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.
Layar Reality Browser
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.
Documents to Go
Free Lite 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.
Created by Neavo:
If you’ve ever lost your phone, you know how disconcerting it is, thinking about all the minutes someone could use up before you get the chance to report it to your carrier. It’s even worse when you lose a smart phone. Not only is the device itself worth considerably more than an ordinary mobile phone, but the information on it could cost you dearly. Mobile Defense greatly increases the chances of getting your phone back. After losing your phone, you simply log on to the firm's Website and the app is activated via SMS, relaying the phone’s location back and pinpointing it on a map. But Mobile Defense doesn’t stop there. If things are looking grim and you fear for the integrity of any confidential material on the phone, you can backup all of your data remotely as well as clear it from the phone. Because it relies on a dormant process running in the background, the iPhone has yet to receive an app like Mobile Defense, and while Windows Mobile has the capability to run such an app, none exist as of yet.
Created by Alex Byrnes:
Texting while driving is a dangerous temptation. It is so dangerous, in fact, that there are now laws against doing it. Enter Voice Text, an app that utilizes Google’s speech-recognition services, allowing you to write a text just by talking at your phone. It doesn’t stop at just text messages, though. With Android’s fully customizable experience, Voice Text can be enabled as your primary text input method throughout the entire phone. Because Voice Text relies on Google’s speech-recognition services though, it will not run properly on Android phones that are not branded as Google Experience devices (one of the few faults of the Android platform). The iPhone has similar apps, but only for specific purposes, such as email or text messages, while none of them offer the all-encompassing experience that Voice Text brings to Android.
Created by Ringdroid Team:
The only time you’ll probably ever meet someone with the same ringtone as you is when you’re using the default ringtone that came with your device. Now with cell phones becoming our primary MP3 devices, they’re, of course, filled to the brim with music. Ringdroid lets you not only set any song you have as your ringtone, but it also goes one step further: you can actually use it to choose an exact starting point for your ringtone, while its graphical representation of the audio wave makes it easier to pick just the right spot to start. From there, you can choose your endpoint by either assigning a total length of time for the ringtone or choosing the end point in the same fashion as choosing your start point.
Created Lupis Labs Software; Mystique by Bendroid:
With smart phones becoming as powerful as they are today, games have become increasingly more popular as well as complex. While Android may not have quite the massive collection of games as the iPhone, it still sports a diverse and growing array of games from which to choose. Robo Defense is one of Android’s simpler games, but it manages to hold your attention when you need to pass the time. It’s just a turret defense game, but when you need a light distraction, it really is perfect. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mystique, a survivor horror game based on the escape room experience. Mystique really does showcase the power of new handheld devices with full 3D graphics and spooky cinematic lighting. One thing is for certain: as the hardware becomes more advanced, so will the games.
Created by Farproc:
Anyone with a wireless network can benefit from WiFi Analyzer. It works by listing the wireless access point in range, providing a clear graphical representation of which wireless channel each of them operates. With this information, you can choose a wireless channel for your access point that has the least amount of traffic (and therefore the least interference). If the graph is too crowded to analyze, or you aren’t sure which channel looks the clearest, WiFi Analyzer has an additional view setting that lists all wireless channels and rates them based on the least interference. The iPhone doesn’t really have any similar apps available, though it’s not particularly surprising given the iPhone’s more casual user base. The Windows Mobile Marketplace is also rather sparse in the category as well.
My Backup Pro
Created by Rerware.com:
As mobile technology becomes more advanced, the software is getting more complex. This means that updates for your device are sure to come along before long, or technology will advance and it will be time to get a new phone. My Backup Pro will back up all of your data to your SD card or online, so that when it comes time to update your operating system or you move to a new Android device, you won’t have to worry about losing any of your important data. It saves almost everything, including apps, contacts, call logs, bookmarks, sms/mms messages, settings, and more. Apps like this are far from rare–the iPhone and Windows Mobile platforms all have plenty to choose from as well. Of the choices for Android, though, My Backup Pro provides the cleanest solution while still including all of the necessary features.
