Reviews of Android Apps

Apps I use on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus smart phone*

*I bought my GSM phone unsubsidized and unlocked in February 2012; my carrier is T-Mobile.
It's running Android Version 4.2.1 (Jelly Bean).


  1. One Bus Away. My very favorite Android app is One Bus Away This fantastic free app allows you to get real-time arrival info for buses coming to any King County Metro bus stop. This app uses the phone GPS to figure out where you are and shows you the bus stops nearest you. It is soooo great to know when your bus is going to arrive!

  2. GasBuddy. This is a terrific free app. Not only is GasBuddy great for telling you where the cheapest gas is, but it's helpful just to locate gas stations when you are in an unfamiliar area -- such as when you are returning a rental car to an airport. You have to "join," but to do so is fast. It requires: nickname, password, email address, zip code. Using your phone's GPS, GasBuddy will show you the location of gas stations near you as well as prices being charged. You can sort the list by price. You can also enter zip code or city and state and search for stations that way. It depends upon user input to get current prices. I have found the prices current and accurate. That's probably at least partly because the app makes it really easy to update prices when you're getting gas.

  3. WSDOT. If you get around by motor vehicle, you will find this free Washington State Department of Transportation app a must-have: WSDOT gives you traffic maps, mountain pass info, variable toll rates, traffic bulletins, ferry schedules, traffic cameras and Canadian border crossing information in a very clean and easy to use interface.

  4. Waze. I have mixed feelings about Waze. I appreciate getting real time traffic information when I have the bad luck to encounter heavy traffic. But I'm really not interested in chatting with strangers about traffic, and I find the social aspect of this app a little too intrusive for my taste. In addition, I've sometimes found the interface a little clunky -- perhaps I just haven't used it regularly enough to become comfortable with it. At other times, I've appreciated the app. I'm not giving up on it yet. Usually when I'm in traffic and navigating, I'm in a mood to have a very simple, fast, easy interface -- and no chatting! I like the real-time traffic info you get from this app, but I'd like to see it delivered in a faster, smoother way.

  5. Best Parking. I installed this free app on the recommendation of GeekWire, a tech Web site and podcast. The description at Google Play says that Best Parking "steers drivers toward the cheapest and most convenient parking garages and lots in 100 cities & 115 airports throughout North America." It gets good ratings, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet. The one time I was looking for parking in Belltown when I could really have used it, I forgot I had the app. Next time!

  6. TV and Movies

  7. Movies. Another free Android app, Flixster gives you all the info you need (audience and critic ratings, capsule description, cast, reviews, etc.) to figure out which movie you want to see and where and when it is playing. Recent (as of early April 2013) changes to the interface have greatly improved it. It used to be a maddingly slow app but now is much zippier and easier to navigate. I've also downloaded the free IMDb Movies and TV app, which also provides ratings, reviews, casts, and showtimes for movies plus TV recaps and highlights. I use both Flixster and IMDb, but either is fine on its own.

  8. TV Listings. This is a very useful app and it is free. The first time you open TV Listings you are asked to put in your zip code and select your cable provider. It will then show you what programs are on each of your channels. TV Listings has a simple and straight-forward interface. It has search and reminders and also allows you to browse a list of sports shows or movies. One drawback is that it shows only about 24 hours programming for each channel, so you are not able to look ahead very far.

  9. Crackle. This free Sony app, known as Crackle, allows you to play movies and TV shows for free. Many of the TV shows are oldies such as Seinfeld or Married With Children. According to Wikipedia, Crackle's content consists primarily of Sony's library of films and television shows. I watched a couple of Seinfeld episodes, which displayed well. There are ads. A nice app to have if you get stuck somewhere, such as at an airport.

  10. Audio

  11. Podkicker. I started out using the free Google app called Listen to subscribe to, fetch and listen to my podcasts. But I wasn't really happy with Listen. I found the user interface confusing, and the program crashed several times. So I decided to try out another podcatcher, the free app known as Podkicker. Podkicker is much better than Google's Listen. One of the best things about Podkicker is that it gives you a very clear choice to either download or stream a podcast. When I'm in the kitchen, I don't have access to wi-fi, so I prefer to listen to podcasts that I've already downloaded earlier via wifi, thus avoiding racking up megabytes against my cellular data caps by streaming. I like the Podkicker interface. You can look at a list of what's newly available for all subscriptions or look at your list of "channels" (i.e. subscriptions) and get a list of podcasts for each channel.

  12. Music Discovery. When I feel like listening to a stream of a certain genre of music, then I open one of two free apps: Pandora or Tunein Radio. I originally also gave Songza and Slacker a whirl but ultimately uninstalled them. I just found it too difficult to find the genre I was interested in. I don't feel as if my musical tastes are all that unusual. I like Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, Eric Clapton, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss, KD Lang, Dixie Chicks, Stephen Fearing, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Fleet Foxes, Richard Shindell, Bonnie Raitt. Yet when I opened up Songza or Slacker, I was clicking up and down many dead ends before I ever found what I was looking for. Unfortunately, Tunein also does not include Folk or any similar category in its genre lists. Why is it so difficult for me to find the music I'm interested in? Pandora has a very good approach to this problem. You type in the name of an artist you like and it will play songs from that artist in addition to songs from similar artists, so you are able to discover new artists you might like. When you return to the app later, the artist you selected is still there and all you have to do is click on it. Or add a new artist whose music you'd like to hear. Tunein Radio provides access to thousands of radio stations all over the earth. You can search for an artist and you are presented with radio programs that included that artist. Or you can select a genre and choose among radio stations playing that genre. Tunein is not limited to music. You can discover and stream podcasts, sports, news, and talk programs. You can also search by location. Or click on "Nearby" and get a whole list of local stations to stream. Tunein isn't perfect: some stations won't play or load, for whatever reason. Still, this is a neat app.

