Sunday, February 20, 2011

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalistsandroid apps for journalist ? We provides a list of journalism-related apps he has tested out on his Android phone, the HTC Hero. As people get their first looks at the new Google phone, the Nexus One, I thought it might be a good time to highlight some of the best free apps for journalists and bloggers that are available on Android. I’ve been using the HTC Hero for a while now and am finally beginning to get my head around what’s there for those looking to create journalism on the go. I’ve learned quite a lot from ahlidesain, whose own list includes some of the apps below.

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists ? I should say that I’m not so much reviewing these apps, as highlighting them. Why? Well, from what I’ve already learned from other users, people have varying experiences with them. And, frankly, getting hung up on the finer points of an app seems a bit pointless. Twidroid, which features here, is constantly updated, so much so that at times you wonder what on Earth its developers are seeking to change. But that seems to be the ethos behind the Android ‘community’.

 ‘All applications are created equal’ and everyone gets to provide their own feedback to the developers to improve the applications, allowing a constant stream of improvements to the products. If I venture too much opinion here there’s a risk my words will be too quickly overtaken by events for them to be relevant – and I’ll just end up misleading everyone! These are, therefore, apps that have worked pretty well for me, or I’ve started to use because they seem to be gathering a good following. I should also point out that they can all be found in Android Market, but I’ve included a link to a web page with more information.

The practical

PDAnet: Allows you to use your Android phone’s 3G connection as a modem for your laptop. It takes a bit of organising (you have to download software for your laptop and the mobile) but once it’s working it seems to be fine. So far it has worked very well when needed, but you might want to invest in a separate 3G dongle as well.

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

Droid Scan (beta): With this app you just take a photograph of a document and it turns it into a very easily legible scan. You might quite reasonably ask how that differs from simply taking a picture, but it does give a clever explanation and, well, it works. Great for those who fancy themselves as a bit of a spy, but actually very handy if you’re collecting documents and the sort of thing a reporter will always need. Suddenly you don’t need to take peoples’ precious documents away. Brilliant.

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

GDocs: I’m not quite sure why  a Google docs app isn’t standard on the HTC Hero, but this does the job well and has a nice clear presentation of your docs and simple access.Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

Mobile GA: This allows you to check Google Analytics. I must confess, I don’t really use this. But if you really must check your stats on the move then this is the app for you!

 Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

WPtogo: Allows you to post and edit WordPress from your phone. It’s relatively easy to use and probably a lifesaver if you are like me and have horrible panicky moments when you realise that you’ve managed to misspell someone’s name. I’m going to give the posting on the move a try soon and report back on how easy it is to use.

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

Twidroid (Twitter app): I’ve been using this since giving up on Peep, which comes as standard with the HTC Hero and looks swish but offers very little functionality. It’s very easy to use, has most of the functions you’ll need and seems to work pretty well. As I point out in the introduction, it’s constantly updated, so hopefully it’ll continue to get better and better.

Complete Useful Android apps for bloggers and journalists

The flashy

Qik: A convenient, easy video sharing app (and familiar to many already) that allows you to stream and record from your phone. The video goes to your account page and can be embedded in much the way that a YouTube film is. I’m fast becoming an addict, but so far am using it as a totally clueless amateur. So if, you check out my laughable attempt below, you’ll see anyone can use it (with variable results, ahem).

Qik demo Mobile: This allows you to crop, rotate and generally muck around with your photos on the go. It has a handy uploading function, which allows you to share them pretty easily too. It’s fine for basic stuff, but won’t keep professional photographers happy.

Layar: This augmented reality app overlays info on your screen to provide you with real-time and space information. It gets a lock on your location and then feeds info to you. Definitely worth looking at, even if it isn’t as smooth as it one day will be. And it needs your battery-sapping GPS working.

Barcode Scanner: Well, maybe it’s not immediately obvious where this fits into a blogger’s world, but everyone needs to do the shopping, right? Links up with Google product search to find information on goods. In my experience, it doesn’t work on more er, niche products. It also impresses your mum. Well, it worked on mine, anyway.

The obvious

Google Listen: Slightly temperamental but nonetheless useful podcast player that allows you to subscribe to your favourite shows. It has an easy-to-use search facility and seems to be able to find most things. You can start playing immediately, as it downloads pretty well and it functions OK when you’re on the move. I’m a podcast nut, so it makes a lot of sense to have the pods downloading straight onto my phone.

Newspapers: Has a straightforward name and is straightforward. All it does is provide browsable access to lots of newspaper mobile sites. I rather like it because I can quickly visit all sorts of different papers that I’d not normally bother looking at.

The plain weird

I couldn’t help but include these. I’m not recommending them in any way shape or form, but just thought you should know…

SafeNeighborHood: This allows you to search to see if there’s a sex offender living in your area. Seriously. Obviously it only works in the US.

FengShuiCompass: Yes, so you can make sure the table’s at exactly the right angle.

And a short wishlist…

If any developers do find their way to this post there are a couple of things that I’d really like to see in the near future.

An app that records telephone conversations: I’ve not found one yet, but really hope it’s just sitting there ready for me to use. If I could record telephone conversations my poor shorthand would finally be rendered almost totally useless.

A really good, totally free and very easy-to-use Skype app: I know there are loads out there, but I’ve found them a pain to use and I’m looking for something totally idiot proof.

A good free app to allow me to use Google maps offline: Sadly – and despite all the billions being spent on mobile telecommunications – my signal drops completely out or is just too weak to provide a good data connection all too often (particularly in Scotland). What I’d love to see is an app that allows me to download vital map data and carry on using my GPS when I’m out in the wilds.


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