The Android apps that I use, 2015 edition

You’ll want to give them a try.


Pushbullet

Pushbullet is the king when it comes to app recommendations in Android, and it’s there for a good reason: It lets you push most things from one device to another, whenever you want as long as you have internet. Did someone link you an interesting article or funny picture but don’t have the screen size to appreciate it? Push that to your laptop. Have something that you want in your phone right away? Why bother with a wire, just push that.

Heck, the cover image of this article was delivered via Pushbullet. Just take a snapshot, use the Share button, then tap on Pushbullet. It’s that simple.

If it has a Share button, you’ll definitely find Pushbullet. Suddenly, you can transfer virtually anything anywhere, given enough bandwidth.

It also doubles as a notification mirror too, and works as if it was Continuity for Apple devices, but works for everything that uses the notification system in Android. If the notifications are actionable, you could also take action from a different device! That means it works for everything under the sun, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Inbox, your music player, or whatever.

And it’s all available for free.

Inbox by Gmail

Gmail is the best email provider out there. Inbox makes the Gmail experience even better for its task-driven actions on email, and once you’re in that flow, you wouldn’t want to stick to normal email anymore.

With Inbox, your email can be handled with actions as if it were a to-do list. You can mark it done (archived), snooze it at a later time (so you won’t forget it because the mail was sent at the wrong time), pin it and add your own reminders; as if you emailed yourself a message, or if you want to add additional context from someone else’s poorly-worded email.

Just keep what’s actually relevant today and tomorrow.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, Inbox is all about sweeping all your emails to the Done list, pinning those that need to stay (don’t pin them all, please), and snoozing off any actions that can / must be done later or when it needs follow-up.

It’s GTD lite, in some ways.

Jotterpad

Word processors are nice, but really, they don’t play well with each other. Because of that, Markdown is a kickass format because it’s essentially plaintext but everyone gets to decide how it’s meant to be presented. No one cares if you’re reading it through a terminal editor, a swanky tablet or a browser.

If you’re the kind of person who loves to write, or perhaps own a nice bluetooth keyboard that just works, you’ll want to write your articles in Jotterpad.

Jotterpad has notable features: An awesome minimal + material interface, a typewriter mode that keeps text in center with long articles (rather than the bottom), Markdown support (duh), Dropbox support, decent typography options and snapshots.

If all you care about is a workspace to type on that doesn’t look like it was designed years ago, give it a whirl.

Oh and it works completely offline. I could just use Google Docs, but I’d rather trust an app like this.

Pocket Casts

I hate staying in traffic, and it’s sometimes unavoidable these days. I also tend to explore places by myself, or walk all the way to home from work. The sights tend to be boring at times, and while streaming music once in a while works, it often doesn’t. Or maybe I just don’t like music sometimes.

If you’ve ever thought that yourself, you should consider listening to some podcasts and if I’ve convinced you with that, give Pocket Casts a try.

To put simply, Pocket Casts is a podcast manager that works marvelously well. It looks wonderful, is bug-free, has an awesome selection of podcasts that you can listen to and it just works. It downloads podcasts if you’ve told it to download automatically, sync works across devices, it skips gaps of silence in shows, it’s the works! You’re probably sick of hearing that tagline by reading this article, but really, I’ve tried seeing the other apps and they’re simply inferior compared to Pocket Casts.

Pocket Casts comes at a cost, but really, you’ll hear it recommended from other lists besides this one, and from most listeners due to how well it just works.

Sync for Reddit

There’s a ton of Reddit clients out there, and every one of them supports the features that everyone already expects from one.

In the end, I’ve chosen Sync for Reddit. I find it to be the smoothest Reddit app that doesn’t skimp on usability, navigates and functions well, uses an app theme that isn’t overdone (sans the custom themes that you can completely ignore), and it gets sufficient love from the developer with updates. It also supports multireddits and night mode.

It’s works smoothly without losing essential functionality and is perfectly usable.

Oh and it looks great in a tablet in either portrait or landscape mode, with options on card sizes.

Material Comic Viewer Pro

I’m an avid manga reader. That said, I enjoy reading them on my phone or tablet because that’s usually the only time I have the opportunity to read them.

Unfortunately, the options for reading them on an Android device is outright atrocious. I can’t find an app that does ALL of these:

  • support comic book archives and isn’t isolated in their own little world of files.
  • uses Material Design / isn’t coded in an ancient Android 4.0 or below device
  • isn’t buggy, and performs speedily with no annoying quirks while reading.
  • uses a workflow that doesn’t involve too many taps.
  • has a right-to-left swiping support
  • has read/unread markers
  • works offline.

Some apps out there try too hard with service-leeching capabilities which I don’t need, yet they tend to fail at least one of those bullet points.

In the end, all I want is a reader that can read archives, damnit.

Comic Viewer Pro supports all these, and they work well when I want them. It doesn’t hiccup when I try to load full-sized archives, it swipes with ease, it takes me a few taps to get to what I want to read, and I’m not reliant on an internet connection, nor do I have to care if I have to reflash my phone and discover that I can’t read my archives anymore.

