The battle to dominate the second screen is under way and this app would love to claim a spot on your Android smartphone. Billed as “TV’s sidekick” it helps you to keep up with the shows you love. There’s related news about each show, and you can have real-time discussions with other fans as you watch. You can find out what is generating the most buzz with other people, what your friends watch, or even get an insight into celebrity tastes. There’s also an interactive aspect with some shows in the shape of games and live polls.
SketchBook Mobile Express (Free)
You can draw on the go with this professional-grade paint and drawing app. The intuitive user interface pops up when you need it, so there’s maximum screen real estate for sketching. You can work with up to three layers and it’s possible to import from your gallery or camera app. There are handy preset brushes, along with a text tool, and a color wheel to get the exact shade you need. It has been specially developed for use on Android smartphones, so you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option. For best results invest in a stylus. If you like it, then consider splashing out $2 for more features in Sketchbook Mobile.
Keeping up to date with the latest results in your favorite sports is easy with this app. You can add up to five leagues to the widget for at-a-glance updates, you can also set up real-time push alerts for free, and you have access to a wealth of data to share and discuss with other fans. Throw fantasy sports tools into the mix and you’ve found a new way to kill hours on your mobile. Whatever you’re into, from basketball to tennis, TheScore has your back.
For customization fans, Zedge has been a popular name for years now. The free Zedge app offers access to a huge database of ringtones, notification sounds, standard wallpapers, and live wallpapers. If you want to set up your Android with new sounds or snazzy wallpaper, this is definitely the place to start looking. It’s easy to search and you could browse the categorized content for hours. The app is ad-supported, but it’s a fair trade for the wealth of free content on offer.
Being able to stream your content from your smartphone to any DLNA certified device makes Skifta extremely handy. It’s an easy to use app and it’s completely free. Not only can you stream directly from your phone, but you can also access content on your PC back at home when you’re out and about. This means it’s easy to show off your vacation photos wirelessly at a friend’s house on their DLNA certified TV, or share a playlist from your computer at home on their music system. Once set up, it’s as easy as selecting a source, a destination, and then choosing the content.
Field Trip (Free)
If you want a glimpse of the future with location-based push notifications then you need to check out Google’s Field Trip. It serves a stream of real-time alerts based on your current location and it pulls the information from a group of connected services. You might get historical snippets from Historvius, a restaurant recommendation from TimeOut, or a heads-up on some local music from Songkick. There are various categories and the app learns about you over time as you give the suggestion cards a thumbs up or down. It’s a great way to find out what’s going on around you, but, as with all these kinds of services, some areas are better served than others.
Xbox SmartGlass (Free)
Calling all Xbox 360 owners — this app gives you direct control over your console from your Android smartphone. You can select content, type through your phone, and browse the web. It also allows you to use your phone as a full remote control for playing music or movies. A small selection of content offers a second screen experience so you can interact through your phone and Microsoft expects that side of it to grow as more entertainment makers see the potential.
Flipboard is one of our favorite iPad apps and has spawned a number of copycats. The basic idea here is to create a magazine-like news experience by aggregating links from your Facebook friends, the people you follow on Twitter, interests you may have (like technology), and other favorite sites, and displaying them in a fun layout where you can flip through pages of new content anytime you want. The Android app has you swipe upward to flip through pages, but the concept translates pretty well to the small screen. Check it out. It’s free.
If you’ve been on Facebook for the last year, you’ve likely seen a ton of retro-looking photos. Either they look faded out, or have any number of other effects on them. This is Instagram and iPhone users have had exclusive rights to it for quite some time. But that has changed. Instagram is now available on Android and its already one of the best looking Android apps. But hey, if you don’t download it no one is going to lose any sleep. Facebook recently bought Instagram for $1 billion.
Google Sky Map (Free)
This app from Google is frankly just really awesome. Using GPS, turn the app on while you are looking at the night sky and it will literally show you what to look for. The app depicts stars, constellations, and planets as you would see them looking directly at the night sky. Wonder what constellation those three bright stars are part of? Point your Android device in that direction and Google Sky Map will give you an answer.
If you’re part of the Pinterest brigade or you’re just curious about the craze for creating pinboards, then you should check out the Android Pinterest app. It allows you to create your own visual concept boards to gather your thoughts and plans on various topics and share them with the world. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, you can browse the creations of others, or you can use the app to organize your own finds from the web.
This simple app is a must for movie lovers, offering a clean user interface and accurate movie listings at nearby theaters, based on your current location, of course. Perhaps the best feature of this app is its integration with online movie critic Mecca Rotten Tomatoes. Users can browse what’s out in theaters, or what’s playing nearby and access the RT reviews in just one click.
Augmented reality hasn’t yet graduated to the point where we’re ready to call it downright useful, but there’s no denying the fun to be had with playing Geordi La Forge from Star Trek with Layar. It layers information in real time over images captured by your phone’s camera, like historical pictures of the city you’re in, nearby landmarks, and superimposed future buildings.
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