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24 May 2010
By Ben Bevins
May
24
2010

Are you App Happy?

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Much has been written about the ‘app economy’ and the apps available for iPhone. Today  I want to look at apps available to Android smartphone owners.

What some people don’t know is that Android provides a massive range of ‘apps’ (or mini computer programs that do ‘stuff’) that people can download from the Android Market (Android’s app store).

Google has really thrown open the digital blueprint for its operating system making it possible to build some really cool apps that tap into different elements of a mobile device.

Here are my top 5 favourite Android apps at the moment:

#5 It’s probably because I am English and like to gloat to my friends and family, but I’m a big fan of The Weather Channel. This app allows widgets on the homescreen of your favourite locations and also shows videos of the weather in selected regions. Awesome.

#4 What’s a top 5 list without an addictive game that helps you pass the time?  Solitaire is perfect for train journeys or while your other half is watching the 7pm Project,. Addictive and does what it says on the tin, plus more card games too.

#3 Seesmic.  I love it. Mrs. Bevins does not. This has app on many occasions has nearly been the cause for divorce.  Seesmic is my link into Twitter. It has a beautiful UI. It even notifies you when tweets, messages or mentions occur. You can choose refresh periods to help save on battery power.

#2 With Android’s ability to multi-task, managing the battery becomes an important task if you’re going to be a while in between charges.  That’s why I’m a big fan of Advanced Task Killer.

This app allows me to cancel down any running apps and saves my battery. It stores the apps that I like to remain open for next use too. Genius.

#1 At the number one position – FX CAMERA.  I photograph everything on the move and this app allows me to add effects, controlled or at random to my pics. LOVE IT.

So that’s my top five Android apps.  What are yours? What have you discovered?

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Posts: 7

37 Comments

  1. SlideScreen – I was a big fan of this app until I found that it was the reason my phone battery was dead before dinner time. Also a pain as I couldn’t access the other home screens on SenseUI

    AirHorn – for some juvenile fun and annoying anyone within earshot

    Aussie Weather Radar – full screen BOM.gov.au radar. Its missing the new Sydney Airport high-res radar with 64km radius. Only has the Stanwell park radar for Sydney.

    Advanced Task Manager Free – good solid app, which I have a habit of pressing a couple times and hour. Agree with ben that this is a must have app (I had this app recommended from another HTC user)

    Shazam – an app I’ve had since it came out on the iPhone. It does a great job at recognising most tunes I throw at it… although some might be disappointed with the lack of iTunes store integration (i wonder why!)

  2. Gwynn (Telstra employee) says:

    Hi Ben,

    From what I’ve read online, Advanced Task Killer may be just as bad at draining the battery as the different apps you’ve got running under multitask. The key for me is only using GPS and Wi-Fi when required, and I can get two full days out of fairly heavy use.

    However my top five apps (not all from the market):

    1) Footy Scores – perfect for keeping up with NRL, AFL, A-League and Rugby Union (Super 14 only at the moment, I’m hoping for international and New Zealand domestic results soon) live scoring

    2) F1 Android – you’ll need to Google this on the web. Formula 1 hasn’t released an official timing app yet, so someone created their own one that does the same thing, great for keeping track of qualifying and practice sessions

    3) Google Skymap – I’ve always loved trying to figure out what is what in the night sky, and with this I finally can.

    4) Armoured Strike – if you were a fan of Worms, Armoured Strike is the same concept, great to pass time on the trams

    5) Quickpedia – Unofficial Wikipedia app for Android, saves me having to remember to go and look something up when I get home.

    The hard thing is keeping up with all the new apps coming out in Google Market, it’s growing at an exponential rate.

  3. Seesmic not Seesmis, I think.

    In the week or so since I’ve been reviewing the Desire for Telstra I’ve fallen in love with Slidescreen. This changes the front screen entirely so you get notifications of new Gmail, Google Reader articles, Facebook updates, Twitter replies and a list of your Google Calender upcoming events.

    I’m also using Astro, a far superior filesystem browser to the one that comes installed with the Desire, and Toggle Settings, an app that helps me to manage the Desire’s poor battery life by doing things like turning WiFi off when the battery level gets under 30% (That’s just one example, it’s very customisable). I’m using System Panel to monitor battery usage – the System Panel help screen says that just running apps definitely does not affect battery life. However if apps are accessing GPS or checking the internet I suppose that will chew power.

