The Top 30 Android Apps And Games
Android apps come in all shapes and sizes – literally.
Unlike iOS applications, which are basically created for two form factors, Android apps need to
be developed with dozens (if not hundreds) of device-types in mind. This is on top of the
inconsistent operating system releases still mucking things up. While all of this fragmentation is
a headache for developers, ignoring a platform with 50 percent market share would ultimately
lead to their peril.
The best Android apps are thus the ones that can both push the technological envelope while also
remaining accessible to the vast majority of users. This is no easy feat.
We divided our list of the best 30 Android apps into four distinct categories. The top ten apps
come from third-party developers, and, if not exclusive to Android, were created primarily for
the platform. Additional sections include the best new or significantly updated apps from
Google, as well as the best apps and games that appeared first on iOS but later arrived to
Android in 2011.
As is the case with our lists of best iOS apps and games of 2011, hundreds of additional titles are
worthy of consideration. Our top 30 showcase the growth and maturation of Android apps over
the last year. They are also worthy downloads.
1. Any.DO: To Do List | Task List (full AndroidApps review)
Funded by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Any.DO is the best
productivity and to-do application tailored specifically for Android devices.
The app’s elegant interface is optimized to limit actual typing through
voice-driven commands. Users can swipe each task when complete, and
shake their phones to clear them from the screen. The app also offers
(mostly) seamless integration with Google accounts.
2. Lightbox – Photos & Effects (full AndroidApps review)
More than just an Instagram for Android, Lightbox offers features like
photo journals and the ability to arrange pictures by personal timelines
that make it unique and, to some, indispensable. The app’s stunning
visual display and compatibility on multiple Android devices set the
standard moving forward for photo-sharing apps on the platform.
3. Amazon MP3 (full AndroidApps review)
Along with Google Music (see below), Amazon MP3 is the best way for an
Android smartphone and tablet owner to kick an iTunes habit. The app
provides access to a library of nearly 20 million songs, 5GB of free storage,
and reliable offline listening. Subscriptions to Amazon’s Cloud Drive
service start at a reasonable $20/year for 20GB of storage, but you can store
as much of your own music as you like with that subscription.
4. AirDroid (full AndroidApps review)
Android devices offer so many customization features that sometimes
using a larger screen, mouse and full-sized keyboard will help you get
the most out of your smartphone or tablet device. This free app lets
users operate their smartphones from a PC with a Wi-Fi connection.
Additionally, AirDroid emphasizes privacy protection with password
changes for each use.
5. SwiftKey X Keyboard (full AndroidApps review)
After launching a beta app last year, SwiftKey X arrived on Android
smartphones and tablets in 2011. The app has larger keys as well as
superior word and sentence prediction algorithms than what is typically
found on Androids. SwiftKey also learns from previously typed emails and
messages, and offers three color schemes to simplify the process and
brighten things up.
6. Skitch (full AndroidApps review)
Acquired by Evernote, Skitch lets users annotate photos with sketches,
images and words. The app has dead simple editing tools and the ability for
users to draw with multi-colored crayons. Skitch is a great app for kids in
addition to serving as a functional and unique photo-sharing service.
7. BlueStacks Cloud Connect (full AndroidApps review)
While still in Alpha, BlueStacks is demonstrating how Android applications
can run on Windows-based PCs. The Android app works in concert with
the Windows-based BlueStacks App Player to run mobile applications on
PCs. The venture-backed company and application, which has attracted
more than 500,000 early adopters since launch, expects to debut a Mac OS
version in 2012.
8. Qello (full AndroidApps review)
Available as separate applications for Android smartphones and tablets,
Qello offers a great catalog of high definition concerts (mostly rock,
but with other genres sprinkled in). Users can sample the 500+ titles for
free, or lease any of them on a weekly ($1.99) or monthly basis ($4.99).
9. AccuWeather for Honeycomb (full AndroidApps review)
Developed specifically for Honeycomb-based tablet devices, this all-
inclusive weather application showcases the beauty and utility of Android
on larger form factors. The Lifestyle section, which informs users on things
like whether it is a good day for biking or bad day for allergies, is a nice
10. HD Widgets (full AndroidApps review)
Android is all about customization, and there is no better and more
comprehensive widget app available than this one. Optimized for
Android tablets and smartphones, HD Widgets is great for Android
experts and first-timers alike. Users will also appreciate the ―fanatical‖
customer service of the developers.
Here are the five best Android apps developed by Google that were released or received
significant updates in 2011.
11. Google Currents (full AndroidApps review)
As long as Flipboard remains exclusive to iOS devices, this new release
from Google serves as the premier news reader on Android smartphones
and tablets. More of a fast and elegant aggregator than social magazine,
Google Currents benefits from an organized layout and dead simple third-party publisher
platform. There is also — shockingly — nice integration with Google+, including curated
content from the likes of Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki.
12. Google+ (full AndroidApps review)
Google became a relevant player in social networking this year with the
successful launch of Google+. While the service is also available as an
iPhone app as well as a web app through BlackBerry, Windows and
Symbian platforms, Google understandably treats its own platform as
first among equals. Check-ins for business, for instance, rolled out first
on the Android app.
13. Google Maps (full AndroidApps review)
A November update to this trailblazing application introduced indoor
mapping functionality to mobile devices. Google Maps 6.0 helps users
more easily navigate within airports, shopping malls and other locations
where GPS technology is spotty.
14. Google Docs (full AndroidApps review)
While no mobile application matches the utility of Google Docs on a desktop or
laptop, this official version for Android is pretty close. If you’re a hardcore
Google Docs user, this app will help you break free from your desk and still
read and edit docs and spreadsheets on the fly.
