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Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps? 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-an-app-for-picking-apps-that-pick-apps dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The phone app ecosystem has matured nicely over the past several years. There are apps for just about everything I need to do on my phone. But I've noticed that once an app fills a particular need, I don't tend to look for newer or potentially better apps that would replace it. In a lot of areas, I'm two or three years out of date — maybe there's something better, maybe not. Since few people relish the thought of installing, testing, and uninstalling literally hundreds of apps, I thought I'd put the question to the Slashdot community: what interesting, useful new(ish) apps are you aware of? This can be anything from incredibly slick, well-designed single purpose apps to powerful multi-function apps to entertainment-oriented apps.
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Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:17PM (#47791687)

    What's next? "Ask Slashdot: What food is good?" or "Ask Slashdot: What's the best place to live?"

  • music streamer (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:20PM (#47791703)

    If you've got more than a few GB of music then get subsonic. You can stream your full collection from home to your phone to listen to at work, in the car, etc. When you're offline or configured to only stream over wifi you can have it stick to playing the last few GB you've configured to cache on your device.

    • by aheath (628369) *
      I took a quick look at the Subsonic web site. It looks like a great app and a nice way to stream my digital music collection. I have to find the time to digitize my analog music collection. Thank you for the recommendation.
    • If you've got more than a few GB of music then get subsonic. You can stream your full collection from home to your phone to listen to at work, in the car, etc. When you're offline or configured to only stream over wifi you can have it stick to playing the last few GB you've configured to cache on your device.

      You don't 'need' a straming app for music. My phone accepts a 64gb SD card that doesn't need to 'stream' music, it just plays it.

    • by wwphx (225607)
      I really hate this as a direction the industry is going: stream everything! That's fine for a lot of people who live in major metropolitan areas with lots of cell coverage. Here's the problem: we don't have reliable cellular service where we live. Yes, I have it in my house. But once I leave home to go to my wife's work place or down to town, half an hour to either place, no cell service. If I'm driving SE to Texas or Carlsbad, forget it. North to Ruidoso? Nada.

      Apple is making their podcast app an
      • by Jethro (14165)

        I agree with you about a lot of stuff - I want local copies of anything I can even though I am usually well within my LTE coverage zone.

        I use Subsonic to stream music, though, because I don't have room on my phone for all my music, and I'd rather be able to choose what I listen to on the fly rather than have to decide before I leave.

        Subsonic, however, does have a cache setting. I have mine set to 10 GB, and no track limit. So if you know you'll be offline or out of coverage, you can load up a playlist while

        • by wwphx (225607)
          I'll have to take a look at it. I have a 64 gig iPhone and am quite happy with the mix. Interface matters a lot to me, so we shall see.
          • by Jethro (14165)

            My phone has "only" 32G, pretty sure I can get the music I /really/ want down to 20G but still. I like Subsonic's web interface for making playlists, too (plus it can import popular formats).

    • by Jethro (14165)

      Subsonic is pretty nice. It's what I, too, use to stream my music, since I definitely can't fit all of it on my phone. And yeah, it's all CDs I own and have ripped (well, 99% CDs, there are occasional single-tracks I bought).

      The app is free, but they do charge for the server software.

  • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:22PM (#47791709)
    if you haven't tried a new IM client in a couple years, try yo.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:29PM (#47791761) Journal

    That would be the killer app.

  • by bhlowe (1803290) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:37PM (#47791797)
    I love listening to books... So Audible is where a lot of my entertainment money goes. Great for car trips or commuting. Goodreads is a good app for logging and rating books you've read. Unfortunately, the two are not merged, so buying a book on audible doesn't add it to good reads.. Audible has a free trial.. You really should pick out a good book and give it a listen.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The better question would be, are there any apps that you would like to have, but that don't exist (yet)?

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "The better question would be, are there any apps that you would like to have, but that don't exist (yet)?"

      A non-beta slashdot app that shows me actual news for nerds, stuff that matters?

      • by Noughmad (1044096)

        Have you tried PlusFive, the link in my sig? It looks a lot like the old Slashdot interface.

      • We had a lot of good apps back in the PalmOS days. I used to use JPluckX / Sunrise to download a compressed image of the day's Slashdot using the AvantSlash filter. I could even download the front page of any URLs provided as links, so I could even RTFA or see the AC's goatse links if I wanted to. Plucker for palmos was instantaneous on navigating and loading links from compressed data, much faster than using Avantgo at going back and forth between links, which was in turn much faster than downloading c

  • JMRI and Engine driver are niche programs and apps, for Model Railroaders. I use both several times a week. Fantastic job of updating with new decoder definitions, new features, and tie-ins to various manufacturers. If you are looking for a project to show you the way to excellence, this is the one. All open source, too!
  • I upgraded from a flip phone to a Nexus 5 last month. I've taken the less is more approach to loading apps on my phone. I've also tried to avoid installing apps from unknown vendors. I installed Avast Mobile Security to keep the phone secure and virus free. I installed the Kobo app so I can read books when I forget to bring a book or my Kobo eReader. I'm trying to lose some weight so I've installed several fitness apps - Couch-to-5K, DogWalk, FitBit, MapMyRun, MapMyHike, MapMyWalk and MyFitness Pal. I installed the mindfulness app because it has the best meditation timer that I could find on Google Play. I can't remember what other apps I've installed because I uninstalled them once I decided that I wouldn't use them.