    I’ve also fallen in love with the Dolphin web browser, and for Twitter I’m trying out both Twidroid and Seesmic. There are lots of other Twitter apps out there but I’m running multiple Twitter accounts and they are the two big ones for that.

  4. Seesmic not Seesmis, I think.

    In the week or so since I’ve been reviewing the Desire for Telstra I’ve fallen in love with Slidescreen. This changes the front screen entirely so you get notifications of new Gmail, Google Reader articles, Facebook updates, Twitter replies and a list of your Google Calender upcoming events.

    I’m also using Astro, a far superior filesystem browser to the one that comes installed with the Desire, and Toggle Settings, an app that helps me to manage the Desire’s poor battery life by doing things like turning WiFi off when the battery level gets under 30% (That’s just one example, it’s very customisable). I’m using System Panel to monitor battery usage – the System Panel help screen says that just running apps definitely does not affect battery life. However if apps are accessing GPS or checking the internet I suppose that will chew power.

  5. Mark Pesce says:

    1) Google Goggles – so, so cool. Point your Desire at a book, or a product, or many things, Google Googles will scan it, recognize it, then load the appropriate Google search results.

    2) Google Listen – *The* podcast app for Android.

    3) Aldiko – Reasonably equipped eBook app for Android.

    4) Aussie Weather Radar – Never leave home without it!

  6. gerald says:

    The engineers at Google who developed Android have spoken about app killers so many times. Do people not use google?

    here is a quick quote, “Android is different to most other phone operating systems. It’s closer to Linux than any other type of operating system. Lots of services and applications constantly run in the background just like they do on Windows. However, and this is important, they do not have to use up a ton of resources. A service or app can be loaded, yet use almost no additional memory, and 0% CPU until it actually has to do something.”

    more here:
    http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-general-discussions/1480-please-read-do-not-worry-about-apps-running-background.html

    and another one

    “With that said, it seems that constantly killing tasks, apps, and processes is not in the best interest of your phone. Android already has the natural ability to do this effectively, so let the phone do its job.”

    http://androinica.com/2010/05/07/google-and-cyanogen-comments-imply-task-killermanager-apps-are-pointless/

    AND FINALLY if you really want the nitty gritty of why an APP KILLER IS NOT NEEDED ON ANDROID

    http://geekfor.me/faq/you-shouldnt-be-using-a-task-killer-with-android/

    Seriously, your number 2 app is something you DO NOT NEED. I can testify to this. I’ve had my Desire since they were released over seas. I have used it killing apps all the time, and not killing apps and it makes no difference. The only time an app killer is useful is when you want to kill an app that has frozen open and wont “sleep”

  7. I’ve put up some talk about my Top 5 Social apps on my blog, here: http://blog.rowl.ch/top-5-apps-social.

    My top 5 social apps, in no particular order, are Twidroid Pro, Seesmic, Newsrob, Link Shortener for Bit.ly and Official Twitter for Android.

    Have a good read :)

  8. Here are my Top 5:

    - Seesmic (roll on Tweetdeck for Android. PLEASE)
    - RunKeeper (which I must use more)
    - Urbanspoon (though it’s currently useless in my home town, it’s pretty awesome everywhere else)
    - Google Sky (a planetarium in your pocket!)
    - DoubleTwist (gets my iTunes on my Android)

    I have a bigger list that I’ll blog about when I get some time on my holiday.

  9. David Olsen says:

    App Brain – http://www.appbrain.com/

    An App that lets you sync all your Android Apps via the Web. Browse other people’s selections and recommendations from the web site, then with one click sync all the apps to your phone.

    Very cool.

  10. Tried FX Camera, love it. I also used “Vignette” which is the name of the app, not just the effect, and it had more effects, but FX Camera is nicer.

    #1 Google Maps, I know its a default, but I use it for everything!
    #2 Remote Desktop by Xtralogic, Inc. If you have a server, this is a must!
    #3 Hootsuite for Twitter
    #4 Pixelpipe, share photos and everything
    #5 Trip Journal, great for logging where you took photos.

  11. Casey Glass says:

    1) Google Reader: I’m an RSS fiend. This is a web app, but it so fast on the Desire that it feels like a local app.

