The list of applications available for Android at Google Play is huge. Therefore, is advisable to look for the best Internet lists for what interests us, be it photography, social networking, web browsers, etc. I leave here a list of the most used in my Samsung Galaxy S2.
Social Networking and IM
Not along ago they didn't exists and now are the things that people spent more time in front of theirs computers and mobile devices. Fortunately, most of them have their own Android app:
- WhatsApp: the "official" substitute of SMS messaging and probably, the most used apk by the majority... at least in Spain. There are many similar but this has the more important advantage... everyone has it.
- Google talk: the official Google IM application is integrated by default in all Android devices. Although it does not have the popularity of WhatsApp, has the advantage of allowing voice calls and even video calls if your device can handle it. I have personally tested both and they go pretty well, the voice call is fine even having exhausted the monthly data fee.
- Facebook: the most popular social network has its corresponding application though, the truth, needs to improve. It's pretty slow, is not able to upload photo galleries, only allows you to upload one by one, if you don't have a good connection directly shows nothing, etc. Anyway, we hopefully that it will gradually improve.
- Twitter: with the official app is enough to keep up with what's happening in the most active social network by far. There are others than serve the same purpose but they have not convinced me neither.
- Google+: the official social network of Google does not seem to be widely used by the spanish people, which is a shame. It has the best mobile application to share pictures, videos, locations, galleries, etc. One of the most interesting options is activate the instant upload of photos and videos. That means that when your device is connected to a wireless network, it will start automatically upload pictures and videos to a private album of your Google+ account, making able to share later with your circles.
- Stumbleupon: this website takes years distributing the best links of the web as you indicate your interest when creating an account. Is really interesting what it can offer to you. It's a pity that just doesn't seem to have much depth on our borders, so all the useful content is in English.
- Pinterest: the latest social network to become popular has come to Android with an application that is just perfect. Is very comfortable to check people's pinups and boards and sort them by categories or popularity.
Customization: Keyboards and Launchers
One of the great advantages of Android is the complete customization of the system, including the appearance and different keyboards. I have tried several of the both categories, finally selecting "Go Launcher EX" and "Swiftkey X".
- GO Launcher EX: certainly the best of all I've tried. Fully customizable, is super fast and has great transition effects. It has its own store to download special widgets that can be used only with this launcher and are worth it, especially GO Switch Widget, being an all in one to turn on/off immediately wireless, 3G, brightness, vibration, lantern, etc.
- Smart Launcher: this launcher is clean and direct. Your favorites apps are added in a circle on the main screen and then the rest of apps are divide by categories, something quite useful. It is not so customizable but if you want something clean and functional, is not bad.
- Espier Launcher: is strange that it is not named "IPhone launcher" because is a total copy of the apple system. It can be tried but you will return to something more useful and customizable as Go Launcher EX.
- SwiftKey 3: definitely the best keyboard for Android. Is amazing the speed you can get with it when you have a few days writing. It really learns as you use it, to a point that you don't have to bother pressing letters correctly, it's enough that the word seems to be the desired one to automatically appear. In contrast with other keyboards... this one makes it good.
- Swype: the idea is good and original, write words by simply dragging your finger on the keyboard. It is the most comfortable way to write if you want use only one hand with the mobile. It is enough with drag your thumb finger because the keyboard automatically complete the words and the spaces between them. Samsung Galaxy S2 has it by default, in the case that your Android device doesn't have it you can download others of the same style as TouchPal.
- Thumb Keyboard: the name indicates one of the goals of the application, the possibility of comfortably thumb typing. It was my favorite until I got Swiftkey.
News Reader (Feeds/RSS)
- Google Reader: I have spent years using this computer news manager, basically for the convenience of having available in any web browser all the posts and articles of your favorites blogs and websites. The Android app does basically the same, having all the content that you care anywhere, taking full control of what is read and what is not. If you don't know that kind of tools, you should try. They are the best way to keep track of the pages that may interest you most.
- FeedMe: certainly a revelation, is the perfect complement to Google Reader. It synchronizes with your Google account to download all the news, and what is more important, the feeds can be full downloaded when you are with a wireless connection, including texts and images. That means that when you synchronizes your Android device in a wireless connection you can read it later, anywhere, without having to use 3G data.
There are many applications to take advantage of the camera of your Android devices. I must recognize that Samsung Galaxy S2 brings one that is quite good, has many effects and lets make magnificent panoramic. To try different things you can install these:
- Paper Camera: it is great to have immediately effects before make the photo. It uses filters of draw, paint, watercolor, etc. The results are amazing.
- Cymera: perfect for portrait photos. It has a great variety of filters and allows retouch photos. It is even able to increase or decrease the smile of the person portrayed in seconds.
- Quickpic: probably the faster way to display galleries in Android. If the default gallery that brings Android is slow in your device, try this one to get better results.
