14
Jan
2012

As promised, we've got another set of roundups for you this month. This time, though, we're not just looking at last month's best apps and games – we've got a short list of the very best apps and games from all of 2012.

To be sure, poring over all the apps we've covered in the past year was an arduous task. We've picked three entries for each category (in no particular order), but there were certainly more than four new apps worth talking about. To that end, we've also got plenty of runners-up. Without further ado, here's the cream of the 2012 crop.

APPS

Chrome for Android

There are a lot of browsers available to Android users. A whole lot. And the subject of which is best can be a divisive one. While Chrome for Android may not be at the top of every power user's list, its introduction in 2012 (and subsequent packaging into Nexus devices) was a big deal, and Chrome is a great browser for a couple of reasons.

One of those reasons is its seamless integration with all your other Chrome-running devices. Of course, this kind of integration was to be expected. That said, it's still impressive – bookmarks, open tabs, and history from any device signed into Chrome will show up on your mobile device, eliminating the need for the clunky Chrome to Phone extension altogether and making for a really nice experience.

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Of course, even though it was introduced only introduced three days ago, we have to mention the Chrome beta channel, which promises to bring bleeding edge fixes and enhancements to Chrome users even faster.

Pinterest

Pinterest came to Android last year with much fanfare. After all, the social bookmarking platform has seen some great success. An official Android client was hotly anticipated, and when it hit, we were pleasantly surprised. Our review of Pinterest's Android offering called it "perfectly designed," and that's where the app wins major points – the app pays attention to Android's design guidelines while retaining its own visual style matching that of its online counterpart.

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As mentioned in our review, Pinterest isn't just for women, despite previous misconceptions. Having instant access to untold seas of ideas convinced this writer to start the Pinterest habit, and if you're looking for something to kill time, find great ideas, and pin/repin thousands of neat ideas, Pinterest is for you. Oh, and it's free from the Play Store.

Flipboard

Flipboard for Android started off as an exclusive for the Galaxy SIII back in May, much to the dismay of other Android users who were soon gratified by a pulled APK. The news reader, which has been a popular iOS app for some time, certainly gave Google's Currents app a run for its money, and has only improved since.

For those who don't know, Flipboard seeks to be your "social news magazine," aggregating news from various sources of your choosing in a sleek, unique UI.

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If you've somehow avoided trying Flipboard thus far, but want a great news reading experience with a maximally snazzy interface, hit the widget.

TabletSMS

TabletSMS is an unassuming app that debuted in September last year. Unassuming though it may be, it's hugely useful, and allows tablets and texting to work together seamlessly for those who, like many of us, rely on their tablets as a primary mobile device.

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The interface is about as simple as it can be, the service is reliable, and it saves plenty of time switching devices when you're in the middle of a good web browsing session.

Special Mention: Facebook's Native Rebuild

Though the Facebook app by no means debuted in 2012, we're giving special mention to its native rebuild. For those who don't know, Facebook's app used to be just about unusable. Essentially it was a slow, creaky HTML web-viewer. In December, though, the social media giant finally released a rework of its app, this time build natively for Android, significantly improving its speed while maintaining the same look and feel of the old UI. If you had forsaken Facebook's slow app before, now's a great time to give it another shot.

Special Mention: Read It Later's 'Pocket' Revamp

Read It Later, while not released during 2012, is worth mentioning on this list for its 2012 rebrand to Pocket. The app underwent major surgery during the revamp, emerging a beautiful app butterfly with a clean, minimal, magazine-style UI, and the huge usefulness of its predecessor intact. If you find yourself short of time when browsing news feeds, Pocket is an incredible tool (and competitor to apps like Instapaper) and a great time saver.

More Great Apps

Final Thoughts

Whether you're into exploring cities, finding your next great decorating idea, or just browsing the web, there's no question – 2012 had plenty of great new apps. Of course, even if you weren't enchanted by a single app from the whole year of 2012, we'll be back next month with a short list of January's best entries. In the mean time, keep your eyes peeled for our larger, semi-weekly roundups.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Aaron Berlin

    No special mention for the complete, stunning Google+ refresh?

    • http://kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

      Read the title of the page. **New** apps

      • Aaron Berlin

        Not only did I read the title, I read the whole article! You might notice a couple "new" apps at the bottom.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Well, the special mention was given to Facebook, for example, so I see @titusthorngate:disqus's point, but as David said, Facebook improved dramatically (HTML5 -> native), but G+ was pretty great from the beginning.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Google+ didn't suck bad enough in the first place for the refresh to be international tech news. I think that's probably a good thing. :)

      • Aaron Berlin

        Fair enough!

