September 2, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
UPDATE: This is an old list. Please read our more current and updated top apps list, available here
Writing a Best Android Apps list is never an easy job. Android inspires passionate fans who believe their favorite app should be named, so no list will please everyone. Though voters selected their favorites in the Android Network Awards, these are my picks for some of the best Android apps. The apps are listed according to category, not merit.
Barcode Scanner [#1]
The first app to get is Barcode Scanner, which allows users to scan QR codes – the squares with dots and black lines – and get information. QR codes load contacts, messages, or sends users to a link. For instance, each QR code scanned in this post leads to the app listing in the Android Market.
The Best Tools and Utility Apps [#40-50]
Feature Boosts, File Managers, and System Managers
Key Ring Rewards Card
Get rid of the club cards clogging up your key ring or wallet and download Key Ring Barcode Scanner, an app that scans barcodes of various membership cards and stores them on the phone. Open your reward/member card file and the store clerk can scan the account info directly from the barcode displayed on your Android device. This does not work on Flatbed scanners, so do not attempt if your store/library uses flatbed scanners.
One of the first “wow” apps of Android a surprise snub of the ANA nominees. Even though we missed it, you shouldn’t. Locale is a location-based application that creates profiles based on conditions. For instance, your phone can recognize your office’s GPs coordinates and Locale will make the phone switch to vibrate mode and load a professional wallpaper every time you near the building. Locale can easily manage functions, features, and settings that you define thanks to the apps and some available plug-ins.
Possible alternatives: Power Manager, Toggle Settings
Power Manager ($0.99)
The less-than-stellar battery capacity of the G1 made Power Manager a must-have for Android users. Power Manager creates profiles and system changes that can extend battery life or control GPS, Wi-Fi, etc. Power Manager will turn off battery-draining features if your power level drops below 30% or turn on them on if you want more features when the phone is charged or plugged into a power source. It also keeps the screen on during calls much longer, which is ideal for dealing with automated systems. Set-up profiles and rules and enjoy a longer-lasting battery in your Android device.
Possible alternatives: Locale, Toggle Settings
Don’t waste time constantly going to Menu > Settings to make changes. Toggle Settings provides shortcuts for turning on/off Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS, Ringers, Auto-Sync, and Screen brightness/timeout. It also creates profiles that help you automatically manage settings based on conditions (low battery, time of day, data connection). With Toggle Setting, a few swipes and pressing will make changing your Android settings a breeze.
Possible alternatives: Useful Switchers, Locale, or Curvefish suite of toggle widgets
Ringdroid turns every Android device into a ringtone editing machine. Ringdroid loads audio files into an editor that can be zoomed in or out. Users then move two sliding start and end points to highlight a selection, save the file as a ringtone or notification, and then enjoy their new sound clip. No more paying for ringtones or using entire songs as ringers.
Better Cut ($1.99)
Better Cut creates shortcuts to directly call/text contacts or launch functions of other programs. Instead of pressing going through the Contacts app or clicking a Contact shortcut and choosing a method to contact them, Better Cut creates a one-touch icon to call or text. It also handles shortcuts for bookmarks, settings, or certain activities.
Possible alternative: Any Cut does the most basic shortcut feature for FREE. But, you can’t edit existing shortcuts
My Backup Pro ($4.99)
You back up your computer data, so why not do the same on your phone? While Google may store your contacts and contact info in the cloud, it doesn’t store applications, call logs, bookmarks, SMS and MMs messages, settings, or shortcuts. MyBackup Pro does those things and more. If you have important information you need to store or often need to wipe and restore data, get this app and avoid a lot of headaches and lost time.
One of the scariest things for cellphone addicts to experience is the realization that you lost your phone. Mobile Defense comes to the rescue by being “LoJack for your phone,” allowing users to lock, track, find, or erase their phone in the event that it’s lost or stolen. Activate the tracking system online and then see a real-time map of your phone until Android is back in your arms again. Website / Video Demo
When you live in a city with unpredictable weather, a good weather app is a must-have. WeatherBug is that must-have app for many Android users. It provides forecasts for the day or week, weather alerts, and hyper-local weather reports based on your GPS position.
Background apps can eat at your system resources, so grab TasKiller and regulate on all those processes and apps slowing down your phone. With one-click, users can close all running applications in the event that their Android device is running too slow. It also includes the ability to ignore certain apps, like the keyboard or phone features, to prevent closing things you want to keep running.
Possible Alternative: Advance Task Manager is very similar
Astro is a file explorer that every Android user should own. It allows users to browse their SD card, delete/move/copy/paste files, install/uninstall apps, and various other tasks meant to organize the phone. Astro is also a great way to hide certain files/folders on your phone that may be sensitive.
Possible Alternatives: Linda, OI File Manager