A few months with my Android phone

Since a few months ago I have been using an Android phone, first an HTC Desire and now a Nexus S. I don’t use a phone’s to talk that much, the reason I decided to switch to a smartphone is that it supports my minimalist urges because of the applications it supports:

Calendar

I use Google Calendar extensively both at work and outside of it. Android synchronizes calendars automatically and warns me before meetings or events so I don’t need to be thinking about what I am going to do or keep checking an agenda. My phone is my personal assistant.

Maps

Android phones have a very nice Google Maps application that works like the browser one although I don’t use it as much as I thought. The problem is that you can’t easily use it when you don’t have an internet connection, you either need to pre-download the maps going through several hops or you need a data plan. The first option goes against simplicity and the second goes against my bank account which, indirectly, also goes against simplicity.

Email

You can check your email in your Android phone although you need to be careful not to get addicted to checking it all the time. Typing on a smartphone is still a pain but if you are waiting for an important email or you want to check your email while you’re away you can do it.

Emergency computer

An extension of the previous benefit: if you go to a remote location where you have electricity and either SIM cards or wifi you have a very rudimentary computer, the perils of using a stranger’s computer are nonexistent.

PDF reader

There are plenty of PDF readers for Android phones. For me this is a big plus. Reading from a screen is not as nice as reading a physical book but the advantage of not having to carry books with you outweigh the smell of books, the pleasure of touching paper and everything that a book lover will tell you about reading from a screen.

SSH Terminal

SSH is a tool and a way of connecting to remote servers. I have remote servers and I sometimes need to connect to them. Again, typing in such a small keyboard is a pain but at least I can do it if there is an urgency.

Stopwatch and timer

I use stopwatches all the time, to prevent my pizza from getting burnt in the oven, to stop brainstorming sessions, to know that I ran out of time when I am doing something very focused and so on. Before Android I used my computer but it required having a big source of distractions screaming at you and it uses more energy than a phone.

Twitter

I use Twitter as one of my main serendipity sources. Twitter integration in Android phones is nice enough.

Biggest downsides:

The lower battery life and that the version of Android that comes Nexus S still needs some polish.

Biggest upside:

Everything that it replaces allows me to carry less things or worry less about the nearest computer.

And you? Do you have a smartphone? A normal mobile phone? Do you use a phone at all?

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  1. Regarding maps: RMaps is great for using Google Maps offline, I use it all the time when travelling.

    Just make sure you pre-cache the maps you might need. A good tool for this is trekbuddy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Emd_5loWsk

  2. reinoud: thanks! ideally you would be able to say to Maps: store the map of this city for offline use. Either that or cheaper universal flat rate internet over 3G/4G.

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