While the tech-loving world continues to debate the merits of the Droid following its launch on Friday, it’s pretty safe to say that the Android platform has seen a pretty hefty influx of users as of late. In the past two weeks alone, we’ve seen the aforementioned Droid, it’s cheaper, younger sibling, the Droid Eris, and the Sprint Moment all hit the shelves; if any of them sold even reasonably well, there’s a lot of new folk cracking open the Android Market for the first time right now.
Whether you’re an iPhone convert, an ex-Nokian, or just a stranger to smartphones as a whole, the Android Market can be a pretty daunting place. While Android might not have quite as many apps as the leading competition, it still has a bit over 10,000 – and that’s a hell of a lot for any newcomer to weed through.
For the sake of these nascent newbies, we’ve thrown together a list of a handful of apps we think are worth checking out right off the bat. Got a favorite of your own? Throw it into the comments below.
In no particular order:
What is it?: Twitter Client
Price: Free; “Pro” version available for around €3.39 (around $5)
Description: We’re seeing more and more Twitter clients hit the Android Market as of late, but Twidroid still seems to be the crowd favorite. The free version offers up all the basics (Tweeting, mentions, DM, search, image uploading, etc.), while the Pro version adds video, multi-accounts, and theming support.
What is it? Video Streaming
Description: The plethora of video streaming applications on Android serves as a fantastic example of the strengths of Android’s open market. While such video streaming clients have been floating around in Apple’s moderation queue for over a year now (and are still only available on jailbroken iPhones), they were made available on Android almost immediately after launch. There are a ton of options available here – I’d recommend starting with Qik or Ustream.
What is it? Lockscreen replacement
Description: You see that lockscreen each and every time you pull your phone out of your pocket – might as well put it to use, right? Flyscreen replaces the default lockscreen with a user-customizable canvas for widgets, with everything from Twitter to TMZ. It’s a wee bit buggy on the Droid, primarily because of its high resolution – but the Flyscreen guys have already confirmed that an update is on the way.
What is it? NES emulator
Price: $1.99, Lite version available
Description: It’s an NES emulator, and it works damn well – do we really need to say anything else? For obvious legal reasons, you’ll need to provide your own ROMs – but once that’s out of the way, it’ll handle just about any popular NES game you can throw at it. We’ve heard mixed reports as to how well this (primarily the Lite version) is working on Android 2.0, but I’m not seeing any issues with the paid version. You can read our full review on CrunchGear here.
What is it? Media player
Description: As we mentioned in our Smartphone Showdown, media playback (especially video) on the Android platform is rather lacking. We’ve yet to find any third-party applications that really pull it off well, but the Meridian player is about the best we’ve seen so far. It’ll play back MP3, OGG, MP4, and 3GPP files, and offers up basic playlist and gesture support. It’s pretty dang ugly, but it gets the job done.
What is it? Movie times/trailers/DVD info aggregator
Description: Flixster does one thing, and it does it well: Movies. It keeps you up to date on everything new in the movie world, be it for the box office or the rental store, complete with movie times (by way of GPS), community-driven user reviews, and trailers. Flixster is one of the most well-designed applications I’ve seen on the Android platform, and is one of very few I find myself using regularly.
What is it? Its.. a barcode reader.
Description: Barcode reader is pretty much an Android must-have at this point. Lets say you’re perusing a book store and stumble across a book you’re interested in reading – but is it really worth what the nearest big chain book store wants for it? Scan the tag on the back into Barcode Reader, which will pass the details into Google Product Search for a price comparison. At worst, you’ll find out that you’re getting a deal; at best, you’ll save a ton. I’ve saved a few hundred bucks overall by way of Barcode-based comparison shopping.
What is it? Tons of amazing content, crammed into one app.
Description: This one serves as our reader’s choice app, so to speak. I reached out to my Twitter posse for some insight on their favorite apps, and the TED application was a resoundingly popular result. The Android TED application brings together a huge number of lectures from the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design conference, with talks from the likes of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Larry Page, and more. Next time you’ve got 10-15 minutes free, why not spend it gettin’ some smarts?
What is it? Notes syncing
Description: Sign up for a free account, then punch your credentials into both the Android client and your browser. Bam, note syncing! It’s not a substitute for a full-fledged file syncing service like Dropbox, but 3banana is a drop-dead easy way to keep your notes/images synced between your Android handset and your computer.
What is it? Battery life assistant
Price: $0.99, Lite version available
Description: While it’s getting better over time, the Android platform isn’t exactly known for its killer battery efficiency. Android allows users to run apps in the background – and a running application gobbles up battery, whether it’s visible or not. Power manager helps to improve your device’s battery life through profiles. Running on the battery? Dim the screen. Battery down below 30%? Kill the WiFi and the Bluetooth. The free version comes with 4 profiles (Battery powered, low battery, A/C powered, USB powered), while the 99 cent pro version allows you to build you own.
Know any apps that Android users ought to check out on day one? Let us know in the comments below.