No matter what I tried, this retarded Marshmallow performs “Optimizing app 1 of 1” after each reboot–a reboot that’s a bit slow at that. And it’s not a rooted device. So I guess I’ll need to “reset to factory settings,” but first I need to make sure I know what apps to reinstall. You see, I’ve tried thousands of apps, yet I don’t use that many of them. But I need to connect to Play Store using all my 3 Google accounts, because I have commercial apps purchased under each of them. A mess. A nightmare. And all this, in a device that’s supposedly faster than my old one judging by the AnTuTu score or by the CPU alone, but I know for a fact that my old Android 4.2.1 was much faster than this piece of shit of 6.0.1. Obviously, I can’t run the latest Android 7.1, because a smartphone is not like a PC, you cannot run whatever you want on it (how is this even legal in the EU?).

What I can do though is to make a list of the apps that I might want or need to reinstall. The post has been updated after I got the new Moto G5, which runs Android 7.0.

■1. Weather: This is a tricky topic, and most people wouldn’t understand my obsession with weather apps and widgets. The short version: they all suck. The longer version: there are more aspects to be considered.

►►►This section has been moved here: Guessing the weather forecast.

If you want to skip it, just give a try to Weather & Radar Pro Ad-Free / WetterOnline Pro (2.99 €), by WetterOnline GmbH (or you can start with the free edition). Obviously, not always accurate, but decent enough. The same information can be found online at WetterOnline.de.

■2. Twitter: Since the official Twitter app supports a dark background and includes a number of features not present in any other client app–yes, “In case you missed it…” is a useful feature!–I tend to rely on it, but I have a long history with Twitter clients. My first love was Plume for Twitter (with the Premium unlocker), and I’m still using it every now and then. I liked Seesmic, but Hootsuite killed it. I liked Robird, but the developer decided to abandon it to create Robird Reborn, which is a piece of crap. I never liked Talon, Fenix, TweetCaster and a few other apps, but I found promising the rather buggy Twidere and the non-free derivative Tweetings, but they both have some limitations, and Sam Ruston’s Flamingo has even more quirks. Note that only the official app knows of “Moments”–which I still fail to understand anyway–so maybe I’ll stick to it and to my first love as a backup.

■3. Communication: I might be one of the few who are using a smartphone to make voice calls. I could never understand the excitement around WhatsApp Messenger, which was only a text messaging app when launched, then it had a $0.99 fee after the 1st year… then it evolved. Back then, Viber was the best available VoIP app, and multi-platform too! Unfortunately, it tries to hijack regular phone calls to, so I ditched it. Skype is a bit too heavy for a cheap smartphone, I prefer it on a laptop. So I do have WhatsApp installed–merely because everyone else is using it, but I don’t initiate calls. I also have Google’s stupid Hangouts installed–it works, but what a piece of crap! Finally, I’m trying to figure out why Google created Allo and Duo–the first one includes the useless Google Assistant, and the 2nd one only supports video calls.

■4. Public transport and travelling:

Generic apps:

  • HERE WeGo (formerly HERE Maps)–as an alternative to Google Maps. The offline maps are good, but of unequal quality.

Germany, focus on BW:

  • DB Navigator. Not only the trains in Germany, but trains for most of Europe; in Germany, also U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses. For some countries, better train planning can sometimes be obtained via Rail Planner Eurail/Interrail.
  • Transportr. Especially for some European countries (one at a time, and in countries like Germany one network must be selected: DB, BVG, VBB, BEG, MVV, INVG, VGN, VVS, etc.).
  • VVS Mobil–for Stuttgart and surroundings. Duplicates the functionality of SSB Move (formerly Fahrinfo Stuttgart).
  • Offi – Journey Planner. While it supports several countries, it’s most useful for DE/AT/CH.
  • Qixxit–an interesting new app with amazing graphics!

Should I visit some other countries:

  • SNCB/NMBS. Not only the trains in Belgium, but also buses and subway. Some people prefer BeTrains. The newest contender: HyperRail.
  • SNCF. It also knows of RER, buses…
  • RATP (a 20 MB offline map can be downloaded, but for real-time info i.e. delays, a connection is needed), plus Next Stop Paris (a RATP app for tourists).
  • Trainline – UK Times & Tickets.
  • Citymapper–apparently, the best app for London’s public transport, but it also supports some other major European cities.
  • City Maps 2Go Offline Maps, by Ulmon GmbH. Especially for the offline maps. I’m not sure there is a need for the full Premium (5.99 €) edition.
  • MAPS.ME – Map & GPS Navigation, by My.com B.V. It’s not that great e.g. for Germany, but it looks like it’s quite good for countries like Cuba, despite its rather small offline map (41 MB for Cuba)–so it’s good to have it at hand while abroad.
  • OsmAnd Maps & GPS Navigation, by OsmAnd. Using OpenStreetMap and allowing offline maps (the free edition allows 7 downloads; beyond that, the Plus edition costs 6.99 €). I tested it for locations in Cuba (49 MB map), and it’s great!
  • Clever Taxi. This is how I get a cab in Romania.
  • Flightradar24 Flight Tracker. The Android version of this app was abandoned for some time, but now it’s back on track. The free app seems improved, with enough info that makes a purchase unnecessary.

