My Favorite Android Apps

Now that I can once again install any apps I want from Google Play, having eliminated the apps incompatible issue with my rooted Huawei u8651T, I went through and cleared out the cruft I had been testing as alternatives to the ones I use, as well as the ones I don’t ever use.  I have pretty basic needs: e-mail, limited Web browsing, some stats checking, and then a lot of information consumption.  Also, they have to be free!

Here are my keepers:

Web Browser

I installed Opera Mini.  I have used the default browser and Dolphin.  The default is fine but seems a bit clunky.  Dolphin takes up a lot of space, although it has a many nice features for marking up pages and adding on extensions.  I don’t really use them, though, and decided on a browser with a smaller footprint.  The Opera Mini is both fast, renders sites as expected, and takes up little memory (850 Kb to Dolphin’s 3.6 Mb).


I tried the GO Launcher EX but, again, it has a large foot print and, while attractive, didn’t offer me any special functionality since I avoided most of the widgets.  My rooted mod included the ADW Launcher and I have fallen back on that, applying a theme to make it a little snazzier.  I have the Ubuntu theme (naturally) but am using the Black Glass one at the moment.


I monitor statistics for Web sites that I am involved with.  mAnalytics has been great for accessing Google Analytics information – much stronger than the actual Google Analytics app – and I use the WordPress app to tap into the Jetpack stats.

E-mail and Social Media

K-9 is what I use, since I am accessing Google Mail, Outlook mail, and an IMAP server.  It provides a unified inbox of all messages.  I am taking a look at using the Exchange link to, which makes the built-in e-mail app more useful (since it can do everything BUT the separate IMAP server) but am not there yet.

I have tried a number of social media tools, including Twitter’s app, HootsuiteSeesmic,  Twidroyd, and Ubersocial.  I haven’t found any of them that useful, which says as much about how I use social media.  I don’t have a Facebook profile for social purposes and dumped my LinkedIn one, so I don’t have apps for either service.

Information Consumption

I mostly use my phone for listening to music and reading.  These take precedence over every other use, even making phone calls!  I use Google Reader for RSS feeds and Flipboard for a bit of serendipity on topics that I don’t follow otherwise.  I use a trio of e-book reader apps – Adobe Reader, Aldiko (a longer look), and Amazon Kindle Reader – to handle the variety of e-books and PDFs that I read.

There was an aspirational period, when I tried the Documents to Go and Kingsoft Office.  In reality, I never had a time when I needed to access a Microsoft Office file on my phone.  If it isn’t in PDF, I didn’t tend to need to use it.


There is also that grab bag category of apps that you just have around for a special need.  PocketCloud is my RDP/VNC tool, which works great for connecting to Windows and Ubuntu.  BTMono is great for using a Bluetooth headset with the Huawei phones, as it will route your music AND your phone calls to the headset.  I use Lookout Security for protection against malicious apps, and I like the weekly e-mail updating me on my security status.

My big fingers benefit from using ThickButtons as a replacement keyboard, which resizes keys to be bigger based on the likelihood that you will click them.  It learns from words you type, words it indexes on your phone, and only stops working when you type in a password.

Skype is my phone backup and I use it when I am roaming, since I am usually near to wi-fi and can then dial anywhere I want using VOIP.  As I say, the phone aspect is more an “in case” use than a primary one; I need a phone when I need it but mostly I use my Android phone to communicate virtually.

Lawyer Apps

I have taken a look at some of these apps, and others, for use in law firms.  The only one I would add as an absolute must-have – even I have it, even though I rarely do U.S. legal research – is the free Fastcase app, now available for Android.  App selection, even phone selection, is so personal that I wouldn’t claim that any of these are the best for any given purpose.  But they allow me to be more productive when I am away from my computer.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.