Reviews

Android Apps Alert #86: TurboTax, ESPN, Steam, 1Weather, and more

January 27, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka

Android App Reviews

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January’s almost over and this is the first Android Apps Alert of 2012. Madness, I know, but things kept moving even while we were away dealing with CES and other things. App makers must have had their fingers hovering over the publish button because there have been plenty of apps and games released recently, so here’s a tidy little round-up of a few that you may want to grab.

1Weather

Limited to high-end Android devices (support varies)
Radar weather works on in United States

As far as weather apps go, it would be easier for me to list how many options aren’t available than to write down which ones can be on your screen at the moment. If you previously yearned for a minimalist widget that showed the date, weather highs and lows for the day, you’ve got another style to scratch off the list. 1Weather has an understated 2×2 widget that works well because of the simplicity, and the main section of the app is just as easy on the eyes. Users get details reports on humidity, precipitation/chance of rain, wind speed, 7-day forecasts, radar look of the weather, the time of day the sun or moon rises and sets, and information on the lunar phase.

Just for good measure, the app can also send alerts to the notification window when severe weather warnings are issued for your area. To put it simply: this is an awesome app for anyone who lives in an area that doesn’t have the same weather practically every day (I’m looking at you California and Seattle!). Download the ad-supported app from the Android Market and home it works for you.

Install app

Steam

Android 2.1+ required
Closed beta

Androinica previously covered an unofficial app that provided limited access to Valve’s Steam, the go-to gaming storefront for digital downloads and connecting with other gamers. But like the song says, ain’t nothing like the real thing. The official Steam Android app is available now, though that matters only to a select few group of people since the app is in closed beta. You cannot use the app unless you are already in the beta, but here’s a quick look at what users can expect once it opens:

- See which friends are online and what game they are currently playing
- Chat with other Steam users on iOS or Android
- Browse the Steam store to see what games are available and what new sales are on.
- It will look spiffy and work with your account.

Install app

Circuitry live wallpaper

Android 2.1+ required
$0.99 USD

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of live wallpapers, but my attraction to the format has gotten stale in recent months.  Circuitry Live Wallpaper might taste and look a little fresher on your home screen. The wallpaper shows a slowly moving set of lines that eventually form different circuit design each time the user browsers the home screen. And to break-up the monotony, there are six different color themes – ranging from dark black and grey to Google-tastic red, blue, green, and yellow – that alter the way the circuit looks. At only $0.99, it’s the cheapest circuit art you’ll ever see.

Install app

Producteev

Android 2.2+ required

Productivity bigwigs Producteev have an Android app. Correction: productivity bigwigs Producteev have an awesome Android app. Producteev is a task management app that supports Android and a web/desktop app to sync across devices. The app creates workspaces – like Freelance Work, Job Assignments, or Personal Projects – and then creates tasks to track how those things get done. Users can set deadlines or reminders, add labels, and add stars to note which tasks should take priority.

And because Producteev has a collaborative element, you can actually assign tasks to others. So if you’re working on a group project with 4 people, you can create a task and assign it to another person. Collaboration is confusing at the moment, and a few other aspects are a little shaky because Producteev is still a beta app. However, the app is off to a really nice start with smooth, search-friendly and easy-to-manage task system.

Install app

BBC News

Android 3.0+ required
UK only, international version coming soon

People often say that there aren’t many apps for Android tablets, but that’s not the case when it comes to news apps. The BBC is one of the latest (and many) news sources to release an app built specifically for Honeycomb and higher, allowing news hounds to see more content on the larger screen. The BBC News app now features a tablet-specific app for readers in the UK, with plans to release an international version shortly. The app shows thumbnail and headline tiles similar to Pulse, scrolls through topics, and then loads the article on the right side of the screen. It’s the same BBC News app users have seen with breaking news, multimedia content, news, and analysis. The only difference is now that screens higher than 7 inches see it in a new format.

Install app

ESPN Scorecenter

Android 2.1+ required

ESPN calls itself the worldwide leader in sports, but for a long time, the WWLIS’s Scorecenter app was missing something that practically all of tits “followers” had – notifications. A recent update to ESPN Scorecenter now includes the option to get live game updates pushed to the notification window, allowing sports fans to always know the score of the game without having to launch the app and search for it. The app can be set to update on each play or at the end of a quarter/period/half/game. As an added bonus, Scorecenter recently got treated to:

- Breaking news updates for a user’s favorite teams
- Fixes for widgets and displays on Android 4.0 devices
- Fixes to look better on Android tablets

Install app

TurboTax Snap Tax

Android 2.1+ required
Use only for simple tax returns

Just a friendly reminder that tax season is officially under way starting next week. Employers in the U.S. are required to have delivered your W-2 by January 31, so you can start preparing your 2011 filing then. TurboTax has an option for people doing a simple filing to prepare their taxes on a phone. Users simply snap a photo of their W-2 and the app begins the preparation process. Answer a few questions about expenditures and profile data, review the information, and then e-file on your phone. There’s a cost of $19.99, which might be useful if you self-prepare. Keep in mind that this is only for federal and state returns if you:

- Don’t have children or dependents
- Don’t own a home or real estate
- Have income only from a W-2, interest, or unemployment
- Have income of $100,000 or less ($120,000 if married)

Install app


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