■5. Audio, Video, Photo: I’m not sure I need any of this added to the default system apps, but still…

Audio players:

Music tools:

Video players:

Camera apps–I don’t use them on my Moto G5 though:

■6. E-Book readers: I could not settle for a unique app, because each of them has its pros and cons. Most such apps are stupid, as they want to import the books in their own folder, thus creating copies, instead of reading the file that’s already in the file system! Also, most apps have bad defaults (fonts, colors) and too complex settings. Oh, and not all of them can use the fonts embedded in an ePub. I have tried many other apps, even newer ones, and they suck even more. And I cannot stand Google Play Books–despite it being quite good–because I have to “Upload to Play Books” (actually, in an Android file manager, “Open with Upload to Play Books”) any book before I can read it! This is the most stupid design idea I’ve ever heard of! Why, I keep about 250 e-books on the SD card, and I want to be able to read them from where they already are. Uploading them too Google is preposterous.

First choice:

  • eReader Prestigio: Book Reader, by Prestigio. That’s rather new, but quite good and straightforward. My first choice. I also add some fonts in a folder on the SD card, such as Bitter, Merriweather, or Rooney. It cannot properly or fully read some perfectly valid books though.
  • Lithium: EPUB Reader. The newest contender to the above apps. Tends to be my first choice, despite some shortcomings and random bugs. It cannot properly or fully read some perfectly valid books though.
  • PocketBook – PDF, EPUB reader, by Obreey Products. Excellent, with some quirks though. For a long time, it was my reader of choice!

Second-tier:

UPDATE: Newer apps:

  • ReadEra, a Russian app based on the open-source ThornyReader. It has its goods and bads (described below).
  • Tolino–originally meant to read the e-books purchased e.g. from Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, eBook.de, bücher.de, Mayersche, Osiander, and others, it can also be used to read local e-books (“Open with tolino” in any file manager). In version 4.6.0, it’s still bug-ridden though.

Here’s why I need more than one ePub reader–pros and cons of the above apps, in chronological order (“classic” apps first):

1. Aldiko:

  • ⊕ among the best interpreters of the CSS included in ePub
  • ⊕ easy to use extra fonts (copy them to Android/data/com.android.aldiko/files/fonts)
  • ⊖ overriding publisher’s formatting is a bad idea, e.g. italics would be lost, but this also means you cannot override the fonts present in the book (when present)
  • ⊖ it does create PNG copies of the e-books covers in the internal storage! (folder eBooks, not deleted upon uninstall!)

2. FBReader:

  • ⊖ it would lost perfectly valid CSS formatting e.g. centered text (the titles are poorly displayed if not defined with H1 etc.) or italics when defined as span class, but would honor e.g. em tags.
  • ⊖ antiquated GUI, awkward settings
  • ⊖ by default, it does create copies of the e-books in the internal storage (the location can be changed, but why creating copies?!)

3. Moon+:

  • ⊕ among the best interpreters of the CSS included in ePub
  • ⊕ best rendering of tables
  • ⊖ the settings are a bit annoying, but adding your own fonts is easy (just specify a folder)
  • ⊕ using the fonts embedded in the book works very well
  • ⊖ if the book has a wider right margin, it cannot be removed
  • ⊕ links to endnotes can open in a popup
  • ⊕ it can scroll like a web page instead of turning pages
  • ⊖ it does create copies of the e-books in the internal storage! (folder Books, not deleted upon uninstall!)

4. PocketBook:

  • ⊕ among the best interpreters of the CSS included in ePub
  • ⊖ the customization can be a nightmare and there isn’t an easy way to set the font to the desired typeface; I don’t know how to handle any other font than those included in an unusably stupid Fonts List, which is a list of priorities, not a way to select a typeface!
  • ⊕ it doesn’t copy files (it reads the e-books in place)

5. Prestigio:

  • ⊖ it would lost perfectly valid CSS formatting e.g. centered text (the titles are poorly displayed if not defined with H1 etc.) or italics when defined as span class, but would honor e.g. em tags.
  • ⊖ it cannot make italic from a typeface that lacks such a style (so make sure you don’t select Roboto Slab, but rather Droid)
  • ⊕ it’s possible to use all of the original book’s CSS except for the font: select the desired custom font, then enable “Apply EPUB style settings” (this cancels the font choice), then go to “Advanced Settings,” “Font,” “CSS Settings” and uncheck “Font family”; on return, the desired font will be used and, despite “Apply EPUB style settings” being disabled in the UI, the rest of the formatting will be applied!
  • ⊖ worst rendering of tables
  • ⊕ very straightforward customization
  • ⊕ easy to use external fonts from a folder
  • ⊕ it doesn’t copy files (it reads the e-books in place)
  • a rare bug meant that I couldn’t read e.g. the Penguin edition of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, despite the book being 100% error-free (I checked): from the middle of the 5th chapter, it jumped right to the end!

6. Lithium:

  • ⊕ it automatically reads all the books on the SD card
  • ⊖ it doesn’t display the pictures with the original aspect ratio (no, this is not just about the cover)
  • ⊕ it can emulate bold or italic even on a normal-only typeface! (this behavior is normally a Windows-only thing)
  • ⊕ it also renders the fonts thicker than all the other Android e-readers, which improves the readability
  • ⊕ nice included typeface Arbutus Slab (the only style is regular)
  • ⊖ it can use the fonts embedded in the book or its own fonts, but sometimes, if the book has embedded fonts, it can’t use other fonts! (I couldn’t identify the exact bug, as it only happened with a few books)
  • ⊖ it cannot force justification
  • ⊖ if the book has a wider right margin, it cannot be removed
  • ⊖ slow to open a chapter
  • ⊕ it can scroll like a web page instead of turning pages
  • ⊕ it doesn’t copy files (it reads the e-books  in place)
  • unpredictable bugs meant that for a couple of books I simply had to use another app; in one book it simply refused to display the last quarter, except for the last few pages (100% validated ePub); in another ePub the bug was that one chapter (100% valid XHTML) was displayed with each page getting more and more out of the screen on the right side (a workaround is to set the Flow to Scrolled instead of Paged, but I actually read that chapter in a different app); and it consistently crashed trying to display a short Chapter 1 from a perfectly error-free Penguin ePub (the same as for the previous app)!

