Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Eternal Apps Question

On more than one occasion over the past few months, I've been asked, "What apps do I need?". A lot of people are buying these various Android phones that are now flooding the market and I'm apparently accessible to questions like these. I want to mention three easy ways for these new users to find applications that they'll both want and need.

My first solution is more familiar to those who are used to iTunes and having that desktop client central to their app discovery and syncing. DoubleTwist is a desktop client for Windows and Mac users which has that similar look and feel to iTunes. From doubleTwist, one can discover applications, browse for music in the Amazon MP3 library, and search for podcasts.

One of the biggest benefits is that this software can burrow into your iTunes and pull in my playlists along with grabbing my computer's photo, video and audio libraries. This is very handy for those that like to use their desktop as their main hub for syncing their phone. Also, the app is only free for a limited time according to the developers, so make sure you grab it while you can if you prefer that whole 'free thing'.

What most Android users will eventually find with their phone as a great benefit is the advantage to not having a desktop client to sync their phone. They find a freedom in not being tethered to their computers for updates, etc. There are two easy ways I discover apps now that I have this new found liberation.

The easiest of these two apps is called AppAware. AppAware is a basic application that allows me to find out what other Android phone users are downloading, updating, and even uninstalling. It helps me to find trends in apps worldwide and even locally over the phone. Not only can I see what's new or hip this week or even this month, but if I choose I can share what I'm downloading giving a social feel to the service. I like using AppAware mostly because of it's ease of use and I've found some pretty neat apps this way and continue to use it even now.

The second app that I use is quickly becoming my favorite. AppBrain is a web based client that works equally as well directly on the phone. This does require a degree of trust for the more advanced features, by connecting me to my Google account, but it uses proper authorization protocols. On the web site, I can browse all apps in the Android market, I have a dashboard to view the apps on my phone, and I can see what's trending in the market as well, similar to AppAware.

Most brilliant about this web/phone application is that an install can be preformed not only on the phone, but via the webpage. With Fast Web Installer, I can push apps from their website to my phone. Now, over time Google will be rolling these features out, but for the time being, it's a pretty easy and nice way to install apps to the phone, without using a desktop client, but just by casually scanning their website.

Here's a video which shows how all this works, it does much better than me explaining it.

Hopefully this helps answer that new and burning question about applications and where to find them. The question of which apps works best for everyone is best answered by the individual. There are people who do a lot of content consumption on their phone via reading news, listening to podcasts, or streaming radio. There are some who are more social minded and there are some of us who enjoy their games. I can't help everyone find what works best for them, but this should give some good tips on how we can all find what we like and what we want on our phones.

I'm sure there are other ways to find apps and if you know of anything better, as always, feel free to share in the comments.