It has been a while since we last put together a “favorite” apps list, so today, we thought we’d do just that. Over the last few months, we have seen a number of incredibly well-designed apps pop up on Google Play, many of which that we haven’t had a chance to feature because of a wild holiday phone release schedule. So here are 10 of them that have stuck out or have become a mainstay in our list of daily-used apps.
Jealous of the stock camera that came with Jelly Bean (Android 4.2)? If your device isn’t a Nexus or you haven’t hacked it to be 100% stock, then you likely have a skinned phone with a non-stock camera experience. Snap Camera is a replacement camera app that acts and looks quite similar to the stock 4.2 camera. It’s ultra-minimal, with camera and video buttons. You can access all of the menu options by pressing, holding, and dragging, just as you would in 4.2. It also has filters, editing tools, quick viewing of recently snapped photos, and enough shooting modes to fulfill most needs.
Play Link ($2.00)
I switched over to press a few weeks ago as my feed reader application of choice and have not regretted it for a minute. It’s a beautifully designed Android app that fits many of the Android design guidelines. It works incredibly well with Google Reader accounts, even pulling in your categories to display them in a way that puts all of Google’s reader options to shame. It has an in-app browser for those pesky feeds that have “Continue reading!” links, allows you to share easily with your favorite services, and looks even better on a tablet.
Play Link ($1.99)
Yesterday, we highlighted a new app from Koush, that aimed to sync your apps and app data through the cloud between devices. It’s still in early stages, but an app called DataSync has been out for a couple of months now and already does cloud syncing and more. With DataSync, you can setup scheduled syncs of your apps, link to your Dropbox or Box account for cloud storage, has “true two-way syncing” between devices, is Holo-themed with a tablet-optimized UI, and even allows syncing over NFC or Bluetooth.
Play Link *Rooted users only.
The new year is upon us, a time that usually triggers many of us to kick up our workout regimens. With apps like Fitocracy, working out is at least somewhat more enjoyable as you are rewarded for the hard work you put in. The longer and more often you workout, the more points you earn which in turn become rewards or badges (similar to Foursquare). You can battle with friends, reach new milestones, sync workouts between the web and app, and “become more awesome.”
Notification Weather Pro
We’re always a sucker for a good weather application, but one that takes advantage of Jelly Bean’s expandable notifications might take the cake. Notification Weather Pro puts your current weather and an extended forecast at your fingertips in the notification bar. With a swipe up, you can shrink the constant notification to show current weather, but a double-fingered swipe down gives you more. It’s ultra-minimal while still providing you just enough weather info.
Play Link ($1.02)
If you are satisfied with the stock Google Calendar app, then feel free to jump past this one. If not, then think about switching to Agenda Calendar, an app that was originally made popular on iOS. It’s beautifully designed, very minimal, yet still manages to present info in a detailed manner. You have views for year, month, week, day and event. You can use swipes and gestures to quickly change views, use it without pause as it syncs with your current calendar, and create events very quickly. It doesn’t have a widget at this time, but they developers claim to be working on one.
Play Link ($1.99)
Even though smartphones have become more efficient over the last year, we still talk a lot about battery life. Some of us even obsess over these things, often times wondering why are phone lasted less today than it did yesterday. Is there an specific app or service to blame? With the phone dying and no time for a charge, how much longer can I use it? Battery Boom attempts to answer these questions and more. Battery Boom displays precise level of battery charges, tracks statistics for battery use, includes a widget, and should help you decide if you have enough time to get in another 20 minutes of YouTube.
The developers of Zime want you to “forget your mobile calendar and to-do list” and use their app to easily see and navigate your time. While Zime initially comes off as a calendar replacement, it’s actually more of a time management tool for your life. Since many of us use our calendars to remind us of our entire life schedules, Zime helps by syncing with your current calendars and then trying to prioritize future tasks. It even lets you grade yourself so that you keep track of your progress for time management. If that all sounds like more time spent that saved, you can at least use it as a beautiful calendar replacement.
Quality sleep is something that seems to happen less and less as I get older. Do I need 8 hours or will the 5-6 that I seem to get be enough? With SleepyTime Plus, you have an app that will tell you exactly what your sleep schedule should be. It calculates the times that you should wake up or go to sleep so that you feel great in the morning. If you don’t go to bed at your normal time, it can tell you possible times that you should go to bed and or it can recommend wake-up times. You can also easily set alarms for these new times that are being recommended.
Play Link ($0.99)
Most of you probably use Dropbox to automatically backup your photos, but if you want a more pleasant viewing experience via the web along with an easier way to organize, think about signing up for Circ, a beta application from the makers of Eye-Fi wireless SD cards. They offer unlimited photo cloud backups, automatic uploading immediately after photos are snapped (via WiFi or data), and a way to easily share, tag, and organize your photos.[Sign-up]