September 1, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
UPDATE: This is an old list. Please read our more current and updated top apps list, available here
Writing a Best Android Apps list is never an easy job. Android inspires passionate fans who believe their favorite app should be named, so no list will please everyone. Though voters selected their favorites in the Android Network Awards, these are my picks for some of the best Android apps. The apps are listed according to category, not merit.
Barcode Scanner [#1]
The first app to get is Barcode Scanner, which allows users to scan QR codes – the squares with dots and black lines – and get information. QR codes load contacts, messages, or sends users to a link. For instance, each QR code scanned in this post leads to the app listing in the Android Market.
The Best GPS and Location Apps [#16 -24]
Augmented Reality, GPS Instructions, Restaurant and Location Finders
Layar is a “reality browser” that uses an Android phone’s camera, compass, and GPS position to add real-time information about surroundings. Walk down a city street and point your camera to get additional info from real estate listings, bars, restaurants, and much more. You can even get live updates from Twitter or Brightkite. Layar is an augmented reality app that adds a digital context to your world.
Though Layar introduced itself as the first Augmented Reality app, it was actually Wikitude that introduced Android to information layered over a camera image. Wikitude uses GPS and your camera to look at your surroundings and provide information on the area or items of interest. Take this to a place you’ve never explored and let Wikitude find a Wikipedia article to provide information and context of what you see.
Brightkite is a location sharing/tracking service that lets members know where their friends are and share photos or notes about locations with others in an area. Members can post photos or comments about their location or activities and discover new people who use this niche website, ranging from within a few feet to an entire region. Any Brightkite member should grab this official app that looks great and feels better.
Hungry or bored in an unfamiliar area? Fire up NRU and use its compass to locate restaurants, bars, attractions, and shopping centers in your immediate area. As users face a new direction or move, NRU updates as a compass for food and entertainment. The work of Zagat and LastMinute.com, it takes advantage of the 40,0000 locations, ratings, and professional reviews available to Zagat. It also provides some great links to nightlife and commercial centers. Possible Alternative: Rah Restaurant Guide
CoPilot Live is a great tool to have as your right hand man thanks to the voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. CoPilot turns your phone into a GPS unit with voice instructions and directions in several map modes, a large POI’s database (gas, restaurant, attractions, etc.), favorite locations storage, and even the ability to redirect to the location where you took photos. If you need help getting around, get this app. [Read the Androinica.com Review]
Possible Alternative: TeleNav is another great GPS app available for $9.99 per month.You can also get AndNav2 for free
You’ll never forget a location again once you purchase a2b, an app that stores user notes on GPS coordinates. Park your car and record a typed or voice-recorded note explaining how to locate it. Or find a great spot for surfing on a beach and remember it by taking a photo of a nearby icon. However you choose to remember, a2b will store your locations and then provide directions of how to navigate back to it.
Waze is a new service that promises to keep drivers informed about road conditions with real-time traffic updates. Drawing GPS information from a community of users, Waze is able to pick up on roadway congestion and warn that a route may be troublesome. It also gives members the option to report speed traps and road hazards. Waze creates user-generated maps, so the product can only be as useful as it is adopted in certain markets. The developer reports over 100,000 users. The more people turn-on Waze as they travel from Point A to Point B, the more effective it will be in guiding others.
The universe is a big place, but Where makes it smaller. Where finds your location and returns news, businesses, gas prices, traffic, movie times, and restaurants in your immediate area. Use it to find the nearest Starbucks or recommendations for a good place to eat dinner. There are also social features Buddy Beacon and Where Wall for communicating with others.
Sherpa is a location-awareness app with “adaptive learning” features. It provides contextual reviews and information for nearby points of interest and displays them in a handy carousel. Sherpa’s marquee feature is that it learns a user’s tendencies to give recommendations and reminders about places to visit. It’s an intuitive points of interest app for bars, restaurants, art galleries, entertainment venues, parks, and much more.