in Apps, Devices & Resources

Back to Android: First Impressions

As my iPhone 4S became painfully slow after updating to iOS 7 I didn’t want to pay another fortune to Apple just to get a modern OS running smoothly. Also, there are some things really annoying me more and more on iOS, some of the worst being not to have an option to set a default browser and email client and not having global sharing/send-to-app options for third party apps. Also, I really like using GMail a lot and the performance of the iOS app is just a major PITA.

So, I got myself a new Nexus 5 and here are my first impressions as well as a little overview of the apps I quite liked so far.

Camera

I didn’t expect to buy a device that’s able to compete with the iPhone camera wise, so my expectations weren’t too high. Still, in low light conditions I’m a bit underwhelmed by the quality it produces (a lot of noise). Also, I still haven’t found the perfect camera replacement app suited for my needs. I think I’ll get used to it and fiddle my way around. As with most cameras when light conditions are good image quality seems satisfying.

Battery Life

I’m not sure yet as I’ve been using my Nexus extensively, installed apps, played games and fooled around, so, granted, the battery got drained really quick. Still, my feeling is that it’s not enough capacity. Haven’t tried any battery saving apps yet though.

Apps

Just some of the apps I find myself using a lot.

Press / 2,25 €

A really beutifully designed RSS reader that syncs with Feedly, Feed Wrangler, Feedbin and Feed a Fever. In my opinion on par with Reeder for iOS.
Besides the good design Pocket/Instapaper and image caching for offline reading were important to me.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.twentyfivesquares.press

VSCO Cam / free + IAP

Being a big fan of VSCO the release of their great app for Android was actually a reason for me to dare jumping off the iOS ship! The UI is basically the same as on iOS but with the new processing power of the Nexus it’s way faster. Probably true for the iPhone 5S, too. I was really impressed that my In-App purchases I bought on iOS could be re-downloaded to Android without paying again. Awesome!
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vsco.cam

SwiftKey / 1,99 € (currently on sale)

Everybody tells you to use SwiftKey so I gave it a shot – and I won’t go back. Besides still having to learn to handle the bigger device predictions and corrections are WAY better than on iOS. You can keep your thumb on the screen and swipe around the letters you’d like to write and, with surprising precision, SwiftKey recognizes what you’d like to say. Of course you can just type conventionally. Even though you can switch the main input language predictions and auto corrections for other languages will always be presented, which is a major relief if you ever tried throwing in some English words into your otherwise German text. There’s a free lite version available to give it a shot.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.touchtype.swiftkey

Carbon / free

I haven’t tried lots of Twitter clients yet, Carbon seems ok so far. If you know an alternative that feels a bit more like TweetBot please tell me. I miss the swipe gestures on a single tweet to show conversations/replies.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dotsandlines.carbon

Whatsapp / free for the first year

Yea, nothing special here. But: this is the first app where I find home screen widgets a useful feature. You can put shortcuts to contacts on your homescreen and directly jump into conversations. Awesome!
https://play.google.com/store/search?q=whatsapp&c=apps

AirDroid / free

This one I still remember from the not-so-good old days of Android 2.x. AirDroid allows you to access your device from a web browser to manage files and write text messages. Coming from iOS I just love the simplicity of quickly uploading some music without the hassle of iTunes.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sand.airdroid

Smart Audiobook Player / free + IAP

Granted, the icon is horrible and the UI kind of a mess. But if you enjoy audio books I think it’s still a must have (and it’s not as ugly as Mort Player at least). Smart Audiobook Player lets you choose your main audiobook folder,and shows its contents even if there’s a .nomedia file inside (if you put such a file inside a folder it won’t be shown by default media players and image viewers). You can add bookmarks, set a sleep timer and even decide to stop playback when your device wasn’t moved for a certain amount of time.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ak.alizandro.smartaudiobookplayer

Camera FV-5 / 2,99 €

I’m still looking for an appropriate alternative to my beloved iOS app ProCamera. This is so far the only app I could find that allows you to set focus and exposure separately using your fingers. It works, but it feels a bit sluggish and it’s unfortunately really not comparable with its competitors on iOS. There’s a ton of other features I don’t really care about too much.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flavionet.android.camera.pro

And of course there are some apps that probably don’t need any further description:

  • Snapseed
  • Pocket (missing swipe gestures to quickly mark articles as read from the overview)
  • GMail (way better than on iOS)
  • Chrome
  • Spotify (seems to use too much background data, keep watching it)
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • DB Navigator
  • Dropbox
  • dict.cc
  • Quizduell Premium (ugly as hell, but still fun playing)
  • VLC
  • Zattoo

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