  13. Food

  14. Urban Spoon. The free Urban Spoon app is very helpful for finding a restaurant. It offers a "nearby" feature that quickly shows you all the nearby restaurants along with the percentage of people who say they like the restaurant. It also tells you how far away the restaurant is. It has a great feature called "Shake" that will suggest a restaurant for you if you can't make up your mind where to eat. You can set the parameters for the suggestion by "locking" any of three features: neighborhood, cuisine or price range. My only hesitation isn't about the app, per se, but about Urban Spoon's user ratings, which I'm not 100% confident of. But the ratings probably do give you a general idea of the best and worst places. This is a slick app that gives you the information you're looking for very quickly -- user reviews, critic reviews, address and phone, hours, menu, features (e.g. gluten-free, late-night, happy hour, etc.) I suggest you supplement Urban Spoon with Google's Local app (part of Google Maps), which includes Zagat ratings and reviews. I find Zagat and I are usually in agreement about restaurant quality. If you can't find the Local app, download the Zagat from the Play store. It's now free (though it doesn't get very good reviews). You can also throw in Trip Advisor and by combining Urban Spoon, Zagat and Trip Advisor, you can get a pretty good idea of the restaurant. I've tried Open Table and found it more difficult to use than Urban Spoon.

  15. Lose It! This is a free weight loss program I tried after reading an article in Atlantic Magazine praising it. Lose It! is the first weight loss program of any kind I've ever used, so my opinion is probably not worth a whole lot. You enter your current weight, how many pounds you want to lose, at what rate (a pound a week or half pound a week, etc), your birth year, height and sex (I think). It then tells you how many calories a day you are alloted and on what date you will have lost your desired number of pounds. Each day you log each food that you eat and the calories. Sometimes your food will be in the Lose It! database as entered by somebody else and it tells you the calories. You can also use the barcode scanner on your phone to scan in a food, and if it's in their database, the app supplies the calorie count. But sometimes you have to do your own research to estimate the calories of what you've eaten. There is a lot of information on the Web on calories in foods, but it doesn't all agree, so this is a guessing game, especially if you are fixing dishes made up of real food, rather than processed food. And in my experience this is the real downfall of this app. I used Lose It! regularly at first and liked the idea of it, but it wasn't long before I found the calorie counting too burdensome and time consuming. Also, I lacked confidence in the accuracy of my calorie counting. You also enter any exercise you do on a particular day, and that proved easy. There is a long list of physical exertion modes (housework, walking, swimming, sex, etc.) from which to choose and the app provides the associated calorie expenditure. The number of calories you burn exercising are added to your permissible caloric intake for the day. You weigh yourself periodically to see if you are on track toward your goal. The app has an option to upload your data to a Web site for synching with other devices. Also there is a social option. I did not use either option. This app is simple and intuitive and functions well. Though I have mostly stopped using this app, the week or two that I did enter the calories I was consuming were helpful in focusing my attention on my caloric intake. I still enter my weight every few days to help keep myself honest.

  16. Chem Cuisine. This free app comes from the Center for Science in the Public interest, which has a decades-long reputation for science-based research, eduation and advocacy for food safety and good nutrition. Chem Cuisine gives you the low-down on food additives. It gives you an A-Z list of food additives and has a green, yellow, red icon for each one for quick reference. Red, of course, means avoid, yellow means reduce your use of it, and green means it's safe. Other icons indicate "caution, more info needed" or "certain people should avoid." If you click on an additive, you'll get a more detailed account of its perils. This is a well-done app that works well.

  17. Tip Me. This is a tip calculator called Tip Me. It's got a cute user interface. I've used this only a couple of times, but it was very easy and quick to use, which is just what you want when you're in the restaurant trying to figure the bill, the tax, the tip and divide it among x number of people.

  18. Golf

  19. SkyDroid. This is an absolutely terrific app for golfers. SkyDroid - Golf GPS is worth many times the $1.99 cost. Using your phone's GPS, this app instantly and accurately tells you the distance from where you are to front, back and center of the green. It often also provides distances to some bunkers, water hazards, trees, and target points. It also allows you to measure the distance of your shots. Heck, this app even phones the pro shop with a simple tap on the screen! I used to use SkyCaddie, but this app is so much better and far less expensive. All you pay is the $1.99 one-time charge; the courses are free to download. The SkyDroid Web site so far has had nearly every course I've looked for. If your course isn't there, you can create it yourself online using the tools on the Web site to do so. There is a short, clear video tutorial telling you how to do it. Recent updates to SkyDroid have added the ability to keep score as you play. This has pluses and minuses. The scoring function also allows you to record whether you hit the fairway or whether you missed left or right and how many putts you had. It's nice not to have to minimize SkyDroid and call up a separate scorekeeping app like the one below ("Easy Scorecard"). However, the one big advantage of Easy Scorecard is that it allows you to e-mail the scorecard (a .jpg)to yourself and others after the round. SkyDroid does not have that functionality. Hence, your scores are locked into the SkyDroid app on your cellphone. I'd like to see a way to export that scoring info, either by e-mailing or downloading.

  20. Easy Scorecard. This is a superb free app for golfers. As with many apps, it seems there's a certain amount of fumbling around to figure out how Easy Scorecard works, but once you get the gist, it seems to work pretty well. You manually fill in the par for each hole and information about the tee or tees you'll play. (You only have to do this one time for each course.) It's fast and easy to enter scores on each hole. The app keeps a running total of scores for you and your playing partners and also keeps track of your scores over time. It will also figure your handicap. With one click of a button, it will e-mail the scorecard (which includes the date and place and even the temperature) to whomever you want. The only downside of this -- or any phone app -- is that if it's raining, you don't want to be getting your phone out in the rain to enter scores. But then maybe you shouldn't be playing in the rain!

