Friday, September 16, 2011

Rob's Top Apps for Android phones

Getting a new phone is fun. It just is. You get to experience a new feel, new capabilities, new speeds and even that new phone smell. It just makes you want to break dance. But sometimes after you've listened to Pandora for 48 hours straight and you've changed your background a hundred times you wonder, "What else is there to do?" You crave more apps and you just don't know where to start looking. That's what this article is for, you know, to help you get that new phone smell back and put a spring in your step. So, for all you Android users, here's the first apps I download onto any Android phone before I get anything else. This is... Rob's top apps for Android:

3D Digital Weather Clock - This App falls under the Widget category. It's a sweet edition to any Android phone that doesn't have a native clock/weather widget. It displays the current time and weather for the location you choose. I've noticed that it doesn't always stay up to date with the clock section (depending on which phone I'm using) but it does 95% of the time at worst and 100% of the time at best. It also doesn't follow your location. The weather is for a pre-determined location. But, it's free. You can't really complain about that.

Pandora - This music application lets you stream music off of the internet, just like it's counterpart for computers: The best part is, if you already have a Pandora account you don't have to re-invent the wheel. You can log onto this app and have all your personalized stations right there at your fingertips. If you don't already have an account, you can sign-up for one from the phone and create your own, personalized internet radio stations. They've done a good job with the widget too. You can control the radio station that's currently playing right from the optional widget on your home screen. And guess what? This app is free. It's also unlimited if you listen to it from a phone whereas the computer counter-part will cut you off at forty hours/month unless you pay for the premium subscription.

Quickoffice - If you ever use Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint or any PDF files, this is the Application for you. It allows you to open and edit any pre-existing files that are stored on your phone (or sent to it) and the Android version allows you to create new ones too. A lot of phones come with this app pre-loaded, but if it doesn't it is a must have. Unfortunately, the owners of the phones who don't have it pre-loaded will be forking out $14.99 for it so it may be something to consider when actually buying a phone.

Ringdroid - This ringtone making application allows you to take any MP3 formatted file and easily cut a section out of it to make it into a ringtone. It takes about a minute to make a ringtone and the best part? This one's a freebie.

UK & World News - This is a news app that I like because I like BBC reporting which reports on international news. In my opinion it's really unbiased reporting. There is an official BBC application, but I like the format of this unofficial one better because it gives you only the top stories. The official one is more for the type that like to dig a little deeper and know the smaller headlines. Either way, it's free and it's linked to BBC so I like it. (The unofficial one entitled "UK & World News" is pictured to the right.

Amazon Appstore - This app is actually an alternate Appstore to the one you already have on your phone (the Android Market). With this one, you can't just download it from the Market. You have to visit and then fill in your phone number in the blank on the right. Amazon will then send you a text message with a link to download it and instructions on how to install it. The advantage of having this Appstore in addition to the Market is that there are some exclusive Apps that are only available on here (Plants vs. Zombies, Angry Birds advertisement free, just to name a couple) and there is also a "Free paid app of the day" everyday, so check back daily to make sure you download the free one. You can sign-in with your pre-existing Amazon account or create a new one from the phone.

Plants vs. Zombies - This base defense game is a great way to waste away a couple weeks of your life. It has a good story line, a couple different game play modes and can easily pass hours of time by without you even noticing. This one is only available from the Amazon Appstore... not the Android Market. It's $2.99, but it's worth every penny.

Flashlight Zaphrox - If your phone has a flash with the camera, this app is sweet and has saved me from a few falls. This app activates the LED flash on the back of your phone to work as a flashlight. It definitely isn't for extended use as a flashlight (it drains your battery and may burn out your LED bulb if used for long periods of time on a consistent basis) but it will get you from your car to your house at 10:00 PM and it's free.

Vlingo Virtual Assistant <---Click here for my review of this app---- I found this little App because it was pre-loaded on a Motorola Atrix I was using. It has received a few updates since I reviewed it. It can do pretty much anything on your phone through your voice and when you have a bluetooth headset, it maximizes its potential. It can read text messages back to you after you receive them. It can take commands from creating a new e-mail or text message to simple things like making phone calls. It can check calendar appointments, open apps, and even look up addresses. It's like Google Search over voice, only better. And it's free.

ColorNote - I would possibly die without this app being added to my phone. I have a problem remembering lists of things; things to do, things to buy from the store, things to pick up from the liquor store, things to remind myself to do later... etc. This app lets me create plain old lists or checklists where I can check off each thing I've written down as I do/get it. You can even color-code them if you get really technical and then put sticky notes on your home page to remind you even more. It is a great way to stay organized and with a Free price tag there's no arguing it.

Weatherbug and Weatherbug Elite - This weather app is a must have for me. I use it so much that I went and spent the $1.99 for the "Elite" version that lets me put more widgets on my homescreen and has a few extra features. If all you're looking for is something that will give you the update though, the free version will do you good (even if you have to put up with some advertisments popping up every once in a while).

Doubletwist - Doubletwist is a music app that is basically the Android version of iTunes. Although you can't purchase music through them, you can sync your music through the computer just like you do with an iPhone with iTunes. The way it works is you download Doubletwist to both your Android phone and your computer. Then, if you have iTunes on your computer you can import all your music and playlists into Doubletwist and when you plug your phone in it will show up under the Doubletwist application. From there, Doubletwist takes over and explains how to do everything from there. Also, it's free.

Shazam - This app is not only available for Android, but iPhone and Windows Phone 7 as well. This app identifies music that is playing by activating the app and then simply holding the phone up to the speaker. It costs $4.99 for the full version called "Shazam Encore" and it's free for the regular old Shazam. The downside of the free version is that you can only identify five songs a month on it. I ponied up the $5 for the full version. Now, all the untitled mixes left in my iTunes from burned CD's will be identified and correctly labeled! (They were driving me crazy).

Those are my top picks. Remember, at the time of this writing there's over 150,000 apps in the Android market alone and you can add a bunch more on if you include the Amazon Appstore so keep looking. You'll find some serious gems. If you have a favorite App or game that you'd be in serious trouble without, post it in the comments below. If you've got a Windows Phone 7, you're turn is coming next week.

1 comment:

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