I managed to resurrect the first Gmail address I opened sometime in 2009 when I was in my last year in high school. I opened it primarily to sign up for Facebook, which was still a hot platform back in the day with millions of users, and hadn’t grown so much to command the power it does now, as well as the issues associated with any big tech company such privacy and ethical issues that have marred its operations. Of course, my first email was a Yahoo one, but I had started preferring Google services and products.
My first interaction with an Android device was in late 2010, and I purchased my unit in 2011 from a Safaricom Shop. The device was the Huawei IDEOS, and boy wasn’t that handheld popular! It is reported that Safaricom moved more than 300K units, making it the sole device that shaped Android consumption in the country. Successors did not match its achievements because other players had started eyeing Kenyan consumers with better, more capable phones.
Now back to my Gmail account. After firing up my IDEOS in my college room, I was amazed at the smart features the device was capable of. The idea that I could download apps for a variety of functions was overwhelming. In those days, testing apps was also a thing: people got all sort of apps before settling on their day-to-day utilities. The testing period did not last because after a few weeks or days, people got bored and set their mind to the 5, 10 or 50 apps they use often and that was it.
So, upon logging into my oldie email earlier today, I navigated to the Library option in Google Play to see which apps I installed for the first time and surprise! Here is the list.
- Bluetooth File Transfer
Back in the day, sharing files using Bluetooth was not very easy, especially if it was your first time using an Android phone. You had to make sure device was discoverable (we all missed that, which is fine so don’t be ashamed). This app managed to address the issue as it had an option to explore files via FTP and OPP services.
It is an old app that is still available on the Store and was updated last in February 2019.
- TweetDeck (Twitter, Facebook)
In 2011, tweeting via an Android phone was very cool. The modern discontent and misplaced hatred we have towards Twitter for Android was not there because we were sane people, and a lot of folks still used a browser to get access to the service (the bashing first affected people tweeting via text (8988), then targeted groups using Mobile Web options before it was decided by people unknown to me that Twitter for Android was below par).
Nevertheless, I preferred TweetDeck because a friend recommended it to me. I would go on to test tens of other Twitter clients but I loved my TweetDeck. It is no longer available in Google Play, but lives on the Web for groups that have multiple accounts as the basic Twitter website does not have that option.
- Opera Mini
This is the OG of mobile browsers. It continues to live from the days of feature phone and those that ran Symbian OS. People loved opera because it was small (our phones had tiny internal storage in early 2010s. IDEOS had a measly 256 MB of memory and laughable RAM. You could only run a couple of apps, and all your media files lived in an SD card), fast and just worked.
Of course, we know what happened to Opera Mini years later: its owners started to aggressively monetize it, which is fine, but killed its core value that made it so attractive to its fans in the first place, which is simplicity.
Accessing your Twitter and Facebook accounts via non-conventional apps is still cool, which prompted me to test this app out. It has since grown to include more features such as scheduling posts on the said social media sites. However, its popularity has naturally dropped, although its developers keep it up to date with new features and visual improvements.
Another nostalgic app that awarded badges to users for checking out places near their neck of the woods, Foursquare was insanely popular in 2011-13. Better apps have since eclipsed its upper hand, because, why check out a place when Facebook allows you to do just that? You can also snap a photo and share it to a wider audience on Instagram. It can be argued that the growth of other social media platforms, especially those owned by Facebook did dent the rise of Foursqaure, which, by the way, has a different name now.
- Drag Racing
This is a game, and I’m not much of a mobile phone gamer, yet I somehow installed this utility because, why not. It lives to date and can be very entertaining to children.
- AVG Antivirus
Before you start schooling me about the uselessness of AV apps in Android, you have to listen to me first. You see, we all are very scared of malware and AV companies survive by ensuring that we are genuinely afraid, so to keep our new shiny toys from viruses, we installed antivirus tools just to be safe – and AVG was my first choice. I used it to backup contacts too (they are probably sitting in some server, all confused because I never installed the app after 2012).
- Camera effects
I have photos taken by the legendary IDEOS from 2011/12 and they are a joke. Blurry and unusable in anywhere! Anyway, I started retouching them with photo apps and third-party camera apps such as Camera effects. You know, throwing in a black and white filter for good measure and just for kicks. I was also a child.
- Aquarium Free Live Wallpaper and Nightfall Live Wallpaper
The good thing about Android, as you have known for years now, is that you can customize and make it look the way you want with icon packs, wallpapers, and themes, to mention a few. Live wallpapers wowed me and I used them in so many instances.
This, as its name suggests, is another Twitter client that I haven’t used for years now. There were so many options to send a tweet from an Android phone as is the case today, and I used most of the available options, except the app was too good it had to be slapped with limitations in the name of tokens that limits users to a measly 50K.
This list does not include popular apps such as WhatsApp. I did not use it back then, but its growth prompted me to test it a couple of months later. Instagram was also an iOS reserve and only launched for Android in 2012 amid complaints from the iOS fanbase community because Android users do not deserve good apps.
Anyway, what were your first Android apps?