- Chrome: probably the best web browser for mobile devices, being currently the most used on computers. Chrome is the best one adapting all kind of web pages into a comfortable format to read on your Android. It's very fast and can synchronize bookmarks and websites visited with the desktop version. Maybe it needs more customization, like full screen or install extensions. We'll see if Chrome evolves as fast as the desktop version. Note: only works in Android version 4.0 or higher.
- Opera Mini web browser: if your device is not very powerful and you don't want to spent a lot of 3G data connection, this is your web browser. This one consumes the least by far, both potential and data.
- Dolphin browser: very good alternative to the default web browser that brings Android. It has a lot of options to customize and you can add extensions.
Documents and Cloud Synchronization
- Google Drive: the official Google app for managing files in the cloud works perfectly on mobile devices. You can view and edit your documents stored in the cloud and also allows save files offline to check it when you want. 5GB Storage in the free version but documents converted to Google Drive format doesn't take space.
- Dropbox: the concept of cloud storage became popular thanks to the desktop version, allowing you to synchronize files between multiple devices. The mobile application does exactly the same, so if you already have an account is worth to using it on your mobile.
- Solid Explorer: the best file manager for Android that I have tested. With an attractive design, you can do anything with your internal files, even make connections via FTP/SSH or integrate yours accounts of Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc. for synchronization in the cloud.
Notes and Tasks
- Evernote: is the best know app for keeping track of your notes, tasks, things to read online, etc. There is a desktop version, extensions for web browsers and mobile applications so you can be synchronized anywhere. Maybe it is too big if you only want to keep a minimal control of your "to-do lists".
- GTask: Google has its own task manager in the cloud that is distributed by Gmail and Google Calendar (more info here.) With this application you can sync your task list in your mobile too. At the end, it is the app that I really use because is super easy to keep track of your tasks and has a widget for your screen so you don't forget anything.
- PlayerPro: if the base player that brings your Android not convince you, don't hesitate to try this. It is the best that you can find in Goolgle Play Store, it automatically download albums art, lets play music by categories, bands, style, folders, etc.
- Grooveshark y Spotify: both are great applications to listen music online but only have interest in the case that you own a premium account. If you haven't one, you can only hear radio stations.
- Gstrings: if you like to play stringed musical instruments you can use this app to tune in seconds.
- Google Translator: the best free tool to translate texts and voice, both mobile device and desktop web browsers.
- Wlingua: if you want to practice your English from Android, Wlingua is a great opportunity to be improving gradually with this language. First we do a test to find out our English level and then we get a free month for lessons, both Android and desktop versions in the browser.
- Tourist language learn & speak: has a good compilation of the most typical phrases in any language, sorted into categories such as greetings, time, date, transport, hotels, hospitals, etc. Comes in handy for quick reference when traveling abroad.
- Endomondo Sport Tracker: if there is an application that is promoting sports among my friends, it is certainly Endomondo. Is amazing to keep track of speed, distance, intensity and paths when you do sports activities like running, biking, kayaking, etc. It shows statistics of how long it takes to make every kilometer, even it tells to you if you wear headphones connected to the phone while doing your favorite sport.
- Wifipass: this tool is a bit "low morale" because lets you know the default password of wireless access with some companies like Telefonica or Jazztel (only for older routers).
- App 2 SD Free: the low-end Android devices usually have very little internal memory to install applications, so they usually fills quickly. To avoid that, App2SD notifies you when a tool can be moved from internal memory to external, normally a microSD. Thus you prevent to fill the main memory, allowing you to install more applications.
- My Data Manager: since Android 4.0 (ICS), no extra tool is needed to know how your Internet data is consumed because it gives you the system. In the case you have an Android with a previous version, with My Data Manager you will keep track of what you've spent in the month.
- ING Direct Spain: if you have a bank account with ING you should try this app. At a quick glance you can see your accounts and make banks transfers. It always asks your security password to sign or to do anything "important", so is very secure.
- Record My Call and Auto Call Recorder: sometimes can be very useful have records of your voice conversations. I don't know if it may be legal, but remember all that was said in a key conversation can be very interesting.
- 1TapQuick: if you want to add icons and shortcuts to your notification bar, this is your app. You can add more that one and are completely configurable.
- JuiceDefender: there are multiple tools to save battery and is difficult to know which one really works. JuiceDefender seems able to extend a little the life of it, but is only valid when not using the phone, because what this kind of applications do, is to cut 3G and wireless connections temporarily when the device is not used...
- IMDB: the best Internet movie database has its own Android app. It is very good to check information of TV shows and movies, including trailers and community ratings. In these days, it's necessary to check this kind of web pages before watch a movie to avoid a big disappointment...
- Amazon Kindle: if you have an Amazon Kindle can synchronize your books directly with the Android version. Although it is much more comfortable to read on an ebook than on a mobile or tablet, you can do it occasionally if needed.
These are the applications I use most on my Android devices. Google Play ecosystem is extremely extensive and sure there are many undiscovered gems. What do you think? Which ones do you think are missing here to have the most comprehensive list?.