The Mobile Applications That Save My Life, And The Apps That Make It Worse

Posted: July 20, 2010 in Com 597, Digital Media, Mobile Applications
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mobile App Name: Google Maps Navigation

URL: http://www.google.com/mobile/navigation/

Why I love this App: my travel life depends on it. Last month I went on a business trip to Los Angeles where I had to visit numerous banks and credit unions throughout the city and surrounding areas. My life depended on this application. Before I discovered this app I used to waste time on Mapquest or Google Maps plotting out my trips and printing maps with lists of directions. This process works fine in places I am familiar with (although inconvenient and a waste of resources). But when I’m traveling alone and don’t have someone to read the directions to me in an area I’m unfamiliar with, grabbing my list of directions makes navigating even more difficult. This is not so with Google Maps Navigation. Not only am I more confident visiting a new region, I also feel safer with this app as my sidekick. The lady on the app even reads the directions to me! I love it, Mapquest better watch out.

Name: Facebook for Android

URL: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=74769995908 (download URL not found)

Why I like it: Facebook is addictive and this app and I have a love/hate relationship. I don’t want to be a Facebook fanatic, but this app almost makes it too easy. My favorite thing about it is that I can check my messages and share posts and photos without anyone actually seeing that I’m online as they do on the actual website. This is nice because I don’t have to worry about being a jerk to a “friend” just because I don’t feel like chatting just for the simple reason that we both happen to have nothing better to do than check our Facebook profiles at the same time.

The Facebook app is easy to navigate, the icons are self explanatory and the whole system is just really user friendly, especially for those who are overly familiar with Facebook. I also love how well it integrates with my phone’s photo log making it even easier to share, I can even touch the camera icon on my profile page and take the pic directly in the Facebook application. I love it, but it’s addictive nature has definitely hindered my productivity in other arenas.

Name: Slacker Radio

URL: http://www.slacker.com/everywhere/mobile/android/?source=Google&type=NonBrand&campaign=Products-Android-Broad-&keyword=droid+radio

Why I love this app: I was sitting on Malibu Beach last month and something was missing. The sound of the waves was great and all, but I wanted some tunes. I took out my trusty (although not always trusty because I have T Mobile) Android phone and started streaming satellite radio on the beach. It was awesome.

When at work, I tend to have many windows and design software open at once, so I hate the risk of losing a file or slowing production as a result of streaming music directly through the PC. So I keep my Droid at my side and listen to Slacker Radio, so none of my processes are interrupted. The idea of mobile music is not a new, our boom boxes have just shrunk and become more like mini computers that stream anything and everything you could want to hear.

Additionally, this app also allows you to share the music you like via social media platforms like Twitter. The stations can be customized, the album art is visible and the lyrics are also available in Slacker Radio along with a brief bio about the artist. It is the best form of radio out there when it comes to artist promotion. You’re lucky to hear even the name of an artist listening to typical radio.

My favorite part about Slacker was something I accidentally discovered recently, it can stream through my stereo. Yes, that’s right. I have bluetooth built in to my car, and the other day when I hung up the phone Slacker started playing over my speakers. When my free Sirius trial is up, you better believe it’s bye-bye paid Sirius, and hello free Slacker.

APPS I HATE.

Name: Zillow

URL: http://mobile.zillow.com/

Why I hate Zillow: It sucks. I may be biased because I work for a Real Estate Appraisal Management Company, but Zillow’s app is crap. Not only is it less than mobile friendly, it’s inaccurate. Zillow is a service that provides “Zestimates” or estimated home valuations. They call them “Zestimates” because they are NOT true estimates, although the app never provides you with this detail. Appraisers hate Zillow. People rely on the values too much and then get upset when they get a live appraiser providing the ACTUAL value- which is often less than the Zestimate.

Ok enough about my appraiser rant. Zillow’s app also includes details about homes currently listed as well as asking price, square footage, etc. As far as functionality goes the downside of this app is that you can only search one listing at a time, meaning you can’t compare neighborhoods, and must know the address of the home you’re looking for. I read a review on WAP which stated that this app is also “buggy” and sometimes can’t even find the address requested. The addresses were even taken from Zillow’s main site, so the reviewer could prove that they were actual listings. There are error messages or “Listing Not Found” too often for this app to rank high in functionality. All in all, this is not an app I’m going to be using any time soon.

Name: Google Latitude

URL: Way too long to type

Why I hate Google Latitude: I can’t get away. A friend of mine loaded this on to my phone a few months back, and now freakishly sends me texts when he knows I’m in his area. The sad thing is that I forgot that I was even using this app because it doesn’t have it’s own icon. It’s hidden inside the maps application.

For months I have been unknowingly tracked and wasn’t even aware it was running. In addition, the application is NOT user friendly. Once inside it gives information related to my last navigated trip, not the fact that I am being stalked via another user’s phone. I spent about 5 minutes on this process and still couldn’t find any option to cancel the GPS tracking, or at least block the other user from watching me.

Not only is the app hard to navigate, the principle behind it kind of bothers me. I understand it could be a good app for parents wanting to track children, etc. But encouraging friends to track friends is a little much for me. I’m just a fan of my privacy, and when something like that is constantly running in the background it feels almost like my phone is betraying me, even though I signed up- now I can’t figure out how to get away!


Name: ScreenShot, PicMe, any other app that attempts to allow users to take screen shots.

URL: http://android-apps.com/applications/tools/picme-screen-grabber/

http://handheld.softpedia.com/get/Others/Screenshot-Android-71410.shtml

Why I hate Droid screenshot applications: They don’t work. This may be more of an Android problem than an app issue, but I am trying to take screenshots for my UW Smart Phones Course and I simply cannot. Both of these apps say that my phone must be rooted. So I proceeded to see what “rooted” meant. From what I read I saw a long detailed process on how to get my shots to load directly to my PC. The problem is not just the time that this would take, but also the fact I have a Mac. The resources for instructions on rooting my phone are limited and confusing.

The frustrating thing about the ScreenShot app itself allows you to go into the app and create settings and then doesn’t follow through with the shot. This app functions by allowing you to either set a timer or simply shake the phone to take a screen shot. I shook the phone, it made a camera sound, I got excited, and then I got an “Error FB05” message, with no explanation. I’m assuming it comes back to the rooting issue. Nonetheless I have been trying for over a week to get a flipping screen shot and have yet to succeed. All tips/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Side Note: Another app I hate is the Bank of America App for the Droid. If it’s not allowed in my state (WA), don’t put it on my phone, tell me it’s not available before I get all excited and try to log in!

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Comments
  1. Ken says:

    Hi Danielle,

    Here’s how to disable Latitude on your phone. From within Maps, select “Latitude” from the menu (your phone’s menu button). From there, click “Privacy” in the menu and select “Turn off Latitude.” That will completely disable Latitude.

    Here are some useful help pages:
    http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=162814
    http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=136650

    Ken
    Google Product Manager

  2. very well written article ! thank you very much. if you want to see more about this i recommend to read this: http://bit.ly/hazIdF

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