Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 Days with my New Smartphone

It has been 10 days since I finally got a my HTC Inspire. I debated for a long time if I wanted to do an iPad, iPhone, or Android phone. After months (literally) of debating, I went with Android because my school uses Google Apps for Education and it made sense since Android is another Google project (and I like open-source, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy).

Right out of the box I will say that my productivity has improved. I spent the first couple days completely out of my office; sort of a “trial by fire” to see all the things I would need my phone to do. The only thing I went in my office to do was to have a parent conference and return one phone call that needed to be done in private

Because Android comes already set up for Google, Twitter, Facebook, and a million other apps/services., there wasn’t a whole lot of app downloading, but here is a list of what I’ve added so far:
  • Evernote – Can I say, “Awesome!” All of my pop-in observation notes are now being channeled through this. I have created a notebook for each teacher so I can keep pictures, videos, notes, and more categorized by teacher. All of which can be emailed to them with the touch of a button.
  • Gtasks – The only Google service not really supported by Android natively is Google Tasks, this app gives me the access I need. It is not super powerful like an OmniFocus for iPad, but I haven’t been left wanting yet…
  • Picasa Tool – Making file uploads easier. I do a lot of pictures in Evernote, but sometimes I want to share things, especially in the Bible class I teach. This is the easiest way I’ve found.
  • Blogger – Now I can post on the go!
  • Weather Channel – I didn’t like the weather app that came with my phone, so I went with this one. It is okay. It crashes on me every once and a while. I will continue to look for something better. But most of all I need weather alerts. Yes I have a weather radio in my office, but if the whole point is to get me out of the office, I need the alerts wherever I am.
  • Music Apps – As a music lover I had to add these: gStrings Free guitar tuner, Harmonica, Jam Box, Mobile Metronome, Pandora, Solo Lite, and xPiano. All free from the marketplace. Basically, I could start my own band with my phone now, but I think that is the point.
I am basing this mini-review on iPad Workflow for Principals and some other links I have read on eduleadership.org.

Basically, what I have noticed is that my email has been less of a bother. The only time I use email on my computer is when it is something a bit longer. In reality, using my phone is making me think about what I want to say and exactly how I want to say it. I don’t want to bog myself down with ramblings in an email using a touch screen keypad, so I am forced to be clear and concise in my writing.

My time in classrooms has greatly increased. Now I can use the voice-to-text feature (built in) to speak my notes into Evernote while I am walking to another classroom. Just before I walk into another classroom, I save the note, email it to the teacher, and start all over again in another room. I know I spend more time in classrooms than many principals already due to being a small private school, but I see this as a main part of my job…so I am excited!

Only 10 days into and I am feeling good. I really had to talk myself into buying this. I got my wife an iPhone so I could compare and see which I really liked. I am happy with my choice and it has had a positive impact on my work so far.
If you can think of any functionality I am missing or should consider, please let me know.

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