Some of the Best Android Apps of 2012 – So Far

February 14, 2012
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Applications have come a long way, and now, a smartphone or tablet would be nothing without apps. As such, we’ve collected 25 of the best Android apps, both free and paid. From essentials to games, these apps will keep you glued to your smartphone and maybe even make your day a little better and easier.

We’ve also created a comprehensive three-part video series so you can see the apps in greater detail. Check out the videos below.

Video Review Part 1

Video Review Part 2

Video Review Part 3

Continue reading to know more about some of the best Android apps of 2012.


Cut The Rope

By: Zepto Lab

Cut the Rope began as an iOS app in late 2010. Finally, after the Android community patiently waited in agony, Zepto Lab brought the game to Android.

The main objective of the game is to catch at least one star per level before delivering the piece of candy to Om Nom (the hungry little green monster). To get around saws, spiders, and spikes, you have to cut ropes, pop bubbles, and fly through magical hats. According to the game’s Google Play Store description, over 60 million people have already played Cut The Rope, and it currently holds a 4.7 star average rating.

After purchasing the game for 99 cents, you will be able to play 250 levels of Cut the Rope with “New Levels Coming Soon”. New boxes (groups of 25 levels) are released about every few months, and the game itself is highly addicting.

Price: $0.99

Requires Android: 1.6+

Download: Cut the Rope on Google Play Store


Voxer Walkie-Talkie

By: Voxer

Have you ever wanted to skip dialing phone numbers and waiting on hold? If you’re looking to turn your phone into a “push to talk” live walkie-talkie, then Voxer is the app for you.

Voxer gives your Android 2.2+ device the ability to instantly talk with your friends and family over Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, EDGE, etc. In addition, if you can’t talk, the voice, text, photo and location options are all seamlessly integrated into one conversation.

The app works like a real walkie-talkie. When the other person speaks, you hear it almost instantly. And, if you’re not near your phone, every voice and chat message is saved for later playback. Voxer also boasts 0 advertisements and group chats. Everything is completely free and is cross-platform between iPhone and Android. Over 5 million people have downloaded the app already on Android alone. When you download Voxer, you can sync with your Facebook account to see if your friends use Voxer and also to let them know that you now have the app.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.2+

Download: Voxer Walkie-Talkie on Google Play Store


Speedtest.net

By: Ookla

It seems like a new type of “G” comes out every year. To see how your internet connection stacks up, Speedtest.net has always been the #1 testing program.

The app is available on all Android 1.6+ devices and is 100% free. Upon downloading Speedtest.net, you will be able to test your ping and download and upload speeds. In addition, the app automatically saves every test that you record on your device, along with the type of data connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, etc.), the date the test took place, and all of the recorded information. Finally, if you’re all about your data speeds, Speedtest.net even allows you to export your results as a CSV file right from your Android device.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.6+

Download: Speedtest.net on Google Play Store


GifBoom: Animated GIF Camera

By: Tapmojo LLC

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) images allow pictures to come to life through animation. In simple terms, a GIF image allows several “frames” to be lumped into one image and displayed one after another, resulting in an animation.

GifBoom: Animated GIF Camera brings GIF image creation to Android in a very simple and easy to use app. The app will “Wow your friends with high-res, cool Animated GIFs!”

The app takes a bunch of pictures at a set shutter speed. Then, after you have chosen the pictures you would like to use (including access to your local photo gallery), GifBoom quickly turns those photos into an animated GIF. Finally, you can play that animation backwards and forwards in addition to “One Tap Instant sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Email and MMS”.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.2+

Download: GifBoom: Animated GIF Camera on Google Play Store


Shazam

By: Shazam Entertainment Limited

Have you ever heard a song on the radio that you just can’t remember the name of? Shazam for Android will be able to identify that song almost instantly. The app truly works like magic!

After Shazam has identified your song, you can listen to a 30-second preview, share it, play it in Spotify, get tour info, and even see full screen lyrics of the song with LyricPlay. Shazam has become so popular that you can even tag TV shows and advertisements when you see the Shazam logo. Despite there being a paid version of the app (Shazam Encore), the free version offers unlimited tagging. However, if you want to free yourself of advertisements and also contribute to the Shazam creators, you can buy the paid version for $4.99.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJzCyaE6eKQ

Price: Free/$4.99

Download: Shazam Free on Google Play Store; Shazam Encore on Google Play Store


Light Flow

By: Rage Consulting Limited

One of the best yet underrated features of most Android devices is their LED notification light. Devices such as the Galaxy Nexus and original Motorola Droid feature LED notification lights. To fully unlock the potential of this notification system, you have to take control with Light Flow.

