What’s on my Tablet, September Edition

I haven’t done a lot of writing about my iPad recently, and I’ve especially not done a roundup of my favorite and most used apps.

Here we go!

First, a screenshot:

I have an Adventure Time wallpaper that I found online.  I’m wondering if I should try something like Launch Center Pro.  But I digress.

Along the bottom you’ll see BoxerPocket, iBooks, Reeder 2, and Hangouts.  They are probably my most used apps, with the exception of Chrome.

Along the top I have the calendar app, Yahoo Weather (an awesome weather app that allows for multiple locations, my “Web” folder, which contains the following:

  • BaconReader (Reddit app)
  • Google+
  • Twitterific
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • GoodReads
  • Wikipedia
  • Google Search
  • Mail
  • Facetime
  • Messages
  • Safari
  • Xkit

I am thinking of moving BaconReader (which I will do full review of soon) out of my web fodler and into the bottom “dock” but I’m not sure.  It’s an awesome Reddit reader; I use it on my android phone too.  Most of those apps are standard things that most tablets will have.  I don’t use the last five apps as much.  Xkit isn’t robust enough on the iPad for regular use for Tumblr, but once it gets updated it will be.

My “Games” folder is next to my “Web” folder.  I’m not going to go through the games that I have, but suffice it to say that I have a few and I love each of them, from Candy Crush to Smule.

The next row is my “Entertainment” folder and I have the following in it:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu+
  • TuneIn
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • 8Tracks
  • Play Music
  • Roku
  • MetroTimes
  • WatchESPN
  • PBS
  • TitanTV (TV grid for OTA/Cable listings)
  • Youtube
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Podcasts

I don’t use the standard Apple Videos, Music, or Podcasts apps, but all the others I get a decent amount of use from.  They are mostly self-explanatory.  MetroTimes is a local alt newspaper in the Metro Detroit area that has local events and some cool writeups about local interests (DEMF and Movement come to mind).

The next folder houses the following under “Utiliities”:

  • M. Cycles
  • Google Maps
  • Chase
  • OverDrive
  • iTunes Store
  • Camera
  • Photos
  • Swiftkey (awesome keyboard app that I use here plus on my android phone)
  • Other iPad apps that I don’t use: Contacts, Notes, Photo Booth, Clock, Maps, Reminders, Newsstand, Tips.

Next is “Productivity”:

  • Evernote
  • Evernote Food
  • Penultimate
  • Skitch
  • UFYH
  • Dropbox

I love the Evernote suite of apps (Evernote, Food, Penultimate, Skitch).  They’re awesome for the iPad, phone, or an Android tablet.  UFYH I bought to support the blog that I use daily and for motivation for keeping my habitat picked up. Dropbox is indespensible for anyone who has more than one internet connected device.

Lastly, I have a guitar tuner (that I use for my ukulele!); Groove Bank, which is a drum machine that can keep me on beat for my uke playing; and Chrome.  I don’t use safari because I need bookmark and tab syncing between devices.

The second page just holds my Settings and App Store icons.

A tablet is a really personal setup.  I have what I need where I need it.  I like to keep things in folders to keep the front page sort of clear so I can see the awesome background I have.

 

Android App Series: Moon+ Reader

When I bought my Nexus 7, I figured I’d use it mostly as a reading device.  And sure enough, that is what I use it the most for.

Pocket notwithstanding, I like to read ebooks.  I needed to find an ebook reader that would be suitable.  I don’t mind google’s ebook reader but there didn’t seem to be a a way to import your books into the program, and I like to read a lot of Project Gutenberg stuff as well as things from Storybundle, so that was high on my list.  I tried several ebook readers (including the Nook app) but didn’t find something I liked till I gave Moon+ a shot.

I was wow-ed immediately.

I loved the different reading color “skins” and the text changer and everything else.  Moon+ was the first app I ever bought for any android device.

It’s pretty simple:  You load your books into it (and there’s a Dropbox integration, which I have to try yet), pick what you want to read (you can filter by author, series, etc) and then start reading.  Swipe from your right bezel to flip the page forward; to flip back, swipe from the left.

It’s simple and I got it for something like $4.  It might still be half off on the google play store, but I highly recommend it for reading books you’ve downloaded.

5/5 penguins for the fact that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it and it’s array of options.  Also, it’s a rock solid app and doesn’t crash or crash my device.

Android App Series: Pocket

I’d like to start a new series on my blog of Android Apps I use regularly and that I love and can’t think of functioning without.

The first one I’d like to write about is Pocket.

Pocket was originally called “Read it Later” and was the first read later service I tried.  It was not the last; I tried a special folder in my bookmarks, a read later tag on del.ici.ous, a read later tag in diigo, a folder of webclips in Evernote, and Instapaper.

I was using Instapaper as my “go to” read later app.  I then got my Android phone and didn’t really have a good mobile app for reading things while on the go.  It was about this time that Pocket came on the scene and I tried it out.  It told me that I “already had an account on this service” and I found out it was  a rebranded Read it Later.  I installed it on my phone, copied my articles from Instapaper, and the rest is history.

I use it judiciously when I’m reading online on one of my computers.  I’ll find long articles on Ars or Lifehacker or a great feminism post somewhere or whatever, and I click my “save to Pocket” button in Chrome and I have an awesomely formatted article on any browser that’s connected to the internet as well as my phone and my tablet.  The awesomest thing?  I don’t have to have network access to read the articles as they download to the device.  This is both a great thing and a bad thing if you have limited space, but Pocket formats things mostly in plain text and removes the pictures, so you have a plain text reading experience.

