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Replacing Stock Smartphone Apps

Nexus 4With smartphone ownership becoming increasingly common (according to a study released earlier this summer, 56% of all adults in the U.S. own a smartphone; among mobile phone owners, that figure climbs to 61%), it’s no great surprise that many of us are now regularly using a smartphone as part of our workflow.

Each smartphone platform has a dizzying array of applications available, but has stock applications for the functions most people use most frequently (email, calendar, camera). If the stock applications fit the way you work, great. Why go searching for a new application when the one thats built in works just fine for you? Sometimes, though, a third-party application does a better of job of helping you get your work done.

In my own case, I use a combination of stock apps and third-party replacements. For reasons I mentioned last week, I use a dedicated Google Voice app rather than the stock phone app. Even though I use GMail for both personal and work accounts, I find that the stock mail app in iOS works just fine for me. I like the unified inbox, which the official GMail app doesn’t have. The only thing missing is push notifications, which I don’t need. I tried Mailbox at one point (Ryan reviewed it earlier this year), but I make extensive use of labels and filters, so it wasn’t for me.

For calendaring, I use a combination of the stock calendar app and Tempo. I set up my calendars in the stock app to be able to take full advantage of the integration with the mail application, Siri, etc. Then I tucked its icon away on a homescreen I don’t use much, and installed Tempo, which pulled those calendars right in — along with Facebook birthday reminders and contact information for meeting attendees, among other things. Last year, I wouldn’t have bothered with Tempo (not that it was available). This year, new responsibilities at work mean more meetings with a wider range of people, so it’s helpful.

What about you? If you use a smartphone (any platform), do you rely mostly on built-in applications for most of your work, or have you replaced some or all of the standard applications with other options? Which apps do you find work really well for you?

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by magnusjonasson]

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