Note: This is an old post and may or may not accurately represent my current views, current technology, etc.
It seems like the longer I use my Nexus One, the more features I find. One of the things that I really love about the Android operating system is the interconnectedness of the apps and their ability to access system-level features. You can use AppAlarm to begin playing a Pandora radio station at a set time. A news application can open your favorite Twitter app to share a breaking story. You can adjust the brightness of your display while reading a book in Aldiko. You can turn your phone upsidedown to have an app disable all audio. The possibilities are amazing.
A really handy feature that I didn’t know about until recently is the ability to share a URL you are viewing in the browser. Long-pressing on a URL in the location bar brings up a menu with the option to “Share page” or “Copy page url” (it can also include “Save image” and “View image” depending on the context). Choosing “Share page” reveals a menu with several options. At the top are the built-in choices such as sharing “@Delicious,” but below those you can see options for specific apps. Selecting “Twidroid” allows you to share the link via Twitter from right there. You don’t have to open the full Twidroid application, and you don’t have to worry about the URL length (as it’s automatically shortened with your URL shortener of choice). Just type a few words and send away. You can even hit “Attach” to add or take a picture or video (both of which are automatically uploaded and linked for you). I don’t care if you call this “multitasking” or “app interlinking.” I call it awesome.
Most people already know that Android has folders, and it even has live folders (folders which have their contents populated by an app, such as a list of Pandora radio stations), but Android also has the ability to create shortcuts. I don’t just mean shortcuts to open apps; I mean shortcuts to open very specific parts of apps.
One of the applications that I use fairly frequently is One Bus Away, which allows me to see which buses are going where and when they should arrive. The default view that opens is a map view, which I personally don’t use. I know the stops I use and the routes I ride, so I nearly always want to go to a specific stop. I’m frequently in a hurry, checking if I’ll be seconds away from catching the bus, and the slight delay going from loading the map view to loading the stop I want feels a lot longer than it really is. Fortunately, Android has the answer: I can create a shortcut directly to the exact stop that I want to view. I simply long-press on the home screen, select “Shortcuts,” select the desired choice, (potentially further customize it, such as picking a specific bus stop in this case) and the icon is created. Touching that icon will jump right to the correct spot in the app.
These are the types of features that are so simple but add so much to the experience of using an Android-based device. Is Android perfect? Of course not. But can it do some amazing things? Absolutely!