Android Apps Reviewed – What I currently use.
July 11, 2011 3 Comments
Hello again! Today I thought I should review a few of the apps I use on my HTC Wildfire. I recently rooted my device and installed Cyanogenmod 7. I did this primarily because I wanted Android 2.3 Gingerbread. After flashing the ROM I realised that I also have a lot more free space on my internal memory and I can move any app to the SD card! :). So I’ve been installing a couple of apps. Plus there have been some things I liked about HTC Sense and in trying to find apps to fill in the features that were missing I bumped into some interesting ones. Some of these apps listed have been there even before the switch to Cyanogenmod. The apps listed here are the ones I use very often and does not cover all the apps I use. Also, the videos are not mine but the ones posted on the apps’ Android market pages. So here goes.
Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio
I really don’t need to review this one. Its the most played game on Android. Its fun and you can be at it for hours. There are tons of levels to unlock and they keep adding more. For those who do not know, the aim is to catapult birds (some with special abilities) to a fort built by pigs. The pigs have stolen the bird’s eggs and you need to take the pigs out to get your eggs back (which never really happens because Rovio needs to add more levels ;)). One problem I do have is the ads. The ads get in the way of the game many times. Also on devices like my Wildfire which have lesser resources, the game is really slow when the ads come on. If there was a paid version, I would buy it since the game is worth it. For now only a free ad sponsored version is available. Here are the Market links:
- Angry Birds: The original Angry birds game.
- Angry Birds Seasons: Angry birds with levels created for special events like Christmas, Easter, etc.
- Angry Birds Rio: Game featuring the Angry birds and characters from the 2011 animation film, Rio. The aim here is take out monkeys instead of pigs.
Cut the Rope
This game was released on Android only a few days back and its the only paid app on my phone right now. In this game you need to feed a candy loving monster. Its not always easy though. This is basically a puzzle game where you cut ropes that hold the candy. There are obstacles and candy eating spiders on the way to stay clear from. Try it out yourself :). This game also runs very smoothly on my phone. Buy the app here: Cut the Rope.
2 Player Reactor
A fun two player game which my friend told me about. Here you have to compete with a friend to be first to react to what ever the game tells you. This involves identifying 3 pictures of the same kind, solving a maze and quite a few other puzzles that will test your speed. Its fun and very addictive. Its also hard to not cheat and make you opponent lose. My friends know what I’m talking about :P. Check it out here: 2 Player Reactor. The video is labelled as 4-Player Reactor. This is a paid version of the game which, I guess, involves four friends. I haven’t tried it out myself.
These are the only games I have currently and I think these will stay on for quite some time. Its nice to see some good games finally coming to the Android Market. The Apple App store has many good games. I believe there are quite a few good android games that work on better phones like the Nexus S, Galaxy S II and Sensation. I’ll wait till I get the third Nexus phone :). Now for a bunch of app reviews.
App 2 SD
Must have app if you use Android v2.2 and above. It identifies apps that can be moved to the SD card and takes you directly to the app’s settings in order to move it. I use the free version which is ad sponsored. There is also a paid version available with no ads. I like the fact that it gives you nice visual information about what apps you have on your phone. You know which app it is by seeing the icon and below it you can see how much memory it uses. You can go to the market page or the app’s settings page right from here. App 2 SD also allows you to clear your cache and free up additional memory. Pretty useful isn’t it? Do try it out. Here is the market link: App 2 SD
Advanced Task Killer
One problem with Android in phones like my Wildfire is that apps keep running in back ground. This makes them hog memory and slows down other apps. Advanced Task Killer helps you close all running apps, depending on what level of security you choose, and free up RAM. You’ll have to be aware that those apps will respawn in time and use memory again so this app helps you kill apps when you need memory. Another thing worth mentioning is about battery life. Its a common misconception that killing an app will increase battery life. You’ll actually be doing the opposite. Once you kill an app, it will respawn – this involves fetching data from memory, doing a number of processes and loading data to the RAM. That consumes a lot more power than just letting an App run in the background. So use this when you need memory. You can download it here: Advanced Task Killer
Android’s default phonebook is pretty plain and boring. It does link Facebook (and maybe Twitter) contacts with the corresponding ones on your phone but it doesn’t always work. I haven’t found out a way to do this manually either. HTC Sense had a much more improved contacts manager so once I installed cyanogenmod 7. it became a pain to use the default phonebook – till I bumped into Contapps. This app is the best contacts manager on the market I’ve seen till now. It syncs Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Linkedin. It does a good job of automatically linking these to you phone contacts. The UI is amazing and intuitive. You can also launch google talk or your messaging app directly from a contact’s page easily. Another nice feature is the fact that, once you’ve synced your social networks, you also check your friend’s wall, tweets, linkedin and foursquare updates. Oh and it also gives you a notification if its some one’s birthday. The app also has its own dialer which can search your contacts – something that should have been there in Android’s default dialer. Once last feature is gesture search. You can draw letters on the screen and search your contacts. Finally, Contapps gives you excellent support. I had a few questions on features I couldn’t find and I got replies very quick and sorted things out fast. This is once app I would recommend to every Android user. It has everything you need and more! Download it here: Contapps.
