Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Day in the Life with Android (Part 3)

[Updated: January 8, 2013; see the app gReader Pro below]

This blog post continues my efforts to present the Android apps I use -- and how I use them -- on my Google/ASUS Nexus 7 tablet. In Part 1 I covered hardware accessories and what I think of as business apps. Part 2 dealt with utility apps, including cloud services.

I assume that if you are still with me on this series of blog posts, then you currently own an Android device, or at least are thinking about purchasing an Android device. So, if you haven't noted this already, each app links directly to the Google Play store where you can read more about the app, including a lengthier description, a list of permissions, and user reviews; and if you are currently an Android user, you could also install the app at that time.

With this third blog post, I plan to cover all the social media and related apps that I use: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader; apps that support social media posts, like Skitch and Snapseed; and ebook readers: Kindle, Nook, Google Play Books, and support apps, like ED PDF Reader Pro and Calibre Library.

I realize these aren't the most exciting of blog posts, but I'm hopeful that Android users, or potential Android users, will find something of value here. These posts also allow me to indulge in my latest passion.

The official Twitter app has too many holes, so I initially used Tweetdeck Web, which I also use on my desktop and laptop. Unfortunately, it's not designed for mobile devices and was very difficult to use on the N7. And then I found Falcon Pro: a beautifully designed app that features the Google "holo" design. I've submitted a few suggestions for updates, which I hope will be addressed in the near future. If I want to view (and delete) one of my own tweets, or unfollow someone, I still have to use either Tweetdeck Web or Twitter itself.

The official Facebook app was virtually unusable until founder Mark Zuckerberg "encouraged" his employees to use the Facebook Android app -- and then multiple updates were forthcoming. Until those updates, however, I used FaceDroid, but this app would freeze quite often (and still does) so I welcomed the "new" Facebook app.

I don't use Google+, per se, but when I post to Facebook I also post to Google+. However, I do get Google+ notifications on the N7 (and Facebook and Falcon Pro notifications as well), which keeps me informed of incoming posts.

On a daily basis, I read a ton of blogs, forums, RSS feeds, etc., so I need an RSS reader that will sync across all devices; the obvious answer is Google Reader. But, GR on the web is nothing more than a list of feeds and the official GR app is just as dreadful (it hasn't been updated since the Nexus 7 was shipped in mid-July 2012). I use Feedly on the web, an excellent RSS reader, which integrates with Google Reader; but the Feedly Android app crashes on my N7 constantly, nearly every time I access a link within a feed. (To recover from the crash I have to either reboot the N7 or go into the app's settings and delete all data.) But then I read a lengthy, detailed review of the gReader Pro app on Android Police -- and gReader Pro has since become my preferred RSS reader on the N7. (It's optimized for use on tablets, too.)

[Update: Yesterday, the Feedly app had its first update since last July; the update includes some UI changes as well as bug fixes. I have used it now for about a half-hour, accessing various links, and not a single crash -- so far. The wonder (and frustration) of Android, as I previously mentioned, are the updates: sometimes one waits for six months for such an update, as with Feedly; other times an app can be updated daily, or even multiple times during the day: the app may have worked perfectly on your device to start with, but after an update, not so much anymore.

So I have set aside gReader Pro for now and returned to using Feedly, which had been my favorite RSS reader (crashes aside).]

When a photo needs an extra touch -- a border, annotation, essentially any kind of photo editing -- then Skitch or Snapseed will meet those needs. Skitch, from the makers of Evernote, has sketching capabilities as well as picture editing; and before being ported to Android, Snapseed was the 2011 iPad App of the Year. (Please forgive my indiscretion for mentioning the "i" device.) The photos from either app can then be shared with social media apps, Evernote, cloud services, etc.

eReaders. Back in February 2011, having owned a Sony Reader at the time, I wrote a blog post about Calibre ebook management software -- one of the best free software applications, and every ebook reader should own it.

The beauty of Android devices is that a number of ebook apps can be installed: apps specific to Android (e.g Aldiko Book Reader and Moon+ Reader), as well as the popular Kindle and Nook apps. And with Calibre, any ebook format can be converted to any other ebook format, as long as the ebook has no DRM (essentially ebook copy protection). With one exception:

Google Play Books is native to the Android Jelly Bean OS so it comes with every N7. I believe Google Books uses a proprietary ebook format; I've not purchased a Google Book as yet, and only have access to the few free titles that came with the N7.

With the official Android apps for Kindle and Nook I really don't need any other ereaders. Nearly every ebook comes in one or the other (or both) of these formats; and again, as long as there is no DRM, I can convert one format to the other. Every Kindle user is provided a unique email address, which can be used to email mobi books to one's Amazon cloud book library. And ebooks can also be side-loaded into either app using a PC or a Mac.

Calibre Library, a third-party app, works with Calibre software (on a PC or Mac) and an Android device. With a mouse click, or two, you turn your PC into a server; then, once this Android app is set up (step-by-step instructions are available online), you can wirelessly transfer any ebook in your Calibre library to your Android device. Assuming of course, that both the Android device and the PC are on the same network. If the Nook app is installed, Calibre Library will automatically download the ebook into the Nook's folder; if the Nook app is not installed on the device, I'm not quite sure where the ebook will end up (since I have the Nook app installed). Of course ebooks can always be placed in any of the cloud services (see Part 2 of this series) from your PC or Mac. Regardless, app ES File Explorer File Manager, which I also listed in Part 2, will enable you to move any ebook to the folder of your choice.

The Kindle app will read PDF files, but when a little something extra is needed for those PDFs -- like adding annotations, highlighting, cross outs, freehand drawings, appending images, etc. -- I use ezPDF Reader Multimedia PDF Pro.

A Day in the Life with Android
Continued in Part 4


  1. it was excellent and very informative post. Its really very useful of all of users. I found a lot of informative stuff in your article. Keep it up.

    android development

  2. AAREN -

    Thanks for your kind comment (though I really do think you are commenting in order to promote your app development service -- but it's not too blatant, and at least it is related to the topic at hand). This comment is being posted using the official Blogger Android app on my Nexus 7, utilizing the SwiftKey Flow beta keyboard (which, for some reason, won't allow flow input).

    I plan one more blog post in this series, to cover news and media apps, and maybe a game or two.

    - marty