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The 100 Best Android Apps of 2013
It seems like only yesterday Google Play was a quiet hamlet populated by mere hundreds of thousands of apps. But as of this past summer, the official Android app store crossed the twin thresholds of a million apps and 50 billion downloads. Navigating this bustling metropolis of applications has always been difficult, which is why we’ve created this handy list to help guide you toward the best apps out there.
We’re constantly pruning and updating this list, trying to make sure it has a little something for everyone while also keeping it fresh and interesting. While our tastes and yours may be different, we think our list is a good starting point. Hopefully the next time you stop by, you’ll see something new.
Whoa, 10 pages? Uncool.
We can all agree that paginated stories are annoying. But with 100 apps, we had to break it up just to make it readable. We’ve even divided the article into themed sections, so you can skip over the first 50 or so if you’re only interested in, say, music apps. Also, if you’re interested in more Android games (and be honest, you are) check out our list of the 10 Best Android Games. You’re welcome!
Hey, You Missed Something
Though we are professionals, we have yet to physically and mentally merge with the Google Play store, becoming an omnipotent being of total app knowledge. Until that glorious day, we’ll rely on our own humble judgment and your feedback. If we missed something, or you have a recommendation, be sure to drop us a line in the comment section. We also have other lists highlighting critical Android apps for your reading pleasure.
This App Is Stale
While 100 apps is a far more manageable slice of the enormous Google Play store, it’s still a challenge to keep up to date. That’s the nature of a platform as enormous and dynamic as Android. In order to keep these reviews fresh and accurate we’ll be doing rolling updates to the list. Hopefully, the next time you read this, there will be some new hidden gems for you to discover. As always, tell us what your favorite Android apps are in the comments section below.
If you’re an app addict then you probably find yourself constantly adding and removing apps from your Android device. As the name suggests, Uninstall Master lets you quickly remove applications and also keeps an eye on the total amount of storage available on your device. Just because it looks a bit bland doesn’t mean it’s not enormously useful.
avast! Mobile Security
This completely free app packs in a ton of security features, like remote wipe, remote-lock, app management, safe Web browsing, a battery manager, and as an added bonus, a top-rated anti-virus engine that passed AV-Test’s test with flying colors. It’s also incredibly light. However it lacks a backup feature so make sure you sync it to your computer.
There are lots of BitTorrent clients out there, but I like the old favorite aDownloader because it’s easy to use and relatively crash-free. It also has a killer feature: the ability to pause and resume downloads. I haven’t encountered any file-size limits, either.
Auto Memory Manager
When a computer needs a performance boost, one of the most obvious ways is to upgrade. or at least, manage memory; the same goes for mobile devices. Auto Memory Manager is an ad-supported app that provides detailed memory information, and lets you set memory priority on apps. It’s worth downloading when your Android phone begins to feel sluggish.
The Beautiful Widgets app lets you customize your phone’s homescreen, with weather reports, clocks, battery status, and different elements. It’s a simple app that makes your Android’s homescreen more useful to you, based on what information you want to see. And, as the name implies, it does it with grace.
Maxthon Internet Browser
If I could personify Maxthon, he’d be a crazy genius. This HTML5-ready Chinese invention is packed with endless configurations like advanced gesturing (that goes beyond that offered by Dolphin HD), www/WAP toggling, fetching, and day/night mode. You can even personalize it to rename the app, select a different icon for the app, and change its skin.
History Eraser Pro
History Eraser Pro makes it simple to delete junk off your phone. The app walks you through all sorts of data, from text messages to browser history to cached files, and then it wipes them in one shot.
Do you love everything about your Android except its crappy battery life? JuiceDefender Ultimate is a popular app that conserves battery life by disabling the most draining components, specifically 3G/4G connectivity, when your phone is idle. You can get the free lite version, but I’d invest in the Ultimate version, which lets you customize when to disable a signal. For example, if you’re listening to Pandora you wouldn’t want it to go offline simply because your phone went idle.
Nova Launcher Prime
There are quite a few launchers available in Google Play that replace your stock phone homescreen interface with something more customizable. Nova Launcher Prime not only gives you settings to play with, but it’s also super-fast and smooth. If you’re not willing to part with four bucks, try the free version, called Nova Launcher.