This app needs no introduction. I’m sure every Android user has this app installed. Its an app by Facebook that lets you see your news feed, friends’ photos and lets you chat with them too. I use this app mainly for chatting. Its not the best when it comes to news feeds however and there are apps which do a lot better (one example is Tweetdeck). The photo albums support could be a little better. Once I find a better Facebook app with chat as well I will switch to it. However, I really hope Facebook improves it. Here is the download link: Facebook for Android.
Google+ is the latest attempt Google has made to start a successful social networking service. Its pretty neat and the Android app is awesome. Its simple and easy to use. (Hope Facebook learns from this). The app lets you check out your stream, photos, profile and circles. You can also checkin to places (just like foursquare). It uses your GPS to figure out your location. Over all the app has a nice UI and I’m happy with it. Other features include automatically uploading new photos you take with your camera to a private album on Google+ (which you can share with others if you want) and a feature called huddle – a form of group chat. I haven’t checked out huddle yet however. Google+ is awesome and you may feel like ditching Facebook and switching over :). Ask a friend for an invite to Google+ and grab the app here: Google+.
Handcent SMS is an amazing app for text and multimedia messaging. Its got a ton of options which the default messaging app in Android ought to have. It also has a neat little widget which lets you read your messages right from your homescreen. One feature that some may like is the fact that you can choose to have a pop up everytime you get a new message so that you can reply to it immediately. I don’t use it since it gets in the way for me. Handcent also supports themes and task scheduling. A recent addition which I liked was the editor window. This give you more space to see your messages – really useful when you have to type a long one. Handcent is a must have app and like its description in the market says, it really does unleash the full messaging power of Android phones. Download it here: Handcent SMS. I haven’t put screen shots here obviously due to privacy reasons, I’m too lazy to smudge off my contact’s names 😛 and photos and there was no video on the market page. Check out the screenshots at the market :).
Android’s default photo organizer is another real let down. Luckily there are a ton of brilliant developers out there who have some of the nicest apps which replace those that come in Android by default. Contapps and Handcent are two such apps. QuickPic is another one and its my choice for photo management. Its light, fast and looks elegant. Don’t really have much to say here. This app does what it is meant to and does it well. No extra feature clutter. Its smooth and simple. Try it out yourself: QuickPic.
Another app that needs no introduction. This is a Twitter client for Android made by Twitter itself. When I first used it, I didn’t like it at all. However after a major UI update, this app is pretty neat. I believe there are apps which are better such as Tweetdeck, Twidroyd and Seesmic. But I’m happy with this. It has what I need. This app lets you see your twitter stream, check which tweets you are mentioned in, your direct messages and lists. You can also tweet with pictures and location data. Retweeting and replying to tweets is also very simple. I really liked this app. You can download it through this link: Twitter.
So that’s the list of apps I wanted to review and share. A few other apps which I use and are worth mentioning are Foursquare, Evernote, Pulse, gStrings Tuner, Skype, Lookout Mobile Security and of course Google’s own set of apps such as Gmail, Maps and Youtube. I joined Foursquare a few days back and haven’t explored enough to write a review. I liked the app so far. The rest are apps which I find useful but I don’t use them very often. Google’s apps are pretty common and every Android phone will have them.
So what apps do you use? What do you think about the apps that I’ve listed here? Do try them out and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more reviews (I’ve added a new category for this :)), tutorials and updates. 🙂