If you're anything like me, you're always on the hunt for new apps. No matter how many ways I get my Android devices to simplify my life, I want more – especially when there are so many brilliant, well-made apps arising each month in the Play Store.
In an effort to pare down each month's best entries to a few digestible options, we bring you the top five app roundups. July saw the addition of a ton of new and great apps, but we've successfully narrowed the field to just five apps we think every user should try out.
As of right now, very few Android devices support Wi-Fi Direct sharing, which was first implemented as part of Android 4.0. The protocol requires Ice Cream Sandwich, which is still only on 16% of Android devices. Beyond that, the device needs some software to take advantage of the new API. Some devices (like the Galaxy S III) include built-in support, but for others that either haven't included support in the OS—or that do, but don't work very well, like my own E4GT—you'll need some kind of app to take advantage of it.
Mobint, the dev team behind the original Holo Launcher (for Android 2.2+ devices), decided to jump into the Android 4.0+ launcher party recently with their latest entry in the Play Store – Holo Launcher HD.
Holo Launcher HD, like its older counterpart, gives your home screen the 4.x panache we've come to know and love, but is specifically modeled after Jelly Bean, and is only compatible with devices running 4.0 and above.
Just under two months ago, the American Red Cross released a genuinely impressive app called First Aid. As you'd guess from the name, it's an app dedicated to helping you through medical emergencies; what you wouldn't guess from the name is just how good of an app it is.
Ditto for the organization's eponymous new app, Hurricane. Dedicated to helping you monitor and prepare for hurricanes coming through your area, the app looks every bit as well done as First Aid, and comes with a long list of features:
- Step-by-step instructions let you know what to do even if the cell towers are down and the power is out.
Listen, the relatively popular, if neglected, podcast app from Google has been surreptitiously pulled from the Play Store recently. It's unclear just how long ago Google pulled it (though it appears to be within the last week or so), and users are looking everywhere for it. There is also no indication on what Google has planned for it from here on out. We've reached out to Google for comment but have not heard back as of publication.
Sudo Make Me An App has just released Sudo QuickLaunch to the Play Store, an app that handily replaces Google Search's swipe-up gesture in Jelly Bean with a list of your favorite apps.
If you're like me, you hit the search bar in Jelly Bean more often than you swipe up to get to Google Search, so Sudo QuickLaunch is a welcome addition that not only makes that gesture useful, but can keep your home screen clutter-free.
The Spotify Android app typically lags behind not only its counterpart on other platforms, but even its own desktop app. One of the nicest features that the streaming service offers on the desktop is its Radio services. Using your own selections as a starting point, Spotify will put together automated playlists based on your taste. You know, like Pandora. As of today's update, the Radio functions are not only available on mobile but are even accessible even if you don't have Spotify Premium.
One of the great things about Android's ecosystem is the number of indie developers who are able to enter the market successfully, providing a great product and inspiring would-be developers to join in. For many though, Android development in general is a mysterious topic. How an app or game goes from an idea to an entry in the Play Store is unknown, but (thankfully) not unknowable.
Of course, considering how major development studios bring apps to life doesn't require too much thought – major companies like EA, Disney, or Rockstar have no problem hiring designers and developers to crank out and maintain polished apps.
The games are underway in London and the whole world is watching. If you'd like to follow the course of the events without spending the next couple weeks glued to your television, Yahoo! may just have you covered. The app is decidedly slick-looking, though some users have reported some trouble with the app, however in our test runs, it's worked adequately. Your mileage may vary.
The app has sections for news, photos, and quick access to which countries have won what medals for which events.
Word Lens, the sometimes jittery but generally impressive visual language translator, is getting in the Olympic spirit. For a limited time, the language packs—which are acquired via in-app purchases to unlock full translation support—are being offered for $2.99 per pack, which is $2 off the normal price of $4.99. Huzzah!
It comes at a particularly poignant time. As the Olympic games get underway and the world remembers there's more that the nations of earth do together than wage war and make gadgets, Word Lens can be helpful in breaking down the language barrier and acting as a catalyst for that type of international camaraderie.