  21. Jefferson Park Golf. This free app is great for booking a tee time at Jefferson Park Golf Club, a Seattle muni course. When it first came out, it had some bugs that made it impossible to book a tee time but the app has been updated and is really slick now. I can book a tee time in about 30 seconds. The app also offers discounts about once a week or so: "$10 for a tee time and $5 for a cart if you start after 4 pm today," for example. To announce these discounts, the app suddenly comes alive with the sound of a golf ball going in the hole, even if the app isn't open at the time. That sound always makes me smile! The app also has weather, scorekeeping and GPS features, but I haven't tried the latter two yet. The weather feature is fine.

  22. Rules of Golf. The USGA's Rules of Golf is a straight-forward, well-functioning app that offers you an index and search function to help find the rule you're interested in in addition to the ability to browse through the rules. I paid $3.99 for it, which seems excessive to me, but the money is going to USGA so I guess it's OK.

  23. LPGA The LPGA is another sports organization that provides its app to fans for free. The LPGA app provides the full leaderboard for current tournaments, the TV schedule, and allows you to select up to 10 "favorites" whose scores it will display. However, many players are missing from the list from which you select. The app doesn't seem to do much else, unlike the PGA app which allows you to bring up a profile, stats and scoring summary of any player you click on.

  24. PGA Tour. The PGA Tour app, which is also free, provides the full leaderboard for current tournaments for the PGA Tour, the developmental tour, and the Champions old guys tour. In addition, you can get a profile and stats for each player plus a shot-by-shot account of how that player has played the tournament. At first this app was a little unstable and slow, but with updates, it's improved and now functions OK.

  25. Other Sports

  26. At Bat. I thought this was pricey at $14.99 when I first bought it in 2012. Now I discover that 1) you have to pay that amount EACH YEAR, and 2) the price this year was raised to $19.99. This is a rip-off! I bought At Bat out of frustration at not being able to stream radio broadcasts from the local Mariners station. The At Bat app allows you to stream the radio broadcast for any MLB (Major League Baseball) game. It also gives you such expected features as scores, lineups, box scores, real-time play-by-play text, a sketch of the field giving dimensions and showing who is playing where. And it gives you key video clips from the game -- usually about 11 or 12 for each game. It initially was a somewhat porky app, so if you didn't have a good cell or wi-fi connection, it was often very slow to load. However, recent updates have speeded it up. There are other less expensive or free baseball apps available, such as the next one below, but MLB seems to have a pretty firm grip on real-time information and is determined to charge what the market will bear.

  27. Daily Mariner by Stat Sheet. I use this free app to keep tabs on the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Daily Mariner gives you the box score for the most recent game, including letter grades for hitters and pitchers, which is kind of fun. You know at a glance who's been naughty and who's been nice! In addition, you can get player stats. The hitters' stats include OBP, OPS, SLG and wOBA. Pitchers' stats include WHIP and Quality Starts. Fielding stats are barebones and do NOT include UZR. You can click on the column heading for any of the stats and this app will automatically arrange the players in order of their performance on that stat. So you can see who has the highest OPS, who has the best WHIP, etc. In addition, the app provides team stats, team standings, schedules, MLB scores, and team rosters. It also provides a brief write-up of the most recent game, though it is apparent that the write-up is done by a robot (literally) using a formula. The output is sometimes unintentionally amusing. My other gripe about this app is that it does not publish the game box score or write-up until well after the game is over.

  28. NFL '12. Unlike Major League Baseball, the NFL provides the NFL '12 app to its fans for free. The app provides scores and schedules for all teams. When you select a particular game, it provides a play-by-play summary of the action, team stats, player stats, and "media" which, for the game I followed today, was five pictures. All of the info is real time, so this app is a good way to follow a game if you are not able to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio. I ultimately uninstalled this app, because it was very, very slow to load and because I got another app called theScore (see next) that provides football and other sports scores.

  29. theScore. This single app, which is free, provides the scores for all sports from football to golf to lacrosse, both men's and women's, pro and amateur. What you get varies from sport to sport, but for pro football, you can get scores, schedule, news stories, stats, standings, recaps, and play-by-play descriptions of the game. It is an excellent app that I strongly recommend. I uninstalled my NFL app and may uninstall some other sports score apps and just get all my scores and game and team info via theScore.

  30. QB Rating Calculator. This is a slick little free, single-purpose app that has a clear, simple interface and quickly does what it is supposed to do. Just enter the quarterback passing statistics that are widely available and touch the "Calculate" button. Bingo -- the QB Rating Calculator gives you the NFL QB rating. (Remember that college football figures QB Rating using a completely different system.) Statistics needed for input are: Pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions. (As you can see, this is really a passer rating rather than a quarterback rating. A true quarterback rating would have to include sacks and rushing yards at a minimum. But this is the NFL's fault, not the app's fault.) I use it to calculate the QB Rating for local hero Russell Wilson, the rookie sensation and former University of Wisconsin Badger who leads the the Seattle Seahawks to victory after victory!

  31. LiveExtra NBC Sports. This free app is great when it works, but you must have a consistently fast, strong Internet connection or it quits on you, which in my experience is early and often. I became so frustrated with this app that I uninstalled it.

