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Must have Android Apps (non-reading)

With over 400,000 apps in the Android Market it can be tough finding the right apps for your device. For reading books I find myself primarily using Kindle for Android and Mantano, but what about apps for other things? Below are a few non-reading apps that I’ve found I use all the time on either my phone, tablet or both.






Lookout Security & Antivirus
A way to protect your device from viruses and malware. Backup your data and locate your lost/stolen phone. There is a premium service option that offers more features for a monthly/annual fee. Many argue that the chances of getting a virus are so slim it’s not worth the overhead an app like this uses, so far I’ve liked the sense of security, true or not, that it offers and continue to use it. Another option would be the free or paid versions of Antivirus by AVG.






Dolphin Browser HD
There’s really nothing wrong with the stock android web browser per se, but Dolphin gives you things like tabbed browsing, custom gestures, sync with Google bookmarks and plug-ins. Another good option is Opera Mobile and I have both installed on my devices, but I find I usually use Dolphin.






I use Dropbox as one of my backup places for eBooks so this app makes it super easy to access my books while on the go and add a new one to my phone or tablet. I also find it handy to throw other files I may want to access when away from my computer in my Dropbox. Box and SugarSync both have apps as well.






NewsRob is the best I’ve found for reading RSS feeds. You can add feeds directly in the app or you can sync it with Google Reader and it will automatically use the feeds you might have there. It’s very easy to move back and forth between article with a quick tap. Not only can I read articles in a feed, but I can easily share/save a link using Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, Email, Text Message and more. With a click I can open the article in my browser to bring up the article on the full website.






Advanced Task Killer
Android manages tasks and memory on its own, but sometimes it doesn’t do the best job. This task killer is quite useful especially on my phone which doesn’t have the horsepower my tablets do. I find using it (when I remember it’s there) can help speed up my phone and save battery.






I love audio books, often listening for hours each day, so this app is a no-brainer for me. I’ve had an Audible account since 2004 and have hundreds of books from them. This app works really well and is great when I don’t have my MP3 player (an iPod Touch) with me. The awards/stats are similar to what Kobo has in their reading app and while sometimes kind of silly are sometimes kind of fun.






Barcode Scanner
This is a neat app when you’re out somewhere shopping. It uses your devices camera to scan the barcode of a product you’re looking at and easily compare prices and find reviews. Also works for scanning QR codes.






ESPN ScoreCenter
I love this app. I can easily and quickly get news and scores for my favorite teams and get scores, news and standings for pretty much any sport out there (from Auto Racing to Water Polo).






I used to use the same password for a lot of sites because it was easy and I didn’t have to remember dozens of passwords. We all know that’s not a great idea and with this app I don’t have to. All I need to do is remember the apps master password and I can easily access the usernames and passwords for any site I’ve entered into it. The app will also generate random passwords for a site based on parameters you set. There is also a desktop app (extra cost) which will sync between your computer and mobile device (Android or iThing). Other options would be LastPass and SplashID.






Pandora & Slacker
I can’t decide between the two of these so I’ll list them both. Both services have their good and bad points, but ultimately they’re both a great way to listen to streaming music. I find I switch back and forth using free accounts for both services.






Amazon MP3
The Amazon MP3 app is a great cloud player for any music you have on Amazon’s cloud. Since Amazon is where I often buy MP3’s and purchases are automatically added to the cloud it’s a simple method to play my music without having to transfer it all to my phone. This way I can keep a few albums physically on my device for when I’m without a connection, but still have access to everything most of the time. This app works good as a player for locally stored music as well. An alternative is Google Music which I find I use on occasion.






Astro File Manager
Astro works in a similar way to Finder on a Mac or Explorer in Windows allowing you to easily access your devices file system to keep your data organized. It also allows you to stop processes your phone is running and to backup any apps you have installed. An alternative would be ES File Explorer.






Out of Milk
I use this app all the time for Shopping lists and To-Do lists. It also has a Pantry list feature so you know what you have in your pantry. I find this app intuitive to use and like its simplicity. Another option would be Any.DO which seems good, but is more complex than I’ve found I need.

Other apps you might find essential…
Gassbuddy: Find cheap gas prices in your area
Weatherbug: Get live local weather, forcasts and alerts
GDocs: An editor/viewer for Google Docs
Skifta: Turns your device into a remote control for DNLA enabled devices (TV’s, Stereos, PS3, etc)
Evernote: Take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists and voice reminders then sync them to the web.

