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Monday, July 23, 2012

Best Android Apps For Momma

I did a post on my favorite apps for kids and one on social media within the last week or so... ish.  But, by far, my apps for momma (yep, that's me!) are my absolute faves.  Duh, right?  They are, after all, the apps I use the most.  I'll give you my top five in four categories:  Productivity, Phone Customization, Making Mommy's Life Easier, and Games and Entertainment in a two-part post.  Let's start with the first two.


Productivity:
1.  Google Drive.  This is the new version of Google Docs.  I use Google Docs all the time, mostly because I can access it from any of my devices.  Laptop, yep.  Desktop, yep.  Phone, yep.  Tablet, yep.  It's easy to use and reliable.


2.  AK Notepad.  It's simple, easy to use and you can backup your notes.  Get a new phone?  Not to worry, all your old notes will sync back up as soon as you log in and retrieve them.  Lifesaver.  Seriously.  I use this all.  The.  Time.

UPDATE 04/30/14:  This app is no longer available and I was seriously sad when they discontinued it.  However, Google Keep has been a great replacement.  I love Keep.  It has a check list option, a photo option, a notepad option and it will even transcribe text from a photo.  Seriously.  It's not always accurate, but it's still pretty impressive.  I'd dare say it's even better than AK Notepad was...


3.  Swiss Army Knife.  This app has a rather handy little set of tools in an all-in-one setting.  A flashlight, a ruler, a timer, a stop watch, a compass, a bubble level, a calculator, a magnifying glass and a mirror.  It's kinda nice to have all that in one spot.  How big is >    this   <?  Let me grab my little ruler.  Tantrum-ing toddler in time out?  Pull out the timer.  Or stop watch and let him watch it.  It'll help calm him down again.  I'm the worst at math.  Seriously.  The calculator gets used all the time.  And I've used the bubble level while perched precariously on my sofa hanging photos.  Perfection?  Maybe not, but it's good enough.


4. Dropbox.  Oh dropbox, how I love thee.  It's kinda like Google Drive for my photos.  It's a piece of cake to take the photo will my phone and upload it to my Dropbox, where it is then accessible on my laptop, tablet, our desktop and I can send a link to anyone I want to share the photo(s) with.  Awesome.  And I can share folders with my honeyman and he then has access to the file on his phone, tablet, laptop and our desktop.  We share photos while he's away with work in this manner all the time.  It's not just for photos though, any document at your fingertips.
UPDATE 04/30/14:  Another online storage option: Copy.  Copy is Dropbox with more storage space.  More FREE storage space.  With Dropbox, I have just under 7GB of storage space.  I had to use a referral, get three referrals, connect and share on social media, use the instant upload for my mobile photos and do their tutorial when I signed up to get the 6.88 GB I have.  With Copy, I have 42GB of storage.  For real.  Six times as much as with Dropbox.  I used a referral from my husband when I signed up, posted to Twitter once, and have had four referrals use my link when they signed up.  That's it.  For six times the storage... you can check out Copy HERE.  Use the link and you'll get an extra 5GB when you sign up.

     
5.  Out of Milk is my preferred "to-do list" app.  As the name suggests, it's an awesome grocery list.  However, it also has the option for a pantry list.  I can see at a glance what's in my pantry.  Awesome.  It has made meal-planning soo much easier.  There is also a to-do list, which I frequent.  I also use Google tasks, simply because it syncs across my devices so seamlessly.  Out of Milk is nice because my hubby and I can sync and share lists, so it's not a big deal when he leaves the grocery list on the counter... or I need to add that last minute bag of Oreos.



Phone Customization:
1.  Sound Manager.  Super, super easy controls to all aspects of sound the emanate from my phone's little speaker.  Not only that, I can set a schedule for when I want my phone to hush.  At night?  During church?  A weekly activity or meeting?  No more embarrassing outbursts from my speakers!  (ICS, or Android 4.0, has a neat little feature called "smart actions" that are similar, although a little more in-depth.  Unfortunately, not many phones have ICS yet... Sound manager is a manageable alternative).  UPDATE 04/30/14: I still use this app on my Galaxy S4 and love it.


2.  Thumb Keyboard is my personal preference in the world of virtual keyboards.  The predictive text is accurate enough to not make me look like a moron every time I fat finger while I'm typing.  It also has great auto-correcting ability.  The keyboard itself has a ton of customization, such as layout, color or background, size and dimension, and sound.  I also really like that I can type a word without it automatically saving it to my user dictionary.  I can double tap and confirm that I want to add it if it's a word I use often.

3.  Dolphin Browser HD.  I've actually got Chrome running on my ICS phone because it syncs across all my devices: laptop, desktop, phone and tablet.  But, for those of you without ICS, Dolphin Browser is my choice of browser.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the tabbed browsing.  The browser has lots of customization and some cool features like Sonar and Gesture, plus you can make it totally personalized with add-ons.  I also like the sidebar feature.  Even though I primarily run Chrome, this browser is still installed on my phone and I do still use it.

