January brought us the yearly madness that is CES, but that doesn't mean much in terms of software. The biggest news is probably Microsoft's continued expansion into multi-platform support for its biggest software sellers, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and now even Outlook. Google has been uncharacteristically quiet so far in 2015, aside from updating its current stable of apps.

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Microsoft Outlook Preview

Android Police review: Microsoft Releases Outlook Preview For Android

It's been possible to use Microsoft Exchange mail accounts on Android for years, but never exactly in an ideal or intuitive way. Microsoft is changing that thanks to its new multi-platform approach, releasing something we never thought we'd see a few years ago: a first-party Outlook email app. This really is a mobile version of the ubiquitous Office app, including support for standard POP3 and webmail services (like Gmail!) and integration with OneDrive and Dropbox. You don't need to be an Office 365 subscriber to try the free app.

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The official Microsoft Outlook app for Android phones and tablets. Outlook is a free email app that helps you get more done from anywhere with one unified view of your email, calendar, contacts, and attachments. Outlook automatically surfaces your most important messages – across all your email accounts. Swipe to quickly delete, archive, or schedule messages you want to handle later. Easily view your calendar, share available times, and schedule meetings. And attach files from your email, OneDrive, or Dropbox with just a few taps.

123D Sculpt+

Android Police coverage: Autodesk 123D Sculpt+ Lets You Play Around With Pro-Style 3D Modeling Tools

This is a full-fledged 3D computer aided design program for Android. Now, CAD isn't particularly easy on a capacitive touchscreen device, but the experts at Autodesk have done their best to make a surprisingly usable phone and tablet interface. You can start from scratch with a 3D sculpture or modify one of a handful of included designs, then export your work to an OBJ file for use on the desktop. If you tire of that, the built-in user gallery is good for some inspiration. You can even order 3D printed versions of your designs right from the app.

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Create fantastic 3D sculptures with Autodesk 123D Sculpt+ Design your creation, then add detailed features or paint on skin, fur, feathers. Whatever you imagine. Export your finished sculpture as an image or 3D model and 3D print into a real sculpture.

• Create or sculpt anything - creatures, spaceships, vehicles, props and more directly on your device in full 3D.
• 3D texturing and painting lets you apply your own photos directly onto the surface of your model
• Easy to use yet extremely powerful skeleton builder makes creating 3D objects as easy as drawing a stick figure.

 

Facebook Lite

Android Police coverage: [APK Download] Facebook Launches 'Facebook Lite' Android App For Low-Power Devices And Developing Markets

Facebook's standard app is a little on the heavy side, especially for older Android devices or those with limited data connections. The social network has decided to alleviate that with a "lite" app, which is basically the mobile website in a wrapper. You also get contact importing and notifications (including Facebook Messenger functionality), but the app isn't available in the United States and some other major markets. Grab it from APKMirror if you can't access it from the Play Store.

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This version of Facebook uses less data and works in all network conditions.

 Facebook Lite is:

  • Fast to install — the app is less than 1 MB
  • Quick to load
  • Efficient with data
  • Designed for 2G networks and areas with limited network connectivity

NextSong - Music Notifications

Android Police coverage: NextSong Puts Track Info And Music Controls In A Handy Heads Up Notification

NextSong displays heads up notifications every time your music player advances to a new track. That's much more useful than it sounds if you frequently use music services that introduce you to new artists and genres. A little "pin" icon in the corner can keep the notification persistent, essentially turning it into a floating widget. Spring for the $1 pro version and you'll also get music controls.

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Want to know what song just started? Want to skip to the next song, but without leaving your current screen? NextSong Pro notifies you via a heads-up notification when you are listening to music and a new song starts playing on your device. You can see the song and artist name, as well as the album art on the notification. You can skip to next or previous songs, and pause and play music. You can also pin the notification, so it becomes a floating music widget.

Manual Camera

Here's a camera app that's probably better than the one that came with your phone. Manual Camera attempts to add a host of DSLR-style features to your camera, including the standards like shutter speed and ISO. (F-stop isn't really applicable with a fixed lens.) Not all phones can take advantage of these settings, but if you happen to be running Lollipop, you're in a pretty good position to do some advanced shooting. It records photos in RAW format if you want them that way.

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This app takes full advantage of Lollipop's Camera2 API, and therefore requires it to be properly implemented in your Android ROM. If your device runs on Lollipop, and still the app is not compatible with it, please contact your ROM provider (e.g. Samsung, LG) and ask them why they haven't implemented Camera2 API? So far the situation looks really bad. Only Nexus 5 works perfect. Nexus 6 is almost perfect (only white balance is not working). But the rest of manufacturers are not willing to take this effort, and therefore their devices are not compatible at all.

Power Button FlashLight /Torch

Android Police coverage: Power Button Flashlight App Makes Using LED As Light A Lot Easier, No Root Required

I love handy little apps like this one. Power Button Flashlight emulates the quick LED flashlight toggle found on some custom ROMs and Samsung "rugged" phones, and you don't even need root to use it. Just enable the app and quickly press your phone's power button three times to enable the light, or four times if your phone is on. The app includes a $1 IAP to enable the off function and remove advertising, which seems more than reasonable.

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Start flashlight by pressing phone's Power button 3 times within 3 seconds. If screen is currently on - press it 4 times. Now you have the fastest flashlight - a hardware torch with an actual physical button for switch. Brightest flashlight you can get on Android - no doubt, this is as bright as a flash light can get. NO ROOT required. Flashlight tested and working on the LED flash of most nowadays devices.

CaastMe

Android Police coverage: CaastMe Is A Clever Way To Share Links To A Computer From Your Android Device Using QR Codes

CaastMe is a combination Android app and website that makes it impressively easy to send links from your phone or tablet to your computer (but not the other way around). Open the Caast.me site on your laptop or desktop and you'll see a QR code. Share whatever you'd like to on your phone with the standard share menu, select CaastMe, and point your camera at the code. Presto, the link will automatically open in your computer browser. Neat.

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Fastest way to share link from Android to computer browser.Having trouble copying long url into your desktop/laptop browser? All you need to do is to scan a QRCode on the computer's browser, and the shared hyperlink will be magically opened on it. Using it for the first time? Please check out the quick guide on http://caast.me

  • Share via any apps on your device
  • Zero setup required.
  • No need to sign in

Honorable Mentions

That's all for January. Remember that apps for Android Wear devices get their own roundups - Ryan wrote a particularly long one just a few days ago. As we draw closer to Mobile World Congress in early March (which does feature quite a lot of software), you can expect to see some interesting apps debut along with new flagships from the major manufacturers.