In recent years, there has been phenomenal growth in the use of smartphones. With the increasing popularity of the Android platform, the open source community has been taking a special interest in the smartphone domain. This article lets you know about some of the best applications available on the Android platform for businessmen and those who want to get their work done on the go.
With more and more people taking an interest in Android and the increasing number of developers who post their apps on the Android Store, one is faced with some serious questions: How do we really choose from such a big collection of apps? How do we know which apps to install to make our phone faster, efficient and, more importantly, smarter? There are several questions going through a new Android device users mind. Sometimes, even if you have been using your Android device for a long time, you might not be aware of some good apps. In this article, I will discuss the different apps that will make your phone smarter in a very practical way.
Browsing the Internet?
Many developers have come together to create Internet browsers made specifically for the Android platform. Here’s a nifty browser that will take you by surprise. Named after the friendliest mammal known to humans, the Dolphin browser has proved to be extremely efficient and fast at its work. Its voice search feature, codenamed Sonar, allows you to effectively communicate in a way you would with that friendly mammal. The voice integration is so good that you can literally surf without typing anything at all. With simple voice commands, you can open a new tab, close tabs, navigate forward and back, or even zoom in or out of a Web page. If you’re not a fan of voice commands and prefer the feathery touch on your phone, you can use its smart swipe feature called Gesture. Figure 1 shows the gesture for opening the Web page for Google when on a new tab. In fact, Dolphin is such an awesome browser, that it can do anything for you with the exception of making your coffee and doing your laundry.
The Dolphin also has a bunch of other cool features that make it function just like a desktop browser. In fact, it looks very similar to Chrome, IE or Firefox. So you do not have to spend extra time trying to learn the ins and outs of Dolphin. You can open multiple tabs on the browser and seamlessly navigate through them with a single touch. This feature actually saves a lot of time because in some other Android browsers, you have to tap an icon, which gives you a list of open tabs, and then select the tab you want to view.
Dolphin gives you immediate access to any information you want. Just type or audibly mention the information you want and the browser fetches results directly from Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and Wikipedia.
Dolphin has a number of other features that you can find out either by exploring on your own or simply looking it up on the Internet. Besides Dolphin, there are a few other browsers that have been specially designed for Android, such as UC Browser, Puffin, Maxathon Android, ONE Browser and Boat Browser. These function more or less in a similar manner to Chrome, Opera and Firefox.
An office on the go
Generally, every smartphone comes bundled with apps such as Adobe Reader and OfficeSuite for reading PDF files and Word documents. But sometimes, you may want apps that give you more than just the basics. You may want just one app, which reads all kinds of files. Quickoffice is one such app available on Google’s Play store, which allows you to create and edit Microsoft files such as Word documents, Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations. Additionally, this app lets you read PDF files, and lets you upload these files on Google Drive directly through the app. If you need an app with gesture features, like the Dolphin browser, you could have a look at Kingsoft Office, which boasts of this feature. Olive Office also lets you create and edit all these documents. This app even lets you edit and apply formulae in every single cell of an Excel sheet. And it lets you save your file in the latest versions of Microsoft file extensions. For instance, you can save a Word file either as abc.doc or as abc.docx. So if your colleague sends you a (.docx) via e-mail, Olive Office lets you open these files without any hassles.
OpenOffice and LibreOffice use only the ODF format and OpenDocument Reader is one of the few apps that actually lets you view files with an ODF extension. It is a simple-looking app that lets you read and edit files in a lucid manner, no matter where you are.
When you think of PDFs, the first name that comes to mind is Adobe. Fortunately for us, Adobe has also released a version of its famous PDF reader for Android devices. You can quickly open files, easily zoom in or out, use the search function to find a particular word or slab of text, add comments, fill out forms, print and share documents and do a lot more.
What’s more, this app is absolutely free! Besides Adobe Reader, there are numerous free and paid apps available for reading PDF files such as PDF Reader. Another interesting and useful app is called PDF Scanner. The highlight of this app is that it lets you scan photographed documents and instantly convert them into PDF documents.
An extension to your memory
As a part of our daily lives, whether at the office or at home, we always have multiple different tasks to do. It would be nice if we could have that long list of what needs to be done, handy. It would also be great to be reminded of the tasks to be done at that specific day and time. Fortunately for us, there are a number of apps available on the Play store, which have a variety of features; so choose the one among them that suits you best. One such app is known as Wunderlist, and just like its name, it truly is a wonderful app! It has a number of features that let you categorise tasks as per your preference and priority. Additionally, it lets you do a host of other things like adding sub-tasks under a task, writing notes within the task, attaching files and adding a reminder. It even lets you categorise tasks under different labels like work, private, tasks to be done within the week, etc.
Further, you can make your own list and add tasks into it. The flexibility of this app does not end here; it lets you share a particular list with other people. So whether it is a list of groceries that you want to ask your husband to shop for or a list of things to do in the office, you can share these tasks with anyone.
Any.do: The to-do list and task list are other extremely popular apps. Any.do, besides the smooth interface and seamless functioning, has some very unique features like syncing all your tasks with the cloud (Dropbox or Google Drive), and turning missed calls into reminders; and you just have to shake your phone if your task is completed. Besides, this app gives you total freedom in changing the appearance and themes of the interface. Creators of this app obviously believe that typing is passé, so all you have to do is talk to the app and it stores a task for you.
