10 must-have apps for your new Android device

Yesterday my colleague Wayne Williams posted hist list of must-have iPad apps. Of course I did not want Android fans to be left out, so I sat down and thought about the apps I use most on my Galaxy Nexus. This was a tough decision because there are many. Of course, it is also purely driven by personal opinion and tastes, but many of these types of lists are.

So, if you found a new phone or tablet under your tree on December 25th and you are wondering what you should install then here is a top-10 list of my personal recommendations.


1. Lookout -- free

I covered this already in my post about Android security, so I won't go into great detail here, but I truly believe that it is something every user should install. It is a great app for keeping your device safe from malware. There are also premium features available, but those will cost you $2.99 per month.

2. Angry Birds -- free or ad-free for a price

I know. Everybody already knows about this game. You can't miss it, even in retail stores where the Rovio merchandise abounds. However, it is a great little time-waster and fun for both you and your kids. There is a total of five games -- Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars. You really can not go wrong with any of them.

3. Camera 360 -- free or $3.99

I have a weakness for camera apps. In fact, I almost feel as if I collect them. With that said, I find myself going back to this one on a regular basis though. Why? Because of the feature set. It shoots great HDR images, but you can also choose from other cool effects, the latest of which is called UFO and was just added in a December 6th update. You can use the free version, but I recommend grabbing the Ultimate version for $3.99.

4. Backgrounds HD Wallpapers -- free

There is no shortage of wallpaper apps and themes for Android, but this one provides "more than 10,000 Wallpapers". You can browse through the available images via a number of categories. Even better, the images are panoramic, so scrolling left and right from the home screen reveals more of each background.

5. Facebook -- free

The social network is the service we all seem to love to hate, but still can not get away from. I do not need to say much about it because chances are you are already using it. This was not a very good app in the past, but recent updates have improved it considerably.

6. Star Chart -- $2.99

Odds are that you at least occasionally look up in the sky at night and wonder what that particularly bright object is or wonder where a specific constellation is. Star Chart solves this masterfully. The app utilizes your phone's GPS, compass and accelerometer to identify your location and calculate what direction and angle you are pointing the device. It then tells you exactly what each thing is and it scrolls as you move the handset aroud.

7. Amazon Appstore for Android -- free

The Google Play store is great, but it is not the only source for apps. Amazon is also great place to find apps and it features a different paid app for free each day. The retail giant also gets occasional exclusives on new apps.

8. Field Trip -- free

Google released this app a few months ago and has been improving it ever since. As you travel around your phone will pop up interesting messages about what is nearby your location. If you are using headset or a bluetooth ear piece it will read the information to you. To find things Google has utilized a number of sources.

"The hyperlocal history experts of Arcadia and Historvius will unveil local lore in places you never expected. Trend-setting publications like TimeOut, Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, and Eater will point out the best places to eat and drink. Experts at Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, and Remodelista will guide you to the latest unique stores and products. Atlas Obscura, Dezeen and Daily Secret help you uncover hidden gems no matter where you are. Songkick and Flavorpill guide you to local music".

9. Silent Sleep -- free

Silent Sleep solves a very basic problem. While many of us turn down the volume of our devices at night, vibration on the nightstand can still wake up light sleepers. This app completely mutes your phone, including vibrations. You can set it to go silent and wake up at your times of choice and by what days of the week you wish for it to be active.

10. Pandora -- free or $4.99 per month

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and for that I use BeyondPod. I can also stream my 80+ GB of music to my device via Google Music. However, even with all of that, I still use Pandora enough to pay the monthly fee to avoid ads and get the the features that come with it. I love it for hearing the genres I like, and being able to switch genres as the mood strikes me. Plus, I discover new music and can bookmark it for future purchase -- although that means the app cost me even more!


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