    2) Gtalk: when I’m away from my desk – I get still get all my IMs. And when I get back to my desk the conversation is there for me to continue with. Expect its background data activity to give your battery a workout.

    3) Foursquare: the customisation and integration that Android offers has gotten my check-ins down to a snappy two process.

    4) Gesture Search: write on the screen to find what you are looking for.

    5) Silent Sleep: Turns the phone to silent for a selected duration.

  12. My phone died went to TELSTRA the computers down, my contracts not up. Can’t get a payout amount on a new one, can’t get the phone I want I’m not on the new BLUE ACCONT yet been with them for years but mighten be much longer if this is how I get treated.

  13. Buzz Moody says:

    Hey guys!

    I have a heap of favourite apps, but have managed to round them down to 5.

    1) Engadget – Seriously, every tech lover needs this one.

    2) MSN Talk – Best MSN app going around. Stays connected most of the day. By day, I mean the 15 minutes the phone lasts off the charger.

    3) Simply Cyanide – There is nothing better than walking to school or work in the morning reading some Cyanide & Happiness comics!

    4) Touiteur – Best Twitter app going around. All it needs it geolocation and we’re good to go.

    5) Dropbox – Dropbox allows you to sync files together across home & work PC’s as well as many mobile devices. Awesome!

    :)

  14. Helen Perris says:

    I blogged about the apps I’ve tested here:
    http://thedesire.perris.id.au/26/so-many-apps

    I haven’t really used enough good ones to make a top 5 yet, though since I wrote that blog, I’ve added Google Goggles, which is really cool.

  15. Monnie says:

    I haven’t downloaded very many because I’ve actually found the Market hard to work through and find stand out contenders, so it’s great to see other recommendations. I have found a few great ones:

    FxCamera – A fantastic camera app that is highly customisable with awesome effects!

    MSN Talk – It’s a relief to use a MSN app that is nice to look at (all the iPhone ones are awful).

    AppBrain – I found this before I even got the phone – I wish that the iPhone had something like this. You can sync it up with your phone and browse for apps on your PC.

    Seesmic – Best of all the current Twitter apps, waiting for TweetDeck though…

    Google Goggles – Make your friends think that technology is even more awesome than they originally thought by taking photos of stuff and having google tell you what it is. Legendary.

  16. Wolf Cocklin says:

    Seesmic has become my new twitter app of choice… still not perfect but I do much prefer it to the rest of the twitter clients

    Google Search is a winner for the Voice Search….

    and I must say I love the mobile Foxtel App… great for killing time on the commute to and from work. Sci-fi Channel :-)

    the rest of my apps are here
    http://www.appbrain.com/user/wolfcat

  17. Because it has only been a week that I have had the Desire, my app choices are probably not ‘best in field’, but they have been working for me.

    1. Shazam is always a given in any list of top apps. This is one of the most amazing services I have ever come across – you press ‘Tag Now’, and it listens to the music that is playing and tells you the details of the song. Amazing!

    2. Google Goggles uses images instead of words to search for information on the web. I tested it the other night by capturing a print from the Book of Kells that we have framed on our wall. My wife nearly fell over when it returned detailed information from Wikipedia, as well as details of some books the image had been reproduced in!

    3. Remember the Milk is the best task manager getting around. Its Android version is not quite as feature rich as the iPhone app, but it does the job better than any of the multitude of task management apps I have used.

    4. Evernote is like Remember the Milk in being the only web service that I have happily continued to pay for on a recurring basis year after year. As its tag line “Remember Everything” suggests, it allows you to grab or create all lines of content – notes, voice notes, pictures, as well as clipping content from the web. I love the desktop and web apps, but found the iPhone to be to crashy to be relied upon. So far, I have only had a couple of minor synchronisation glitches with the Android version, and it has seemed to be rock solid.

    Which leads to the honourable mention for Springpad. I have had a Springpad web account for a while which has been used sporadically, but they launched a beautiful Android app at Google I/O this week, which I have installed tonight, and am already beginning to love.

    5. I have used Gmail since it was launched and love it in ways that are not appropriate to talk about in a public setting. I was always frustrated by the web app on the iPhone, but the native Android version works like you always thought it should.

    These are just a snapshot of my favourite apps. You can see the entire list of the things I am playing with at any given time at http://www.appbrain.com/user/digitalbirdy/apps-on-the-phone.

