Pocketnow Insider is a relatively new series of posts and videos that give you guys and gals, our loyal readers, a peek into our lives, what makes the wheels keep turning at Pocketnow, and what goes on behind the scenes.
Since I started here at Pocketnow in February (oh, how the time has flown by!), readers, new Twitter followers, YouTubers, and Google+ followers have continually asked for me to do a bit about what’s on my phone. And since this past weekend, the demand has exploded, following a new, clean, fresh setup I made on my Nexus 4.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
One thing about us reviewers that not everyone seems to understand is how often we switch around hardware. Just because I finished a review of device does not mean said device becomes my daily driver. Often, I get a phone in the mail, switch to it as my primary phone until the review is over, and switch back to the previous phone.
One reason I do this is because I’m often overwhelmed by a review. You can’t take your time with anything – setting up, testing, comparisons, etc. With a phone I buy as a personal device, I take days and weeks to get the perfect setup. With a review unit, I have hours – if that.
Alas, I almost always switch back to the phone I had before the review.
Currently, I use a Nexus 4 running Paranoid Android as my daily driver, that I sometimes switch out with the HTC One. And lately I’ve been eyeing the Galaxy Note II sitting on my desk. But for now the Nexus 4 it is, running on AT&T’s HSPA+ network. I supplement the Nexus 4 with an iPad mini on Verizon LTE and a MacBook Pro with Retina Display that handles the brunt of the work.
On my wrist, I wear a Pebble smartwatch with an aftermarket band (with the Revolution Lite or Modern Minute watch faces) every day and rarely go a minute without it. For my audio needs. I recently picked up a pair of Jaybirds BlueBuds X bluetooth earbuds, and they’ve hardly left my neck/ears since. When I need to go wired, I revert to my classic Audio-Technica ATH-M50s.
I also have an arsenal of portable power banks: two myCharge Peak 6000s, a super thin Huawei 2000mAh pack, Anker Astro Slim2 4,500mAh pack, and two Powerbags with two 3,000mAh and one 6,000mAh cells. And just because people ask all the time, I use a Blue Yeti condenser microphone for recording my audio and podcasting, and I use a Sony NEX-5N camera for stills and video with the kit and various Sigma lenses.
I also have dozens of figurines that I enslave to get work done faster.
Social Networking & Communications
The brunt of my mobile usage, as I explained yesterday, is social and communication. My social apps, in order of greatest to least important, are: Google+, Falcon Pro, Hangouts, and Facebook.
There’s no official Android app for Klout, but I do check Klout via mobile Web from time to time, and I track it using one of the widgets I’ll tell you about down the page. I don’t use Klout as much for an ego boost as I do a metric to judge how interesting and unique my sharing is from day to day. If I’m sharing boring stuff … it shows on Klout. Likewise, when I share quality content, my Klout score gets a nice boost.
I share to Google+ several times per day, and spend a lot of my free time responding to comments (when I can). I practically live on Twitter. And I share to Facebook when I feel my IRL friends may be getting bored and need something out of the ordinary (read: not someecards).
And what is a smartphone without some serious communication tools? I use Hangouts religiously now. Since the re-branding from Talk to Hangouts and the move cross-platform to iOS, Hangouts has become one of my primary forms of communication.
When I’m not using Hangouts, I revert to Google Voice for my SMS needs, since I no longer pay for overpriced carrier messaging. And, of course, for work correspondence, I generally default to Gmail.
The vast majority of entertainment on my smartphone is Spotify. I gave Google Play Music All Access a go, but I have my own reasons for not sticking with it – data consumption, incessant trouble trying to download tracks, and the overall unreliability of the app and service.
Other than that, I pay for Netflix, but only use the mobile app to edit my Instant Queue. I do use Google Play Movies to purchase television shows and movies, and I used to watch them using my phone to control the Nexus Q attached to my television. But I recently flashed CM 10.1 to the Q, and I use my phone to buy the shows and use the Q to watch them directly. It’s more stable that way.
For podcasts, I use Pocket Casts. And for reading RSS feeds and news, I use Press, Feedly, and Currents. And I use Pocket to catch up on things I save via desktop.
And, from time to time, I do play some casual mobile games. I play Osmos HD, Death Worm, Plague, and there’s nothing quite like a classic game of Solitaire to wind down at night.
Most of my mobile productivity is done through the iPad, due to the added display real estate.
But I do use my phone, to keep track of things and stay on task. I rely on Agenda Calendar for appointments and my schedule. LastPass is used to store my passwords. Draft is how I write articles in plain text when I’m in a pinch. (I used Drafts from the Galaxy S 4 to write over 1,000 words of my Galaxy S 4 review. Talk about dedication!) URLy is my go-to for mobile link shortening through Bitly (for analytics). I use Copy and Dropbox for cloud storage. And, finally, Pushover delivers various extended notifications, such as real time package tracking information and weather forecasts, to Pebble.
Widgets & Home Screen
Since purchasing Action Launcher, I have not even considered using anything else. Hands-down, Action Launcher is the best launcher replacement I’ve used on Android. It’s unique, fast, intuitive, and it looks great. The most recent update added support for custom icons – something I’ve never really cared for. But I took part of the developer, Chris Lacy’s, setup and purchased the Stark icon set. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with a home screen setup.
I utilize Covers (or folders disguised as a single icon, which are accessed by a quick, upward swipe) to organize my home screen apps into five categories: communication, productivity, camera and pictures, media, and news and resources.
Then widgets. I am a huge fan of DashClock Widget, which I use for the clock and a few prioritized status notifications – battery life, upcoming calendar events, emails, weather, Klout score updates, sunrise and sunset times, and data usage.
Lastly, Playbars. To get the Play theme effect on my home screen, I downloaded UCCW (Ultimate Custom Clock Widget), a WYSIWYG widget editor, from Google Play. And I stumbled upon Playbar, a set of Play-themed widgets for various apps.
It’s simple, super clean, fast, and most importantly, useful.
There you have it! That’s the big secret … or something like that. So now it’s your turn! What’s on your phones, Pocketnow readers?