Cool Android Apps
The fact that Android is an open-source operating system means that there are tons of cool Android apps available. Since you don't have to pay a fee to write apps for Android, anyone can do it. Of course, not all of them are good. We'll separate the wheat from the chaff with this list of 10 cool Android apps.
- "Google Maps" - Naturally, an OS made by Google will have access to a host of Google apps, but "Maps" is by far the most useful. Always up-to-date, "Maps" can give you directions by car, bicycle, or on foot, and performs better than some dedicated GPS systems. Best of all, it's free.
- "Facebook" - "Android"-based phones running the new and improved "Facebook" app can import all of your "Facebook" friends into your phone's contact list, complete with contact information and birthdays. While earlier versions were resource-hungry and not terribly useful, the current version runs well even on slower phones.
- "Amazon Kindle" - Amazon's "Kindle" app gives you full access to the "Kindle" store, which includes thousands of free books. It's a great way to kill time, and it's smaller than a paperback.
- "Pandora" - The popular Internet radio site is available on "Android", and works exactly the same way. Best of all, you can use the Bluetooth function of most smartphones to link up with Bluetooth-enabled cars play "Pandora" from your car's speakers.
- "Alchemy" - "Alchemy" is a deceptively simple game where you combine elements to make things. Sounds simple, but there are hundreds of possible items, and more are patched in all the time. Very addictive, sometimes funny, and definitely worth downloading.
- "LED Light" - This cool little app does only one thing: it turns the LED flash of your phone's camera on until you turn it off. The flash is pretty powerful, easily as bright as most keychain flashlights, making that one less device you need to carry in your pocket.
- "Arcade by Kongregate" - Sort of a meta-app, "Arcade" is a gateway for the mobile version of "Kongregate", an Internet site with literally thousands of free games. Naturally, not all of them are winners, but the variety is worth it, especially for the low, low price of free.
- "Layar" - "Layar" is an augmented reality app. It's a little hard to explain, but a "layer" is a set of location-specific facts or points of interest. You pick a layer, and then look through your phone's video app. "Layar" then overlaps the layer you pick over what you see. For example, if you pick a layer that shows restaurants, your phone will show you restaurants in the direction you're facing with your phone. Click on the name of one, and it will pass the map coordinates to "Google Maps" (see why that's useful?) and give you turn-by-turn directions. Or, a layer with tourist information might show link you to a webpage with historical information when you face a famous building. How's that for cool?
- "Angry Birds" - Strangely addictive, this game has the user shoot birds from a slingshot to break fortress and kill the green pigs within. Once you download this app, that statement will make sense.
- "Google Voice" - After setting up an account, "Google Voice" gives you a phone number which links to any other phone numbers of your choosing, and gives you access to a free voice mail account. Best of all, Google transcribes the audio from voice mails with a pretty impressive degree of accuracy, then forwards the transcription to your email account. Google's service is free, while most wireless carriers charge a fee for this service.