New smartphone or iDevice this holiday season? Download these apps first

Dec 23, 2010

So, you just acquired a new Apple (AAPL) iDevice (iPhone, iPad or iPod touch) or Android-based smartphone this holiday season. Congratulations. But after taking it out of the box, you need to figure out what to do next. In a world with nearly 500,000 applications for iOS and Android devices that range from games to […]

So, you just acquired a new Apple (AAPL) iDevice (iPhone, iPad or iPod touch) or Android-based smartphone this holiday season. Congratulations. But after taking it out of the box, you need to figure out what to do next.

In a world with nearly 500,000 applications for iOS and Android devices that range from games to productivity tools, it can be a challenge to figure out which ones are worth downloading first.

Fear not! We have app and game recommendations for you regardless of which one of these smartphones or tablet computers you discover under the tree.

Must-have apps for the iPhone and iPod touch

Once you get an iPhone for the first time you might ask how you ever lived without it. The best way to avoid being in that position again is to download the free Find My iPhone application.  Find My Phone runs in the background so that if your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can log into the Internet and use its GPS to quickly locate it.

If you’re more interested in the cool factor, the newly released Word Lens uses augmented reality to translate words from English to Spanish, or vice versa, simply by pointing your iPhone’s camera at them. While that app is free to download, you need to pay about five bucks every time you add a new language to the tool.

For a kitsch kick, try the $1.99 Hipstamatic camera app, which snaps old-style photos and was voted the best iPhone app of 2010 by Apple in its iTunes Rewind. If you’re looking to use your iPhone to get more work down on the fly, the free Evernote app is a great productivity tool.

Finally, some of your favorite websites like Facebook, Yelp and Pandora Radio all have apps suited specifically for the iPhone.

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Check out more suggestions here.

Beware of these addictive iPhone games

Everything you heard about the addictive properties of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope are true. So download at your own risk for 99 cents a pop.

If you are more into state-of-the-art graphics, then the newly released Infinity Blade sword-fighting game is the one for you – even with its steep $5.99 download price.

Flight Control at 99 cents is deserving of its elevated reputation, while the latest title in the Tap Tap Revenge series will teach you how to rock with your iPhone.

More great game recommendations for the iPhone and iPod touch can be found here.

The iPad expands the playing field for apps and games

This holiday season, millions of consumers will tap into the iPad for the very first time. For a demonstration of how Apple’s 9.7-inch tablet computer can be used to compile all of your social networking and blogging interests into one magazine-style format, check out the free Flipboard app (which was also recognized as the best for iPad this year.”

Film and TV junkies already know about Netflix, but will be surprised at how the service shines on the iPad. Netflix is available for free, but requires a subscription for most of the good stuff.

Less than a year old, the iPad has already emerged as the ultimate portable gaming device. A great brain-bender that will appeal to gamers of all levels is the $4.99 Cogs HD. While Flight Control has a great iPad app, Harbor Master HD also puts a nice nautical spin on the genre.

Discover more great apps and games for the iPad here.

Don’t overlook the great Android alternatives

Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system has emerged as the primary competitor to Apple’s iOS when it comes to app availability. There are more than 100,000 apps available for the dozens of Android-powered smartphones and tablets on the market.

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Here are the must-haves you should download right away.

If you’re making a switch from the iPhone to a new Android device, download the free doubleTwist app to ease your transition. The app brings an iTunes-like experience to your Android by syncing your computer’s media files with your phone and taking music, photos and videos with you on the go.

Unlike the iPhone, Android phones come in multiple sizes and shapes and offer variations in features. If you’re not thrilled with your phone’s existing keyboard, you can download Better Keyboard for $2.99. The app helps you type more efficiently on emails, text messages or even mobile blogging.

Not surprisingly, apps developed by Google typically work better on Android phones. The free Google Maps app alone makes owning an Android a compelling option. In addition to everything you are accustomed to seeing from this tool on the web, you can also get location updates on friends, contact a local venue directly from the app, and drill all the way down to street views.

While Android devices are not yet comparable to iPhones as far as gaming is concerned, there are some great titles worthy of tapping into. Hit iPhone games like Angry Birds (free) and Doodle Jump (99 cents) are also available to Android owners.

The free Gem Miner strategy game is exclusive to the Android, and worthy of a download. The classic game Tetris can also be downloaded to Android devices for $2.99.

There is no shortage of great apps and games for first-time Android owners to enjoy. Happy downloading!

Appolicious Advisor writers Phil Hornshaw, Kristen Nicole and Kathryn Swartz also contributed to this article.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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