I’ve only owned an Android OS-based phone for a few weeks – the HTC Magic (see my review) – but even in this relatively short amount of time I’ve been hitting Google’s mobile app store, the Android Market, pretty hard in search for the best and most useful third party apps the platform has to offer. Overall, I’ve found that Android has a lot going for it in terms of third-party apps – the catalog is growing daily – but compared to the iPhone the apps themselves often lack polish and sometimes feel a bit unfinished. Having said that, there are in most cases, based on functionality alone, a comparable app on either platform. Here’s a list of the best 10 third-party apps (in no particular order) currently running on my HTC Magic.
The Android client for Imeem (a music streaming service) is one the most polished apps on the platform. You may not be familiar with iMeem but it’s a great alternative to Pandora (which is blocked here in the UK) or Last.fm. Talking of the latter, it also offers a good Android app but I still prefer iMeem.
Sadly, the BBC haven’t gotten around to releasing an official iPlayer app for Android (the broadcaster’s 7 day TV catch-up service) but an unofficial offering has stepped in to fill the void. It’s not quite as smooth an experience as official support would offer but it still works pretty well most of the time. As well as catch up TV (streaming only) you can also access live TV and radio on the same basis as the official site.
Either via GPS or by manually entering a postcode (or zip), Movie Finder tells you what movies are playing at your local cinema. You can view either by movie theater or film to find out what’s showing and where, with full screen video trailers and other info from IMDB included.
If the movie info provided by Movie Finder isn’t enough or you want to delve into Cinema’s past, then the official Flixster client is a must. The app also offers a similar movie listings feature as Movie Finder, along with Rotten Tomato reviews, trailers and more.
The StumbleUpon video app for Android – StumbleVideo – is dead simple and replicates the functionality offered by the desktop or Wii-optimized browser versions. Random videos are displayed and you can give it a thumbs up or down after watching, and you can browse by category etc. It’s a great time waster and offers a really nice alternative to Android’s YouTube client if you’re looking for a more lean back experience.
The Qik client for Android enables you to stream a live video broadcast to the web using your phone’s built-in video camera. Alternatively, videos shot can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter etc.
Borring I know but every mobile phone needs a weather app and AccuWeather’s Android app is a decent one. Once again, weather forecasts can be displayed via GPS location or a manual search, up to five days ahead.
This one is only relevant to Londoners: TubeStatus gives you the latest info on any interruptions to the UK capital city’s undrground (metro) service, including scheduled closers and maintenance to lines and stations.
Twidroid is a fairly decent Twitter client for Android, although I wish you could increase the font size. Lots of functionality, including @ replies, DMs, browsing of profiles, TwitPic uploads etc.
A much needed and pretty robust podcast client for Android. It provides a podcast directory, along with the ability to manually enter feed URLs. And of course, video podcasts look great on the HTC Magic’s 3.2 inch screen.
I’ve only scratched the surface here and would really appreciate comments suggesting other apps I should check out. Thanks!