December 29, 2008 | by Andrew Kameka
The new year is likely to usher in change, hope, and a bevy of new apps available in the Android Marketplace. But before getting wrapped up in the excitement of these new paid apps, let’s reflect on the highlights of what until now has been a Google-sponsored shopping spree. In no particular order, these are the best apps that Android has to offer – so far.
ShopSavvy / Compare Everywhere
ShopSavvy and Compare Everywhere give consumers more options when shopping. Place the built-in scanner against a barcode or type-in a desired product and the app reveals how much it costs at local stores. Users can than compare and decide which local or online retailer to visit. Both apps could benefit from expanding their database of products and locations, but when successful, ShopSavvy and Compare Everywhere provide great options for saving your hard-earned cash.
Locale earned its creators an Android Development Challenge prize for good reason. The app automatically determines settings based on user-defined conditions, including location, time of day, battery level, contact, or calendar. For instance, a “Work” profile can switch the ringer to vibrate or load a wallpaper more professional than a personal photo. It could even lower screen brightness when the battery reaches a certain level. Locale brings convenience and flexibility without much effort.
Though Android comes with an admirable built-in music player, it doesn’t have the features that make TuneWiki such a great app. Billed as the ultimate social media player, TuneWiki scrolls song lyrics as music plays, helping make understanding lines much easier. Add social features like syncing lyrics, creating video libraries, and loading playlists of the most popular songs or videos, and this becomes one of the best media apps available on mobile phones.
Quickpedia / Wikimobile
Many view Wikipedia as a go to — thought not always reliable — resource for information. Unfortunately, Wikipedia articles aren’t the easiest to look at on the G1. Quickpedia addresses this by optimizing articles, formatting them to fit the Android screen, and loading information fast to boot. The Wikimobile app provides identical features, so it’s really a matter of personal preference for which is best. Either way, quenching curiosity on the go is much easier thanks to these two apps.
Phone carriers have long held their customers hostage, rarely providing a simple method to create ringtones. Instead, cell phone users have had to load entire MP3’s or rely on small portions selected by retailers. Ringdroid changes that by enabling editing directly on an Android-powered device. By moving two cursors to highlight a chorus, verse, or sound effect from a song in the phone’s music library, a new ringtone, notification, or alarm clip is instantly available. An easy session of select, cut, and save leads to custom tones and heavier wallets.
My Maps Editor
Do you have a custom map of all the great accessories shops in Chinatown or Beverly Hills? Do you have a list of sites to see on a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY? My Maps makes it easier to carry those maps on the go. My Maps mirrors the information created in Google Maps personalized features, so creating and loading city outlines with location, contact information, or special notes is a breeze. Google’s app even makes it possible to edit the maps and add new locations discovered along the way. Rather than read a map, you live it.
Until Google released Scoreboard, checking the score of a NFL game and then an NHL game was a pain in the wrist. Scoreboard does away with having to search through multiple sports-based apps to see schedules and score updates. It gathers scores from several leagues into one central location and offers periodic notifications of score changes. Though the speed and refresh rate could use some improvement, Scoreboard is a winner for its ability to track multiple teams and sports.
Music has become much more enjoyable thanks to Shazam. By placing the phone near a speaker, Shazam compares musical notes to the more than 8 million songs in its archive. The app not only identifies those hard to place songs, it also provides links to get more information about the artist or purchase the song through the Amazon Marketplace. Shazam’s library of songs continues to grow, making it likely that music fans will increase their collections as well.