30
Aug
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My first Android phone was the original Motorola Droid. The day it was released I happened to walk into Verizon to get an issue with my bill cleared up; I had been following the Droid leaks for some weeks before, so I was really excited to check it out in person. I walked in, picked it up (along with the Droid Eris), and played with it for a few minutes before explaining to the salesperson what Android was. It was so new that she had no clue what I was talking about. I didn't actually buy the phone that day, though – it was some months later before I actually picked one up when my dated Motorola Q kicked the bucket. I'd be lying if I told you that phone didn't, quite literally, change my life. Had it not been for the Droid, I wouldn't be here today, writing the words that you're reading. Sentimental as it may be, that phone will always be very special to me.

A lot has changed not only in my personal device collection, but in the Android world in general since the Droid was released roughly four years ago. In fact, mobile tech is increasing at such a fast pace, a lot can change in as little as a year, which brings us to this piece.

Nearly a year ago, we started up the "What We Use" series, highlighting all the gadgets and other junk that we AP writers/editors use on a daily basis. We decided it was time to give it another go. Since no further explanation should be needed at this point, let's just jump right in.

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My Daily Drivers

Phone: LG Nexus 4

What it's running: stock, rooted Android 4.3 with TWRP 2.6. Carrier: AT&T

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This time last year, I was rocking a Galaxy Nexus (which I still carry – more on that in a bit). Naturally, when the Nexus 4 was released, it was time for change. I was able to get my N4 order in on launch day, and promptly got my phone... some weeks later. After nine months with the N4, I still love it as much as I did the day I got it – and I've yet to flash a custom ROM onto it. That may come as a shock to some, but stock Android is just so good these days I have no need to use anything custom. The bootloader is unlocked and it's rooted, but that's the extend of the customizations I've done up to this point, and I don't really see that changing any time soon.

Phone: Galaxy Nexus

What it's running: stock, rooted Android 4.2.2 with ClockworkMod Touch recovery. Carrier: Verizon

wm_IMG_3465 wm_IMG_3468

As I said earlier, I still carry my Galaxy Nexus daily, but I don't use it for calls and/or texting. This is my workhorse phone – when I need to flash something, try a potentially damaging root app, or do anything else that may cause the system to be unstable, this is the phone I grab.

Since I'm still on contract with VZW, the GN also serves as my portable hotspot when I go out of town or just feel like working away from home in an area that may not have Wi-Fi. Verizon's LTE is blazing fast most of the time, so I'm sometimes able to get speeds that are even faster than my home Internet. That said, once my Verizon contract is up in December of this year, I'm not convinced I should renew – it makes more sense to drop Big Red altogether, get an AT&T LTE device (the new Nexus phone, perhaps?), and just up my data plan. That would save money long-term, anyway.

Tablet: 2013 Nexus 7

What it's running: stock, rooted Android 4.3 with stock recovery. Wi-Fi only.

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Shortly after the NN7's release, I upgraded my now-weary 2012 Nexus 7 for its newer, spunkier successor. While it may be faster and have a better display, I didn't really feel like I was upgrading to a new tablet, but rather just a fresh version of original Nexus 7. Still, it was a worthy upgrade, and I thoroughly enjoy this tablet.

For Fun: NVIDIA SHIELD

What it's running: stock everything.

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NVIDIA's portable gaming console may not be for everyone, but I've had a lot of fun with mine. I much prefer games with a physical controller (touch controls have never been my thing), and SHIELD is as solid as a rock. Games are simply more fun on SHIELD, so I spend more time playing (and enjoying) the things I've paid for. It's also the absolute fastest Android device I've ever used, which makes me want to pick it up even more often. Of course, there are a couple of things I'd change about it – namely the display. I'd love it if NVIDIA could've squeezed a 6-inch (or thereabouts) display in the same form factor and eliminated more of the bezel. Otherwise, I still think SHIELD is worth every penny of its asking price, especially for anyone who likes to play Android games.

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For Fun: Chromecast

What it's running: You know, Chromecast stuff.

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The Chromecast is the simplest and most affordable of gadgets, but it's also one of the most brilliant that I've used in recent years. It makes things that we all love to do – watch YouTube, movies, TV, etc. – amazingly easy. I absolutely love my Chromecast and never want to go back to the "old way" of consuming the content it supports. I'm looking forward to the future for this device to see what Google cooks up as time goes on.

