July 29, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Android Market has a new friend. It now charts downloads over a recent period, so users can actually see a graph showing how download totals can skyrocket or plummet at a given time. I look forward to the new analysis benefits this will offer, including the ability to see if Android Apps Alert helps apps get the hockey stick effect.
Android Apps Alert is Androinica.com’s weekly round-up of new, updated, or noteworthy apps. Browse the thumbnails, videos, and descriptions below to discover what you should load onto your Android phone. This week’s theme is Song Spies and Newshounds because all of the apps involve hunting down information or new ways to entertain. With that said, let’s get to the apps.
We Are Hunted
Android 2.1 or higher required
Spotify and Google Music have become great ways to listen to music on Android, but there’s always room for more music when you have cloud storage doing all the heavy lifting. A good way to discover some new artists to add to your library is We Are Hunted, a simple music app that charts what people are listening to and talking about. Hunted monitors Facebook, Twitter, and popular music blogs to see what’s buzzing. It then lets users listen to Top 96 songs from a particular genre (Hip-Hop, Punk, etc.) or the all-encompassing “Emerging.” I love this app because it’s visually-based with thumbnails of the artist and gets straight to the music.
However, I’d like to see expanded options. For instance, I heard Frank Ocean’s “Novacane” for the first time with this app and would love an easy link to add this to Spotify, purchase from Amazon, or learn more about the artist. Those features could turn a good We Are Hunted app into a great We Are Hunted app.
Android 2.1-2.3.3 required
I’m not sure how many Androinica readers also read The Economist, given how long the articles are in each issue (obligatory “Economist is long” joke). But those smart enough to read one of the world’s premiere publications should know that an official app is available for Android phones. Articles are formatted for mobile phones, showing title images, in-article photos, and text that is resizable. There’s also a Day/Night theme for optimized lighting and downloadable audio with editor notes for select stories. The Economist provides a limited number of full articles for each issue, but users can purchase an entire issue or subscribe to The Economist Digital to have complete access on Android and online (archives included).
Android 2.0 or higher required
Problem: you want to share a photo or text on Facebook or Twitter but you can’t be open about everything you want to say. Solution: Securebook, an Android app that can post hidden messages within your “normal” tweets and posts that are viewable only by people you select. For instance, post a photo of your friend Dave and you can make fun of him with an inside joke that only you, Dave, and Eric know. All friends will see the photo, but only you, Dave, and Eric will know about the secret content. Other potential uses include hidden messages for marketing campaigns or filtering information about events for a select crowd. Try out the ad-supported Lite version and upgrade to the 99-cent paid version to remove the banner.
Android 2.1 or higher required
It never ceases to amaze me when people travel to a city without having their hotel rooms booked, but there’s a new app for procrastinators and last-minute travelers. Hotel Tonight accumulates rates from hotels in a given city and then presents the options for a possible deals. So if you’re in Atlanta on business or pleasure and decide that it might be best to grab a room rather than drive back to your town, the app will scout the most affordable and appeal vacancies around. You’ll have to wait until the afternoon to browse the app, but you’ll get a good luck at last-minute deals that you might not find at any of the big-name travel sites. You’re also limited to a short list of participating cities, but them’s the breaks.
GT Racing: Motor Academy Free
Gameloft is known for some excellent HD Android games, and GT Racing: Motor Academy Free+ matches the level of quality that we’ve seen from previous titles. However, it breaks from tradition by being free instead of the $7 typically charged for a Gameloft game. That’s because GT Racing makes money through in-app purchases. If you aren’t willing to put in the work for good lap times, pay money to unlock rewards. Otherwise, you’ll have to earn new cars the old-fashion way.
GT Racing is rather fun and the controls are slightly different from other Gameloft racing apps you may have purchased. The game uses an “elaborate physics engine” to make driving more realistic, but learning to manage this new style on a few challenging tracks is fun. Try it out if you have a compatible phone (full list available on Android Market page).
Android 1.5 or higher required
Before the Android Market website launched in February, I relied on Market filtering apps like AppBrain to help me dig through the thousands of options out there. Best Apps is another option when you’re trying to figure out what to download. In its Best Apps and Best Games sections, titles are organized according to what lists they fit. So someone looking for tablet apps, shoot and destroy games, or music streaming options, could browse one of many lists to find the right title for them. Many of these titles are already prominent in the Featured Apps section of the Android Market, so seasoned vets might not find this worth the trouble. But someone new to Android or someone searching for a specific type of app – say, Multiplayer Games or Apps To Throw A Revolt – might have a better go at it.
Other New Apps & Updates
AE Best Shot – American Eagle is hosting a competition in which contestants send in their best “AE look” (I’m assuming wearing AE gear in creative poses). The winner will appear in an American Eagle photoshoot, and weekly winners will receive $100 gift cards when their photo appears on a billboard in Times Square, New York City. [INSTALL]
Cracked Reader Lite – I was going to say something witty and list 5 history-changing reasons that you should download this app, but I sadly lack the research skills and savvy of the people who write for Cracked.com. However, I can tell you that this app provides a phone-optimized version of the popular website of infographics, lists, and pop culture references in entertaining article form. [INSTALL]
DropSync – Dropbox, I’m real happy for you, but when the heck are you going to get around to implementing two-way sync in your Android app? Why can this developer manage to implement a useful app that will automatically upload to or download from Dropbox, but you can’t? Download DropSync and designate a folder for sync if you’re sick of waiting for an answer. [INSTALL]
Groupon - Yes, “can haz widget” as the meme ponders. Groupon has updated its Android app to address some bug fixes, add a homescreen widget to provide even quicker access to the daily deal, and added support for Italy and Spain. [INSTALL]
App News & Reviews of the Week
- Gmail for Android updated to 2.3.5
- The Best Android Camera apps to help you forget about Instagram [Droid vs. Droid]
- Braille Institute VisionSIM app replicates loss of sight, educates users on eye disease
- BuyWithMe brings another social buying experience to Android
- QuickBooks Mobile app now available in the Android Market