2012 - The year the Droids caught up with me
2012 was many things to me. The year that I passed out of college, the year I moved to a new city, the year I started at my first job, the year that I started tweeting and so on. But among many other things, 2012 was also the year I was consumed by Android.
When I was in school and then in college, Apple seemed like the coolest company in the world! I used to love each gadget they brought out and mac-rumors website used to be my top bookmark. But all that changed in 2012. Not that I still do not admire the company for making some amazing gadgets, but rather because my eyes were opened to a whole new paradigm called Android.
As with most good things, it all started when my bank account started filling. After a few paychecks that were ridiculously disproportionate to the amount of work I do, my bank account seemed indecently obese and I decided to use it to replace my aging, trusted Nokia C3.
Despite many better phones in the market such as S3 and HTC One X, I decided to get the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. To be honest, I did not know much about the whole 'Nexus' program of Google. But being a Google phone, I somehow trusted it to be awesome. Thank you Google for living up to my trust!
The Galaxy Nexus exploded into my life! For someone who had lived all his life with dumb phones and erratic net connections, Bangalore's amazing net speeds and Android Jelly Bean was a God-send! For the first time in my life, I understood the term 'staying connected'! From instant tweeting to Google readers to weather updates to Google Now, Android consumed every part of my day and very soon, I was proudly adorning the 'Droid' Badge.
Thanks to Nvidia, within a few months, I managed to get my second Google device - Nexus 7. Powered by Tegra, Nexus 7 was as much about Nvidia loyalty as it was about getting a tablet.
Android is not just an OS. It is a way of life. And more the points of contact, the greater will be the impact. If Android had made my life smarter after my Galaxy Nexus, after my Nexus 7 I felt like Einstein! With seamless integration across apps, contacts, photos, music and preferences, Android became my window to the world!
As of the end of 2012, I just wanted to jot down a few of the things that have radically changed my life in the last year. To be honest, I am not a 'root-it-flash-it' sort of Android guy! I tried flashing a custom ROM on my phone once and it just seemed like too much effort! I just stick to Google stock ROM and it has never failed me! So I look at Android solely for how it can make my life easier, not for how I can modify it.
I spend most of my day reading news on the net. I scourge through so many websites, apps and feeds that often I cannot come back to the same page again if I want to read it later. On my PC, I used to have a clunky method of book-marking these 'read-later' pages, but the method was.. well.. clunky. Pocket changed all that! An elegant, simple solution to all your "Read it later" requirements, Pocket lets you add stuff to it through email, shares, and file transfers. Best of all, it organizes what you want to read into appealing formats and animations. Every night, before hitting the bed, I make it a point to clear my Pocket account and sleep feeling a little smarter!
Springpad is about notebooks. It allows me to categorize everything into tiny, visually aesthetic notebooks which I can go over later at leisure. Spring pad also has some 'read-later' notebook features, but I prefer Pocket for that. Instead I use Spring pad to jot down all the ideas that I have, the movies I want to see, the books I want to read, the recipes I want to try out etc into different notebooks. Once you 'spring' these entries into the notebooks, this clever little app automatically fetches relevant info about these entries, such as movie reviews, links to recipes, Amazon cook books etc. Hence my little entries automatically collate to become wholesome notebooks with relevant information! Springpad is such a beautiful way to collect information about your future projects!
Like me, if you keep forgetting important things such as the last date for paying the electricity bill then, trust me, you need Evernote. Possibly the best note app in the market, Evernote offers hassle-free connectivity between my phone, tablet and multiple desktops across OSs. Be it things to do, grocery lists, interesting passages for my blog etc, all of it goes into this tiny green app. An app that I simply cannot do without!
BBC World News :
As I said before I am a news-junkie. Every morning I get my first shot from this app. A great app that collects the most relevant news from BBC World and presents it in a beautiful design. I have been using the iOS version of this app for years on my iPod Touch but I did not realize its full potential till I got my tablet. Definitely not the fastest news app out there, but the quality of the content pips it to the top of my news-apps list!
Google Drive, Dropbox :
Cloud storage. Enough said. If you don't use any cloud storage tool, then you are a stupid, stupid person.
Google Currents/ Google Reader - Again, further dosages for my need for news. While Currents presents everything in a tiled, framed magazine-like format which makes for great reading at leisure, I use Reader for following up on my favorite blogs and instant news breaks. For a long time I used Flipboard and Pulse instead of Currents but after the 2.0 update, Currents just seems faster and more elegant. But its a personal choice.
Even though initially it felt cool to have Messengers in many different websites and services, it quickly became unmanageable and downright irritating! Thats when I moved to Imo. A simple one-stop messenger that integrates all my accounts, Imo just works the way I expect it to. And nobody can complain with that!
Series Guide :
Following a TV series can be really annoying when they don't release a calender schedule beforehand. Otherwise you will have to follow it through Wikipedia or Google which is such a fuddy way to do it! That's when Series Guide came into the picture. I just subscribed to all my favorite TV shows and now I get instant updates and reminders about each new episode. A light-weight app that works better on my phone than on my tablet. (because the tablet version is just a scaled-up one and looks very unappealing) Hoping that they will release a better tablet version of the app in 2013!
Notification Weather :
Weather apps are a dime a dozen in the Play Store. But among all of them, the app that works best for me is Notification Weather. The simple reason is that it easily lodges itself into my Notification Bar. Also it follows Jelly Bean's simple black and white design ethos and hence when I pull down my Notification Bar, I am treated to an elegant weather update that seems more like a Google feature than a third-party app!
Also, putting my weather on the notification bar saves me real estate for other widgets!
I could probably list twenty-more apps that I use regularly on my phone and tablet but I guess you get the picture. For a really long time, I was a smart-phone sceptic. I thought it was making life obscenely easy and will make you go 'soft-minded'. But I was wrong. A smart-phone does not make the hard things in life any easier. It does not. You still have to worry about paying your bills and making those tough career choices. But my phone and tablet make the less important things in life much easier and more elegant to deal with. Somehow, it makes my life more organized and that helps my life go smoother. When I don't have to worry about last dates for paying bills, sudden outbreak of rainy weather or missing critical emails, I am able to focus better on the things that matter! In that way, it is indeed a smarter way to live.
Thanks to Android for a great 2012. Looking forward to an even better 2013!