I also use Pocket when I’m reading my RSS feeds in Feedly on my Nexus 7.  I pick the “save to Pocket” option on things I think read better on a larger screen (lifehacker with comments, for example).

You can read in your browser, on your phone, and on your tablet.  As long as your devices are connected to the internet, you can easily keep your place between devices.  This is handy if you read something on the tablet, and then get pulled away and have to go out somewhere and then are waiting in line and then you read some more on your phone.  You’ll keep your place so you don’t have to scroll to where you were.  It’s a really handy app.

You can also “star” articles to read again or if you are compiling research for an article or something.  Click the star on your article and it saves to the “starred” section of your Pocket account.  It’s handy to keep track of your favorite articles.

I’ve set up IFTTT to take my starred articles and send them to a folder in Evernote so I can keep them for reading again.

Pocket is a brilliant app and works on Android, i-devices, your browsers (through an extension or bookmarklet) and various RSS readers and other apps.  I give Pocket a hearty thumbs up and 5/5 penguins for its simplicity and usefulness.

Google Nexus 7 Review

I’ve acquired a Nexus 7 tablet recently and would like to do a write-up about it.

So.  A few weeks ago, I decided I was going to get a tablet.  I’d been looking at tablets for awhile now, and I wanted something that would be easy to use, light-weight, and good for reading.

I was looking at Apple’s iPad.  Brian has their iPad 2 and is very happy with it.  I would probably have gotten the New iPad if I was to get one, but was still undecided, so I was waiting.  I looked at the Asus Transformer and wasn’t impressed with the portability (I had a very portable computer in the Air).  I looked at all the tablets they had out at Best Buy and nothing really tickled my fancy.

I started seeing the new 7″ tablet from Google and Asus, and I was intrigued.  I decided to try it out at Office Max one weekend; sadly they didn’t have any in stock.  Another weekend, I went down to Microcenter and picked up the 16 gb version of it, along with a cover for it.  I’m still loving the cover; I wish I’d found a smart cover that would sleep and wake when you open it, but we all can’t have everything.  There’s a neat M-Edge cover out that I might pick up later, but for now, my blue cover is working fine.

I’ve been customizing the heck out of it… basically moving things where I think they should go and changing backgrounds and experimenting with widgets.  I’m pleased with what I’ve done, so how about a picture?

Nexus 7 Screenshot

The picture is my Pandarian Monk from WoW.  I have my Fancy Widgets running for weather and time and whatnot, and all the apps I need in the folders at the bottom.

From left to right we have: Google, Reading, Media, Social, Gaming, and Utilities.

I’ve installed the following apps (broken out by folder):

Reading:

  • Moon+ Reader Pro: Go-to reading app.  It’s really great and takes a ton of formats.
  • Pocket: I use this for longer articles from my RSS reader.
  • Feedly: My RSS reader.
  • Comics: There are some free things so I decided to give this comics app a try.  DC and Marvel universes, plus indie publishers.
  • B&N Nook: I have some books I like to read that are still in my Nook account.  I read them with this.
  • OverDrive: For library books.  I’ve not figured out how to really use it yet.  Ahem.
  • Wikipedia: Of course, duh.

Media:

  • Spotify: Music!
  • Pandora: Music!
  • Netflix: Movies!

Social:

  • Twitter: For short ramblings.
  • Skype: Video chat.
  • Facebook: To keep up with facebook.
  • Instagram: Initially to test out my camera, but I’ll keep it around to browse Instagram.  It’s nice on a tablet.

Gaming:

  • Fruit Ninja: I’ve a new addiction to slicing fruit…
  • Angry Birds: Uhm, flinging little birds at pigs? Why not?
  • Words with Friends: I’ve played this more now since I’ve installed it here.
  • Frozen Bubble: Great FOSS game.
  • WoW Armory: To show off my WoW stuff to people when I have an internet connection.

Utilities:

  • Evernote: Notes.
  • Dropbox: Indispensable.

Google gave me $25 at the Play store, so I paid for Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds to get rid of the ads.  I also did an “in-app” payment for WwF to get rid of the ads.  Moon Reader+ Pro was only $5 and it was worth every penny.  It’s by far the most used app on my tablet.

And I use this thing.  I read on it, game on it, use it to check the weather in the morning before work, and sometimes use it to watch a movie before bed.  I picked up a picture stand for $5 at Target; that works to hold the tablet in landscape mode to watch a movie in bed.

And now for some more pictures!  I took these while opening it all up.  And opening the box was a pain, let me tell you.  So here we go!

From the top left, you can see my screenshot again, and then the packaging, some general unboxing stuff, and then finally the tablet in the case.  I wish I could have gotten a black case, but they didn’t have one, so what can you do?

It fits really well in my purse or my bag for work.  I like being able to carry this device around so I can read or play a game if I have to wait or whatever.  Sometimes I’m without wifi, and in those times, the books are perfect.

A word of warning to Linux users: you’ll have to install gMTP to browse the files on the device.  It uses the Microsoft Protocol thing, and won’t show up as a device in Nautilus.  It took me a couple tries to pair the device with gMTP, but once I got it working, it was great!  Now I tend to upload what I need to dropbox so I can access it easily on the device.

If you’re looking for a 7″ device that you’ll use for games and reading and light browsing, I can’t recommend this enough.  It’s an amazing little tablet and I love this size.  It’s perfect for reading.

5/5 penguins.