Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Playing with an Android – Part 2

Not too long ago, I finally joined the 21st Century, and got one of those “smart phones”. It’s one of those fancy new ones; the kind that fetches my slippers  and lights my pipe. (See,  My First Look At Android, part 1.)

Actually, I don’t smoke a pipe. And as far as I have been able to determine, my HTC phone does not have a butane lighter built into it. (None of the current crop of phones does. I asked.)

But it does have some nifty features: too many to list here. So what I thought I would do is tell you about the ones I have found quite useful in the first few weeks of use, as well as how often I’ve used them. I am hoping maybe it will help some of you decide if it’s time for a new phone too. (I hope readers will tell me what features and apps they are finding most useful too.)

More than a phone:

1) MP3 music player/FM radio. I am finding that my smart phone really is proving to be an entertainment device. It came with the ability to act as a FM radio, and I frequently use it to listen to my fave station (107.7 the Bone). It also came with (basic) Slacker, and I downloaded Pandora, “online radio” players.. though, in practice, I haven’t used them. Also, I have loaded a “playlist” of music onto the phone’s 8 GB MicroSD chip, so my favorite songs are just a couple of screen ‘taps’ away.
Short version: my phone is also an ‘iPod’ (type device) — and I use that feature a lot: almost every day, in fact.

2) Turn by turn navigation. Two years or so ago, I gave my father a Garmin GPS device. I never saw use for one myself: I am a pretty good navigator. (And before I leave, I check Google Maps or MapQuest, and maybe write down some notes.) But my phone has GPS and a Navigation app which works just like my father’s Garmin – even “speaking” my directions to me as I drive. [note: I disable GPS on the phone except when I need it, setting it to “911 mode”.]
Short version: my phone is also a Garmin — and though I don’t use that feature but rarely, I find it quite useful when I need it.

3) Watching shows. When I said my smart phone is proving to be an entertainment device, I wasn’t kidding. I didn’t think I would be trying to watch TV on such a small screen, but .. well, darned if I’m not. Occasionally. And I watch YouTube music videos. (This made my recent trip to the dentist’s much more .. tolerable.) I downloaded the app and have used it to watch full episodes of CBS shows (NCIS, mainly) in bed before sleep. I should be able to watch my DVR recordings (AT&T Uverse) at some point too. (I just haven’t had time to fiddle with that yet.)
Short version: my phone is also a TV (sorta) — and though I don’t use that feature but several times a week, I find it quite useful when I want some amusement.
In fact, I am kind of kicking myself for getting an Android and not a iPhone, as Netflix doesn’t have an app yet… (When that arrives, I think maybe my productivity may drop… ahem)

4) I have not found a use for the video camera or camera yet. But I think it’s pretty neat that my phone can send (aka “share”) via email, my media with a couple of screen ‘taps’. I can see many uses for that ability.

5) I would very much like it if the “video chat” feature (in my case Qik) worked like it should.. but I understand Skype has acquired Qik, and hopefully, mobile Skype will go video soon (Verizon only???). And work out the bugs.
My phone has both front and rear-facing cameras.. and a flash.. which can act as a flashlight with the flashlight app. Surprisingly, to me anyway, I have used that feature several times already.

6) Wireless hotspot. The ability to use my phone as an Internet “access point” (for other devices) was a feature I knew I would use, and was actually a big reason I decided to get a smartphone. I thought I would have to use “USB tethering”, and PDAnet software, but, no, I don’t. The phone uses Wi Fi to broadcast, enabling it to act as a wireless router.
Short version: though I consider this really only an “emergency” feature, I also consider a “must have”.

Well, I am running long, and so I see a Part 3 is in order. I will close by saying this: the Top Number 1 Smartphone Feature I use all day everyday is: fully synced integration with Google Calendar and Tasks.

Today’s reading reco: A letter on behalf of the world’s PC fixers

Today’s free link: Eagle cam.
This is a webcam feed that is rather unique.. someone climbed up and pointed a webcam at a bald eagle nest.. there’s 3 eggs in there… (The nest is in Virginia, so you might want to keep Eastern Time in mind.)

update: Part 3 is now available. Android Adventures – Part 3

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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March 10, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, cellular, computers, gadgets, Google, IM, iPhone, mobile | , , , , , | 6 Comments