The Android app starter kit

Dec 19, 2009
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So you have a new Android-supported mobile device, and it happens to be the best thing so far that is comparable to the iPhone.  That could only mean one thing—the joy of discovering Android apps to download onto your new device. With Google Android now being offered on multiple networks, its Android App Market now […]

So you have a new Android-supported mobile device, and it happens to be the best thing so far that is comparable to the iPhone.  That could only mean one thing—the joy of discovering Android apps to download onto your new device.

With Google Android now being offered on multiple networks, its Android App Market now boasts approximately 20,000 apps. It is not nearly as many as the tens of thousands of apps found in the iTunes App Store, but you may still want some help figuring out where to start. Here is what you need to know about some of the pre-populated and downloadable apps to get you started with your new phone:

Getting Your Bearings

We all need guidance sometimes. The Google Maps app comes pre-populated on your device and will point you in the right direction. Search based on your location, view venue details and reviews, and receive turn-by-turn directions in a well-designed navigation system.

Place the free Toggle app on your home screen for fast access to phone settings you frequently change, such as airplane mode or screen brightness. Toggle various data syncs such as GPS to limit battery usage and automated device sharing, The app will also display battery and memory usage, as well as currently-running apps.

Social Networking and Other Fun Things

Twidroid PRO is a Twitter management tool with multiple account support, alerts and home screen integration for easy tweeting.  Access the bulk of your Twitter account from the app, with options for navigating replies, mentions, DMs and profile for about $3.50. Twidroid can be used for sharing multimedia content directly from your phone as well.

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Facebook on Android devices is a far cry from the famed Facebook iPhone app, but recent updates hint at ongoing dedication to optimizing for the Android platform. View your friend feed, see profile details and photo albums. Leave comments on wall posts and shared media with this basic, but free, Facebook app.

Qik for Android is great because it is able to do what it intended—stream live video to the Web. The free Qik app enabled Android to one-up the iPhone in this regard.  Select Qik upon opening your camcorder tool and start recording. Add a title and description to your clip, share with friends and chat with viewers in real time.

Backgammon is one of my favorite board games, and I find it irresistible on a touch screen. The Android version of the classic game lets you play others online, or play the computer. Three difficulty levels are available for this $4.99 app, with additional settings for varied rules and saving options upon exiting the game.

The new wide screen home page for your Android device will make it all the more tempting to customize your phone with background images. The free Backgrounds app for Android gives thousands of images to choose from, across several categories. Bookmark favorites and search by keyword to always find what you are looking for.

Productivity, Organization and Shopping

ShopSavvy was among the first breakthrough apps for Android, incorporating a barcode scanner to its shopping tool for true price comparison. View the same item being sold at another online or offline location, access product details and click through to shop when necessary.

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The Amazon MP3 store comes with most Android devices, and you may even get coupons for free music downloads. Search albums and tracks across various genres, letting you purchase music directly from Amazon and saving it on your Android phone. This is the closest you will get to the iPhone’s iTunes Store.

The ES File Explorer helps you manage the files saved on your Android phone, making it easier to use the device as a mini-mobile office. If you transfer files between your Android phone and your computer, the free ES File Explorer app is necessary for retrieving documents and other file types that were moved to your phone’s memory card.

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