Apps, Widgets, And Games

Just like with hardware, the apps I use on a daily basis have changed quite a bit over the past year, though perhaps not as drastically. I figure it's pretty much a given that I use Gmail, Chrome, Google Music, Dropbox, Netflix, and many other popular apps, so I'm going to leave those out and focus on some of the more "obscure" things.

While I generally use a very different set of apps on tablets vs. phones, I'm just going to lump them all into one list – they can easily be used across devices.

Screenshot_2013-08-30-10-09-08 Screenshot_2013-08-30-10-09-30

  • NOVA LauncherIt's just my favorite custom launcher.
  • FoldersyncSame reasons as last year – I can't function without it.
  • SoundHoundFor when I just have to know what that damn song is.
  • Swiftkey/SK TabletBecause it's hands-down the best keyboard.
  • PinterestIt's not just for girls, so stop thinking it is and give it a try.
  • PandoraMy love for Pandora was only recently re-awakened while on a long road trip. It uses a fraction of the data of Music, which helped me stay within my data plan while in the car for 14+ hours each way. Pandora One is easily worth four bucks a month.
  • AirDroidSometimes I'm just too lazy to pick up my phone.
  • Pocket – Another app that I've only recently started using, but comes in incredibly handy.
  • Simple – Absolutely incredible online-only bank. The customer service is unmatched.
  • Accuweather/PlatinumI love weather apps, and Accuweather is not only the most accurate, but it has a fantastic layout.
  • Play Magazines – Because paper mags are still old hat.
  • YouVersion BibleWords to live by.
  • MightyText – This is the fourth and most recent cross-device SMS app I've used in the past year, and it's easily my favorite. The support is fantastic, too.
  • Timely Alarm Clock – Because I like to wake up to pretty things.
  • gReader/Press/FeedlyThey all do the same thing, just in a slightly different way. And I love them all.

Widgets

Screenshot_2013-08-30-10-12-18

Games

  • The Walking Dead: AssaultI reviewed it, and I loved it. So I kept playing it.
  • The RoomEasily one of the best puzzle games of all time.
  • Contra: EvolutionI hate touch controls. Hate. Hate. Hate. But I love, love, love, Contra, so I'll make an exception here. I'm still hoping for SHIELD controls in a future update, though.
  • Canabalt HD – It's addictive, and the soundtrack is fantastic. Despite the simple controls, it's amazing on SHIELD.
  • Into The Dead – Zombies fill me with glee. And a tiny bit of fear.
  • Fran Bow (Alpha Demo) – I can't wait for the full version of this game.
  • Riptide GP2 – The original is one of my all-time favorite Android games, and GP2 takes it to a new level... and the one after that.
  • Asphalt 8 – Graphically beautiful, and works well on SHIELD. All around fun, too.
  • GTA III/Vice City – Old school action!

The Other Stuff

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Believe it or not, most of my other stuff hasn't changed much since last year. I still have the same desktop (which I still don't really use that often), and I haven't gotten a new laptop, either. I did, however, install SSDs in both computers – upgrades that I'm not sure how I ever lived without. If you're looking for a massive speed boost to your machine, an SSD is the way to go. Go for a quality drive, though – you won't get the same result with some of the el-cheapo crap out there. This is definitely one case where you get what you pay for.

I also updated both PCs to Windows 8 Pro. Win8 has gotten a lot of flack, and I'm honestly not sure why. I've loved it since day one (I never use "metro" apps, so that's irrelevant); I think it's the fastest and most stable version of Windows to date. I'm definitely looking forward to 8.1 though, as the return of the start menu and ability to boot directly into the desktop are both welcome additions in my book.

Past that, I'm still using the same camera for the time being, though my wife and I are planning on finally jumping to DSLRs sometime in the coming weeks. I'm beyond ready to leave the point-and-shoot world behind.

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This time last year, I was using the SPIGEN Klasden Levanaus backpack to carry all my junk in. I've since switched to a Powerbag Backpack (that I picked up from Vault for less than $15), and it's amazing. Not only can it juice my gear, but it holds a ton of extras. I could honestly go out of town for a weekend and need nothing more than this backpack – it can easily hold my phones, tablet, SHIELD, some clothes, and enough toiletries to keep me from being a disgusting slob for three days or so. Plus, it's red, which is always a good choice. Love it. I do wish it had a bottle holder, though. Is that really too much to ask?

