Since the release of Android 4.0 Ice cream Sandwich in late 2011, the app selection for Android has experienced quite a shift in both the quantity of apps but also the quality. With the influx of new Holo-designed apps that we saw this year, it makes it nearly perfect to write a post on my favorite apps from this year. There’re plenty of other apps that I like (trust me, I have over 250 on my phone) but these are five of my favorites. And they are…
Ah yes, the app that some iOS users used to lord over Android users was finally released onto Android this year and now it’s grown into a sizable social network. Instagram allows you to quickly and easily share your photos with your friends through not only Instagram but also through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare. But one of the things that it’s really known for is its selection of filters and basic editing options to help spice up your pictures, or just make them look discolored.
One of the really great things about Instagram, though, is that you can easily browse through a news feed that’s purely photo based so sharing is all done through photos which is a very cool concept. There are a couple downsides to Instagram such as a forced square crop, low upload quality, and the editing options aren’t really that great. But the easy sharing, photo feed, and photo map features are all redeeming enough to secure the number five spot on my list.
The perfect tool for saving things to read later, Pocket is one of the best apps that you can get on Android. Bedecked in a beautiful Holo theme, Pocket is the next generation of the popular app formerly known as Read It Later. Pocket is fast, free and helps you store oodles of different things such as webpages, videos, and photos that you find. But what really makes Pocket shine is the built-in tool for reading and viewing things that you’ve saved. It removes all the excess junk that could detract from your reading experience such as ads, useless sidebars, and other distracting things and then puts the content into an easy to read format right within the app. I can not tell you how much faster this can be than waiting for a slow webpage to load. And best of all, it still gives you the option to look at it in its original web format if you prefer that.
At the end of the day, Pocket is one of the most useful apps that you can find in the Play Store. It might take a bit of getting used to using it at first but once you get started, it becomes an incredible tool for saving things to read when you have more time or just feel like keeping them around.
The app that often accompanies Pocket for me, Flipboard, is one of the best apps for finding news and other interesting things. Featuring an interesting UI of cards that you literally flip to see new pages, Flipboard works well and runs smooth. You can pick out categories that you want to see articles, information, and photos from and it will assemble them all so that you can just flip through them to find new things. And brilliantly enough, it has a simple read it later button that let’s you save the article right to your Pocket account.
I use this app extremely often and it’s very useful in situations such as waiting at an airport or burning some calories on the exercise bike. Plus, the ability to save articles that I want to read again straight to Pocket is a huge benefit. Overall, a big thumbs up to Flipboard for creating a great news discovery app.
2. Falcon Pro
Coming out only a few weeks ago, Falcon Pro is the new kid on the block when it comes to Twitter apps but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s subpar. In fact, Falcon Pro is one of the most gorgeous and refined apps that I’ve used and certainly the best Twitter client, even besting my long-time favorite, Plume. Falcon Pro manages to combine elegant Holo aesthetics with an extremely smooth and also useful UI. Scrolling is like butter and the app just works like no other Android app that I’ve tried. One of the nicest features is a built-in YouTube player and web browser enabling you to stay right within the app while opening many web links.
When looking for a Twitter app, Falcon Pro should be one of the first ones you try. It’s gorgeous, intuitive, and works with a smoothness not normally associated with Android. It does cost $0.99 but that’s a small price to pay considering what you’re getting. Without a doubt, I can say that Falcon Pro is the best Twitter app that money can buy.
All right, all right, so this app didn’t technically come out in 2012 but I included it nonetheless due to one of its biggest features not being released until this year. Songza is a music streaming app that functions in a different way from Spotify or Pandora. Instead, Songza gives you pre-made playlists for all sorts of genres but also based on themes such as “Songs In Apple Commercials” or “In A Dive Bar”. But Songza’s biggest feature is one that came out this year which is the Music Concierge.
Music Concierge is a feature that checks the time, date, what device you’re using, and other things to come up with suggested activities that you might be doing and then different selections based on your mood or the atmosphere that you want to create while doing any one of those activities. It’s focused on playing the right music at the right time and works eerily well sometimes. Some of the different activities might include working out, cleaning the house, sitting by the fire, getting an energy boost, and loads of other options. It’s also got a beautiful Holo themed UI covering the entire app plus handy notification controls.
And one of the best features about Songza is that it’s free and there are no audio ads. Even in the app, there’s only one small and unobtrusive ad. While you do have a limited number of skips per hour due to their licensing agreement, it’s fairly generous and resets every hour. Neither of those things are a problem though and when it’s all said and done, Songza is probably my favorite app of not only 2012, but possibly of all time.
So that sums up my top five apps of 2012 list and now I want to hear yours. What apps do you love to death? Which ones do you use the most? Get typing and let us know in the comments section down below! I mean, that is what it’s made for.