4.Fancy Widget.  I have the Pro version and there are a few more features, but I still like the free version too.  I love that it has the time, date and weather all in one.  This widget adorns my homepage on both my phone and my tablet.  There is also the option to launch new apps when you press on the date (launch calendar app, perhaps?), time (alarm clock, maybe?) and the weather.  UPDATE 04/30/14:  I have installed this app on every phone I've owned since I bought it.  I love the at-a-glance info and the gorgeous animations.  The pro version is worth it and offers a lot of customization options as well.

5.  Handcent SMS is my texting app of choice, primarily because I can set different tones and LED colors to different contacts.  Sometimes it's nice to know if it's the hubby or my crazy co-worker.  OK, I don't have any co-workers because I'm a stay-at-home mom, run an Etsy shop and blog... all by my lonesome (well, I guess my husband is my co-worker on the parenting front) but if I did have legit co-workers, I'd customize the ringtones for the crazy ones...

6.  Multicon.  Need more space on your desktops?  This widget is your answer.  Display four apps in what you can usually display one... That's right quadruple your app space.

7.  Power Controls.  This widget is awesome.  And credit goes to my hubby for finding it.  You can customize up to eight toggles or shortcuts all in a single 1x4 line of space.  There is a toggle option for almost anything you can imagine: wifi, bluetooth, airplane mode, auto rotate, volume, brightness, flashlight, battery info, multimedia controls, and more!  The only one it doesn't have is direct GPS toggle (due to Android restrictions).  You can customize the toggles and app shortcuts even down to the icons and the colors.  On ICS, you can re-size the widget.  It shows up as a notification in your status bar, but there is the option for it to show your battery percentage (which I like anyway, as my phone doesn't display the numerical percentage, just a little battery icon with varying levels of blue in it).  It isn't perfect, but the awesome far outweighs any minor glitches or annoyances (like the GPS toggle issue).


I know that's more than five, but the last two seriously deserve the shout out.  What are your fave apps?






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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seven Android Social Media Apps


I did a post on my favorite apps for kids on the Android OS a few days ago.  And my kids' apps do take up a bit of space on my devices, but I definitely have my fair share (and then some... it is MY phone after all...) of apps.  So, here's a few of my favorite apps for momma:

Social Media Apps:

1.  Facebook.  While I don't love everything about this app, it gets the job done and is usually pretty reliable, even if it is awfully slow sometimes.  Facebook is my go-to app when I have a few minutes of waiting.  It's great for a quick catch-up with friends and family.
2.  Instagram.  iPhone users have had Instagram for the past year and, recently, it came to Android.  I won't lie, this is probably one of my favorite all-around apps.  I am all about the photos.  I love to take photos and this is an easy way to share them with family and friends.  When hubby is out of town with work, I can upload a photo of Little Monkey hanging off of the counter and Daddy gets just a little taste of our day even when he's far away.  It's also a fun way to keep in touch with friends who are hundreds or thousands of miles away.  Sure, I could just read their Facebook statuses, but there's something about seeing the photo of Cindy Lou Who's dance recital that is so much better than just reading about how mom thinks she did such an awesome job.
3.  TweetCaster.  I'm horrible at tweeting and facebooking for my blog.  HORRIBLE.  Sure, I've read all the social-media-will-grow-your-readership articles and they have valid points.  I just don't remember or have time to update a bunch of different places.  And my Twitter account is linked to my blog, whereas Facebook is linked to my personal page.  I try to keep the two separate and a lot of the time the dual-posting options don't work for me.  When I do tweet, a lot of the time it is with TweetCaster.  It's easy, user-friendly and you can set notifications (or turn them off) when you get new tweets or mentions.
4.  Google+.  Honestly, I mostly have this app installed for the instant upload feature.  Ever see the commercial where the new dad has hundreds and hundreds of photos of his new little man on his phone and then he leaves the phone in a cab one night?  He's not upset he lost the phone, it's the photos of his kiddo he wants back.  Of course it's a commercial highlighting the instant upload feature.  All his photos of his little guy are already uploaded on his computer.  Yeah, that's why I have Google+.
5.  Handcent SMS.  My texting app of choice because it allows me to set different tones and LED flash colors for different people.  If I'm at a meeting and the hubby is home with the hooligans and I notice a yellow LED flash, I just might want to check and make sure everyone is still alive and not en route to the ER or something.  Now, if it's flashing orange, my ten-year-old sister can probably wait until I have a free minute.
6.  Latitude.  This is a cool app because I can use it to stalk... uhm, I mean track, Daddy when he's on his way home from a trip.  Little Monkey loves watching Daddy get closer and closer to home.  One time, my hubby's family was having a reunion and a couple of his sisters left the same day we did.  It was fun to watch and track everyone on our way to Grandma and Grandpa's.
7.  Google Reader.  Not necessarily social media, per se, but worth a mention.  I love having all my blog subscriptions available on my phone in one place.  It's a life saver at the doctor's office, in between meetings, and for all those other "waiting times".  When else would I get the chance to read up on my fave blogs?


