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The Life of P


Android Army

Ten months and a new phone on from my last round-up of Android apps, it is time for an update on what I am now running on my Nexus 4. On the ROM side, I have now moved back to the CyanogenMod camp, with 10.1 sporting the latest Jelly Bean goodies with a host of additional tweaks. The inclusion of very stable milestone builds in addition to the usual pre-release nightlies is a welcome change.

Swiftkey 4 is once again my default keyboard, although I have spent the past year shifting between Swiftkey, Swype and even the new Jelly Bean stock keyboard. It was the inclusion of swiping with Swiftkey Flow that ultimately won me back.

Action Launcher recently became my default home screen for its subtly improved usability with a new gesture-based approach that fits better with the Android’s “Holo” design language than standard launchers. It is also discounted for the next few days. The super-smooth Nova Launcher remains my second favourite.

Poweramp is a fantastic music player that puts album artwork front and centre both in the main player and its replacement lockscreen (which operates whilst you have music playing). Factor in its impressive graphic equaliser and it is easy to recommend.

Carbon, a new twitter client, seemed like vapourware for much of the past year. Now that it is finally in the wild, it proves to be an exceptionally stylish, gesture-focused twitter client that’s a pleasure to use. It may lack some features a power user may desire, but it has become my default client. As a free app, hopefully development will continue despite twitter’s apparent war on third parties.

Carbon is also, somewhat confusingly, the name of a powerful new sync/backup app from maker of the ClockworkMod recovery tool. The free version will allow you to restore from a PC, the paid version supports cloud restore too.

Press is the first Google Reader client to impress me enough that I have actually started to read my feeds regularly on mobile devices (rather than simply using Currents to browse a small number of optimised sites).

Media: I continue to use DoggCatcher for podcasts, DICE Player for video playback of nearly anything (along with the YouTube and Vimeo apps), SoundCloud and Amazon MP3 for streaming music and SoundHound to identify songs. Meanwhile XBMC Remote controls my XBMC home theatre PC and SmartGlass interacts with my Xbox, nominally for now but presumably more as time goes on.

Utilities: The “automate anything” Tasker remains the most powerful app for Android and thankfully its ageing UI is finally getting a refresh with the beta I have been trialling. Dolphin remains my chosen web browser. Evernote continues to expand its role as my digital brain with the addition of Hello, which mimics human memory by ditching alphabetical lists of contact names for a chronological stream of faces. Dropbox is my go-to cloud storage option (I’d love to switch to the considerably more secure SpiderOak, but cannot until they offer mobile uploads), though rival Box is luring users with increased storage. SMS Backup+ replicates my text messages as conversations in Gmail so that they are backed up and searchable. I only use Full Screen Caller ID for texts, but being able to see hi-res photos of the sender is both more personal and faster to identify at a distance.

Misc: Now that the official Facebook app has finally been rewritten properly from the ground up, I have switched back from the still impressive third party Friendcaster. Pocket lets me save and view webpages from a browser (desktop or mobile) for reading later. DashClock is an extendable replacement for the Android 4.2 lockscreen clock widget, which can display calendar entries, weather, alarms, unread messages and more. It was designed by a Google engineer and is frankly what the default ought to be!


  1. I really appreciate this post. It’s already been immediately useful to me, as for some reason Swype keeps crashing my not-even-3-months-old Galaxy S3 (to the point where I’ve had to shut off Swype complete), and the built-in keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. (It’s predictive abilities are, frankly, for shit.)

    I’ve just DLed the SwiftKey trial; I’ll see if this works better. Thanks for the rec!

  2. Great post Priya, I use most of the above, but haven’t tried Press yet (though the clock is ticking for Google Reader), good to hear Tasker is getting a refresh!

  3. *Priyan* (sorry for typo!)

  4. Press have announced plans to continue the app beyond Google Reader’s demise, though I’ve not checked precisely what they intend. Most people seem to be migrating to Feedly which hasn’t appealed to me since I use RSS feeds less like a magazine and more to speed-read large quantities of info for important stuff. I’m curious to see what Digg come up with, since it sounds like they intend their RSS reader to be a more direct replacement for Google Reader.

  5. Am now also rocking CM10.1….battery life much improved, beautifully slick. Reason for the reset/rom flash is that my gs3 really slows down after after about 3-4 months on stock rom. Due to the gs3 non-US hardware using exynos proc, there is not yet a stable build for the device, but 48 hours and so far no glitches!

  6. Of late I’ve been slightly torn between CyanogenMod and Paranoid Android. The latter has various features I don’t really use like “Halo” which is its implementation of Facebook Home’s chat heads, and a “pie menu” to replace the standard soft keys.

    But it has a really neat per-application colour scheming option that is fiddly to set up but looks great. I’ll show you next time I see you.

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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2024 Priyan Meewella

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