7. ReadEra:

  • ⊖ it would lost perfectly valid CSS formatting e.g. centered text, and it would ignore many CSS customizations (e.g. for lists)
  • ⊕ it automatically reads all the books on the SD card
  • ⊖ but there’s no search mechanism; the quick fix is to tap “All Authors” to have them grouped by author
  • ⊖ it creates huge thumbnails (as PNG) in the internal storage for all the books (160 MB for 250 e-books that themselves took 230 MB!)
  • ⊕ a few extra fonts, including Merriweather and Alice
  • ⊖ the fonts are rendered somewhat too thin, the default size is too small, and the line spacing has to be increased
  • ⊕ it can scroll like a web page instead of turning pages (Pages Mode: Vertical list)

8. Tolino:

  • ⊖ extremely slow and buggy (except for some specific changes, are they using the same app on their physical readers? how on Earth?)
  • ⊖ confusing and buggy settings, e.g. trying to force the justification (first “Alignment” option) disables all the centered text in the book!
  • ⊖ huge bug with regards to endnotes: jumping back is almost impossible, and often jumping to an endnote occurs by accident (instead of a page turn)
  • ⊕ a nice extra font: Bitter

9. Google Play Books (mentioned in the introduction, and preinstalled on some devices):

  • ⊖  it simply can’t access the books already present on the device, e.g. on the SD card, and it’s ludicrous to have them uploaded one by one to Google, generating useless data traffic and inconvenience!
  • ⊕ very decent rendering of all books and of their CSS
  • ⊕ useful extra fonts: Literata, Merriweather
  • ⊕ “Night Light” serves as a blue light filter

Also of interest:

  • Kobo Books – Reading App, by Kobo eBooks.
  • Kindle, by Amazon Mobile LLC. Note that Kindle used to be criticized for its forced justification, which was perfectly fine with me. Now, the app offers the choice between “auto” and “left aligned”–and guess what? If the book’s CSS says text-align: left, then there’s no way to force a justification! Cocksuckers, those developers: how difficult would it have been to add one more option, “justified”?
  • Goodreads, by Goodreads.

Let’s add here also apps for comic strips and comic books:

■7. Dictionaries/Languages: This is a tough topic. People who know me well know I used to compare and to actually use dozens of dictionary apps; I’ve however simplified my life lately.

The mandatory English set developed by Antony Lewis, from WordWeb Software, Brighton, UK has a unique set of advantages. Beyond the high usability and lightness of the apps, the X-Ref features allows for a navigation between apps. The entries don’t only include the heading words, but also the idioms, so you don’t have to wonder at what entry to look for an expression (still, sometimes it won’t scroll correctly to the right expression, idiom or word). Also, the thesaurus app actually searches in the contents!

  • Dictionary – WordWeb, by WordWeb Software. Uses the database from Princeton’s WordNet 3.1 plus additions from “years of independent development”—unlike other WordNet-based apps, it’s updated with some BrEn meanings (e.g. bedder meaning bedmaker). Some AmEn meanings have been added too (e.g. the prank meaning of wedgie, not present in WordNet). Other expansions are nice too, e.g. WordNet has 3 meanings for stew as a verb, but here we have 6, including the BrEn to brew tea for too long. Check the settings for the hidden powers of this great database (synonyms, antonyms, similar words, type of, part of, region-specific terms or meanings, etc.)! No audio pronunciations in the free edition. Unfortunately, it lacks the etymology database. Still, a must-have!
  • Chambers Dictionary ($7.99 or 8.49 €; it used to cost as low as £3.99), by WordWeb Software. Initially based on The Chambers Dictionary, 12th Edition. Updated now to the 13th Edition (2014).  Unfortunately, WordWeb Software doesn’t offer the so-called Concise edition—actually, Chambers 21st Century Dictionary—which has in print a more practical formatting and a few meanings missing from the “full dictionary”, such as keeper (to mean something worth keeping), lame duck (US meaning: official waiting for the elected successor to replace them). Note that in this dictionary some words are spelled with syllabication, e.g. commando is command’o, lookout is look’out, bedder is bed’der; still, the full word is correctly listed in the index. Special note: avoid at all costs the Chambers apps published by Paragon Software GmbH–read this review to understand why! But why is it that I love so much a “concise” dictionary? Mind you, this “full” Chambers dictionary is still concise in form, without example phrases. Well, for one, it includes many peculiar terms and expressions you won’t find in most other dictionaries. This goes from scientific terms and Latin expressions to whatever ancient spellings and meanings found in the Victorian novels. For other insights, read: Chamber MusicChambers Dictionary Adds 1,000 ‘Totes Amazeballs’ New Words in Latest EditionYOLO, Bitcoin and the bedroom tax: Chambers Dictionary adds 1,000 new definitions. Also of interest is the list of missing words (PDF) that was needed as a complement to the initial print of the 13th Edition.
  • Chambers Thesaurus ($4.99 or 5.89 €), by WordWeb Software. Updated to Chambers Thesaurus, 5th edition (2015). Concise, but good value, with great notes at some entries. Also, the fact that it really searches into the content (and extremely fast at that!) allows you to find e.g. in the least as a synonym to at all, both being under the heading of any as an adverb. With a thesaurus from Oxford or Collins, you need to know that you must go to “any” to get either of “in the least” or “at all”!