    I forgot to take my Lego keychain flashlight with me when I walked the dog last night. I was looking for a flashlight app this morning. I couldn't find a flashlight app that didn't collect data that I was willing to share with an unknown vendor. I'm planning to move all my house keys to Lego key chains. I may also hack the leash and use a wire tie to attach a fash light and a set of house keys.

    • *cringe ...fitness apps.
      Just run until you are tired.
      And then run for another 2 hours.
      No app necessary.
      Installing apps is time wasted that could be spent doing some pushups.

    • by ezelkow1 (693205)

      Look for 'Power toggles' ( https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]) . That is what I use on my nexus 5. It asks for camera permission for the flashlight, and alert window, and root for running root cmds which has no effect on non-rooted phones. It gives you a bunch of toggles, I leave mine in the main top drop down. One of which is a flashlight toggle. So you dont even need an app with this, plus lets you toggle about 30-40 other things

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Avast Mobile Security

      This is a scam app. You don't need anti-virus for your phone if all you ever do is install apps from Google Play. Google themselves do the virus scanning and checking for malware.

      The other features are all just duplicates of existing Android functionality, or pointless. If you really care about privacy consider AppOpsXposed or switching to Cyanogen, or just install apps that don't ask for stupid permissions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:52PM (#47791895)

    F-Droid is without competition: The only app store for open source software.
    OsmAnd is a navigation and mapping app which works with free offline maps based on OpenStreetMap.
    K9-Mail is an email app with IMAP-push support: get a notification as soon as mail arrives on your server.
    Xabber is a multi-protocol chat client.

    All of these apps are free (as in beer and in speech). None of these apps require the Google apps on your Android phone.

    • Another method is to download a recent rom of CyanogenMod, unzip it, find the APKs and then load them on to a normal phone.

      I got an excellent flashlight (defined as the only one which doesn't seem to want network access) and a very good filemanager that way.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:59PM (#47791929)

    There are apps for just about everything I need to do on my phone. But I've noticed that once an app fills a particular need, I don't tend to look for newer or potentially better apps that would replace it. In a lot of areas, I'm two or three years out of date — maybe there's something better, maybe not.

    You may be asking the wrong question, at least if you see your phone as a tool. If the apps you've got are doing the job you want them to do, who cares if they're apps you picked up two or three years ago?

    It might be better to think on what it is you would like to be able to do using your phone but can't currently accomplish with the apps you've got on hand. If nothing that comes to mind, then there's no problem to solve and no questions to be answered - you're good to go.

    Since few people relish the thought of installing, testing, and uninstalling literally hundreds of apps, I thought I'd put the question to the Slashdot community: what interesting, useful new(ish) apps are you aware of?

    You've said absolutely nothing specific regarding what it is you want to do on your phone. There are literally millions of apps in the iOS and Google app stores - if you want meaningful responses, shouldn't you qualify your question a bit first? Are you trying to manage your diabetes? Do you only want to buy local, in-season fruit? Are you using your phone to manage illicit drug transactions? Looking for a wife? Learning to repair cars? Managing your Pokemon collection? What??

    • It might be better to think on what it is you would like to be able to do using your phone but can't currently accomplish with the apps you've got on hand.

      This is correct. Such as platform dependant apps. Currently, at least un-jailbroken, iPhones do not have a single app that mimics Tasker and a few other powerful apps that Android has. You can mimic some of those functions but right now nothing comes close (though not being a developer, I don't know what iOS8 brings, but it may never due to Apple's OS).

      What are some other platform dependent apps that are powerful, but are not on all the platforms?

  • by gwstuff (2067112) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @02:38PM (#47792067)

    I've been using this note taking app [handwritingapp.com] on my iPhone since 2009. It's just like having a little pad in your pocket that you can scribble into. I use it more than any other app.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There aren't many, every app is the best app!

  • by stoploss (2842505) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @03:31PM (#47792263)

    Probably the most useful app I have installed is the Xposed installer.

    This is Slashdot, so it's okay to be meta, right? Heh.

  • I really like Hello SMS. It's a very simple interface. It's light on features, but has what most people probably really need, and some neat UI tricks I've not seen elsewhere.

  • by corychristison (951993) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @03:42PM (#47792305)

    ownCloud or BitTorrent Sync.

