O'Reilly makes some of the best tech books around, so we were super excited to hear about their new title Best Android Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders. Here are ten of those best Android apps for ten different activities.
We scoured the Android Market to find the best apps that will make your phone uniquely yours and help make you more productive, creative, and happy. If you can't find a particular app in the Market, search the web to see whether you can download a copy from the developers' website. This is another nice thing about Android phones: there is no stranglehold on how you get your apps. They are available directly from the developer as well as from the Market.
Here are ten of the apps, selected from the over two hundred covered in the book.
Best App for Running
Hardcore runners no longer need to shell out hundreds of dollars for an expensive GPS watch. If you have a GPS-enabled Android phone, you can get most of the same features for free with Google's My Tracks. My Tracks records and displays your distance, duration, elevation, pace, and other information in real time while you run (or ride, or hike). Even better, it integrates with Google Docs and Google Maps to record all of your running data so you can show off to your friends.
Best Twitter App
If you use the desktop or web version of Seesmic, you'll love this app. It's clean and very intuitive to use, and packs a whole lot of features into a tiny little app. You can use your Bit.ly username and API key, making it easy to track your tweeted short URLs and resulting clicks. You can also set all sorts of notifications to alert you of various updates and messages.
Best App to Consolidate Your Phones
Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all your phones, saves your voicemail online, and transcribes your voicemail to text. Other features include listening in on messages while they are being left, recording calls, making low-cost international calls, recording custom greetings for your favorite callers, and blocking annoying callers by marking them as spam.
Best App for Sending Email
K-9 Mail is an excellent free and open source email client that can handle IMAP, POP, WebDav, and some not-so-finicky exchange servers. This app is an improved and more full-featured version of the Mail app that comes with your Android phone. You have control over how often you poll for messages and the number of messages to display. Even if your phone is not your primary email client, you may want to use a client like this to check mail when you are between places.
Best App for Identifying Music
Do you believe in magic? Maybe you will after trying out Shazam, a jaw-droppingly awesome music identifier. If you can't place the song playing in the room at any moment, just open Shazam and tell it to listen for a few seconds. It has the uncanny ability to recognize the track and tell you pretty much anything you need to know about it. This is great for settling bar bets, and perfect for filling out all the info for your friend's mix CD that imported with helpful song names like "Track 01."
Best App for Note Taking
The notes that you take with the Evernote app can be accessed from both your Android device and your computer. You can quickly add a text note, audio note, photo snapshot, or file upload to your library from any of your devices. One particularly cool feature is Notes Nearby, which lets you find notes that were written near your current GPS location. I used this at a recent wine tasting event, and when I went back to the liquor store a few weeks later, I found my notes and exactly what I was looking for.
Best App for Live Video Broadcasting
Qik lets you stream live video directly from your Android phone to the Internet, where the world can watch in real time. Give your viewers your personal URL and tell them when you plan to start recording. When your show ends, keep your video archived for later viewing, or share it with your friends through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Best Nintendo Emulator
Feeling nostalgic for those old 8-bit games, or just in the mood to go retro? Nesoid isn't a game, but rather a platform on your Android phone for playing the old NES games you used to love. And there are plenty of public domain and freeware NES console games out there for you to find. Search for a ROM (a read-only memory file from the original cartridge) online by opening a browser window from the app. Then, download it to your phone and load it up in Nesoid to get playing!
Best Electronic Book Reader
Who needs another expensive device dedicated to just reading books when you already have your Android phone with you? Aldiko gets mobile book reading right, with an eye-pleasing, customizable format (by font, color, margins, etc.). You can curl up with your favorite books or take them on the go. Aldiko will read any ePub file, which you can import yourself or download through Aldiko's online catalog. (Many O'Reilly Media titles are available in ePub format from http://www.oreilly.com)
Best Travel-Booking App
Kayak.com is one of the largest travel search sites, and this app brings its flight, hotel, car rental, and other trip searches to your Android phone in a clean, easy-to-navigate interface. Like the website it integrates with, the Kayak app sifts through the data from hundreds of different travel sites, allowing you to compare options, prices, and more before sending you off to book your trip in whatever manner you want, whether it's at the airline site, the hotel, a car rental company, or a travel agent.
Mike Hendrickson has held a variety of positions in the publishing industry including, Product Development Manager, Editor, Executive Editor, Editor-in-Chief, and Associate Publisher. Two constants are that he has always enjoyed managing people and being involved with cutting-edge technologies. At O'Reilly, he is the Associate Publisher for the Open Tech eXchange division, where he is working to grow existing print market share while expanding into new online and in person markets.
Brian Sawyer is an editor for O'Reilly Media's Head First division. He's also served as lead editor for the company's popular Hacks series, editor for Missing Manuals and Make: Books, and contributing editor to Craft magazine. When not writing, editing, or teaching about technology, his favorite Android apps help him train for marathons (see Chapter 4 of Best Android Apps).
Best Android Apps: The Guide For Discriminating Downloaders is available now—in both print and ebook—at O'Reilly or your favorite bookstore. It's $20, which is a great value for the huge amount of information they packed into this book. Buy it!