A Casual Android User’s Guide to Free Apps

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not the Android badass of the world. I haven’t rooted my phone. I use only the Android and Amazon markets. I do, however, find myself playing with my smartphone often. It’s possibly the most useful thing I own.

I have an HTC Incredible; I got it early last summer and have become very familiar with its basic workings. I’m pretty sure there are some people out there like me, people who don’t want to root their phone for fear of fucking it all up, people who first and foremost use their phones to make calls and like the convience of the Internet at their fingertips.

Here are five badass-useful-but-still-free apps that I use every damn day:

Plug-in Launcher
This is a no-nonsense, no-frills application. There are three things you can do that suddenly make your phone even more indispensable than before: First, depending on what cord you plug into your phone, it can automatically launch another app. So, for example, every time I get in my truck and plug in the speakerphone jack, Pandora starts up and begins playing. Fuck yeah. Say you are sleepy but have a habit of forgetting to set your gentle alarm app. When you plug in the power cable, BOOM! There it is. No more oversleeping and showing up to work like a half-drunk douche canoe. Also, if you want to start your 3G hotspot when you plug into a USB device, you can. The only down side to this app is that you can only launch one other app at a time, so you can’t start your GPS app and your alarm clock at the same time.

Dolphin Browser HD
Just an oustanding browser. It gives you tabs, gestures, outstanding RSS detection, and tab recovery. You can also install add-ons like AdBlocker, LastPass, and Web to PDF (lets you save a webpage as a PDF on your phone, I don’t really use it but thought it was cool as fuck). Basically, everything that you don’t like about the standard android browser is fixed with Dolphin browser. It’s faster, has a loading bar, and is just generally more responsive. Some people will stand by Firefox, Opera, or any of the other possible browsers, it really just seems like a matter of preference. I like Dolphin just because it is a mobile browser first and so I like to believe they put more time and effort into bug fixes and other stuff that comes up than the rip-offs of standard desktop browsers

I’m not good with money. Neither are you. We’re all poors who are just trying to get along with the crumbs our God Ronnie has seen fit to trickle down. Mint.com is a website that is owned by the company that makes Turbo Tax, another site us poors use or should use as much as possible. Mint tracks your spending and allows you to set budgets and actually see how much money you’re spending and on what without the hassle of one of those weak-ass check book registers. Mint will let you go into any account that has online banking so you do have a chance to look at all your finances in one place. The mobile app will let you know how far over budget you are (because you are) and where you stand with each of your budget categories before you spend your last five dollars on three cigarettes and a bootlegged 4Loko.

Pulse News Reader
This news app has a pretty interface. I know how much you guys like pretty things. Also, you can now add up to 5 tabs with different types of news. For example I have “Badass Shit” (Facebook, Crasstalk, used to have Lifehacker and G*wker), “Entertainment News” (THR, Deadline, Variety, ect.), “Polidicks” (Politico, Salon, Yahoo, CNN), and “The Rich” (WSJ, Yahoo! Finance, ect). You can add any website with an RSS feed and it will show up with the title of the article and a brief summary if you decide it’s worth your time. Also, I have mine set to show up on the status bar whenever new articles show up through the feeds I follow. The only downside to this bad boy is that it uses a lot of battery. If you use it fairly regularly, you will need to charge your phone at least every night, if not at some point in the middle of the day.

If you’re into it, StumbleUpon is pretty fucking amazing. The mobile app is lacking in a couple of features that are much easier in a browser, but it does what it is designed to very well. You just log in and start stumbling. Stumbling has caused me to lose hours, if not days of my life and I love it. It’s another battery sucker, and it’s very difficult to “discover” new pages to add to their database through the moble app. Also, since it’s on a mobile device, some videos just will not play.

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