Over the years I have used at least one device from every major PDA/Smartphone line available. As you can see from the list below I have been with Microsoft’s handheld devices since their initial release of Pocket PC(Later renamed to Windows Mobile). After almost 10 years of using their devices I have finally had enough. I have moved to the Android platform – and I couldn’t have been happier. All those things that required so many steps and was so cumbersome on the Windows devices is brilliantly implemented on the Hero.

Psion Series 3c (1996)- Symbian OS
Newton MP2000 (1998) – Newton OS 2.1
Compaq H3635 (2001) – Pocket PC 2000
Compaq H3850 (2002) – Pocket PC 2002
HP Jornada 568 (2002) – Pocket PC 2002
Dell Axim x50v (2004) – Windows Mobile 2003 SE, Windows Mobile 5
HTC Apache(Sprint PPC-6700) (2005) – Windows Mobile 5
Palm Treo 700wx (2006) – Windows Mobile 5
Palm Treo 700p (2006) – Palm OS 5.4.9
Palm Treo 755p (2007) – Palm OS 5.4.9
Palm Treo 800w (2008) – Windows Mobile 6.1
HTC Titan(Sprint Mogul) (2008) – Windows Mobile 6.0, Windows Mobile 6.1
HTC Raphael 800(Sprint Touch Pro) (2008) – Windows Mobile 6.1
HTC Raphael P4600(ATT Fuze) (2008) – Windows Mobile 6.1
HTC Rhodium(Sprint Touch Pro 2) (2009) – Windows Mobile 6.1, Windows Mobile 6.5
HTC Hero (2009) – Android 1.5

After using my HTC Hero for about 2 months now I have pretty much ripped the OS apart and put it back together I don’t know how many times. Having been a Linux/Unix user for about 15 years it is certainly a familiar territory for me. While there are things that need improvement such as the built in calendar, tasks, exchange support with security policies, etc. I think its a dramatic upgrade over Windows Mobile and Palm. I have never owned an iPhone so I won’t speak to that. I thought I would share some of the essential apps I have found that I either use day to day or are something that I think most should at least check out. They are all available in the Android Market.