Lookout Security & Antivirus Premium
Though my Editors’ Choice for paid Android security is Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus, Lookout’s security app brings solid malware protection and ingenious anti-theft tools to the table. Lookout has also led the charge against aggressive adware, and has been known to push out fixes to core Android issues before OS patches are released. It also has an impressive free version once your free trial runs out, giving you access to core features that will keep your phone safer.
Is your file suddenly taking forever to download? If it’s your network’s fault, Speed Test will prove it. Tap to test your network connectivity in less than 30 seconds, showing upload and download times, real-time graphs showing connection consistency, and other detailed reporting to shove in your carrier’s face when they try to blame it on something else.
OnLive for Android lets you play current-generation console and PC games on your Android device, by streaming them from OnLive’s servers. It works best with 4G connectivity and most games require a wireless game controller.
Opera Mini 7
If you’re on a data diet, Opera Mini 7 is the fastest, most backward-compatible mobile browser on the market. You won’t get Flash support or all the features in Dolphin Browser HD, but Opera’s servers compress webpages so much that Mini only requires one-tenth of the bandwidth of a traditional mobile browser.
Swiftkey is a truly impressive keyboard replacement, packing a smart keyboard that suggests the next word before you type it. The company boasts that its language model can sometimes let you dash off whole sentences without typing, though it includes a Swype-like input method called Flow.
Veteran users will be familiar with Swype’s killer keyboard feature—being able to swipe your finger across a few letters to form entire words. The full version of the app also includes a smart machine learning engine, multiple keyboard configurations, talk-to-text dictation, multiple language support and handwriting. It’s a sprawling app that makes mobile typing a breeze.
Tasker is…ingenious. It lets you quickly program commands for your phone, like automatically turning on your music when you plug in earphones, or automatically turning off Wi-Fi when you put your device face down. Yes, I totally buy its tagline: “turn your smartphone into a geniusphone.”
Amped Wireless Wi-Fi Analytics Tool
Picking an open wireless network is often a crapshoot. Sure, it’s got a lot of bars (or arcs or whatever) but this analytics tool goes further, mapping out the strength of nearby networks and the interference on different channels. It’s got enough information for a professional to get a quick understanding of the radio frequencies in a space, but it’s simple enough for a first-time user.
X-Plore is a great way to look at an Android’s file system, and its many added features are solid bonuses. Use it to perform file operations like copy, rename, or create new folders. With X-plore, users can access Picasa albums, browse SQlite database files, zip and unzip files, and explore shared folders on Windows servers and PCs. —Next: News/Readers >
While part of me is appalled by digital comics, Comixology has quietly changed the game with its incredibly robust app for buying, reading, and subscribing to comics. With an enormous library of over 40,000 titles you’re sure to find something worth reading. It also includes alternate reading modes, like a “guided view” for people that are afraid of panels. Don’t look for any Dark Horse titles, though—you’ll need a separate app for that.
Any Radio 1 fans out there? The Beeb is perhaps my all-time favorite general news source. Its mobile app doesn’t disappoint, letting you watch video reports, listen to live radio, clip articles for offline reading, and read the latest updates on the fly.
Regardless of your take on CNN’s editorial content, they do know how to deliver it on a mobile device. Their Android UI is intuitive and buttery-smooth, serving the latest stories by category, embedded videos, and plenty of sharing options. You can also listen to CNN Radio within the app.
Flipboard, the popular, excellent social reading app made famous on the iOS platform, has finally arrived on Android smartphones, losing very little in translation. Flipboard aggregates Web content, from news clips to videos, in a clean, gorgeous magazine-style layout.
There’s plenty of ways to read popular news stories, but few apps can claim to let you listen to breaking news. Umano is different, employing professional voice actors to bring long-form articles from sources like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and others to your Android. The only downside is that you can’t listen to just one news source, but variety is the spice of life!
Pulse is everyone’s favorite news reader. You can aggregate your favorite publications on one clean, snappy, gorgeous interface. Pulse also makes it easy to share articles, sync for offline reading, or simply scan quickly for headlines, Twitter-style.
Pocket, formerly Read It Later, lets you take the articles, videos, and pictures you come across on the Web and save them offline for reading later. With tight integration through services like Twitter and Wfeb apps for Chrome and Firefox, Pocket is your virtual pocket for all the wondrous baubles of the Internet.
Ever open your browser with nowhere to go? StumbleUpon feeds you new Web content with a single tap. It’s the mobile version of the tremendously popular Web application of the same name. You can follow people and brands, plus select from over 500 interests, to make your “random” content more relevant. —Next: Reference >
What makes the Dictionary.com app useful is that the information is local. Rather than wait for the website Dictionary.com to load, you can look up dictionary definitions immediately from the app. The free version of the app has advertisements, but the $1.99 paid version does not.