  18. Kat says:

    Well, you probably expected a totally different list from me … and you’d be right! Here are my top 5:

    1. Aldiko – Best ebook reader I’ve found in the Android Market (although I took a shortcut because I researched online first). I thought I’d mind reading on such a small device, but it didn’t bother me much at all. I’m so addicted.

    2. Astrid – Simple list app for those quick to-dos that I don’t need to put in the calendar. I wish we had Put Things Off for Android, though. I just want something super simple. I tried the RTM trial, but the interface was too cluttered for me.

    3. Toddler Lock – This created a mini-sensation with a colleague today. Alternatives are Zebra Paint, which the toddlers love, and Paint, which has a snazzy feature where you shake the phone and your painting is automatically erased.

    4. Poke A Mole – Great for mindless fun. Or Tub Thumper if you want to annoy people around you. (This would’ve made the list properly if it had multi-touch functionality.)

    5. Seesmic – It has all the features I need for tweeting, and even though some parts of the interface/menus are clunky, they don’t annoy me enough to look for any more alternatives.

    Special mentions:

    Astro, which I use to look at files. It’s not indispensable, so I didn’t include it in the top 5.

    Mystique, a mystery game. Chapter 1 is free, but the rest are paid apps and I’m not ready to pay for apps yet (mainly because I can’t use PayPal).

    Speed Anatomy, which is self-explanatory.

    Oh, I’m still bummed that there’s no Plants vs Zombies for Android yet!

  19. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s top five! So far much of my time has been spent using the social media apps rather than browsing the wide range of apps on offer, so I can’t really give you a different top five. However this blog did inspire me to have a look at the variety of apps on offer and I can share with you the five I downloaded on last night’s commute. In no particular order:

    1. Swirl – I’m not much of a wine connoisseur and this app doesn’t appear to be Australian based, but what appeals to me is the feature which allows you to take photos of wines you’ve tried and rate whether you liked or disliked them (I haven’t tried this yet).

    2. Magic 8-ball – I’ve never been a magic 8-ball kind of girl but this app looks cute and may come in handy for decision making later on ;)

    3. ttTumblr – I haven’t tried it yet but it should allow my to post to my Tumblr blog without being in front of a computer.

    4. GreenLeaf-Puzzles – According to it’s description this app features lateral thinking puzzles (I used to love these!), though the ones I’ve tried so far haven’t been particularly impressive.

    5. Antivirus – If I’m going to start browsing the Android market for random apps it doesn’t hurt to be protected.

    I haven’t really had a good opportunity to give the above apps much of a go yet so I can’t really comment as to whether they are actually that good.

  20. Susan Moore says:

    Thanks for all your tips above – I’ll have to go and download FX Camera and Aldiko now. My current favourites:

    - Twitter for Android and Foursquare – both work better & faster for me than on the iPhone.

    - Snowglobe – yes, I know, but it made me go awwww. You shake your phone and snow starts floating down just like a real snowglobe, or for fans of the League of Gentlemen, a “precious thing”. Just like I expect to see outside the window here before too long…

    - Tag ToDo – one thing I really miss on both the iPhone and the HTC Desire is the ability to sync Outlook tasks. Took it for granted my old HTC Windows Mobile device. So I’ve had to move to mobile-only job lists. It doesn’t sync with my PC but it looks a lot nicer than Outlook.

    - Bubble Burst – it is a very baaad idea that I installed this, given how much time I used to waste achieving incredibly high scores on this game on my Windows Mobile. At least I no longer have a long daily bus trip to waste time on.

    - RingDroid – very easy to bring across all your songs and make your own ringtone.

    - Google Goggles – for all the reasons others have said.

    I have also downloaded a couple of language dictionaries, including the badly named QuickDic for German. It sure is quick though and is helping me with translations.

  21. Casey Glass says:

    I installed Juice Defender last night (bought the full version) – and today my phone is getting waaay better mileage from its battery. Running apps in the background isn’t the problem, its all the background data syncing that the phone does even when the phone’s screen is off which is chewing through the battery.

    Juice defender stops this happening, and you also can set up very discrete rules about what wireless the Desire has active, based on time, data rate – even location.

