Monday, May 3, 2010

More about that phone I got... Apps edition.

This is the Web view of my history with Cardio Trainer
So, I've been playing with all sorts of apps today.  I must have downloaded a couple dozen games, and a few random apps that I didn't even think I would want.  So after scouring the Internet for blog posts and articles about the best ten apps, I have come up with a short list of apps that I am kinda impressed with.

The list is in no particular order... I just put them all in what ever order I wanted.

Cardio Trainer
by WorkSmart Labs

So, the idea of this app is to do a number of things: it tracks your path, gives you a running total of all your workouts, has leaderboards (to compare yourself with others - a meta-game if you will,) you can export your workouts to KML files (for use in Google Earth or Maps,)  and it tracks where you stop while working out.  So, in the picture above you can see the path I walk Jaani on the most often around the apartment complex.  I guess the reason I like this app more than something like My Tracks (which records your track and general statistics like speed and an elevation graph, then uploads it to Google Maps automatically), is because it tracks all your workouts and gives you a summary page to view everything, it tracks when/where you pause your workout,  and it displays an estimate for calories burned during your workout.  There are also two paid ($2.99 each) features that come with free 7 day trials: Race Yourself, and Weight Loss Trainer.  I haven't gotten a chance to play with those yet, but I'm pretty sure once the weather really starts to get nice, I'll want to take advantage of those too!  (I'll tell you about it when it happens... I'll also tell you if I think they are worth $3.)

by Meebo, Inc.

Meebo is awesome.  Here is what you do: Go to and create a free account; then use that account to log into your AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, MySpace, ... accounts; finally log into your Meebo account via the Meebo app for Android.  Why would you have your Meebo account log into all of them rather than add each individual account via your handset?  Well, because then your handset has to do all the heavy lifting of logging into the accounts, but when your Meebo account does it, I noticed a very clear performance increase.

Prey Phone Tracker
by Fork Ltd.

Prey Phone Tracker is a good solution for those people who don't use Google Latitude (because Latitude updates your phone's position every 5 minutes.)  Prey Phone Tracker only updates your position when it is turned on via text message, or the online web interface.  When your code word is sent to the phone, Prey immediately sounds an alarm for 30 seconds on your phone (in case you misplaced it somewhere nearby,) then it emails you a report every 5 minutes.  One problem though, on the Incredible, it only works once, then you have to manually stop the app and restart it (I use Free Advanced Task Manager for that... also a killer app I'll talk about some other time.)  The other issue is that when it sends you an email reporting the location of your phone, you phone displays a message with the subject "Sorry you lost your phone."  Which is a dead giveaway to a potential thief that you are tracking them.  I resolved this issue by creating a filter on my gmail account that takes all messages from Prey, applies a label to them, and then archives them in my gmail account (which prevents the phone from giving a notification that you got the message.)  The last thing you need to do is make sure that enable the unlock pattern (Settings -> Security -> Require patter should be checked.)

A quick side note about Google Latitude.  Latitude is designed to be a social app that gives you notifications when another person using Latitude is near by; it isn't intended to be a phone recovery tool, but it has gotten the job done in the past when people forget their phone somewhere.

GPS Status
by EclipSim

This is a neat little app that primarily functions as a compass and general utility to find out what GPS satellites you have reception from.  It also gives you your current Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, and Speed.  I guess it doesn't do a whole lot, but sometimes it's fun to know that kind of stuff.

FoxyRing: Smart Ringtone
by LevelUp Studio

So, this app allows you to set a "sleeping time" when only a small list of emergency contacts will trigger your phone to ring, disable your ringer by current location (so it doesn't ring at school or a movie theater, or you can set it to disable your ringer for a specified length of time.  It's kinda neat in that if you are like me, not allowed to take out a camera phone at work, so my phone just wouldn't ring when I'm at work.  It's also good for stoping those pesky people in the Eastern Time zone that call me at 4AM... because they forgot 7AM there is sleepy time here.

Google Goggles
by Google Inc.

This is a really good app too.  It doubles as a general purpose stuff finder and a bar code reader all in one.  If you take a picture of something like a restaurant sign or corporate logo, it will find a website or listing related to the sign.  It will also recognize business cards, and ask you if you want to add the contact information to your address book in your phone.  It works with a variety of things, but I've found that taking pictures of random stuff doesn't really work so well.  It will work for things like books, CD/DVD cases, and many famous landmarks, but your tickle me elmo will leave it stumped (Yea, I found an Elmo to take a picture of.  I also found that if you take a picture of your Bank's Logo, the picture is stored on your phone, so you can search for it later when you're walking around town, and it will tell you where the nearest branch is, but I think it's easier just to go to Google's main site on your phone, and click on "Near Me Now."

One last note on Google's web apps.  For those of you who don't know yet, most of Google's services like Gmail, Buzz, Calendar, Docs, Reader, Books, Tasks, and Fast Flip (News); actually work better in the browser than a native app.  With the one exception that you can't have your phone notify you without receiving an email or text message or something like that.

So that's about it.  There are so many cool apps that it's really hard to pick a few and stoop myself from going on and on about this stuff, plus I'm starting to think I might want to move App reviews to the Frizzlefry Tech blog anyway.  So, that's it for now.