GTasks, To-Do List, Task List and Do it (Tomorrow): These are some of the other popular apps used to create lists. Additionally, there are other apps such as Tasks, Tasks N Todos, To-Do List Widget and List Master, all of which have their own unique features. Most of these apps are integrated with note-taking functions. However, if you want to take only notes, there are some excellent apps available for Android. Evernote and Google Keep are two of the most popular note-taking apps. Evernote is an extremely extensive app. Not only does it let you perform the basic task of keeping notes, but you can create multiple notebooks and share them with as many people as you want. It lets you sync the notebook with other devices and attach pictures, documents, audio clips and videos to a note.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words! It is not the first time we have heard this phrase and it won’t be the last. So wouldn’t it be just simpler to show than instruct? With apps like Skitch, you can highlight a particular area in a snapshot and share it with others directly from the app via email or on Facebook. An awesome feature of Skitch is that it is in sync with Evernote as it’s made by the same developers. Figure 2 shows a screenshot that has been edited using Skitch. I wanted to highlight the Share button in Wunderlist; and by taking a screenshot of the app and opening it in Skitch, I accomplished an activity that could have taken a phone call. I created some markups to highlight the area and just used the Share button to send that image as an attachment to an email. All in less than two minutes! You can highlight a picture from the Web or on maps and attach it to your note in Evernote. So if your note is shared with a colleague, you don’t have to go out of your way to send an email; it simply syncs!
Imagine a day when you are travelling far from work and your client drops by unannounced at your office. And he wants to meet you right away to discuss his ongoing project. What do you do? You might be 2,000 kilometres away, with nothing but your phone and you want to help him. Luckily, Android has some apps that can get you out of this sticky situation. Skype is one of the most popular apps, which helps you have a face-to-face conversation with a person anywhere in the world. Audio chatting, video chatting and just a messenger are some of the features of Skype. You can make calls to another person logged onto Skype. However, what you can additionally do is call mobiles and landlines from this app. Summing up all its features, it works exactly like Skype installed on your desktop.
Teamviewer is another amazing application, which actually lets you share screens. So you could be continents away and still access all your files located in your desktop back at the office or home. It also lets you sync your device to your desktop. So you can not only access files, you can take control of your PC sitting far away.
In certain situations, you may want just one IM app that has several messengers included in it. The IMO is one such app, which can be customised and turned into a social IM or an office IM. It is one of the most appreciated apps in the press. It supports GTalk, Facebook chat, Yahoo Messenger and Jabber, among others. Thus, office chats that have been built on Jabber technology can be accessed after office hours, on holidays and while travelling, via IMO. Additionally, IMO has a long list of features such as free voice and video calling, document sharing, photos and voice messages, and an open chat room where you can meet other people using IMO. Besides, the app is extremely clever and finds news and information related to your broadcast. Besides IMO, the Play Store has a long list of chat apps such as Facebook, Yahoo! eBuddy Messenger, Hangouts, Xabber, etc. However, IMO has been recognised as the best app designed specially for Android devices.
Android devices have several apps such as Gmail, Yahoo! and Rediffmail, where we can access all our personal mails. There are several email clients available for your device, but K-9 mail is one of the best email solutions for Android devices. More importantly, it is an open source app, and has some excellent features such as search, multi-folder synchronisation, signatures and much more. It supports Exchange 2003 and 2007, POP3 and IMAP. Its functions are almost equivalent to any email client on your desktop and support multiple accounts on the same app. With the help of this app, you can access office mails sitting at any location.
Your own Jarvis?
Tony Stark had an artificially intelligent computer named Jarvis in the Iron Man comics. As kids, when we saw that, we all wanted a Jarvis of our own. Guess what? With the recent advances in technology, you can have your own personal assistant on Android! One that can actually help you organise your day, remind you of important appointments, meetings and birthdays, search for nearby places, give weather updates, etc. In fact, it does just about anything short of actually building the Iron Man suit.
After the inclusion of Siri in iPhone, one saw a lot of developers trying to recreate that magic on Android. For those who are constantly on the go, Android has some really fantastic voice assistant apps. Speaktoit is one of the most widely used voice assistants on Android devices. It does the basic function of any voice-integrated app to find information that you want. However, this app has some very unique features and is not simply a clone of Apple’s voice assistant. This app will remember your voice, the way you talk and adapt to your style.
Skyvi is another very popular voice assistant app and does everything, including making conversation with you and even cracking jokes!
If for some reason you do not get along with the Speaktoit assistant, there are several other personal assistants to choose from at the store for Android devices. You have Jeannie, Maluuba, Eva and Iris, among a host of others. Personal assistants truly allow you to enjoy your device in handsfree mode. Maluuba deserves a special mention here, as it matches well with users on the Indian sub-continent.
Smartphones and tablets can be a replacement for bulky laptops in the coming few years. And as we have seen in this article, a lot of your work can be automated or be accomplished in a very short time if you use the perfect set of apps that tightly integrate with each other. This greatly increases your productivity and also makes your experience with Android more interesting.
The author is an open source enthusiast who loves to read on science and technology. A science student herself, she has spent hours tinkering with several Linux distributions as well as Android and wishes to share her knowledge in the true spirit of open source.