In the preface of their book Best Android Apps, co-authors Mike Hendrickson and Brian Sawyer point out the speedy proliferation of software in the Android Market and the challenge it presents:
“As of this writing there are more than 25,000 Android apps in the Android Market, and that number is growing rapidly. At the rate things are going, we’ll be at 100,000 apps before long. So how can you find the apps you’re looking for and avoid getting overwhelmed with the abundance of options?”
Their answer to this question is a glossy cover, full color guide measuring 8″ X 6″ and 232 pages thick. Best Android Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders is an O’Reilly Media publication that retails for $19.99 US and $24.99 CAN (click to purchase).
The authors’ top picks for a given task/functionality exceed 200 in count, resulting in page titles like “Best App to Simulate a Golf Caddy” and “Best Digging Game.” As painfully specific as those…genres are, you’ll find others that are very practical and likely a popular area of curiosity for most readers. “Best App for Watching TV” and “Best App for To-Do- Lists” are examples of the kind of programs readers are most likely to be seeking out, and also the type for which many options exist. Regarding confusing options I’m not sure the same can be said for the caddy app, but sometimes you just don’t know you need an app until you’ve seen it, so discovery is as prominent a purpose in this book’s pages as are sorting, characterization, and assessment.
While the “Best App for …” classifications are different for almost every entry, the lot is divided into eight primary categories:
1.) Best of the Best (Top picks from all other categories)
2.) Best Business Apps
3.) Best Communications Apps
4.) Best Lifestyle Apps
5.) Best Entertainment Apps
6.) Best Games
7.) Best Utility/Tool Apps
8.) Best Reference Apps
Each of these category sections is color coded, and every page of the book features a thin stripe of the assigned color down the outer edges – front and back – for quick navigation by application classification. Browsing the table of contents, readers will find sub-categories within the main categories, each one identifying a topic of interest for a 2 or 3 page section. For example, under Best Entertainment Apps, the subcategories Movies and TV account for pages 126 through 130. Page 125, the first of the category, gives an overview of what type of content will be found in the chapter as well as a photo of an Android device.
The individual application entries feature screenshots, a review, the current version (at the time of publication), the developer’s name and the price of the app. To purchase one, the reader needs only to flip to the QR Code Index at the back of the book where programs are listed alphabetically. Under the titles, there are three-dimentional barcodes that you can scan with your phone’s camera to be directed to the corresponding entry in the Android Market.
The reviews are thorough, often offering tips on effective use. The occasional sidebar serves for expounding on a given topic, like security, or for instructing the reader on advanced app use and functions.
While I might have chosen different apps for certain categories if I were to have been involved in a book like Best Android Apps, my selections would have differed largely as a matter of personal taste. The choices found here are covered well and clearly stand out amongst most of their nearest competitors. Mike Hendrickson and Brian Sawyer have done an excellent job in making the massive repository that is the Android Market a more friendly and navigable place – especially for those new to the world of Android. At least for the time being, they have.
Best Android Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders is a high quality soft cover book, small enough to slide into the outer pouch of your laptop bag before hopping on a plane or setting out for the coffee shop. It also looks nice on the living room coffee table or next to the porcelain throne.
You can purchase your copy – soft cover for $19.99 or e-book for $15.99, from O’Reilly Books & Videos.