New and fresh Android apps of the week (August 4 issue)

August 4, 2012
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    Every day is a new day for new and fresh Android apps on the Google Play Store.  At the rate app developers are creating new apps or improving existing ones, you’ll never run out of apps to try.

    In fact, the potential for new and innovative apps is nearly limitless, considering that human needs and wants are limitless.  We’ve often fantasized about the possibility that one of these days, there will be at least one app for every human need and for every human want.  But, that’s probably far off into the far future.

    For the meantime, we’re glad to see new and fresh Android apps every week.  In this weekly app list, we feature some of the interesting new apps freshly minted from app developers’ smiths.

    What do we have in store for you in this August 4 issue of our weekly roundup of the best new and fresh Android apps of the week?  In this post, you’ll get to know more about

    • a hub app for all photos from your social networks,
    • a photo and video syncing app for Google Drive,
    • an app for interacting with strangers (and potentially turning them into regular chat buddies),
    • a free app for free apps,
    • an app that will blow away your ignorance of storm preparedness,
    • an app for assisting you into getting into the perfect yoga position,
    • an app for romantics and lovers of love quotes,
    • a social networking app intended for lovers of the great outdoors,
    • an interesting app that drives away mosquitoes with the use of high-frequency sounds,
    • an app that drives babies into slumber with soothing sounds,
    • an app for architects and engineers,
    • an app that keeps all your contacts in one place,
    • an app for acing English grammar,
    • a barcode scanner app able to use the front-facing cam,
    • an app for teaching your kids the four cardinal directions in a fun and interactive way,
    • an app for slicing your Twitter contacts into categories,
    • an automatic profile switcher,
    • a photo enhancer app that churns out “perfectly clear” photos,
    • a pink-themed battery widget, and
    • an app that turns your photos into pencil sketch or oil painting masterpieces.

    So, you see, there are more than enough new apps to keep you busy for the rest of the week.  Do check out these apps and let us know what you think of them.

    Pictarine

    People nowadays use social networking sites to update themselves on their family and friends’ events. You can use your social accounts to keep you updated by viewing uploaded images. You can view your friend’s birthday party or last night’s club event. With a lot of social networking sites, it is really an inconvenience to log into several accounts just to view your friends’ photo updates. But, with the help of Pictarine, you can view your photo feeds from various social network sites in one app.

    The Pictarine app is like a photo hub of pictures from social network sites. Upon launching the app, you will need to log in to either your Facebook or Google Account. Doing so will prompt you to add additional accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr. After logging in to your various accounts, you will be directed your photo feeds. Here, you can check the latest pictures uploaded by your friends and relatives. You can also use this app to view your friends’ and your photo albums. You can even send a comment, like a picture, and share it directly from the app.

    The Pictarine app can be downloaded free from the Google Play Store. In our testing, we found that overall performance was smooth and we did not find any ads popping out from the background. I did face some errors while logging in to my Facebook account. Relaunching the app seemed to fix this problem.


    CloudVault Photo Uploader

    Now that we have seen our friends’ pictures on our social network sites, let’s begin taking our own pictures. The CloudVault Photo Uploader will automatically upload your pictures to the cloud and safely store them on your Google Drive.

    Launching the app will prompt you to set your Google Account. This will be required in order for the app to access your account and save your images or videos to Google Drive. You can also create and name a folder where the images and videos will be uploaded. Once activated, the app will keep watch and monitor your phone for any new pictures taken. Once you take a picture or record a video, the app will automatically upload it to your Google Drive account so you don’t have to worry when accessing your files on another device or if you lose your phone. You can also head over to the settings menu and enable the option to upload the pics via Wi-Fi or display an icon on your status bar.

    The CloudVault Photo Uploader is a simple app and works very well in syncing your photos. I took some sample shots and my images were automatically synced to my Google Drive account. The app can be downloaded for free. I did not find popping ads while using the app. Overall performance was good and I did not face any bugs or force close errors.


    Live Chat with Stranger Free

    Got nothing to do on a Friday night? Are you bored and need someone to talk to but your friends or loved ones are not available? A total stranger may help with the Live Chat with Stranger Free app. This app is based on the popular online chat software Omegle that lets you have random conversations with a stranger.

    What this app does is help you locate an Omegle user and will let you start a one-on-one conversation with that stranger. You can use this app to share your secrets with a stranger, share your crushes, share your likes, and all the other stuff that you can’t publicly share with anyone. If you want to end the conversation, just tap the Disconnect button.

    The app is fun to use and can help you find new friends. But, users should limit the information they share with strangers. Personal information, such as your name and location, should be kept confidential. The app should also be kept away from minors unless guided by a parent or a guardian of legal age.