More English (AmEn):

  • Dictionary – M-W Premium ($2.99), by Merriam-Webster Inc. Actually “Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus,” as per the icon. Not the free edition, but fully offline and no ads. The contents is similar to what’s available online at www.m-w.com, namely the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition with–when available, but shown first–additional simpler definitions from an abridged Learner’s Dictionary on a light blue background, then the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus, Second Edition; and some word games which I never cared about. Another peculiarity is that a dictionary entry usually has synonyms and antonyms at the end, so that the thesaurus is only useful to get “related words” and “near antonyms.” Not the best dictionary on Earth, but I purchased it for convenience.
  • Dictionary.com Premium ($2.99), because the free edition has too many ads, including noisy full-screen ones. The contents can be disappointing at times, and the search is too strict.

Adding some Oxford value: whoever can afford to use an online database doesn’t even need to install the abandoned Oxford Dictionaries – Search app, because there’s a better way: just add a bookmark to en.oxforddictionaries.com and the English, US English and Thesaurus dictionaries will be accessible for free! The online dictionaries are the equivalent of the single-volume ODE (Oxford Dictionary of English; not “the big” OED) and NOAD (New Oxford American Dictionary), and the thesaurus is the concise one. Hint: once in a dictionary definition, make sure you expand the “+ More example sentences” and “+ Synonyms” (where available). Whoever prefers an app with offline databases should read below; the caveat is that the apps below only include “frozen” editions, without the new words that are only available online. Note that one is supposed to choose between an AmEn and a BrEn edition.

  • New Oxford American Dictionary, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $14.99 (more expensive in euros). Quite often the definitions, examples and notes from this New Oxford American Dictionary (Third Edition), ©OUP 2010, 2012 are better than those from the British edition. ■ Oxford Dictionary of English, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $19.99 (more expensive in euros). It contains the Oxford Dictionary of English (Third Edition), ©OUP 2010, 2012.
  • Concise Oxford American Thesaurus, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $7.49 (more expensive in euros). It features more or better usage notes than the British edition; it contains the excellent Concise Oxford American Thesaurus, ©OUP 2006. ■ Concise Oxford Thesaurus, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $7.49 (more expensive in euros). It contains the excellent Concise Oxford Thesaurus, ©OUP 2007.
  • Oxford Dictionary of English and Concise Thesaurus, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $29.99 (more expensive in euros). It bundles the above British dictionary and thesaurus. ■ Note that in this case there isn’t any real AmEn counterpart: Oxford American Dictionary and Concise Thesaurus, by MobiSystems (also a trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $14.99, more expensive in euros), doesn’t bundle the sum of the above American dictionary and thesaurus, but it includes The Oxford American English Dictionary and Thesaurus (Second Edition), ©OUP 2009, which mixes the entries to create a strange product. It’s cheaper, but I don’t like it.

The contender alternative:

  • Collins English Dictionary, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $19.99 (more expensive in euros). It includes the excellent Collins English Dictionary Complete & Unabridged 12th Ed., @HarperCollins 2014. Usually clear, straightforward definitions; also well-suited for AmEn. Typically, an entry will have more meanings than in the above Oxford dictionaries, although some of such meanings are so much related to each other that they could be seen as unnecessary; if I want an even larger number of meanings, I can go for Chambers, but I’d miss the examples.
  • Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $29.99 (more expensive in euros). To the above dictionary is added the Collins Thesaurus of the English Language 3rd Ed., @HarperCollins 1995, 2002, 2006, 2008. While somewhat less valuable than the Oxford counterpart, this one includes more slang in the list of synonyms, both BrEn and AmEn.

French dictionaries:

English-French dictionaries:

Note that I don’t recommend any Collins dictionary with French or German: not satisfactory enough.

German-English and German-French dictionaries: Additionally, you could bookmark de.Langenscheidt.com: the dictionaries in free access (somewhat better when paired with French than English) are quite nice.

  • dict.cc dictionary, or the ad-free dict.cc+ dictionary (2.99 €), by Paul Hemetsberger. Both work offline! Instead of the app, you could instead access touch.dict.cc. Best paired with English.
  • LEO dictionary, by Leo GmbH. Needs an Internet connection to work. Instead of the app, you could as well use the compact web interface at pda.leo.org. Good with both English and French.
  • PONS Online Translator, by PONS. Poor name: it’s first and foremost an interface to a set of dictionaries, not a translator! Needs an Internet connection to work. One could as well just add a bookmark to de.PONS.com (it has a nice mobile version). Good with both English and French.
  • PONS Wörterbuch Bibliothek / PONS Dictionary Library, by PONS (actually, by Paragon Software GmbH). A unique container for an entire set of 44 dictionaries that can be purchased individually, each of them with trial editions. A few of them are also available as separate apps! The best-value titles are: English-German ADVANCED (24.99 €; it was 19.99 € and I purchased it for 9.99 €), also as a separate app here; and French-German ADVANCED (24.99 €; it was 19.99 €), also as a separate app here. Hint: the option to download the optional audio modules is hidden in each dictionary under Settings, Components (hide the keyboard first).
  • Oxford German Dictionary, by MobiSystems. This is the trial app, you’ll purchase the full edition as IAP, for $19.99 (more expensive in euros). It includes the Oxford German Dictionary 3rd Ed., @OUP 2008, 2012.
  • Dictionnaire allemand-français (4.99 €), by Editions Larousse. Fully offline, except for the pronunciations (which are read by real humans). It includes the full conjugation of the German verbs! Some hiccups though, e.g. for bezahlen you should look at zahlen; no conjugation for essen, entschließen, glaubensitzen actually conjugates sitzen lassen; stehen conjugates stehen bleiben; etc. The same contents is available online, at Dictionnaire Allemand-Français en ligne (there is a button to change the translation direction).
  • Dictionary Linguee, by Linguee GmbH. With context translations (online), which are its forte, mostly for the German-English pair.

