Both my older sister and my mom received Android smartphones for Christmas, so I figured now was a good time to post my 12 favorite free Android apps. These are all apps that I use on a fairly regular basis (at least once a month), that I have re-installed each time I've reformatted my phone (or left on the phone when I've done app purges), and that I find to be truly useful.
Please Note: While all of these apps are free to download and free to use, they do still use data -- at the very least, to download and install, but most require data connections to work. If you have an unlimited data plan, you have nothing to worry about, but if you have a limited data plan, make sure you monitor your usage and avoid using data-heavy apps when you're near your monthly limit to avoid overage charges. Most of these apps include ads to cover their costs, but ad-free paid versions are usually available separately or as upgrades.
Google's own e-mail service, Gmail, is the default mail service on Android, but it still deserves mention since not everyone realizes the benefits of using Gmail with Android. The Gmail app includes all the functionality of standard Gmail in a format that's optimized for your phone and includes as much -- or as little -- of your Gmail as you want. It's also easier to set up and configure than any other mail system and app for Android.
11. Google Maps
Like Gmail, this app seems like a no-brainer, since it's the pre-installed and fully integrated map app for Android, but many people still don't realize it's full potential or shell out for other services. The Google Maps app has even more functionality than the web site, with text directions, voice navigation (including alternate routes), traffic, place details, and more. I use this app instead of a GPS unit, and the graphics are far superior to and more detailed than most of the GPS units I've seen.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when stores offer various deals and incentives to try to turn a profit for the year, has grown into an intense, competitive, in some cases week-long or month-long shopping extravaganza. If you're planning to head out this Friday, please keep these tips in mind:
1. In most cases, the store employees would rather be at home with their families (or in bed sleeping) than ringing up purchases at 5:00 a.m. Be courteous, be respectful, be friendly, and make sure to say "please" and "thank you" and "Happy Thanksgiving!" or "I hope you have a good day." A little kindness can go a long way to make someone's day better, and you'll usually get a better experience out of it, too.
2. Be safe and be cautious. It might sound ridiculous, but people really have been seriously injured and even killed in Black Friday chaos. Keep your wits about you, don't try to fight over anything, and, if possible, use the buddy system.
3. An advertised price isn't always a good deal. Just because it's Black Friday doesn't mean that all the prices are the best they'll be all year, or that every store has the best price on every item. And, in general, just because a price is listed in a weekly advertisement doesn't mean it's a significant sale, or even a sale at all. So have a rough idea of what you're looking for and what the "regular" prices are; you can also use a comparison app to scan barcodes to check prices at other stores.
...which leads me to the main point of this post: free apps (for Android, since that's what I use) to help you with your Black Friday shopping. Just click through for a run-down of the best apps to help you find deals, score more, compare prices, and calculate your discounts.