    I have found both of them to be incredibly useful. Especially since I have a hard time accessing my mobile files via USB since upgrading to an Android 4.x phone.

  • by RDW (41497) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @03:44PM (#47792315)

    There are, of course, hundreds of thousands of apps you might consider installing, but I think most people will agree that only two are absolutely essential for everyone:

    Hypnotic Spiral: https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]

    (sample review: GREAT APP ESPECIALLY IF YOUR STONED OR DRUNK OR ANYTHING ELSE,TRIPS U OUT,I USE IT WHEN I'M ON ANOTHER LEVEL,WHEN I'M ON THE MOON STONED *****)

    this will allow you to make anyone else do your bidding, making a large majority of other apps completely redundant.

    I Ching - Divine Your Future: https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]

    (sample review: 'Excellent! The only I ching app that uses sticks and not coins. Much more reliable. The editable entries are also a bonus. Great work, thanks!' )

    This will help you make all the major decisions in your life, including what apps to install. It is also useful for understanding the plot of The Man in the High Castle. I meditated on your situation, and using the yarrow stalk method received the wisdom of Hexagram XLII ('The second SIX, divided, shows parties adding to the stores of its subject ten pairs of tortoise shells whose oracles cannot be opposed. Let him persevere in being firm and correct, and there will be good fortune.'). I hope this is helpful.

  • Google?

  • An interesting Android app is Medical ID. It could save your life in case of emergency: https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com] You can test it for free since it is available as a freemium app.
  • An interesting Android app is Medical ID. It could save your life in case of emergency: https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com] You can test it for free since it is available as a freemium app.
  • just get Angry Birds.

  • What are your requirements and budget? Asking what is the best app is like asking what is the best OS or the best programming language.
    Asking that on slashdot is asking for trouble.
  • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @04:32PM (#47792531)

    Android Central lists their favorite games and apps every week: http://www.androidcentral.com/... [androidcentral.com]
    iMore's favorite iOS apps: http://www.imore.com/ios/edito... [imore.com]

    Happy hunting.

  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @04:59PM (#47792627)

    I tend to gravitate towards FOSS when possible to be used on a rooted, custom Android ROM. Here are a few useful ones I've found...

    Note: Most of the following can be found on GooglePlay, in addition to other locations. They may also be on other app marketplaces, but these are those I've confirmed. Sometimes, there is a difference in version number or whatnot between F-Droid, GooglePlay, and an .apk downloaded from a homepage, so be aware.

    F-Droid (www.f-droid.org) - a FOSS app marketplace. Not the only place to find FOSS apps, but a great option for any interested uses.

    RomToolbox Pro (Google Play) - If you like to tweak, mess around with rooting and custom ROMs, RomToolbox has a great selection of utilities. Not entirely
    FOSS, but it is basically a wrapper for a ton of utilities, some of which have source available. The Pro version opens a few new features and supports the platform; generally worthwhile!

    Firefox for Android (Google Play) - Mozilla's privacy focused, FOSS browser. Has many of the same great features (add-ons etc..) as on desktop.

    GuardianProject apps (www.guardianproject.info) - Lots of great utilities here, including Orbot (TOR for Android) and Orweb (TOR browser bundle for Android so to speak, based on Orbot and Firefox Mobile), ChatSecure (OTR-enabled XMPP client), and more. They also support Ostel.co, a SIP provider with privacy in mind.

    Antox (www.tox.im) - Android version of the FOSS "Skype alternative, but secure" TOX project

    OpenWhisperSystems apps (www.whispersystems.org) - TextSecure and RedPhone are FOSS, encrypted SMS (and other text messaging) and mobile dialing apps respectively. If talking to a fellow user of the program, it automatically negotiates a secure connection, yet they still both work to send common texts and calls. Using them as your main apps still have some benefits (ie such as TextSecure taking both text and pictures you receive and storing them in an encrypted form on arrival). Note - TextSecure is new and up to par, RedPhone is a bit sparse and is being completely redone. They also offer Flock (very newly developed), a CardDAV/CalDAV FOSS app that allows you to sync contacts, calendars and more. Pay a couple a bucks and user their servers, or host your own.

    FreeOTP (Google Play) - With Google Authenticator no longer FOSS, this is your new best friend in Android 2-factor Authentication. You can generate and pair lots of different codes; if I remember correctly a RedHat dev wrote/maintains it. Works with all major 2FA standards and has lots of options!

    CSipSimple (https://code.google.com/p/csipsimple/) - A ZRTP/OTR supporting SIP client for Android. LinPhone (found on F-Droid) is a good alternative as well.

    K9 Mail (F-Droid) - This is a great, full featured Android mail client, that just happens to be FOSS. Plugin system too.

