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Recommended Android Apps

It’s that time again. The time where I post my list of the apps I have installed and use on a daily basis on my phone and tablets. The apps that make my devices powerful.  The apps I recommend for a new Android user who wants a powerful device that can be completely customized.

Most of these apps are free. Some are a few dollars. But this is what I install on a new device the moment I get it. Hope you find the list useful.

They are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of priority or use.

4G Toggle allows you to turn off 4G and use only 3G. Great if you have a battery that drains quickly as a way to save power. Much easier than going through the Settings menus to disable 4G


Adobe Flash Player 11 APK. Adobe no longer supports or allows Flash for Android to be downloaded, but you can find the Flash Player APK file online with a simple Google search. Install it and in the stock browser you will have Flash.


Advanced Task Killer. I set this app which kills apps running in the background to every 30 minutes. Anything running is turned off, which saves data use and battery and keeps your device running fast.


Amazon Kindle. Read your Amazon Kindle book purchases.


ASTRO File Manager. While not for most people, it’s a file browser that allows you to explore all folders on your device including the SD card. For moving files, deleting, anything like you would normally do on your desktop computer.


Audible. Play and control all your audio books purchased from


AUTO SMS Sender allows you to schedule Text messages to be sent. I set mine with reminders. Sometimes you don’t pay attention to a pop up message or alarm, but you might to an incoming text. Or you can use this to send out mulple regular texts to other people.


Bar Code Scanner allows scanning of Any UPC bar code on products and can instantly do a google search for them online so you can find out more about a product, what the prices are elseware, etc.


Beyond Podcast Manager allows you to auto download and play podcasts. If you know what podcasts are then you will love this app. If you don’t then you don’t need it. J This is a Paid App.



Call Confirm is a nifty little app that will bring up a box when you make a phone call asking you to Confirm you want to make the call. Great if you have accidently dialed people you didn’t want to in the past.


Cerberus Anti Theft is an absolutly excellent app if you ever loose or have your phone stolen. For just over $4 it will allow you to locate your phone, remote erase it, send messages to it, tell it to record audio or video without the user knowing and send it back to you. Must have if you worry about loosing your device with confidential information on it or if its an employee phone.




Documents To Go allows you to read, create and edit Word, Cexcel  and Powerpoint documents. Paid App.


Dropbox. If you use dropbox, you know what this is. Allows easy sending and broswing of files to your dropbox account.


Evernote. Simply the best and most secure note taking and document storage app. Allows multiple lays of security including encryption of data. Evernote is widly popular and avaialble on every playform. Store documents, notes, pictures, anything via your desktop or phone and have it accessible on all your devices.


Facebook. Nothing more to say here


Facebook Pages Manager. If you have a business or public facebook site, while Facebook’s normal app allows you to post and use your personal site, This app allows you to control the business side of your facebook site.


FeedR News Reader is a excellent simple RSS Reader. RSS is popular for pulling in news feeds for reading.


Flipboard. If you have never tried flipboard, it’s a beautiful easy to use way to read RSS, news, magazine feeds. Highly recommended.


Google+. Beautiful design and features for using Google + (Googles Facebook type service)


Gmail. Who can live without gmail? Its already included on your phone but worth mentioning as this is what you want to use to access your google accounts. If you are using non-gmail email you will use the normal Email app on yourdevice.


GO SMS is what I believe to be the best SMS replacement app. The SMS (Texting) app that comes on most devices is basic. This adds more more control over how your messages look to you, allows them to be read out loud and many other cool features.


GM SMS Emoji Addon. Get this to add many nice emoji icons (all those little happy face pictures) to your GO SMS App.


Google Drive allows access to your Google Drive account and all its files.


Google Keep is the new note taking app from Google. Allows voice, text, pictures, color coding, etc. Then is accessible on your desktop google drive.


Googe Voice. If you use a google voice number (and you should if you use Gmail) then this app allows much of the controls, although not as much as loggin in through the desktop. But you cana manager incoming calls, Do Not Disturbe mode, play voicemails, etc.


Hotspot Toggle Widget. This nice little utility puts a clickable widget on your desktop that with a single touch you can toggle your WiFi Hotspot on your device. Most smartphones today allow them to turn on wifi sharing so you can connect your laptop or other devices to access the interet. This saves you from having to dig through the settings are to toggle it on and off.


