Created by Google Inc.:
While Google Maps may come bundled with almost every Android phone, it is still an app, and an extremely useful one at that. You can use Google Maps to find nearby restaurants and businesses, as well as to look up their contact numbers and then dial them up straight from the app. When you’re done making reservations, you can get directions from your current location. Unfortunately, the turn-by-turn directions aren’t automatic, but a simple button press between steps is reasonably straightforward. The iPhone has essentially the same app with the addition of multi-touch zooming (although the Android version could get this feature in a future update). Windows Mobile devices have several choices for applications with similar functionality, but they tend to be slightly less polished, lacking the luster of the Google Maps interface.
Created by Raimo van der Klein, Claire Boonstra, and Maarten Lens-FitzGerald:
Layar Reality Browser is an app based on a new concept called Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality works by taking a live video feed and imposing images or information on top of it. Layar uses this technology to allow you to search for nearby points of interest (restaurants, businesses, hotels, etc.), and by using the phone’s GPS and internal compass, displays their locations on the live video taken by the phone’s camera. You can think of it as a sort of X-Ray vision, displaying points of interest through walls, buildings, and trees. Layar is an application unique to the Android platform. Neither the iPhone nor any Windows Mobile phones have any similar application, although a version of Layer is said to be in development for the iPhone.
Created by Mobilizy:
Wikitude is another app that uses the new concept of Augmented Reality, much like Layar does. Like Layar, for example, it lets you search for points of interest. The app also lets you browse categories related to Wikipedia entries. Unlike Layar, the points of interest are focused more on landmarks rather than businesses. It gives you the option of displaying the search results on top of Google Maps, as a list of locations or through your camera using Augmented Reality. By focusing on each location, Wikitude gives a brief description. It is a must have for any road trip or historical hike. Wikitude’s database is on the thin side, but is growing quickly and will continue to expand faster as it gains popularity. The iPhone has just had a version of Wikitude released on its App Store, providing essentially the same experience as the Android platform. However, the Windows Mobile Marketplace has yet to release any Augmented Reality apps.
Created by Two Forty a.m. LLC:
If you’ve ever been in an important meeting at work only to be interrupted by your cell phone or embarrassed in class by your personal ringtone, then Locale is the app for you. With Locale, your phone can automatically change its own settings based on your location. You can create a locale that automatically turns your phone to silent the moment you step foot on campus or in the office. Locale can also be used to save your battery. Instead of wasting your battery by scanning restlessly for wireless networks while you’re wandering around, for example, you can set a profile that only turns on your phone’s WiFi while you’re home or at work (or wherever you want really). The same goes for just about every other setting. Windows Mobile has a few offerings similar to Locale, such as GSM Locator and Phone Alarm. The iPhone, on the other hand, has really nothing comparable to offer, mainly due to the iPhone’s inability to run applications in the background.
Created by Android Apps:
Spare Parts is an assortment of additional settings for the Android platform. It was put together from pieces of the original Android firmware that didn’t make it into the final build, hence the Spare Parts name. It adds extra settings for window animations that allow you to alter them for performance or style, so you can slow them down, speed them up, or turn them off all together. It also adds different animations for things like automatic rotation and screen transitions. Font sizes can be increased or decreased. But most importantly are the statistics options–you can use Spare Parts to track your battery usage under its Battery History and Usage Statistics categories, listing how much power different apps and functions have used. It is an app born out of Android’s open source policy and is completely unique to the Android platform.
Created by Big in Japan Inc.:
ShopSavvy is another must have in your arsenal of apps, if not only for the fun of scanning barcodes. Its main purpose, of course, is to give you quick and easy access to product prices and reviews. You can search by typing in the product name, or more conveniently, by scanning the product’s barcode. After using the iPhone’s Pocket Shop app and other barcode scanners, scanning a barcode may seem like a difficult task–the iPhone’s fixed focus camera makes it difficult to get a good photo of the barcode, while Android’s ShopSavvy is surprisingly simple. You simply hold the camera up to the barcode and it will scan it automatically. There is no need to snap a picture. After scanning a barcode, ShopSavvy will list local stores with the product as well as online vendors and their prices. As for the Windows Mobile Marketplace, barcode scanning apps are scarce.
Price: Free ($.99 Pro Version)
Created by Thibaut Nicolas:
With a multitasking platform like Android that lets programs continue running in the background, a task manager is absolutely necessary and TasKiller offers a simple solution. It lists the running processes and lets you kill them with just a tap on the screen. TasKiller is extremely useful for those simple gaming apps that were thrown together for some quick entertainment but end up lacking the all important Quit button. If your phone ever starts to feel a bit laggy, TasKiller is the app to get to fix it. Kill those unnecessary processes taking up precious memory. Just like there are several task managers for the iPhone and Windows Mobile platforms, Android has quite a few from which to choose as well. TasKiller just takes care of the need for a task manager in a simple, straightforward way.
Free Lite Version ($30 Full version)
Created by DataViz Inc.:
Documents to Go is the premier app for your productivity needs. With it, you can review Microsoft Word- and Excel-formatted documents. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all you get with the free version and the full version will set you back a hefty $30 (pretty pricey compared to the 99 cents you pay for most other non-free apps). The full version supports not only Word and Excel, but also Adobe PDF and MS Power Point. It also gives you the ability to edit all of these document formats, including the creation of new documents, complete with password protection. The exact same app is available on the iPhone App Store and Windows Mobile Marketplace, so if you’ve tried either of those, you’ll know what to expect from the Android-flavored alternative.