Weight Watcher's Diary
If you're trying to lose weight, or to maintain your weight after slimming down, you've probably considered either joining Weight Watchers or trying to follow its point system without joining. Either way, Canofsleep's free WWDiary is worth considerably more than you don't have pay for it.
Here you track the foods you've eaten in the course of a day, the exercise you've done, and the effect these have on your daily and weekly allotment of points. (In the Weight Watcher system, every food serving has points, from 1 point for a carrot to 19 points for a banana split. Based on your age, weight, and gender, you should accumulate no more than a specified maximum number points per day and per week--or you'll start accumulating unwanted reserves of cushiony lipids.) When you add a new food or a new exercise to your diary, you have the option of adding it to your Favorites list too, which simplifies adding the same things in future entries.
Specialized calculators help you determine the points associated with a food item or an exercise routine, as well as how many points you're allowed that day. You can also keep a log of your weight changes.
But don't bother with the widget--at least not at first. It simply tells you how much weight you've lost since you started using the app.
WWDiary is not officially affiliated with Weight Watchers, and it carries this disclaimer: "By using this program you agree that I am not responsible for any of your problems."
Portable Music Player
Android phones come with software for playing MP3s and other music files. But the preloaded player is pretty basic, and lots of better alternatives exist. My favorite is Maxim Petrov's PowerAMP.
As I write this, PowerAMP is a free beta. But the final version will be out very soon and will cost $5. That's a lot to pay for a program that competes with a bunch of freebies, but consider what you get for the money.
First, PowerAMP provides some awesome audio settings: a ten-band equalizer; preamp control; and separate dials for controlling bass, treble, and volume. All of these adjustments come up on a separate, highly graphical window, but you can turn any of them off or on from the main screen.
As on most other players, the main screen displays album artwork. But PowerAMP is sensitive to what you do with your fingers over that art. Flick left and it takes you to the next song. Flick right and you go to the previous one.
PowerAMP is intelligent about headphones, too. Unplug your headphones and the music stops. Plug them in again, and it restarts.
You also get your choice of three different widgets for viewing and controlling your music from the Home Screen.
Country Joe McDonald once gave me his analysis of the difference between '60s rock and '70s rock: In the 70s, everybody's instruments were properly tuned. He credited this triumph of euphony to the invention of small, electronic devices that took the guesswork out of instrument tuning.
Cohortor.org's gStrings can turn your Android phone into just such a chromatic tuner. Using the microphone, it determines whether a plucked string or a note blown through a mouthpiece has produced the correct wavelength. You can optimize the program for a specific instrument, or you can shift its results to match the tuning practices of a particular orchestra.
The free version should work just fine for most people, but for a single Euro (the equivalent of $1.41, as I write this) you can get gStrings+, which provides more-precise results and--thanks to its relatively compact code--demands less power from your phone's battery.
My wife, a professional musician and music teacher, described gStrings as "Clearly a professional tuner for many instruments."
By supplying a regular but adjustable pulse both visually and audibly, a metronome helps musicians keep a steady beat while they practice. You can set the beat to match the piece and your comfort level with it before you start playing. Sophisticated metronomes can accent downbeats to mark the beginning of each measure.
The full version of Zealy Technology's Metronome ($1) does all of this.The free demo is just that--a demo. You can't even change the tempo on it.
With the real program, you can do that and more. You can set the app to count out anywhere from 40 to 208 beats per minute, and to add a measure-marking ping on the downbeats.
You can play the beat audibly, display it as a blinking series of lights, and receive tactile feedback via vibration. Its vibrating ability means that you can operate this metronome while it's tucked in your pocket.
In fact, by turning off the light and sound, keeping the vibration on, and parking the phone in a pocket, a musician could use it during a performance and no one else would ever know.
Lincoln Spector writes PCWorld's daily Answer Line blog. Madeline Prager provided expert opinion and analysis on the Tuner and Metronome sections.