it’s a shiny rectangle, but what’s inside?


Applications, apps for short, are changing the way that mobile devices organise, aid and fill our lives.

If these mobile toolboxes, diaries and entertainment systems are going to be in our pockets each day, if we struggle to pull them from our hands, then maybe it’s a good idea to choose the apps that are tried, tested and put through their paces in the lab of impatience and hard to please androidites.

It would seem that the following 25 apps have made the shortlist of apps that cover a fairly decent mix of the ‘stuff’ that you might want to do with that shiny rectangle that goes everywhere with you.
Available from the Android Marketplace
#25 – Adao File Manager

If you have an Android device and you like to make it your own, change settings or simply have a look ‘behind the scenes’, then this app is for you.  Stylishly and easily you can do the fiddly tasks that an intermediate user might attempt.  Adao allows you to do more with your device and really makes you feel like you are in control, rather than everything being locked down, you are free to choose to use your device as an external hdd or move films around within the depths of your shiny rectangle.

#24 – Lyrics App

As a music lover and dare I say a musician or vocalist, we don’t always learn the lyrics to the new song that we’re learning. So Lyrics app is brilliant for pulling, from the web, the lyrics to the song you have just listened to.  It works by using the songs digital signatures and squirts the lyrics in an easy to read format – great for musicians or vocalists and the rest of you music junkies.

#23 – SMS Scheduler

There were people many years ago that seemed to have bags of time lying around, but we have still not managed to catch the thief that stole all of those bags.  Thankfully SMS Scheduler has been created to add a little forward thinking to the ‘time poor’ generation.  No longer will you have an excuse for not texting your grandma or congratulating a friend.  SMS Scheduler is a great tool for setting up those automatic text with words of encouragement or congratulation…right on time.

NB – not to be used for anniversaries or telling your boss that you’ll be late in.

#22 – Sky Sports News

If you happen to be a sports fan, and lets be honest, there’s an awful lot of you out there, then this little app from the media moguls at Sky is pretty good at providing updates on all the sporting events that happened over the weekend.  Football scores or F1 racing results aren’t opinionated so Sky Sports News is a great tool.

#21- Barcode Scanner

The barcode scanner I have on my device is essential if you want to get the most out of the apps like Amazon marketplace or other supermarket apps.  It provides the capability to scan products and then raid the big wide web for the best deals.

#20 – WhatsApp

Have you ever taken a funny photo and sent it to your friend, no problems. But then at the end of the month the bill lands in your inbox (or on your doormat if you still get paper bills) and you can’t understand why you’ve spent so much money on texting!!

WhatsApp is a great free messaging app (free to download for Androids I might add) that uses your data connections to send instant messages, pictures, movies and contacts.  The clever people at WhatsApp have made this app multi-platform, so if you have friends or family on different operating systems like iOS and BBerry, they too can enjoy free instant messaging.

#19 – RAC Traffic

The RAC Traffic group have made a great app that provides real time traffic updates on the UK road network.  If you travel a lot for work or you simply don’t want to miss the start of the film you’ve been waiting all year for, then RAC Traffic will help you avoid the traffic jams.

#18 – SwiftKey X

Water is lazy, it will always find the quickest route out.  I find myself being lazy too and SwiftKey is definitely for lazy people.  SwiftKey is a customisable keyboard for your Android device and it comes highly recommended.  Swiftkey has the clever ability to learn from your style of writing.  It has the uncanny ability to, sometimes worryingly, predict your next words.  But for the lazy amongst us this is great – just keep hitting space and it will enter the next word for you. Toobadthatthiskeyboardisn’tSwiftKey!!

#17 – Voucher Cloud

If you like a bit of money off, a voucher or a coupon then Voucher Cloud is a must have for your device.  Using GPS, this app will provide a list of vouchers, deals and relevant ‘money-off’ opportunities based on your location.  If you planned to eat at a particular place, but they gave your table to someone else…no problem! Kickstart Voucher Cloud and find the best places to eat that are closest to you with a bargain thrown in for good measure.

#16 – IMDB

The…Movie….Bible.  IMDb or Internet Movie Database is a film buff’s dream.  I would say that it is the font of all knowledge when it comes to films.  When you know you’ve seen a actor before….but in which film…a couple of taps on IMDb will have the answer.

#15 – Aldiko

If you’re a reader, lets face it – you probably are, because your using WordPress… Aldiko is an ebook reader that is not limited to just one type of file.  It becomes a pleasure to use as it ingests ebooks in a variety of file types.  The UI is smart, easy to navigate through and turning pages is as easy as flicking the page.

If you’re a ‘read it when you can’ person then the bookmarks have been made with you in mind.  You can either use the percentage of your progress as a bookmark or write your own.

#14 – Box.net

When operating as part of a team or short of storage space, box.net provides secure cloud space for your work, pictures, audio files, movies.  The collaboration features enable a team to upload work to proof or amend and then you can download a photograph, edit it and upload it back to your space.  Gone are the days of waiting until you see the Art Director again or until you’re back in the office, share, edit and ‘re-share’ your files.

Notification emails can be configured to let your team know when you have uploaded or made changes to a file.

#13 – Spaghetti Marshmallow

No matter who you are or what your diary is like, you will have some spare time or down time somewhere in month.  When you find that moment, Spaghetti Marshmallow will keep your brain ticking along nicely whilst you design structures and navigate obstacles by simply using dried spaghetti and yummy marshmallows.  This little game has mild graphics and slightly annoying muzak, but it will keep you entertained until…… until you can pull yourself away

#12 – Google Navigation

Navigation for android purists.  So put away your ‘twice-named’ brand and use the resident Android satnav that has Google Street View plugins and impressive little extras that make it a dream to use.

