2010 was a banner year for the Android platform. It saw the arrival of some of the best handsets to market and more apps than you could shake a stick at. To save you the trouble of sifting through them, we have handpicked the ten that stood out the most.
1 Game Dev Story
Game Dev Story is a cute simulation title that allows you set up and manage your own game development company, create a million-selling game and eventually build up enough capital to launch your own games console.
You can recruit employees for a variety of game development professions, from artist to engineer. You can also keep tabs on your employees’ progress and fire the ones who are underperforming. While employees performing really well catch on fire themselves, literally and figuratively, as an indication of their awesomeness.
It’s a ton of fun and addictive as hell. Just make sure you don’t get caught wasting hours playing it at work or it could be you getting the sack!
Tired of hooking-up your phone to the computer every time you want to transfer the latest music and movies across? With AirSync from doubleTwist you can say 'sayonara cable' and 'hello 21st century'.
This nifty app wirelessly syncs all your iTunes and Windows Media playlists, photos and videos to your Android smartie at the tap of a button, putting an end to the tedious process of dragging and dropping songs.
Simply pair the handset to the computer using the free doubleTwist client and within a matter of minutes you’ll have your Rick Astley collection loaded up and ready to roll.
Android manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make their phones stand out from the pack with custom skins that, quite frankly, make the already sluggish Android launcher even more cumbersome to use. While they do add some useful functionality here and there, in the end the negatives outweigh any potential benefits.
Enter LauncherPro - a slicker, smoother, faster alternative to the stock Android Launcher, not least because it’s more responsive, but also because it offers dizzying array of options with which you can customise how the launcher looks and behaves.
From a scrollable dock to add as many of your favourite applications as you want to a 3D app drawer with a cool fly-in effect, LauncherPro covers all the bases. Not convinced? It’s free, so at least give it a try.
4 Spoty Location Reminder ToDo
Keep forgetting to buy some flowers for the missus on the way home? How about for the mistress? Don’t let a silly thing like short-term memory loss hold you back and miss out on the rewards of a little romance. Spoty is a location-based reminder tool that will notify you of things that need getting done whenever you’re in a certain area.
It will automatically switch the ringer on for you when you’re at the office and even block calls for you if you’re otherwise occupied. Forgot to stop by at your friend’s gaff? Let Spoty send them a text on your behalf. Grab this and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without this gem.
5 Quick Settings
Quick Settings allows you to quickly change the most important settings on your ‘droid without having to navigate through a maze of screens. Everything from lowering the brightness of the screen to turning off non-essential services to save precious battery life, you can do right here.
And to access it, all you need simply to long press the search button or select it from the notifications drawer. Simples!
6 Slide Screen
Feeling overwhelmed by information overload? Let Slide Screen remedy that for you.
It replaces your default homescreen with a clutter-free interface that seamlessly fuses all the information that matters to you. This includes news, weather and stock updates, Twitter and Facebook streams, plus essential notifications such as calls, messages, appointments and emails, all displayed in neatly arranged colour-coded categories.
Tapping on an item will take you directly to the relevant app. But the best part is that you can easily change how much of each information category you want to make visible, by vertically repositioning a ‘slider’ that lends the app its name.
It’s a mighty useful tool and a must-have for anyone with a busy lifestyle.
7 Slice It!
Slice It! is a clever little puzzler that sets you on a quest to slice all manner of shapes into a specified number of pieces of equal size.
Sound easy? Just wait till you get to the latter stages, coz you’ll be sweating buckets trying to figure out how to chop more complex shapes down with the fewest tries possible. And at the end of each stage you’ll be rated out of five stars based on how quickly and accurately you performed.
Just don’t go crying to your mama coz you got one star. Maybe you should have paid more attention in geometry rather than admiring that hottie who sat at the back, eh?
8 Sketchbook Mobile
Sketchbook Express is a professional-grade painting/drawing app that's super responsive to use and comes with a gamut of powerful tools, including 47 preset brushes, full layer controls and dynamic symmetric drawing to whip up great looking artwork in no time. With a bit of imagination and effort, you could even produce your own masterpiece on the go.
Or if you’re just in the mood for casual fun, simply add a photo and go nuts. Then export your creation as a JPEG, PNG or PSD file and you’ll be ready to share it with the world.
So whether you’re a budding artist or an avid doodler, do pick this up without a moment’s hesitation. But just in case, there’s a free version too, to try before you buy.
9 Dr.Web Anti-virus
Android may be all the rage lately but it is also becoming increasingly prone to malicious attacks from hackers and stalkers alike. Google’s lenient approach to the Android Market isn’t exactly helping matters either, as pesky apps have been known to sneak past the search giant’s lax approval process.
To counter these threats, a plethora of anti-virus software has come to market. But Dr.Web stood out from the pack, as it can not only search and quarantine almost any malware on your device and SD card, but also comes with a real-time monitor to protect you against harmful sites while you’re browsing the web.
Plus it doesn’t cost you a penny, so that’s a boon for those on a budget.
10 The Impossible Game
There was a time when video games were ridiculously simple and equally hard. The Impossible Game is an ode to those classics that once tested gamers’ mettle like no other.
Being an indie production with limited resources, this is certainly not a title for the graphics-obsessed. But if you want to have fun in its rawest form and be challenged and rewarded by the simplest of gameplay mechanics, then this will be right up your alley.
With unadorned visuals composed of entirely of squares and triangles and a fantastic soundtrack that complements the intensity of the gameplay, The Impossible Game is easily one of this year’s unmissable picks.