Random Junk

I think that about sums up my go-to stuff for now. As always, drop any questions or comments down below. I dig feedback.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Muddy B00ts

    I got the powerbag with that ridiculously good deal and it's amazing. I was visiting my parents and when I told my dad what it could do he bought one full retail on the spot. Best bag I've ever had hands down.

    • Chuck

      I got the power bash to, but the output is only 800ma, not enough to charge my Galaxy S4 Active. It charges, but takes super long time. I am looking for bags with power brick that can output 2A

  • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

    Got the Powerbag as well, but literally was thinking to myself "I wonder if he said anything about the missing bottle holder" and you did! Thats my only issue with the backpack. Its amazing and always cool to say to my friends that I need to charge my backpack :)

  • Arcus Weather

    "I love weather apps," .. have you tried Arcus? https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.arcusweather.darksky

    • Christopher Robert

      1Weather by OneLouder is the best weather app.

  • jalcock13

    What icon pack are you using?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Tiny White icons.

      • jalcock13

        Cheers

  • Trent Callahan

    YouVersion Bible! Nice to know there's other Christians out there! :D

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Who would have thought?

    • http://www.ScienceProUSA.com SciencePro

      Yeah, just a couple billion

    • SnarkyCommenter

      How could god make an android app if android is only around 5 years old?

      • Trent Callahan

        I didn't say God made the app, oh intelligent one. Who decided to let you on the internet?

    • omegavesko

      No offense or anything, but I did your commend a bit funny. Surely you interact with Christians every day already?

      • Trent Callahan

        Not on the internet. Sadly, atheists enjoy trying to impose their beliefs on me, as if they're more valid then my lifestyle.

        • omegavesko

          Fair enough.

          Also, please don't let those people form your impression of atheists. You don't notice most of us just because we never mention it. It's the vocal ones that give us a bad name.

        • Beralic

          Bliss be the internet, where the church etc have a much harder time imposing *their* views, its far more often than not the "Christian / insert other religion with their version of things" that bring up such things, as posted below most Atheists simply don't mention it because they don't feel the need and generally only do in "self defence" or to speak out when "religious" views are imposed in obviously damaging ways. Everyone is free to believe whatever they like, this is a good thing, but it is religion that is guilty of massive brainwashing style manipulation of views over the centuries, not atheists who by definition change their views based on any real world facts that may come to light to disprove their previous belief.

  • Bradley Ruiz

    That backpack was a hell of a deal I love it :) (red too)

  • SPtheALIEN

    Amen, brother!

    We pretty much have the same setup--down to the Chronos laptop! Instead of the Nexus 4, though, I have the Xperia ZL.

  • Magneira

    You have a nice setup, mine is very close to yours, a Nexus 4 and the new Nexus 7 (everything stock as you said android is so good now i dont fell like flashing) and an asus ultrabook running fedora 19 (linux).

    Its refreshing to see someone in this area who does not own an mac :)

    • Cerberus_tm

      Macs are for people who like to spend extra money on the same hardware...

      • Magneira

        I agree, while I think that mac os is superior to windows, i cant see myself using it, too many restrictions just like ios, I like to have complete control over my things, thats why I use Android and LInux on my PCs

        • Cerberus_tm

          I wish I could switch to Linux, but I really need to be on the biggest platform (with the most software). Let's hope everyone will soon switch to Linux once and for all!

  • cy_n_ic

    Lol budk. Your one stop zombie survival shop ;P

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      haha, I wondered if anyone would actually click the link.

      • The Phenom

        I did :D

      • geas

        Sorry for that... But...

        What is Classic Shell?
        Classic Shell™ is a collection of features that were available in older versions of Windows but are removed from Vista and Windows 7. It has a classic start menu for Windows 7, it adds a toolbar for Windows Explorer and supports a variety of smaller features. There are 3 major components - Classic Explorer, Classic Start Menu and Classic IE9. Look here for the full list if features.
        Versions before 3.9.0 are open-source

        On Windows 8 you can boot to desktop and skip the metro start screen... and get the start button and menu back...

