February 20, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Android Market has more than 150,000 apps according to recent statements from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. Discovering the best apps among the crowded market is a tough job, so we do some of the heavy lifting for you. In our weekly Android Apps Alert feature, Androinica.com highlights some of the best or most interesting apps to debut on Android.
This week’s theme is Words With Friends and a bunch of other great apps. WWF is one of the most-requested apps to make the jump from iOS to Android, but it’s not the only great title we’ve seen released or previewed in the last two weeks. Take a look below.
Words With Friends
Words With Friends, like Scrabble, is a heads-up match to see who has the strongest vocabulary. Each player receives a set of letters that are placed on the board to form words, with longer words resulting in more points. WWF features multiplayer gaming, so you can battle friends on your contact list or a random opponent. Games can take a long time if both players aren’t focused, so there’s a built-in option to notify users when an opponent responds (5 minutes – 12 hours, or never). Words With Friends requires Android 1.6 or higher, and supports competition against iPhone users. [See our previous demo video]
Blockbuster, Netflix, and Redbox are all in a three-way race to be the top movie rental option. Redbox was the last among the three to have an official Android app, but now it can be more competitive with the release of its Android 1.6+ app. Redbox finds nearby rental machines – typically in front of grocers and supermarkets – and lists the Blu-ray discs or DVD’s available at each location. The app lists titles based on date added and features important information about plot, style, rating, and stars. Registered users can then reserve that copy and drive to the local box to rent the film. For people who don’t want to wait on Netflix to ship or don’t want to join Blockbuster, this is a good app to find some entertainment on movie night.
Cisco WebEx Meetings
Traveling for business purposes has made me grow tired of lugging around a bulky laptop, so I rely on my phone – and a tablet soon – whenever possible. Cisco WebEx Meetings is a prime example of why having a powerful Android can be very useful. The WebEx app enables on-the-go meetings between workers who can communicate through voice, shared documents or screens, and live notes. I got a brief test that showed the app was usable on 3G and very convenient for sharing content, but Wi-Fi will provide the best experience. WebEx gives a robust set of controls and options like direct chat with one team member or inviting members to meetings from your phone. Android 2.1 or higher and a paid WebEx account are required to use this app. A free 14-day trial is available.
Delta (Android 2.1+)
There’s no option to book flights from directly within the app, but the Delta Android app aids travel once you’ve already purchased a ticket. Customers can check flight status or browse alternative schedules. The app also tracks Sky Miles reward points, reveals in-flight options, takes photos of parking spots, and even checks-in travelers for flights. You can then make your way straight through security and have a mobile boarding pass scanned by the gate attendant. This feature isn’t available everywhere, however, so double-check before beginning any travel. Android 2.1 and higher is required for this app.
Not to be outdone, American Airlines has also released an Android app since our last edition of Apps Alert. It has many of the features touted by Delta: mobile check-ins, get parking reminders, browse schedules, and monitor your flight status. But AA has the advantage of supporting bookings through the app or enrolling in the AAdvantage program. And if you’re on standby, monitor your position in the queue or pass the time playing Sudoku. Android 1.6+ is required for this app.
Circle Battery Widget
It’s important to stay on-top of your Android’s battery life, so why not throw on this little widget that monitors your device’s current charge? Circle Battery Widget displays your charge percentage represented by a circle that fades as power drops. Users can customize the app to change colors when reaching a certain point, change font size or weight, or background. Sizes range from 1×1 to 2×2 on this free widget, so purchase the donate version for 0.99 euro if you enjoy it. Android 1.6+ or higher is required.
If you’re desperate for a way to keep the kids quiet, try loading up some Radio Disney. The official app plays a live stream of Disney-endorsed music. Kids – or you if that’s what floats your boat – can request songs or add the current playing track to a list of favorites. Be sure to invest in some headphones before you end up hearing Demi Lovatto and Justin Bieber playing around the clock. Android 1.6+ is required for this app.
News of the Week
- Gameloft making 3D versions of games for the LG Optimus 3D
- PlayOn finally available on Android
- Twitter suspends Twidroyd for violating its policies
- Official Google Reader app gets updated, now comes with widgets
- MapQuest brings free voice navigation to Android
- Gun Bros to add Facebook, muti-device sync, and in-app payments
Android App Reviews & Previews
- ShokoRocket is ChuChu Rocket for your Android
- How to manage the files on your phone from your PC with your favorite FTP client
- Poker Swap from Motu Tapu Games now in the Market (Hands-on review)
- QuickOffice will edit Office docs, sync with Dropbox & more on Honeycomb tablets [video preview]
- Clutch Pad v1.4 is my favorite task switcher [App Reviews]
- adidas miCoach for Android is a runner?s dream [Video hands-on]
- Sonos Music Controller makes sweet noise in your home [Video demo]
- Cooliris Liveshare brings group photo-sharing to Android and the cloud [Video demo]
- Google releases Androidify that lets us create our own custom Androids