A list of apps that are useful to me. (And other phone details)

Edit: up­dated list http://​​less­wrong.com/​​r/​​dis­cus­sion/​​lw/​​nh3/​​up­date_to_the_list_of_apps_that_are_use­ful_to_me/​​

I have no­ticed I of­ten wish “Damn I wish some­one had made an app for that” and when I search for it I can’t find it. Then I out­source the search to face­book or other peo­ple; and they can usu­ally say—yes, its called X. Which I can put down to an in­abil­ity to know how to search for an app on my part; more than any­thing else.

With that in mind; I wanted to solve the prob­lem of find­ing apps for other peo­ple.

The fol­low­ing is a list of apps that I find use­ful (and use of­ten) for pro­duc­tive rea­sons:

The environment

This list is long. The most valuable ones are the top sec­tion that I use reg­u­larly.

Other things to men­tion:

In­ter­nal stor­age—I have a large in­ter­nal mem­ory card be­cause I knew I would need lots of space. So I played the “out of sight out of mind game” and tried to give my­self as much space as pos­si­ble by buy­ing a large in­ter­nal card.

Bat­tery—I use anker ex­ter­nal bat­tery blocks to save my­self the trou­ble of wor­ry­ing about bat­ter­ies. If pre­pared I leave my house with 2 days of phone charge (of 100% use). I used to count “wins” of days I beat my phone bat­tery (stay awake longer than it) but they are few and far be­tween. Also I dou­bled my ex­ter­nal bat­tery power and it sits at two days not one (28000mA + 2*460ma spare phone bat­ter­ies)

Phone—I have a Sam­sung S4 (an­droid Run­ning KitKat) be­cause it has a few fea­tures I found use­ful that were not found in many other phones—Cheap, Re­mov­able bat­tery, ex­ter­nal stor­age card, re­place­able case.

Screen cover—I am us­ing the one that came with the phone still

I carry a spare phone case, in the be­gin­ning I used to go through one each month; now I have a harder case than be­fore it hasn’t bro­ken.

MicroUSB ca­bles—I went through a lot of effort to sort this out, it’s still not sorted, but its “okay for now”. The ad­vice I have—buy sev­eral good ca­bles (read on­line re­views about it), test them wher­ever pos­si­ble, and re­al­ise that they die. Also carry a spare or two.

Res­tart—I restart my phone prob­a­bly most days when it gets slow. It’s got pro­gram­ming bugs, but this solu­tion works for now.

The overlays

Th­ese sit on my screen all the time.

Data mon­i­tor—Gives an overview of bits per sec­ond up­load or down­load. up­dated ev­ery sec­ond.

CpuTemp—Gives an over­lay of the cur­rent core tem­per­a­ture. My phone is always hot, I run it hard with blue­tooth, GPS and wifi blar­ing all the time. I also have a lot of ac­tive apps.

Mind­ful­ness bell—My phone makes a chime ev­ery half hour to re­mind me to check, “Am I do­ing some­thing of high-value right now?” it some­times stops me from do­ing crap things.

Face­book chat heads—I of­ten have them open, they have mem­ory leaks and start slow­ing down my phone af­ter a while, I close and re­open them when I care enough.

The nor­mals:

Face­book—com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple. I do this a lot.

Inkpad—its a note-tak­ing app, but not an ex­cep­tion­ally great one; open to a bet­ter sug­ges­tion.

Ingress—it makes me walk; it gave me friends; it put me in a com­mu­nity. Down­side is that it takes up more time than you want to give it. It’s a mo­bile GPS game. Join the Re­sis­tance.

Maps (google maps) - I use this most days; mostly for traf­fic as­sis­tance to places that I know how to get to.

Cam­era—I take about 1000 pho­tos a month. Generic phone-app one.

As­sis­tive light—Generic torch app (wid­get) I use this daily.

Hello—SMS app. I don’t like it but its marginally bet­ter than the na­tive one.

Sun­rise cal­en­dar—I don’t like the na­tive cal­en­dar; I don’t like this or any other cal­en­dar. This is the least bad one I have found. I have an app called “face­book sync” which helps with en­ter­ing in a frac­tion of the events in my life.

