Essentials Archive

Barcode Scanner

Barcode Scanner is the first app you should download for Android phones.  This app will show you the prices and reviews of a product by merely scanning its barcode.  By scanning a QR Code, you can download an app directly to your phone.  Or, by scanning a contact, you can immediately add name, number, address, and email to your phone.  Most impressively, you can share a contact, bookmark, app, or anything on your clipboard with anyone else that has a barcocde scanner.  Bonus feature – ability to look through your history of scans.  As QR Codes become mainstream, you will start to see them everywhere, if you haven’t already.  Barcode Scanner is a must download for everyone with an Android phone.  The first time you use it, you’ll see why.

Business Motivation Quotes

Business Motivation Quotes is a simple app that will provide perspective in the business world through famous sayings by the pioneers before us.  Upon opening the app, you are presented with an inspirational quote, as well as the option to either share it with any of your contacts, or to read the next quote.  One of my favorite quotes from the large sized library is, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” – Abraham Lincoln.  Honest Abe still has it right.  Through clever quotes like that, Business Motivation Quotes will encourage you to constantly evaluate your perspective, which we all know is always good for business.  Business Motivation Quotes is a great app and will go well with your morning coffee.

Newspapers

Newspapers is exactly what the name indicates…newspapers.  Through this app, you will have access to 101 newspapers at your ink-free fingertips.  This includes 66 from across the US, as well as some from Britain, France, and even Canada.  You can add the papers you read daily to your favorites section through the friendly user interface.  The amount of content that Newspapers delivers is amazing for a free app.  Download Newspapers if you want access to the world’s best newspapers from your phone, and do it quick before the developers realize they should be charging a subscription fee for such a fantastic app.

Google Goggles

For those of you who have not yet heard of Google Goggles, it is Google’s attempt to integrate what you see with what your phone can see.  By simply taking a picture of an item, Google will attempt to bring up all relative search terms.  For example, taking a picture of my computer’s Apple returned Apple’s homepage, a link to purchase their computers, and Macbook’s wikipedia page.  Google Goggles can also translate text from a few languages, which is pretty cool.

By taking a picture of a business card, the app will correctly read each piece of information and allow you to save said info to your contacts.  While Goggles does not work 100% of the time, the concept is sweet and definitely warrants a download.  Google is taking searching to the next level, and when progress is made, Goggles will be the rich man’s QR Code scanner.

Handcent SMS

Handcent SMS should be the stock option for text messaging.  This app makes text messaging easy, and the amount of settings you can change is astounding.  You can literally change everything about text messaging to your preferred settings, and even have different notification settings for different contacts.  It is impossible for you to fully get the picture without trying it out for yourself, but I can guarantee that once you try out Handcent, you will stick with it.  Bonus features: Text-to-Speech, and Speech-to-Text.  Download this app now if you use text messaging.

Weather

If you are unsatisfied with your stock weather app, and would like a simple, yet effective alternative, look no further than Weather.  It displays the current weather, as well as a 5 day forecast from the easy-to-read display screen.  Additionally, you can easily search for new locations directly from the main screen.  You can also create a widget that will display the current weather, as well as the high and low for as many cities as you like.  For those of you looking for more detail, don’t worry.  By accessing the menu, you can display every stat a meteorologist needs, as well as short blurbs on the current weather and what to expect for the rest of the week.  This includes animated radar, showing you the veracity of an incoming storm or how much snow to expect.  Weather is a simple solution to your forecasting needs, that includes every detail if you want it to.  This app is a great download if you are unsatisfied with your stock weather app.

Express News

Express News is hands down the best news app for Android phones.  It is an aggregate of other news sites, putting the most relevant news stories from around the world at your finger tips.  A touch of the screen takes you from the list of headlines to the story you chose, while a simple flick changes the category you’re browsing.  When you find a particularly compelling story, you can save it to your phone or share it through a variety of mediums.  Additionally, a cool feature is the ability to search for stories by source.  While there is a small add banner across the bottom of the screen, there are no other negatives for this app.  Express News is a great download for those of you who want your news on the go.

Facebook for Android

Facebook for Android is another must have app for those who are into social networking.  The first thing you need to understand when downloading this app is that it is not going to run as well as it does on your PC.  If you expect it to, then you’re an idiot.  Facebook for Andoid runs impressively, allowing you to do anything you can from a computer except for uploading photos.  The menu button gives you access to your News Feed, Friends, Photos, Inbox, Profile, and Notifications.  There’s not much else to say besides if you want Facebook on your phone, download this app.

Toss It

Toss It is one of the most downloaded games on the Google market for good reason.  This app is almost as simple as it is addicting.  The premise is that you toss a crumpled up ball of paper into a trashcan.  However, there is a fan that changes speed with every shot, forcing you to adjust your trajectory accordingly.  The goal of the game is to make as many shots in a row as you can.  Once you reach a certain number of makes in a row, the game actually becomes intense, as you will want to top your friends’ high scores.

What makes Toss It better than the competition is the level selection.  There are 7 playable levels in the free version, as well as two demo levels, one of which has you throwing an iPhone into a trashcan.  What’s up Steve Jobs?  Each level has something unique about it, from varying distances to moving targets.  My favorite level has you change shooting positions each shot.  If you enjoy using your touch screen, or throwing a crumpled up ball of paper into a trashcan, you will love this app.  Toss It is the crack of the app world, each round is a short lived, but exhilarating thrill that will tempt you into playing just…one…more…round…

Pandora

This is the same Pandora you know and love from your PC internet browser.  For those of you who have used Pandora before, stop reading this review and go download it.  If you are unfamiliar with Pandora, you are missing out big time.  You can create your own radio station based on a particular song, artist, or genre, and Pandora will generate songs it thinks you will like based on your original choice.  You can make as many stations as you like.  Furthermore, by liking or hating a song using the thumbs up or down buttons, Pandora tailors the station even more to your preferences.  From Pandora’s player, you can readily see info on the artist and song, or you can pause or skip to the next song (Pandora limits skips to 5 per hour per station).  You can also bookmark a song to look up later, or simply buy it from the player as well.  The only negatives about Pandora is there have been complaints about a slight lag, which would ruin the listening experience, but I did not come across any testing it on Android 1.5.  There is also a small add banner across the bottom of the screen, but if that is what makes Pandora free, I can’t complain.  Pandora’s most important feature is that it will keep playing your station if you need to go elsewhere on your phone.  Its no wonder Pandora is the most popular radio app, and is a must download.