My App Addiction: Samsung Pay

My App Addiction: Samsung Pay

Apr 25, 2017

NFC payments are not all that.

To be fair, the whole mobile payment thing has not lit me afire. I get the whole digital wallet thing, but the truth is, they are only as useful as the raw number of places they can be used. Stateside, the number is not very high. Contactless payment adoption is taking a little while to catch on

Procuring a Galaxy S7 edge allowed me to re-acquaint myself with Samsung ecosystem within an ecosystem; one major piece that I initially ignored completely was Samsung Pay.

Seen one, seen em all, right? I was find not using it, because I didn’t have a need to.

Until I did. I lost my wallet, a day before a major business trip across the the country. Major hassle, because I could not postpone the trip.

I had the card numbers and details, and felt fairly confident that the wallet was lost somewhere safe (at home). I figured one option would work: attaching my cards to Samsung Pay.

What supposedly sets Samsung Pay apart from the other options — like Android Pay and Apple Pay — is the fact that it goes beyond NFC functionality; it uses a magnetic system that simulates a physical card sliding through a a card reader. This means, in theory, that Samsung Pay can be used with “regular” card readers… that means readers that the competition cannot.

To cut a long story short, I was able to make it on my trip. My cards made it to me, yes, but I kept on using the service. In practice, it worked in most places I tried it; outdoor gas station card readers were very iffy, but department stores and eateries worked well. I like that I don’t have to use the fingerprint reader for authentication, and the promotions are an added plus.

It isn’t perfect, no. You need one of the relatively few Samsung devices AND a supported financial institution to make use of it. Still, Samsung Pay is a big reason I am seriously considering sticking with the OEM for my next daily driver.

My App Addiction: Chrome Remote Desktop

My App Addiction: Chrome Remote Desktop

Dec 10, 2016


I am a huge fan of mobility. When it’s all said and done, the ability to do most things unencumbered by stationary desktops is invaluable beyond measure. I’m able to manage most aspects of my daily life reasonably well from my Android-powered smartphone. Outside of wi-fi connectivity, the internet connectivity is great to have, and opens the doors to being able to things far, far from home.

I don’t even fear provider outages anymore. It’s all about pocket power.

Still, every now and then, it is necessary to get on Ol’ Trusty. The desktop still manages all sorts of peripherals (like wireless hard drives and the like) and there are some apps that just don’t translate to Chrome OS or Android.

That’s where one of my favorite applications, Chrome Remote Desktop, comes in and fills several gaps admirably.

What this app does is to, in essence, link Chrome browser on Windows and Mac machines to Android and/or Chromebooks. When set up properly, it is possible to pipe in to one’s desktop remotely. In practice, this allows me to access my main desktop from my Chromebook and my Samsung S7 Edge and iPad, if I so need.

You see, there are some operations that are still a little more fluid on a desktop. Other times, it is a unique problem; for example, the other day, I needed a particular account password on the road. I do have a password vault with both mobile and desktop clients, but I had entered this new password in the day before, and hadn’t synced both clients. One quick CRD session later, I had the password I needed (and then synced the password vault clients for good measure).

Another scenario is the occasional need for an alternative browser when using my Chromebook. I sometimes find it easier to just pipe in to the home desktop.

With the right resolution, I feel like I am right at home, sitting at my desk.

Chrome Remote Desktop isn’t perfect; I’m not that big a fan of keeping a desktop machine on and running indefinitely, but hey, it is a simple solution that has the benefit of being relatively lightweight and cross-platform.


My App Addiction: Minimalistic Text

My App Addiction: Minimalistic Text

Nov 16, 2016

Admittedly, a lot of what framed my initial Android impressions came from comparisons with other operating systems. For instance, the whole concept of launchers was something I picked up from Palm. Calendar management? BlackBerry baby.

And so on…

Customization on Android was something I had to see to believe and understand. Having an device I could tailor to my own tastes was something I really enjoyed.

There are a couple of apps that did make the change more palatable, and Devmil’s Minimalistic Text is near the top of the list. I thought the feature set was — is — groovy indeed.

And what does it do? Well, Minimalistic Text makes widgets sexier. Now, when that is viewed from the perspective of one that is new to Android and the beauty of widgets to begin with, you’ll understand why this app excites me.