Phone, ad­dress book, chrome browser.

GPS log­ger—I have a log of my cur­rent gps lo­ca­tion ev­ery 5 min­utes. If google tracks me I might as well track my­self. I don’t use this data yet but its free for me to track; so if I can find a use for the his­toric data that will be a win.

Quan­tified apps:

Fit—google fit; here for mul­ti­ple redundancy

S Health—Sam­sung health—here for mul­ti­ple redundancy

Fit­bit—I wear a flex step tracker ev­ery day, and in­put my weight daily man­u­ally through this app

Ba­sis—I wear a B1 watch, and track my sleep like a hawk.

Res­cue­time—I track my hours on tech­nol­ogy and wish it would give a bet­ter break­down. (I also paid for their pre­mium ser­vice)

Voice recorder—generic phone app; I record around 1-2 hours of things I do per week. Would like to in­crease that.

Nar­ra­tive—I re­cently ac­quired a life-log­ging de­vice called a nar­ra­tive, and don’t re­ally know how to best use the data it gives. But its a start.

How are you feel­ing? - Mood track­ing app—this one is bro­ken but the best one I have found, it doesn’t seem to open it­self af­ter a phone restart; so it won’t re­mind you to en­ter in a cur­rent mood. I use a wid­get so that I can en­ter in the mood quickly. The best parts of this app are the way it lets you zoom out, and hav­ing a 10 point scale. I used to write a quick sen­tence about what I was feel­ing, but that took too much time so I stopped do­ing it.

Stop­watch—“hy­brid stop­watch”—about once a week I time some­thing and my phone didn’t have a na­tive one. This app is good at be­ing a stop­watch.

Cal­lin­spec­tor—tracks in­go­ing or out­go­ing calls and gives sum­maries of things like, who you most fre­quently call, how much data you use, etc. can also set data limits.


Pow­er­calc—the best calcu­la­tor app I could find

Night mode—for sav­ing bat­ter (it dims your screen), I don’t use this of­ten but it is good at what it does. I would con­sider an app that dims the blue light emit­ted from my screen; how­ever I don’t no­tice any nega­tive sleep effects so I have been putting off get­ting around to it.

Ad­vanced sig­nal sta­tus—about once a month I am in a place with low phone sig­nal—this one makes me feel bet­ter about know­ing more de­tails of what that means.

Ebay—To be able to buy those $5 solu­tions to prob­lems on the spot is prob­a­bly worth more than $5 of “im­pulse pur­chases” that they might be clas­sified as.

Cal—an­other cal­en­dar app that some­times catches events that the first one misses.

ES file ex­plorer—for search­ing the guts of my phone for files that are an­noy­ing to find. Not as used or as use­ful as I thought it would be but still use­ful.

Maps.Me—I went on an ex­plor­ing ad­ven­ture to places with­out sig­nal; so I needed an offline map­ping sys­tem. This map saved my life.

Wikipe­dia—in­for­ma­tion lookup

Youtube—don’t use it of­ten, but its there.

How are you feel­ing? (again) - I have this in mul­ti­ple places to make it as easy as pos­si­ble for me to en­ter in this data

Play store—Makes it easy to find.

Gallery—I take a lot of pho­tos, but this is the na­tive gallery and I could use a bet­ter app.


In no par­tic­u­lar or­der;

Face­book groups, Ya­hoo Mail, Skype, Face­book Mes­sen­ger chat heads, What­sapp, meetup, google+, Han­gouts, Slack, Viber, OKcu­pid, Gmail, Tin­der.

They do so­cial things. Not much to add here.

Not used:





AnkiDroid—Anki mem­o­riser app for a phone.

MyFit­nessPal—looks like a re­ally good app, have not used it

Fi­toc­racy—looked good

I got these apps for a rea­son; but don’t use them.

Not on my front pages:

Th­ese I don’t use as of­ten; or have not moved to my front pages (skip­ping the ones I didn’t in­stall or don’t use)

S memo—sam­sung note tak­ing thing, I rarely use, but do use once a month or so.

