit of checking for coupons. But honestly, I got this because it has a barcode scanner for comparison shopping. The coupons are a bonus.
- Sound Hound – Let it “listen” to a few seconds of a song, and it will give you the title, lyrics, artist, and help you download it if you want. The song isn’t playing but it’s stuck in your head? No problem. Just hum it. We’re living in the space age, people.
- My Fitness Pal – Perry has been using this to track his calories and weight loss (30 lbs! Give the man a hand!). With our new phones, we can scan the barcode of the food packaging to input it after he eats. Coolness.
- Dropbox – because we already use it regularly on our computers.
- Photoshop Express – because we’re already bigtime PS users on our computers.
- doubletwist – the Android answer to iTunes.
- Urbanspoon – we don’t eat out often, but this looks very handy for those rare occasions!
My current mission: find the best app for creating grocery lists. Besides a quick and intuitive interface, I want one that can sync among various devices; organize items by aisle as they’re found in my favorite store; remember the items I buy most often; recognize items by voice and barcode.