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Gurupreet Singh

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As the smartphone war rages on, Google’s Android platform, which powers more than 100 smartphone models, continues to rack up market share.

Of course, the availability of quality apps contributes to Android’s growth. Here are some of our new favorites, most of them free, to try ahead of the new year.

1. DoubleTwist

doubletwist android

The DoubleTwist Player for Android that debuted in the Android Market this week is a good-looking alternative to Android’s default media player.

The Android app is the mobile arm of the DoubleTwist media library for Windows and Mac, itself an iTunes alternative focused on managing media for a variety of smartphone platforms. As such, the mobile player is tasked with syncing your music, videos, and podcasts to and from your desktop and your Android phone.

The app lets you find songs by artist, album, title, or playlist. There are also shortcuts for synced videos and podcasts. The player then spins your picks, giving you basic controls to pause, p, and shuffle.

Download DoubleTwist Android

2. Kindle Reader For Android

kindle reader for androidThere are already a few ways to read books on your Android phone, but this is the app everyone’s been waiting for. Now you can browse Amazon’s Android-optimized ebook store in the browser and download books straight to your device.

After you download a book (or a free book sample), it will appear in the Kindle app and you can read it with the app’s touch-friendly interface. Just like with the iPhone, you can adjust text size, add bookmarks, view annotations, and turn pages easily with a flicking motion or tapping the corner of the page. And, if you have a Kindle, Amazon’s Whispersync feature will make sure your last read page and annotations stay the same on all your devices.

Kindle for Android is a free download for Android 1.6 and above.

Download Kindle Reader for Android

3. Sky Report

ski report androidThe application provides a simple list of ski related weather information for different locations selected by the user. The current ski locations are limited to Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. However, this list should grow (see Ski Report Server Definition below). Future enhancements may include simple notifications for when a certain amount of snowfall has been found on one of the user’s selected locations.

Ski Report Server Definition

There is currently no central place to freely access snow and weather data. In order to allow the development of the Android application, a common Ski Report Server definition has been defined. Currently the only data providers supported by this project are for locations in Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. However the server definition is flexible and pluggable so that new providers can be added without having to build a new version of the Android application.

Download Ski Report for Android, Search ‘SkiReport.com’ in the Android Market to download today!

4. Meebo

meebo android

Meebo is a multi-client instant messaging app for the Android platform. This app is from the same company that brought you the website Meebo, which is a pretty great solution for instant messaging wherever you are. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t offer anywhere near as much as the Meebo website does and falls short in some big places.

When you first sign in, you’ll be able to pick from AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, Meebo, MSN, and Yahoo. This simply adds ICQ, Jabber, and Meebo to the list of clients that you could already connect to through the original Android IM app. To sign in to multiple accounts, you’ll need to sign in to one first, press the menu button, then sign into another. When you sign in, your buddy list will be available to you, but unfortunately, it won’t be set up how you like it.

Download Meebo For Android

5. Documents To Go

documents to go android

Your Android phone may not have the most ideal screen size for drafting manifestos or multipage spreadsheets, but with the right app it’ll do in a pinch. Documents To Go supplies the basic tools for editing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF apps, and creating new documents from scratch. Password protection, word count, find-in-page, and formatting tools come in the bundle, though unlike its main Quickoffice competitor, Documents To Go doesn’t offer remote access to online files like Google Docs.

The free, read-only version shows off the contents of Words and Excel documents stored either as an e-mail attachment or loaded onto the SD card. DataViz aggressively uses the app as a lure to upgrade, prompting you to purchase the full version any time you select a premium feature–which is pretty much all of them, including ascertaining a document’s word count and searching for a specific word in a read-only document. If you’re truly only interested in reading and not editing, the sales pitch gets old.

Download Documents To Go for Android – Search ‘Documents To Go’ at Android Market.

6. Flixster

flixster android

Flixster is a free Android application that brings movie and DVD information direct to your Android powered device. Flixster will bring you the latest showtimes, box office information, movie trailers, and reviews from the rotten Tomatoes movie web site.

Flixster for Android features include:

  • Showtimes & info for the top box office movies & DVDs
  • High quality trailers (fullscreen option)
  • Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
  • Links to theatre maps and phone numbers
  • Cupcake support

Download Flixster for Android – To get the free app, visit Flixster.com from your phone or download Flixster from the Android Market.

7. My Tracks

my tracks androidMy Tracks records your GPS tracks and shows live statistics such as time, speed, distance, and elevation – while hiking, cycling, running or participating in other outdoor activities. Once recorded, you can share your tracks, upload them to Google Spreadsheets, visualize them on Google My Maps and share with friends.

To display pace[min/km] instead of speed[km/hr] select:
Settings>Display>Display Speed

To hear announcements select:
Settings>Recording>Announcment Frequency

Recent changes:
v1.0.21 fixes uploading and exporting tracks.

Latest version: 1.0.21 (for all Android versions, supports App2SD)

Manually install from the Android Market

  1. Go to ‘Market’ on your Android-powered device.
  2. Select ‘Search’.
  3. Enter ‘My Tracks’ into the search field.
  4. Once you’ve found the ‘My Tracks’ app, touch to install.
  5. Follow the onscreen instructions to proceed with the installation.

8. Shazam

shazam android

Discover, buy and share music with Shazam on Android.

With the Shazam Widget you can now Tag straight from your home screen, and discover songs Shazamers around the world are tagging with live Tag Stream, plus add tracks you like to your Tag list.

Download Shazam, or Encore – our premium app with unlimited tagging and exclusive features – from Android Market.

Download Shazam for Android

9. Urbanspoon

urbanspoon android

Urbanspoon’s Android app is a kind of restaurant slot machine. Just shake the phone and the wheels will spin until they settle on a good nearby restaurant for you. You can also lock down the neighborhood, cuisine and/or price you are interested in. Keep spinning until you get a restaurant you want to try.

We’re excited about our Android app because:

  • The big screen lets us show lots of detail.
  • Search is right at the top, and works instantly.
  • Nearby restaurants and other goodies are in the menu.
  • Did we mention that it’s blazingly fast?

Urbanspoon currently supports Droid and Nexus One phones. If you have another Android phone, our app MAY work. If not, you can always find Urbanspoon on the web at urbanspoon.com/m

Download Urbanspoon for Android

10. BigOven

bigoven android

The Android application lets you:

Search 170,000+ Recipes by title, tag or more

  • Use the Leftover Wizard(tm) – simply enter 3 ingredients from your fridge or pantry, and BigOven will tell you what you can make!
  • Mark/unmark recipes Favorite; fully synchronized with the desktop browser version of BigOven.com*
  • Create a “Try Soon” list on your computer (or mobile device) and always have something fresh to try*
  • Rate and comment upon recipes*
  • Display ingredient quantities in either metric and US
  • See “What’s for Dinner?” – an ongoing, live list of dinner suggestions from people around the world, and add your suggestions

*requires an optional, free BigOven.com account

Happy cooking!

Download BigOven for Android – You can find it now in the Android Marketplace – search on “BigOven”.

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Top 10 Android Apps for 2010 – 2011, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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