    The Live Chat with Strangers app comes ads supported and can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. Ads will appear at the bottom of the screen but won’t hinder you from using the app.


    Freapp – Free App of the Day

    Prices of apps on the Google Play Store vary from time to time. Sometimes, the app may go on sale and significantly reduce the original price for up to 50%. There are thousands of apps from the Google Play Store and it is difficult to monitor each app for a sale or a price drop. That is why we need the help of Freapp – Free App of the Day to monitor app prices and save some extra bucks.

    Freapp studies the database of the Google Play Store and notifies you when a price change occurs. Aside from notifying you for a price change, this app can also suggest daily free apps for you to try out. You will be greeted with a new set of free apps when you open Freapp everyday. Aside from suggesting your daily dose of free apps, Freapp will also suggest the top free apps to make sure you are getting the best of the best free apps.

    The Freapp app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. The app is ad-supported. Ads are nicely placed at the bottom portion of the screen and don’t distract users from using the app. In our tests, the app ran smoothly and worked perfectly on our test Android devices. You also won’t need to worry where the apps come from because apps featured on Freapp are linked to the Google Play Store for download.


    Hurricane – American Red Cross

    Being prepared is the most important thing that a family can do during a storm. Do you have your own medical kit in your house? Do you have a safety plan in case of emergencies or disasters? If not, you should start planning ahead with the help of Hurricane – American Red Cross app. This app will help you prepare you and your family and keep you safe during a hurricane.

    The app’s main interface will teach you what to do before, during, and after a storm. You can use this app to learn about hurricane and storms, how to make a plan during a storm, what items should be included in your emergency kit, and other things that are essential during an emergency. The app also contains a self-assessment test and measures how much you know about being prepared for a storm or hurricane.

    The app also allows you to receive warning messages from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If you are living in the U.S., you will automatically receive a warning message from NOAA on your notification bar. The app also allows you to share an “I’m Safe” message via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter or through SMS.

    We found the overall app performance good and smooth, although the small text size can be a bit bothersome.  If this app is supposed to be used during blackouts or emergencies, changing the font size to one that is readable by most audiences is advised. While taking the test, I also found it hard picking the undersized answer choices with my oversized thumb.


    Complete Yoga

    With how busy our lives have become, it’s hard to find time to go to the gym just to de-stress. We live in an era where information can be found at our fingertips. Type in anything in the Google search bar and you’ll be given thousands of pages. Maybe you’re considering yoga, which is a great way to de-stress but doing it correctly is important to relaxation. You can’t just imitate the pictures you see, you’ll also need to read the instructions. Some instructions, however, are more complicated than necessary. Thankfully, there’s Complete Yoga, an app that makes sure that you’ll get an idea of how to do the steps by providing you animated cartoons.

    You can choose between Yoga Exercises and Yoga Pranayama. Tapping on Yoga Exercises brings you to a number of poses, starting with warmup poses and, naturally, ending with finishing poses. Each of the yoga pose types has a number of poses under them. Tap on any one of them and you’ll be shown the instructions on how to perform this pose. If the instructions are rather vague, simply hit the play button under the cartoon and watch as it illustrates how to do the position correctly.

    Tapping Yoga Pranayama gives you an idea on yoga breathing, its importance, and some of the breathing techniques. You can get a better idea on how you can breathe easier, pulling air deeper into your lungs and clearing your mind.

    Despite how handy Complete Yoga is to amateur yogists, users might want to know that the app pushes ads to the notification bar.  There are no ads in the app’s interface itself, but you might want to keep this in mind.


    Love Quotes

    If you’d really like to romance someone and you just don’t have a great way around words, then let Love Quotes help you out. Right after you launch the app, you’ll be treated to words in nice readable black text against a white background. Tap right to move on to another quote or tap left to go back to your previous one. The app provides both English and Spanish quotes; just toggle between the two languages through the Settings button.

    They may be a little cheesy but they’ll give you some ideas on how to romance the apple of your eye. If you can’t trust yourself to be smooth and deliver your own messages, you can share the quote through SMS, e-mail, Google+, Skype, and a variety of other ways. Love Quotes is a straightforward app, giving you a number of quotes about love and everything to do with it, such as kissing, absence and, of course, being in love.

    Unfortunately, it’s a bit too straightforward. It would be nice if the app gave users the power to browse by category. It would also be nice if the developers gave an option to choose the quote’s font. Love Quotes also seems to place 2 shortcuts on your homescreen, the first being “Apps” and the second, a shortcut to the Love Quotes app. Ads appear at the bottom of the app’s screen and aren’t particularly intrusive.