    Loving the customisation capabilities of this phone more and more every day! :)

  22. Wolfcat says:

    I’ve also installed My Tracks for creating a GPX or KML file for logging where I have been…. the reason for this.. with these files I can then automatically geotag all the photos from my DSLR. Not the most complicated mapping app.. but does only logging which in some cases is what a good app should do.

    Google Googles whilst not that handy for where you live would be beyond helpful when travellling… photograph something and get google search results.

    Google Sky Map… yes you get funny looks standing outside holding your phone above your head looking at the night sky but if you want to know which star is which this is the app to get.

    Wikidroid gives you access to Wikipedia to answer those trivia questions when ever you need them

  23. My Top Five – I do have to say that this list changes, but currently, here goes:

    The Gmail client – why, my main email address is a gmail one – this app, provided by default in most Android flavours, gives me instant access to all my emailing needs, and if your Gmail contacts are synced with your phone, well, access to all your contacts too.

    TweetCaster – twitter client from Handmark.com – I’ve gone through Twidroid, Seesmic, Swift, and a few more, but TweetCaster, is for me, an excellent app – all the basic twitter features are there: list, re-tweet (both old-school and the new one), a good UI on trends, shrink URL links, add picture, geotagging, …; It supports multiple accounts (without having to re-login to an account) and some other interesting features such as: quick follow, filter tweets on keyword, tweeps nearby (through current location or ZIP code), the all so useful “Jump To Top”.
    Find TweetCaster here: http://goo.gl/3elL

    Aldiko – an ePub reader, very easy to use, simple touch interaction to scroll through pages, view embedded images (if any), quick access to your “Recent Reads” and your “Bookshelf” and my most important feature, provides access to a numerous amount of Books, free (from Public Domain and freebooks.com, well arranged and sorted), purchased, Books from independent authors, High School Reading… etc,. I use this app regularly; recently read a book about when Holmes and Watson were first introduced to each other & The Three Musketeers.
    Find Aldiko here: http://www.aldiko.com/

    My Tracks (From the My Tracks Team at Google) – this cool app records my GPS track when I go for a jog, a hike, cycling, or even on a kayaking run down The Upper Yarra River (phone safely secured in a dry-bag, still gets GPS signal) – This app gives you your activity statistics such as time, speed, distance and evelation (the latter not so accurate, but then this stands true for all GPS enabled devices) and you can also upload the track to your Google Maps account, the stats to a Google Spreadsheet and share all that with the whole world.
    Find My Tracks here: http://mytracks.appspot.com/

    SMS Backup – this is more of a utility, running in the background. In the settings, you set a Gmail Label, enter your Gmail credentials enable “Auto Backup”, choose “Mark as read” option if you want, set the Max number of items per backup, and hey presto… your SMSes gets backed-up straight in your Gmail account under the chosen (default is “SMS”) Gmail Label – one way to never loose your precious SMSes…
    Find SMS Backup here: http://goo.gl/BiL1
    or: http://market.android.com/search?q=pname:tv.studer.smssync (link for your phone)

    See my blog for more on apps soon :)

  24. coreform says:

    Am one of the very few Google Nexus One users in Australia.
    AudioManager – manage those volumes! Very handy app.
    Astrid – not a bad ToDo/Task management app (integrated with DontForgetTheMilk). Altho my app (coming soon) will be better ;)
    RingDroid – create your own ringtones/alerts/etc.
    Electrum Drum Machine – get your beat on!
    3banana – note taking app (I.e. Snaptic).
    Oops that 6…but this textarea IS WAY TOO SMALL!

  25. Hey Guys,

    Great lists! I’ve already downloaded many of the suggested Apps stated here :)

    Here are my Top Five Favourite Android Apps:

    1. Seesmic (Twitter Client) : Does Twitter very well. Even though TwiDroid is almost as good, Seesmic has a more intuitive layout.

    2. Choice Dialer : Allows you to execute voice commands such as “Remind me to call Billy Bob tomorrow” etc. Quite accurate and now voice training required.

    3. Battery Widget : Displays battery status on your front screen. Also provides quick access to enable / disable WiFi, Display, GPS and Bluetooth

    4. Pic Say Pro : Photo editor that also allows you to put in titles and captions. Very fun :)

    5. Foxtel (FREE Foxtel) : Fun watching a bit of TV on the move. You can never be bored with this device!

    I was highly disappointed with the Foursquare app – checking into already visited venues is a terrible experience.

