AndroidI’ve talked to several people who own an Android phone but have never downloaded any apps for it. I think that’s a shame.

Whether you are a student getting ready to take the NCLEX or an experienced nurse in an advanced specialty, you should put your phone to work for you as more than just a communications tool.

When you first get a new mobile device, you want to get to know the phone features really well.  So you practice dialing and texting, you get your contacts list set up, and you figure out how to pick up messages.

Then the phone usually comes with a nice selection of basic apps prepackaged by the handset manufacturer.  You definitely want to explore those:

  • set up the email and calendar apps to play nicely with your home or office systems or both,
  • experiment with the camera and then figure out what’s the easiest way to get your snapshots off the handset and back ‘home’ to where you can share them with others, and
  • figure out how to use the browser to surf the Internet (and get used to typing on that new keyboard!),

But if you stop there, you might as well just have a feature phone and not be paying $15-$30 a month for the data plan your carrier requires for a smartphone.  If you don’t customize your phone with some of the many apps that are available, you are really missing a bet.

Unfortunately, though, it’s always been a bit tedious to discover useful Android apps.  The only official channel for finding apps was through the Marketplace app pre-installed on every phone.  But that app is very limited in how you can search for and compare apps.  Now Google has finally addressed the limitation by publishing an online interface to the Android Marketplace.  This means you can sit at home at a full-size screen and keyboard and, with a few familiar Google-powered searches, find apps that meet your needs and let you use your phone to its full potential.

So check out:  http://market.android.com/

Are you a student nurse getting ready for the NCLEX? Type ‘NCLEX’ into the search box and over a dozen different study apps pop up, everything from a phone-based versions of the standard Kaplan test preparation titles to reference works you can use for test prep and for bedside nursing.

Are you a pediatric nurse who used to carry a PDA but decided you didn’t have room for both the PDA and the phone in your pocket? Check out the 60+ apps that pop up when you search for ‘pediatric.’  Chances are good that some of your old favorite reference works are now available on the Android.

Are you a nurse who likes to knit? Type in ‘knit’ and check out the dozen plus knitting apps.

And don’t forget to grab a flashlight app if one didn’t come pre-installed!

You’ll find apps with prices that vary from free to $10 or more.  The quality varies wildly and not always in proportion to price.  But many paid apps have free trial/limited-feature versions.  Heck, even if you blow $1.99 on something you eventually decide not to use, it is easy to uninstall that app and move on.

You’re going to carry your phone around.  You’re going to keep it charged up.  Why not let it be a professional partner?

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