Although the tablet selection stinks, owning an Android phone brings an abundant selection of compatible apps. Below is a selection of 10 of the apps I just can’t live without.
1 Weather – 1 fills the need for a simple weather app, and adds additional functions – without becoming unusable. The app has options for daily and hourly forecasts with the addition of precipitation and wind speed data. It does all this within one of the most minimal interfaces of any application (weather or otherwise). It displays the current temp in the Android status bar, allowing users to drag down the notification tray for an inline forecast. Pretty slick indeed.
Pocket Casts – Now that Google has longed killed off its Listen application for podcasts, fan of talk radio and podcasts can turn to Pocket Casts. This application allows to subscribe to podcast and stream or download them as they become available. The interface is a visually pleasing tile layout, text and cover art of all large format. Users can subscribe to both audio and video podcast. A discovery section allows for easy searching and sampling of new content.
VCE Mobile – If a technical, management, or other certification is on your to-do list, VCE Mobile can help. This application serves as an exam engine, using questions sets submitted by users in the .vce format from sites such as examcollection.com. There are little to no controls in the actual interface, just flash card formatted questions that allow for randomization and viewing of correct answers. While your certification classes and actual exam are likely to break the bank – VCE Mobile will help save you the embarrassment of multiple fail attempts.
Nike+ Running – Nike+ Running is a free app published by Nike. At surface level, the app documents user runs, but the value of the program is in its social hooks, allowing users ot publish runs to Facebook and Twitter. Even better, publishing the start of a run to Facebook enables an applause sound for each person that selects “like” on the status during your run. Nike+ Running is an extension of Nike’s marketing effort – an attempt to get users to purchase Nike shoes and other product. But for our friends that are iPhone owners, this app was good enough to come preinstalled direct from Apple. Whether a fan of Nike, or just needing a way to track your runs – the social hooks in the Nike+ running app make it much more effective than competing fitness apps.
Headset Button Controller – Moving from iPhone to Android usually means giving up headphone audio controls. Some manufacturers have attempted to release Android specific models that will allow control of audio and call controls – but if buying a cheaper model as I did, an additional control application is required to have functional controls. In comes Headset Button Controller. This app allows you to use your existing headset, and even your old Apple earbuds with full audio control on Android. Outside of a bluetooth headset, this small utility is a no brainer for improving your overall Android experience.
Mint – With instant access to account data ranging from checking to student loan, Mint gives users a birds-eye view of their total financial health. Better than balancing a checkbook, Mint collects transactions from every financial account imaginable to give users more rich data, including net worth, net income, alerting on fees and charges, and much, much more. Mint’s data is accompanied with graphs to visualize the effects of last month’s shopping spree. Mint is now acquired by Quicken, but remains free. Although the Android app is excellent, fear not – your data can be access online at mint.com for those looking to import from excel and other accountant worthy operations.
Jamie Oliver 20 Minute Meals – Cooking may still be a chore, but the Jamie Oliver 20 Minute Meal app gives both video tutorials and step by step photos for tasty meals that are promised in 20 minutes or less. In real world use, the 20 minute promise is a bit of a stretch, but the layout and formatting of the app make it easier to use than most. It allows users to create shopping lists of ingredients also, and is updating regularly with new, tasty recipes – at a price cheaper than any Rachael Ray cookbook.
Fidelity – After hunting for a decent stock viewer for Android, I had all but given up when I decided to download the Fidelity app for my 401k. Although the app is designed for Fidelity customers to view and control accounts – the application also houses one of the best stock tickers you’ll find on Android. Select specific stocks, view indexes, or just watch the days biggest winner and losers – the Fidelity Android app provides financial market data in a format that is consumer friendly, for those of us who don’t work at the New York Stock Exchange.
Nova Launcher Prime – Is that the new Nexus 4? No? Then your Android device must have come with an abundance of carrier bloatware and manufacturer modifications. Nova Launcher is one of many “launcher” application that will allow you to change the menus, number of home screens, and other Android visuals that are often tampered with in carrier customization. Remember theme packs for Windows 98? Then you probably already have this installed.
Babbel Turkish – “Like Rosetta Stone, but free” I explain to my sister. Babel has a range of applications to support various languages. The application is in flash card format, displaying both words and phrases. Taking things a step further, the app will listen for your pronunciation and score your broken accent. Babbel’s apps makes language learning more of a gaming experience. Not interested in Turkish? Try Babbel’s apps for French, Spanish,