Drive, Docs, Sheets—The google pack­age. Its ter­rible to in­ter­act with doc­u­ments on your phone, but I still some­times ac­cess things from my phone.

bub­ble—I don’t think I have ever used this

Com­pass pro—gives ex­tra de­tails about di­rec­tion. I never use it.

(ingress apps) Glypher, Agentstats, in­te­grated timer, cram, notify

TripView (pub­lic trans­port app for my city)

Con­vert­pad—con­verts num­bers to other num­bers. Some­times quicker than a google search.

ABC Iview—Na­tional TV broad­cast­ing chan­nel app. Every pro­gram on this chan­nel is up­loaded to this app, I have used it once to watch a doc­u­men­tary since I got the app.

AnkiDroid—I don’t need to mem­o­rise in­for­ma­tion in the way it is in­tended to be used; so I don’t use it. Cram is also a flash­card app but I don’t use it.

First aid—I know my first aid but I have it any­way for the marginal loss of 50mb of space.

Tri­an­gle scan­ner—I can scan de­tails from NFC chips some­times.

MX player—does videos bet­ter than na­tive apps.

Zarchiver—Iunno. Does some­thing.

Pan­dora—Never used

Sound­cloud—used once ev­ery two months, some of my friends post mu­sic on­line.

Bar­code scan­ner—never used

Diskusage—Very use­ful. Vi­su­al­ises where data is be­ing taken up on your phone, helps when try­ing to free up space.

Swiftkey—Bet­ter than na­tive key­boards. Gives more free­dom, I wanted a key­board with black back­ground and pale keys, swiftkey has it.

Google cal­en­dar—don’t use it, but its there to try to use.

Sleep­bot—doesn’t seem to work with my phone, also I track with other meth­ods, and I for­get to turn it on; so its en­tirely not use­ful in my life for sleep track­ing.

My ser­vice provider’s app.

AdobeAcro­bat—use of­ten; not via the icon though.

Wheres­my­droid? - seems good to have; never used. My phone is at­tached to me too well for me to lose it of­ten. I have it open most of the wak­ing day maybe.

Uber—I don’t use ubers.

Ter­mi­nal em­u­la­tor, AIDE, PdDroid party, Pro­cess­ing An­droid, An ed­i­tor for pro­cess­ing, pro­cess­ing refer­ence, learn C++ - pro­gram­ming apps for my phone, I don’t use them, and I don’t pro­gram much.

Airbnb—Have not used yet, done a few searches for es­ti­mat­ing prices of things.

Heart rate—mea­sures your heart rate us­ing the cam­era/​flash. Neat, not use­ful other than show­ing off to peo­ple how its pos­si­ble to do.

Ba­sis - (B1 app), - has less info available than their new app

BPM counter—Neat if you care about what a “BPM” is for mu­sic. Don’t use of­ten.

Sketch guru—fun to play with, draws things.

DJ stu­dio 5 - I did a dj thing for a friend once, used my phone. was good.

Face­book cal­en­dar Sync—as the name says.

Dual N-back—I Don’t use it. I don’t think it has value giv­ing prop­er­ties.

Awe­some cal­en­dar—I don’t use but it comes with good rec­comen­da­tions.

Bat­tery mon­i­tor 3 - Makes a graph of tem­per­a­ture and fre­quency of the cores. Use­ful to see a few times. Even­tu­ally its a bell curve.

ur­bans­poon—lo­cal food places app.

Gumtree—Aus­tralian Ebay (also ebay owns it now)

Prin­ter app to go with my printer

Car Road­side as­sis­tance app to go with my insurance

Vir­gin air en­ter­tain­ment app—you can use your phone while on the plane and down­load en­ter­tain­ment from their in-flight sys­tem.

Two things now;

What am I miss­ing? Was this use­ful? Ask me to elab­o­rate on any app and why I used it. If I get time I will do that any­way.

P.S. this took two hours to write.

P.P.S—I was in­tend­ing to make, keep and main­tain a list of use­ful apps, that is not what this doc­u­ment is. If there are enough sug­ges­tions that it’s time to make and keep a list; I will do that.