Android Expert Profiles

How I Use Android: 'All About Android' host Jason Howell

Brokaw, schmo-kaw: When it comes to Android broadcasting, Jason Howell is the host with the most. Here's how the man behind the mic uses the platform himself.

How I Use Android: Jason Howell

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You know Jason Howell, right? You must know Jason Howell. Everyone knows Jason Howell.

Okay -- maybe not everyone. But when it comes to people in the Android world, few faces are more frequently seen than the smiling mug of J-Ho, as he's known (or will be known following this profile, I hope -- sorry, J-Ho).

So who is Howell, and how should you know Howell? And how can Howell be so fun to howl? That last question is one you'll have to tackle on your own, but as for the others, J-Ho is the host of the always-entertaining weekly "All About Android" podcast on the TWiT network (yup, the same show formerly co-hosted by and still frequently visited by the great Gina Trapani -- and occasionally even visited by lowly writers of lovely columns).

TWiT AAA - Jason Howell, JR

Jason Howell (center) along with co-host Ron Richards (right) and Some Random Schmuck (left) on "All About Android"

Howell also hosts "Android App Arena," a weekly show about the proper nutrition of plus-sized farm animals. Wait -- scratch that. Different show. This one's about Android apps (duh).

And as if all of that weren't enough, starting this year, Howell also took over as host of the daily TWiT broadcast "Tech News Today." So, yeah: He's one busy dude. He's basically the Wolf Blitzer of Android broadcasting, only without the cool beard and hilarious name. Hell, Wolf probably wishes he were Howell. Or maybe just that he could howl. (Because, you know, he's a Wolf. Get it?)

But enough of my oddly animal-centric blathering. What we're here for today is to hear about how Mr. Howell, the guy whose face and voice visits our homes and our headphones so often, uses Android in his own day-to-day life.

So let's find out, shall we? In his own words, this is how Jason Howell uses Android.

The basics

Your current primary phone: My current phone is the Huawei Nexus 6P. I like to stick as close to Google's influence on Android as possible, and there really is no better way to do that than with the most current crop of Nexus devices.

Of course, this time around we were given a choice of two different devices, and -- well, I doubt I'd ever really choose the less powerful device when given the option, especially considering my job depends on being up to date with the latest apps and services.

The Nexus 6P performs very well for me, barring some unexpected hiccups with the camera where sometimes I'll snap a picture or shoot a video upon launch and watch it disappear minutes later. Frustrating to say the least. Aside from that, I have very few complaints with the 6P.

What case is on your phone (if any): I get a lot of cases and skins that pass by my desk, and I'm always down to sample them and give the good ones a little shout out on my shows as an example of what's available to users.

Up until last month, I was sporting one of Toast's wood skins which was...different. I suppose I learned that wood cases and skins aren't my cup of tea. It looked fine, and the quality was high, but after a month of living with it, the all-wood surround started to feel a bit too showy for my personal taste.

So I hopped back over to the standard Nexus 6P case sold on the Google Play Store. It has a soft, almost fur-like feel to it that sounds strange (if not showy) but is pretty subdued and feels very nice over time.

Your current tablet (if any): The latest tablet in my arsenal is actually an iPad Mini 4, my first ever iOS device. With my new duties as host of Tech News Today, I'm actively discussing all facets of technology and really felt like I would be better equipped to talk about iOS devices by actually owning and using one.

I'm finding it very difficult to remind myself to use it regularly, but I've only had it for a few days -- so I'm sure over time, I'll get more accustomed to how Apple treats the tablet environment.

On the familiar Android side of things, my tablet du jour is the Pixel C convertible Android tablet. The build quality matches the excellence of my Chromebook Pixel (which I also love), but Android feels like a missed opportunity on the device. As a standalone tablet, it's fine. But paired with the keyboard, you realize how far Android has to go in order to create a multitasking environment that can really shine when used in laptop form.

Your current smartwatch (if any): I'm still rocking the first-generation Moto 360. I've had it replaced once due to the straps snapping from the base underneath, but otherwise, I'm pretty content. I only really use my smartwatches for notification triage and the occasional voice command. Though I will say that I spent some quality time with the Huawei Watch and seriously considered the upgrade.

What face you're using on your watch right now: I'm currently sporting the Mango Watchface on my Moto 360. It has some nice subtle animations when you turn the screen on, and it gives you all the essentials without looking messy or cheesy.

Mango Watchface - Android Wear

The Mango Watchface (eating not recommended) -- as seen in white on the LG Watch Urbane

I find most third-party watch faces to look amateurish and often find a stock face I like and stick with it for months on end as a result. I saw Mango featured a few months back by Google and knew it could pass the cheese test. I've been wearing it ever since.

The home screen

A quick walk-through of your phone's home screen setup: I keep my primary home screen page to my essentials. I group similar apps into their own folders, including note-taking, videos, audio/music, location, social, and cloud storage.

Jason Howell Home Screen (1)

My second home screen is devoted to my Play Music library, with my most recent plays up top and music controls down below.

Jason Howell Home Screen (2)

Finally, my last home screen is my scratch pad. This is where I store any apps I'm considering for review on an upcoming episode of All About Android or my dedicated app review show Android App Arena. If I've selected an app for a show, I usually move it one more screen over so that, during a busy show, I know to swipe all the way to the right to find the app I'm going to feature.

Jason Howell Home Screen (3)

What launcher you're using: Google Now Launcher, all the way. I've tried them all, and while Nova always struck a chord for me when it came to flexibility, I ultimately chose to keep things as close to Google's heart as possible.

I want to stay as connected to the pulse of Android as I can, and honestly, I'm happy with the progress of Google Now Launcher. Some people don't like having the Google Now pane on the left of the home screen, but I actually love having it right there. I use it all the time as a result.

What wallpaper you're using: I'm lazy if you can't tell, so my wallpaper is the stock wallpaper that shipped with my Nexus 6P. No points for style this round.

Anything else of note (interesting customizations, special icons, etc): I log my water intake with Water Your Body (otherwise I fail at keeping hydrated). Also, people ask me all the time where I scored an APKMirror, Techmeme, or Product Hunt app. Those are simply shortcuts to the mobile websites, and I don't miss not having apps in the slightest. Sometimes apps simply aren't needed!

The experience and the apps

What's one of your favorite Android-related tips or tricks?

Without a doubt, the Google Now command: "Remind me to (blank)." It's incredibly flexible. I can remind myself to do something tomorrow when I get home, and the reminder will appear as expected. I'd be useless without Google Now's reminders.

Beyond the obvious stock Google programs, a few apps you can't live without right now (and a quick word about why):

I'm a musician and I'm constantly working out song ideas and lyrics on the go, so I create shortcuts on my home screen to Evernote notes for every song I'm actively writing at any given time. That way, when inspiration strikes, I'm a tap away from capturing it.

Relay Pro is my go-to Reddit app. Every night ends with 10 or so minutes of Reddit browsing before I close my eyes to see what crazy stuff I've missed that day.

I've gotten really into Slack for project management. Megan Morrone, my co-host on Tech News Today, and I manage most of the show from Slack and it's really a game changer. Once you commit yourself to the platform, it can do some incredibly productive things.

An app you won't find on my phone is Facebook. I have a shortcut to the mobile website instead and I haven't missed the app one bit. Plus, I truly feel like everything runs a bit smoother and my battery lasts even longer than before.

Check out more Android expert profiles below or in the official Google+ collection -- and stay tuned for even more entries in the weeks to come!

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