Thursday, January 10, 2013

7 more Android apps you've never heard of

Back in June 2010 I wrote a post called 7 Android apps you've never heard of. Taking a look at the post, most of them are still apps I'd recommend checking out, even two and a half years later. I updated the original post with links to the Play Store (web installs didn't exist back then), and I removed one of the apps, which no longer works.

Seeing as how Android has only gotten more popular since I wrote the first post, I thought it only fitting to revisit the topic. I won't include any of the original 7, even though I do still recommend them. So here we go, seven more apps you've probably never heard of, but should definitely check out:

The Chrome desktop browser has had a feature called Cloudprint for a while now. I actually wrote a whole post about setting it up. This app is not an official Google app, but it plugs into the Android share menu and a Cloudprint setup you already have at home. It then allows you to print nearly anything from your phone, including pictures from Instagram, webpages from Chrome, documents from Drive, etc. Anything that has a Share menu can be sent to Cloudprint. Once there, you can chose to send it to a physical printer, save as a PDF, save as PDF in Drive, etc. It takes some time to fully set up, but it's worth it.

Admittedly, this app won't help too many people, since Windows Media Center is slowly dying, despite being a great setup for recording TV, watching video files, etc. But for anyone who does use a Windows Media Center setup, myRemote allows you to completely control the computer from your phone. For people like me who have a Media Center box hooked up to the TV full time, this is a huge help. The app works by having you install a tiny program on the PC, then as long as your phone and the PC are on the same network, you can control everything. The app and the windows program are both free.

Eye in Sky
Weather apps are a dime a dozen on smartphones, but every once in a while, one stands out. I like this particular one simply because it has a super clean, minimalist widget. It's also very fast, lets you look at multiple cities, has a nice full Holo interface, and makes it easy to see specific time forcasts for your city. It has several widget styles and lets you pick dozens of skins for how the widgets look. If you're looking for a fast, simple weather app, or a customizable, no-frills widget, definitely give this a look.

Pixlr Express
I hesitated to include this one because lots of people have heard of it. But the people I talked to hadn't heard of it, so I'm including it anyway. Pixlr is, quite simply, the best photo editor I have ever used. It's better than Snapseed, better than Picsay, and better than Photoshop Express. Pixlr is free, has an amazing interface, and lets you edit photos at full resolution. You can do simple edits like cropping, color correction, etc., and also creative edits like dozens and dozens of filters, frames, effects, overlays, etc. And it somehow does all of this without being complex and hard to use. If you have any need or desire to edit photos, you owe it to yourself to give this a try.

Another thing smartphones have no shortage of is drawing apps. Touchscreens lend themselves to swiping around, so drawing is a natural next step. Markers stands out as one that's easy to use and yet has most of the features you'd expect from a more complex painting app. It supports pressure, tons of colors, multiple brush styles, multitouch drawing, etc. It's kid friendly, but is still featured enough to be used by adults. I don't consider myself an artist by any means, but every so often I'll attempt something, and Markers is pretty fun to use.

Point Inside
This is one of those apps that I recommend installing on your phone and leaving there to be ready when you need it. It provides indoor maps for 1150 malls and 100 airports. It even lets you get quick directions from your current location to the store you're looking for. It's an amazingly helpful app to have for those few times you need directions within a mall or airport and can't find a physical map. Or even if you're looking for a restroom. Google Maps is slowly starting to add indoor maps like this, but for now, Point Inside vastly outnumbers it with how many malls are included.

One more weather app to fill out the list, and this one couldn't be simpler: it provides realtime radar for your current location. You just open the app and viola...storm radar. The app does have some settings about what kind of radar you'd like to see, etc., but the core app is very simple. It's fast and accurate, and really comes in handy. This one even gets a place of honor on my homescreen, that's how often I use it.

And there you have it! A freshly updated list for 2013 of little-known apps that I recommend. If you have any more you know of, leave a note in the comments.