New to Android? Here are DroidDog’s favorite apps (5/20/10)

Whether you’re picking up a new LG Ally today, or you just updated your Hero to Android 2.1, browsing the Android Market can be a bit daunting. Sure Hero owners had the Market previously, but there’s a whole new cache of apps that are now compatible with your phone. I asked the DroidDog editors to give me their top five apps. This can be based on usefulness, features, look & feel, or whatever strikes their fancy this week.

As our experiences change, this list will change. We’ll be updating it periodically, as new versions of Android and new devices are released. Don’t worry about bookmarking this page. We’ll create a fresh post.

Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite app and why you love it!

barcodeYou will need the Barcode Scanner app to scan the QR codes below.  Once the QR code is scanned click “Open browser” and you’ll be redirected to the app in the Android Market.  All QR codes were test with an HTC Hero.  Non auto focus cameras, such as the DEVOUR, may have a hard time scanning the codes.

John Walton

Managing Editor

handcent
Handcent SMS (Free): Handcent SMS is one of the most feature rich SMS/MMS apps available for Android. ChompSMS comes in a very close second in my book, but both are equally customizable and robust. It comes down to taste, really. Android’s default messaging system leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion, and Handcent opens the gates for tweakers to change bubble style/color/font size/color, background images, notification types, pop up window settings and so, so much more. Do yourself a favor and install this bad boy on day one. Don’t forget to turn off notifications for the default Android messaging app, or you’ll be seeing double. Also keep in mind that quick replies (responses to pop up text messages) don’t show in your conversation log. It’s easy to lose track of when you were supposed to meet a friend, or which lotto numbers your psychic told you to play. (resolved with a reinstall)
gba
GBAMoney ($5.75/Free Trial): I am bad at balancing checkbooks. I’ve never been able to keep an accurate list of purchases for more than three days after getting a new account or recommitting myself to meticulous financial record keeping. I use debit everywhere I shop and I pay my bills online, and the only way I’m likely to keep those transactions organized is with an app on my phone: GBAMoney. This killer program allows me to transfer money between accounts so recording an EFT from my checking to a credit card is a piece of cake. Doing things this way allows me to keep an eye on all of my debt as well. Every transaction can be categorized and classified so checking out a chart of spending habits at the end of the month takes just a few taps on the screen. Woah, we spend that much on eating out!? GBA can export your files in a couple of formats and even has Quicken support. There is a trial version available in the Market.
shazam
Shazam (Free): I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a new song or one I recognized but didn’t know the name of and mentally recorded as many distinguishing lyrics as possible so I could figure out what I had heard when I got home to the computer. No more. I keep Shazam on my phone and use it weekly, at least. Sometimes at a traffic light, listening to a radio showcase of local musicians (Shazam has failed to identify a number of those – especially during my time in Portland), wandering through a grocery store, or while watching my wife buy clothes, simply so I know which band to avoid. Shazam stores a list of your “Tags” and provides links to YouTube, The Amazon MP3 Store, and a MySpace page, if available. Unfortunately, Shazam’s data is not stored on the SD card or in an online account, so when you switch phones or upgrade your phone’s software, that list disappears. Remember to do something about it once you have a name!
app_prot
App Protector Pro ($1.99): This one allows you to password protect (PIN protect, rather) any app on your phone. If you run to the bathroom and come back to find your friend attempting to dig through your text messages or bank account, you’ll have nothing to worry about. You can assign the same PIN to absolutely everything from system settings to your photo gallery. There are also a number of apps set to be protected by default, making it extremely difficult for even the savviest of users to circumvent security. Initial setup can take a few minutes if you have a lot of programs on your phone, but the peace of mind it offers is well worth your time.
rtm
Remember the Milk (Free): I am an ardent advocate of the task list app/website/desktop program, Remember the Milk. I’ve written about it many times, and while I’ve occasionally strayed in my quest for my perfect to-do list, I’ve always been called back to ol’ faithful. The problem is that, in order to use the official RTM app on Android, you’ll need to upgrade your account to pro-level at the RTM website. Now this $25 per year fee isn’t an issue for me. I feel strongly enough about their services that I am perfectly willing to pay, and I know I’m getting my money’s worth. If you don’t need the bells and whistles, you can utilize RTM on Android for free via Astrid.
Carlos Graves

Hacks & Mods Editor
twicca
twicca BETA (Free): twicca is twitter Client for Android.
nyt
NYTimes (Free): The NYTimes app for Android allows you to enjoy the award-winning journalism of The New York Times on your Android smartphone, free of charge.
weather The Weather Channel (Free): New graphics & widgets; New settings for widgets and the notification bar; TruPoint Nowcasts for points in lower-48 states; “Did you know?” WX facts; Use GPS to find your local weather; Local video forecasts
pandora
Pandora Radio (Free): Pandora Radio is your own personalized radio now available to stream music on your phone. Start with the name of one of your favorite artists, songs or classical composers and Pandora will create a “station” that plays their music and more music like it.
processmanager
ProcessManager (Free/$1.49): This application allows you to manage running processes, end application to speed up phone and save battery.
Dustin Earley

Contributing Editor
scannerradio
Scanner Radio (Free): A police scanner app that is free and updated at least twice a month. Very simple and easy to use.
twicca
Twicca BETA (Free): My favorite and only Twitter app. Fast and small, what else could you want?
oifile
OI File Manager (Free): A lot simpler than Astro File Manager.
mabilowall
Mabilo Wallpapers (Free): Thousands of great free wallpapers. Gives you the ability to save and favorite wallpapers. You can browse by category or search.
mabiloring
Mabilo Ringtones (Free): Virtually the same thing as Wallpapers, just ringtones. Always high quality and always adding more. You can go to Mabilo’s site and upload your own. Also let’s you set a notification tone.
Breon Nagy

News Editor
twidroid
Twidroid (Free/≈$4.77): Twidroid is one of the more popular Twitter clients on Android. It supports all of Twitter’s latest features (geolocation, retweet, etc). The PRO version allows you to use multiple accounts, upload videos, and skin the app with several themes.
lastfm
Last.fm (Free): If you’re already a fan of Last.fm, you’ll love this app. Not only does this app allow you to scrobble the MP3s you play on your device, you can also listen to streaming radio stations, based on your favorite artists. Unlike SOME streaming radio apps, you can skip as many songs as you want.
qik
Qik (Free): I used to say “I wish I could record my life”. With Qik, I can do just that. Broadcast live from your phone and save the videos online. You can even simulcast to Livrestream.com. I chose Qik over the other broadcasting apps because it easy to use and allows you to broadcast from the front-facing camera on your phone (if equipped). *ahem…EVO 4G*
mytracks
My Tracks (Free): To keep with the theme of “recording my life”, My Tracks allows you to record a GPS tracklog for your journeys. You can upload the KML file to Google Maps and Google Docs as a spreadsheet. During your trip you can drop waypoints and statistics markers and your endpoint will include all sorts of useful info like max speed, distance traveled, time, elevation, and tons more.
foursquare
Fousquare (Free): Foursquare is a location-based game that allows you to check in to venues to get points. What do the points get you? Nothing. But that doesn’t stop me. If you check in to a venue, more than anyone else, you can become the mayor. Some businesses offer deals and freebies for the mayor or if you’re a regular.

Note: Not all apps are compatible with all versions of Android. If you cannot find a particular app in the Market, odds are that it’s not compatible with your version of Android. Google is working very hard to bring an end to fragmentation, or at least slow it down.

Tags: ,