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Friday, 4 May 2018

Choosing apps on Android

I have well over three hundred apps on my Samson Galaxy S9 Plus mobile phone and because of the knowledge I have gleaned over the years, have made some decisions on how I evaluate apps.

Cost

There are four main ways that app writers use when marketing their apps

    • Free - no adverts.
    • Free – adverts to help pay for the adverts.
    • Chargeable – one off price with no adverts
    • Chargeable – an ongoing monthly rental.

Free – No adverts
What can I say, one can’t complain. But very few app writers are philanthropists so apps in this section will usually be very simple but, having said that, many can be quite useful in saving time and effort.

Free – adverts to help pay for the app

Here we get apps written by two types of people. First are those who have small apps, usually quite intrusive, just waiting for you to decide their app is worth paying a little extra for. Then there are the whole screen, full in your face apps by app writers desperate to get you to move up to the paid version.

Chargeable – one off price with no adverts
These are usually companies or more experienced programmers, their apps are usually more advanced – but not always. Before taking the plunge, if you aren’t sure about anything, email the programmer – the address is at the bottom of the Google Play app page you are thinking of downloading from. Another help is to check how many have purchased the app, and read the reviews.

Chargeable – an ongoing monthly rental
Read the above “Chargeable – one off price with no adverts” with one addition. Take the monthly rental multiply it by 12 to get the price over a year, then supposing you may want to use the app for ten years, multiply the annual figure by ten. This will give you a better idea of the true price of the app. It's often frightening!

Accessibility

How easy is it to use your data if it is the sort of program you want moved?

    • Can you share it?
    • Can you send it to your printer?
    • Can you save it to Dropbox, Google Drive or Box?
    • Can you access it with web based software eg Google Keep

Backing up

If you can’t back up to Dropbox, Google Drive or Box do they have their own cloud service you can back up your data to in case you lose your phone?

Finally, using a file manager, can you access your data easily on your phone? If not, contact the writer and ask where the data is stored on your phone. He probably doesn’t need to know the make of your phone, just what version Android is on the phone.

Useful Apps

Free Apps

Google have many useful apps which are also web based. And many web writers take advantage of this.

"Google Calendar" for example. I use “Business Calendar” which synchronises perfectly with Google Calendar. So Google on my desktop and Business Calendar on my mobile. (Google Calendar is also available on a mobile but I find Business Calendar can do so much more and has an array of useful widgets.

An app I use every day is Alex Baker’s “Task: Astrid todo list clone”. This is for those regular chores you do every day, or every week, or every month or even every year. For example, my Panasonic shaver’s battery is well over five years old so I have an entry every Thursday to charge it, and on Sunday to clean and charge it. We send out a newsletter every year to friends and relations who live far away. I have a monthly reminder to bring it up to date with that month’s events. A reminder to put the wheely-bins out on the allotted day. You get the picture. You can have the tasks sent to your diary as well.

"Google Keep" is a ‘not very known’ gem. It is a note taker, you can colour code your notes if you wish. You can also pin important actions to the top. The best is you can add anything you want to send to your phone using a full size desktop on their web based program. It will be in your phone on the Google Keep app in seconds.

I have a series of widgets to turn on and off Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS and Airplane mode.

It is awkward going into Settings to send mobile calls to a switchboard so, when I get home, I use DHC app’s "Call Forwarding” a couple of clicks and it is done. When you get the app, just set it up with the phone numbers you are likely to forward your calls to. Free or paid for, very intrusive adverts but only a quid so I went for it.

"Accuweather Platinum". A paid for app as it gives more advance days by the hour than their free app. The good thing is, it helps you to understand the uncertainties of the weather. For example, look at the precipitations. 0% to 100%. If 51% or over, the app shows rain, however as you get to know the app you learn how to make your own decisions. Under 20% no rain, 21% to 80% it may or may not rain, but you learn to judge each percentage, over 80% and, yes, take an umbrella. Now I’ve learned how to read the app, I am right over 85% of the time.

I love “Progress of Project” which I use for bigger projects, such as my forthcoming China trip for two weeks. I also use it for projects in my home. However, it is quite difficult to get used to the way it works. Start a 'test project' which you can eventually delete and get to know it before you go for real. It also has a web based site so, whilst getting to know the way it works, it may be better to use your desktop.

For email, I use “Aquamail”. You can skip the adverts and buy, not expensive for the power it offers. If you use Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail and more, using IMAP, POP3 and Exchange, then you may find this useful. I love it and only wish they had a web based version. You can have many email accounts and colour code them. If you use G-Suite or equivalent, then you can use your aliases or identities as well. I have four email accounts and with my G-Suite account, I have six more aliases, totaling ten in all. There is a smart button that collects them all and as you read then, they disappear from the smart button, but if you reply using the smart button, the reply will use the correct 'from' address. You can have a separate signature for each email address and identity/alias.

Finally I use “Signal Messaging”. This is a cross between your SMS program and a WhatsApp communications app. Unlike WhatsApp, it is opensource and experts around the world study the code of each new release, so if the NSA or MI5 insist on a backdoor in it, over a thousand hackers will tell you its happened. If WhatsApp gets a government backdoor put in, you’ll never know. In addition it takes the place of two apps. When you load it, it is just an SMS program. If you want secret conversations with other users, just send them a link – it is at the top of your messaging page and you can send it clicking on one button – it’s that easy. Then once you’re both on, you have secure secret conversations. Handy if you are married and have a couple of mistresses!

There’s a few to be going on with!

Ampers

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