Best android apps for saving time and money
A reader recently asked what the best android apps were to save time and money with your smart phone. This is the second in a series of articles to answer that question. The first article explained how to install and use widgets to make the information you want to see the most instantly available on your screen. In this article we look at the apps I keep on my home screen because I use them the most.
To organize my phone, I like to put all the apps I use together in similar categories with each category on its own screen. Here are the categories of apps I use:
1. Most used apps (part 2)
2. Communications apps (part 2)
3. Games apps (part 3)
4. Videos apps (part 3)
5. Reading apps (part 3)
6. Photo apps (part 3)
7. Travel apps (part 4)
8. Shopping apps (part 4)
9. Health apps (part 5)
10. Money and banking apps (part 5)
Most used apps and Communications apps
These are the apps I use most often and I want to have available on the home screen whenever my phone turns on. The number next to each app below corresponds to the white numbered item in the picture above. Links are provided to apps you would need to download from Google Play for free. Apps without links should come standard on your phone.
1. Clock app- This app comes standard on android phones and does a lot of different things. First, you can use it to make a widget on your home screen so you easily see the time every time you look at your phone.
Secondly, it serves as an alarm. You can set your alarm to wake you up on your schedule on the days you want at the times you want. If you have the Moto X from Republic Wireless, or another phone with voice activated Google Now, this is even more useful. I just say “OK Google Now, wake me up at X:XX” and that’s all it takes to set the alarm. I also use the alarm when I am cooking. You can set the alarm by saying “OK Google Now, set the alarm for 30 minutes”
Finally, it has a stop watch on it. In case, you know, you need a stop watch.
2. The calendar app synchs all your electronic calendars so they show up all in one place, which is helpful when trying to coordinate your personal appointments with your work schedule. You can also set it so it gives you a reminder a certain time before an appointment begins. Although this scheduling can be done through the calendar app, you will probably find it easier to do it through outlook or the Google Calendar website. The calendar app comes standard on all Android Phones.
3. The BeyondPod widget is the app I use for listening to podcasts. I use a widget instead of the normal app so that I can stop or start the podcasts with a single click. I like to listen to podcasts when I exercise, but I also like to use it when I drive. If your car is equipped with an auxiliary jack you can plug your phone straight into your car so your music/podcasts from your phone play straight on your car radio. You will need a cord such as this one which is for sale at Amazon.com
Although BeyondPod is shown, I have lately started using a different podcast player called Podcast Addict, because I think the method for downloading might be a little easier. There are many other free podcasts player apps available. I understand there are also some podcasts player apps that you have to pay for, but you should probably check out www.artofwastingmoneyonstuffyoucouldhavegottenforfree.com for information about the paid apps, because it’s not something I know much about.
4. Weather widget- This shows me what the current temperature is and what the forecast is over the next couple of days without me having to click on anything. I also receive an alert when any kind of weather warning is issued. I am currently using the Weather Channel app, but there are many other weather related apps that do exactly the same thing.
5. Google Hangouts- I use this for video chatting with my wife when I am out of town on business. You can do other stuff on it such as instant messaging, but I find it easier to just send text messages. This comes standard on Android phones.
6. Google Voice– This app has two uses. First of all it is a voice mail program that I like better than the voice mail that comes native with your phone. What makes the Google Voice voicemail better than the one that comes with your phone is that the program transcribes the message for you then emails you the transcript. Unfortunately, the Google Voice voicemail feature does not work on Republic Wireless. Grrrrrrr.
The second reason I have Google Voice is to manage unwanted phone calls. See this article for more information on that.
7. Twitter– Twitter is my favorite social media website, and if you don’t use it you should give it a second thought. There are two completely different ways to use twitter. The first way to use twitter is how teenagers use it, which is to talk to their friends through one to one communication. Speaking as somebody in his thirties, the language they use on twitter is completely foreign to me and on the few occasions I have tried to read one of these conversations I was completely lost.
Luckily, there is a completely different way to use twitter where you don’t have to understand this bizarre teenage language. I use twitter for one to many communications. I follow several comedians, journalists, experts in my industry, etc. and they send out short messages that I use to get the news near instantaneously. If I am interested in a topic there is normally a link to the full article where I can get the rest of the story. It’s a great way of staying informed quickly. Of course, if you use twitter you will want to follow @artofbeingcheap to get the latest news on saving money.
8. Facebook– The best way to check your facebook updates or post an update from your phone.
By the way, many of you have liked ABC at facebook.com/beingcheap to get updates whenever a new article is published..
The quality of the content on facebook is a major problem for them and is causing many people to leave their website, and their recent decision to limit the posts from organizations such as ABC which people have actively opted in to receiving updates from will do nothing but further damage their product. That is a big reason why you are probably better off with twitter, even if it isn’t as technologically advanced. OK, that’s just my opinion, though. Let’s get back to the apps you should be using.
9. Gmail- This comes standard on all Android phones. This is the app I use to check both my personal and website ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) email accounts. Gmail couldn’t be easier to use, and is pretty much required if you are on the Android operating system.
10. Email- This comes standard with android phones and allows you to access any email that comes over a Microsoft exchange server. For many people, this is the app you will need to access your work email. The settings can be a little hard to figure out so you might need a little help from the IT guy at your office.
11. Outlook– This is Microsoft’s webmail service, which used to be called hotmail. I have this email account to have all of my spam email sent to. See this article on how to manage spam email for more information. You will obviously want to have the app for whatever email provider you use.
12. Mr. Number– An app to block unwanted calls. If there is somebody you never want to hear from again, you can enter their number and calls and texts from that number will be blocked. It also works to identify spam phone calls and block them when they try to call you. To help in this effort, you can use the Mr. Number app to tell Mr. Number which phone calls you received were spam so that they can identify them and stop that number from calling other Mr. Number users. This gives me a sense of satisfaction that makes up for the annoyance of receiving the phone call in the first place.
Photo by Heather & Tim