  32. Search and Reference

  33. Assistant. "Sam," the digital personality of the app called Assistant, can do some tasks very well, while others leave her flummoxed. For example, when I asked her for the definition of flummoxed, she heard me to say "phlegm," even though I pronounced it very clearly. And then for some reason she believed I wanted to send a text message saying: "What is the defnition of phlegm?" Many things you ask "Sam" are met with her opening the browser or an app and telling you to find the information yourself. For example, when I asked her to find flights from Seattle, WA to Savannah, Ga., she opened the Expedia Web site in the browser and told me to get the information myself. However, it took me several tries even to get this response, because when I initially asked for airline schedules, the use of the word "schedule" triggered her to open my calendar and tell me my scheduled events for the day. It wasn't until I used the word "flights" that she offered to open Expedia for me. But she's pretty good at some requests. For example, When I said: "Weather for Olympia, WA tomorrow" the Personal Assistant instantly responded: "Partly cloudy with temperatures between 51 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit." She's good at factual questions such as "What is the population of Seattle, WA?" or "Who was the third president of the U.S.?" She quickly responded with the correct answers to both of these questions, which she got from Wolfram Alpha. The Personal Assistant is also pretty good at opening applications and Web sites. You can say "Call Randy" and she'll do it, but it can be a problem if you have more than one phone number for the person you're trying to call or if you have more than one person named Randy. You can say "Twitter" or "Open Maps" or "Open At Bat" and she'll do so very quickly. But she never was able to open my Merriam-Webster dictionary until I typed it rather than speaking it. I'm guessing the hyphen threw her. No doubt I can become more proficient at using Personal Assistant as I learn the correct trigger words to use. Lately, she's developed a social disease and wants to send your questions to Facebook or Twitter rather than to a regular search engine. However, she gave me the option to tell her to quit doing that, an option I quickly exercised. It's rather pleasant interracting with "Sam." When she performs a service or gives a correct answer, I find myself saying "Thank you" and she responds "No problem" or "Happy to help. That's what I'm here for" or "Sure thing." She even chastised me for saying "You're stupid" to her at one point when she claimed not to be able to find a phone number I asked for. "That's very disrespectful, Jane," she responded, making me feel momentarily ashamed.

  34. Wikipedia. The free Wikipedia app is highly recommended. It's much faster to use this app than to go through a search engine to get to Wikipedia. Also, this app displays the site better than a browser does -- the print is larger and easier to read and you don't have to scroll horizontally.

  35. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Merriam-Webster app functions as you would expect. No complaints.

  36. Google Shopper. Similar to but better than what you get using the Shopping feature of Google's regular search engine. The free Shopper app immediately presents you with choices of the product you are searching for along with prices, ratings and pictures (which are usually too small on a phone to be of much use), so you can probably shop faster using Google Shopper than by using Google Shopping. You can search by brand, store, type or price. Once you have your results you can sort by price. I'm not clear yet on the difference in the selection of products you get between Shopper and Shopping. However, it develops that Google now is allowing sellers to pay for placement, so I uninstalled this app and installed the Bing search engine, which I now use for shopping searches.

  37. Travel

  38. Postagram. This free app allows you to upload a photo and have it turned into a postcard that is mailed anywhere in US for 99 cents. The first time I tried to use Postagram, it was a bit of a struggle, mainly because I had trouble figuring out how to enter the addressing information for the recipient. Once I figured that out, it was a breeze. And it worked as advertised. It took about one week for the postcard to arrive in Hawaii, which is where I was sending the postcard from. Postagram kept me informed via e-mail at several points of the progress of the postcard. The postcards themselves are fine: it is easy to read the message, the picture quality is good, and the postcard material is very reasonable. I highly recommend this app -- it's wonderful! I never have been much of a postcard-sender, because of the hassle of buying the card and stamps, knowing the postal rates, mailing the card, etc. when traveling. I'm betting now that I will be mailing postcards regularly during my travels. Oh, and about entering the recipient information. Like many apps these days, Postagram simply wants you to turn over all of your Facebook contacts to them, but since I don't trust Facebook whatsoever, I never let any apps into my Facebook account. Finally, I saw that Postagram had discovered the Google contacts on my phone, so I was able to select recipients from that list. What this means is that to send a Postagram to somebody, you will need to know their e-mail address, add them to your phone contacts, and know their postal address. I suppose this could mean that Postagram can or will spam the people you're sending the postcard to.

  39. Gate Guru. I finally had occasion to use the free Gate Guru. and it helped us locate a restaurant in the Atlanta airport. Gate Guru lists all the food outlets, shops, and services in each terminal at an airport and gives ratings and reviews for them plus tips from other users about the terminal. The app itself has not been updated since June 2012 and I'm not sure how current the content information is.

  40. Bathroom Finder. Yet another app I haven't yet used, but which might be useful at some point. This free app is called Bathroom Finder. It uses your phone's GPS to figure out where you are and then shows you the addresses of all the nearby public bathrooms. It tells you whether the bathroom is free (refers to money not occupancy) and also is supposed to provide ratings, though it seems as if many of the listed restrooms don't have ratings. It's too early to tell how helpful this app will be.

  41. Consumer

  42. Consumers' Checkbook. Puget Sound Consumer Checkbook provides Consumer Reports-type ratings and reviews for a very wide range of local services from accountants and caterers to driving instructors, bicycle shops, furnace installers, pest control services, dentists and plumbers. Consumers' Checkbook is a useful app and works well.

  43. Google Shopper. Similar to but better than what you get using the Shopping feature of Google's regular search engine. The free Shopper app immediately presents you with choices of the product you are searching for along with prices, ratings and pictures (which are usually too small on a phone to be of much use), so you can probably shop faster using Google Shopper than by using Google Shopping. You can search by brand, store, type or price. Once you have your results you can sort by price. I'm not clear yet on the difference in the selection of products you get between Shopper and Shopping. However, it develops that Google now is allowing sellers to pay for placement, so I uninstalled this app and installed the Bing search engine, which I now use for shopping searches.

  44. Nature

  45. Sibley e-Guide to Birds. Some apps are pricey, but still worth it. In that category I place The Sibley eGuide to Birds, which cost me $19.99. This is essentially the Sibley Guide to Birds brought onto your phone, except that it also adds recordings of bird calls and songs. It also allows side-by-side comparison of birds. And the drawings include field marks, which are very helpful. You can get the information whether or not you are connected to the Internet. See the next review for more details and other birding apps.