  • defred34

    Lol. Special mention goes to Chameleon launcher...pfft

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I don't see where it got a special mention.

      • defred34

        Sorry, under More Great Apps (doesn't make a difference)

  • anzensepp1987

    The Wikipedia-app is horrible and far from being a "great" app. And it is not even improving... There are lots of better alternative third-party-apps for Wikipedia. Even "Wapedia" without recieving an update within years is still better than the native Wikipedia-app...

    • Laurence

      I was just thinking the same thing. The Wikipedia app is laggy and the UI is very Gingerbread-y. It's badly in need of an update.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523907787 Maxx Tan

    Chameleon Launcher = More great apps list?
    More like great concept, failed execution

    • Abhisshack D

      exactly , It should mention TSF Shell Launcher rather Chameleon

  • http://twitter.com/tmadd8 Tyler Maddocks

    Very generic apps here. Nothing innovative.

    • Tee

      Kii Keyboard and SmallCall are missing too!

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    I've avoided pinterest since it's "for girls". Then, last week I was saving a bunch of articles and pictures to my pocket/read-it-later account gathering ideas for a diy project, and thought to myself, "i wish there was some way to just like save and group small pics together". I may have to finally cave

  • LiamBryant

    For anyone interested in TabletSMS, you should check out MightyText. The name is weak, but it offers the exact same features as TabletSMS (syncing phone, tablet and a MUCH better web interface) and there is no yearly charge.

    • Matthew Fry

      Yeah... I'm not sure how MightyText didn't get at least a special mention. MightyText is great.

    • Tyler

      YES! Made a post mentioning it before i read this one.

    • Josh Hoffman

      MightyText is by far the best application I came across in 2012, much much better then TabletSMS

  • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

    I too am surprised at the inclusion of Chameleon, which is overhyped to no end imho...

    I thought Snapseed definitely merited a place. And Currents, feedly and Google+ too, although they're not "new" per se, but they have been greatly improved after getting makeovers this year.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, Feedly, Currents, and G+ aren't from 2012, so they weren't included.

      Snapseed did fall through the cracks, but I've just added it. It deserves to be in this list 100%.

      • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

        Feedly's got a pretty big redesign in 2012.

  • Erik Amador

    IMO, Chrome browser has a looong way to go before it becomes my primary browser. It's slow and force closes waaay to often on multiple Android devices I own. I'd say Dolphin w/JetPack is by far the best Android browser atm.

    • martyhalpern

      I use Chrome on my Nexus 7 tab, synced with Chrome on my Windows XP and 7 machines, have never had a force close, no lag, it works flawlessly. It's become my browser of choice. Wish you had a similar experience. Cheers.

  • Erik Amador

    Tablet SMS > GVoice app? guess I'll have to check it out.

  • Wolf

    Sorry, but IMHO, this post didn't meet the regular AP Quality Standards! All apps are just regular ones, and none qualify as "Great" apps, and there are not great details provided for these apps as well.

    @Artem / @Ron - Kindly re-write this article! There's a reason why everyone subscribes to AP RSS Feeds...

  • martyhalpern

    I checked out Flipboard based on your rec, and then after some setup, uninstalled it and went back to using Pulse. My issue with Flipboard is that any news sites that I add (e.g. NBC News) become their own separate tiles. So when I want to check the news I have to flip through multiple tiles; unlike Pulse, which lets me delete unwanted news sites and then add my own selected news sites (albeit a limited number) to the same News" category.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Genjinaro Genjinaro

    Snapseed, Google+, Currents & NFC Task Launcher (major comback) should be added.
    Minus Wikipedia.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Google+ is not from 2012.

  • Jack

    Ughhh... You can tell this is a biased list. In case you didn't know already, devs pay a lot of money to be featured on this site. As much as I like the site, its true....got the email with prices to prove it. That's why you see certain apps featured quite a bit here. That's likely why this list is full of big name apps.

    Really wish there were a site that put focus on the little guys too...without asking them to pay a fortune to be featured that is.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That's complete BS, and you know it. The only way you can get featured is in the single Featured spot in app roundups, and it's disclosed openly.

      We don't do paid reviews, and nobody on this or other lists can pay to be there.

