July 8, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
What’s this? Android Apps Alert on Friday? Yes sir and madam. We usually recap the best new Android apps on Sundays, but that’s always been because the week was just too demanding. And since the folks at Androinica want to give you more time on the weekend to play around with the cool gifts from the Android Market on the weekend, we decided to bring the reviews a couple of days earlier.
In the 65th edition of Android Apps Alert, we take the time to look at apps to manage your contacts, read the news, watch musicians on tour, and stab a few people. Don’t worry, that last one is only done in a virtual sense.
Contact Photo Finder
Finding photo ID’s for my Google contacts is not a task that I enjoy. (Especially when I accidentally delete contacts and have to start over.) So people who haven’t decided to sync Facebook photos and are looking for an easy way to assign images to their friends, Contact Photo Finder is an app worth grabbing.
Contact Photo Finder brings up your Android contacts list, selects a person at a time, and then searches the web to locate an image of that person. You can then tap on an image to assign it to that contact and crop if necessary. The app is as resourceful as it is simple, so you’ll be able to get photos from Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other place that Google Image Search reaches, and you’ll do it much quicker than you will on the desktop.
Henry Blake is the classic “I got screwed” video game character. Lost his job, woman, and freedom, and now he’s out to get the people who took it from him. BackStab is an adventure game in which you control Blake in an Assassin’s Creed-like open world of missions. Players have to be agile running from building-to-building, swift in battle, and conquer four large cities. The game is fun and compatible only select devices, so be sure to read the list of available phones before purchasing. (See the list on the Android Market page.)
Vlingo is an awesome app that responds to voice commands. Speak the word and it searches the web to locate something, dials a friend, or dictates and sends a text message. It will even read out the reply your contact sends, allowing for continued operation while driving or doing something else that requires hands-free activity.
The latest version of Vlingo has been updated to look better and provide easier access to functions like messaging and search. It also has added support for French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Vlingo navigates to addresses, finds answers, and even posts to social networks with only a couple of taps.
News360 for Phones
We already reviewed News360 and rated it one of the best Android news apps available for Honeycomb tablets. News360 has since been downsized to fit Android phones, and it’s still as impressive as its big-screen predecessor. The captivating visual element that makes photo streams so great on the tablet isn’t there, but you’ll still enjoy the format for getting informed.
News360 lists articles from more than 4,000 news outlets and acts as a better-organized Google News app. The app uses GPS to provide local news, but still organizes thousands more sources into major categories like Sports, Entertainment, Tech, and Politics. News360 connects to Read It Later and Instapaper for bookmarking, and to Facebook and Twitter to share with others. You can also save articles to be read later.
Perhaps you only need one news source and ABC is it. The official ABC News Android app has just arrived to tell you what you need to know about what’s going on in the world. The app has an elegant simplicity that fits mobile phones well, making it easy to navigate between the many categories found on ABCNews.com.
ABC News also provides video News Briefs of big stories, and organizes select clips from Good Morning America, World News, 20/20, and other popular shows. Users can also Save articles and narrow down results for local ABC affiliates in select cities.
The Android keyboard race just hasn’t been the same since Swype, Thumb Keyboard, and SwiftKey came through and crushed the buildings. Before those Android keyboard alternatives arrived, it was Touchpal that had everyone enamored. But the app suddenly disappeared until a few days ago. I still think the other keyboards mentioned are better, but TouchPal is free and includes a handwriting plug-in for inputting Asian characters.
In order to install, follow these directions from CooTek, Touchpal’s creator:
After installation, you can choose our input method in the “Setting” => “Local & text”; then long press in any input field and select ”Input Method ” -> “TouchPal Input”.
Love watching concerts as much as you love Android? Check out Qello, an app that rents concert videos. Users can pay $2.99 to rent it for 7 days or $4.99 for 30 days. That’s rather pricey, especially to watch on smaller screens, but thought some music fans might want to see the large library of on-demand video offered by Qello. Both phones (2.2+) and tablets (3.0+) can access HD streaming of concert footage through this app.
Android App Updates & Reviews
XFINITY TV - The Xfinity app has been updated to support Honeycomb tablets. Now use that large tablet screen to browse program listings and manage your DVR. [Install]
LiveShare – The photo-sharing app that we’ve reviewed in the past has been upgraded to include personal profiles for easy friend-finding and more public streaming. You also no-longer need to have a Facebook account. [Install]
Samurai II: Vengeance – Best fighting game I’ve played on Android and now it’s even cheaper. The app is on sale for only $2.84, so if you have an NVIDIA Tegra 2 device, you need to buy this now. [Install]
Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Are you verbose? No, well, download this dictionary app from the biggest name around. There’s a dictionary search for ext or voice, recent searches, and a Daily Word to boost your vocabulary. [Install]
- Gun Bros finally adds BrotherHood and Bro-Op multiplayer mode
- Orbital Defender – A new take on a simple idea [Game Review]
- Fieldrunners HD brings great tower defense to Android
- Is Google Buzz on Death Row? Yes.
- Google Maps adds Transit Navigation, search suggest, and more
- Bitcoin for Androidbrings virtual currency exchange to phone
- Foursquare updates Android App with Notifications feature
- Farkle – An entertaining dice game [App Review]
- Vodafone Android Market channel is a first for European carriers