The 36 best Android apps
7. BBC NEWS (free)
An app coded by Google’s Jim Blackler, BBC News presents the latest headlines from across the network. Feeds for the site’s most popular stories are available, as well as regional feeds and those for tech, entertainment, sports and politics.
Clicking a story opens the link in your browser, and a widget puts the day’s top story on your homescreen. Much-improved official BBC apps are due to launch in spring/summer.
8. DOLPHIN BROWSER (Free)
With tabbed browsing, content sharing with Twitter and Facebook, trending topics and page sharing included as standard, Dolphin offers a host of features that aren’t included with the basic Android browser. That isn’t the end of its charms, either: integration with Google services, RSS management, multitouch zooming and customisable themes make Dolphin the most powerful browser on Android.
9. FACEBOOK (Free)
Facebook’s range of mobile applications offer most of the features available on the main site, with your newsfeed, friends list and notifications present, alongside smartphone-specific tools, such as the ability to take a photo and upload it directly to the site.
While some features are missing from the Android version – chat and messaging are both included in the iPhone app, for instance, and available in separate applications for BlackBerry and Symbian – all benefit from a slick interface that’s faster and easier to use than the clunky mobile websites.
10. MYBACKUP PRO ($4.99)
One of Android’s most annoying quirks is the inevitable factory reboot of your phone during a firmware update, but MyBackup Pro simplifies the process by preserving your contacts, apps, bookmarks, text messages and more.
The software can back up your data to either an SD card or the app’s own servers, and then restore it within minutes, removing the hassle from potentially painful Android firmware upgrades.
11. ROBO DEFENSE ($2.99)
Desktop Tower Defence gave a name to a genre when it was released in 2007, but few games have managed to replicate its compulsive gameplay. Robo Defense, though, has nailed it: 100 levels of difficulty, a collection of fiendish enemies, and four maps provide a formidable challenge that requires plenty of tactical thought.
12. GOOGLE (Free)
The vast compendium of Google mobile apps are overshadowed by one astonishing feature: voice search. Say anything from “petrol stations in Luton” to “Brothers in Arms lyrics” into your phone and Google’s magnificent speech algorithms translate flawlessly almost every time, without any prior training.
Better still, results are delivered in a mobile-optimised form, with quick access to maps and directions in the petrol station search, for example.
13. QUICKPEDIA (Free)
Wikipedia’s interface isn’t exactly geared to mobile browsing, but apps such as Quickpedia make exploring easy thanks to its tabbed interface.
Predictive searching, featured articles and the latest news are handled by tabs at the top of the screen, and it’s even possible to use your phone’s GPS unit to find landmarks with Wikipedia entries nearby. The software’s slick reformatting of Wiki pages also makes entries easy to read on smaller smartphone screens.
14. TWIDROID (Free, Pro version €3.39)
Android’s best Twitter app, Twidroid offers basic services as well as website and image previews, photo and video posting, retweeting, background notifications and geotagging support. The Pro version adds multi-account support, desktop widgets and bit.ly integration, making it a vital upgrade for power Tweeters.