Android apps for iPhone refugees

Discussion at Barcamp Boston 8.
The theme was advice for basic apps in Android for a recent switcher (me). Great discussion, lots of fun.

Uniquely Andoidy apps

Homescreen managers allow you to customize how your phone’s homescreen looks or works

Alternate keyboards

Apps with good widgets (glanceable info on your homescreen or lock screen)

Sensors not available on iPhones

  • barometers and altimeters are included in many Android phones, allowing weird and cool apps.

Phone software replacement software. Android lets you totally swap out the whole set of software your carrier provides.

Music apps. Several folks in the room thought it was perfectly viable to use cloud music services rather than syncing a huge personal library. Folks with limited data plans were not so keen.


Calendar. What was wanted was a calendar that worked like the stock IOS calendar.

Camera apps. Camera replacement apps are much sparser for Android, possibly because it’s harder to charge for them directly.

Notetaking apps. Things like Simplenote or Vesper or Elements for IOS.

Task managers

Personal Cloud Storage

  • Pogoplug
  • Space Monkey







Quiet devices

Ars Technica has a study on how cellphone usage is self-reinforcing. This ties in with a thought I have from time to time about quiet devices.

Part of what I like about my Mac is that it runs quietly and efficiently and isn’t constantly insisting that I update it or adjust it or further secure it in some way. Like every Windows computer I’ve ever had has.

My iPhone is indispensable, but kinda needy. I’ve turned off most of the automatic notifications, but it still pings or buzzes at random, Skinnerian intervals. Most of my email and feeds get read there now, so there’s always a chance when I pick it up that there will be something new and wonderful to read. Perfect operant conditioning. I also find it perfectly workable as an ebook reader–it’s the first one I’d tried you could actually read poetry on…but I *hate* it when my book rings. And, of course, iPhone is constantly hungry. The effect is as if it’s constantly tugging at my sleeve.

My Kindle, on the other hand, is quiet. No interruptions, battery life measured in weeks, and it requires an effort of will to do anything with it other than read. Mostly I manage it from my computer or my phone. So it sits quietly on my nightstand.

The notebooks I bought earlier are even quieter: easy to carry, quick to boot, great screen resolution, and unlimited battery life. And they’re so familiar to use that they blend into any situation I’m in and let me focus on what’s going on.