Any social media apps you love?




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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weekend Wander #89

Ok, first off...  Congrats to Maureen A., winner of the Scentsy Giveaway.  No, I didn't forget.  We just ended up being out of town longer than we anticipated.  Stephanie will be back with some more Scentsy goodness in a couple months, so make sure you keep your eyes open for that.

Next... if your RSS feed reader was slammed with a bunch of posts last night, I'm super sorry.  Feedburner was having some issues (read: I was having issues with Feedburner.  Feedburner itself was absolutely fine.  I was having a Mommy Brain moment) and, well, out of desperation, I reset the thing.  Which, in turn, republished the last 15-20 posts.  Eek.  Sorry.

And lastly... Sorry about the lack of posts this week!  It was one of those weeks.  I was working on some Etsy orders, washing a week and a half's worth of laundry, playing single momma while My Mr. Right was out of town for work, and feeding my children on two gallons of milk, a loaf of bread, a bottle of peanut butter and a jar of applesauce because I was afraid I'd miss the UPS guy again and my second order for a Bumbo tray would magically disappear like my first one did if I went to the grocery store.  {Oh, Bumbo tray, how I love thee.}  And, although I make a mean PB&J, I doubt you would want to see a recipe for it...

And now, the reason you're actually here (yeah, I know it's not because I'm an entertaining rambler).  And... GO!








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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Best Android Apps for Kids

I have seen a bajillion and one lists of "Top Apps for Kids".  All for the iPhone.  I'm not an Apple-hater or anything, but I do have an Android phone.  And an Android tablet.  We actually have three Android tablets.  Mostly because my hubby likes Android better and he is my technical support guy.  The lines are usually waay shorter at the hubby's fix-it shop than the Apple store.  Usually.  So, with all the app lists for iPhone, I thought I'd make one for Android.


MY TOP ANDROID APPS FOR KIDS

Most of these games are suitable for little kids, as that is what I have, but older kids may enjoy some of them as well.  I try to only let my kiddos play 'educational' games.  Some of my reasoning is a little wacky, but fun can be educational too, right?!

1. Angry Birds** - Ok, a little far-fetched with the reasoning, but there are some basic physics and cause-and-effect principles here.  And sometimes, a lesson in perseverance and trying until you get results.  Those are life lessons, right?
Via
2. Animal Match - Working on memorization and reviewing animals is great and keeps my little guy sharp.
3. Art of Glow - This is lots of fun.  And Little Monkey can practice drawing shapes, letters and numbers.
Via
4. Kid's ABC Letters - Practicing letters is always a winner in my book.
5. Kid's Match'em - Memorization skills in practice.  While Little Monkey doesn't have the patience to actually play "Memory" with physical cards, matching games on the tablets or phones will keep him entertained for at least a good ten minutes.
Via
6. Red Wrecker** - This is a fabulous game.  Not only can my Little Monkey play the first several levels of this, Momma and Daddy enjoy playing it too.  The goal is to keep all the green shapes on the screen while ridding the screen of red shapes.  It's a little lesson in gravity.
Via
7. Super Why - Little Monkey loves the PBS show and now he can play with his fave characters.  He works on letters with Alpha Pig, rhyming with Wonder Red, spelling with Princess Presto, and finishing the story with Super Why.  Sometimes, it's a trial and error method of answering, but he still enjoys it.
Via
8. TableTots* - This is fabulous!  Little Monkey is a bit young to play this the way it was designed, but he still likes to play with the app.  I love that he has a visual for the alphabet and numbers, as well as colors and money.  It's one that will have lots of potential for years to come.
9. Tangrams - There's actually a couple of puzzle games my Little Monkey loves, but this one gives his momma a little feeling of nostalgia.  The good ole days of grade school.
10. Where's My Water** - Sometimes this game is more of a lesson on perseverance, but the problem-solving aspect is pretty awesome too.

Some of these apps are cross-platform apps, meaning there is a version for Android as well as Apple devices.  There are a couple apps that I did pay for (I marked them with *), but most of them are free.  At least for Android.  Also, some of the apps I got out of the Amazon App Store (marked with **).  If you have an Android device, it's worth checking out.  They offer a free paid app every day.  Sometimes, they are great and sometimes I pass on them, but I have gotten several apps that I probably would not have otherwise paid for.

Do you have an Android device?  What are your fave kid's apps?  I'm always looking for more.  Leave 'em in the comments!  =)



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