Android Apps


My Experience with PayTM Canada

When PayTM Canada reached out to me with interest in sponsoring my podcast, I had never heard of them. They seemed like great people, and had an office in Toronto, but if I was going to promote their bill payment app, I needed to actually use it myself. Yes, I eat my own dog food. I drink Great Lakes Beer, I ate Chefs Plate, and if I ever move again, I'll be calling PropertyintheSix.com.

Downloading the app from paytm.ca was as simple as it sounds (I use the Android version) and in no time I had created an account. The next test was to pay an actual bill.

To pay a bill, you need to connect a credit card or bank account. I'm a big fan of using my MasterCard as often as possible because I collect points I redeem at my local No Frills, so I connected that card. Then, I paid an $84 Toronto Hydro bill.

Because PayTM Canada had created a promocode for me (torontomike) I used that promocode for this payment and was gifted $10 from PayTM. So I was able to pay an $84 with only $74 coming out of my account. You can use this promocode as well if you like the idea of getting free money.

This first test was a complete success, and started paying all of my bills via my PayTM Canada app by using my MasterCard. You can even do this for services that don't typically accept credit card payment. But then, it came time to pay my MasterCard bill.

That's when I connected my bank account. That was slick, so I was able to pay that off within the PayTM app. Keep in mind, there's no service charge or convenience charge here, and there are lots of cashback incentives where PayTM gives you money for using their app. This month, for example, they're giving 2% cashback for any bill payment, for any amount and using any payment method.

Oh yes, and there's cashback when you buy gift cards and handy bill payment reminders... essentially, they've managed to make paying bills rather convenient, fun and rewarding.

I managed to test their support as well. I initially thought my promocode was supposed to be entered in the "referral code" part when I first installed the app, but that wouldn't take, so I opened a ticket and was promptly helped.

Yes, they're a sponsor, but all of the above actually happened. If you have any questions, fire away... and you can email me if that's easier for you.

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A Clean Android Slate: My Essential Apps

I just got a new LG G5 Android phone, a clean slate. Well, it's not exactly clean, because it comes with a bunch of LG apps I have absolutely no use for, but once I cleaned up that mess, I could customize everything to my liking.

This is my current home page. The apps I access here are those I consider The A-Team.

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Here's a breakdown of my A-Team apps and why they're essential. We'll skip the six obvious defaults (phone, messages, camera, clock, Play Store, and settings) because, well... they're obvious.

Gmail
They say young people don't use email anymore. I must be old, because email is still the heartbeat of my digital communication. I use Gmail for email and I use it throughout the day, everyday.

Chrome
Chrome is my go-to web browser, and if you're browsing the web on your smartphone, you're going to need a web browser.

Google Calendar
Every time-sensitive thing I have to do goes in my Google Calendar. And once it's in there, it happens. Be it a dentist appointment, my son's hockey game, or Skydiggers at the Horseshoe Tavern.

MapMyRide
Every bike ride I've taken the last five years has been recorded with this app. It's why I'm able to tell you with certainty I've biked 10,041.22 KM in 2017.

Hangouts
My go-to online instant messenger is Google Hangouts. Enough said.

Twitter
I like Twitter, ok? That explains all the tweets. Of all the social media options, it's by far my favourite and the one I use most often.

Facebook Shortcut
This is not the Facebook app. I choose not to use the Facebook app and instead have a a shortcut to the mobile version of facebook.com. This shortcut defaults to a list that allows me to bypass the shitty algorithm.

Stitcher
I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I use Stitcher to manage them. I cherry pick episodes from my favourite podcasts and they're downloaded automatically when I'm on wifi. Then, they're literally stitched together for seamless enjoyment.

Instagram
My teenaged kids enjoy Instagram, and I'm warming up to it. I don't post often, but I like to check in once or twice a day.