Both versions of Light Flow work without root access and support a wide variety of notification types. While the lite version will only allow you to control the color of basic notifications (SMS, e-mail, missed calls, etc.), the full version of Light Flow allows for “about 140 different notifications”. Both versions also allow for custom notifications by contact.

The two versions vary greatly, and to see a comparison, look at this incredibly long list of the differences between the free and paid versions.

Price: Free/$1.99

Requires Android: 2.2+

Download: Light Flow Lite on Google Play Store; Light Flow on Google Play Store


SMS Popup

By: Adam K

Notifications are great. And, now that you know how to control the LED light with Light Flow, the SMS Popup app, along with Light Flow, will create an incredible notification tag team.

SMS Popup is a free application that displays your incoming SMS messages in a nice “popup” dialog. In addition, the app allows for custom notifications by contact and has convenient buttons located just below the message. After receiving a message, SMS Popup puts you one tap away from sending a quick reply. Furthermore, after you close the popup box, the message is automatically marked as “read”. An optional privacy mode is available to hide the sender’s name and message contents.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.5+

Download: SMS Popup on Google Play Store


Chrome Beta

By: Google

If you’re a true fan of Android’s daddy Google, you would be quite familiar with the Chrome series. Chrome has evolved from a web browser (number 2 most used) to an operating system (for “Chromebooks”). And now, soon after the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Chrome has become a mobile web browser.

Chrome has become famous for its speed, simplicity, and syncing capabilities. Furthermore, Chrome Beta for Android features Google’s signature omnibox (the single search bar for web history, Googling stuff, bookmarks and more). Omnibox only takes up about a 1/4″ of the screen. If you’re familiar with Chrome, you know that above the omnibox is all of your open tabs. Google knows that you want to maximize your screen and has taken the standard tab system away. In its place is a very cool swiping feature that is similar to a deck of cards. The gestures are subtle, fast, and work with an unlimited amount of tabs.

Finally, you can sync up your Google account and see all of the tabs that you have open on any other one of your Chrome devices.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 4.0+

Download: Chrome Beta on Google Play Store


Chrome to Phone

By: Google

If you’re an avid Chrome user on your laptop or desktop computer, chances are that you want to be able to take your Internet with you on your mobile device. Chrome Beta for Android offers the ability to see all of your open tabs on your computer. However, if you don’t have Ice Cream Sandwich, Chrome Beta is out of the picture.

Therefore, Chrome to Phone allows you to click one button on your computer in Chrome, and the website is instantly sent to your phone as a notification. When you’re ready, simply click the notification and Chrome to Phone will open the link in your default browser on your phone. Voila! It is instant and magical.

If you are interested in sending websites in the opposite direction, from your phone to Chrome, download Phone 2 Chrome from the Android Market.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.2+

Download: Chrome to Phone on Google Play Store


ColorNote

By: Notes

A lot of people claim to have “photographic memories”. But for the rest of us, even the most important things go in one ear and out the other. ColorNote is the best notepad experience for your Android device.

ColorNote allows you to write text, checklists, and notes and also assign each note a different color. If you’re keeping secrets, you can also lock your notes from outsiders. Furthermore, if writing a note simply is not good enough to help you remember daily tasks and other info, ColorNote allows you to set reminders and even pin a notification to your status bar. Finally, ColorNote even allows you to stick your notes to your homepage with the ColorNote widget.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.5+

Download: ColorNote on Google Play Store


Movies

By: Flixster

When you’re out and about and away from your newspaper (the old-fashioned way to get movie times), Flixster is the #1 app to get instant movie times, movie trailers, reviews, and more.

Flixster lets you search for movies by what’s coming out soon or by your favorite local movie theater. On the way to the movie theater, Flixster lets you play the trailer, view photos, and even rate the movie. After the movie, when you’re dying to find out when you can get the movie on DVD, Flixster has a section with a list of movies and their DVD release dates.

Price: Free

Download: Movies on Google Play Store


PdaNet

By: June Fabrics Tech

Internet tethering has been around since Android 2.2 Froyo. However, after the idea of sharing your phone’s data with other devices became popular, wireless providers started to charge a fee on top of the regular monthly fee.

