We've seen Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all turn to the Play Store to manage their beta programs, and while this is a great mechanism for handling unpolished software releases, most of us use our phones for more than making status updates, tweeting, and sending private pictures. There are other apps out there that it would be fun to have early access to, and web browsers rank high among them.
It's pretty easy to understand why typing isn't exactly an optimal experience on a smartphone. They are designed to fit in palms and come with virtual keys smaller than the fingertips used to press them. Tablets don't suffer from this problem, but they come with one of their own - a user can type speedily using the significantly larger keys, but resting their fingers on the screen for a mere second is all it takes to turn "superpower" to "sauerkraut," and suddenly that status update about whether America should get involved in Syria accumulates a different flood of Facebook comments than was expected.
Facebook started a beta testing program through the Play Store a while back, and if ever there was an app that needed some help from the community, it's Facebook. The newest update to version 3.7 brings a few notable additions, as well as a variety of bug fixes and tweaks.
BlackBerry announced back in May that it would make BlackBerry Messenger available for both Android and iOS devices this summer. The clock is ticking, as the season will come to a close in a matter of weeks. BBM is not yet available in the Play Store, but a video of the beta version running on Android has hit the wild. This is a working mirror, as the video has been pulled from the original site.
A week or two after Chromecast hit the streets, we started to see all kinds of unofficial applications for Google's HDMI streamer, many of which came from CyanogenMod Team member and ClockworkMod creator Koushik "Koush" Dutta. Now he's worked around the developer whitelist for Chromecast, allowing his app to be used on any Android device and with any Chromecast. He's calling it AirCast, and it's available for a test download now.
SwiftKey needs no introduction at this point. It's widely considered by many to be the premier keyboard available for Android, if not any mobile device, for its ability to more accurately predict words by learning a user's habits. SwiftKey Cloud, on the other hand, is the new service that will sync your keyboard across multiple devices, preventing each install of SwiftKey from having to start fresh. A new beta is now available, so get it while it's hot.
The Chromecast has identity issues. It may be based on Android, but it updates like Chrome. The device ships on the stable channel, but it's possible to switch it beta and dev channels. These options are progressively bleeding edge, but this comes at the obvious sacrifice of stability, and there's a strong risk of bricking your device. Granted, it's only $35, far cheaper than breaking a smartphone or tablet.
Aviate Launcher, if you haven't heard of it, is a new home screen replacement that looks to offer you information right when you need it and which is, at the time of writing, in the middle of an invite-only alpha period.
After receiving my invitation recently, I was anxious to take the launcher for a spin. I have no doubt it will improve as it progresses toward a broad launch, and there are a few drawbacks, but it is already one of the best alpha products I've ever used.
Here at Android Police, we love us some Reddit apps, almost as much as we love the gaming cat meme cakes our Libertarian Atheist girlfriends make us from locally-farmed flour. We featured Reddit Now way back in January, and since then the developer has made some noteworthy changes as the app has updated to version 2.0. The app has been slavishly dedicated to Holo standards since its launch, but the new version includes a Google Now-style card interface, not to mention a reworked look on tablets.