10 Best Android Apps
Since I did my last list of must have android apps, a lot has changed – we’ve gone from Android 2.0 to Android 4.0, the Android Market has gone from 70,000 or so Apps to over 400,000 so I thought it was time to make a new 10 best android apps (and all of these are completely free or offer a fully functional lite or free version).
So if you just got a new Android phone, here are ten must have apps I’d make sure to download immediately (though depending on which phone you have you may already have a few of them)
So let’s get started…
- Pandora – Pretty much ever “top ten” or “must have apps” list includes this program. Who am I to argue? If you like music, get this app. I actually canceled my satellite radio subscription (which I loved) and spent the $36 a year for a Pandora One subscripton because I almost exclusively use Pandora for listening to music these day.
- Chrome To Phone – This is one of those little known apps that is so incredibly useful I’m amazed that not everyone and their brother has it already. Ever been browsing a website and wanted to send that page to your phone? How about looking at a map or directions and just wanted to load it onto your phone? With this app you can if you’re using Google Chrome. Just press the chrome to phone button on your browser and a couple seconds later that page will be loaded on your phone.
- Voice Actions / Voice Search – While pretty much every Android phone (and just about every smartphone in general) has voice search and voice commands, they don’t have anything like this. With this program you can send emails and text messages all with one command. It’s called Google Voice Actions but will show up a “Voice Search” when you look for it in the market. It’s not a Siri clone, (that app is called Iris, neat but still not useful enough to use on a regular basis) it’s been around for a while and allows you to use voice dialing, send texts, play music, and even set alarms on your phone. It’s not quite as cool as Siri is, but it’s still pretty nice.
- Doubletwist – This program likes to bill itself as iTunes for Android. I say let’s not get carried away but this is easily the best program for any iTunes user to put their playlists on their Android phone. It will read your playlists from your current iTunes and syncs to your Android phone just like iTunes syncs to an iPhone or iPod. If you want to listen to music on your phone, then this is the app to get. There is a premium version that offers wifi syncing, which if you listen to a lot of music might be worth the $5.
- WiFi File Transfer – Ever wanted to transfer a file from your computer to your phone or vice versa without having to hook up your USB cable? There are a few apps that allow you to do just that – I like this one best because it makes it easy to do.
- Carr Matey – I went to a college football game last weekend and I parked quite a ways from the stadium. I made sure I used this app so I could remember where I parked after the game. It’s a pirate themed car locator – sure there are other car locator apps out there but how many of those other apps allow you to “drop anchor” and “find your vessel” and displays an old fashioned looking compass telling your how many yards you are away from your vehicle? (It’ll show you a regular map if you prefer but that’s no fun)
- Google Voice – Let’s be honest, Google Voice is great and if you have an Android powered smartphone, it’s a no brainer plus you get free Visual Voicemail with it.
- Google Maps Navigation – this is the app that originally got me to take the plunge and buy a Droid in the first place. Up until that point I’d been happily using my Motorola RAZR and didn’t feel the need to buy a smartphone. However, when I learned that Google had released a free GPS navigation app for their Android powered devices, I was sold. While it’s not quite as good as Navigon for the iPhone or as good as top of the line devices from TomTom or Garmin, it’s still makes my list as one of the top apps for any Android device… and the FREE part is hard to sneeze at.
- Swype – This app was developed by Samsung and is of course included on all of their Android phones as well as some others, like the Droid Bionic. It replaces your current keyboard with their very cool Swype technology. It’s a little difficult to explain so just watch this video if you’d like to see it in action. You won’t find it in the market but a little searching for the “Swype APK” will get you the file you need to add this keyboard to your phone – I put it on my original Droid and was thrilled when I got my Bionic and it was already there.
- Barcode Scanner – I was reading an article not too long ago that said even among college students, a lot of them didn’t know how to scan a qr code using the camera on their smartphone. This app is a QR Code Scanner. The last time I went to Sears I used this. My friend and I saw a product that looked like it’d be nifty if it worked like it said it does so I scanned the barcode using my phone’s camera and we were able to find the product online and more importantly to read user reviews that alerted us that the product was garbage… so we put it back on the shelf.
28 More Apps I Like
I probably won’t go into depth about most of these but I get asked about which apps I use so often that I figured I’d just give you a list of ones I’ve actually found useful even though they didn’t make my top ten list.
- ChompSMS – I use this for my text messaging instead of the default “Messaging” app. The old messaging apps used to be pretty crappy and though it has improved I still prefer ChompSMS to the built in Android text messaging app – another good alternative that I’ve been testing out and like is GO SMS – try one of them out and see which you prefer.
- Netflix – The Netflix app isn’t perfect and isn’t available for every Android phone. However, you can get it on most phones and all of the new ones. If you have a Netflix subscription, this app allows you to take streaming movies and TV shows with you in your pocket so the next time your sitting in the dentist office waiting to be called, you can watch a TV show instead of paging through a magazine.
