Smartphones seem to be everywhere now: it seems like everyone has an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry. And the number of people buying Android-powered phones is rising steadily, beating out the iPhone.
So if you're deaf, and you've got an Android phone in your pocket like me, what should you download to get the most out of it?
(Note: I was not compensated by any app developers for this post. Everything below is my personal opinion.)
Evernote has several functions. It's useful for keeping track of your daily life, but it's also great for note taking. Use Evernote to pass notes back and forth and communicate more easily with other people. Several deaf people at the library I work at rely on paper notes to communicate. Doing it using software such as Evernote allows you to save the communication to refer back to later. Also great for a visual person like me - you can take photos and tag them to remember later. I just started using Evernote and really like it.
Google Goggles is like something out of a science fiction novel. Point it at something, like a barcode, book cover, painting, or random object, and Google will come back with results about it. Perfect for on-the-fly research without having to seek someone out to speak to or call.
Back in May I wrote about Google Voice, and how it's useful for the deaf. Google Voice is also available for Android phones, and it's integrated so seamlessly into the phone you might not even notice it. You can see transcriptions of your voicemails from your phone and listen to them without navigating an annoying voicemail menu with a robotic voice. If you're having trouble hearing a voicemail, listen to it from the Google Voice website on your computer's speakers. Or see if Google does a good job transcribing it for you!
Instant Lyrics (Lite or Pro)
Instant Lyrics is a lot of fun and really great for me - I really like having lyrics of songs handy. Just start up your phone's music player (I use Last.fm) and then start up Instant Lyrics. The software will display the lyrics of the song.
Messaging and/or Google Talk
I love it when my friends have Google Talk and I can just use that instead of texting them, but the messaging app built into my phone does a good job, too. I'd recommend Google Talk if you have friends with Google accounts. I like being able to see the entire conversation, and I like how it syncs with my Google account from my computer.
If you are like me, you can't always identify music you hear on the radio right away. Maybe you can hear the catchy beat or a line of a song that intrigues you but you can't hear it well enough, or you can never hear the radio announcer giving the name of the song. I love Shazam at moments like these. You start up Shazam and follow the directions to allow the app to "listen" to the music for a few moments, and it returns the name and performer of the song.
Silent Time (Lite or Pro)
I often have my phone's ringer up as loud as possible along with the vibrate function on to make sure I hear my calls. It can be embarrassing in public when everyone around me can hear my phone ringing. So I use Silent Time to schedule when I know I don't want to answer my phone - mostly, at work - each day. Setting it up was easy - I told it my work times and days of the week, and it automatically goes into silent mode during those times.
You can avoid having to make phone calls in the middle of a vacation by using TripIt. TripIt can take your travel itinerary (even import it from Gmail), and use it to check in online and see flight, weather, and traffic information as you travel. I haven't personally used this one yet, but I'm excited to.
Let me know if you have any other suggestions! I love trying out new apps.