Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Top Android Apps for 2010

As Android has grown in popularity and the range of devices has widened, many of my friends and family have been getting Android phones. This list is supposed be a starting point for those getting a new Android phone or really wanting to get the most out of the phone they already have.

TweetDeck [Free] - By far the quickest and easiest way to view and reply to Twitter/Facebook/Buzz updates on Android.  The columns can be customized to display all updates or only the updates from certain services or people.  They also have a Desktop and Chrome App version.

LauncherPro [Free] - While I appreciate the default homescreen, I can't be limited to just three icons that I can't change. LauncherPro does many things, I can switch the number of homescreens from an unwieldy 7 down to a manageable 3-5. It also gives me secondary actions for all 5 icons on the bottom of the screen, for example if I swipe up on my messaging icon it takes me to the Compose Message screen, saving me time and a few steps.  There are many other reasons, but these are the most prominent.

Angry Birds & Angy Birds Seasons [Free] - Best time waster ever.  Both are free, though they include some semi-obtrusive ads. I would pay good money to go ad free.

Dropbox [Free] - If you are familiar with you will no doubt love the Android companion app.  Dropbox is a file syncing service that is accessible from pretty much anywhere you have an internet connection.  You add files on the web, phone or computer and within seconds they are accessible on all devices.  This is very useful for backing up files from your phone.  I use it to save pictures taken with my phone in case it gets lost or stolen.

AppBrain [Free] - While the Android Market client recently received a facelift, it still lacks a real web-based component for browsing market content.  Google showed off the web-based market earlier this year, so expect it some time next year.  In the meantime use AppBrain, which lets you browse apps on the web, then queue them up for install on your device. All links to apps on this page go to

Google Maps [Free] - I could not live without Google Maps in my pocket, I would have been lost many times over. The latest update added offline support, new vector-based maps (which take up less memory) and 3D maps for most Android 2.2 devices. Overview of features at Google Mobile Blog.

Movies (by Flixster) [Free] - Great for seeing what is playing at your local cinema, what is being released on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital Download, and managing your Netflix queue.  You can even log in with your Facebook account and upload reviews of movies to shared with your friends.  Access to showtimes, release dates, trailers and Netflix make this a must-have for entertainment junkies.  Check out the IMDB app if you need info on TV shows.

Gmail [Free] - Yet another app that is being used all day long. I almost like it as much as the full desktop web version.  I use this to triage my mail when not at my computer, and as a scratch-pad note system since Gmail syncs drafts.  The latest update added a refreshed compose screen with support for multiple sender addresses and easier reply options.

CalWidget [Free] - Like Gmail, I have Google Calendar setup in a meticulous manner to help me remember things and make sure I'm not late paying my bills or wishing someone a happy birthday. The default Android calendar widget shows one event for the day, it looks pretty but isn't very useful. CalWidget lets me pick a size so I don't have to take up an entire homescreen, unless I want to. If you have an HTC, Samsung, or Motorola phone, you may already have a decent calendar widget, if not this one is well worth the download.
I probably missed a lot of great apps, this is just a small list that I use very often. Let me know in the comments of your top Android apps.

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