    If you don’t have them swooning just yet, you can certainly get them laughing with how sappy these quotes are.


    CamoTweet

    The city life can get hectic. It’s noisy, smelly, and absolutely crowded. If yoga isn’t cutting it out for you, why don’t you escape the hustle and bustle of the big city with your sufficiently wooed partner and head for the great outdoors? You can enjoy nature at its finest and engage in a number of activities, such as camping, hunting, and fishing. If your partner isn’t all that fond of the outdoors, or if you can’t be pulled away from your desk because of mounting paperwork, don’t settle for just dreaming of nature. Look for people who love the outdoors just as much as you do through CamoTweet.

    This is the app for anyone who wants to connect with other outdoors lovers. After you sign up for an account, you can log in. You can post messages and even add a picture to your posts. You can search for friends and, once you’ve found and followed them, you can check out the feed tab to see what they’re up to. If you don’t have any friends yet, hit the explore tab and see what people are talking about. Every time you post something, other CamoTweet members can comment on it.

    CamoTweet has a simple, straightforward interface, with its functions located at the top. Loading between tabs is a bit slow and is accompanied by a black “Loading..” screen, but it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Since CamoTweet is free, there are a few ads that appear, but they’re non-obtrusive and appear at the bottom of the screen.


    Mosquito Repellent

    Getting bitten by mosquitoes isn’t just annoying, it’s also a serious health threat. In certain parts of the world, mosquitoes carry diseases and can cause individuals to become seriously sick and can even lead to hospitalization. If you take a look at your local drug store, you could find and pick up mosquito repellent, but that means adding an extra layer of grease to warm weather. Instead, keep your skin free of mosquito lotion by using the Mosquito Repellent app. Developed by Mateusz Kaflowski, this app promises to get rid of mosquitoes and other insects in the area.

    Launch the app and you’ll be treated to a very large and hard-to-miss button with a mosquito on it. Tap it to turn the mosquito repellent on. You can use any of the high frequencies located at the top of the screen, ranging from 14 kHz, to 16 kHz, mix, 18 kHz and 20 kHz. We weren’t able to properly test if it indeed drove mosquitoes away, but the default sound that the app emitted certainly wanted to drive us away. According to the developer, dogs can also hear this sound and be driven away. If you know anyone who hates the sound or if you want to annoy your dog, launch the mosquito Repellent app and have a go at it.  The higher frequencies, however, did not produce any audible sound.

    The app doesn’t show ads at all, but when we ran AirPush Detector, the Mosquito Repellent app was reported to use the AirPush ad framework, so you might want to keep that in mind.


    Lullaby

    Do you have a baby who just can’t sleep without a lullaby? If you’re tired from all the singing and humming, then give yourself a much deserved rest and let Lullaby do it for you. Another app developed by Mateusz Kaflowski, this app gives you the option of three lullabies. You can choose to have the lullaby repeated once, three times, five or even infinitely until your baby falls asleep.

    Hit the Play button and have your baby lulled to sleep. The lullabies provided by the app aren’t annoying and aren’t capable of lulling only babies to sleep. I was starting to feel drowsy myself just listening to a lullaby three times in a row.

    There’s not much else to the app, which makes it perhaps the best thing for baby. There’s just a teddy bear on the app’s home screen and the app’s functions located beneath it. Everything is in a soft baby blue with white and gold accents. Perhaps you could let your baby draw some inspiration from the sleeping teddy bear for his/her own nap.

    AirPush Detector informed us that the Lullaby app uses the AirPush ad framework. If you don’t mind that, then you can use the Lullaby app to lull your baby to sleep.


    ARCAT

    Though Google is a helpful tool in finding what you need, it can take time to sift through every link and page to get the information that matters. ARCAT is every architect, engineer, and contractor’s best friend. From the design process to construction to facility management, ARCAT provides architects, engineers and contractors an extensive library of information, including CAD details, BIM content, and specifications. That means you have access to over 11,000 building product manufacturer listings, complete with contact information such as addresses, phone numbers, website links, and e-mail addresses.

    The app’s interface is clean and sleek, offering you categories such as Building Products, a BIM Library, a Spec Library, a CAD Library and a whole lot more. If you want to speed up the searching process, tap the Search option at the top and input what you need. At the very bottom of the options list, you can find What’s New. ARCAT will provide you the latest updates from suppliers, such as what they’ve recently added and if they have any new items.

    What makes ARCAT handy is that you don’t need to leave the sub-folder you’re browsing just to access the Search option. In the upper right corner of the screen, there’s a Search icon which you can tap.

