Why I love my Android OS Smartphone

It is no secret that I love Google. Everything they make is so well integrated and well designed (ok Buzz and Wave had promise but oh well). I even helped test out Google Apps for our school and knew that it was going to be far more useful than Outlook for coordinating our meetings and working with our students.

So when the time came for a new phone, I knew I was going to go for an Android phone. I knew I would enjoy the email and calendar integration and maybe even a few apps but I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. When I first got my Android phone I was blown away by its potential. I kept remarking that this was the first phone that actually felt like a "smart phone" or a phone from the future.

Why I am writing this post, almost 2 years after I first got an Android phone? Well, our school provides our parent and students comments bi-annually. As fulfilling and enriching as this is for them, it is extremely time consuming to write 75 or so comments (especially when I have the FRC season underway). 

A couple of semesters ago, I realized that I could write comments while I was sitting in a line bored or riding shotgun up to Los Angeles to visit family. This has significantly reduced the strain and stress of doing comments and has prevented me from having to experience the hours of last minute comment writing that my comments.

Yesterday, I was writing a comment and needed to check the student's grade. I was able to switch back and forth between the gradebook website and my Gmail where I was writing my comments. It struck me just how Android allows me to be powerfully mobile.

How else do I enjoy my Android phone? Many probably misunderstand us smart phone users and think we are just Facebooking or Tweeting all day long (and some may be). Yet, I have become much more productive and efficient since having my phone and it has allowed me to maintain this blog, keep my FRC team, communicate with students and parents

Some of my favorite Android apps for Education and features are:
  • Dropbox: Having a networked drive that is easily accessible from the net is invaluable to a teacher. I cannot express how much I love backups of my stuff and the Android app is so wonderful with the ability to read and view almost any file.
  • Editing Google Docs: Really useful to be able to modify and collaborate on a document without being at a computer (Android 2.2 only)
  • Gmail and Google Calendar is so wonderful on an Android phone. Some write things down to remember them, I write them down to forget. Whether it is an idea or an event, I put it into my phone so I can spend my time and effort thinking about other things and being creative. With the updated Gmail app it is even easier for me to do these things. As a project based learning educator, I am always thinking of new ways to help students understand and apply information, and with my phone, I just send myself a little quick email (even at 2am) and no need to fret and concern myself with it anymore.
  • Rooting: Although I haven't yet done this for my Android 2.2 phone, rooting my HTC Hero made it much more enjoyable. The boost in speed was definitely worth it.
  • Tasker: My favorite Android app (next to Dropbox). It has a learning curve, but the Tasker wiki has some great tutorials. It allows you to customize your phone to your life and have it turn off the ringer at a certain time of the day or at School (based on GPS). There are countless other options to suit every possible need. While I still strongly support Free and Open Source, this app is definitely worth its price.
  • Versatility: The phone is basically open, which allows it to be used as my 8GB hard drive, mobile hotspot, robot remote control, and so much more.
For more apps, I suggest you check out the updated Best Android Apps for Educators and anyone else who wants to be incredibly productive.

While some might think that constant communication and access to information would be overwhelming and a drain on time, I have actually found the reverse. Of course out of the box, the phone has all of these notifications and reminders but I suggest you turn these off to suit your life. 

The fact is that, I enjoy the ability to get information, make reservations at a restaurant, communicate with my PLN and friends, get directions, and so much more. If you can get an Android phone I highly recommend it. My family uses Sprint because of the unlimited Data plan but there are many great plans out there. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions on how to use Android to be more productive.

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