Jump Desktop is the easiest and fastest Remote Desktop and VNC log in software I have found. Its not free and if you don’t know what RDP and VNC are then you don’t need it. J






Play. Google Play is googles music player. Gmail users can upload tons of music to google and access it from the cloud with this simple for very nice music player.


Redbox. Please People...Dont stand at the Redbox machine reading every movie for 30 minutes when other people are waiting. Use this app (or on your computer) and order your movies online. Then just show up, swipe your credit card and out come the movies. Thank you.


Ring Manager Pro. This great little app allows you to turn your phone ringer off at night if you keep it on your nightstand BUT will allow it to ring IF certainl people you tell it call. So for example, if your parents or kids or realitives call it will ring, but not for anyone else. Great if you use your cell as your primary phone and want to make sure any emergency calls during the night will come though.




Weather Channel. This is more of a preference thing. Some people believe other weather services to be more accurate, I just like this app so I use it.


TweetDeck. The Twitter app I like the best.


UPS. Track, Ship and manager your packages.


Voice Control. With a single click it brings up all the volume controls for Media, Riner, Notifications, Voice Calls, Alarm and System sounds. Nice easy way to see and change volume levels without going into settings.


Volume Locker. I Love this little utility. My Samsung Galaxy Note 2 changes the volume level of the media player each time I plug it into my car system. I don’t know why, I cant find a solution for it. Also because volume buttons are on the exact opposite side from the power button. Often when holding the phone and turning the screen on or off, I hit the volume button, lowering the ringer or other sound. This great App will give a little 5 second pop up anytime any sound level is changed on the device and if I don’t approve it, it puts it right back. So if I have all the volume levels at their highest and I accidently hit the volume button lowering the level, if I don’t click to approve the change, it goes right back to the highest settings.





Big Changes with Office 2013.  Microsoft just released Office 2013 and there are two big changes. The lesser of which is the price is going up a little. The bigger one is that now when you buy it, your not buying a piece of software you can re-install. Previously if you bought Office, installed it, then eventually bought a new computer you could re-install it. Not Any More! Now when you buy it, your legally buying the right to install it on one PC and then never again anywhere else.  That means more costs as you might upgrade a computer every 2-3 years and each and every time you will be re-buying Office.  Microsoft is trying to promote their online subscriptions of office and that's why they are trying to make it less economical for people to stick with traditional box software. More to come on on-line subscriptions of office.



Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8 has been out for a few weeks now and we have been running it for more than a few months at Computer Solutions on some test systems. So the questions now are what do we think about it and should you use it?

For starters, this is a big change.  Bigger than windows 98 to Windows XP even.  There are many differences from the moment you start it, to navigating around. It does not even have a START button.  It’s very intimidating to new users and if your someone who hates change you won’t be happy.  That said, once you use it for a while, like with most things, it becomes easier and a few weeks into it you won’t have any problems.

First question you might ask is why did Microsoft do this?  Well it wasn’t thinking about the consumer and trying to make it better for them, that i can tell you!  It was thinking of the future of Microsoft.  They know they are not able to compete in the phone and tablet market with iPhones and Android right now (In case you didn’t know there are Windows phones too) so they needed to plan for the future.  Mobile devices like phones and tablets are were technology is going so Microsoft designed Windows 8 to be as similar as possible on all devices so you can go from Windows on your desktop to a Windows tablet to a Windows smartphone and if you could use one, you could use them all.  This means Windows on the desktop computer had to change drastically.  Windows 8 starts off when you load it in the Windows 8 interface which looks like their tablets and phones.

When you start Windows 8 and see the tile interface, it’s very simple. You scroll through the little live squares and click on whatever you want. 'Live' means they can change and display information right there on the screen and in tiles.

Easy Right? Yes! When you go into any of these programs (or Apps) you can use it and they work great, but the problem for most people will be after that when it’s not clear what to do to get out of it. Or get back to the main Windows screen. Or even how to turn off the computer!