  46. Audubon Birds. At one time, this app cost $14.99. When I bought it May 21, 2012, it had dropped to $2.99. And 10 days later, it was on sale for $1.99. At those prices, Audubon Birds is a true bargain. The company that produces it puts it on sale over three-day holidays such as Memorial Day or Labor Day. A valuable feature recently added to this app is "Find Birds with eBird." This taps into the huge Cornell/Audubon "ebird" database to show you the birds that have recently been seen near where you are and gives you directions on how to get there. That feature alone would be worth $2.99. This is the only Android app that offers access to ebird sightings, which have been contributed by many thousands of birders. But in addition to the ebird data, you get a field guide complete with pictures, descriptions, range maps and songs. Though you need an Internet connection for the eBird features, you do not need to be connected to the Internet to use the field guide. The Audubon guide uses photographs, whereas the Sibley uses drawings that point out key identifying field marks. The field marks are a helpful feature that is missing in the Audubon's. Sibley also has a nice feature allowing you to compare species side-by-side and really figure out the differences, though Audubon's has a feature called "Similar" which will show you photos of species it considers similar to the one you're looking at. However, Audubon does not allow for side-by-side comparison. Audubon's also takes up more space (more than half a gigabyte) on your phone. The Audubon user experience seems slightly better to me than the Sibley's, though the Audubon takes a long time to load when you first open it. Once it's loaded, though, it operates reasonably smoothly and quickly. Overall, I would guess the Audubon's might be better for beginning birders and the Sibley for intermediate or advanced birders. Sibley's app at $19.99 costs considerably more. A friend of mine downloaded iBird Pro 2 on her Galaxy SIII and it looks to me like a very good app, so check it out too. At the Google Play Store, it is at the moment "reduced from $9.99 to $4.99 for a limited time."

  47. Washington Wildflowers. This is the free version of the app and covers 32 of the more common species. The full-meal-deal version of Washington Wildflowers costs $7.99 and covers 870 species. The interface is simple and intuitive. You get a picture, a range map and descriptive information about the relative abundance, life cycle, habitat, flowering time, height, etc. You do not need to be connected to the Internet to use it. This was produced by the Burke Museum Herbarium, and a portion of revenues from the app supports conservation and botanical exploration in the region. This is a well-done app and I recommend it. More information about it is available at

  48. Communications

  49. OpenSignal. This is a neat app. A compass-style needle points in the direction of your phone signal. Open Signal also will show you the strength of your voice, data and wi-fi signals. A map will show you the location of your cell tower. You can test the speed of your upload, download and ping. The app keeps track of your tests and when you tap the "History" tab will show you your previous tests. OpenSignal collects anonymized data from all its users to construct actual coverage maps. It will also allow you to compare which network performs best in the area you're interested in. A table shows me that Verizon's download speed at my location is 3.5 mbps, AT&T is at 2.38, t-mobile (my carrier) is at 2.12 and Sprint is at a pathetic 0.73. The average of all carriers is 2.53. It also compares reliability of the network. Lots of really helpful information. Less useful, perhaps, simply because most phones already provide this data these days, are charts showing how many minutes of talk you've used, how much data and how many SMSs compared to your plan.

  50. Skype. The wonderful and popular video calling Skype app was one of the first apps I downloaded. It works great on my phone.

  51. Sonalight Text by Voice. Sonalight Text by Voice. allows you to send and receive text messages by speaking to your phone. It was easy to use and quite accurate. Speaking the message is much faster and easier for me than typing it on my virtual keyboard. At first you might be bothered by the absence of punctuation and occasional flubs such as "Bass Center" for "Bay Center." But you quickly get over that as you realize that the recipient perfectly understands what you're texting. And it's fun when your phone suddenly comes alive and starts reciting the reply to the message you sent. But is a little unnerving when the microphone is sitting there demanding an immediate response from you -- no time to think about what you might want to say. Probably not an app you'd want to use if you're trying to text in public or during an important meeting! I ultimately uninstalled this app, because I preferred the speaking option in the Messaging App that comes included with the phone. The main reason I prefer it is that it allows me to use the virtual keyboard to edit the transcription of the text that I've spoken and thus get rid of the flubs.

  52. VoiceSMS - voice2voice. Here's a different way to speak a text message. VoiceSMS - voice2voice allows you to record your message by voice and then send that voice recording as an SMS message to another phone. The recipient clicks on the SMS message and hears your recorded message. I'm not positive this will work with just every phone you ever send your recording to, but it has worked several times so far for me and is a nice option to have.

  53. SMS to Text. Do you text message almost as often as you e-mail these days? Do you want to keep a record of or back up all that correspondence? Then SMS to Text might be the ticket for you. This free app saves SMS text messages to a text file on your Android phone's SD card. This is a wonderful app that just does this simple thing it's supposed to do and does it quickly and flawlessly, so far as I can tell. It has a very clear, simple interface. I have no complaints about this app and I recommend it.

  54. FoxFi. Install FoxFi and it will turn your Android phone into a free wi-fi hotspot. You do not need a tethering plan with your phone company to use this. So far I've hooked up my netbook several times to my phone and it has worked flawlessly and was even zippy. FoxFi, which is free, is simple to use.

  55. AndFTP. AndFTP allows you to connect to an FTP server on a PC, phone or other device and download files. You have to have a wi-fi Internet connection. You fill in the hostname or IP address of the FTP server you are trying to connect to, you click on "Connect" and, bang!, you very quickly connect to it and can download files. It's a really fast and convenient way to move files from your desktop PC to your phone - no cables required. I've been very satisfied with this app, which has worked beautifully.

