The Month's Best Android Apps

This might be the best month ever for Android. We've seen Android 2.2, the future of Android and even Google gleefully mocking Apple. Oh yes, and there were a ton of awesome apps.

Fring: A venerable multi-protocol app on many platforms, but I have three words for you regarding its latest Android version: Video calling. Free. The future is here folks, and it's on Android first.

Adobe Reader: Adobe's free PDF reader for Android is a slick way to read PDFs, with full multitouch gestures, like pinch-to-zoom and reflowable text, to make docs easier to read. It does require Android 2.1 though.

Twitter for Android: Like I've said, the nicest Twitter experience on Android, hands down. Plus, it fully integrates with your contacts, much like Facebook. It's got some shortcomings - no multiple accounts, and every time you open it, it takes you to the most recent tweet (which is by design, sadly) - but since it's baked into Android 2.2, I'm pretty sure this is how most people are going to be tweeting from Android in the next six months. Which isn't a bad thing. (For Twitter power users, I'd stick to Touiteur, though.)

NY Times: Like its iPhone counterpart, a really rich and content-filled app - every major section, from NY/Region to Politics and Business, is here, complete with videos, like Mark Bittman's latest recipe. It's simply fantastic to use, with sections navigated by a handy, Android-y dropdown windowpane. Honestly, it's remarkable how much you get for free, (especially considering how anaemic the NYT iPad app is). Two downsides: you can't save articles to read later, and it can be kind of crashy. Overall, a must download.

Epicurious: You like food, right? Epicurious tells you how to make it taste good. As John says:

The Android version of the app is nearly identical to the iPhone version, meaning that it's comprised of a recipe browser, suggest recipes, a search function and a shopping list. In each recipe, you'll find step-by-step cooking guides, photos and ingredient lists. I mean, obviously - it's a recipe app. The real value here is in the database, which is spectacularly huge.

Springpad: The best alternative to Evernote for an in-the-cloud note-taking app, it's got, at the very least, a far more pleasant interface:

Springpad, the note-taking, idea-remembering, picture-snapping, list-keeping, location-remembering, bookmark-storing, task-keeping iPhone app has spawned an Android twin. My favourite thing about it? Every scrap of info-junk you collect is saved to Springpad's servers, accessible through their website.

Runkeeper: Not as beautifully designed as my other favourite Android running app, Runstar, but Runkeeper blows it out of the water in terms of features: it tracks multiple kinds of exercise, along multiple parameters (calories, pace, etc), and more importantly, it's cross-platform and uploads your results to their site for long-term tracking. Free.

Dropbox: The best cloud-file-sync-and-storage service out there - seriously, it's spectacular - now has an Android app. It puts cloud storage from Google and Apple to shame, and now it's got an Android app, so you can access or share your files from your Android phone. Free. (PS, if you haven't gotten a free 2GB account, use this link to get one. Which will give me another 250MB of storage for my account. =) )

Skyfire: Don't have Android 2.2 yet? No worries, there's a way to play Flash content right now, with Skyfire 2.0 - one of the best alternative browsers out there. Like Opera Mini, Skyfire's compression servers do all of the hard work in the background (which means I wouldn't open your bank accounts or anything like that) so things load faster, and you can choose how sites will see your phone: desktop browser, Android or iPhone. Flash support isn't perfect - for instance, Flash videos on Giz aren't detected, and Hulu wasn't, but overall it works pretty smoothly. And hey, it's better than nothing.

Dolphin HD Browser: The other other browser, Dolphin HD is a refresh of the Dolphin browser, which brought multitouch browsing to Android 2.0 devices. The HD rendition is better optimised for higher res screens, but the real reason to grab it is its extensibility via add-ons and an extensive gesture control scheme, if you're into that sort of thing. Also, it's pretty quick.

Super KO Boxing 2: I love Punch Out ripoff boxing games, so naturally I dig Super KO Boxing 2. Sure, it came out on iPhone months ago, and it could look way less pixel-y on the Nexus One, but for $US0.99, it's well done, and a reasonably entertaining facsimile of classic Punch Out action. You'll need 86MB of free space on an SD card.

Calltrack: This is handy. I'll leave it to Lifehacker to describe:

Google Voice tracks all your calls in a searchable list. If you can't get down with Voice, or want even more convenient tracking, CallTrack plots all your calls, or just particular calls, on a Google Calendar of your choosing.

SCVNGR: I'll let John describe it, since it's on iPhone, too:

Lets you create or follow scavenger hunts (or "treks"), basically anywhere, or just check around you to see if there are any challenges to be completed in your area. It's like Foursquare, kind of, except with a point. Well, "point" might be a little generous, really, but SCVNGR is more upfront about what it really is: a game, to add a layer of little missions over the places you visit every day.

This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this month, give us your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous monthly roundups here. See ya next month!

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