Created by Pandora:
Pandora Radio is a streaming music application, based on the popular Web service. You start by creating a radio station by selecting a song that you like. From there, the Pandora service takes over, queuing similar songs from its well stocked database. As you listen, you can also rate the songs with a thumbs up or down, allowing Pandora to customize the station more to your liking. As it learns which songs you like, it will pull songs that people with similar tastes as yours have liked as well. There are quite a few streaming music apps like this, but Pandora has by far the largest and most mature database. And it’s to be expected since Pandora has versions of its service just about everywhere, from its Website to Windows Mobile phones and the iPhone.
Created by Shazam Entertainment Ltd.:
If you’ve ever heard a song that you liked but had no idea what the title was or who the artist might be, Shazam can help. Just by holding your phone up to the sound of music, Shazam will analyze the song and compare it to its comprehensive database, returning the track title, artist, and even album. While there are plenty of apps that can do this, Shazam takes it a step further, providing you with extra information and making it easier for you to download or purchase the song as well as related works. That, along with Shazam’s extensive database and advanced music algorithms, makes Shazam the best app for the job. Shazam is also available on the iPhone, providing the exact same experience. The Windows Mobile Marketplace doesn’t appear to offer any such applications yet, but there are versions of Shazam that run on various Windows Mobile devices.
Created by Wertago.com:
Wertago is the ultimate nightlife app for the ultimate night owl. It lets you search for nearby clubs and parties, providing real-time reviews and ratings, as well as quick tags to help you find the perfect venue for the evening. With a Wertago account, you can meet new people and stay in contact, making it easy to coordinate events and see what your friends are up to. When the night is over, you can use Wertago to rate the venues you saw, posting photos and writing reviews. Wertago is also available on the iPhone with all the same features. But for Windows Mobile phones, no specific app exists yet, which is not surprising considering the general user base. However, there is a browser-based version that can be accessed by most mobile Web browsers.
Price: Free ($1.99 Pro Version)Created by Shinycore:
PicSay is sort of like Photoshop for your phone. It lets you edit your pictures, providing features like color balancing, distortion effects, cropping, and stamps. The Pro version even features cut-out options for an even more Photoshop-like experience. Once you’ve got the photo looking just how you want it, you can add a title or text bubbles. It’s great when you have some time to kill or you want to add a custom touch to a photo before you upload it to your Facebook or Flickr account. Of course, similar apps are available for the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Android platforms, but PicSay puts more of a fun spin on the whole photo-editing experience, making it a very useful app for such a social-centric platform like Android.
Created by Skycoders:
Cab4me is an award-winning application that got its first taste of the spotlight during the Android Developer Challenge. It incorporates many of your Android device’s features to give you one-button access for a ride home. Cab4me will take your GPS location and offer contact information for the nearest taxi companies. On top of that, it provides you with ranks of each company, so you can be sure to pick the best taxi for you, whether you need something clean, punctual, cheap, or all of the above. The iPhone has a similar app called Taxi! that has all of the same features, and it has recently begun to offer Cab4me as well. The Windows Marketplace also has a similar app called e-Taxi. Although they all provide essentially the same service, Cab4me is the only one to have achieved such critical acclaim. Perhaps it’s just the added flare that the open Android platform provided for it.
Created by Next Mobile Web:
There probably isn’t a single person on earth who enjoys being put on hold or battling his or her way through those convoluted numerical phone menus companies use to herd people around, transferring you from one department to the next. Luckily, there’s Dial Zero. Dial Zero really is a must-have app for everyone. It lets you skip the whole maze of menus and hold times and connects you directly with a real live person. It sports a database of over 600 companies and is growing quickly. In addition to providing you with a phone number for contacting a real person, the app gives you access to a large community of people who share their experiences calling these companies, and the tricks that work to get you what you want. Even if you don’t find yourself calling large corporations often, Dial Zero is still worth having, even for that rare occasion.