In 2009, I was an iPhone user. I had been watching Android intently, but none of the hardware really appealed to me. As the end of the year grew near, I felt the itch to get out of Apple's walled garden. I didn't hate my iPhone, but I knew it wasn't the right platform for me. I bought an HTC Hero, and I still pride myself on having the commonsense to return it a few weeks later and buy the Motorola Droid.
As Cameron explained in his latest "What We Use" entry, technology can change a lot in just one year. Around this time last year, I was running with a 2012 Nexus 7, a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and an Evo LTE. All of those devices have changed since then, as have my favorite apps and other gadgets. The family of devices I use has grown and evolved significantly since last October, so I thought it may be fun to detail just what I use to get through a normal day.
Sidebar Plus got a bit of attention a few days ago when it was in testing on XDA, but now the app is done and live in the Play Store. This app creates a series of slide-out bars on your device that can be filled with almost anything you want, from quick settings to widgets.
This app includes a few pre-configured sidebars with settings, contacts, and a few other things.
The built-in weather reports in Android are still a bit basic, Google Now notwithstanding. That's probably why the Yahoo! Weather app has more than five million downloads: a combination of solid weather stats, multiple cities, and a variety of widgets have won it plenty of fans. Today the app gets a significant update, adding a handful of new features and synergistically bringing Yahoo's Flickr property front and center.
Curated Flickr photos were available in the app before, but now they're the main attraction, expanding to fill the screen in just about every part of the interface.
Widgets are an indispensible part of Android for many users, including yours truly. It's just too bad that they're so ugly - who wants to use a 1080p screen for looking at Twitter feeds or checking emails when you could stare at some fantastic wallpaper instead? All joking aside, Popup Widget is a pretty fantastic solution for those who prefer their homescreens without clutter.
It's a simple idea: instead of having a big, space-consuming widget sit there all the time, hide it in a shortcut.
Pimp Your Screen is an iOS port that has received a complete makeover for its Android debut. While the original gives our Apple peers customizable app shelves and themed locked screens, our version comes decked out with a trunkful of decent wallpapers and nifty widgets. There's little here that we Android enthusiasts couldn't find elsewhere, but this is a nice tool to hand to a new or casual user who wants to pimp their ride without having to give it too much effort.
Allow me to be frank for a moment: Beautiful Widgets is one of my most-used, longest-installed widgets since I started using Android. I actually bought it on my OG Droid back in the day, and have literally used it on every device I've owned since then. One of my favorite things about it is the developer – LevelUp Studio does an absolutely fantastic job of not only updating the app, but adding new features fairly often.
PowerAMP, my music player of choice, has just been updated with a number of new features and fixes, the most exciting of which to me are the addition of reconfigurable widgets and widget management. You can now tap the top right corner of a PowerAMP widget to go to a new management UI where you can customize and completely change it without the need to remove and recreate it from scratch.
The BBC News reader on Android got an update today that should please the pixel poppers among the audience. The app has been optimized to take advantage of Super Mega Ultra dense displays like on the Xperia Z and Droid DNA (to say nothing of the upcoming HTC One and Galaxy S 4). A pile of bugs have been squashed in the new update as well.
Here's the full change log: