September 2, 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. [#1 - 15] Lifestyle and Productivity Apps [#16 - 24] GPS and Location Apps [#25-39] Media and Entertainment Apps [#40-50] Tools and Utility Apps 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 Media and Entertainment Apps [#25-39]
Entertainment, Games, Media Players, and News
Meridian Media Player
Meridian is a great alternative to the default Music/Video Player Android app. It includes gestures for feature shortcuts, video subtitles, search for lyrics, tag editing, and more file listing options. Anyone looking for a better multimedia experience on Android should embrace this app.
Gmote is one of the best Android apps available. It streams compatible music and video to Android devices or acts as a remote to control media played on a computer. Set up a Gmote server (a short process) and you get complete access and control to compatible files in your media library. You can even use the touchpad features to control a PowerPoint presentation. Visit Gmote.org for more information
Movies by Flixter
Movie listings and schedules are great features to have in an app. Even better is having those features and the ability to read reviews and bookmark your favorite theatre, too. Movies by Flixter lists local showtimes, reviews from users or RottenTomatoes.com, and information on upcoming film and DVD releases.
Does Android really need another browser? Steel makes answering that question harder than you might think. Steel automatically clears cache on exit (frees up space) and has a full-screen browsing mode that gives users more screen real estate. It also has a much better system for navigating between windows, a URL bar that suggests page titles from your History, tagged bookmark organization, and optional left-hand friendly controls. Some users may find that Steel offers a better web browsing experience.
Greed (Free Lite, $2.99 Full)
Greed does a much better job managing your Google Reader feeds than the GR Mobile. It syncs with the account to mark articles as read, provides feed/folder update notifications, and favorites articles. Greed comes in the free Lite and a $2.99 paid Full version. Android users who opt for the full version get podcast support, sharing options via Twitter, and SD cache to support offline reading. Greed Lite does not support all of these features; however, it performs the most basic syncing. Possible Alternative – NewsRob, FeedR, and most podcast apps.
Pandora is the best music streaming service around. It’s so good, I had to go back and edit this article and include it as the secret 51st best app. Pandora creates personal music stations based on a user’s favorite artist or song. Create a Beatles station and you’ll hear not only classic songs like “And I Love Her,” you’ll also hear music from similar artists like Paul McCartney and Don McLean. Pandora can bookmark songs, create multiple stations, link to easy song purchasing, and supply playlists built around user feedback. Note: *Available only in the United States.
USA Today isn’t the most prestigious newspaper in the country, but it’s the first to recognize the value of creating a dedicated Android application. That, plus a good-looking and easy-to-navigate interface, weather reports, and constant updates for news reports is why users voted this the best news app available for Android.
Obsessive sports fan, meet SportsTap, an app that attempts to centralize the sports world into your phone. SportsTap has scores, stats, and news for all of the major team sports and Golf, Tennis, and NASCAR racing. The app tracks users’ favorite teams, includes a LocalTap feature to focus on an area’s franchises/colleges/events, and a broadcast schedule of upcoming games.
Android ships with a decent music player, but don’t hesitate to snatch TuneWiki from the Android Market. TuneWiki plays your stored MP3′s but it can also stream music, videos, and discover popular content using social features. To further enhance the media experience, TuneWiki displays lyrics on-screen as your music plays, helping figure out just what the heck artists are saying.
Nesoid is an emulator that lets users play Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games on their phone. It plays Nintendo 8-bit games with practically no lag (60 fps). The images in Nesoid are smooth, the sound is decent, and can even save or load game position. Nesoid requires a physical keyboard and downloaded ROM’s on an SD card. Possible Alternative: Gensoid and Snesoid
There’s a reason T-Mobile added imeem to the AppPack: it’s one of the best streaming applications available on Android. Imeem is an online music streaming service, and their Android client does a good job in the mobile realm. Download this app and register for an account to make imeem play “personal radio” of artists you like, discover new music, and stream 20,000 of the songs you upload to their website.
If you’ve played one tower defense game, you’ve played them all, right? Not quite. Robo Defense earned its spot as Best Arcade game by providing a fun way to blast packs of invaders with guns, rocket launchers, mortar, and surface-to-air missiles. Place these weapons at points along a map and defend your land or watch it become overrun with attacking forces.
Anyone who shops in brick-and-mortar stores needs to learn to use this app. Scan a barcode and ShopSavvy will then compare prices at online stores, local retailers, and even tell you if the product is in stock at nearby stores. Users can also search by name or title. You can save money and time with this great shopping aid.
The days of hearing a song and wracking your brain to investigate its name are over. Shazam can listen to a song and compare the sounds to its massive library and return the artist, song title, and album information just like that. You can even get additional information, YouTube links, and immediately purchase the song if it’s available in the Amazon.com MP3 library.
News junkies have a solid tool to follow the global events stream with Express News World Edition. Tapping into over 300 news sources from around the world, including major sources like the Associated Press, Express News is truly a global information resource. Stay up-to-date with this app and take advantage of its favorites and settings support for several languages.