Photography: Camera 360
This sweet alternative to the stock camera app adds some flair to pics with effects that vary from four-colour Warhol posters to creepy ghostly appearances. One of the cooler stylized filters “tilt-shift” transforms a scene into a miniature, an effect so popular that it has dedicated groups on Flikr. Should you want to bring some intensity, Black & White, LOMO and commercial are additional fantastic effects they offer. Camera 360 isn’t limited to just fun & cheesy effects. Serious mobile photographers who aim to get the most out of their Android’s pics can take advantage of optimal lighting, white balance, zoom, focus and grid settings.
Overall, there’s a decent amount of fun options to tinker with, and nicely, there’s a built-in option to share to social networks and notes.
Download any of these apps by viewing the codes using a barcode scanner app.
Fighting infection in the immune system is the objective of this Tetris style side scrolling puzzle game. The game can be played in two addictive modes; story mode (levels) and survivor mode (arcade style). Kill the antigen — as infection invades, players must quickly bind their character (reminiscent of a puzzle piece) to the antigen as they attempt to float by. Failure to do so could be fatal. Power-ups, bonus points and health boosts are there for the taking and you’ll need them when battling big boss antigen. The graphics are humorous, the expressions on the pesky antigens change as they realize you’re about to annihilate them.
Privacy: App Protector
On lunch break, you’re standing in line at your favourite coffee shop when you realize that you’ve left your Android unguarded at your desk. Your stomach drops when you recall the “sensitive” data lying on the device and you recoil in horror. This helpful tool assists users in locking-down the apps that demand a high level of security. Users can quickly group and password protect apps from nosey friends & co-workers. Whew!
It ships with a widget that allows users to easily switch back between locking modes from the homescreen. After setting the secret codes, anyone that attempts to launch a protected app will be zapped by the device (kidding). I for one can now sleep at night, because there’s no way that pic of me in a Star Trek uniform will get out now ;P The free version will only last 7 days but $1.99 is a small price to pay for security.
Battery Life: WatchDog Lite
WatchDog Lite keeps an eye on which apps are sucking the life out of your battery by bringing transparency to processes running on the device. When an app has gone rogue it will send an alert so a user can kill it before it sucks the battery dry. The UI sports stats, alerts and a breakdown of processes by app. It’s capable of tracking apps in real-time and will identify what percentage of power each app is using. There’s a handy option to “kill” by performing a long-press on a vampire app. The widget will post background CPU usage % or the CPU idle %.
Productivity: Vlingo Words To Action
Eliminating the task of typing, Vlingo translates speech to text to send text & email, search the web, open apps, find places on a map and tweet. The accuracy and speed is quite impressive though you should always proof read your speech to text communication to avoid unwanted misunderstandings. U.S. friends can take advantage of super dialer (beta), a new feature that can order you a pizza or cab by simply saying “ call taxi” or “call pizzeria, Domino’s”.
Planting the Vlingo widget on a homescreen is incredibly useful for searching the web and Google Maps. Saying “Map of Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario” will open maps and zero in on the requested location. Nice! The widget has earned a permanent home on my Android and unlike Google, Vlingo actually understands what I’m saying.
Media Player : MixZing Media Player
MixZing plays tunes and videos in a sleek interface. It downloads missing album art and creates mood appropriate playlists. Music fans will appreciate goodies like the MP3 equalizer and “artist info” which will scour for data at sites like Wikipedia, Youtube, Google and Amazon MP3. By rating music while jamming, Mixzing will get to know your musical tastes and can DJ songs with the same vibe, similar to the Genius feature in iTunes. Users can show-off their musical collections to Facebook friends and they’ve also included multiple widgets to control songs from the homescreen although not all of the widgets are available in the free version and neither is the MP3 Tag editor.
Finance: Tie Your Money
Go through money like water? This app documents expenses, receipts and income and when you’ve spent too much it will send an alert. When a user makes a purchase it can be categorized by type of expense coupled with attached barcodes and a snapshot of the receipt. Several users/profiles can be added — a great feature for keeping tabs on the entire family. It can also generate reports, export summaries to email, SMS and create graphs; by user, category or profile. Another welcome addition is speech to text, very handy for lengthy purchase descriptions. Best of all it won’t cost you a red cent for the app.
Offline Google Reader: Greed (lite) 2
When one has no connection the web, it’s handy to have an app capable of offline access. I’ll admit the interface isn’t very sexy, but it’s super quick and supports Instapaper and Google reader features like starring, saving and marking read/unread. There are a few screens to view feeds; full list of feeds, starred, what’s new (latest articles), by folder/ label and shared articles from friends (contact list). While viewing an article you’re able to download, view through mobile site version or share using supported apps. The homescreen widget posts news to the homescreen and the intervals in which it updates can be tweaked.
File Transfer Protocol: AndFTP
AndFTP is the Android solution for managing multiple FTP servers. Users can easily download and upload files to and from the SD card along with options to add folders, set permissions, delete, copy & paste and rename files (SD card/FTP server). Within the UI, users can quickly toggle back and forth between FTP and the SD card file browers and the sweetest benefit is the snappy file transfer.
( FTP/ SFTP/ FTPS)
Finding Stuff: All in One
Trying to find something? There’s an app that will help you streamline your searches.
With All in One, users can input a word and specify the country, language and search by content type; news, blogs, videos, Twitter, Android Maketplace, books, web, images, Wikipedia and patents. Narrowing down the search by type eliminates irrelevant information you may get by simply performing a web search. Similar to a mobile reader, All in One supports sharing, favourites and the saving of articles. This app can also be used for discovery as it posts trending stories of various topics; world news, technology, entertainment etc.
Check out PART 2 of our 10 Must-Have Free Android Apps post.