Google Maps has long helped people navigate streets, landmarks, parks, and other outdoor locations all over the world. In November, Google added an indoor navigation feature that helps you confidently traverse airports, shopping malls, and other large buildings.
Google Translate translates words into over 64 languages, and dictates them aloud. It’s fast and stable, and works well for quick translations of a few words or a single sentence. However it requires a constant Internet connection.
IMDb Movies & TV
The next time you can’t remember the name of an actor, television show, or film, IMDb Movies & TV saves the day. One of the handiest reference websites on the planet, IMDb never fails when it comes to looking up anything that has to do with TV, film, or Hollywood. The app also lets you find which movies are playing at your local cinema, and even purchase tickets. With an IMDb account (free or paid for Pro), the app provides even more features, like the ability to create a watchlist of movies you want to see.
OverDrive Media Console
OverDrive lets you borrow EPUB eBooks and audiobooks in MP3 format, from a global network of more than 13,000 libraries. The biggest drawback is that you have to store files locally, which hogs both memory and battery.
Soundhound identifies virtually any song you hear or sing. Yes, it’s similar to Shazam, but with a lot more features, like geo-tagging, music sales, and music videos.
WebMD for Android
WebMD is much more than a diagnosis app, although you certainly can use it to input symptoms you are experiencing and find some clues as to what’s ailing you. It also contains listings for healthcare professionals and pharmacies in your area, as well as first-aid guides—simple instructions for dealing with an emergency that everyone should have accessible at any time. This free reference app is one you hope you don’t need, but, the moment you do, you’ll be glad you downloaded it.
If you’re looking to bone-up on your Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese then look no further than Duolingo, the free language-learning app that bests even some of the for-pay options. Designed for mobile, the Duolingo app also syncs with a website and across other devices so you never lose your place. We found that Duolingo works best when used with another piece of language software, but the price and quality is unbeatable on Android.
Wikipedia for Android
Our favorite cheat sheet launched an official Android app in January, allowing you to fluidly search, clip, and share entries through your device. There are loads of third-party clients, but this is the cleanest, most authentic Wikipedia experience available in the Android Market.— Next: Productivity/Organization >
There are lots of apps for making lists of tasks, but any.do is easily among the most stylish. In addition to its simple interface, it brings easy organization and built-in syncing between devices. A new feature called any.do moment that encourages you to review your to-do lists, hopefully making organization a habit. A great choice for anyone looking to Get Organized.
Bump lets two users tap their phones together to immediately share photos, contacts, and apps. Amazingly, it works cross-platform between iOS and Android users as well.
Box is a more secure version of Dropbox. Like the latter, Box lets you sync and store your files “in the cloud” and access them from another Internet-connected device or PC. Box also encrypts your stored files and requires a passcode for when the app times out. New users qualify for a 50MB promotion.
Free, additional Spaces for $4.99 per month
A note-taking and organizational app with style, Catch Notes is like a high-design version of Evernote. Users create notes, reminders, photos, checklists, and recordings which can then be organized into notebook-like “spaces.” Catch keeps these creations synced among all your devices, and it’s accessible through a Web interface as well. If you’re tired of drab ol’ Evernote, Catch Notes is a must-have.
Free, additional space available
The original cloud storage service, Dropbox has a clean, sleek Android app that rivals the iPhone version in terms of style. Dropbox’s terms are pretty well known: the free version will allow you to have up to 2GB of files seamless synched between devices and stored online. The app puts all those files at your fingertips, easily allowing you to view, download, and share what you need when you need it.
free; $45 per year for optional Premium subscription
If you weren’t an Evernote early adopter, the freemium note-taking and organization app that synchs all your files to a cloud service, there’s no shame in being late to the party. On an Android phone, Evernote works smoothly, looks great, and most importantly, integrates with dozens of other apps and services.
Long thought to be only a myth, Google Drive is a powerful cloud-based storage locker and basic office suite. With it, you can create and edit documents and have changes synched between multiple devices and users. Google Drive is extremely easy to use and comes with a strong set of sharing options that basically mean you never have to attach a document to an email again.
