The explosion of the Android mobile platform has developers competing for attention and downloads in crowded apps markets. The result? You can download a ton of really useful software for free, if you’re willing to put up with the occasional advertisement or upsell to a premium version of the app.
These are 60 free Android apps we find useful. Some of them are extremely powerful, some of them are ingeniously simple, and a couple of them are actually just for fun. But they are all certainly worth a look.
Easy Battery Saver
2Easy Team: Smartphones drink electricity, and this app is among the better ones designed to help you at least make it past dinner with a functioning communication device in your pocket. Energy use plans include options to smartly shut down antennae when networks are out of range and to save only key data, such as your texts. You also get detailed energy consumption reports.
2) Handcent SMS
Handcent Market:Integrated spell-checking, privacy controls like hiding messages in all your tools, and group sending options to let you pump out more than 1,000 messages an hour – all these features are available in this popular SMS power app. You can also fully customize your messaging interface, even making it look like really cool phones like the Blur or the iPhone.
AVG Mobilation: This free AV suite includes the basic app and files scanning you'd expect in any security tool. It also supports device pinpointing via Google Maps, the ability to remotely lock or wipe a lost phone, and a built-in task killer to improve device performance. It even has a battery optimization feature, if you don't want to devote a whole app to that function. A surprisingly feature-rich freebie.
LuckyStar: This app has one of the more intuitive interfaces for the all-important task of assigning custom audio notifications to specific events and contacts. There's a massive online library of ringtones, and you can create your own from MP3 files.
Life Mobile:OK, obviously this app is not actually charging your phone by asking you to shake it. It's a joke. People do stupid stuff with smartphones. It's just a gag, but a funny enough gag that it has a 4.2 rating on Google's app store and a really funny comment thread. Check it out.
Notes: One of the more useful among the tons of notepad apps out there, ColorNote supports password locking, alarm reminders for your to-do list, and quick sharing of your random thoughts via SMS and Twitter. And of course you can color-coordinate that mess of notes that are piling up, or view them in a grid format. Online backup of your data is also available.
ReChild: The standard Android interface for forcing shutdown of buggy apps is one of the biggest complaints of the many users. This free version of Advanced Task Killer lets you view apps and processes by category (music, messaging, etc.) and build an ignore list. The tool also offers a one-touch widget, if you often find yourself confronted with a bogged-down device.
PicsArt: If you want to quickly prank your friends by messing around with their Facebook pics, this is the app for you. In addition to quick upload tools for all the major social networks, it includes a large clipart and stencil library, so you don't have to invest too much time on that prank caption. PicsArt also is tied into the popular Picsin mobile photo sharing network.
handtwerk:If Nihilistic Cosmism is more your speed, be sure to check out this simple reader app that contains the collected works of H.P. Lovecraft, arguably the most import horror writer of the 20th Century. This download is all about public domain content – it's based on basic e-reader technology and doesn't offer one-touch access to publish your eldritch musings on Twitter. But it's a ton of content, much of which is short enough to be easily digestible on your commute.
Metago: This leading folder-based UI overlay has a lot of additional features, including data and app backup and support for 11 languages. It also has a built-in rouge process killer to extend battery life. The latest version includes themes to let you customize your file management experience. It even has a very solid built-in picture viewer.
Skyfire: The list of features in this popular mobile browser is too extensive to cover here. There are several custom views of Facebook feeds, a semantic filter for "related ideas," and Flash video support are just a few highlights. You can toggle between mobile and standard web views as hunt for that video content. Scroll and toolbars are also completely customizable.
Dictionary.com, LLC: Geeks actually used to carry paper dictionaries with them, but no more. This robust app includes thesaurus functions, audio pronunciation aides, word origins and histories, and even trending searches, so you can drop a little fashionable vocabulary at your next status meeting.
13) GO Keyboard
GO Dev Team: Yearning to use fantasy characters in your texts? That's just one of the options in this keyboard program, which also supports a ton of real languages, like Slovak, and custom layouts and skins that you can switch with simple gesture control. It also promises more accurate prediction and autocorrection than is available in the standard Android keyboard.
MyFitnessPal, LLC: This app has a growing database of more than 1.1 million food items, so if you ate it, it can tell you how many calories it contained. That's just the start of its functionality – you can share status reports with friends, set customized fitness goals, and of course log exercise (it has a catalog of 360 of those) along with caloric intake. The app synchs with an online web site where even more reports and advice is available.