Notes on the Motorola DROID and #androidapps (#mlamobile)

I finally broke down and bought a Motorola DROID from Verizon several weeks ago- that’s the new phone that runs Google’s Android 2.0.1 Operating System.

Thus far, I don’t regret the decision.

AT&T’s coverage where I live stinks, so as much as I like the iPhone, it just wasn’t an option for me. Fortunately, the DROID does most things as well as the iPhone, and does some things much better than the iPhone.

I agree with most of the accolades and criticisms you’ve probably already read about the DROID.

Things I Like:

The touchscreen is large, responsive, and looks terrific.

Syncing of my Gmail contacts, my work contacts, and my Facebook contacts is pretty darn great. I always have ALL my contact information on me- and it is updated whenever Facebook, my Gmail contacts, or the Address Books at my place of work are updated.

The “open” model is appealing. Even without having a rooted phone, I have *much* more control over the device than with an iPhone. If there’s any file I want on my Droid, I can put it there without jumping through any hoops. I have complete control over the file structure. iPhone/iTouch users has undoubtedly been annoyed by how strictly Apple controls what can (and cannot) be moved over the device’s USB cable and have to use third party applications to move data from an iPod/iTouch to a new computer- even if that data has no DCM.

Customization-I can tweak so much about the DROID’s interface that it took me several days to explore a lot of options and make some decisions about how I wanted it laid out. As my continued use of it reveals new/different/unexpected needs, I can quickly and easily make changes.

Navigation design is good- getting around the DROID takesa bit of getting used to, but it makes sense and I can customize shortcuts to almost any application, document, directory, etc- so common tasks are accomplished quickly.

The Notification Panel is GREAT. I’m never interrupted, just notified.

MPOW supported my access to my (Exchange) work email and work calendar immediately- cleverly, it interfaces through Outlook Web Access, which makes supporting the device’s access to Exchange a very easy decision for the Information Systems department. I win, they win. Everyone is happy with no additional work. (Our IS department has some security concerns about iPhone access to our Exchange server and Blackberries require an enterprise server to make Blackberries play nice with Exchange.)

It is a good TELEPHONE. The sound quality is about as good as can be expected from a mobile phone.

There’s a nifty little app called Call Filter that blocks calls from unknown numbers (i.e. telemarketers) or any number you tell it to block. This is especially useful if you keep getting “wrong number” calls from one particular source.

Other useful telephony apps include Phonalyzr, which analyzes your phone usage:

Dial Zero is useful little utility that lists companies alphabetically. Choose the company and it’ll give you a number to click (which the Droid will dial), then tell you how to game the voicemail system to get to a human being as fast as possible.

Awesome Apps for Android
All of these are available from the Android Market.

SugarSync may remind some of Dropbox (mentioned during the #mlamobile Webcast for the iPhone/iTouch), but actually does a good deal MORE than just synch files between my DROID and folders on other computers. I can stream media files from my home computer to my DROID, if I want. More here:

Locale is incredibly cool.

I have it set up to send status messages to Twitter when I get to work or when I go to my Mother-in-law’s house. I’d eventually like to set up a simple status board for Liz and I so each would always be able to quickly check where the other is. Imagine that I could tap my phone and see quickly if Liz is on campus, at her mom’s, or somewhere else. I also have Locale (with a WOL plugin) set up to wake up my home computer as I approach our house after work.

I also have it set up to prevent my phone from ringing when my calendar says I’m in a meeting. (Can your iPhone do that?) It also stops notifying me of new work email between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM.

I also have it set up so if my battery falls below 30% of capacity it alerts me to plug in and shuts down all non-essential functions (don’t want to miss a call from my wife because I was using it for something power-intensive, right?)

abcOrganizer is a great way to be able to manage and access a great number of applications, shortcuts, contacts, or any other objects in Android in a compressed, organized fashion. Click on the category icon and a window of the apps in that category pops up. Yes, you could do this just by using Android’s native folders, too- but I like AbcOrganizer better. I get to choose my own icons. 🙂

For those who like reading comics in .cbr or .cbz format, check out ACV:

For books, I’ve use mostly FBreader and have read a few novels in it now. No eye strain for me, and the night display (black background, white text of adjustable brightness) keeps it from annoying my wife.

AndFTP is an awesome file explorer and FTP client for your Android device. Soooooo convenient to access my FTP server this way. Also supports SFTP and FTPS. The Estrongs File Explorer is another good client for managing media files via LAN or FTP.

ES File Explorer is also great.

Barcode Scanner is really neat. It’ll scan the barcode on an item and try to find prices for you elsewhere. Even cooler for those of us who like books: If the book is scanned by Google Books, you can scan the barcode and search within that book. We live in the future.

Medical/Health Info:

PubMed Mobile is okay:

It is at least better than AgileMedsearch:

So, thus far there aren’t a ton of health info apps for Android that I find exciting.

In the meanwhile, my favorite health info destinations on my DROID are the new MedlinePlus Mobile and Unbound MEDLINE, both of which run in the browser.

4 thoughts on “Notes on the Motorola DROID and #androidapps (#mlamobile)

  1. I had fun playing with a Droid last month, and then turned it back for a Blackberry after 29.5 days for a disappointing reason: Dropped calls. I lost about a third of calls, unless I was sitting completely still.

    However great it is as a toy, if it ain’t a good phone, it ain’t a good phone.

    Naturally I searched online for information about this. I’m not alone, and the problem seems to be a silly one: Apparently a stray hair that contacts the touch screen will cause a dropped call.

    Indeed this seems true. If you can keep your hair tucked behind your ear (or you wear it very short) you may not have a problem. But I had to give up using the phone while walking around, and it’s not cool enough to justify that concession.

    To judge from your photo, you may be able to keep your Droid. You lucky duck!

  2. By definition, I’m not sure that’s a “dropped call.” That’s a “you-accidentally-hanging-up.”

    I haven’t had a single dropped call. Maybe my hair is just DROID-friendly.

  3. I have a DROID, too, and I think a couple of times I have accidentally hung up on people with my face. The screen doesn’t always stay locked while I’m talking, and the red hang-up button sits dangerously close to my jawbone.

    Thanks for the app reviews. I’m definitely going to try Call Filter.

    There is an app called Book Review that works really nicely with the barcode scanner. The scanner retrieves a book’s bibliographic information and cover image, you supply comments and stars, and your review gets posted to Facebook.

  4. I agree, it’s definitely a VERY poor design flaw. I am constantly losing calls due to accidental hang ups. I thought it was a bg in my original Droid but after getting a new one I have the same problem. Keypad does not stay locked and it’s the most frustrating thing ever. Many people ask me how I like the Droid and my simple answer is this…. It’s GREAT for everything EXCEPT talking!