LastPass Password Mgr Premium*
Free, $1 per month for mobile use
A powerful password manager that keeps your information safely guarded behind a single password. On Android, LastPass provides access to your password vault, auto-fill forms, secure notes, and a password generator. LastPass can even be used to enter login information for website and apps on your Android device. While it’s a bit difficult to use out of the box, a quick read of the online documentation will have you bending passwords to your will.
Pageonce Free or $4.99 for gold
If you’re looking for a more robust, fresh alternative to Mint.com, check out this true mobile wallet from a startup in Palo Alto. Pageonce securely stores all your cards, reminds you of when to pay bills, and even supports bill payments for $0.30 per transaction. If money management stresses you out, Pageonce makes it all so much easier.—Next: Communication >
Google Voice offers low-cost international voice calls and unlimited free text messages for a unique Google Voice phone number. An update in November adds group text messaging, offline voicemail, and “improved” text message notifications.
Google Talk is dead, long live Google Hangouts! The recently refreshed Hangouts app is a solid offering from Google, letting you easily keep up on instant messages through Google, which we used to call Gchatting. But the Hangouts app goes further, letting you do free person-to-person video calls and up to 12 participants if you have a Google+ account. The only downside is that you can’t really turn it off, just muffle its alerts.
ICQ Mobile for Android
Gen X-ers and a few Y’s will recall ICQ, perhaps the first instant messaging program to seriously blow up when it launched back in 1996. It disappeared just as quickly, but now it’s back with a new mobile focus. ICQ for Android lets you send unlimited messages for free, chat with ICQ, Facebook, and Google Talk friends, and read messages offline.
IMO Instant Messenger
Multi-purpose instant message apps can falter on mobile phones, crashing frequently or draining the phone’s battery. While it’s not perfect, IMO Instant Messenger is by far one of the lesser offenders. Another reason it’s better than some others is it supports instant messaging across an impressive 11 networks (both popular and relatively obscure) including MSN, Yahoo!, AIM/ICQ, Google Talk, Myspace, Skype, Facebook, Jabber, imo, VKontakte, and Hyves.
ooVoo Video Calls
Stable and reliable video chat apps for Android aren’t easy to come by, but ooVoo is terrific. The Android video chat app supports group video, voice calls, and instant messaging—across iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows! Not only do you get solid Android video calling, but you can practically video chat with anyone.
It’s hard to beat a free, extensive communications network. Skype uses your phone’s front- and rear-facing cameras to place free video and voice calls over 3G or Wi-Fi. I don’t think Skype is “the best” communication app for Android, but it’s one of those tools that I will continue to use because other people use it, too, and so it’s often the quickest way to get in touch with certain people.
Send unlimited text, photo, audio messages to anyone in the world, as long as both of you are connected to the Internet. Its UI may not be as slick as KakaoTalk, but it’s hugely popular and multi-platform (talks to your iOS and BlackBerry friends).
Viber: Free Messages & Calls
Viber distinguishes itself from other free voice and texting apps, like Google Voice, by adding in your computer as a communication device. From your Android, you can seamless transfer a voice call to the Viber PC app and keep talking, or pick up a text message conversation already in progress. With a growing list of fans, Viber is well positioned to make talking and texting a little easier (and cheaper!). —Next: Social >
Badoo isn’t known as the “flirting app” for nothing. Badoo uses your phone’s GPS to locate other members in your area, displaying their Badoo profiles, which contain likes, dislikes, and photos. You can use the app to chat with other members and arrange offline meetings. Badoo boasts more than 140 million members around the world.
Facebook for Android
Social networks thrive with a reliable app, and Facebook’s for Android is solid. The Android app has the quintessential Facebook-branded interface but some unique functionality that’s absent in Facebook’s iPhone app, such as a side-scrolling preview pane of recently shared photos in the dashboard area.
Armed with the right software, it’s pretty easy for someone to tap into your cell-phone network and read all the text messages and chatting you’re doing over your device. Gibberbot obscures all this data so that it looks like “gibberish” to a hacker. This free, open-source chat client offers fully encrypted chatting over Gchat, Facebook, and Jabber. Must be used in conjunction with Orbot, the official Tor client for Android.
Social networks need mobile apps to thrive, and the Google+ app is a fine start for the platform that arrived in July 2011. The app taps into conventions established by other online social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, while finding some of its own strengths at the same time. Google+ Mobile works fairly well, due to a smart design and comprehensible interface.
