I just realized that last Fall I forgot to write my annual list of favourite apps. I’m still happy with Android, although I look forward to try UbuntuOS and FirefoxOS in the near future. Meanwhile my list of installed apps hasn’t changed much, even though I had to change my terminal in early 2012 because of the international broadband differences (my Motorola Milestone from Spain didn’t work with my Canadian provider, so I got a good deal on a Samsung Galaxy Ace). If my list of installed apps hasn’t changed much it’s obvious that my list of favourite apps is also pretty much the same. Granted, my current phone is not a high-end device, but I haven’t heard about any app that I was really missing about except for the fact that I can’t run Firefox for Android.
One last thing before the actual list: I am still avoiding to pay for any app, since I can always find a free one to do pretty much the same. The only exception that I have had to make is Whatsapp, since my free first year of use is over and I couldn’t give it up, as I explain below.
1- Twitter. Within the year and a half since my last apps review, Twitter for Android has grown up a lot and it is now my default Twitter app. It’s clean, intuitive and easy; and its integration with Android is perfect (meaning that you get notifications when things actually just happened, which doesn’t happen with Hootsuite). It could still be better with better access to Twitter Lists and private messages, and with a URL shortener with stats.
2- Foursquare. After Twitter and the phone-related apps, Foursquare is still the app that I use the most. I still get excited about getting a new mayorship or badge, even though it means sharing my location with hundreds of people who don’t care about it. Moreover, since I am in North America I have enjoyed several perks such as free breakfast at hotels or free tours at beer breweries, so I am a total addict.
3- Whatsapp. Last time I put Skype on this list, but I have since discovered that Whatsapp is more convenient. Skype has become more of a “Skype date” tool for me, for which I prefer the laptop; while Whatsapp is now the best way to keep in touch with my friends in Spain. It allows a very spontaneous and constant conversation while still being able to share videos and pictures. Also, the Groups feature is what is keeping us together now that we are all spread around the globe.
4- MapFactor Navigator. It has taken me years (literally) but I have finally found a free GPS+Navigator app that works without data connection. Navigator is not as fast or as good-looking as Google Maps, but it’s definitely the best option to travel to a different country (GMaps would cost you a billion in roaming) or to use locally when you discover how ridiculously expensive mobile rates are in Canada. Plus MapFactor Navigator uses OpenStreetMaps, and I am a big fun of open-source projects. It also has a paid version that uses Tom Tom maps.
5- Hootsuite. Although it’s starting to drive me nuts, I still think Hootsuite for Android is the king of apps when it comes to manage several social media profiles in different platforms from your phone. Plus the addition of the “AutoSchedule” function makes my life (and my clients’ lifes) way easier when I have some free time to read a bunch of articles and then I want to share some of them without saturating my feeds. disclaimer: I have been using Hootsuite in my laptop for personal and professional purposes for a while, and the fact that it’s all synchronized makes it harder to change.
6- Photoshop Express. Considering how expensive Adobe software normally is I still can’t believe this is free, but what really surprises me is that not that many Android users know about it. I really like how easy it makes it to improve a picture as if you actually had Photoshop in your phone. The only complain I have is that they haven’t change it at all in almost three years, and it could use some more funky filters and frames.
7- Zite. This has quickly become one of my favourites, as I find it great to find new contents outside of my own bubble (the people I decided to follow on social media, the blogs and media I keep on Google Reader, the alerts in Google and Topsy that I created…). While Reddit does pretty much the same I believe the success of Zite resides on its very clean layout, as it looks just like the app from a magazine. I only wish it would work in Spanish too.
8- Cyanogen. Although it’s not an app, I think CyanogenMod deserves some recognition here. When I first got my new phone it came with a Samsung-baked Android rom that really disappointed me. I expected much more from the only company able to kick Apple’s ass in the mobile market these days, so it only took me a few weeks to decide to give up and change to Cyanogen.