15. Google Music (full AndroidApps review)
Like Amazon MP3 cited above, Google Music is a way for Android users
to comfortably cut the cord (or cloud) on iTunes (at least on their mobile
devices). The app lets users store up to 20,000 songs for free in the cloud,
with a portion available for offline access.
These next 10 apps were initially released for iOS devices. They are included here for their
utility, entertainment value and impact on the Android ecosystem.
16. Price Check by Amazon (full AndroidApps review)
When Amazon unveiled this price-comparison app to Android devices
just before Black Friday, the company’s retail Death Star became fully
operational. Sure, Price Check was available to iPhone owners a year
earlier, and there are similar apps across all major mobile platforms. But having an Android app
gives Amazon critical mass in this category, and allows the company to (again) upend physical
retail as we know it. This includes offering discounts to consumers on their phones during the
point of comparison.
17. Netflix (full AndroidApps review)
There were a lot of things that Netflix did horribly wrong in 2011.
Releasing a killer Android app for smartphones and tablet devices was not
one of them. As Android tablets become ready for prime time and more
plausibly compete against the iPad, entertainment apps like Netflix will
18. SoundTracking (full AndroidApps review)
The most innovative music detection and discovery app of the year finally
arrived to Android in December. SoundTracking not only identifies a song
a user is listening to, but shares it with Facebook, Twitter and foursquare
friends and followers. The advantage of the Android app, relative to the
iOS version which launched earlier this year, is that users with Spotify and
Rdio can listen to entire tracks (as opposed to 30-second snippets from
19. Hipmunk Flight Search (full AndroidApps review)
Hipmunk differentiates from the run-of-the-mill flight search applications
by predicting how painful your traveling might be. The app’s ―Agony
Index‖ takes into account factors beyond price including flight duration,
Wi-Fi access and other variables. Once users choose the least painful flight,
the app accommodates direct booking and provides access to third-party
20. Fooducate Shopping Scanner (full AndroidApps review)
This app translates nutritional information found on food packaging into
plain English, and offers a letter grade as to how healthy or harmful an item
can be. The app offers comprehensive coverage of both mainstream brands
and niche delicacies via the scanning of barcodes. Best of all? The app suggests healthier, similar
alternatives to the worst offenders.
21. Marvel Comics (full AndroidApps review)
Reading classic comics within this app works on virtually any size Android
screen — which is no easy feat. Marvel Comics also offers panel-by-panel
viewing that features beautiful art and more legible word balloons. While
most titles require a subscription, there are an ample amount of classic
comics available for free.
22. Syncplicity (full AndroidApps review)
For digitally promiscuous users who store and share files on multiple
devices and operating systems powered by Android, iOS and Windows,
Syncplicity is a useful way to manage libraries found within all of them.
Unlike many cloud-based alternatives, Syncplicity uses encryption to secure
23. Starbucks (full AndroidApps review)
After launching initially on iOS and BlackBerry smartphones, the official
Starbucks app finally arrived on Android earlier this year. Better late than
never. The app lets users manage their Starbucks Cards and purchase coffee
and the like at nearly 7,000 U.S. locations.
24. LinkedIn (full AndroidApps review)
After what seemed like an eternity in beta, LinkedIn finally launched an
Android app ready for prime time in the spring. While not perfect, the
LinkedIn app is a much better alternative than the company’s more
limited mobile site. Finally, this indispensable professional networking
service found a full-time gig on Android.
25. Path (full AndroidApps review)
A significant December update to this social blogging app on Android and
iOS devices served as an early holiday present to its passionate and vocal
adherents. Beyond sharing photos, users can now tell the world about what
music they are listening to and other activities they are doing. The app’s
new design and ―Automatic‖ feature, which recognizes when users deviate
from routine schedules, also separate Path from the pack.
And finally, we present the five best games to arrive to Android devices in 2011. Notably, they
all first appeared on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
26. Cut the Rope (full AndroidApps review)
While not a household name like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope is among the
most addictive and popular mobile games of all time. The graphics and
music are superb, and Cut the Rope is optimized and plays very well on
larger Android tablet devices. This is another multi-platform grand slam for
(Angry Birds) publisher Chillingo.
27. World of Goo (full AndroidApps review)
One of the most original and well-crafted physics-based puzzle games
around finally made its way to Android devices in late November.
Originally an indie hit on PCs, World of Goo is a construction game in
which users must connect goo balls together to build structures so that
other goo balls can get to the end of each stage. The abstract art and
imagery alone make it worth the five bucks to download.
28. Where’s My Water? (full AndroidApps review)
A clever and addictive puzzle game by Disney, Where’s My Water?
combines whimsical design with killer gameplay. Players are tasked with
keeping a sewer-dwelling alligator named Swampy clean and pristine while
guiding him through urban terrain. Easier said than done, particularly with
Swampy’s alligator buddies standing in the way.
29. Plants vs. Zombies (full AndroidApps review)
This classic title from PopCap, which was acquired by Electronic Arts in
July, first came to Android earlier this year via the Amazon App Store.
It was sold exclusively on Amazon until early December. Fans of the
cartoony tower defense game will enjoy tapping into Plants vs. Zombies
on Android devices.
30. Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD (full AndroidApps review)
The best racing game available for Android devices, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline
HD combines plenty of cars and game modes — including a psychedelic
―Adrenaline‖ boost — with superlative visuals and gameplay. This one
deserves the checkered flag.
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