The most robust photo sharing social network, recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, finally came to Android after a two years of iPhone-only love. Instagram for Android lets you put folksy filters on dull photos with a single tap, and quickly share them on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
While Instagram may have cornered the market for filtered photo-sharing on the fly, Snapseed offers much deeper photo editing tools for free. While not quite as powerful as Photoshop, Snapseed can bring a whole new level to pictures on your mobile device.
Social corkboard site Pinterest landed on Android and iOS devices this month, so you can access your account on the go. For the uninitiated, Pinterest is another popular network of ways to discover, collect, and share “beautiful things you find on the Web.”
Plume is, hands down, the best Twitter client for Android. Plume uses the horizontal, column-based stream seen in many Twitter clients. However it adds a home tab with widgets to access Trends, Lists, Favorites, and Search bar. There’s also plenty of room for customizing your interface, from font size to the color of your timeline.
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms, boasting over 25 million software downloads and 15,000 plug-ins. If you wish to blog while away from your computer, this WordPress app will let you do just that, but on your Android phone. Bloggers can quickly create drafts, edit posts, and approve comments without the need for a Mac or PC.
Tumblr is another popular microblogging platform that lets users quickly share and caption photos, quotes, chats, links, and more. Its app recently received an interface makeover that makes updates even easier.
Let me be emphatically clear: Vine is not a great app. It is, however, a great service that lets you shoot and share six-second, endlessly looping videos. Six seconds may not seem like much, but Vine can be used to make everything from tiny movies to miniature animations. On Android, its potential is held back by some weird audio issues, and the inability to toggle between the front and rear facing cameras. Once the developers lick these (and other) problems, Vine will be a great app for Android. —Next: Music and Video >
Music and Video
This audiophile-approved music player supports numerous file formats, last.fm scrobbling, gapless playback, Internet radio, and an equalizer with 10 bands. Download the free plugin to get ALAC and WP4 playback.
Apple, Amazon, and Google have all launched music storage lockers. However, Google’s decision to base its free storage option not on size but on number of tracks make it unique among its competitors. With the app, users can stream music they’ve uploaded and, when connected to Wi-Fi, download songs for offline listening. Best of all, Google has gone out of its way to make sure the Music service plays nice with whatever system you’re using at home.
Free, subscription fees apply
The go-to app for streaming movies and TV shows, Netflix puts an enormous library of content at your fingertips. Though its catalog isn’t always consistent in terms of quality, its sheer size and low cost ($7.99 for unlimited streaming and an additional $7.99 for a DVD rental plan as well) make it a must-have app. Be sure to connect to a Wi-Fi network for the best viewing experience.
Movies by Flickster
A strong offering for the movie buff on the go, Movies by Flickster keeps you up to date on the latest releases both at the box office and on DVD. Flickster’s app also gives you easy access to Rotten Tomatoes reviews and trailers, and it can even help you book your next movie outing or add movies to your Netflix queue for a night in. Though it has a few quirks, Movies is a valuable asset.
Pandora Internet radio
Free, optional upgrade to PandoraOne for $36 per year
The granddaddy of smart, streaming music apps, Pandora has come a long way from its humble origins. The latest version of the app focuses on social aspects, showing you what your friends are currently rocking out to. Though it has a full spectrum of visual, audio, and video ads, Pandora still does a great job of seamlessly delivering you music.
Working with a desktop application, SnapPea is the dead-simple way to move audio and video between your computer and your phone. While it’s great at handling media files, it can do a lot more, including manage your apps, photos, and even send text messages from your computer.
Free with $9.99/month Spotify Premium
I don’t even download music anymore. I pay $9.99/month for Spotify Premium, which instantly streams music from a 15+ million catalogue, create playlists, integrate local libraries, and check out other members’ playlists. With Premium you can sync playlists to your Android device and play music offline, on the go. The app’s interface is a minimalist adaptation of its desktop client.
While there are a number of apps to keep your ears full of music, fewer focus on radio and podcasts. Stitcher is one such app, which lets you organize channels of content based on interests. It’s even clever enough to notice what you like and dislike, and will assemble “Smart Stations” based off your preferences. If you’re a podcast junkie, this app is essential.
This unofficial TED app lets you search a video database containing over 1,200 TED presentations even if your device is not connected to the Internet. Alternatively, you can listen to the TedTalks radio-style audio stream, and bookmark and share videos on Facebook.