    Ads appear on the category sub-folders but they’re located at the bottom and don’t interfere with your navigating the app.


    CallNames

    Here’s one great app that can keep all your contacts in one place. CallNames is a contact network where you can create an easy to remember name that you can share with your friends.

    The app allows you to link your contact information, like your physical address, phone numbers, e-mail accounts, and even social network IDs, to the name you have created. It also serves as a digital phonebook where your friends’ contact information is also stored.

    You can link your CallName account to Facebook and Twitter and obtain your friends’ contact details. You can choose whose contact info you want to get, allowing you to sort out the people you don’t really want to contact outside the social networking sites.

    If you move or change phone numbers, you won’t need to manually inform your friends because you can always update your information using the app and your friends will be informed of your information updates. CallNames is a very convenient app especially for those who have a really large network of friends and are having difficulties keeping their phone numbers and other contact information.

    Download CallNames now and manage your contacts easily. You’ll never have to scramble around the house trying to find your address book. With CallNames, looking up a contact is made as easy as pie.


    English Grammar Tests

    If you are a bit skeptical about your English grammar skills, then you should get this app and test yourself. English Grammar Tests is an app that tests your English grammar skills.

    The tests come in three difficulty levels: elementary, intermediate, and advanced. Try doing the elementary stage first and gradually go up to challenge yourself. The questions are rather reasonable and manageable to answer, so don’t worry if you think you’ll fail this test. You always have the freedom to take the tests over and over until you get the the ins and outs of English grammar.

    The app gives you the freedom to set how many questions to answer. The limit is 99 questions, quite a huge number but you can definitely learn a lot. This app needs an Internet or Wi-Fi connection to work because it gets the questions from the app’s servers. So, if you want to test yourself with a lot of questions, just be a bit patient when you download the questions, especially if you’ve chosen to answer 99 questions.

    English Grammar Tests also shows the right answers to the items you’ve answered wrongly every time you finish answering the set. With this, you get to learn more about English grammar and have fun as well.


    LearnPad Scanner

    If you are a big fan of scanning barcodes for identifying an item or you just really like the act itself, LearnPad Scanner is one app you should definitely have.

    Some people find great use in scanning barcodes because with just a quick scan, the item’s description comes out. You get to see an item’s details without going through the hassle of asking people or searching for it online. With LearnPad Scanner, you get to see what you need to know about a certain item, provided that it has a barcode or a QR code.

    LearnPad Scanner is not just another app that scans barcodes. If you have tried other similar apps, you’ll notice that they only support the use of the device’s rear camera. With LearnPad Scanner, you get to use the front-facing camera to scan, something that the first few people who downloaded this app were praising the developers for.

    Download the LearnPad Scanner today and easily look for an item’s details just by positioning your camera and scanning the barcode. Just make sure you have good focusing and ample lighting when you use the front-facing camera because using it can be a bit tricky.


    Compass Kids

    Kids are naturally inquisitive and curious. Once they ask questions, you have to answer them or they will drive you crazy by asking repeatedly. It’s great that the Google Play Store also has apps that can serve as learning supplements for kids, convenient for those who don’t want to clutter their homes with too many books.

    Compass Kids is one of those apps dedicated to impart knowledge to children in a manner where they can find learning as something fun to do. As the app’s name suggests, Compass Kids basically helps kids identify the different compass points and directions.

    The app considered putting fun background music and colorful graphics to catch the attention of children. Learning compass points is made livelier with this app where a giraffe, an elephant, a monkey, and a lion tell the direction to kids.

    The app works quite well. It also shows the coordinates, and the directions are said by the animals surrounding the compass. This is definitely one great way to help kids learn basic directions, making sure they won’t get lost in the future. Just make sure that they’ll own an Android device when they are older, of course, with Compass Kids installed.


    Slices for Twitter

    Expressing your thoughts, rants, emotions, and whatnot in 140 characters is what Twitter is all about. And, of course, following celebs, artists, writers, and even directors is part of the reason why more and more people sit and tweet.

    Because of Twitter’s growing popularity, hundreds and hundreds of people join the micro-blogging site. I guess you may have noticed some of your friends suddenly making Twitter accounts. Some of the people you may not particularly like may also be following you and you just have to follow back, only to show that you are not a horrible person. If only you can categorize whom you follow, life will certainly be easier.

    That “if only” plea you have has been answered by Slices for Twitter. Slices for Twitter allows you to make categories or “slices” of the people you follow on the site. Make a slice for accounts that are related to music, a slice for celebs, or maybe a slice for anything that has something to do with food. Slices make your Twitter experience better because you have the control over what you want to see and what you don’t want to see.

