My essential Android apps

A quick list of 3rd party apps that really make the Android experience for me:

OI File Manager

There are several good file browsers out there, but I like the philosophy behind this one. I prefer the directories and folders metaphor over the idea of every app keeping it’s own list of files, a la iTunes, or the iPhone’s big list o’ apps home screen. This means access to the filesystem. At the moment, there isn’t a native file picker widget/view/whatever, so OpenIntents designed their file browser to provide that.

With that in mind, the next app is

Download Crutch

This just allows the Android browser to download any file type. Currently, it only downloads files that have corresponding apps. This is by design. Since Android doesn’t have a native file browser, if you were to download something without an app to manage it, you’d never be able to delete it. People will make new apps, and those apps will be able to deal with different files, therefore they need a way to tell the browser what the new file types are. I guess Download Crutch just tells the browser that it’ll handle everything.

Terminal Emulator

Because every computer needs a command line.

Connectbot

An SSH program for Android. If you have a Linux box running somewhere, you can just SSH into it, then use IRC, or any command line program you want. I think you can even use SSH tunneling, but I’m not sure.

Tetherbot

It takes some configuring, and it’s really only good for browsing the web, but when I happen to have my laptop with me, and there’s no wifi available, this app is indispensable. T-Mobile isn’t keen on tethering, so this app can’t be released on the market, but lucky for us, Google lets us install whatever the heck we want on our phones. Eventually, Google will allow us to write native apps, and we’ll hopefully start to see true tethering apps, (You can already do this if you’ve rooted your phone) but until then, this app works pretty well.

So basically, what I really want is a very small computer that also happens to be able to make phone calls. Netbooks won’t fit in my pocket, and don’t serve as phones. The iPhone’s soft keyboard bugs me, I don’t like it’s overly managed interface, and the fact that it’s completely tied to iTunes. Windows Mobile just blows, and Palm is somewhat outdated, so we’re left with Android.

At it’s heart, a mobile phone is just a computer, and computers at their heart, are supposed to be able to do just about anything that you can figure out how to tell them to do. These apps aren’t everyday use programs, but they go a long way towards providing the kind of flexibility that you should have out of these devices.

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