  56. SwiFTP. Continuing on the FTP theme, I also have an FTP server on my phone. This allows me to download files from my phone to my desktop wirelessly. As with the AndFTP above, SwiFTP requires a wi-fi network. This free app has worked very well for me and I recommend it. Update: Swiftp continues to work excellently as my FTP server. Absolutely no complaints. Love it. But the developer has stopped maintaining it, and it's no longer available for download at Google Play. However, a guy named Pieter Pareit has forked it and offers it in Google Play under the name FTP Server. He sells it for $2.66. I haven't tried it so can't comment on it. I continue to use SwiFTP.

  57. Call Blocker. I have gone to great lengths to avoid giving out my cell phone number to anybody but friends. I also avoid texting commercial numbers, because I assume they harvest my cell phone number and then declare that we have a "relationship," meaning they can spam me. My strategy of not giving out my number has been pretty successful, but not 100% successful. So after recently getting a spam call, I downloaded the app Call Blocker. This free app also claims to be able to block sms messages, but I have not yet used it for this. It also offers to back up your contact list to the cloud and to create a "private space" that makes your "sensitive" SMS and call logs "for your eyes only." And it has a "privacy eraser" that allows you to delete selected calls or sms messages from your call log. I am interested only in the call and sms blocking features. The interface is clean and simple. I haven't yet had any calls from the blocked spam number that I entered. One thing I don't like about it are the too-frequent invitations to "upgrade" to the paid version.

  58. Games

  59. Words With Friends - Free. Play this free Scrabble-like game called Words With Friends - Free at your own pace. I have a good partner, because sometimes she wins and sometimes I win. Since it's the free version, it does have ads, which have become more annoying recently, but at least they come AFTER you've made your move. You can have multiple games going.

  60. Free Cell. This free version of Free Cell Solitaire works just like the desktop Free Cell. It's a wee bit crowded to get all the cards packed into the phone screen but workable. If you like Free Cell solitaire, I recommend this.

  61. Hearts Free. This is the classic hearts game. It's gotten fancier with updates and has realistic sound when cards are played. A nice implementation.

  62. Candy Crush Saga. This free app is fun to play, though I don't fully understand the game. The goal seems to be to move squares of little candy and jelly bean and hot dog icons around to get three or more of the same icons in a row. Bells and whistles go off and you earn points when you do this. At a certain point you run out of moves and the game ends. I'm never quite sure how I'm doing. For one thing, the font reporting my points is hard to read. It tells me to "clear all the jelly" and I'm not quite sure which squares are the jelly and which aren't. But I manage to play anyway and to win on occasion and go on to the next level. Sad to say, that is enough to keep me coming back. It's diverting, but I wouldn't call it addictive.

  63. Fun-Putt Mini Golf Lite. This is a simple, fun nine-hole putting game. You point the arrow to indicate the direction of your putt and move the slider to indicate the speed. Then click the "Swing" button. I really appreciate the fact that it allows you to replay the hole if you mess up. Anybody who has golfed would like that feature! It has a two-dimensional feel to it. This is the free "lite" version. The premium version costs $1.99. I ultimately uninstalled this game because I'm lacking space on my phone and this app wasn't compelling enough to keep.

  64. Miscellaneous

  65. pressureNET. The PressureNET Web site describes this app very well: "pressureNET is our application for Android tablets and phones that collects and maps users' barometer readings. We're currently growing our network in hopes that with enough data we can improve short-term, local weather prediction using the pressureNET." I've found pressureNET to be trouble free and easy to use. I click on the "Submit Reading" menu item and feel that I've done my bit to improve weather forecasting. The app displays a map of Washington state with a slew of weather-gauge icons dotting the map. If you click on one, it will show you a graph of barometer readings for that spot. Frankly, I'm not into perusing barometer readings but I do like the idea of average citizens contributing their barometer readings to science.

  66. Utilities and Gadgets

  67. StopWatch & Timer. A very handy (and free) app I've had occasion to use a number of times is called StopWatch & Timer. The name pretty much says it all. It's got a simple, intuitive interface. However, Google recently included this same functionality in its clock app that comes installed with the phone, so I uninstalled StopWatch & Timer app. No complaints about this app, though.

  68. Barcode Scanner. Barcodes and QR codes are becoming ubiquitous. To read these codes, you should have a Barcode Scanner on your phone. Then you just scan the barcode or QR Code and, bingo, you can get the price or reviews of a product, links to Web sites or other information. This free app has performed admirably for me.

  69. Brightest Flashlight Free. Use this free app to turn your Android phone into a very bright flashlight: Brightest Flashlight Free It works well and is quite bright. I would guess that it's quite a drain on my battery life, though I've never left it on long enough to test that impression out.

  70. Compass. I haven't really had occasion yet to use this free Compass app and not quite sure when I will use it, but the old Girl Scout in me can't brook the idea of being out and about without a compass!

  71. News and Weather

  72. WeatherBug. This free app puts the current temperature at your location in the notification panel. Calling up the WeatherBug app will show you forecasted high and low temperatures and brief summary predictions for the next six days as well as an icon representing the prediction (e.g. sun, clouds, part sun, rain, etc.) One nice WeatherBug feature: forecasts aimed at specific concerns, such as golf, pollen, dry skin, etc. At a glance, you can see which upcoming day will be bad, OK, or good for golf, for example. You can drill down on each day's forecast to get more and more detail -- hourly, wind chill, humidity, dew point, wind speed, chance of precip. etc. You can also see a weather radar map. This is a very good weather app. I tried AccuWeather alongside WeatherBug for a couple of weeks and definitely prefer WeatherBug, which is more user-friendly; I uninstalled AccuWeather.

  73. News Apps. I've also got content apps for New York Times, Seattle Times, KUOW News, NPR, CNN, BBC, HuffPost and Al Jazeera English. The New York Times app is by far the slickest. What I love most about it is that if you zoom in to make the print larger, it automatically adjusts the page to make it fit in the window! This is really, really important, but many apps don't do it.

