Well, after a year of having my Droid I decided to purchase an app.
aCar by Armond Avanes is an excellent example of an app that is perfect for a phone. aCar tracks fuel & service expenses for multiple vehicles. I have been using it to track only the fuel expenses for my ST-1100 and BMW. What makes it perfect for a smart phone app is that it is so handy!
If you’re like me you always have your phone with you. Fill up, open up aCar, tap “Fill Up Rec.” and enter 3 things. Odometer reading, gallons purchases and total amount. From that it will calculate cost per gallon, MPG, cost per mile, time between fill-up. With multiple records it also calculates a running average. All the data can be visualized with tons of graphs or presented in great detail. It’ll even compare multiple vehicles.
For example I can see that my BMW averages 26MPG while my ST-1100 is a hair over 40MPG. I can also see that even though I put the high-grade stuff in my ST-1100 it only costs me about 7 cents per mile compared to the BMW’s 10 cents per mile on the low-grade stuff.
Easy-to-use, simple-to-understand and exceptionally handy on my phone. Well worth the few bucks it took to register.
First it was newfound appreciation for my Droid.
Today it is the fact I made the decision to move completely from Firefox to Chrome. I have been bouncing between the two browsers for months now. Firefox on my gaming rig and one of my Linux VMs because it was what I had grown accustomed to. Chrome on my Mini 10v because it was lighter and HTML5 videos on Youtube played smoother while using less CPU time.
But then I found the page 15 Killer Google Crome Features You Might Not Know About. #11, syncing through my Google account, sealed the deal. With my browsing habits spread across 3 physical and virtual machines keeping the settings, addons, and history in sync has been a challenge. I tried to address it with XMarks but it never really worked well for me. Mainly because I don’t use bookmarks. Besides, Chrome only has one annoying feature and I haven’t been bitten by it in weeks.
That leaves tomorrow. With the amount of Netflix and Hulu that my wife and I watch I am so tempted to ask for GoogleTV for Christmas.
I think I now know what it’s like to be an Apple fanboi.
Ok, I’ve fallen in love with my Droid all over again. Recently I decided to take a trip. A short 4-hour jaunt to visit mom like every good son should do. Turn on the GPS receiver, plug in her address, tap navigation and it starts telling me directions. No biggie, any GPS can do that.
Yup, then flip over to the music player, queue up Ani DiFranco’s “Living in Clip” and rock out. Any time the GPS needed to give me directions the music was automatically paused, GPS told me the next step, music resumed. Awesomesauce!
I just set the cruise and drove. One of the most relaxing drives I’ve had in over a decade. :)
My Droid has two built-in calendars. One personal and one to sync with an Exchange server. It has two built-in email clients. One for GMail and one for standard protocols. It has a calculator and a clock. It has all the functions of my old PDAs, both Palm and PocketPC, except for a To-do list. Of course I can download over a dozen applications to fill that niche but you’d think it would be built in.
The iPhone fared no better. A coworker owns an iPhone. I asked if he had a To-do list built in. He did not. He had to get an app for it, too.
Old W755 and the new Droid
What is in the blurry picture to the left is my old Motorola W755 cell phone and my new Motorola Droid. In the past several months I had pretty much ignored my W755. As a phone it was decent enough. However when I wasn’t in a location where I could be reached via a land line I was often conversing with people via IM or Facebook more than phone. So when our contract with Verizon was up and they bribed us with new free phones I look more towards the smart phones than a replacement simple phone. I decided to get a Droid partly because of the geek factor but largely because it had the latest Android OS and a hardware keyboard. My wife also got one because it was Buy-One-Get-One free even though she was eying the Blackberry Curve (because it was lavender!).
It arrived yesterday. I was expecting for it to be a fun little gadget but in the first 24 hours it has completely blown away any expectations I had for it. Here’s a short list of things I’ve done since getting it activated (which was a chore, but not because of the phone).
- Configured it so that it uses my WiFi for data when in the house. Even though we have unlimited data on the phone this provides a nice speed boost.
- Downloaded an App for playing Pandora. Within 10 minutes of activation I had Within Temptation streaming to my phone. Nice!
- Set up my Facebook account with the built in app. Found it to be quite nice and let my Facebook friends know the Droid was live.
- Played around with Google Maps and cackled with glee as the on-board GPS was identifying where I was inside my house.
- Found an app to measure the strengths of local WiFi signals. Found out they are all on channel 6, including mine. Which means pretty soon I’ll be bumping mine to 11.
- Configured built-in email app to use my personal email that I run. Finally found a reason to allow SMTP time authentication.
- Imported all my contacts… from Facebook. I only had to add a few numbers from my W755.
- Plugged my Droid into my Dell Mini. Got it to be recognized as a USB drive by the Mini. Copied Within Temptation’s “The Silent Force” onto my Droid. Started playing it shortly thereafter. Not too bad considering I ripped the CD to OGG and not MP3. Take that, iPod Nano!
- Installed Seesmic, test tweeted, worked perfectly.
- VNCed into my Linux server and manipulated the torrents running there.
- Found an application, Layar, which tales GPS and tilt coordinates and overlays a layer on top of the picture from the camera. This layer superimposes data from different sources. The first one I checked? Tweets with geoloc. What I found? My neighbor across the street and 3 houses down was looking for someone to split the cost of Carrie Underwood tickets. She tweeted right about the time I had installed the app.
I am simply agog at all I have been able to do with this little machine. It’s more a mini-computer that happens to be a phone. The interface is quite intuitive and dead sexy. The best part is that it replaces several pieces of gear.
- While my wife’s Cannon PC1355 has better picture quality the camera in the Droid easily beats what my W755 had for on-the-spot quick pics where spontaneity is more important than quality.
- Aside from DRM enabled tracks the Droid can replace my Nano. Heck, it does Ogg which means I can dump all my duplicate MP3s. While I am not happy that I can’t strip the DRM from the iTunes tracks I legally purchased I’d rather have to repurchase those tracks than have to forgo ripping to Ogg.
- On-the-go Youtube & Pandora platform. Be even better if Hulu and Netflix worked, too, but I ain’t complaining.
- Facebook, Twitter, IM and email on-the-go.
- Oh, and it’s a phone…
When we were going to order the phones my wife was worried that this would be as used as the W755. I think it is safe to say with all it can do that the chances of that are quite low.