Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Android and Me—Love at First Sight

I finally broke down last November and bought myself an Android smart phone. A couple of weeks earlier I received a $100 gift certificate from my cell phone service provider as an enticement toward a new cell phone.  My two-year contract was about to expire, and it seems they wanted me to upgrade my phone (and sign a new two-year contract)! I immediately got “want-itis” as my mom would say. I researched like mad to see which one I should get for the amount of money I was willing to spend, and then I felt guilty. I put the certificate in recycling, telling myself I didn’t need a new cell phone!

I don’t remember what made me take the gift certificate out of recycling, but I stuck it in my purse “just in case” (good thing I was slow in delivering the recycling). A few days later, I was out running errands, and my car just drove into the telephone company’s parking lot on it’s own! I justified getting a smart phone by saying I needed it for work, it would sure come in handy for genealogy, too. Plus, it could be my Christmas present to myself. Now that I have it, I can’t put it down! Someone told me a while back that once I got a smart phone, I would wonder how I ever lived without it. Now I know it’s true.

Once I got my new play toy home, I sat down and immediately looked up free apps in the Android Market. I’ve also been getting tips about apps that can be useful to genealogists from genealogy bloggers such as Michelle Goodrum of The Turning of Generations who reviewed some Android apps that she uses: Photoshop Express and CamScanner. I downloaded both of these. Jill Ball’s Android Genealogy is dedicated to Android apps and news. Genealogists are a techie bunch! I’ve learned a lot.

I’m still learning about apps to use, but here are a few that I have (in no particular order). Some came with the phone and others I’ve downloaded but all of them can be found in the Android Market except for the Google Calendar app. All of these are free. I’ve provided links to the websites of some of the apps below so you can check them out:

Dropbox (Access files on my smart phone that I’ve uploaded to Dropbox from my laptop.)

Evernote (to access Evernote where I’ve “clipped” stuff from websites that I want to save or read later, made notes, to-do lists, etc. Synced with Evernote on my laptop).

Google Earth (you know, to look up where the ancestors lived. I use it to find places that I plan to visit. Nothing like a visual. I love Google Earth!)

Google Maps

Google Reader (For blog reading on the go. I don’t dare tell you how many blogs I have in there.)

Google Books (used mostly for pleasure reading on the go)

Google Calendar (Not in the Android Market, but you can find this and the other Google apps here: I need reminders for things like genealogy webinars and geneabloggers radio. I hate it when I forget. A tone sounds to let me know something is about to come up.)

Gmail (I have instant access to my gmail account when I’m away from my laptop.)

Hootsuite (Hootsuite is a Twitter client. Gotta stay up with the latest genealogy happenings!)

Facebook (to keep up with friends and family and a few genealogy pages when I’m out and about.)

CamScanner (You use your smart phone camera to scan, and you can make pdfs of your scans.)

Youtube (for watching genealogy how-to videos)

Barcode Scanner (So far have only used to download apps by pointing it at the barcode on a website. Haven’t used it yet to check prices of stuff I want to buy.)

Chrome to Phone (You can send a webpage from your computer to your smart phone using Chrome web browser)

1BGraves (Click on Billion Graves for information. Use your smart phone to take GPS-tagged photos of graves which are automatically uploaded. Then you go into the website to transcribe them.)

Amazon Kindle (for downloading reading material)’s app (to access my family tree when I’m out doing research)

ANC Grave Locator (To look up grave locations in Arlington National Cemetery. I have it in case I ever get to visit my maternal grandfather’s grave again. I don’t know anyone else buried there.)

Find Grave (Find a Grave, for looking up locations of cemeteries and the graves of ancestors)

Mozy (Mozy is my hard drive backup cloud, linked with my laptop)

Weather app (to see what kind of weather I have to contend with when I walk to the archives or other places!)

StumbleUpon (StumbleUpon is a great way to see what’s new on the internet. You can set your interests and it will “stumble,” i.e. find, those for you. You can also add your blog so others can “find” it. I haven’t done this yet.)

Photoshop Express (for tweaking photos I’ve taken with my smart phone)

Whew! That looks like a lot, but I know folks who have a ton more apps than I do. I bet a lot, if not all, of these apps are available for iPhones, too. Especially since it seems iPhone apps come out first, then Android, which is annoying.

I’m interested in hearing about apps you use! I’m always looking for more! I’m sure I’m not using my smart phone to its full potential.


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