The PdaNet software shares your phone’s Internet connection with your computer and does not require rooting your phone. To share with your connection with your computer, you can download the PdaNet desktop client. June Fabrics also released an application for tablets that makes it easier to share data to your Android tablet. PdaNet adds zero latency to your connection so your computer connects as fast as your phone’s Internet speed, such as 4G or even 100 Mbps Wi-Fi.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.5+

Download: PdaNet on Google Play Store


TV Listings

By: TV24 Group

TV Listings is simply the best application on the Google Play Store for finding out what is on TV.

TV Listings supports over 13,000 channels and over 100 service providers. If you’re looking to see what is on TV later at night, this application makes it easy to check the full schedule for each channel. Once you have found your program, you can set a reminder so you don’t forget to tune in. Finally, TV Listings also displays lists that are specific to movies and sports.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.6+

Download: TV Listings on Google Play Store


Words with Friends

By: Zynga

Games have always been a cornerstone of the Android app market. And, being able to play with your friends has made games even more addicting than ever.

One of the most popular games on the Google Play Store is Words With Friends. The game has the same idea as that of Scrabble. After signing up for an account and registering with your Facebook account, Word with Friends will be able to tell you which of your friends are playing.

If you enjoy word games and being able to play with your friends, Zynga has also made Hanging with Friends for Android (Hangman) and will also be releasing Scramble with Friends very soon.

Price: Free

Download: Words with Friends on Google Play Store


Google Music

By: Google

Android users have not had a definite platform for listening to and buying music until now.

Google Music is a music player and storage service that lets you keep your music collection online so you can save space on your Android device. Best of all, if you’re going to be without Internet connection, Google Music lets you save any or all of your songs and playlists locally for offline playback. Furthermore, Google Music offers the easiest connection between the Google Music Store and your Android devices. You can also upload up to 20,000 songs straight to Google Music from your computer and listen to all of your songs and music from any Internet-connected device.

The Google Music interface also completely destroys its competition. Google Music is definitely the best Android music player out there.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.2+

Download: Google Music on Google Play Store


The Weather Channel

By: The Weather Channel

The Weather is unpredictable. So when you’re out and about, you need instant access to the forecast around you.

The Weather Channel is one of the best weather applications–if not the best–on the Google Play Store. The app is easy to use and offers a wide variety of information. After inserting your location, The Weather Channel will instantly load the current weather. In addition to being able to add multiple cities to your home page for quick access, you can also click the “Maps” button to get a radar map with different layers and modes.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.1+

Download: The Weather Channel on Google Play Store


Flick Kick Field Goal

By: Pik Pok

Flick Kick Field Goal brings all of the pressure of being a field goal kicker to the Android. Flick Kick has quickly become one of the most popular games on the Google Play Store. Furthermore, within several game modes, the objective of the game is to flick the football in between the uprights (the two poles on the field goal).

While you are playing the game, wind and distance will constantly try to knock the ball away. But, with the right amount of power and angle from your finger, you can beat all 3 game modes and your friends.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.0+

Download: Flick Kick Field Goal on Google Play Store


ESPN ScoreCenter

By: ESPN Inc.

Calling all sports fans! ESPN ScoreCenter will keep you up to the minute with your favorite sports teams and leagues no matter where you go. Whether you’re checking live game stats and box scores, or discovering this year’s standings, ESPN ScoreCenter has it all for “over 100 sports leagues”.

ScoreCenter also allows you to save your favorite teams in the myTeams section for instant access. In addition, ESPN’s round-the-clock editorial staff gives you breaking news, analysis, and video clips.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.1+

Download: ESPN ScoreCenter on Google Play Store


Wikipedia

By: Wikimedia Foundation

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, has become known as the Internet’s #1 source of information. Wikipedia has been accessible from mobile devices since 2004. However, the true mobile website for smartphones did not come out until 2007.

Now, with the Wikipedia app for Android, you can get all of the information Wikipedia has to offer in a very easy to use application. The Wikipedia app houses over 20 million articles in 280 languages. If you find an interesting article that you want to keep on your phone, the app allows you to save it for offline reading. If you’re multilingual, Wikipedia for Android allows you to read any article in any other language.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.2+

Download: Wikipedia on Google Play Store


Home Switcher

By: ymst

If you enjoy downloading and playing with multiple launchers, including your standard Android one, Home Switcher is an app that you must have.

Home Switcher lets you see all of your installed launchers (homes) and pick which one to open. In addition, Home Switcher allows you to choose which launcher you want to set as your default one. For example, when you press the home button on your phone, this launcher will come up.