This is where the learning begins. You can do many things in Windows 8 like drag the whole screen down to the bottom with the mouse to exit it. Or move you mouse to any corner of the screen to bring up a menu. There are also many easy WINDOWS key combinations where you can hold the Windows key and press letters to do many functions quiet easily.  It all works well and makes sense but you will have to learn it all.

If you have used Windows XP, Vista, 2000 or 7, you could use any other quiet easily but Windows 8 means you have to retrain your brain for this new software.

Microsoft hopes that once you get use to this new Windows, the next time you walk into a Verizon or AT&T store you will see a Windows smartphone and feel so comfortable with it you will buy one instead of that iPhone next to it.

They just might be right since any new computers you buy in a retail store will soon all be Windows 8 and you won’t have a choice but to upgrade unless you have a custom computer ordered or built with Windows 7.

Once you force yourself to learn Windows 8 then that Windows phone will look much less intimidating than any other phone.


Then that Windows tablet will start to look better than the iPad or Android tablet, because will feel very comfortable with it.

Microsoft’s thinking will work over time as we all upgrade to Windows 8 eventually.

Now there is the old style desktop as well in Windows 8 but it is a bit different with no Start button.


Unlike Apple who pushes forward and does not care if they alienate users or software companies, Microsoft has to think about being backwards compatible because of their extremely large user base and corporate customers.  But for the first time they are thinking about the future and telling everyone to start getting use to the Tile interface and encouraging companies to write their programs in the new Tile format instead of the old desktop style apps.

But they can’t just drop it completely so it is still there, will still run your previous software but for novice users will seem to be a pain to jump back and forth between the two interfaces. For experienced users it’s no big deal.  You can spend your day working in one or the other or even both but they certainly are pushing everything to move to the Tiles.  

The thinking behind all this, meaning the Tiles, being similar on all devices (iPads, Smartphones, Tablets, etc.) is that everything in the computer world is moving towards touch, voice and simplicity.  Gone will be the days of computers being for geeks or the novice user barely scratching the surface of what a computer can do. It makes sense for everything to get easier as they get more powerful.

So the answer to the question about should you move to Windows 8?

Upgrade your current computer?  No. There is no need.

When you buy your next computer is will be Windows 8 and you will just have to learn it.

Is Windows 8 bad?

Not at all. It’s different and not very clear on how to use it when sitting down for the first time as previous versions.  But Microsoft being the giant they are with the market share they have, the world will move towards Windows 8 and in a year or two it will simply be the way it is. And if their strategy of unifying Windows desktops, tablets and phones works then they just might take over everything again or at least become the 3rd power in tablets and smartphones, an area they have almost no market share in right now.


Apple iPhone 5 Event

Watch out Live Blog event of the Apple anouncement today at

on 9/12/12 at 1pm EST


New Kindle Fire from Amazon.

First is the Kindle Paperwhite for $119 ($179 with 3G). Its the first device with a Paperwhite display and 8 week battery life. If you like the origional e-ink display Kindles for reading, then this is the next version with improved speed, display clarity and other minor upgrades. The previous Kindle will remain around for $69.

The origional Kindle Fire will be upgraded to a 40% faster processor, double the RAM and longer battery life. The price dropes to $159 and ships Sept. 14th.

The big news is the new Kindle Fire HD in 7" and a 8.9" model. They have a TI OMAP 4470 Processor. The larger tablet is 8.8mm thick and weighs 20oz with 1920x1200 254ppi resolution.  It has a HD front facing camera and dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, 5GHz WiFi with 2 antennas for better Wifi that they say is 41% faster.  The new Kindle Fire HDs will start at 16GB of storage instead of the old 8GB. The new Whispersync feature will allow you to listen to your books like an audiobook in the car for example but then go right to were it left off in the book for reading when you get home.  Another cool feature for those with kids is the Time Limits feature. You can set it to allow, for example,  hour of games, 1 hour of videos and unlimited reading so the kids don't sit with the device all day.  Very nice for those of us whos kids use their tablets from dawn til dusk.  You can also setup multiple profiles for multiple kids. Both models have HDMI out and bluetooth. the 7" Fire HD will cost $199 with 16GB (ships Sept. 14th)and the 8.9" with 16GB will be $299 (ships Sept. 20th)