Feedly
I'm sure I'm showing my age again, but I swear by RSS. I subscribe to many, many RSS feed and manage them all via Feedly. The desktop and mobile versions are synchronized, making this app ideal for me.

Flickr
I've been using Flickr to store photos since 2004 and I still swear by it. It's why I can throw my phone into Lake Ontario without losing a single pic.

Skype
Like Hangouts, I use Skype for long distance chats. Even Microsoft has been unable to ruin this useful tool.

As for my B-Team, on the second page, I have the following:

  • Flipp - for finding deals
  • theScore - for sports updates
  • PayTM - for paying bills
  • TinyScanner - for scanning documents
  • Sync - for reddit
  • All the other Google stuff, from Drive to Play Music to Contacts

What are your essential apps?

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Subscribe to Podcasts in Google Play

At last, podcasts have come to Google Play Music. I've been waiting for this for a very long time.

This entry isn't for you iPhone users who subscribe to podcasts in iTunes. This is for those of us who prefer Android. We can now easily subscribe and play podcast episodes via the native Google Play app on our devices.

For example, let's say you wanted to subscribe to my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. I highly recommend you do this asap. On your Android device, visit this link. If you've installed the most recent update to Google Play, it will automatically open on the landing page for Toronto Mike'd. Simply select the "Subscribe" button.

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You'll also see a list of all episodes of the podcast. You can easily play them and/or share them. It really is slick and exactly what we Android users have been looking for.

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If you're not an Android user, you can still subscribe and enjoy podcasts via Google Play on the web. The same url will bring you to my podcast's page. Here's how it looks on the web.

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Not only can you search for your favourite podcasts but Google Play Music will offer contextual recommendations, just like it does with music.

It's been a long time coming but it's well worth the wait.

Notes:

  • Google only unveiled this new feature this week, and is still rolling it out on Android devices. I got the update pushed to me two days ago, but it's possible you don't yet have the update. The fastest way to know if you have the new update is to visit this link. If you don't see the Toronto Mike'd logo, you don't have the update yet.
  • If your favourite podcaster hasn't added their podcast to Google Play yet, you won't find it. Most of the big ones are already there, but some podcasters haven't got around to it yet.

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Uninstall the Facebook App from your Smart Phone

I recently uninstalled the Facebook app from my Android phone, and all is well. In fact, things are better than ever. The Facebook app is a serious strain on the battery, even when you're not using it.

It turns out the mobile version of the Facebook website is just as good as the app. So I created a shortcut on my phone to the page for my custom Facebook list, which also allows me to conveniently bypass the Facebook algorithm. I highly recommend this, you can see more here.

So with a shortcut to the custom list page on facebook.com instead of the app, it's not only easier on my battery, it elimnates the need to install a second Facebook app for the Messenger. Easy peasy.

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The First 13 Non-Google Apps I Installed on my LG G3

The First 13 Non-Google Apps I Installed on my LG G3I got a new LG G3 smartphone on Monday, and the first thing I did was install my favourite apps and modify the settings to my liking.

Standard with this Android release (4.4.2) was a number of Google apps I already use daily, including Gmail, Chrome, Drive, Maps, YouTube, Hangouts, Docs, etc., so this entry is about the first 13 non-Google apps I personally installed on this LG G3.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Do it (Tomorrow) - for grocery lists
  • Facebook - for Facebook
  • feedly - for reading my RSS feeds
  • Flickr - for sending photos to Flickr
  • Instagram - for Instagram
  • Map My Ride GPS - for tracking my bike rides and walks
  • reddit sync - for reading reddit
  • Skype - for Skype
  • SwiftKey Keyboard - my preferred keyboard
  • theScore - for score updates
  • TuneIn Radio - for listening to the radio
  • Twitter - for Twitter
  • WhatsApp Messenger - my preferred texting app

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My 21 Android Apps for the LG G2

My 21 Android Apps for the LG G2After test driving the LG G2 for a few months, I've finally gone all-in. My old Samsung Galaxy phone will be retired to camera / wi-fi use only, and the LG G2 will be my primary device. I love this phone.