  • geas

    @cameronsummerson:disqus, great article. For Windows 8Pro you may want to check out Classic Shell http://www.classicshell.net/ It's free.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Here's my problem with these types of posts - it concentrates on stuff everyone already has or heard of and doesn't concentrate enough on the interesting rare bits.

    So the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Galaxy Nexus, and the Shield, along with generic apps everyone's already heard of (Play Mags, Pandora, Pinterest, SoundHound, etc) got most of the attention in the article, while the interesting bits (games, random junk, and other gear) got very little.

    I tried arguing that to make things interesting, these posts need to concentrate on the latter, and in fact less on the hardware and more on the rare software most haven't heard of, or interesting uses of apps that you may have installed already. But my ideas were shot down.

    If I ever find time to make a post like this, it will be the exact opposite.

    • Cerberus_tm

      Yes! While I enjoyed reading Cameron's article, I would *much* prefer to see something with rarer items and more details about why they are so great, especially compared against other, similar items. Please do write a post about your own stuff! Even if you only deal with a few items, that would be great.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      You know, I'd *love* to write another piece about the rest of the crap in my home office.

      • Trent Callahan

        I loved the article. It's always interesting to see what other's have on their devices!(: Great work man :D

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Thanks, man. Much appreciated!

      • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

        Then Do It Man, What Are You Waiting For Sir :)

    • Matthew Fry

      Yeah back in the day I requested this (I'm sure I wasn't the only one, and you'd already done it, just not recently) Network Monitor Mini Pro was the reason. I love that little app and more obscure cool utilities is what I was after.

    • ScottColbert

      I wrote a piece on my blog about the hardware/software I used for my writing. Without question I got more feedback about the software I used. Hardware is basically all the same, but how and what you use on it, makes all the difference.

    • mechapathy

      This is kind of a strange comment coming from the founder of AP. Is there no article review process? And if you don't like one of your contributors articles, why say so in the comment section? It doesn't really feel like the appropriate space for feedback. I know there's a level of personality in the content of this blog that makes it fun to read, but this seems kind of unprofessional.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        We run a sort of a democracy, so just because I happen disagree doesn't mean that I am going to veto or dictate how everyone writes their editorial-style posts. I, however, reserve the right to and frequently expand on my own point of view in the comments. I'm sorry you feel it's unprofessional but that's how I decided to do it.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Another reason I love writing for AP. We're all about the team as a whole.

    • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

      Eh I love the hardware, if only just to remind myself that some of us are still stuck with our Verizon Gnex :P

  • dobbsy

    I agree with most of what you've written, but am always baffled why anyone would prefer Swiftkey to Swype. Tried it over and over again but it always comes up short. The shortcuts on Swype alone make it the superior app.

    • ScottColbert

      The predictive text on Swiftkey-can't be compared. I used to use swype but there's no comparison for me. It'ss the first app I load on every device.

      • omegavesko

        Have you used Swype since it went on the Play Store?

        • ScottColbert

          I have, and Swiftkey still works best for me.

      • dobbsy

        Ah, okay. I don't use predictive text as it seems counterintuitive to me. I've already swiped the next word in the time it takes to look at the predictive options and make a decision.

        For me, the swipe for number pad and cut/paste options on Swype are used often, which Swiftkey did not have when I tried it.

        I gotta say, I think Swype must be run by morons. The product is extraordinary but they blew the marketing and release. Had they put that beta on the play store instead of that obnoxious online process they had they'd be kicking ass whereas it seems swiftkey as won the war even though, in my eyes, it's an inferior product.

    • omegavesko

      I've personally found SwiftKey got a lot slower since SK2. Swype in turn got a lot better both in looks and in precision since they came out of beta, so it seemed natural to switch to Swype as my main keyboard. I don't regret it one bit.

      Maybe I would still be on SwiftKey if I really liked two-hand blind typing, but Swype is perfect for me right now.

  • Rol

    What SSD are you using?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I have a Crucial M4 in my laptop and a Samsung... um, something in my desktop. I can't remember what it is.

      • Rol

        SAMSUNG 840 Pro Series ? :)

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Just checked - it's actually an 830.

        • mechapathy

          840 Pro is AWESOME. Threw one in my new build a couple months ago, and it screams.

          • Rol

            I'm going to buy one,thanks.