Uberhype for Hype Machine
Uberhype is the mobile version of Hype Machine, beautifully designed by Dirty Water Labs. For the uninitiated, Hype Machine is a fantastic Web-based music streaming service that aggregates trending music from music blogs. Most of the songs are genre mash-ups. It combines a Twitter-like social sharing element as well.
There are plenty of apps to put music on your phone, but not many to get you and your phone in front of live music. Enter Songkick Concerts, which scans your phone for music and then informs you when artists you like are coming to town. It’s a really easy way to keep track of tricky live tour schedules in your town, or anywhere else you might be. —Next: Games >
Angry Birds Space Premium
Angry Birds Space adds a new spin to your favorite guilty pleasure: gravitational pull. Set against a backdrop of meteors, planets, and stars, this is the best spin-off from the original Angry Birds app. Angry Birds Space adds new levels, bonus rounds, and a gorgeous, buttery-smooth interface. Yeah, I was getting bored of Angry Birds too. Unfortunately the game also adds intrusive display ads, and the game is easier, so don’t delete the original just yet.
Cut the Rope
An addictive casual, physics game, Cut the Rope has players solving dynamic puzzles that sometimes feel more like obstacle courses. It’s a family-friendly game, the kind you definitely want to have preloaded on your phone if you have yackety kids who miraculously become quiet when engrossed in a good game.
Draw Something Free
Draw Something, the latest app craze, pits iOS and Android users in simple gesture-based drawing competitions. Pick a word from a list of three, draw it on your screen with your finger using a variety of colors and brushes, and then send it to your friend to guess what you’ve drawn. You win coins if your friend guesses correctly. It’s very simple and, like Words With Friends, the addiction lies in the robust social aspect.
Guns ‘n’ Glory: WW2
The follow-up to the award-wining action-strategy game Guns ‘n’ Glory Wild West puts you in the role of a military commander (either the Allies or Axis) during The War. You mission? Guide your troops, tanks, and warbirds to World War II victory. A RPG-like skill and leveling up system lets you power up your squad to achieve an advantage over the enemy.
Gurk, the 8-bit RPG
In the mood for a light diversion that contains a hefty dose of retro goodness? Gurk, the 8-bit RPG features a three-character party system, two dozen dungeons, 23 monsters, and lots of action. The story is virtually non-existent, but if you’re fans of old school bleeps and bloops, you’ll find a lot to like here.
Minecraft – Pocket Edition
Minecraft is an addictive game that’s appealing to both the creative and systematic sides of the brain. Quite simply, in the game, you build things using different kinds of blocks. It also has some built-in social features.
Pinball Arcade is an addictive game that exquisitely recreates the look and to a certain extent, feel, of classic, trademarked pinball tables. The thoughtful detail in each leaderboard is really impressive. Connect online to play in tournaments or go head-to-head with your friends.
Symphony of Eternity
If you liked 1980s and early 1990s RPGs or early Final Fantasy games, you’ll love Symphony of Eternity ($2.99). There’s a clear plot: Two adventurers meet the princess of a fallen kingdom, and all three go hunting for a mythical wish-granting weapon to set everything right.
Temple Run couples great graphics with a very simple, arcade-like premise. In Temple Run, you play an Indiana Jones doppelganger clutching a golden icon, and your goal is to run away from evil eagle-gorilla monsters by tilting and swiping your way through obstacles in your path. The first Android release from March 28 was too buggy for prime time.
Draw a Stickman: EPIC Free
Taking a page from Drawn to Life, Draw a Stickman follows a player-created stickman’s journey through a dangerous landscape to save his or her player-created best friend. The play is smooth, and engaging with many things to manipulate or destroy. The free version has five stages to unlock, but also some very unfortunate ads. I recommend springing for the $1.99 version.—Next: Lifestyle, Travel, Shopping >
Lifestyle, Travel, Shopping
If you’re the forgetful type, EasilyDo is your savior. Once you hook the app up to a slew of supported social and calendar services, it suggests simple actions from a unified dashboard. Did you know it’s Susie’s birthday? EasilyDo will suggest to send her a message and even include a gift. It makes the little things easier, and proves its worth with saved time.
Part amateur historian, bargain hunter, and gourmet, Field Trip alerts you to articles, deals, and factoids relating to the world around you. Once activated, it keeps tabs on your location and displays cards drawing from sources like Zagat, Scoutmob, Arcadia, and others. Perfect for tooling around a strange city or learning more about your hometown.