    MediaCrush (https://mediacru.sh) - Not really an app per se, but one of my favorite image/media hosting sites around. Works with just about every media format, has an API, clients, and plug-ins for various browsers and platforms. FOSS, if you want to host your own MediaCrush site. Privacy focused too.

    KeePass2Android (https://keepass2android.codeplex.com/ and GooglePlay) - A FOSS, full-featured, modern form of the KeePass database software for Android. Works with the newest KeePass 2.x database (.kdbx) styles. There's even an offline-only version if you prefer! Note, this is different from "KeePassDroid", which has less features and limited compatibility with the 2.x database format.

    Plumble (F-Droid) - A quality Android client for connecting to Mumble servers (Mumble being the gaming-focused, FOSS VOIP system)

    OwnCloud (www.owncloud.org, GooglePlay ) - One of the best FOSS cloud storage options, OwnCloud has an official client for Android. You can compile it yourself, but the pre-compiled version on GooglePlay is $0.99. You will need an OwnCloud server to connect to somewhere, of course. Consider this an alternati

  • by CaptainDork (3678879) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @05:27PM (#47792759)

    If you don't have a guitar tuner app, then how in Sam Hill are you going to tune your guitar when you are at Open Mic at Logon Cafe and you forgot your dedicated tuner?

    If you don't play the guitar, then get the piano tuner and stuff. OK, maybe you don't play the piano. Me neither.

    If you have no need to tune any instrument at all, ever, then just forget it.

    Get a good word search program.

    If you don't have a word search app, then how in Sam Hill are you going to spend your time when you are at Open Mic at Logon Cafe and I don't go on for another hour?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Umano is a great app--reads news and blog posts to you from tons of great sources. It is excellent if you're a commuter...a great answer to NPR and talk radio.

  • Sound recorder closes, and doesn't save the file quite often. Making it incredibly unreliable. I used to use Vrecorder, but the new version doesn't work well and it doesn't encrypt the files properly.

    Open source better of course,
  • Is there an app that starts up properly with the phone, that's open source. Video calling and Open Source, popular encryption modules preferred.
    • by jrumney (197329)
      SIP is built in. Just go into the Phone app, open Settings, and under Call Settings there is an "Internet Call Settings" section where you can add accounts. Video and encryption may require third party options though.
  • Waze for traffic and navigation. Nice combination of social and mapping. I just turn it on without routing on my work commute. I get fairly accurate road hazard and speed trap info and people actually thank me for reports that I post.

    Audible for ebooks. Subscription service but it means you can get recent publications of decent books (one a month for the subscription) or more if you are willing to buy additional credits.

    Airbnb for finding some cool places to stay while traveling

    Flighthero for tracking airpl

    • by Tronster (25566)

      Thank you for taking the time to write up a list... I've been looking for a good weather App.
      Also a second for Waze, a great use of crowd-sourcing for live traffic information.

      If, by any chance, you know of a good calculator App (w/ dec, hex, and binary support) , I'd love to hear your recommendation.

    • I used Waze off-and-on for a while. I didn't find the "social networking" stuff exactly appropriate while driving. Worse, it kept popping up screen-obscuring advertisements for things like Enema (however the rapper spells his name) albums that I have active antipathy to, and no way to get it to target ads less inappropirately.

      Worst, though, was the battery use, and the fact that no matter what I did with the settings, it insisted on randomly re-starting itself and devouring my battery. That was why I eve

  • BeyondPod has been my podcast app of choice.
    MyTracks is a hiking program that will generate files that google and apps like Lightroom can use. I use it to add GPS info to my photographs, or to tell me how far I hiked. Or both.
    I like Orbot with Firefox and Twitter. I don't really need to route everything over TOR, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I do.

  • You need to have the right combination of apps. Too often an app I really like causes my voicemail or music storage not to run... not the fault of the app, I just don't have room for it and have to prioritize.. Perhaps the question should be, which are the most efficient apps, most value for the least resources? all glory to the hypnotoad... need to free space for the hynotoad app
  • It's a pretty niche app, but the Slashdot crowd has a pretty large percentage of retro-computer collectors, so I thought it might be worth a mention...

    tapDancer is an Android app that encodes .TAP / .TZX and many more and plays the audio out through the headphone jack. You can either direct-connect your device or use a 'cassette CD adapter'.

    https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]

  • You'll spend so much time wandering around outside hacking portals you won't have time for any other apps.

  • For me MightyText is a must have. I can't rely on others to have internet access but everyone can receive an SMS. But I hate typing them on the on screen kbd. There's a free version but also a premium that includes gens like "queue an SMS for sending at a later time/date".
  • It's rather unknown but I use it every week to do my grocery shopping. I think it's the first real innovative app for doing grocery shopping in years. It will use your headset and the text to speech engine to read your groceries. If you click the headset button it will read the next item. This way you have your hands free for picking. It also learns the optimal route once you sort your first lists in the best order. It's only available for Android: https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]

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