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Wednesday, October 01, 2014         

THINK TECH


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Android has its share of handy apps for free

By Cliff Miyake

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Over the last few months I've looked at Google's mobile Android platform as an option for both business and consumers. I've learned there are tons of great apps, free of charge, to put on that new phone.

I spoke to John Wang, an Android developer at Ikayzo at the Manoa Innovation Center, and several other local experts for some ideas. Here are some free downloads for Droids that they recommended.

I used the Weather Channel app (weather.com) the other day while at Makapuu on a family outing. By using their radar map I saw a big squall coming in over Central Oahu that would surely drench us in an hour. We got out of there in time and stayed dry.

Google Voice provides free transcripts of voice-mail messages that some services will charge you for. The translation from voice to text isn't always perfect, but you get the idea and can always play the message back later.

DropBox is a "cloud" app that can be used as a storage folder accessible from anywhere — including my Android. For example, instead of e-mailing myself a huge file to work on at home, I upload it to DropBox.Log into your account and bingo, you've got your files.

Android Skype users won't be deprived of making cheap or free calls, so long as you have Wi-Fi access. It's cool, says Dan Leuck at Ikayzo, if you need to talk to people locally or in Japan and don't want to burn up minutes.

Astrid Tasks keeps those never-ending to-do lists handy on your Droid and syncs up with everything, from Outlook and Google.

Ever wonder how much is left in your checking account? With the Mint for Android app, you have access to your account instantly. (It doesn't move money, but it's handy to know what your balance looks like.)

Amazon's Kindle is available on every device: iPad, iPhone and your Droid. When reading a book it will remember your location and allows you to adjust the brightness of the screen. If you already have a Kindle account, you'll want this app.

For shoppers, Barcode Scanner will let you scan any bar code and get info on prices, links to apps from QR codes on magazines, websites and more.

One of the not-so-cool things about the Android system is that it sucks battery juice big time. Among other things, updating programs might change the way apps utilize the power supply. To keep your device going strong, there's a free download called Juice Defender, which maximizes battery life.

Cliff Miyake is vice president/general manager in Honolulu for tw telecom. He can be reached at Cliff.Miyake@twtelecom.com.

 






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