Google’s Android mobile phone operating system is popping up everywhere and is getting better with each new release. But even though it is pretty good now, a few extra applications can take it to the next level. We look at some of the best applications available from the Android market.
Astrid is a to-do list manager on steroids. Astrid can be used to create tasks with notes, deadlines, reminders tags and priorities. Input is straightforward and reminders can be set in any form. Astrid can also sync with online site Rememberthemilk.com and prompts you with human-like reminders at regular intervals: “Let’s get this done”. Tasks can also record time spent on each of them so Astrid also acts like a time-logger for billing hours. If you have stuff to do then Astrid is the best at keeping you organised.
Google’s own Sky Map is a virtual star gazer that just needs to be pointed at the sky. Doing this brings up detailed maps of the heavens on the screen so you know what you’re looking at. Swing it around the horizon and the map changes with you. But the fun doesn’t stop there. If there is a specific constellation you’re looking for then you can search the database and SkyMap will help you find it. An arrow system tells you which way to turn to find what you’re looking for. When you get closer SkyMap will circle the constellation you’re looking for.
Softrace won Google’s Android Developer Contest and is a sports tracking and competing application. In its simplest form Softrace allows users to track their sports activities such as running or cycling. Using the built-in GPS of the phone Softrace records details for workouts. But that’s not all. Where Softrace gets interesting is that it it is also a racing game; one in which users compete physically against one another. This can be done at the same time or asynchronously over pre-defined routes. Users can also create race tracks and share them with others who can use the same to compete with them, or find challengers of similar abilities.
Note Everything is a note-taking application. It’s simple and easy to use but in that simplicity is very powerful. Notes can be text-based using the built-in keyboard, or they can be voice recordings or even paint notes. Notes can be organised in folders, re-arranged, and sent to contacts. Voice notes can also have text notes attached to them. For storing the bits and details of your day as you go along, Note Everything is a must have.
As its name suggests Quickpedia is a mobile version of Wikipedia – and probably the best version available. Quickpedia allows you to search for information on anything already listed in Wikipedia, or browse featured items or the most popular ones. OF particular use to mobile phone users is the “nearby” option which lists geographic Wikipedia entries based on how close they are to you. Also there is a “news” option which lists relatively recent news items with links to Wikipedia entries; good for passing the time in a waiting room.
This one’s not going to make you any more productive but it’s for those times when you’re sitting in a waiting room for your turn with the doctor. Using the accelerometer in the phone Hyperspace Lite is a game in which you navigate a soccer ball across a series of bridges. It’s a classic game with a few new twists and is strangely addictive. But beware, other waiting room members may wonder what you’re up to waving your phone around so furiously.
You might also want to check out:
News24: Local homegrown news portal on Android. 20FourLabs has released an application specifically for Android. It delivers everything from news headlines to local weather reports to restaurant searches.
Wikitude: Wikitude combines augmented reality with Wikipedia. Unfortunately there is not much local content available but the idea is that the phone can be pointed at a scene and Wikitude returns information of points of interest.
Layar: Another augmented reality application hampered by the lack of local information. Layer is more of an “augmented reality browser” which means a range of services can be plugged into it, such as list so Twitter users in your area, pictures of places in your vicinity, Wikipedia entries for points of interest in your area, and so on.