Communications Apps for Android - dummies

Communications Apps for Android

By Daniel A. Begun

Communications apps for Android devices include Web browser software, video and voice calling apps, visual voicemail, call blocking apps, e-mail apps, messaging software, and more. The apps listed below are free, although additional features for some apps may charge a fee.

You can install multiple browsers on your Android device. Consider doing this if you want to see which one suits your needs the best. Some frequently visited sites may work better with some browsers than with others.

Some popular communications apps for Android devices include the following:

  • Dolphin Browser HD (free; ad supported): This app is one of the most powerful Web browsers available for Android devices. Dolphin Browser HD features a minimalist interface that provides maximum space for displaying pages. The app supports third-party add-ons, such as themes that let you change the way Dolphin Browser HD looks. You can trace gestures on the screen that act as shortcuts for navigation (see the figure on the right).


  • fring (free; ad supported): With fring, you can conduct free video and voice calls with other fring users (“fringsters”) and you can also have free voice calls with MSN Messenger and Google Talk users. You can also exchange instant messages with all of these users, as well as users who use AIM, ICQ, and Yahoo! instant messaging clients.

  • Google Voice (free): Google Voice enables you to obtain a single phone number that people can use to reach you, no matter which of your many phones (mobile, work, home) you happen to have access to at the moment. After you sign up for a free Google Voice phone number, you then input all your existing phone numbers that you want Google Voice to forward to when someone calls your Google Voice number.

  • Handcent SMS (free; ad supported): Handcent SMS is meant to replace your phone’s default messaging application (but it can also work in tandem with it). It fully supports SMS and MMS messages, and its customizable interface lets you change how it looks. You can speak your messages and it will convert them to text; it can also speak messages you’ve received.

  • I Am Here (free): This app grabs your current location and then passes it along to whatever messaging app your device uses. The recipient gets a message that includes your current latitude and longitude. If the recipient has an app that supports the GeoSMS standard, he can see where you are on a map or follow a compass needle that points him in your direction.

  • K-9 Mail (free): If you juggle multiple e-mail accounts, reply, forward, and send numerous e-mails throughout the day, K-9 Mail is the Android app of choice to get the job done. K-9 Mail can access any combination of IMAP, POP3, and WebDAV (Exchange) e-mail accounts.

  • Mr. Number Call Block (free): With this app (formerly Call Block Unlimited), you’ll never be bothered again by unwanted callers or text messages. To block specific callers or texters, you add them to the app’s blacklist by entering their phone numbers or choosing them from your phone’s contacts.

  • Tango Video Calls (free): This app enables you to conduct video and voice calls with other Tango users over Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G connections. It accesses your device’s contacts and automatically tells you which of them are also registered Tango users.

  • TiKL – Touch To Talk (free; ad supported): TiKL – Touch to Talk (PTT) turns your Android device into a simple-to-use, push-to-talk walkie-talkie. Since your device’s contacts show up in TiKL, just select a user — or multiple users — and press and hold the big Talk button in the middle of the screen to start speaking to other users over Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G.

  • Visual VoiceMail (free; ad supported): Visual VoiceMail replaces your phone’s voicemail service with service provided by PhoneFusion. When you set up the Visual VoiceMail app, it automatically makes the switch for you. The app displays a list of your voicemail messages, who left the messages, and when they were left. Tap an entry and the message plays.