In addition to the apps that come with Android, I immediately installed 21 apps following a factory reset. Here are my 21 Android apps for the LG G2, in alphabetical order.

  • CBC News - not just local, national and international news, but easy access to other CBC stuff, like radio, podcasts, etc.
  • Chrome Browser - for surfing the web
  • Do it (Tomorrow) - mainly grocery shopping lists and things I have to do
  • Facebook - for Facebook, believe it or not
  • Feedly Reader - this is how I read all my RSS feeds... better than Google Reader was
  • Flickr - I upload photos to my Flickr account using this app
  • Gmail - for email
  • Google Drive - for documents, spreadsheets, etc.
  • Google+ - for Google+
  • Hangouts - instant messaging
  • MapMyRide - I measure my bike rides using this app
  • Maps - for maps, driving directions, etc.
  • reddit sync - my preferred app for reading reddit
  • Shazam - for identifying songs I hear in coffee shops, on tv, in stores, etc.
  • Skype - I use Skype daily
  • Songza - great music playlists streamed on-demand
  • Street View on Google Maps - for Google Maps
  • theScore - for sports scores and following my teams
  • TuneIn Radio - whether I'm listening to CBC Radio, indie88, 102.1 or a station London, England, this app is amazing
  • Twitter - for Twitter
  • Voice Search - a must-have Google app for Android
  • YouTube - so my kids can watch music videos and epic rap battles of history

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My Favourite Apps Installed on My Android Phone

androidYesterday, I wrote about MapMyRide, an app I've been using for tracking my bike rides. While recently troubleshooting an issue I was having with Kies, I returned my phone to its factory default settings. That gave me a clean slate when it came to installed apps, and three weeks later, these are the ones I missed enough to re-install.

  • CBC News - I love CBC News, and not just for reading, but for playing on-demand the most recent newscasts
  • Shazam - This one comes in handy all the time. If you hear a song and you want to know what you're listening to, Shazam always knows.
  • TuneIn Radio - I absolutely love this app that lets me listen to radio stations from around the world. Humble and Fred's podcast is there, too.
  • Do it (Tomorrow) - I've tried a few, and this is my "to do list" app of choice. If I need to do something, I add it here.
  • Facebook for Android - I'm not a big Facebook guy, but it has its benefits...
  • Gmail - Essential.
  • Google+ - I suspect I'm one of the few who still checks his Google + stream.
  • Google Chrome to Phone - A commenter recently turned me on to this app that sends a link from my computer to phone instantly.
  • MapMyRIDE - I explained this one yesterday. I use it for tracking my rides.
  • Twitter - I'm still digging Twitter.
  • Skype - This one is amazing. Here's something I recently wrote about Skype.
  • ScoreMobile - You need a good app for sports scores, news and stats, and I've tried a bunch. This is my favourite.
  • Zedge - This is a fun little app for ringtones and notification sounds.
  • reddit is fun - If you enjoy Reddit, this is the best Android app I could find.

Google Play keeps a record of every app I've installed, so I can accurately tell you I only reinstalled about 25%. The others either weren't that good or weren't used enough. Sorry, The Weather Network and Fruit Ninja.

Tell me about your favourite apps (for Android, iPhone or Blackberry) in the comments.

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Great Biking App - MapMyRide

Great Biking App - MapMyRideI recently started biking again. Last time I biked regularly, I used a little bike computer that recorded my speed, length of trip, etc.. This time, I'm using an app for my Android phone called MapMyRide.

I'm really digging this free app, and thought I'd share the love. It uses the GPS on my phone to auto-map my route, appreciates the elevation and lets me know how far I went, how long it took, my average speed, calories burned and other cool stats like that.

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So if you're biking, you've got to try this app. If you know of any other good biking apps, leave a comment.

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