    Social Media

  74. TweetDeck. TweetDeck is for Twitter and Facebook users. If you want to see your Twitter and Facebook streams in a single app on your phone, TweetDeck will do it for you. However, after using this app for about six months, I uninstalled it, and instead installed the individual Facebook and Twitter apps, each of which individually works somewhat better than TweetDeck. TweetDeck does a particularly bad job displaying Facebook posts, allowing you essentially to see text only and often just snippets of that text.

  75. System and Security Apps

  76. Adobe Flash. I didn't really want to install this, because of its bad reputation regarding security and stability. But some sites I visited would not function without Flash, so I decided to install it. Be sure to use the settings manager to set your preferences with regard to cookies and peer-to-peer networking. On cookies, which it calls "local storage," it gives you the choice of allowing them "always," "never" or "only from sites I visit." By default, it was set to "always." I changed it to "only from sites I visit." The peer-to-peer networking was by default set to enable peer-to-peer sharing. I chose to disable this feature, because I believe it is safer.

  77. Avast! Mobile Security. You have to trust Avast if you want to install it on your phone, because the privileges and access it asks for are breathtaking. I downloaded this app from the Google Play Store, but after installation, it told me the theft protection could only work if I changed my phone settings to allow it to download something from a source other than the Play Store. I reluctantly did this, did the download and then quickly changed the setting back to allow downloads only from the Play Store. It takes a while to get Avast! set up, but it appears to work well and offers an impressive array of free services. I haven't noticed that Avast! has slowed down my phone or caused any other problems. My one complaint is that it too often prods you to upgrade to the premium (paid) version. Avast! scans new apps for viruses after they are downloaded. It will send SMS messages to phone numbers you designate if the SIM card is changed in your phone. If you report your phone lost, it will allow you to wipe the phone. It will show you the location of your phone. A "Privacy Advisor" shows you the privileges and access that each of the apps on your phone has. A "Web Shield" warns you if you are browsing to a malicious or phishing Web site or fix the URL if you mistype it in the browser. A "Message Shield" scans incoming SMS messages for viruses or malicious URLs. An "Application Management" service will show you which phone resources each app is using -- CPU, storage, memory, threads, services. It will show you how much cache the app is using and allow you the clear the cache. A "Network Meter" will show you how much cellular network or wi-fi bandwidth each app has used. You can set up a firewall on your phone, though you have to give Avast! root access to do this. (I didn't.)

  78. ES File Explorer. The excellent ES File Explorer is a file browsing app that allows you to see the files residing in the folders on your phone. It allows you to call up a file by tapping on it, giving you a list of appropriate programs to choose among for handling the file. When I clicked on a .pdf file, it allowed me to choose among Adobe Reader, Document Reader, and Aldiko for reading the file. It even offers its own nice audio player when you click on an mp3 file. ES File Explorer also allows you to delete files from your phone. And it also includes an "app manager" program that will provide you with details about each of the apps on your phone and also provides a button to uninstall apps. I have used ES File Explorer a lot and found it really invaluable.

  79. KeePassDroid This KeePassDroid app is a password manager. It stores your numerous user names and passwords in a secure database that you open with a single password. There are seemingly gazillions of password managers available in the Google Play store. I chose this one because I use it on my desktop PC and have liked it there. Whether it is better or worse than some of the other password managers, I can't say. It works for me.

    One weird thing to note: I could not find KeePassDroid in the Google Play store when I looked for it using the Google Play Store app on my phone. However, I did find it in the Google Play store using my Google Chrome browser on my desktop PC. I then entered that address into the browser on my phone and went to that Web page, where I was able to download it to my phone by clicking on the "Download" button and then the "Install" button. You can get to that page by clicking the KeePassDroid link above.

  80. Google Apps

  81. Tasks Free. The Tasks Free app synchs flawlessly with Google Tasks (part of the Google Calendar app), something many other tasks apps apparently do not do. You can enter tasks to your Google Tasks list or check them off.

  82. Google Calendar. Google Calendar is an incredibly valuable app for me. Both my husband and I can separately put our own activities on our own calendars and then have them show up on each other's calendar. His entries are in red, mine in blue, so that I don't confuse them. It's very easy and quick and intuitive to enter stuff on the calendar. And the calendar on your phone automatically synchs with the one on your desktop or laptop or tablet without your having to do a thing. It has a great search function so that you can locate some event or person very quickly. Highly recommended.

  83. Google Chrome Browser. Google Chrome browser is what I use on my desktop, so it's what I wanted on my phone. Seems to work great.

  84. Google Drive. Google Drive is Google's cloud app. It allows you to create and store documents, presentations, drawings and spreadsheets online so that you can retrieve them no matter where you are or what device you are using. You can set those documents to be accessible only to you or you can share with the world, with specific people or with anybody you give the URL to. Very handy. The phone app works very well.

  85. Google Earth.
  86. Google Finance.
  87. GMail.
  88. Google Hangouts.
  89. Google Local.
  90. Google Maps.
  91. Google Navigation.
  92. Google Offers.
  93. Google+. Including Goggle+ Photos
  94. Google Play Movies.
  95. Google Play Music.
  96. Google Play Store.
  97. Google Search.
  98. Google Settings. This app is useful for telling you what all your settings are. For example, for Google+ Photos, it has a setting to automatically enhance all of your photos. For Google Contacts, there is a setting to automatically keep all your contacts up to date by synching your Google Contacts and your phone. There are numerous settings for notifications.
  99. Google Translate. This app is free, naturally. Google Translate has a simple, intuitive interface. It provides a written translation between more than 60 languages and audio pronounciation for many. For most languages, you can speak or type the phrase you want translated. Say you select English as the language you want to translate from and French as the language you want to translate to and you type in a simple word like "buy." This program will give you the translation "acheter" and also give you some other choices for different meanings of the verb "buy" such as "accepter" (accept as in "I buy that idea") and "corrompre" (corrupt as in "buy a legislator"). It also shows a list of two noun forms of buy: "achat" (purchase) and "affaire" (deal or bargain). I typed in a full sentence and got a nice translation of it, though it misunderstood a proper name for a common noun. However, I could not get the audio pronounciation feature to work with a full sentence. Evidently, there are limits as to how many words that function can digest. As is true of all machine translation, the results are often impressive but not perfect and sometimes embarrassingly off base. A handy, useful app that I recommend.

