It has been another year since the last in the (unexpectedly popular) series exploring the Android apps I am running and, whilst I continue to use most of those, there are a host of new entrants worth mentioning. First off on the ROM-front, I currently run AOKP (that’s the Android Open Kang Project), which includes most of the latest features from CyanogenMod 9, with Nova Launcher for my home screen. These maintain the general Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich UI, whilst providing a series of tweaks.
SwiftKey 3 (beta) has just replaced Swype on my phone — I have always been a fan on tablet — because its predictive algorithm is so good that even one-handed I have found it faster than Swype. I still think it will be a matter of preference but thanks to Joe for giving me the nudge to check out the new beta. They certainly deserve their Webby!
DoggCatcher is my podcast app of choice. It can be set automatically to download audio and video podcasts when on wifi so that your selections are ready to consume once you leave, even if you have no signal. It also supports video playback through third party players like my next selection.
DICE Player is an excellent video player available in paid or ad-supported flavours. Aside from its smooth playback of HD footage in a range of formats, including .mkv, it includes advanced features like variable speed and subtitle support.
CyanogenMod 9 Music, developed for CyanogenMod, is a limited modification of the stock ICS player but it is worth switching out for its tweaks to the notification panel controls, allowing a full set of playback controls and direct closing of the app. Meanwhile I am trying out Apollo which is being merged with CM9 for future releases, though I feel it still needs some work.
Mi File Explorer is also extracted from another ROM, this time MIUI. It’s a very pretty file explorer with all the functionality you would expect (other than root access). However, the in-development Solid Explorer may replace it, with its two-panel drag-and-drop interface (and root access).
Wunderlist is the last of the “utility” apps. It is a basic but easy to use list-making app that has just edged out Astrid as my favourite. Meanwhile, if you are in London, London Transport Live is a must-have.
Camera apps: my scepticism when it comes to phone cameras remains unaltered, but I still enjoy trying out the latest imaging apps. My favourite straight shooting choice is Camera ZOOM FX. AfterFocus is a powerful tool for creating artificial depth-of-field effects to mimic SLR-taken shots. For more substantial filters Pixlr-o-matic offers the most advanced tools, whilst Instagram trades on ease of use and social integration (I wondered upon the popular app’s Android debut whether it would get me sharing more photos on the go — the answer is not so much).
Browsers/Readers: For web browsing I have found the speed of the default ICS browser to be excellent. However my old favourite Dolphin Browser HD and Google’s own Chrome are worth considering. A leaked release of Flipboard provided a visually appealing way to flip through news and social media updates in an image-focused way (not dissimilar to the latest release of the Google+ app). However, my preferred news reader is Google Currents for its crisp, clean appearance which makes it incredibly easy to read. Although it only supports publications that have been specifically designed for it, most of my favourites are on offer. Finally, Pocket (previously Read-It-Later) lets you store and later read webpages you come across either on your phone or on a desktop browser with the respective plugin.
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