  • kpjimmy

    Similar to my bag...well exact bag thanks to the vault deal you guys posted here. I have two portable batteries(one is a 10,000mAh Newtrent, the other is a slimmer Arkon sporting 3200mAh, in addition to the Powerbag's 3000mAh.

    I have the OG(2012) N7. I bought the 2013 one, but a friend needed a new tablet so I sold them the new one. Besides, all my stuff is still on my 2012 Nexus 7, which is rooted, unlocked and running pretty much stock 4.3. Also sporting a $4 case that AP pointed me to as well.

    Nexus 4 here as well with a custom dbrand skin and for protection, the OEM white bumper.

    Oh in the bag also stores my V-Moda M100's and a FiiO portable amp. Also an extra pair of in ear headphones-Munitio NINES 9mm that I give to my wife when she wants to use headphones too.

    For MacGuyver purposes, I have a Weatherman skeletool. For emergency AP reading, I have the Freedompop free wifi hotspot puck.

    And a few extra usb/micro usb cords for charging on the go.

  • Peter Garlinski

    I see DevilDriver...this alone makes this article beyond excellent!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Winter Kills is freakin' amazing. Have you heard it yet?

      • Peter Garlinski

        Oh yeah! Love it! Been listening to it for a couple days now!

  • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

    Cameron, how did you you configure the home screen so that the power buttons are under Pandora? Is that custom or an app? Or is it part of NOVA? I'd love to have that on my N4, I am confused why Google doesn't add a stock option in the settings drop-down menu for toggling auto rotate and GPS. It's a little thing, but I use them often.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      That's Switchpro - it's linked under the "widgets" sections.

      • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

        Awesome, thanks! I really hope in a future version of 4.3, Google adds toggling for GPS and auto rotate to the notifications/settings drop-down...

        • Matthew Fry

          Ah, is this why it's still relevant? I was racking my brain trying to figure out why Cam was using a switch widget when he has access to the quick settings in stock 4.3. You might consider MoreQuicklyPanel. It's customizable and sits in the notification shade like the Samsung toggles. The long press doesn't pull up the settings because 4.3 won't allow it but the dev added a little button underneath to access the settings.

          • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

            Good question. I'm not sure it's worth the $1 just for the convenience of auto-rotate toggle (I have the stock power button widget on my home screen anyway with the GPS button. I mean, this is totally a #FirstWorldProblem...)

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

            Actually, the main reason I use it is for a one-touch reboot. The others are just there for the heck of it, honestly. It actually may be time to reassess its use.

          • omegavesko

            Actually, I'm pretty sure the widget Cameron is using also lets you put it in the notification shade.

  • andy_o

    I also just installed Windows 8, and was encouraged by the fact that MS was responding to criticism and add the "Start button" in 8.1, but as it turns out, in the douchiest tech move of the year, they are just literally just adding the Start button. Just the button. Not the Start menu. Click on the button, and it takes you to the start screen, just like clicking on the corner does right now. But, you know it's now a button. And it's called "Start".

  • mechapathy

    It's really refreshing to hear someone NOT hate on Windows 8. It's good. It's not perfect, it's still a little confused, but the improvements it brings are worth the upgrade. I don't use Classic Shell, Start8, or anything like that, and I've adjusted just fine. I even plunked down the money for the Pro license when I was already happy with 7.

  • Guest

    Hey man!
    What is the name of the icon pack?
    I mean the dock icons,they look sleek and elegant,I simply love it but I can't find it
    Thanks:D

    • omegavesko

      He commented below, it's called Tiny White Icons.

  • rap

    I always find these articles interesting. I did like that he included some of about the bag etc not just the hardware.

  • Sootie

    If you like the chromecast you should grab a raspberry pi and put XBMC on it, its like chromecast but on a whole new level. Cool update though, I though these articles had stopped.

  • br_hermon

    Hey Cameron, I see you use AirDroid and Mighty Text. I used to use AirDroid so I could text from my computer. But now that Mighty Text does that, and from my tablet as well, I'm finding less use for AirDroid. I also found ES File Explorer has an awesome ftp mode that will let me drag and drop files right from my computer File Explorer. What uses do you find still beneficial for AirDroid?

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