    Cheers,
    Arnold! aka Mr.Gadget
    http://www.mrgadget.com.au

  26. Zardoz says:

    Is anybody out there planning to buy a navigation program that stores the maps on the device. I’d like to not use Google Maps for in-car navigation to lighten up on the 3G useage. There are several Android-compatible packages that do this, with Oz maps; I’m just wondering if anybody has already tried one of them.

  27. Another couple of recommendations:

    Paperdroid is the Read it Later client I have been looking for on the Desire. Read it Later, as the name suggests, allows you to send in articles you don’t have time to read now, and save them for when you have some quality time with your phone. I can cache articles as well, which is great as it means you don’t have use your 3G data when you are away from home.

    NewsRob is the best native Google Reader client I have found for Android. It looks and feels like a Google-made client, and ties in nicely with the system. It has a REALLY nice dark theme for night reading when you upgrade to the paid version, and also allows you to cache articles to the Sd card for offline reading.

  28. @zardoz – I’ve used Sygic Mobile Maps before, and it stores maps on the device. It’s pretty damn good.

  29. Zardoz says:

    Thanks Chris. Sygic was one that caught my eye too. I’ll gofer it then.

  30. Put up my review of all the App’s I’ve played with so far. http://bit.ly/bUMBqY

  31. Stilgherrian says:

    I haven’t explored as much as I’d have liked, but what I’ve found useful so far are:

    * Google Maps. Built-in, but it’s very well put together.
    * PdaNet. Enables USB tethering, so my MacBook Pro can use the HTC Desire as a broadband modem. supposedly it does Bluetooth tethering too, but I haven’t tried that yet. Using the cable reduced power consumption.
    * WordPress. An official app from Automattic, it means I can maintain the multiple WordPress sites on the go. And it’s well made.

  32. Ashley says:

    Top 5 Apps for those that just want an addiction:

    Air Horn
    Shazam
    South Park soundboard
    Teeter, and
    Toss it

    The desire does rule and the increasing level of free apps on the android market make it worthwhile for those looking for a toy.
    For those looking for a powerful business tool, every other function that the Desire has will suit you.

  33. Tony - Sydney says:

    Quick feedback on GPS Maps. After reviewing a lot of comments on forums I purchased Sygic about 6 weeks ago.

    Have not regretted the decision. recently spent a weekend in Adelaide and Barossa etc – being guided everywhere with my HTC desire stuck on to the dash of a hire car with blue tack.

  34. Zardoz says:

    Just to leave a note on in-car navigation apps for the Desire that I asked about above. I bought the Sygic product and I’m very happy with it. There’s a few quirks – the soft buttons take longer to respond to the touch screen than other Android apps for example – but overall the thing is very usable. Maps are precise and accurate (in Melbourne metro at least…) The phone runs the program very well – GPS signal is never lost, rerouting is fast, voice prompts are loud enough. I can even play MP3s at the same time! Awesome…

  35. Seems to be a growing discussion about GPS apps for Android.

    I’ve just added my review of CoPilot Live for Android on my website. I highly recommend it!

    http://bit.ly/aKnRVY

  36. Yorik says:

    The main issue is that the Telstra HTC Desire is still running Android 2.1 and as such is heavily limited in what you can install due to the fact that apps have to be installed to the internal storage, not the SD Card.

    We need Android 2.2 Telstra. Not just for this, but also to get the full use of the 576MB of RAM that the phone has, at the moment we can only address 384MB. The JIT compiled kernel will speed the phone up and make it more usable.

    The longer we wait, the more encouraged we are to “root” the phone or install a non Telstra supported OS. It is in the carriers best interest to provide the best OS for their customers. I sincerely hope that Telstra is looking at deploying 2.2 soon. I for one may have to take this into my own hands if my carrier will not.

  37. StabiloBoss says:

    I second that Yorik!

    Telstra, when will you release android 2.2 for the HTC Desire??

    There are ALOT of features that will make this phone even Better! (The app storage & RAM useage is a HUUGE thing)

    [I went on Telstra contract about 3weeks ago. & I chose this phone over the iPhone because the 2.2update has more/better features that will help me.. ]
    Please Telstra listen to us users..

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