- Listen – This is another official Google App for listening to Podcasts and such. Personally, I use and love PocketCasts for all of my Podcasting needs (I use that app nearly every day) but since PocketCasts isn’t free, it doesn’t make this list. I’ve found Google Listen to be the best free Podcast manager.
- Google + – I don’t use Google + very much. Heck, I use it so little that there’s really no point in adding me to your circles, but the reason the Google+ app is neat is that whenever you take a picture with your phone, it’ll automatically upload it (privately) to your Google+ account meaning your pictures are now easily and automatically transferred from your phone to the cloud where you can access them from any computer once you login to your Google Account.
- Google Currents – I’ve been playing around with this for a little while and I’ve decided it’s not quite spectacular enough to make the top 10 list, but it is worth mentioning. Essentially Google Currents is Google’s attempt to translate rich magazine content into something that can be easily read on your smartphone.
- Hipmunk – I don’t use this app very often, but if you frequently need to search for airline tickets or hotels on your phone, this app is fantastic. You won’t miss your computer.
- WaveSecure – Should your phone ever, heaven forbid, be stolen, this is the app you’ll want to have installed as it makes recovery more likely and can help you lock down your phone remotely so even if thieves have your phone, they won’t be able to access your personal information.
- SportsTap – A great app if you want to keep up with the score of the game (for just about any sport). I use this all the time during football season to keep up with all the scores.
- NewsRob – If you use Google Reader to keep up with your favorite blogs, this is the perfect app to use to read them on your phone. I use this app several times a day.
- Slacker – This is another music discovery app.
- Last.FM – Yet one more music discovery app.
- SoundHound – Absolutely one of my favorite apps. If you’ve heard of Shazam, then you already know what this app does… excpet this app will let you sing the song you’re thinking of or hum the tune and it’ll do it’s darndest to identify it for you. Next time you can’t think of the name of a song, give this app a try and no, you don’t have to be a good singer for it to correctly identify the right song – just know the lyrics or be able to accurately hum the tune.
- Rehearsal Assistant – My favorite voice record app for Android
- MotoTorch LED – Uses your camera’s LED flash as a flashlight – you’d be surprised how often this app comes in handy – make it easy to use by putting the widget on your phone’s homescreen.
- Ringdroid – I don’t use this one all that often but this app allows you to take any part of any song on your phone and turn it into a ringtone, alarm, or even as the text message alert sound. Never pay for another ringtone!
- Astro – Best file manager for Android.
- Where’s My Droid – Ever forget your phone but you’re not sure where you forgot it? If you have this app installed, you should never lose your Droid again (or at least not for very long). Send it a specially coded text message (from your computer or friend’s phone) and it will tell you where it is by sending you its GPS coordinates and a link to its location on Google Maps. If it’s in your house or apartment but you have it set to silent, you can also send it a text message that will turn the volume up to maximum so you can figure out which couch cushion your phone slid under.
- Google Voice Callback – I did a post on this a while back on how you can get unlimited calling with your Android Phone by using Google Voice and this app. If you find yourself always running out of minutes, this is a good app to try.
- KeepScreen – Ever get annoyed when your phone’s screen times out and goes dark when you’re trying to watch or read something? Just install this app and you can select apps where the screen will always stay on even if there is no activity.
- Layar – Looking for the nearest coffee shop, pizza place, bar, hotel, or just about anything else. Just load up this app and your phone will take you to it using their augmented reality browser. It’s a little hard to explain, but download it and give it a whirl, you’ll probably like it.
- Notepad – exactly what is says.
- Owner – What happens when you set your phone down somewhere and someone else finds it and would like to return it to you? Well, if you have this app installed, as soon as they turn on the screen for your phone they’ll see your name and who to contact to return the phone.
- Places Directory – Another app made by Google and pretty straightforward. Allows you to find any category of business wherever you are and find not only the closest one but also to view contact information and reviews of the business you’re considering going to.
- Seesmic – Yes, Twitter has it’s own official app… but Seesmic is better and doesn’t suck up as many resources.
- Startup Cleaner Pro – Sometimes your phone can get a little bogged down with too many apps loading during startup. Download this app and tell some of them not to load on startup – just like using msconfig in windows!
- What Zip – Now that just about every phone has a GPS antenna in it, they can all tell you where you are but what about what zip code you’re in? This app does just that.
- Lookout Mobile Security – This one has been advertised in Verizon’s latest commercials for their Droid X and Droid 2 phones but it’ll work on any Android Phone. This free app will scan your phone for viruses, backup your phone’s information, and can help you locate your phone in the event you lose it (though it’s not nearly as good as Where’s My Droid in my opinion for this task – for the other two, it’s pretty sweet). If you want an app that’s similar and adds in the functionality of allowing you to block SMS messages (something Android doesn’t have built in functionality for) try out Webroot Mobile Security
- Groupon – I can’t think of the last time I actually went to Groupon’s site to check the daily deal and that’s coming from a person who works on their computer all day. I always check it with this nifty little app on my phone.
What do you think? Any apps that I should have mentioned? Any that shouldn’t have made the list? Let me have it in the comments section below.
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