As I explained yesterday, I am fortunate enough to be participating in Samsung and Mcann Digital’s new campaign for the awesome new Samsung Galaxy phone. As you probably know, it is an Android based phone, which means that unlike the iPhone, any app can be developed and offered in the App Market, no need for anyone’s strict approval process. The task given to me and 4 other bloggers is to review 100 Android apps collectively over the next 3 days. Each blogger took 20 apps of their choice to review and posted their opinion on their own blogs as well as Samsung’s blog.
Here are my 10 apps of the day with a rating I gave it based on its performance and features:
- Astro File Manager: After taking a picture at an event last night, I found myself searching for the picture and getting frustrated quickly. Android does not come with a file explorer that enables you to navigate the different files and folders on your phone. A friend recommended Astro, and after installing it, my blood pressure went down drastically as everything was now easy to find. You are presented with a simple layout of your phone’s structure and you can browse and navigate the different folders, select files, and view them from within the app. The more I use the app, the more things I discover. It seems Astro File Manager is the ultimate utility for Android phones. It also has a very advanced task manager that shows exactly what apps and processes are running at any given moment. A much needed addition to any Android phone and a very useful and practical app. 3/5
- Labyrinth: I am not much of a mobile gaming kinda guy, but this is a definite must download app. Basically you are presented with two options, 3D and regular. You have to get a ball into a hole using the phone’s accelerometer. The stages keep progressing in difficulty, and the game gets more and more addictive. This is one of the few apps I have tried on the iPhone and Android and can safely say, the Android version is better. The sensitivity of the accelerometer and how it is used in this game is amazing, and the 3D graphics truly blow your mind. A simple concept, but one that will get you hooked very fast. 4/5
- App Market: Following the recent trend of the mobile market, the first thing anyone clicks on when turning on an Android device is of course the App Market icon. How does it compare to the App Store? Well the answer is, the App Market for Android is actually pretty great. The numbers are growing rapidly and the interface is user friendly and easy to use. You can search for any app with a built in search functionality, although I could not find some apps I know exist. You can view the apps by category and the market has a lot of them to choose from. You can also view all apps by popularity for free or paid apps. Basically, it makes the task of finding relevant apps for your Android device, idiot proof. Isn’t that what the modern mobile experience is all about? 4/5
- MeeboIM: Meebo has made a name for itself in the instant messenger space. They originally became infamous for their Web based IM platform. Their Android app is on the same path. It enables you to communicate with your contacts on various networks including AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, Meebo, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo. In theory, this should be a great product, but the problem is that IM is a very personal thing and people like to use it their own way. Meebo on Android is lacking any sort of advanced options to configure how the app works. To just give an example, a lot of people like to see their buddy list separated by networks, not possible in Meebo. This might sound like I am nitpicking, and perhaps I am, but like I said, IM is very personal, and an IM app should therefore be fully personalizable. 3/5
- ScanLife: One word to sum up this app: “Unbelievable”. Basically, it is a barcode scanner that scans both 1d and 2d barcodes. The only difference I have found is that Scanlife works really well. On any other barcode scanners I have tried, and I have tried a few on different mobile platforms, I always get one out of ten tries to work. This app worked on attempt one, two, and three. You basically choose the type of barcode, put the phone up to the picture (I tried it on the computer, not on an actual product at first), and let the app do its magic. Within a matter of seconds, the app launches a browser and finds you the product in a Google Search. Like I said, unbelievable and totally futuristic. Watch it in action in the below video! 4/5
- Compass: It seems that companies in today’s mobile industry do well when they make products that are as simplistic as possible. A product that can be used by a 5 year old will make a good product. You probably know who I am thinking about when I say companies that make simplistic products. Compass is a perfect example of an app that proves the saying “Less is more”. The interface is as simplistic as can be with the options button enabling you to switch between analog and two type of digital. Once you choose your compass type, you are presented with a nice compass that displays the direction the phone is standing. You are also presented with the exact degrees of the angle of the phone. What is amazing about this app and the Samsung Galaxy in general is how sensitive the phone’s accelerometer is. This app shows you how even the slightest movement is immediately detected by the accelerometer. Great app. 5/5
- Shazam: Shazam made a lot of hype on the Web when they announced their iPhone app. What does it do? It identifies music from either your humming a tune or putting the phone up to a music source. Now, here is the thing, the app works really well on iPhone and picked up almost any song I hummed to it, so I know it is not my voice that is the problem. On the Android app, it would not pick up my humming but it did identify the song I played 3 out of 5 times. No matter how many times I tried it would not pick up my humming, which was kinda frustrating, but even so, the app is a pretty amazing concept and will never leave listening to a song and thinking “What song is this?” 3/5
- Taskiller Taskiller does exactly how it sounds, it kills tasks, but it is not just a basic app. You launch the app and you are presented with a list of all the apps running. The icons are pretty small and it made me think there should be an option to enlarge them, sure enough, the developers read my mind and the option is available under settings. You can press on any icon to kill the task, meaning close that app, or keep your finger pressed for 2 seconds to display a menu. In the menu, there are a few options, the most interesting one, being Ignore. If there is an app you know you want running at all times, simply add it to your Ignore List and it will not show up in Taskiller’s main list. Even that is configurable with this great app. I find this to be one of the most useful apps on my phone. 5/5
- Bluetoothonoff: This is a widget that can be added to your home page and will enhance the usability of your device in a major way. Basically, imagine the scenario, you are driving and you get a call. Do you really want to start messing around with the phone’s inner menus to enable the Bluetooth so you can talk on your earpiece? This widget gives you the option to click once to enable the Bluetooth of your device and click again to disable it. The widget turns green when Bluetooth is enabled and red when disabled. This is one of those things that makes you think “Why didn’t I think of this?” or “Why isn’t this available for all phones?” This widget is so brilliant in its simplicity and will most definitely make Android users happy. 5/5
- TuneWiki: This is an app you can be sure you will be hearing more of. It is expected the become the most used media player on Android devices after it was a huge hit on other mobile platforms such as iPhone. The app basically syncs with your media library, plays your songs with karaoke style lyrics on the screen, as well as videos. The interface is very similar to the iPhone’s music player and a very cool feature is if you search for a song not in your library, you are directed to the YouTube version and that also has lyrics on the screen. When songs are playing, the album art is also displayed on the screen, something that you cannot do on other mobile platforms such as BlackBerry. All in all, a very sleek, feature rich media player that like I said, is expected to take off with Android itself. 5/5
There you have it, 10 Android apps for review. If you have apps you want me to review, please share them in the comments, as well as your feedback, which is always appreciated. You can follow me on Twitter here.