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 ANDROID FEATURE

Top 10 best Android applications of 2009

Indispensable downloads for your Google device
Product: Android | Format: Android
 
Android Android, thumbnail 1
While the Android market can’t hope to compete with the iPhone App Store when it comes to sheer volume of content, don’t be fooled into assuming it’s a poor second - there’s still plenty of quality downloads to make up for the lack of quantity.

Allow us to cherry-pick for you the ten best apps currently available for Google phones everywhere.

Google Sky Map
Developer:
Google Labs
Cost:
Free

Google Sky MapsThink Google Maps, but looking in the opposite direction. Google Sky Map identifies stars, planets and constellations and even allows you to search for particular celestial bodies.

Because it uses your phone’s compass and accelerometer, you’re able to hold your handset up go the night sky and what you see is replicated on the phone’s display.

Admittedly, it’s not of much practical use, but it’s must-have for stargazers everywhere regardless.

Locale
Developer:
TwoFortyFour
Cost:
Free

LocaleIf you’ve ever endured the indignity of having your phone ring when it shouldn’t then Locale is an app you’ll want to download at the earliest possible opportunity: it allows you to configure various profiles depending on where you are.

For example, when you’re at work you can have your phone automatically mute itself, but as soon as you return to the safety of your home your highly-irritating ring tone can be reinstated.

Locale performs all of this digital magic by using your Android phone’s location services to establish where you are. Other features - such as the ability to preserve battery life via power-saving functions - make this an essential app.

Gensoid
Developer: yongzh
Cost: $2.99


GensoidWhile iPhone users are constantly having to deal with Apple’s rather inconsistent stance on emulators on the App Store, Google has no such qualms and as a result there’s a plethora of cool applications available, of which Gensoid is probably the most impressive.

It allows you to play Sega Mega Drive games on your humble handset (the machine was called the Genesis in North America, hence the name).

Getting hold of the ROMs is the tricky part - it’s also legally dubious - but those of you without any morals will be in retro heaven. Nesoid and SNesoid - both by the same developer - are also worth looking into.

Flyscreen
Developer:
Cellogic
Cost:
Free

FlyscreenEasily one of the most impressive applications currently available, Flyscreen allows you to transform your relatively unimpressive 'lock' screen into a hive of activity.

Via a series of widgets you can gain access to your SMS messages, calendar, weather reports, Twitter posts and Facebook details. You can even perform a Google search and configure various RSS feeds, all from the comfort of your humble 'lock' screen.

It’s incredibly impressive, and for those of you who have the bog-standard, no-frills Android operating system, it’s a step towards the kind of convergence offered by HTC’s Sense and Motorola’s MotoBlur interfaces.

ScummVM
Developer: Angus Lees
Cost: Free


ScummVMiPhone users have been making a lot of noise about the recent re-release of the excellent Beneath a Steel Sky, but Android owners can gain access to an entire world of “point and click” adventures thanks to this pocket-sized version of the brilliant ScummVM emulator.

Not only does it allow you to play Rebellion’s aforementioned classic, it supports practically every other example of the genre you can mention, including LucasArts’s seminal Monkey Island series.

Ringdroid
Developer:
Ringdroid Team
Cost:
Free

RingdroidRingdroid is a perfect example of just how versatile Android apps can be. With it, you can edit pretty much any audio file and create ring tones, notification sounds or just shorter excerpts to share with friends.

It’s bound to make your iPhone-owning pals green with envy, especially when you consider that Apple’s device can’t even utilise the music stored in its internal memory as ring tones: users must instead purchase them from iTunes. Suckers.

Qik
Developer:
Qik Inc
Cost:
Free

QikWhile YouTube is seen as the most popular video-sharing site online, rival Qik has nevertheless gained a lot of support over the past few months and thanks to apps like this that trend is likely to continue.

Blissfully easy to use, Qik allows you to record and upload videos seamlessly and then share those special moments with friends.

Video quality is somewhat limited by the generally poor nature of recording on most Android handsets, but with the launch of the technically-advanced Motorola Droid that is all set to change.

Aldiko Book Reader
Developer:
Aldiko
Cost:
Free

Aldiko Book ReaderAldiko grants access to an entire library of literary classics right in the palm of your hand. Showcasing a stylish and intuitive interface, this e-book reader is sure to become a lifesaver when your bus becomes stuck in traffic or there’s a delay on the underground.

Most of the novels on offer are free-of-charge thanks to their age (Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an essential download, if you ask me) but more modern books are also available, albeit for a small fee.

DrunkBlocker
Developer:
Oscar Andersson
Cost:
Free

DrunkBlockerPeople do the stupidest things when they’re under the influence, and making ill-advised phone calls must rank as one of the most excruciatingly embarrassing.

Thankfully, DrunkBlocker is at hand to prevent such alcohol-related mishaps: once activated it will block any attempted phone calls to pre-determined individuals (boss, ex-girlfriend, etc).

To switch it off during the scheduled periods of use you need to pass a sobriety test. Pure genius.

Google Listen
Developer:
Google Labs
Cost:
Free

Google ListenPodcasts are everywhere these days, and if you’re an avid listener then keeping track of these audio episodes can prove to be tough work. Thankfully, Google Listen has been developed with this in mind, offering the opportunity to subscribe to various shows and not have to worry about missing anything.

Using the app you can craft your very own personalised audio magazine, and pressing 'play' will take you from one podcast to the next, so you can just leave it running as you go about your business. You can also choose to save favourite episodes to your phone’s SD card.
 

Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran 10 December 2009
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