In a nutshell, it allows one to customize said widgets… really, one is able to make his/her own. It provides a range of templates, and then allows one to tweak its appearance, down to the color and shadow effect. One can make a widget based on date, weather, battery meter and the like. You can even create one out of straight text. Then, one can make it look just perfect, using a serious color selector and other tools.

One fine function is the ability to assign taps. This allows you to, say, create a text widget and make it invoke another app or action. On my main device, I have a week bar widget (with the actual day of the week highlighted); tapping on it invokes a customized agenda widget. But I can also assign a double tap action, and with that, I have a custom weather widget.

It really allows me to pack in a lot of information that is easily accessible in a clean way. That’s a major reason why Minimalistc Text is on every main Android driver I have owned.

My App Addiction: Google Voice

My App Addiction: Google Voice

Oct 8, 2015

It’s been such a long time, but I still remember the specifics.

I was on one of those early web clearinghouses that was related to loss prevention, and one of the topics that popped up was an invite-only services based on telephony called GrandCentral. It gave one the opportunity to pick a whole new number and even manage voicemail to said number online.

I don’t know why I wanted one, but I just had to. I began to use it, a bit sporadically, but I learned to appreciate it; it was especially useful as a contact on resumes when I didn’t want someone to have my “real” number. Shortly after I activated my account, the big news dropped: GrandCentral was acquired by Google.

Good bye, GrandCentral. Hello Google Voice.

This is when Google Voice and I hit a groove. It was beautiful… using companion apps and a GV port on my BlackBerry, I was able to cobble a solution that allowed me to have, in essence, two numbers on one device. In the early days when folks had not yet begun to fully trust the idea of porting numbers across carriers, Google Voice gave me some indemnity: no matter what, I had a phone number that would stick with me no matter where I went.

When I toyed with trying out Android, Google Voice compatibility was a serious consideration. Thankfully, the same solutions existed, and the Android GV app was better (as to be expected). And since then, it has been a match made in a place close to heaven. I manage my GV number as my main give-out number, and text accordingly. I dial out from my native phone dialer, and for the most part it’s seamless; most people have and use my GV number to reach me.

It isn’t perfect, no; GV seems to be on the back burner, and scarily redundant with other features like Google Messenger and Hangouts getting better by the day. MMS handling is still clunky too.

Still, Google Voice was probably my first foray into web-managed services, and I still rely on it heavily, so much so that if I had to pick between my GV number and my “real” number, it would almost always be the former I choose.

My App Addiction: Business Calendar

My App Addiction: Business Calendar

Jul 6, 2015

One of the very first things I really became reliant on on my old PDAs was the electronic calendar. On PalmOS, I liked the ability to sync to desktop software and keep my schedule and tasks in order.

As I moved across mobile platforms, I became more enamored with cloud-based solutions, as it because easier to access data online from several sources. Still, even when I got on Android, I still craved customization.

And then I found Business Calendar.

The app hits my “wanted” list quite capably. First, it syncs with Google Calendar, and mirrors it perfectly. It allows for the management of multiple G-Cal accounts, and with the ability to color-code such, it is possible to manage group events. It works well with built-in programs like the address book and vice navigation tools, so that a whole trip can be managed from within the app itself. It’s possible to create appointments listing (and invites) on the spot.

The UI is clean. One can tweak the app to fit a wide range of needs, from font size all the way to weekday length. There are two themes to pick from, and as hinted at earlier, a wealth of color options that can be applied to elements within the application.

My favorite elements are probably the functionality via the Business Tasks add-on and the veritable collection of widgets. This allows me to use and manage tasks using the independent programs I prefer, and the latter feature allows me to manage events and tasks from one place. One tap, and everything is there. Entering a new task or event is easy, as is working on stuff that is already live.

There are several reasons I love this program, and refuse to be without it, so much so that I have yet to upgrade to the newest iteration of the app.

Business Calendar is gold.

My App Addiction: Swype Keyboard

My App Addiction: Swype Keyboard

Feb 11, 2015

Years ago, I left Palm for snazzy, compact productivity animal known as the BlackBerry Curve. It had programs, companion desktop software and, most importantly, the best physical QWERTY keyboard in existence. Man… no need for false modesty here: I was BEAST. One handed goodness, email command became my hobby.

In short, at that point, I knew nothing could tear me away from using a BlackBerry device. By nature, I love to try out new forms of technology, but with regards to a main productivity tool, I simply did not see how I could find something as natural to use.

