A couple weeks ago we had the pleasure of wishing Android a happy fifth birthday. This past week, many in the U.S. paused to celebrate a day of thanksgiving, and I’d like to take time to express some thanks for Android. Granted, some of these could apply to any smartphone operating system with the right app, but my Android phone is what makes it possible for me. Without further ado:
#7 – I am productive using apps on my phone
Years ago I became a convert to David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) method for keeping my mind clear. When I first started, everyone was figuring out the best physical method to keep track of their Next Actions, Inbox, Projects and other entries. Now we have several apps to choose from and the whole system can be kept in our pocket. My favorite apps for this purpose though, the most current and in use one being Due Today, are those that tie in to a backend service like ToodleDo so my to do list is always synced to whatever device I happen to be using. Thanks Android for providing a platform for developers to interact with other open services.
#6 – Apps to help me keep up with my money
For many years now, it has been the rare opportunity when I write a check. More recently, I tend to not even carry cash. I do use plastic or buy stuff online on a regular basis though. This means I don’t have a physical, paper register to keep up with what I’m spending. So having an electronic check register on my mobile device means I can keep up with how much money I have available. On those rare occasions when I receive a paper check from someone, I can even do a mobile deposit just by taking a picture with my Android powered phone. Soon I’ll be using Square’s card reader to accept payments via plastic. One day, I may even upgrade my phone to something NFC capable which will make payments even easier. Thanks Android for introducing functions that developers can use to build new ways for me to interact when sending and receiving money.
#5 – I have a phone that doesn’t NEED to be replaced
After two years, my HTC EVO is still running at about 80% of capability or better. I have been battling insufficient memory issues for a while and only recently has my battery life started to degrade some. I am looking forward to getting my hands on a new device soon, but this is probably the first time ever that I have not reached a level of frustration with my cell phone that has me pulling my hair out. Thanks Android for being robust enough, even with Gingerbread, to effectively outlive the terms of my contract.
#4 – I can arrange my screens in a way that makes sense to me
While I absolutely love my Android devices, my wife and kids are not so enamored of them. Case in point, my wife just replaced her Blackberry with an iPhone. Being the main tech head in the household, it was up to me to get it initially configured. This meant having to put up with the silly iOS slide puzzle interface for app icons. With my Android powered smartphone, such nonsense was a thing of the long past for me. Although I am not a heavy consumer of widgets, there are a few that make my life much easier, like those for aCar that I use to track vehicle expenses. I can quickly enter new fill-up data or view upcoming services without diving into the app. Then there are all the little bits of the interface, like the notification bar, that make it so easy to get to information or to be alerted when there is something I need to tend to. Thanks Android for giving me an interface that is flexible enough to meet my needs.
#3 – I can access files on the go using the “cloud”
With an Android smartphone, I have several options available to sync files between devices. I regularly have to give a report each month to a board, updating them on the organization’s financial statements. I prefer to use FreeMind to create a mind map covering the points I want to touch on. In the past, this meant creating the mind map on my computer (which I still do), then printing it out. Now, I have a couple choices – add it as a note to Evernote or put it in my SugarSync folder. I can then take my Android powered tablet and open the file on it when the Board meeting starts. I can even use a mind mapping app on my tablet, Thinking Space Pro (now Mindjet) in my case, to view and edit the mind map instead of just viewing a static pdf. One of the nice things I have found using an Android powered device is that the file structure uses paradigms I’m used to from years of working on computers. This means I can find files I’ve synced quickly and easily. Thanks Android for being a leader in cloud technology.
#2 – When push comes to shove, I can roll my own
A while back, I ran into a problem. Despite my efforts to find something I liked, I could not find a good app to keep score of soccer games my daughters were playing in. You would be surprised at how many times other parents would ask me how much time was left or what exactly was the score. Unfortunately, an app for such a purpose is truly a niche product and no one had yet produced something useful. However, I was able to do some research, download and install the SDKs for Android, and develop my own app to do what I needed. Was it likely something real developers would look at and just shake their head over? Probably. Was it something I could have uploaded to the Google Play store and made some money? Probably not. Did it do what I needed it to do and scratch the proverbial itch? You bet it did. Thanks Android for being open enough and providing the tools needed for a coding simpleton like myself to crank out a simple app for my own use.
#1 – I have tons of phone options, and the choices only get better everyday
For many years, anyone who wanted a smartphone had one choice. That choice was a Blackberry. Then along came Apple with the iPhone and we had two choices. While Blackberry started to introduce some different models, Apple stuck with one basic design. Until Android came along. Since then, we have seen many manufacturers producing smartphones with a wide variety of features and capabilities. Developers find creative ways to use functions available on the platform and even design completely new and different interfaces for us. We have even reached the point where Android is dictating to the industry where they need to be to stay in the market. Thank you Android for pushing everyone to produce a better mousetrap.
What about Android are you thankful for?
picture via: Android and Me