Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Android Apps for a Biologist

Want to take a look of your presentation while waiting at the airport or want to show the picture of a gel to your colleague over a cup of coffee or may be you want some articles while you are discussing with your research students, you better get a smart phone like Samsung Galaxy S II or a tab like HTC Flier or Samsung Galaxy Note. Yes, now your smart phone or a tab is your desktop PC in your pocket. These gadgets come in various sizes, front 4 to 7 inch. I better not consider 10 inch devices, like Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or iPAD, as these are difficult to carry in your lab coat pocket. These gadgets will become quite common in our labs in near future and android devices will definitely take a lead. If you are a researcher, specifically a researcher in Biological sciences, you should have some power Apps in your Android phone/tab.

It is better to integrate your devices, including your desktop, with services of Google to have a smooth and enriched experience in your Android. It starts with having a Google ID that opens a plethora of web based personalisable services starting with Gmail. And in Android you get Apps for all such Google services. You can go a step ahead even to link your official mail box to Gmail, so that one mailbox can suffice all. You may have to ask your System Admin for that. Now, let get down to some of the essential Apps and tools:

AndExplorer: In an Android device you can brows through different folders, just like you do it in your desktop. AndExplorer is one such folder explorer that allows you to create, browse, select, copy, paste, delete files and folders.

SugarSync: This is a must for every one. SugarSync allows you to synchronize multiple devices: your desktop, laptop, Android, and iPad. Now keep all the essential files synced through this cloud service. Up to 5 GB space is free and unlike other cloud services like Box or Dropbox, you can synchronize not only files but folders too. So you have not move your files to a specific folder, Keep them organized as you want and then sync.   

Apps for Documents: Usually most of these gadgets come preloaded with some sort of Documents reader and editor, which can handle MS Office files. Even many a time a PDF reader is also given pre-loaded. There are several Apps, like DocumentsToGo, NetFront Life Documents those allow you to view MS Office files. But if you want to have the capability to edit those files, you may have to purchase the paid versions. Do not worry, usually the price tag is reasonable. And cheers!! there is at least one free App that can do all, viewing and editing, free of cost. It is Kingsoft Office.  Large numbers of Apps are available to open PDF files, including one from Adobe.

Fast Image Viewer: By default your Android device may not be able to open a TIF file. Fast Image Viewer allows you to open image files of various types, including TIF images.

Camscanner: Scan a page by your Phone, convert it to a PDF file and then share it by e-mail or on Facebook. Camscanner will do all this for you.

Opera: Though your device will come with the stock Android browser, it is better to use some other enhanced browser like, Opera mini or Opera Mobile. Look into the settings of these Apps, and you will find lots of option to enhance your browsing experience.

Read it latter: The best app to bookmark and read latter. While surfing the Net you frequently hit upon pages of your interest but not related to what you were looking at that moment. Simply add it to your Read It Latter. This will get saved and synchronized in your Android. When you have time, you can simply read the same content in Read It Latter App. The best part is that the App renders the page in a format suitable for reading in your phone

Catch notes: Easy App to take note, with options to include sound and picture in notes. These notes get saved and synced with Catch website making it easy to access those even from your desktop.

Aldiko: The best book reader for your Android. It can handle EPUB and PDF files. And you can even use it to read your DRM protected books too. It is now integrated online book shops so that you can purchase and download a book of your choice directly in your device.

PubMed Mobile: This is not an App; just a Web page ( for your mobile device. Book mark it in the Web browser of your device, so that you can search and brows PubMed easily.  

SciVerse: It's the official App to access ScienceDirect.

arXivDroid: A clean and easy to use interface to access arXiv.

Droideley: Do you use Mendeley to store, organize and use bibliography? If yes, this app is for you. And if you are not a user of Mendeley I will suggest you to try it today itself. Every day you download lots of articles in PDF format and over time it gets difficult for you to keep those arranged in an appropriate fashion in your desktop. And the most painful thing is to dig through hundreds of those files to find the right one you are in need of. Using Mendeley you can keep all articles in PDF format in organized fashion; you can tag those; add notes to them; arrange, sort, search those based on tags, authors and key words. You can even use it to insert bibliography while writing. And the best part is you can access, and even share, your library online through an web browser. All those PDF files can be uploaded to your Mendeleye account so that you can access them from any where. Though the desktop version is bit buggy, still its worth to use. Unfortunately there is no official App for Mendeley in Android. The unofficial Droideley is a very clean and well organized App to access your Mendeley library in your Android.

Taptu: RSS feeds make it easy to keep track with newer developments. It is useful to subscribe such feeds from sites like Nature, Science, PLoS. And Taptu is a great app to access those feeds in your Android device. Each story is displayed as a card. Those cards can be swiped to move from one story to other. You can arrange the feeds based on your choice and even color code those. Still if you are happy with content and not visual pleaser, gReader is robust and easy to use App to handle all the RSS feeds.

Podcast Apps: Just like RSS feeds, subscribe to weekly Podcasts from Nature or Science and listen those using a Podcast App in your Android.  You may even subscribe to Videocasts like TED. There are many free Apps, but powerful Apps like Doggcatcher, Mypod are paid.

gUnit: A smart tool to convert units.

Grapher: Simple but powerful app to draw graphs for one or more user defined equations.

Calculus tools: App for integration, and differentiation. Even provides formula tables and have an inbuilt grapher to plot user defined equations.