  100. Google YouTube.
  101. Google Translate.
  102. Google Translate.
  103. Included Apps. My Samsung Galaxy Nexus came loaded with contacts, calculator, clock, alarm, e-mail, Internet browser, camera, Gallery, Movie Studio, and Messaging

    Also included on the phone was a GPS Navigation app that gives turn-by-turn directions to your destination. Latitude is a location-sharing app that tells you where your friends are at the moment and tells them where you are. I don't use this, because I can't get over the creepiness factor. The excellent Google Maps also came with the phone. Google+ Local (formerly called Places) is an app that uses the phone's built-in GPS to figure out where you are and then shows you nearby restaurants, cafes, bars and attractions. (You select which category you are interested in.) "Cafes" includes bakeries. "Attractions" are such things as museums, gardens, parks, theaters, landmarks, hotels, community centers, etc. So far I have used it mainly to find restaurants, and it has worked really well for that. It provides reviews and descriptions of the food type and gives directions to the restaurant. And now it has integrated Zagat information and ratings. I really recommend this app. Local is not available in the Play Store as a standalone app but rather is integrated with Google Maps. Click on the teardrop icon on Google Maps and it will bring up Local.

    The phone also comes with the Gallery app, which displays photos from your camera and from the Internet. Without your having to do anything, it very nicely displays any photo albums you've put up on the Web at Google+. The phone also includes Movie Studio, a video editing app that I have not used.

    The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a Google phone and it integrates and synchs extremely well with most Google services. When you use as many Google services as I do, this is a real bonus.

    Readin' and Writin'

  104. Aldiko. Here's a nifty little free e-book reader and book organizer for your phone: Aldiko There are both a free and a non-free premium version of this app. I have the free version and have found it to be quite good. I've bought and downloaded a book using the Aldiko app. I've also imported miscellaneous .pdfs and several Project Gutenberg books from my own desktop PC. They all display fine. The bookstores that you have direct access to through the Aldiko app include Feedbooks, Books On Board, All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, and O'Reilly Ebooks. Feedbooks offers many free books in addition to the ones they sell. I have found reading on my phone to be a quite satisfactory experience.

  105. feedly. This free feedly app is an rss reader that I have installed to replace Google Reader, now that Google has killed Google Reader. An rss reader allows you to follow all your favorite Web sites and blogs in one place. It is much faster and handier to browse through a list of the latest article headlines (with links to the articles) than using the Web browser to go around visiting individual Web sites one by one. feedly seamlessly and automatically imported all my rss sites from Google Reader. feedly has a better user interface than Google Reader did, but, of course, Google Reader set a rather low bar in that regard. feedly is fairly intuitive and easy to use. All and all, I have been pleased with it.

  106. Content Apps. I've also got content apps for New York Times, Seattle Times, KUOW News, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Golf Channel. I recently downloaded Google Currents, a magazine reader that provides a wide choice of free magazine and magazine-like content, including Slate, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Beast, Global Politics, Good, and others. The articles are presented in a very easy-to-read format and type-face.

  107. Nook. I installed Nook on my phone because I have a Nook ebook reader. The Nook app will synchronize my Nook books such that I can hold my place between my phone and my Nook ebook reader. This is only for Barnes and Noble books, it appears. I've used it a couple of times and it appears to work well.

  108. Kindle. I do not own a Kindle ebook reader, but I downloaded the Kindle app so that I could read a Kindle book authored by a friend of mine. The app seems to work well but I have not used it much so take my endorsement with a grain of salt.

  109. Evernote and Keep. The ever-popular Evernote is ever useful. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders--and makes these notes completely searchable. It stores them in the cloud (i.e. the Web) so that you can access them from anywhere and synch them on all your devices. I am using the free version and have found it very handy and easy to use. The latest version allows you to email or forward emails such as airline reservations to your Evernote notebooks. This is a really quick way to get all your travel information on the Web so you can access it while traveling. I downloaded Google Keep when I was having some problems with Evernote and was unable to take notes. Google Keep has a very simple interface and is quick and easy to use, but it's not going to displace the much more capable Evernote at this point. Evernote does now allow you to take notes while offline, but it's not flawless and sometimes you end up with a "note conflict" between the note on your phone and the note in the cloud. While no data is destroyed, you do end up with two different versions of the same file, which can be confusing. So I often use Keep if I am writing notes offline and then transfer that info later to its final destination, which sometimes is Evernote. Also love that Keep offers a wonderfully complementary selection of colors for your notes.

  110. Culture

  111. Field Trip. The Google Play Store description of Field Trip is pretty accurate: "Field Trip is your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you. Field Trip runs in the background on your phone. When you get close to something interesting, it pops up a card with details about the location. No click is required. If you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you. Field Trip can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk next to those places." Categories you can select include: architecture, games, historic places and events, lifestyle, offers and deals, and food drinks & fun. I ultimately uninstalled FieldNotes. It's kind of a nice app but just a little intrusive. The information about what is nearby too often pops up at inopportune times and too often is kind of interesting but not vital and not necessarily what you want to know about right at that moment.