I remember getting my hands on the original iPhone. Fantastic concept, but pecking on glass was something I just couldn’t cotton to. I did meet people that were proficient as it, but I couldn’t replicate my physical keyboard typing speed on it.

Then, one day, I tried out Swype, a beta third-party keyboard, on the now-ancient HTC Hero.


I was blown away by the “swiping” concept, which allows a user to glide fingers across the keyboard to form words instead of conventional pecking. The built-in dictionary can be tweaked, and the recently added phrase correction is a great touch. The app also supports Dragon Dictation, multiple languages, emoji, themes, cloud-supported custom dictionary and more.

With a little practice, I was able to start swiping with ease. Now, I can use it single-handedly with either hand, which is great functionality to have. The voice key is another tool I use extensively, and I admit that I actually change the theme of the keyboard based on how I feel.

This was the one app that allowed me to fully adopt a new platform. Trust me when I say that is pretty major. At the end of the day, there are several worthy competitors, and i have no problem trying them out. frequently, even.

In the end, I keep coming home to Swype. It all but defines the term “addiction.”

My App Addiction: Slickdeals

My App Addiction: Slickdeals

Oct 20, 2014

I love technology, but even more than technology, I love a good deal. I don’t mind paying top dollar for something that I really need, but I admit I get a rush when I find something worth getting at full cost slashed to a lower price point.

In other words, Slickdeals and I were meant to be.

The well-known deals website is a veritable source of awesome . Making it to the “front page” is no easy feat, but getting the fiery “hot deal” icon is a true honor that befits one who has just set off a run on products that online stores can’t keep up with… the so-called “Slickdeals Effect.”

Being five minutes late can cost you. That’s why the official app is such a crucial tool in the arsenal of the savvy web connected shopper.

Using Android’s push notification system, the app allows SDers to pick and choose what they want to be notified about. Reminders — the ability to get a reminder about a deal that can’t be acted upon immediately while sitting in that budget meeting — are easily set, and the interface is clean and intuitive. I especially like the way frontpage and hot deals are visually presented; the notification system simply works, and it is possible to share deals by services installed on the app, which can be useful for folks who like to notify friends and family of deals… after they have already procured one of said item for themselves, of course. Forums can be accessed, and deal alerts can be set up.

Unlike the full website, the official app requires an account to be used, which might be somewhat of a bummer, but is somewhat understandable.

For the deal-conscious, the mobility quotient alone is worth it. I gotta go… Amazon is giving away free coins for Android app purchases.

Slickdeals told me so.

My App Addiction: HanDBase

My App Addiction: HanDBase

Sep 16, 2014

Oh boy…

I had just officially started as the new editor of Android Rundown. I had just received 72 emails, a directive or two from above, and was trying to figure out the management piece in the deep end. Scary stuff, trust me.

One element that I had to master — and master quickly — was the budgeting piece. This is key with regards to any publication: controlling costs and charting output allows one to manage the creative process in a reasonable manner. Getting a bead on what type of articles are being written is exceptionally important.

I needed a good tool… something that I could rely on tell help me sort and organize the data I had, and also do calculations using the inputted data. Now, I could use an Excel sheet, yes, but the solution that works even better for me is one I have used across platforms for a very long time: HanDBase. I have used this nifty program for quite a while, across several platforms, and it remains an important piece in my personal productivity puzzle.


HanDBase is a database app at its heart. If there is a specific data collection need, HanDBase can be used to create and manipulate the data. Movie collections, patient billing, repair logs… you name it. I use it to collate health stats, which I then email to my doctor directly from the app. I also use it as a clock-in utility, and, with the help of its developer, got a custom data spreadsheet for my writers, which gives my an idea of how we are doing as a writing unit. Basically, HanDBase is an app that allows me to create apps hosted within it; no need for other apps, because this app is so flexible.

Part of my personal solution is the optional desktop companion, which syncs to the app via local wi-fi. I can also share specific databases with other HanDBase users. One of my favorite features is the support; there is a whole gallery of categorized database templates crafted by members and the developer. Also, there are forums and email support is topnotch.

When it comes to evaluating cross-platform apps that allow folks to get things done on the move, it’s hard not appreciate HanDBase. Scarily enough, there’s still room to grow, and the folks at DDH seem quite willing to push the envelope. Simply put, I refuse to use a mobile platform that does not have this app available.