Unified Remote

Your phone is now a universal remote for your PC. Not just for media, but for most things. You can now control YouTube, control your mouse and keyboard, your Google Slides or PowerPoint presentations, control all sorts of stuff that its extensions have provided, and comes complete with buttons that are dedicated to its purpose. It works wirelessly over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and is cross-platform.

Remote everything.

Just make sure to password-protect your session, and hope that they implemented it right because it sometimes scares me that this thing can work an entire terminal from within.

Link Bubble Pro

The premise of Link Bubble is simple, take the Facebook Messenger’s chat heads, then place a browser inside.

It’s a really good timesaver that people are seriously underestimating.

It’s very simple, but it does wonders when it comes to how you do things. You can read Reddit / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter comments while your page is loading (without doing the unnecessary button presses), or have links pushed to you without forcibly ejecting your current app into a Chrome browser, or perhaps work on that email or document while having a convenient button that brings you back to your research swiftly.

JuiceSSH and Turbo Client

If you’re like me who uses UNIX-based operating systems and owns remote servers elsewhere, I’m sure you’d agree that there are only three things that you need to achieve godhood when it comes to computers. A usable terminal, file-transfer capabilities and the internet.

JuiceSSH provides you the first, and Turbo Client for the SSH-based file transfers.

If you followed my advice earlier and bought that nice bluetooth keyboard that just works, you can perform all-powerful shell commands using JuiceSSH, and transfer files to and from your Android device using Turbo Client.

Shell commands are an entirely different story to tackle, but for those who are curious about the godhood statement, I can literally do anything I want with it, provided that I know the commands / have enough time to sift through the manuals within. I can set up a web server, have it download things in the background, issue commands to my home network, do administrative tasks, and so on.

Todoist

I wrote an article about Todoist when I used it again recently and became a fan of the service.

Basically, Todoist is a productivity to-do list app — one that excels superbly at user experience and stability. Its features are simple and comparable with most productivity apps: you can make projects, compose tasks, add labels and assign due dates. Where it shines though is its capability to do all of the above with ease, exactly the way how GTD wants it. Task input should always be as easy as a tap, a few keyboard strokes and you’re done, and Todoist does exactly that.

The app can recognize a task named: “Attend planning sessions every 8pm starting December 14 to December 24 P3” and it will set due dates at those times with those recurrence rules and a priority flag of 3. No tedious tapping for buttons needed, besides the touch keyboard.

Couple all that with stability and you’ll have the perfect to-do list app that runs anywhere and everywhere, the way you want it and love it. Going premium is seriously worth it.

Money Lover

Handling finances is serious business. One of the habits I formed earlier last year was to keep track of any transaction as much as I could, whether it’s the jeepney ride from work to home, or an expensive restaurant meal with friends; keeping track of these things may seem to be a hassle to most, but it’s a great way to keep track of your spending habits.

Money Lover is an Android app and a lightweight web service that does that. I use it for keeping every transaction recorded and keeping all numbers as accurate as possible. By doing so, it lets the app list down my expenses trend, based on categories I choose (e.g., food, shopping, whatever), and in time periods that I want it to be aggregated.

It relieves you of keeping things in Google Sheets and the hassle of inputting every single transaction with this handy app, while being legitimately useful to seeing how much you’re earning or spending.

Oh and I love it for adopting Material Design. I just hate ugly designed apps, and Money Lover is both functionally and aesthetically good.


F-Droid Apps

F-Droid is an alternative app store for Android, but only for free and open-source content. The following apps below can be installed using this (for convenience) and it’s good to have because the open-source community does craft wonderful apps (albeit sometimes neglected in UX) that may fill the gap that the Play Store cannot.

Chanu

Yes, I browse 4chan often. I’ve been in the community for over a decade already, and what a wonderful era it was.

Still, even if I’m older now and have more important obligations to fulfill rather than reading anonymous rants from the Internet, it’s still important and nice to keep in touch and lurk.

As with Reddit clients, the same issue can be found in chan clients. Many out there support a various set of features, with various degrees of usability, bug occurrences and performance.

I think chanu performs the best among them.

I especially like chanu for the way it handles links to other posts, as it lets you navigate deeply without getting lost to the way back to the parent post and without spending too much taps.

Amaze File Manager

Since Android isn’t a closed system, a file manager is a must if you want to take full advantage of it. I recommend the Amaze File Manager because:

  • it’s free.
  • it’s designed in Material and doesn’t appear dated.
  • it’s fast and has no outstanding issues.
  • has support for root mode, and isn’t stupid when you’re about to use it.
  • has no installation hoops to deal with.

I’m looking at you, ES File Explorer and CyanogenMod File Manager.

FTP Server

I hate bringing out wires for filetransfers, and the MTP file transfer protocol that it uses is just horrible to work with, especially in Linux and Mac setups.

If you just want to transfer a lot of files wirelessly (such as manga archives), the FTP server in F-Droid is dead simple to use: Just toggle the switch then FTP to the address that it provides you. Provide a username and password and you’re good to go.

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