Advanced Task Manager – All those goofballs that say running a task manager or one that auto-kills orphan processes is bad are idiots. This app is what keeps my device running smooth.
AiSystemWidgets – The verdict is still out on this app as I haven’t run it long enough. But I do love what I see and love the stats it provides right on my home screen. However, the resource it may be potential eating up bothers me.
Alice – I go to a lot of concerts and this makes it easier than ever. I can go browse(and even be notified) the shows in my area and in one press add it to my calendar. It syncs with your last.fm artist list as well. The developer is very responsive too and I like that.
AppControl – The built in application manager on the Android is not what I would like it to be. Unfortunately, it seems to force close on too many occasions when you have a lot of apps installed. Not to mention it takes forever for it to populate. AppControl does exactly what I need. Not only is it quick and easy to install/remove apps, I can get info on all of them, get available memory info as well as being able to make it my default .apk launcher.
AroundMe – Yeah, this is also an iPhone app. But its awesome for those new to an area. Will search the area around you and give you the Wikipedia entries.
Astrid – A great todo list and task app that fills in the areas that I think are lacking in Android, the Calendar and Task apps. It also syncs with Remember The Milk – I like being able to sync and view my things from anywhere and through a browser if needed.
Astro File Manager – There are a few file managers but I keep coming back to this one as it seems the quickest.
AutoStarts – A utility to view, enable or disable apps that launch on different events such as startup, internet connection availability, etc. It’s nice to be able to stop those barcode scanning apps like ShopSavvy and Cnet’s Shopper from starting on startup – for no apparent reason.
Barcode Scanner – Scan barcodes that link you to specific sites or apps in the market.
Backgrounds – Pretty simple, it categorizes photos from flickr.com for background use.
Beautiful Widgets – If you don’t have a HTC phone with Sense UI or like me, removed it because of the resources it easts up, these widgets are for you!
Cachemate – Great simple utility to clear caches to free up some space.
Camera Zoom FX – By far the best camera app for Android. It not only allows you add effects to all your photos but will also geotag(the built in camera may do this, not sure) them as well as enhance the photo quality. Try it out, you’ll see what I mean.
Cardio Trainer – Pretty neat app to track your fitness routines. Syncs with their site to track your progress and compare to others.
ConnectBot – My favorite SSH client.
Dolphin Browser – An incredible browser! Supports so many things that I don’t even want to get into it. Things like delicious integration as well as flash make it a must have.
eBuddy – There are many options for Instant Messaging available(ie, Palringo, Fling, Nimbuz, etc.) but this works the best for me with the least battery drain. On a side note, AIM finally came out with their official Android app last week.
Foursquare – The client for foursquare.com
Gentle Alarm – If you use your phone for your alarm clock this app is a must have. It has so many options its ridiculous. Check out the “pre-alarm” option. Neat idea.
GigBox – Similiar to Alice. I use both because I get different results from both.
Google Voice – Google Voice client(that is sevely lacking in many many categories). Our only option.
Handcent SMS – A great replacement for the weak built in SMS client. Biggest feature for me is the popup notifications.Try it, you won’t be dissapointed.
Layar Reality Browser – Can’t even explain how cool this is.
MyCoupons – Coupons that are actually useful. I’ve used it multiple times to save $10 bucks at restaurants by just showing them the coupon on my screen. Localizes your coupons as well.
NewsRob – Although there are a ton of RSS readers out, there are few that will sync with your Google Reader account. I use NetNewsWire on my mac and NewsRob on my phone. My read/unread threads update so I don’t read the article twice. Oh, and I get the google reader stats. Greed is also another option.
Nitrodesk Touchdown – The only decent Microsoft Exchange client I have found that supports ActiveSync and it’s security policies.
OpenTable – Booking reservations online is just cool.
PicMe – Tool for taking screenshots of your device. Needs to be rooted.
PicSay Pro – Great photo editor. Will easily resize your photos to send them through MMS.
Pure Calendar Widget – I throw this widget on one of my home screens. Makes up for the only thing I miss from Windows Mobile – having appointments/tasks on my Today screen.
Rhapsody Music – For those with subscriptions, this is priceless. Pandora sucks, I don’t care what anyone says. If I wanted to listen to random songs i’d listen to the radio.
SetCPU – For rooted devices, overclock your phone!
ShopSavvy – Hands down a must have. Scan barcodes on products and get cheapest price near you as well as online. Cnet has also come out with a rip off version..
SugarSync – I found this while looking for DropBox Android clients. It actually turned out to be a very good find. It syncs your photos, contacts, etc. You can share out folders to others you choose. I can add apps on my Mac and grab them right from my phone. Works pretty good minus a few Force Closes I am sure they will sort out soon.
Task Manager – Simple and quick app to show you apps by CPU usage or Memory usage.
Tapatalk – For those who read forums regularly, this app allows you to do so much better on your device.
Twidroid Pro – Far and away the best Twitter client available. Quite possibly on any platform…
Waze – Real time GPS turn by turn for free – oh, and it’s a game too. I love road munching!
YouTube Downloader – Lets face it, YouTube on Android is pretty darn useless. It will only display videos that YouTube has already formatted for mobile devices. Getting the “This video cannot be displayed message” is probably one of the most dreaded messages in the world. This app will let you just download the entire damn video.

There are also some alternatives to the home screen. I personally don’t use the Sense UI interface and am fine with the default Android Home with the drawer. All the HTC phones come with their Home screen replacement, Sense UI. For those who do not like Sense UI whether its the look or the CPU usage here are some other options.

Open Home – This would be my first choice if I had to choose an alternate. It’s fast, low resource and has a ton of personalization options.
GDE – May be the most used replacement. Tons of themes as well. It force closed on me a few times. I didn’t look into it but I am sure it has to do with my custom android builds.
PandaHome – I can’t say I have much experience with this one but have heard good things about it.
DxTop – Also very little experience using..
Tat Home – Unreleased as of yet but this looks to be the clear leader once it is released. The company worked with google initially on their home screen. This is heavily anticipated..
SPB Mobile Shell 5 – The company has been known as being one of the quality developers on the Windows Mobile platform for years. They recently announced they are releasing to OEMs a version of their mobile shell for Android.