December 18, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Android Market, coming down from the high of its 10 billion download, 10-cent app blowout, is full of apps and games to choose from. Each week, Androinica.com takes a look at what’s in, out, and worth putting on your phone or tablet. To suggest an app be included, feel free to drop us a line on Google+ or Twitter.
Android 2.2+ required
Google orders up new companies like most people order food, so it’s fitting that the latest acquisition was for Clever Sense, the company behind Alfred. Clever Sense created Alfred to be “your personal robot who recommends places based on your favorites.” Upon launching the app, users train Alfred to know what kind of food they like by selecting restaurants for certain actions. Where’s your favorite place to grab dinner, tea, or brunch on a Sunday? This information is then fed into an algorithm that helps Alfred determine which restaurants you might like. It’s not always fool-proof – I said I love a nearby Mexican restaurant and then Alfred recommended Taco Bell later. Lunacy! However, the app is mostly good at finding the right establishment for the right occasion. Clever Sense’s technology will eventually make its way to other Google products, but until then, enjoy the dinner, lunch, dessert, nightlife, and other recommendations offered by Alfred.
Android 2.3 or higher required
MIUI is well-known for mixing some iOS-inspired flair with over-the-top Android style. It’s a bit much for some people to take, but it looks incredible and is all about customization, which is why so many people love it. Mi Locker, a lockscreen replacement app built around that same idea, is equally flashy and appealing. The app makes it possible to have a MIUI-style lockscreen without having to go fully into the MIUI ROM. Instead, users can get creative lockscreens like one that shows a belt can be dragged to unlock, or a phone and message zipper that can be zipped to jump to those apps. There are also options for a simple slide to unlock, or a carousel that can jump to the camera or browser. Within these types of apps, there are dozens of themes available for free to download and spruce-up your lockscreen. You may have some issues on ICS at the moment.
Android 2.1+ required
Lightbox is one of the many photo-sharing applications trying to find success among mobile and desktop users. I’m not exactly sure how close they are to reaching that goal, but I can tell you that the app is doing a lot to make those who discover app want to stick around. Since we first covered Lightbox back in the may, the photo-sharing and editing app has undergone a redesign to offer a more stylish presentation of your photos. Instead of a grid of thubmnails, there’s a stream of thumbnails sort of like a photo blog. Users now have a feed that displays images shared by people they follow, and images can be loved, commented on, or shared to other apps.
There’s also a new Exploration tab that shows featured users to follow and some of the best photos shared within the app. (Lightbox includes the ability to take a photo and apply some filters and effects to them or import photos stored on the computer/phone.) Lightbox members can browse categories to see images shared by big brands like 500px or FFFFound, interesting flickr photos, and import their Facebook or Twitter friends lists. The app is moving away from the “It’s kind of like Instagram” category and more towards a central place for fans of photography, artistic or mundane, to see and share great images. Give it a try and spread the word among your friends if the app catches your attention.
Grand Theft Auto III
Android 2.1+ required
Limited to select phones and tablets
It’s probably been a while since you last went on a shooting rampage, carjacked unsuspecting drivers, or beat up random strangers in the gritty streets of Liberty City. You can do that on the go now that the world-famous Grand Theft Auto series has come to Android. GTA III is a massive, open world in which players can explore to do the previously mentioned mayhem. You can also go on missions and play-out a story of one man’s rise in the criminal underworld. If you’re not familiar with the GTA series, this anniversary edition of the game is time-consuming and dark, but still fun. People who are familiar with the game will find a mobile-friendly port of the game. At the moment, it’s currently compatible only with select phones and tablets, a list of which is updated in the Android Market.
iris, Android Siri alternative, got an update that makes search a tiny bit smarter. Users can now offer voice commands that offer movie reviews, play videos, get stock prices, find recipes, grab news heads, search for song lyrics, and get their horoscope. Download
AT&T Locker is a new cloud storage service. Yeah, we’re getting a lot of those, but AT&T is offer free 5 GB of storage for your photos and videos that are automatically backed-up on Wi-Fi, then made shareable to email, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Wait, MySpace? Download
Sony Ericsson Insider is an app to grab if you love Sony and want to know about all of its devices. You’ll see extras, specs, blog posts and news announcements, and see videos or tips. Nothing to see here unless you are a hardcore SE devotee. Download
Google Wallet has made it to the Verizon Galaxy Nexus through hacked APK means. I’ll reiterate that there’s cause for concern with security, so be mindful if loading on your GNex. Download
Android App Reviews of the Week
- Time Warner launches apps for account management, TV remote & programming
- Facebook Timeline added to Android, here’s a quick hands-on [Video]
- Exitium – An action/RPG that harks back circa Final Fantasy Tactics [Game Review]
- i.TV is a slick companion app for television and Netflix lovers [App Reviews]
- YouSendIt Android app now sending, downloading, and storing files in the cloud
Android App News of the Week
- Sony Ericsson Xperia phones get 50 GB of FREE Box.net online storage
- Sprint and the NBA join forces in multiyear marketing partnership
- The Adventures Of TinTin – The Game launches on Android from Gameloft
- Google+ adds ability to start a hangout from mobile devices
- TSF UI looks an awful lot like TAT Home, the lost 3D launcher from The Astonishing Tribe
- Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle now in Android Market for $2.99
- Android’s most popular app is also one of its most-criticized. [App popularity by age group]
- Halo Waypoint connects Halo players on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7