If you’re still puzzled about what a launcher is, check out Go Launcher EX, SPB Shell 3D, or LauncherPro.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.5+

Download: Home Switcher on Google Play Store


Battery Indicator

By: Darshan Computing, LLC

Have you ever noticed that the standard Android battery indicator does not include the percent battery remaining?

Battery Indicator shows your battery charge level (percent) as a small icon on your notification bar, with battery temperature, health, voltage, and time since it was plugged / unplugged. Battery Indicator is the best way to find out exactly how much battery you have left without opening the Settings menu or other applications. It is very simple, does not have any advertisements, and displays the battery percent in 1% increments for accuracy.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.5+

Download: Battery Indicator on Google Play Store


Iris

By: Dexetra

Surely, we have all heard of Siri, Apple’s personal assistant that is sweeping the nation. Although it is definitely not the first of its kind, it does offer the ability to decipher your sentences rather than only accepting certain commands.

Iris, Siri spelled backwards, was released soon after Siri and even the developers claim that it is a Siri clone. Iris allows you tell your phone to

  • Call or text someone
  • Search nearby locations
  • Play music
  • Find news
  • And many more

To show just how amazing the app is, the Iris team put Iris up against Siri. With the help of ChaCha and other information databases, Iris seems to be giving much better information without having to launch the browser. Take a look for yourself:

Note: You need to have “Voice Search” and “TTS library” installed in your phone for Iris to work. Most phones have these pre-installed; if not, please install them from the Google Play Store before you try Iris.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 2.1+

Download: Iris on Google Play Store


Lookout Mobile Security

By: Lookout Mobile Security

By now, most Android users are aware of malware, spyware, and trojans that exist even on the Android platform.

Lookout Mobile Security is like an antivirus program for your Android device. Whenever a new app is downloaded and installed, Lookout will automatically scan it to ensure that it is safe. However, Lookout is not bulky or annoying like most antivirus programs and runs mostly in the background.

In addition, by going to myLookout.com, users can find their phone (even if GPS is off) and activate a loud alarm, even if your phone or tablet is on silent mode. If you’re looking to keep your Android device safe, Lookout is the way to go.

Price: Free

Requires Android: 1.5+

Download: Lookout Mobile Security on Google Play Store


Beautiful Widgets

By: LevelUp Studio

Widgets have always been the centerpiece of the Android platform.

Beautiful Widgets is a set of custom widgets that include clock, weather, date, and toggle widgets. Beautiful Widgets will completely enhance your home page in addition to giving you instant access to the most important information without having to open any app.

Each widget is customizable in size and can be combined with 300 skins to ensure that the widgets fit in with the rest of your phone. LevelUp Studio is so confident that you will love Beautiful Widgets that they are extending the refund policy from 15 minutes to 24 hours.

Price: $2.89

Requires Android: 1.6+

Download: Beautiful Widgets on Google Play Store


SPB Shell 3D

By: SPB Software

One of the best features about Android is having total control of customization. More specifically, launchers and skins give Android users access to tons of new user interfaces and also features.

Putting aside some of the more well-known launchers, SPB Software recently release SPB Shell 3D. The app, which will cost you $14.95 in the Android Market, will bring a whole new look and feel to your Android 2.1+ device. Over 100,000 people, including us, have already downloaded the launcher. Don’t be scared off by the steep price tag — SPB Shell 3D packs dynamic folders, custom widgets and panels, sweet animations, and a full 3D experience. Once you download this app, no additional skins or plugins are needed.

Price: $14.95

Requires Android: 2.1+

Download: SPB Shell 3D on Google Play Store


Even more apps

If you are as crazy about high quality apps as we are, be sure to check out our expert curated app lists below. The Google Play Store is often a daunting place to find what you are looking for. Check them out! Let us know if there is a type of app you are looking for, or if you would like a list created, too.

New and fresh apps

Customizing and personalizing Android

Education, learning, and references

Home, family, and kids

Health and wellness

Sports and physical fitness

Games

Lifestyle, leisure, and entertainment

Music and audio

Video, TV, and movies

Safety, security, and privacy

Food and drink

Driving, navigation, and travel

Buying, selling, and shopping

Notes, lists, organizers, and personal finance

Cameras and photos

Art and creativity

Tools and utilities

Online and social life

Work, career, and the professions

Hobbies and personal interests

Communication

Other interesting apps

And so, what say you, dear reader? Is there any app that you’ve used recently that is worthy of mentioning here? We’ll be updating this list constantly to showcase this year’s best Android apps, both paid and free, so let us know what you think in the comments.

(post updated August 22, 2012 — E.M.)

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