10 great Android apps

Google’s Android operating system is gaining popularity fast and its application marketplace is growing at break-neck speed. Already the marketplace lists around 90 000 applications, not as many as the iPhone’s 300 000, but still a pretty impressive count.

With so many applications on offer it’s understandably difficult to find the few that will actually improve your life as an Android user. To help we’ve compiled a list of ten applications that are worth checking out. Most of these are available through the Android app store.

Astrid

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 SkyMap

Google’s own SkyMap 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. 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.

FXCamera

Tired of boring old snapshots? Then give FXCamera a try. It gives you a choice of six filters that you can apply to your pictures: ToyCam, Polandroid, Fisheye, SymmetriCam, Warhol and normal. You’re not going to win awards for your pictures but it is pretty good fun and adds a little interest to what might otherwise be pretty dull pictures. Just for fun.

Qik

Qik is video broadcast at its best. It’s a little like having your own television channel in your pocket. Using Qik you can upload live video and broadcast it to anywhere. So maybe your spouse can’t make it to your son’s swimming gala but that doesn’t mean she has to miss his race entirely. Qik is free and is reliant only on you having enough bandwidth.

Softrace

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. 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

Note Everything is a note-taking application. It’s simple and easy to use and therein lies its power. 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.

Tweetdeck for Android

Tweetdeck is a Twitter client on steroids. The recently released Android version of this powerful Twitter client brings the features of the desktop client to mobile. Manage multiple accounts, track mentions, retweets and direct messages, add geo data to tweets and connect to Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz and Foursquare all from one application. Tweetdeck is without a doubt one of the best applications for the new social networking generation.

Google Listen

Your Android phone needs a podcast client and Google’s Listen is the one. With Listen you can subscribe to individual podcasts or search for new podcasts. Subscribed podcasts will be downloaded so that you can listen to them even when offline. As with most Google products Listen is in rapid development so it gets better and better all the time.

Photoshop Mobile

FXCamera (above) is a nice, fun application. Photoshop Mobile is also fun but mixed with a lot of serious features. You can crop, rotate, colour-correct, or change images to black-and-white using Photoshop Mobile. And despite the small footprint it has features that rival the best image editors. Naturally, you can upload you pictures to your, free, Photoshop.com account, but unfortunately Photoshop Mobile doesn’t connect with the likes of Flickr.

Quickpedia

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.

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10 great Android apps