With a pretty good value in learning German, some apps by Compos Apps S.L: 14000 German verbs (with translations in several languages and examples), Deutsche Grammatik. Most similar apps are error-ridden, especially those with exercises and tests.

Other language apps:

■8. News/Media: I don’t use any RSS readers anymore–I don’t subscribe to any feeds to follow e.g. blogs (I know, this is a bit strange when coming from someone who used to blog a lot in the past…). I take most of my news from Twitter and from what Google’s app is suggesting me every day on my Android, so I don’t use any of the “personalized news aggregators” (such as FlipboardfeedlyInoreader).

Newspapers and mainstream news sources (I subscribed to Twitter feeds of many newspapers, but I still like a few apps):

Most importantly, I need to be able to save the links! Therefore…

  • Pocket, by Read It Later–the unavoidable tool!

TV channels–mostly in French:

■9. Internet Radio: This is a very important category to me, as I am a fan of the radio. So there are apps that offer the streams of radio stations that are otherwise available in FM/DAB+, but there are also apps that offer streams of channels that are only available on the Internet (there are stations with one FM channel and several more online-only). And there is more.

“Not radio”:

  • Deezer–not because it’s French, but because I like it much more than the app everyone else is liking!
  • Spotify Music–that’s what everyone else is liking…

Online-only (so technically “not radio” either):

“Universal apps” that play most of the available streams:

  • TuneIn Radio, or TuneIn Radio Pro ($9.99 or 10.79 €; it was $3.99). It doesn’t know all the stations though…
  • radio.net (aka radio.de, radio.fr, etc.), or the ad-free radio.net PRIME (2.99 €; it was $0.99 or 0.79 €). Formerly known as rad.io. The alternative to the above app.
  • Replaio Radio, the new app that tries to displace the above two apps! Released in 2017 and still young, it’s currently my favorite!

Sui generis apps:

  • Les Indés Radio–a great concept! “Le mur du son” permet de visualiser et d’écouter les titres en cours de diffusion sur 132 radios FM indépendantes de France et 200 webradios. This allowed me to discover many non-affiliated French stations (see the SPECIAL NOTES at the end of the Internet Radio section). One design weakness of this app is that if a station has e.g. 1 FM channel and 8 extra (web-only) channels, one has to look in two places–the station section in the web radios will lack the FM channel.
  • Allzic Radio and Allzik Radio, both official and from 2015. The second one (Allzik) only shows the original Allzic Radio channels, whereas the “correct” one (Allzic) also add lots of 3rd-party radios, more like the “universal apps” above.
  • Radiooooo. Original concept: pick a country, pick a decade, and enjoy… a limited collection of music.

Apps that extend the FM streams sometimes with dozens of channels:

Aggregators of a selection of radios–despite my usual hate of them, a few come handy:

  • Maxim Kabluka’s Jazz & Blues Music Radio helped me discover e.g. The Jazz Groove, Dinner Jazz Excursion, Megaton Cafe Radio and many more. Mainly structured around the streams of 1jazz.ru, but it adds many more (even the Swiss Public Domain Jazz and Radio Swiss Jazz), to a total of 60+.
  • Maxim Kabluka’s Classical Music Radio. 50+ streams, obviously including e.g. some of the streams for Klassik Radio (the streams known to the old official app, not to the new one, see below), then Swissradio Public Domain Classical, BBC Radio 3 and the French Radio Classique.

Radios généralistes–France:

Focus on (South-West) Germany (BW, BY):

“Fixes” for a few countries:

  • BBC iPlayer Radio. To my surprise, all channels work outside UK too! (BBC’s iPlayer TV channels don’t.)
  • UK Radio Streamer. E.g. for Absolute Radio (7 channels)–as the official app can’t be installed outside the UK.
  • Swiss Internet Radio. I’m using it mostly for some swissradio.ch channels (Swissradio Classical: Public Domain Classical; Swissradio Jazz&Swing: Public Domain Jazz; Swissradio Modern Jazz), Radio Jazz International, Radio Souvenir… NOTE: In July 2017, swissradio.ch stopped their INIT7 streams, the new streams being listed on radio.publicdomainproject.org and hosted by relay.publicdomainproject.org. As of yet, this app is the only one aware of the new streams (as a matter of fact, it was I who notified Nicolas Kunzi at ASROC).
  • Radio Swiss Classic, Radio Swiss Jazz and Radio Swiss Pop, by Swiss Satellite Radio. Actually, if not available in FM, they’re on DAB+ in Switzerland.
  • radioplayer.de – Die Radio App. It seems to really include all the radio stations in Germany!
  • CBC Music (in English) and ICI Musique (in French). The same contents can be accessed at www.cbcmusic.ca and icimusique.ca. Beyond CBC Radio 2 and ICI Musique (both centered on classical music and jazz), there are a number of webradios; also full albums in streaming. Unfortunately for the Android apps, they’re highly unreliable as of versions 2.2.6.30 (CBC Music) and 1.2.1.16 (ICI Musique). Not only the main streams stop randomly, but every second launch the English app only shows one of the 3…7 screens that can be swapped left, and the app can’t scroll up anymore. The fix is to go to Settings, Apps, and in the app’s Storage, Clear Data (not only the cache!).

Podcast apps: Not counting those from Radio France (see above), there is a huge informational and cultural value in a great number of US and UK podcasts–if only life were longer… Normally, one shouldn’t need more than one app, but as I don’t spend much time with podcasts, I prefer to explore and discover something else every now and then, and different apps come in useful.

