Traveling with an Android: a quick guide to some great apps for beginners

I always feared that Android phones were hyped and overrated, mainly because the Android platform itself was said to be seemingly fragmented as there were multiple versions running on multiple phones so apps didn’t always run as well as they should. in all. The telephones. Android itself was a bit immature compared to the long-proven reliability and standardized interfaces of Nokia phones, mostly Symbian-powered. But over the years, outdated platforms have disappeared as manufacturers catch up.

I had been a Nokia stalwart the whole time, but I finally gave in and migrated to an Android phone about 3 weeks ago, like many of the legions of fast-growing Android fans. I thought I’d stick with my trusty Nokia 5530 a bit longer, but I guess the temptation to hug that little green robot was just too great. Personalization is the name of the game in tech these days after all. My Nokia did a lot of things for me and I trust it a lot when I’m on the go. After unlocking it with a simple hack to grant me access to all features, I loaded it with tons of apps or ‘apps’ as they are commonly called. When I bought my ZTE Blade ‘the cheap’ made in China, great value for money, running Android 2.2, I expected it to outperform my Nokia in terms of usability given the hundreds of thousands of Android apps on the ‘Android Market’. Well, Iphone has more apps, but hey, I never leaned into Iphone camp for some reason, maybe because I guess I like more to support the underdog! After having the phone for 3 weeks, I must admit that Android has not disappointed, and I am very happy to hear that it has lived up to its expectations.

I like to keep my app count to a minimum. I mainly install applications that are useful for organizing my life or for when I travel. If you are an Android newbie and feeling overwhelmed by the huge Android market, here is a short list of some great Android apps (I’ve installed them all) if you’re feeling fine, an absolute minimalist like me who appreciates how powerful, what easy use, quality applications. The bad news is that some apps are not free and the best apps or those with advanced features often require one to ‘root’ the phone, which means doing a simple ‘hack’ to give the phone full ‘superuser’ capability. like you can install any app or other modified phone firmware with unrestricted access. Rooting could also void your phone’s warranty, so it may not be a good idea to root your phone right away before making sure it’s free of hardware or software glitches. It’s best to test your phone for a few weeks before rooting it, just to be safe. Giving details here is unnecessary as there are a trillion pages on Android apps, installing custom Android firmware, and rooting on Google.

Utilities:(important as Android devices consume a lot of memory and battery)

  • Configure CPU – Vary CPU clock frequency and manage battery optimization using customizable profiles
  • Advanced Task Killer Pro – Autokill running background apps
  • Easy SpeedUp – Kill running background apps with one click
  • Autorun Manager: prevent some applications from starting automatically
  • AutoKIller memory optimizer: kill apps when memory reaches preset levels
  • Blade Buddy Pro: optimization settings to speed up the phone
  • Spare Parts Plus: more phone optimization options
  • App Installer – to list apps and install them
  • Power Control Plus: additional functions and toggle buttons to enable / disable airplane mode, lock screen, bluetooth and many more with one click
  • Battery widget: battery level indicator in percentage and direct access to screen control, bluetooth, etc.

File managers:

  • Astro File Manager – file explorer
  • Root Explorer – like Astro, with access to phone system files too
  • Launcher Pro – Improve Android home screen and add more functionality
  • Keyboard:
  • SlideIt: one of the first applications I installed. Great keyboard, similar to the most popular Swype. I prefer SlideIT for its superior speed and predictive accuracy.


  • PowerAmp – A must for audiophiles, widely regarded as the best Android music player today. The sound is impressive with its 10-band EQ with separate bass / treble controls
  • Player Pro (with optional DSP EQ plug-in) – PowerAmp alternative
  • Rock Player: supports the most popular video formats, including mkv and avi

Document readers or editors:

  • Quickoffice Pro: to view and edit MS Office documents
  • RepliGo Reader – Brilliant for viewing and editing PDF files. Free!
  • Cool Reader: e-book reader compatible with most formats like Fb2, ePub, pdb, etc.


  • Easy Money – expense manager
  • Checkmark ToDoList – Shopping, To Do & General Lists Manager
  • CheckIt Off: task manager and daily tasks
  • Jorte – calendar app
  • Launcher Pro’s built-in calendar: it also comes with a glossy scrolling widget, integrable with Google calendar

GPS and location:

  • GPS Essentials – For helpful information on nearby satellites and other useful GPS tools, it also comes with a nifty compass
  • Google Maps: the best known. It is usually preloaded on Android
  • NDrive – Simple navigation that may not rival Google Maps, but can be used offline. However, country maps are not free.

Web browsers:

  • Opera Mini – my all-time favorite for its speed and easy-to-use interface
  • UC Browser: good functional browser and well made


  • Handcent SMS – A much better sms app than Android with features like assigning individual sms ringtones to contacts, sms scheduling, and many more.
  • Go SMS – alternative to Handcent
  • Concise Oxford English Dictionary – Quick Reference for English Language Enthusiasts and a Convenient E-Book Reading Companion
  • XE Currency – Free Mobile Version of a Great Currency Converter for Travel
  • ConvertPad – conversion utility covering many categories, from length and weight to temperature, power and torque

Many people download applications directly from the phone’s built-in Android Market application. I prefer to download the relevant ‘.apk’ file to my PC, transfer it to the phone, just run the file and install. That way I can better research and review the apps before installing them. By no means is the above list the best. The functions may be the same in similar applications, but the user interface and personal preferences differ. I love the simplicity and speed, but I go with what you want and need.

Android is quite easy to understand. I didn’t have to become a geek since I got my phone. The platform is also constantly evolving and can only get better with time.

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