February saw more than the arrival of pesky malware on the Android Market. There were also countless great apps, games and distractions. We’ve handpicked ten of the very best.
1. Words With Friends
Words With Friends may be instantly recognisable to you as one of the most popular word/board games of all time: Scrabble. The key difference is that it comes with a robust online multiplayer component that allows you to challenge friends and strangers alike from anywhere in the world, text chat with them and even have multiple games running at the same time.
Better yet, you don’t have to wait around forever for an opponent to use their turn. The game will automatically notify you when they do, so you can still go about your daily business as usual.
Plus, there’s an array of cool features such as ‘shake to shuffle’ to rearrange letters, a ‘recall’ button to undo mistakes and a handy ‘play and pass’ mode that allows two people to have a game on the same phone.
Android Market Preview
2. Air Attack HD
Air Attack HD is a classic top-down aerial combat shooter, in which you control a squadron of fighter planes tasked with obliterating enemy targets both in the air and on the ground. It has some incredibly detailed levels, with meticulous attention to detail to battlefields and great animations that give the game a real dogfight feel on the small screen.
You’ll be shooting down waves of enemy planes, bombarding tanks and bunkers and more, while pulling crazy aerial manoeuvres to avoid being hit yourself, all the while collecting cash for your efforts which you’ll be able to spend on upgrades such as extra lives and side planes for the tough boss battles that lie ahead.
There are four different control schemes at your disposal: touch, which allows you to simply slide your finger on the screen to move the planes, relative touch to touch anywhere on the screen, tilt is self-explanatory and finally, joystick, which places a small circle on the screen that you use to control direction. Plus, you can tap anywhere on the screen to make the planes dash side to side very quickly to avoid fire. To drop a bomb, simply double-tap on the screen.
It’s a simple but well executed title, built on a tried and tested formula that will give your hours of entertainment on the go.
3. BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer allows you to catch up to all the latest and greatest shows broadcast by the BBC in the last seven days, free of charge, from anywhere in the UK (sorry US folks, this one’s for us tax-loving Brits only, at least for now).
It has a really slick interface that is easy to navigate, so you won’t feel overwhelmed by the vast offering of content on the small screen, all of which streams rather beautifully so long as your phone supports Flash and is connected to Wi-Fi.
Yes, unfortunately for some unfathomable reason the app currently only works with Wi-Fi even when the mobile browser version of the iPlayer functions just fine over 3G. That aside, there isn’t much to fault this indispensable entertainment companion. Make it yours right away.
Android is all about image and nowhere is this more evident than the all-pervading green mascot that smartfans have so madly fallen in love with.
And now with the Androidify app, fandroids can recreate themselves as a virtual avatar in the image of their robotic overlord.
You can resize your mini-me limb-to-limb, change the skin tone if you have a problem with green people, dress it up in the kind of garms you favour, and even stick on a beard if you don’t believe in shaving. Once you're happy with your likeness, you can then save it as an image, which you can use as your wallpaper, contact photo, Twitter avatar, or better yet, have printed onto a t-shirt or mug.
Pressed for time? Fret not, the randomise option will create a completely arbitrary and brand new avatar for you in an instant, often with hilarious results.
It’s one of the coolest examples of fan service we’ve seen for a mobile platform, enough to make the most ardent Apple fanboy secretly weep.
5. Stupid Zombies
Ever wonder why zombies are always so eager to munch on your brrraains? It’s because they are stupid. And in Stupid Zombies, you fill the boots of one man with a mission: to kill lots and lots of stupid zombies as they march your way while you pick them off one by one with your trusty sawed-off shotgun.
So good, in fact, is said weapon that bullets fired from it can ricochet off walls to slay hordes of undead with lethal efficiency. And as the bodies pile up, what quantum of humanity you have left may question the rationale of your merciless slaughter. Just remind yourself this: it’s ‘coz they are stupid.
6. Cisco WebEx Meetings
Are you a corporate workaholic type who’s always travelling with little time for boardroom meetings? Then Cisco’s WebEx Meetings app may just be what you need.
It allows you to stay connected with the people and information that matter even while you’re away from the office thanks to robust networking tools such as free VoIP calling, a direct call-in number for those urgent on-the-move meetings and the ability to view and share documents and applications, plus screen-share with live annotations.
You’ll be wondering how you ever worked away without this lifesaver at your fingertips.
7. Pinball Deluxe
Pinball Deluxe is, as the name should make fairly obvious, a pinball title for your Android. And a pretty damn fantastic one at that.
It comes with three gorgeously designed tables, each with its own unique theme (carnival, space and underwater) and gameplay style. To play, you simply tap the screen with your thumbs and watch the fun happen. There are also cool extras such as a multi-ball mode and mini-games to test your arcade skills to the max.
Better yet, it’s free to download and even runs on tablets in their native resolution.
Android Market Preview
8. Pig Rush
Pig Rush is one of those endurance platformer titles where the lead character must travel for as long and as far as possible. No, it’s not an original concept, but is pretty frickin’ awesome nonetheless - especially considering the protagonist of said game is somewhat unpromisingly a piglet named Jumpy.
Coz let’s face it, all them pigs ever dream of doing is to run. Okay, may be that’s not true, but they always do seem to rush at things, don’t they?
Well, whatever you think, little pigs are cute and there’s something satisfying about seeing a cute animal, which would otherwise be your meal, running endlessly.
If you’re looking for something with depth, you better look elsewhere. But if you’ve played and liked titles such as Canabalt, then this might be made for you.
Android Market Preivew
Vignette gives you the ability to transform your otherwise drab, generic photos into professional looking images with little skill or time.
Simply take a snap and choose from a collection of 56 frames, plus 68 film and camera effects, including time-honoured retro/vintage classics, LOMO/Diana/Holga toy camera styles, Polaroid/instant camera, cross-process, tilt-shift, photobooth, double exposure and many more cool treatments to throw on top of your photos.
It's compatible with multiple camera resolutions, including both front and rear-mounted cams, plus offers flash support, a self-timer and time-lapse, digital zoom and geo tagging to boot.
If you love taking photos, don’t leave the house without this gem.
Android Market Preview
10. Near Me
Near Me is a simple, easy way to find places of interest and information, such as restaurants, local businesses, events, traffic, photos and tweets near your current location.
Simply type what you’re looking for and the app will fetch it for you. You can save places that you frequently visit, as well as map locations from searches to choose the closest one, see a location in Google Street View and get directions to a location. And if you’re looking at a business, restaurant or event, you can call it directly by tapping the number where available.
It also accepts voice search queries such as “coffee shops near me” and you can place a widget on the home screen to perform voice searches without even opening the app.
Cool stuff, right? Here’s the best part: it doesn’t cost you a penny.