    Slices for Twitter also lets you explore other Twitter accounts you can follow according to various categories. If you are a foodie and would want to look for other notable Twitter accounts that talk about grub, just use the app’s explore option and you can see other accounts that may pique your fancy.

    http://youtu.be/pXwCnE_4r1c


    Smart Settings

    Every smartphone has a unique set of profiles. Profiles are a group of settings that you adjust in order to activate those changes with one tap of a button. You can set a profile for work so you can set your phone to vibrate while working or attending an important meeting. You can also set profiles for outdoors or while riding an airplane. Smart Settings is an app that allows you to smartly change to different profiles on your Android phone.

    The app consists of default settings. You can always customize each profile that will suit your needs. What I like most with this app is the feature to automatically switch between profiles. The app allows you to set events that will automatically change the profile set for a current event. For instance, you can set a certain time to activate the silent profile and activate the normal profile by the time you get home from work.

    You can also activate a profile by Wi-Fi connection. For instance, the app will activate the profile for work when connected to your office’s Wi-Fi connection. Similarly, the app will return to its default profile when connected to your home’s Internet connection. The app also allows you to display your profiles on your notification menu and switch profiles without having to open the app.

    Smart Settings can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. Considering that this is a free app, I did not find any ads appearing on the app’s interface. The app also features a clean user interface and runs smoothly. I also did not encounter any bugs or malfunctioning features while playing with the app.


    Perfectly Clear for Android

    We use our phone’s camera to capture important moments in our lives. Because of phones’ portability, we prefer using our phone’s camera to take pictures than using those bulky digital cameras. The downside is that our phone’s camera doesn’t have the sophisticated features that allow us to capture state-of-the-art images. In certain conditions, our phones may produce images with lower quality, ruining the memories we capture. But, if you have Perfectly Clear for Android  installed on your computer, you don’t need to worry about taking your pictures using your Android phone.

    This app instantly enhances your photo. All you need to do is to load your pictures from your phone, let the app do its magic, and you have yourself an enhanced and new photo. The app also lets you compare the original and the edited photo and see the big improvements. You can also edit the photo manually by adjusting the tint and exposure. The apps allows you to add additional effects to your photos, but you have to buy the add-on from the Google Play Store.

    The app can be downloaded for a price of about US$1.00 from the Google Play Store. Although this app is not free, the app doesn’t have those pesky ads and runs smoothly. You might also enjoyed the animations in its user-interface, such as the moving photos. Overall performance was good and the app did a great job in enhancing my photos. I also did not encounter any bugs or force close errors while using the app.


    HD Heart Galaxy Battery Widget

    Battery widgets are essential tools these days as they can easily monitor your phone’s battery status right on your phone’s homescreen. Not only that, they are also indispensable tools for keeping tabs on how much battery you have left, battery temperature, and other important details about your battery. Widgets can also make your home screen look awesome. One of the newest members to join the battery widget family is HD Heart Galaxy Battery Widget by M&M Software Development.

    I have already tried a lot of battery widgets and certainly the HD Heart Galaxy Battery Widget is a great new addition. The widget feels much suited to the ladies, as the battery indicator is covered in a ring of pink hearts. The widget is rendered in high definition and is perfect for phones and tablets that sport an HD screen. Tapping the widget icon will present you with battery information like temperature, health, and status.


    Insta Sketch

    Photo enhancing applications abound on the Google Play Store, with Instagram one of most popular ones. Insta Sketch is another photo enhancing application following in the footsteps of Instagram.  It is an app that transforms pictures into sketches and oil paintings.

    On the app’s homescreen you can choose what picture you are going to convert. You can either take a snapshot of yourself using your phone’s camera, use your existing Facebook photos or choose from the images in your gallery.

    The app is simple and once you have selected your desired image, you can either choose it to be transformed into a sketch drawing or an oil painting. After a couple of seconds, your photo will automatically be rendered into the desired image that you have selected. The app is a great way to convert photos into sketches and oil paintings. The only downside of the app is its limited functionality, as you only have two options to choose from whereas most photo enhancing applications these days are already packed with tons of filters.

    But, if pencil sketches and oil paintings are all you’re really into, Insta Sketch might provide a lightweight and simple app for your enjoyment.


    Which of these apps did you try on your Android phone or tablet?  Let us know about it by voting in the poll and/or leaving a comment.

    (with contributions from Alvin Ybañez, Dan Evans, Elmer Montejo, and Paul Nuñal; banner image uses Flickr photo “Andy’s day out” by Scott Akerman)

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