SPECIAL NOTES: No “universal app” can know of all the radio stations on Earth, and even if they would, sometimes a dedicated app offers a few extra features or better ergonomics. Also, for Web radios that have 5, 24, 30, or even 1000+ channels, not all such channels are known to 3rd-party apps. Nonetheless, such apps eliminate the need to install stupid apps for individual stations with no extras (such as TSF JAZZ or Radio Classique). As I hinted at one app, the most important virtue of the non-dedicated apps–and especially Les Indés Radio–is that they helped me discover new stations, and they provided a source of streams for stations that have no dedicated app for Android. What I search for in the multi-station apps:

  • Niche stations with French oldies, such as: RDL, TFM, RadioSouvenir.com, Radio Montmartre, Radio Douce France, etc.
  • Multi-channel French stations that have poor apps or no app at all, such as: Chante France (6 channels), Forum (8 channels), Vibration (9 channels), Wit (9 channels, but I only like “Wit 80s”), Voltage (9 channels), 100% Radio (the website lacks the 5 extra channels), M2 (13 channels), etc.
  • The fabulous Belgian Classic 21 and its extra Web channels (7, but from the 8 radios, usually 4 are easy to find: Classic 21 RTBF 93.2 FM; Classic 21 60s; Classic 21 70s aka Les classiques; Classic 21 80s).
  • The four stations Classic & Jazz, Soul & Funk, Smooth & Relax, Chic & Frenchy.
  • The channels of JazzRadio.fr, MFM, OÜI FM, Allzic and some others that have dedicated apps are also available in their entirety in Les Indés Radio.
  • The aforementioned swissradio.ch channels (especially Public Domain Classical and Public Domain Jazz).

…and much more, depending on my mood.

■10. Games: No, no, no: not that kind of games. On a smartphone, I’d rather use a few logical games, and even then… I’ve tried a lot–and enjoyed some of them–but then I decided I’m not into games anyway, so I prefer to keep installed certain game apps just in case I’ll feel like using them when stranded somewhere or otherwise in need to spend some time this way.

Chess and GO:

Some logic games and puzzles–the very few I still care about:

  • Abandoned, but still working: Unblock Car Free (10 as tutorial, then 1750 puzzles), or the identical-looking, yet more generous Parking Car (10 as tutorial, then 2950 puzzles), by Freedom Recyle. Both read “Car Unblock” on the splash screen. Possibly the best Rush Hour clone. The second one allows you to start from the first puzzle of each set, e.g. you can start at 601, whereas in the first one you should start from the beginning. Ads at the bottom.
  • Unblock Car (3000 puzzles), by Mouse Games. Another Rush Hour clone. Even the easy level start rather abruptly. Cars exit through the left, not right!
  • Exponenta’s Move the Box (ua.co.cts.sideup) and Move the Box: Continents (com.bitchingames.movethebox)–which has now replaced the discontinued Pro (ua.co.cts.movethebox) edition. Unfortunately, the same 192 puzzles. UPDATE: Move the Box: Arcade, released in Oct. 2017, is more like Tetris, with potentially an infinite play, which is less interesting than solving puzzles.
  • Pyrosphere’s Lazors–an ad-free classic.
  • Laser Box – Puzzle, Laser Box – Winter, and Ultimate Laser Box ($2.90), by South-Media.
  • Thermometers Puzzles, by Frozax Games.
  • KAMI, and the much newer KAMI2.
  • Sokoban Garden 3D, by Kivano, for the excellent graphics and puzzles!
  • Blackies, by Celtic Spear. Not entirely fair with granting the stars and points; tries to make you purchase points even if you solved everything without using any hints.

Unclassified:

■11. Productivity: No Evernote, Wunderlist, Any.do, Out of Milk, or other such crap on my smartphone!

  • Business Calendar 2. My preferred calendar for Android 6+, especially for the Day List widget (1 row high) that can be set to show up to 7 days (scrollable, with 1-3 lines per event).
  • DigiCal (some features require the 4.99 € upgrade to DigiCal+). For the Agenda view and the app itself!
  • Google Keep. Yes, it’s a fundamental app!
  • I’m also syncing my OneNote notes.
  • Microsoft Outlook–because I have an Outlook.com account, and I need to access its calendar too. I can read my Yahoo! Mail in the same app.
  • Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel–yup, no more of Kingsoft’s WPS Office, no more Polaris Office! As for PDFs, I add Adobe Acrobat Reader (despite having PDF-reading capabilities in e-book readers) because it can reflow the text in the “Reading Mode.”

■12. Tools and Utilities: Very few tools, actually; and I couldn’t even make my mind on a calculator, because I like two of them, both having the classic look of a physical one!

  • Quartic Software’s excellent RealCalc Scientific Calculator, or maybe RealCalc Plus (2.99 €) for a 12-digit display and greater internal precision. Both support RPN.
  • CalcTastic’s Scientific Calculator, or Scientific Calculator Plus ($0.99). I tend to prefer this one lately.
  • Digitalchemy’s Calculator Plus Free, or Calculator Plus ($19.99 or 1.89 €, was 0.10 € when I got it). Not for the features, but for the looks. A few extra functions (π, x², √, 1/x) by swiping the memory buttons left or right.
  • Xiaomi’s Mi Calculator is now available to anyone!
  • Unit Converter, or the ad-free Unit Converter Pro (1.50 €), by Smart Tools co. Only the essential everyday units. I couldn’t find a comprehensive converted app with decent usability, so I gave up, after having tried more than a dozen–they’re all full of crap: either too many useless non-conversions (powers of 10), or missing units (e.g. mmHg), and when there are too many categories it takes too much to find what you need.
  • One Unit Converter & Currency, by AuxWave. To contradict myself, I just discovered this one, and it looks just fine; too bad there’s no ad-free edition.
  • UUCMobile’s Unit Converter or the ad-free Unit Converter Pro (1.50 €) is also a good choice for those who want lots of units.
  • Barcode Scanner, by ZXing Team. The original–the first one I’ve ever tried. As a backup though, QR Droid Private™, by DroidLa. Not needed on Moto G5, whose camera app has built-in QR capabilities.