Don’t be stuck with the map of your journey on the satnav screen – change to satellite and really experience your route through the countryside or bustling city centres.  The ever increasing database of Places you might want to visit are available to search via maps or in list form.  If you’re walking through a city and need to get to that appointment quickly, set the satnav to ‘Walking’ directions and let it guide you through the urban mazes.

NB – you still need to be careful when crossing a road – it doesn’t tell you where the vehicles are…

#11 – Pixlr-o-matic

Photography is now such an integral part of our lives and creating stylish, unique pictures that capture the very best of lives moments is an everyday occurrence.  With Pixlr you can transform your uncut shots into classic pictures each with an essence of the many photographic styles and flaws of the eras gone by.  Overlay light leaks and vintage edging to your memorable moments and share them with your world through social network integration.

#10 – Let’s Golf 2

There are many ways to play the gentleman’s game and Let’s Golf has to be one of the most enjoyable.  The 3D graphics are colourful but not childish, they are fitting for game.  The golfing journey takes you through different continents and the courses difficulty level increases as you progress.  Be careful that you don’t have a pressing engagement, because this game is very addictive and you are likely to be late, albeit with a cracking handicap.

#9 – BBC iPlayer

If you love to watch a plethora of BBC content again and again but you’re not always near a big screen, jumping into the world of the iPlayer allows you to take all your favourites with you.  Whether it be music or moving pictures that you think is best, you can indulge to your heart’s content.

#8 – Vplayer

The great aspect of having a mobile device is that you can take it with you wherever you go.  If you love movies then VPlayer lets you take your favourite movies with you.  It really doesn’t matter what the file type is and being  Android enables you to load up your phone with varying file types of all the classics.

#7 – Dolphin Browser HD

I use Dolphin each and every day and I find that it is a good deal better than the native internet browser that I have on Gingerbread.  Dolphin is extremely clever in that you can build on the standard package and install add ons that suit you and your device.  Whether it is the Android/Desktop toggle function, the screencapture facility or the range of social networking plug ins that really does bring your world a lot closer.  With varying themes, customisation and intuitive bookmarking Dolphin is true to the culture of ‘making it your own’ that you would expect from an Android app

#6 – Amazon

You can journey deep into the Amazon with their Market Place app and do your Christmas shopping whilst waiting for the Tube or in the queue of your favourite coffee shop.  The option of ‘1 Click’ buy can either be a life saver or a danger to your wallet, whichever way you decide it certainly takes away the timely logging in, checking, double-checking and sometimes triple checking your delivery details and payment choices – just let me buy it!

I do like the ‘Recommendations’ feed that you can scroll through, if you are a person that appreciates the ‘Oo you might like this’, then the feature is great

#5 – Pulse News

I find that keeping up to date is so important and if you miss a day or two of news or social networking, it can seem like you’ve been cut off from society for months.  Pulse is your 4.3inch window to the world.  The idea that news, comments and feature outlets have their own apps is a nice thing if you only go to one source for your news.  Pulse is brilliant at allowing you to pull a wide variety of information sources into your feeds.  On any given day I might have sources including BBC News, CNN, Reuters, Dilbert Daily, Android Central, Jazz Music.

If you spot something that you think should be shared with your tweeps and followers then you can easily share the article via the social networks that you’ve authorised Pulse to post to.  I happen to use Pulse every day to catch up on the mischief that the world has gotten itself into

#4 – WordPress

Being of the writing type enables you to share so much with the world and start conversations that you might not have the networks for.  The WordPress app enables you to keep the conversation flowing without having to be at the old faithful desktop or laptop.  With all of the features and tools of wordpress.com but in miniature format, it helps you compose & edit, publish your posts and then keep a track on the stats of your blog.  I believe in the worth of the WordPress app because I wrote my second post on the app whilst waiting for the car to be fixed at the garage.

#3 – Tweetdeck

With the rise and rise of ways to ‘keep in touch’, Tweetdeck brings added functionality to the run of the mill tweeting apps.  Integrate your Facebook feeds and multiple twitter accounts into handy streams that you can swipe through.  Posting to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously makes keeping your profiles up to date stress free.  Compose your thoughts, add pictures and videos then upload them to more social network providers than is probably healthy.

#2 – Evernote

It is said that an elephant never forgets, and I happen to know that I do.  For study, for projects, for shopping lists even, Evernote captures those thoughts, ideas and the creativity that flows from you and I.  Clip webpages, passages and all manner of digital media into your notes and projects.  The friendly people at Evernote Corp continue to refine their offering.  Evernote seems to grow each week with new updates arriving on a frequent basis.  Tags your notes and share them easily with the integrated email and Facebook options.

Organising the work or projects that are your heart and soul is a joy.  Pop your notes into several Notebooks that best define the purpose of the note.  With free download software for your desktop or laptop, web access to your notes and the ever present app, I can now be assured that I too… will never forget.

Number 1 has to be…

YouVersion: Holy Bible

As the #1 selling book of all time it is about time that there was a mobile app version.  YouVersion makes the most of up to date UI. It is slick and easy to select what you want to read.  If you read the collection of books and love to delve in a little deeper, select one of the many translations from the most common to the very specialised study guides.  Integrated social network outputs makes sharing ‘the word’ quick and purposeful.

The ability to dive into a treasure chest of promises and good news can be a life-saver when life throws its worst at you.  But if you need a daily dose of the good book then by signing up to a reading plan from well-known commentators and specialist authors you can progress through a journey of edification and growth.

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