Looking forward to the future of journalism

Handy Android apps for journalists and bloggers

Android apps for journalists and bloggers

You don’t need a smart phone to be a good journalist. But it can be a useful tool, just like a notebook and pen. You can rely on it in a pinch if you don’t have the gear in your man purse satchel with you. And a few apps might radically change the way you find, organize and share information.

Here are some cool Android apps I’ve been experimenting with:

  • For notes: Evernote is a free app that lets you take notes, pictures, and audio recordings. Your files are synced with Evernote and can be accessed from your desktop computer. Evernote is also useful for taking pictures of documents — it automatically scans the image and recognizes the text. You can search those keywords. Tech consultant Shawn Miller wrote a detailed review of Evernote and how he uses it for just about everything.
  • Police scanner: Scanner Radio checks for live streams of emergency channels in your area and lets you listen to police scanners on your phone.
  • Voice recorder: Google offers an app to record face-to-face interviews.
  • Live stream video: You can record free, live videos with Qik, Ustream, and Bambuser. Very handy if you’re at the scene of a compelling story or covering a speech. Here’s an example of a Qik video taken by Express-News police reporter Eva Ruth Moravec when she was at a school where authorities detonated a dangerous substance:
  • The audio and visual quality of these videos usually aren’t the greatest, so I’d recommend using a good camera with an external microphone, and video editing software for stories that don’t have to be broadcast right that instant. But for breaking news, live stream video can be crucial.

  • Photo editing: You can crop and edit pictures on your phone with Adobe Photoshop.
  • Reference: Dictionary.com has an app that gives you a mobile dictionary and thesaurus, and Wapedia offers a simple interface to look up information on Wikipedia. There’s an app for CIA Factbook to look up profiles of every country in the world. Yellowbook puts the yellow pages on your mobile phone, allowing you to look up local businesses.

    For political junkies, the Sunlight Foundation made the Congress app. You can look up bills and profiles of U.S. senators and representatives, read their tweets and check out their YouTube videos, and contact them.

  • Bookmarking tools: When you find a cool Web page on your cell phone, apps for Diigo and Delicious let you bookmark the page and look it up on your desktop computer.
  • Google Voice: Etan Horowitz at Poynter offers a nice review of Google Voice for journalists. Google provides a free phone number that can be assigned to multiple phones — even a land line. Your original phone numbers will still work. In the Google Voice app for Android, when someone leaves you a voice mail, Google transcribes (somewhat accurately) the message, so you can quickly read it and get the gist of what the person wants without even listening to it. When someone calls your Google number, you can press 4 to record the call — another handy tool if you’re caught without a recorder. You get an e-mail of each voice mail and audio recording, and you can embed them on Web pages. Lifehacker looked at the pros and cons of Google Voice.
  • Feel free to share other handy apps. I’ll update this post with your suggestions and other discoveries I find later.

    Update: Poynter’s News University hosted a Webinar on June 17 about tools for mobile journalists. Here are some more smart phone apps and tools:

  • Audioboo: For instant podcasting — make a recording on your phone and upload it straight to the Web. Simple.
  • Yelp, Foursquare, and Gowalla: Can be used for researching businesses and finding customers.
  • Eye-Fi: Smart cards for cameras that create WiFi connections and let you upload photos. Awesome.
  • Dropbox: Handy file-sharing system.
  • (Photo credit: Johan Larsson)

    3 thoughts on “Handy Android apps for journalists and bloggers

    1. I have had the iPhone 3g and iPhone 3gs, and I now have a Gallaxy S. So far its been ok, I like that fact that the phone isnt locked down like the iphone is. The only issue are the games. This needs improving if Android wants to really compete with Apple.

    2. John, have you found a droid app that does voice to text for interviews? Or, one that you can load an MP3 into it and it transcribes into text? It’s odd that Droid has the ability to do voice to text with texting and email, but hasn’t come up with an app that does transcription of voice to email?

      • Hi Carla, I haven’t played around with too many apps that do that. My colleague Roy Bragg found an app called Call Trunk that records and transcribes phone calls, and he says he’s happy with it: https://www.calltrunk.com/us/en/. But I usually take the time to transcribe a recording myself to make sure it’s accurate, and also because sometimes I catch something I hadn’t heard the first time around.

        Thanks for the comment.

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