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14 Apps on Google’s 14th
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Through the years Google has wished just about everyone who matters a happy birthday with its endearing doodles. On 27 September, Google happened to be marking its own 14th birthday with a simple cake-turned-logo version. And to coincide with this is the 25th billion app download from the Google Play store, which is now just 25,000 short of reaching Apple’s count of 700,000. It wouldn’t be at all out of place to look at a few interesting Google Play apps apart from its own native ones — 14 of them, in fact.
1. SwiftKey 3
SwiftKey, which combines with Swype, is a great way to speed up text input on Android. Whether you are typing or tracing from one alphabet to the next, SwyiftKey excels at predicting your words as you begin inputting. The best part is that its predictive algorithm learns from continued use. It also handles spaces and punctuations smartly. It also begins to learn local terms, contacts and more. Users find it indispensible.
2. Pulse News
This news app with its square tiles came early to Android, though it first appeared on iOS. You can pick your favourite sources of news and once you have populated the app’s pages with them, you will get rows of tiles with images representing stories for you to read. Pulse will update the way you tell it to and because the headlines are just under each tile, makes for a great way to quickly go through the news that interests you.
3. Avast Mobile Security
Android has been known for the way malware can more easily get to unaware users because of the entire ecosystem being less tightly regulated and monitored — though Google barges into clean up every now and then. Some anti malware solutions such as Avast, which is free, and Lookout, are now considered essential and a minimum defensive against those seeking to exploit.
Chrome is Google’s own browser for PCs and mobile devices and it’s one that is becoming increasingly popular. Dolphin and Opera Mini have been popular as well, but Chrome has the advantage of working smoothly to synchronise across devices so that you can take up where you left off as you move say, from PC to mobile. It’s also full of interesting add-ons (on the PC) that add to its functionality.
5. Beautiful Widgets
Widgets or little add-on customisations are what make Android truly special. You can change the whole look of your device and get it to give you information and udates just the way that suits you. There are many collections of widgets, not just individual ones, and Beautiful Widgets is one of them. You can personalise your phone with different looks for all the top-level information such as time, weather, battery status, etc.
Tasker is an app for advanced customisation. It lets you set certain actions based on your preferences based on context such as time, location, or event. So it’s when x context takes place, perform x action. For example, at a specific time, you can lock up certain applications so that co-workers or children don’t tamper with them. Read out a status when battery is low is another example. Or, more prettily, change wallpapers when in certain locations.
Android devices battery life is legendary — in a not good way, that is. Juicedefender is a widely used app that disables whatever saps the juice out of your device. You can set the rules.
8. Launcher Pro
This one is for Android pro’s and lets a user define what the home screens will look like, laying them out for quick access to what is most wanted.
This Indian app is a favourite with foodies many of whom don’t leave home without it. The app hooks into your location and recommends eating places or home delivery joints and gives you information, reviews and ratings on them. You can also dial straight out from the app.
10. HDFC Bank Mobile Banking
HDFC account holders should check out this one (after duly installing a mobile security app) to add to their bouquet of useful apps. You can do all the regular stuff of daily banking.
Flipkart and not have an app? Not possible. You can do all your buying on the go making it easier to act on recommendations or something you happen to see during the course of the day.
The essential travel booking and organising app is on the Android marketplace for those who make it out of town frequently and with short notice.
Just as much, if not more, an iOS app, Evernote actually looks beautiful on Android and works well to capture all your information from notes and scans to contacts and photos, all in one place. Another app in the same category but with a different nuance is Springpad and this too shines on Android.
This cloud storage app is a must not just for Android but everywhere else. On Android, its camera upload function (now also on iOS) gave early users some free space. Your photos automatically upload to the camera uploads folder on Dropbox. But otherwise a must for storing work and media files you want to access on the go.
mala(at)pobox(dot)com, (at)malabhargava on Twitter