■13. System Utilities: Since I stopped rooting my phones, this section has been reduced to the bare minimum.

Security and cleaning–these are actually two distinct types of software, but the Chinese like to mix them. While the results weren’t that bad some time ago, I feel now fed up with overlapping apps such as Clean MasterCM SecurityCM Security Lite360 Security360 Security Lite. Several other cleaners are pure crap, and so are the various battery utilities. As of 2017 I decided to go for:

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Free, as it’s simple and straightforward. I don’t need any extra features, except that I’d like to be able to scan an APK file from a file manager.
  • Panda Free Antivirus–despite not being the best AV on Windows, I use it on Android to scan an APK before installing it (I told the file manager to open an APK with Panda instead of Package Installer; Bitdefender wasn’t in the list). I prefer Panda these days, as it sort of integrates with Panda Internet Security for Windows.
  • Darken’s SD Maid – System cleaning tool, with SD Maid Pro – Unlocker (2.96 €). A must-have!

EDIT: Maybe I should have reconsidered my AV choice since AV-Comparatives released their Android Test 2017, in which they tested 110 security apps (many of them being bogus). Against 1,000 malicious APKs, most big names have scored 100.0% (a score which I distrust), and two Chinese are included here (Baidu DU Apps, Cheetah Mobile), while Qihoo 360 only scored 99.8%. Failures include famous names such as: Malwarebytes (96.0%), Panda (95.1%), Lookout (92.2%), Zemana (88.8%), ZONER (83.9%), COMODO (70.6%), Trustlook (61.4%), NQ (48.1%). Their testing procedure included launching the apps, but to my knowledge no Android AV checks an app upon start, but only statically. I am however not satisfied with their extremely limited check against false positives: 50 clean APKs or “popular” apps. I have encountered ridiculous FPs from major names, but I am using many more apps than those from “Top 50” and I also had a few Chinese system apps in Huawei and Wiko… Either way, AV-Comparatives also failed to state which free apps were tested, or whether the “freemium” ones were tested in the free or in the paid version. As I was trying to reconsider a few former preferred free choices, I noticed I don’t have much choice: Avast is slow, bloated, a RAM hog, and it constantly bothers the user with stupid ads, requests to subscribe and to install their other apps; and from the other free apps, I never liked anything much–except maybe for TrustGo (99.8% in this test). Info: while TrustGo is registered in Santa Clara, California, they’re actually Chinese; the founder graduated in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, with a Master at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, and the company’s TOC points to an e-mail at 163.com, which is a Chinese site! Beyond that, it doesn’t offer to scan an APK from a file manager, so…

Here’s AVG falsely flagging two system apps in a Wiko Robby (indeed, AV-Comparatives have no clue on how to test against FPs):

And here’s Trend Micro (EMEA) eating shit:

In Sept. 2017, the latest Avira for Android was eating shit, and I added a merciless review:

The utmost piece of shit:
1. The only AV to find malware that doesn’t exist: ANDR.GHideAds.ytrhi and ANDR.GHideAds.hrhrx.
2. The only AV that DOESN’T SAY WHICH APKs are infected! It only asks me to delete… but delete WHAT, you morons?!
3. To prove they can be even more stupid than the Chinese that pretend the charging continues after reaching the 100% level (trickle charging after reaching 100%), the Avira idiots have added a useless feature: “Overcharging Protection”. Have you ever tried to MEASURE the current that enters the Akku of a modern smartphone once 100% is reached? It’s ZERO, you Dummkopf! Some phones even don’t resume charging even if the Akku drops to 96-97% until one disconnects the charger and reconnects it one more time! Your trick is a deceiving shit, and only made by morons for morons!
4. It also wants to show the weather in the notification; yes, the weather. The location is correctly identified, but the shown temperature is 17°C when there are 12°C, and apparently there’s a sun at midnight!
Bitdefender Free is a better choice. Even Panda is decent on Android, and it can be set to scan an APK before installing it (useful when sideloading from SDcard).

File managers: after having tried too many of them… I settled for the best one!

  • File Explorer, by NextApp, Inc., with the Plus Add-On ($1.99 / 2.08 €) unlocker. It includes a text editor.
  • For smartphones without an OEM file manager that includes a FTP server (that’s server, not client!), and since Solid Explorer’s FTP Server plugin doesn’t seem to work on Android 6-7, here’s one that works even on Android Nougat: WiFi FTP Server, or the ad-free WiFi FTP Server Pro ($1 or 0.65 €), by Medha Apps.

Cloud storage: because Google Drive is crappy (people have lost files because of the app!)…

Keyboards–I’m still using Google’s keyboard (now called Gboard), despite having used for a long time SwiftKey Keyboard (purchased when it wasn’t free), because it can show predictions from several languages simultaneously. Unfortunately, it’s limited to 3 languages, while I need 4. UPDATE: I gave it another try and the 3-language limit seems to have been removed… but it reacts very slowly, possibly because it searches for suggestions in 4 languages simultaneously.

