What an incredible year for Android! The release of Android 4.4 Kit Kat saw some much needed user interface refinement (like white accents and immersive screen viewing) and set the foundation for innovation to the core (ie, Android Run Time replacing Dalvik VM). 2013 also saw flagship devices like the Nexus 5, Note 3, HTC One, S4, Nexus 7, and the Moto X really pushing the limits of consumer mobile technology. With the year now wrapped up, I wanted to reflect on some of the applications I use virtually every day on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 running Kit Kat.
Battery status? Number of missed calls and emails? Unread RSS items? New Twitter followers? This highly extensible lockscreen widget allows users to gather an incredible amount of information without ever needing to launch an app. The possibilities are endless with the growing number of DashClock extensions making it a must have for Android users above version 4.2
The explosion of Chrome users makes using its mobile equivalent a logical choice when picking a web browser. By utilizing one cross-platform app, synchronization is a breeze and the interface feels familiar. I find Chrome to be a little sluggish compared to others apps like Opera and Dolphin, but the ease of synchronization makes it my first choice (the beta in particular). Plus it’s made by Google. Who also makes Android. Yeah. 😎
This duo of photography applications serves as a replacement to the stock “Camera” and “Gallery” apps, respectively. Camera Zoom works great on my Note 2 and Nexus 7 not only as a camera app (burst shot and stable shot are awesome), but as a mini photo editor. Overlaying filters on otherwise normal pictures gives them a never before seen vibrancy which is worthy of… Instagramming. 😉
QuickPic is how Android should have done Gallery. It’s simple, fast, and has some useful features (excluding folders, different views, and slideshow). Worth checking out for the price of FREE.
Hands down the best music player on Android. It’s powerful, supports almost every flavor of audio, has a wonderful crossfade/equalizer system, and has a great widget skinning community – awesome interface, tons of options, and well supported. What more can you ask for?
Easily the best Twitter client available on Android; however, Falcon Pro’s days were short-lived because of debacle between Twitter and FP’s developer regarding access token restrictions. If you don’t already have a token, Carbon is a great (free) alternative.
A great media aggregator – I have my RSS subscriptions from Google Reader (RIP) synced through Feedly. It’s a rapid fire delivery of news within a beautiful application with a great web interface too!
Keyboard software has become an essential determinant of how effectively one utilizes the smartphone/tablet experience. There are countless apps out there, each with some unique way of simplifying typing (or having to relearn how to type all together), but SwiftKey is simply the best in this aspect. It encompasses all device form factors and provides personalization based on trending phrases, your social media posts, RSS, and SMS (synced across the cloud). Swiping through with Flow makes for a rapid, efficient, and freakishly accurate text prediction.
Growing up, my favorite arcade game (remember those?) was Hydro Thunder – a game of racing speedboats through treacherous courses. Riptide GP2 is a high quality game which lets me relive the experience of zipping through the waves against other racers while performing some pretty cool stunts. Upgrades, cloud saves, and multiplayer racing make this a popular game that leverages Android’s latest features.
The FIFA series has always been top notch, and I’m amazed by what a great job they did with FIFA 14 on Android. EA Sports has been receiving some flack for making their games “free” but virtually unplayable without in-app purchases, but FIFA is actually very enjoyable without ever spending a cent. The teams are accurate. The players are more realistic. And Barcelona still owns everyone else. 😉
And a list of honorable mentions: Osmos HD, Zedge, Titanium Backup, Ingress, Pushbullet, and Evernote. I also use DxSaurus, Epocrates, and Medscape all the time for residency-related stuff.
What applications have you found most useful?