ESPN Score Center
ESPN’s free app lets you check the game quickly, and discreetly when necessary (i.e., with your phone under the dinner table), for your favorite teams in more sports than most other apps. It can pull game data from baseball, basketball, American football, the sport the rest of the world calls football (soccer), ice hockey, cricket, rugby, and more. For stat lovers, ScoreMobile is a fine option, but only if it has the sport you follow, as it misses a few, like rugby and boxing, that ESPN covers.
Not every smartphone running Android has a great camera, so get better photos with the help of a little software. The free app FxCamera adds filters and effects, like “toy” and fisheye lens, to enhance even modest pictures. It also helps to arm yourself with some additional tips for getting better photos from your phone.
GateGuru (for Android) is an app to pack. It helps you navigate airport terminals, anticipate wait times, find the freshest airport food, and travel with greater confidence. It also has airport maps and checkpoint wait times. And GateGuru integrates with Tripit and Kayak for flight details, as well as Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook for sharing.
Similar in some ways to the Layar app, Google Goggles is an augmented reality experience that layers additional information from the digital world onto the physical world. Use the phone’s camera to take a snapshot of anything from a painting in a museum to a placard that’s written in a language you don’t understand, and Google Goggles will give you more clues to help you figure out what’s in front of you, or why it’s important.
Some of the deals that crop up on Groupon are just too good to pass up, like 50 percent off that take-out place where you eat once a week anyway, or a one-month gym membership for 20 bucks. The Groupon Android app lets you not only snag deals, but cash them in, too, so you don’t have to print any paper vouchers or coupons.
Google Offers for Android is the mobile companion to Google’s daily deals site. For a relative latecomer to the Groupon-forged category, its offerings are surprisingly solid (I bought a 50 percent discount to Katz’s Deli’s online store). The app itself is very slick and making transactions is seamless for Googlebots who use other Google services.
iOnRoad Augmented Driving
This driving app uses your smartphone’s camera and GPS sensors to warn you of upcoming collisions. It’s innovative and actually works, but not foolproof. You still have to keep your eye on the road.
Read books, magazines, and newspapers right on your Android phone without ever buying an e-reader. The Kindle app is by far the most popular reading app in the Android Marketplace because it gives you access to buy or download for free hundreds of thousands of books, and more than 100 different newspapers and magazines. And while some users have complained that they can’t uninstall Kindle once they’ve downloaded the app, it is possible (but it takes a little effort).
MLB.com at Bat 12
A premium account lets you stream every MLB game live. You also get a repository of baseball goodness: game highlights, radio broadcasts, pitch trackers, detailed reporting, widget. For Android 2.2 and 2.3 users (probably most of you) the live video feed requires Adobe Flash, a plug-in that Adobe removed from Google Play in August. So if you didn’t already have it downloaded, you won’t be able to watch live games.
Layar is an augmented reality app, meaning it gives you extra information from the digital world “layered” on top of something real in this world. Point it at a landmark, and the app will share interesting facts about the destination. Layar works best when you think of it as a travel app. It works very well in big cities and top destinations, but can be middling or even useless in lesser-traveled spots.
Noom Weight Loss Coach
Noom is a comprehensive weight loss app that bills itself as a weight loss coach in your pocket. Every day, the app feeds you customized suggestions on how many calories you need to eat and burn to meet your goals. This involves a calorie counter, a daily Noom score, and an online community for additional support.
Consider it the next best thing to being an astronaut or astronomer. The official NASA app features thousands of NASA photos (gorgeous as wallpaper), streaming videos, and countdown clocks.
iPhone-wielding Instagram users think we’re “polluting” their photo streams? Screw them. Android has Pixlr-o-matic, a far superior photo editing app with hundreds of effects and a much smoother social sharing experience. The randomnizer, which chooses a random effect for you, provides hours of fun.
Yelp has emerged as the go-to source for information on bars, restaurants, and local business drawn from crowd-sourced reviews. But even if you don’t trust the opinions of other people, the app let’s you know what’s nearby, when it’s open, and can sometimes give you a peek at the menu. Though the app’s navigation lags behind its iOS counterpart, Yelp is great for travelers and locals looking to try something new in their town.
Though it languished for years, Flickr is back with a slick new app and a terabyte of free storage space for your photos—well and beyond what anyone else is offering. Throw in a bunch of Instagram-like filters and on-the-go editing and you’ve got a powerful mobile photo app.
By Max Eddy, PCMag