Guest Post: Getting a handle on the Android apps that are best for you

by Lacey Rose

Remember a few years ago when there was always that one weird person without a cell phone? “Who doesn’t have a cell phone?!?” Fast forward to now, and it’s, “who doesn’t have a smartphone?!?” Up until a few months ago, that person was me. (Hangs head in shame.) But now I’m a card carrying member of the 21st century with my beautiful, new Android myTouch 4G! And I don’t know about you, but the minute my feet left the store with my new phone in tow, the first thought in my head was, “oh my god, what apps do I download?” Honestly, it can be an overwhelming process, especially if you’re new to the app world as I was. So, from one new Android user to another, here are some tips I learned, for when you feel like all of the apps are closing in on you in a circle of digital viciousness.

You don’t have to use the apps that come with your phone.

My phone came with a plethora of pre-programmed apps. While it was great having access to my Gmail right away, I didn’t have a need for a bunch of the other apps. You might not be able to wipe those unwanted ones from your phone, but you can leave them hidden for the most part (for me it’s on the “All Programs” screen). Also, if your phone comes with an app that you actually want to use, check what other versions are out there. For example, my phone came with Peep for Twitter, but after checking out the interface, I wasn’t a fan. I did some research, and soon installed Twitter for Android. In most cases, there will be multiple versions of the app you’re looking for. Install the apps that work for you.

“There’s an app for that.”

Do you take pictures of your food? Get lost on the subway? Look up restaurant reviews before heading out to eat? Check a certain website every day without fail? The saying is true – there IS an app for that. Take stock of your favorite hobbies, habits and websites, and 10 bucks says that you’ll find an app that satisfies your need. I’m a horrible New Yorker who can’t navigate the subway to save my life – so I downloaded Hopstop. Shazam helps me remember that song I heard in a store, but can never recall the name of later. Don’t want to break out my Kindle, but still want to get ahead in my book? You get the picture.

Save your shekels.

You don’t have to shell out money for good apps. Yes, there are some that you will want that cost money. But I’ve downloaded countless, reputable apps in the last few months, and I haven’t paid a dime for them. Also, chances are: if there’s an app that costs money, there’s probably a free version too, that’s just as good. Check out the free version first before adding those extra dollars to your phone bill.

Not all apps need to serve a purpose.

It’s nice to cover your phone’s pages with apps that check-in, check-out, count calories, do your banking and more, but use your phone for fun stuff too! There are games, gizmos and doodads aplenty! One of my personal faves? Words with Friends. (I’m an extreme Scrabble nerd.)  Don’t like games? Well then you can always download the Tune Me app so you can sound like T-Pain. Or Antoine Dodson, if you prefer.

Last, but certainly not least…

Read the reviews.

An app review site is your best friend. Because the reviewers are people just like you, but better because they’ve tried the app before you have, and wrote about it! If you’re unsure about downloading something, dig through the first page or two of reviews to see what the general consensus is. Sometimes an app that looks great on the page won’t be all it’s cracked up to be on your phone.

I hope that if you’ve just gotten your first Android phone that these tips from a recent convert will help you navigate the vast app world, as my Android toting husband helped me. Happy app-ing!