The field has been narrowed down to 20 semifinalists in 10 categories like Education/Reference, Entertainment, and Travel. As with the first round of the challenge, Google is encouraging developers to download the official application from the Android Market and vote on various criteria including originality of concept and indispensability.
This developer community vote will constitute 40 percent of the overall score with a panel of Google-selected judges accounting for the remaining 60 percent. During the first Android Developers Challenge in 2008, judges from every founding member of the Open Handset Alliance participated. It's unclear whether Google will take a similar approach for this challenge.
The top three entries in each category will win cash prizes from $25,000 to $100,000. The top three applications overall will then additional bonuses. Third place will get $25,000, second place wins $50,000 and first place will take home $150,000.
The list of semifinalists includes developers who have come to make a name for themselves already. Hexage, an existing game developer, has a pair of games competing in the next round. Both its Radiant and Totemo are prime examples of Android gaming done right.
Two other notables, FlyScreen, and BuzzDeck, have a similar appeal but operate in two different capacities. BuzzDeck helps to extend the web experience for Android handsets by using dozens of "cards," from RSS streams, social networking services, and Web services. You can swipe through the cards and pull the latest information from their respective feeds.
FlyScreen might look similar, but it's a bit different. Designed as a lock-screen replacement, it lets users pull news feeds and social networking services without actually going into the phone or opening an app. Simply wake your phone and you're greeted with your favorite news feeds. For example, if you're on Twitter, you can see your timeline, friends, and direct messages and you can tweet from within FlyScreen.
And while we're on the subject of Twitter clients, we noticed at least three titles (Xeeku Twitter, Swift Twitter App, TweetAssist) making the cut. While they might not win points for Originality of Concept, they likely scored well on Polish and Appeal.
Have you played with any of the applications on the list? Are there any particular favorites that you'd like to see win? What about titles you expected to see, but don't?