      And are you kidding me? We probably cover more small-time-developer apps than any other site. Look at any roundup. Look at [New App] and [New Game] posts.

      Nice troll though.

      • Jack

        wow...how professional of you. Then why do the same apps keep getting talked about? They aren't great apps.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Such as?

          I did notice a few that shouldn't have been there, and I have no idea why they were, like Firefox and Opera, and took them out. Trying to figure out why they turned up there in the first place. Maybe you were talking about those (though I don't see why they're not good apps - because they are).

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          And you are... who? You expect any modicum of civility in a response when you accuse us of being shills for developers with money? I think it's time to take a break from the internet for today, buddy.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          Pretty big accusation, but you aren't willing to identify yourself or back up the claim? When Artem responds, you rationalize that the choice of apps isn't to your liking, therefore it must be shady?

          Troll...

    • Maxwell Kozlov

      One of the points on the Code of Ethics of journalism is to "Act Independently". Read this: http://www.spj.org/pdf/ethicscode.pdf

      I'm sure the AP staff value all of those ethics, especially to act independently.

  • Johnny Vu

    DeskSMS shouldn't be on here... it's only a trial... MySMS is truely free and it's FREE.

    • Tyler

      You should try MightyText does everything DeskSMS does and its free.

  • John_Merritt

    No way should Chrome be in that list. Firefox, especially the latest version, is far superior on my Nexus 7 than Chrome. Chrome, for me, is a real slug to use.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Chrome with Sync works great here, I just miss extension support.

      • Paul_Werner

        Same here

      • John_Merritt

        Does Firefox's sync not work for you ? I cannot do without it. I love to sit in bed at night and pick up from where I was surfing on my PC a few hours earlier. Extension support is still lacking compared to PC.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          It probably does - I use FF sync on desktop. I also use FF and Chrome together on desktop for various purposes, but on mobile, I'm still sticking with Dolphin because it has a LastPass extension mostly.

          FF rubs me the wrong way with their lack of changelogs and feature stagnation. They would have the same changelog for months, even with updates coming through. Damn it, Mozilla, I would think you out of all companies would know how important proper changelogs are.

  • bobbutts

    Do people still use appbrain? The only time I go there is when I click the link by mistake instead of the play store.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      We use it because it offers a widget that shows the latest price, rating, and icon, as well as recent history of pricing/updates when you click through.

      • Paul_Werner

        I'm glad you've never removed this. I use AppBrain all the time to make several lists of apps I'd like to look into later when I have time to or come across for a use case for them. The lists on there help out way more then one list in the Play Store

      • Jeffrey Smith

        It would be so nice if Google Play provided a proper web API for this. I don't mind AppBrain too much, except that their prices are never right.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Yeah, a proper, open API that doesn't require hacking and pretending to be a device or scraping, and a ready-made widget would be amazing.

  • Mark LaFlamme

    Heh! I'll never understand why any Android site would release a list of top apps. You definitely can't please everybody and allegations of favoritism run rampant. I subscribe to Android Police specifically because they tend to leave bias at the door. When an app stinks, they say so. I've never seen any writer here try to stretch the truth in order to make a bad app sound good. Very refreshing. I don't always agree with these lists, but I have faith in the integrity behind them.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      App lists are great for new or rookie Android users, and sometimes even hardcore ones miss an app or two.

      • Mark LaFlamme

        Absolutely. I usually pick up something I'd missed through lists like these. It's just like any other list – Top 100 songs of all times, top movies, you name it... List your choices and wait for the venom of disagreement. Part of the fun, I suppose.

  • Parham Bakhtiari

    Guys check out smart auto setting from ab4x! I have it in my phone! It lets me to change the settings of my phone automatically without even pressing the button! It changes the settings based on where I am! Check it out! I've tried other software that do this, however, this one was the best so far. Their app logo on the play store is a blue SAS with a yellow AB4X at the bottom! I would recommend this app!

  • Sven Enterlein

    For once I'm glad that I didn't find anything I want! I already spent too much money on "nice-to-have-apps". I love these lists since I don't keep track of new apps myself.

  • Tyler

    I would personally suggest MightyText over TabletSMS. I haven't ran into any problems, with it and if you get a message that is a picture message that's a text message TabletSMS wont notify you of it where MightyText will(even though its a blank message). Also MightyText shows phone calls and picture messages too. And has a Chrome extension as well along with being able to access with any browser. Either way both are AMAZING apps.

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