For your social media needs Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads all have apps that are quite nice.

Everyone needs a few games to kill time depending on what they like to do. A few games I’ve enjoyed wasting time with include Tetris, Shoot Bubble Deluxe, Super Sudoku and Random Mahjong. My niece would tell you that you have to have Angry Birds, Puffle Launch, and Pretty Pet Salon.

Those are some of my must have apps, what are yours?

Brian is an avid reader who loves books of all kinds. He's been known to try just about anything once, but is partial to SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery and Romance. His favorite authors include Jane Austen, Ray Bradbury, Jacqueline Carey, Lisa Kleypas, Michelle Sagara West, JD Robb, David Weber, Julie Miller, Lynne Connolly and Lynsay Sands.


  1. Ella Drake
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 08:41:51

    I just recommended this on twitter, then saw this post, and thought I’d recommend it here, too.
    My family and I use Tango for video calling. I’ve been able to watch parts of my son’s soccer game when unable to attend. My mother-in-law was able to do a real-time walking tour of the place she’s staying for vacation. And have video chatted with family who live cross country.
    We love this! We *have* found it’s best used on phones with two camera. One in back and one in front so you can see each other while chatting.

  2. shelly
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 10:33:56

    Pandora is spyware, so I don’t use it. I use Jazz Radio and my own music collection with Meridian.

    I love Dolphin mini browser, which I’m typing in right now.

    Bluetooth File Transfer. Makes copying files soooo much easier. ES file explorer for file management. Plume for twitter. K9 mail, much more versatile and stable than the app that comes with the phone.

    I love Our Groceries. It’s a real time grocery list you can share w your family, so all members can add to it, even while you’re at the store.

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. This is in addition to your list, which has some great apps.

  3. shelly
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 10:48:08

    Oh, I forgot Call Filter and SMS Blocker, which do what they say.

  4. Maili
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 14:49:06

    Sad of me, I know, but I’m a huge fan of this freeware Android game: Mouse. It’s a challenging and often frustrating game, but so addictive.

    Edited: I also have JuiceDefender on mine. It’s a battery saver/management/extension utility. My phone’s battery life sucks, so JuiceDefender is quite useful.

  5. Brie
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 15:00:11

    @Maili: I love Mouse! Another favorite is Cheese Tower (sorry, don’t know how to link to it). There, now we’re both sad!

  6. Mo
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 17:30:31

    Key Ring for scanning and recording all your store loyalty cards so you don’t have to weigh down your key ring anymore.

  7. erinf1
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 19:57:58

    Thanks for the great post!!! I ran across this on

    “If you have a free account at Box.Net (now also, you can upgrade your 5GB storage to 50GB free storage for life, by logging into your account using the Box Android App (or on your Blackberry Playbook). You have to use the Marketplace app, though, not the one in the Amazon Appstore (which runs on the Kindle Fire) – once you do, your increased free storage is available via the web, on the Kindle Fire or using the App on your App iOS device, so it’s well worth finding a friend that will let you log in once using their Android Phone or tablet (just be sure to go into settings and find the app, then clear data, which removes your login info once you are done). You might also try to track down the standard .apk file for Box and install that on your Kindle Fire (although I just used my smartphone to increase my storage). That’s a huge increase in storage and puts what I have in DropBox or from Amazon into a distant second place as an option for backing up files. I know that the offer works, but don’t know the exact cutoff date – second hand, it appears you have until March 23 to login and get the extra space.”

    I did it tonight. The Box app is free and you can create an account at for free as well. Just throwing it out there for those who want more cloud storage.

  8. Sunita
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 20:33:04

    I really like Pulse as a feed reader. It has a great set of default feeds, and you can add your own as well. I like having DA right there next to Atlantic Wire, the Guardian, and the New Yorker. I’m not sure how it looks on a small screen (I have it on my rooted Nook Color), but it looks great on the 7″ and it’s quite responsive.

  9. Gwen Hayes
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 09:59:14

    I use Google Maps and Navigator all the time. And our state Dept of Transp. app is really good for traffic and mt. pass conditions. I also like Camscanner which turns out a pdf of receipts etc.

  10. nasanta
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 22:42:32


    erinf1, thanks so much for reposting that. I just installed the Android app and got the upgrade. I had created a Box account some years ago and stopped using it but with the upgrade, I’m excited to using it more often.

  11. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Land sakes, linkity!
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 02:06:45

    […] Dear Author’s favorite non-reading Android applications. […]

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