Absolute Android apps

If you’re an Android user there are literally thousands of apps to choose from in the Android Market. Which is great for variety but a nightmare to find the ones that you really will use versus the ones that will simply take up space on your mobile phone or tablet PC.

Obviously, not everyone wants to do the same things with their Android-based mobile device but these are some of our favourite and most-used applications.

Network Counter

If you’re running Android 2.3 on your phone then this might well be one of the first apps to install. Given the price of mobile data in South Africa it’s no good getting an Android phone and then not monitoring where your data is going. Network Counter monitors both mobile and WiFi data on your phone and can be preset to warn you when certain limits are reached. Many of Android’s built-in features include some form of web synchronisation, each of which slowly increase your data usage over the month. Each time you check your email or your calendar a little more of your precious data is disappearing. Network Counter is extremely easy to use but unfortunately is not available on devices running a version of Android older than 2.3. If you’re using Android 2.2 then take a look at Traffic Counter which is a little more detailed but a good alternative to Network Counter.

Dolphin Browser Mini

Android includes its own browser by default but sometimes you need a little more. Dolphin Browser Mini is, as the name suggests, a lightweight version of the Dolphin Browser. It is still packed with features, has an appealing design, great tabbed interface and tools to share websites with most social networking services. Dolphin also supports gestures, so writing on the screen with your finger can be linked with any of a number of actions. Drawing a “B” on the screen can be set to bring up your bookmarks, for example. The standard Dolphin Browser has even more features, including plugins, but can at times be resource hungry, making Dolphin Mini a lightweight alternative.


InstaFetch is an InstaPaper-compatible reader for Android. For those who don’t know it, InstaPaper is simply the best way to store and read websites. InstaPaper strips websites of all distractions such as adverts and graphics and stores just the content of articles you want to read. You can save articles to InstaPaper from any browser and then read it later on your mobile device. Because InstaPaper doesn’t have an Android version available InstaFetch was created. It synchronises with your online store of articles and makes it easy to catch up on your reading when you’ve got a few minutes of downtime.


Evernote is an online service with local clients for storing ideas, notes, links – just about anything you can think of. Evernote runs on almost all platforms (except Linux) and makes keeping notes synchronised across devices as easy as possible. You can also access your notes online through the Evernote website. Synchronisation is smooth and I like the ability to use tags as well as folders for arranging my notes. Linux users can check out Nevernote for an Evernote-compatible application.


If you’ve been bitten by the Twitter bug then TweetDeck is the best for Android. Hootsuite is great on the desktop but on the smaller interface of a mobile phone, TweetDeck’s ability to consolidate multiple accounts into one stream is extremely useful. Also, it’s possible to add as many accounts as you need so there is one place to view all of your social networks. I particularly like the “Me” column which collects all updates directed at you from all your networks into one consolidated list.


For those that haven’t heard of the Pomodoro Technique: it is a time management technique that works by breaking your working day into bite-size chunks. The idea is that you work without distraction for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break and then repeat the process as many times as you can. It’s simple but pretty effective if, like me, you suffer from something like Internet Distraction Syndrome.

Pomodroido is an Android app that visualises the Pomodoro Technique for you. You can vary the work periods and rest intervals and reward yourself with a longer break after a preset number of completed “pomodoros.” It also records how many “pomodoros” you do each day and each week which can be completely disheartening when you realise that at the end of the morning you’ve only really done a few minutes of actual work. It’s fun but it’s also a pretty good motivator.

All of these apps are available in the Android market.

What are your favourite Android apps? << Let us know on the MyBroadband forum.

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Absolute Android apps