Other utilities:

■14. Miscellaneous:

  • Is it worth to waste my time with Reddit? I’m not so sure, but while I was playing with several 3rd-party apps, Reddit: The Official App got very much improved.
  • TED. Given what has become of TED/TEDx conferences, I’m not sure I still like the unverified claims disseminated by such self-proclaimed illuminati, but still…
  • Ina.fr. The app sucks, and I suspect it’s a glorified embedded browser, but I’m using it to explore the archives.
  • FilmOn Free Live TV, by FOTV Media Networks Inc. Beware of the identically looking apps; although most of them are released by the same FOTV Media Networks Inc. in order to increase their visibility (e.g. this one is legit and in the same version), some of them might be fake! To make sure you install the latest official one, you can also use the link from their website. Oh, I’m using it to watch the British ITV channels. Not tested with Chromecast or whatever crap are other people using.
  • Noisli ($1.99, I’ve got it for 0.10 €). 206 MB in the internal storage! I’m not sure whether this app is better to “improve focus and boost productivity with background noise” or to relax and fall asleep. TaoMix – Focus, sleep, relax is technically much better and with many more sounds to choose from (unlock them via $1.49 or 1.59 € IAP), but the UI annoys me. Then I discovered the free Tide, which is not bad, yet not very customizable and built with the 25-min Pomodoro technique in mind (hint: swipe left to switch between Night, Rain, Forest, Muse and Café). A wonderful last discovery: Ambience – Nature sounds.
  • While binaural beats are a disputed concept, it can help sometimes. Google Play Store is full of copies of Giorgio Regni’s original Binaural Beats Therapy (because he open-sourced it on github); his note (“*** This is the original open source Binaural Beats Therapy *** All other versions in the market are copies and could be malicious.”) is correct: there are lots of equally ugly apps that only add advertisement, or a price tag, or whatnot; the only other honest app is Binaural Beats “by gitlab.com/axet” (actually by Alexey Kuznetsov), which is also open-sourced on github. This last app features the exact same presets as the original app, in a clean, modern UI. Excellent!
  • Bring! Shopping List–an app with which I have a love-hate relationship. Love, because it’s different. Hate, because it has some usability issues.
  • Although I initially dismissed the “blue light filter” apps, I discovered I got a bit accustomed to my Acer’s Bluelight Shield™ OEM app; some Acer Iconia Tab 10 tablets have a similar app. Beware that non-OEM Android apps don’t work the same way as Acer’s: in Acer’s case, the color alteration happens in the hardware–screenshots are not affected, only your eye sees a more greenish color temperature! When using Twilight by Urbanoid Team, Night Mode – blue light filter, eye protector by EyeCare Lab, or Blue Light Filter – Night Mode by Leap Fitness Group, the color temperature is a result of a software overlay filter, and this can conflict with other apps in Android 6.0 (there are specific permissions to be enabled for such “blue light filter” apps in Settings, Accessibility, for they to know when the user interacts with buttons in other apps and automatically disable the screen filter). (I don’t understand why Acer protects against blue by using green, while everybody else uses red or orange! I like 2975 K at 20% in Twilight, and 2500 K in the app by EyeCare Lab.) As you can see in the first set of screenshots below, being at the software level instead of the hardware (IPS-LCD/AMOLED) level, the filter changes the screenshot too. In the second set of screenshots you can see Blue Light Filter Pro, by HDM Dev Team (I got it for free instead of 2.79 €), which allows the selection of 8 different colors for the dimming (brown at 20% looks great):

  • Chromer, that “magic” app that makes all other apps open links in Chrome Custom Tabs instead of the “full” Chrome app. While the gain in speed is obvious, the app is not that magic: it does open Chrome in the background, only not with the full UI.

  • Watchville, which beyond aggregating some watch blogs for which a 4,000 CHF watch is reasonably priced, also includes a nice atomic watch.
  • CyberGhost – Free VPN & Proxy. Not really free anymore if you need to select a specific country to avoid geo-blocking. Still, I don’t know any other trustworthy app.
  • Ada Personal Health Companion. English-only, but amazing. Still, extremely sensitive to the exact symptoms you enter (you might want to juggle a bit with them). E.g. with 2-3 similar symptoms and a number of questions asked differently, one can get suggested diagnostics as different as: Burnout (8/10), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – hypothyroidism (6/10), Acute stress disorder (5/10), Dementia with lewy bodies (5/10), Hepatic encephalopathy (5/10), Iron deficiency anaemia (2/10). And it simply doesn’t know of the reactive hypoglycemia. A clever app nonetheless.
  • Tea Cup – Timer, by Cobalt Sign. Last updated in 2015 and identical to the homonymous Windows Phone app, but it still works well under Android 7.0, and it’s ad-free!
  • AppSales: Paid Apps Gone Free & On Sale–the best app of the kind.
  • DailyArt – Your Daily Dose of Art: one painting a day, with full archives available (over 1600 paintings). Ad-free.
  • Microsoft Edge Preview–decent browser, very decent memory usage, but as long as the preloaded Chrome takes some RAM even when it’s not actually open, what’s the gain of using Edge instead, if Chrome cannot be uninstalled?
http://ludditus.com/ludditus/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/pexels-photo-263656-600x333.jpeghttp://ludditus.com/ludditus/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/pexels-photo-263656.jpegBérangerTechnicalapps,longread,me-myself-and-I,weatherNo matter what I tried, this retarded Marshmallow performs 'Optimizing app 1 of 1' after each reboot–a reboot that's a bit slow at that. And it's not a rooted device. So I guess I'll need to 'reset to factory settings,' but first I need to make sure I know...Rebellious enough to be able to survive without a 3D printer