Now I don't know about you, but I do pretty much all of my news gathering online. I make my daily rounds of the blogosphere, visit major online media outlets, and, of course, try to stay current with my social media circles. Needless to say, the abundance of sources necessitates a means of organization.
Enter Pulse News. Some of you might say to me, "Just use an RSS reader, dude," which would be an admirable suggestion (and I do use Google Reader, by the way). But the thing is, as efficient as traditional RSS readers are, they're not nearly as engaging or immersive as they should be. Pulse News, on the other hand, has a beautifully intuitive interface that presents stories in a visually arresting way. Each post is marked by a bold headline and an image, making your daily reading rounds as simple as swiping vertically between news sources or horizontally between stories within the same source. The app comes with a bunch of suggested sites to subscribe to, plus it even lets you pull content from your Google Reader account. If you live a more-or-less plugged-in kind of lifestyle, I highly suggest checking out the elegant Pulse News reader.
Read It Later Free
Yet another tool for those of us struggling to stay in the know, Read It Later is basically a short-term bookmarking utility. And it perfectly complements your Pulse News reader! If you can't quite (or don't want to) finish an article at a given moment, Read It Later will keep it in a queue for reading at a more convenient time or on a more convenient device. It even lets you catch up on items offline.
Personally, I prefer not to do any in-depth reading on my phone, especially if the article or post contains a lot of visual elements. Sure, skimming quick news reports or announcements is fine, but if I come across, say, a slideshow of amazing optical illusions, I might prefer to save it for when I'm sitting in front of a wide-screen desktop monitor, or at the very least, a tablet. With Read It Later installed on my Android phone, all I have to do is share the page with the app, and voila! Because I have the RIL tool installed on my desktop and tablet browsers, I can easily access my list at a more convenient time, then check off items that I've read. It’s seamless.
I'm not sure if the Amazon Appstore qualifies as an "app," as it's a marketplace for apps, but nevertheless, it is one of my favorite Android downloads. Since part of my job is to discover and evaluate (read: play with) new and exciting Android applications, the Amazon Appstore is one of my go-to resources. It's an altogether different marketplace from the official Android Market, so it offers different picks, recommendations, and reviews. What's more, the app store gives users one paid app every day, free of charge. If you have an Amazon.com account and an Android-powered device, this one is absolutely worthwhile.
As the proud owner of an HTC Evo 4G, my photo-snapping skills have got to be sharp. I am, after all, packing some major 8-megapixel heat, and I don't want my Facebook friends or Twitter followers to hate on my shared media. That's why I use Picplz to stylize and share my shots. It may not be a hefty photo-effects app, but it is simple and effective enough for me to use on the regular. Similar to Instagram, its rival and the leading social-photo app for iPhone, Picplz lets you snap, add filters to, and share photos from your mobile device, all in one fell swoop. It backs up your photos to your Picplz account in the cloud, and if you modify a pic with a filter, it will also save the original on your phone just in case. Did I mention, the interface is incredibly simple?
This one is fairly new to my app drawer. Zaarly is like Craigslist's location-aware, bizarro twin brother. It lets you post requests for goods or services (that you're willing to pay for) in hopes of finding a nearby user to oblige.
Now imagine, you’re at work late, stuck in a meeting, and you need to pick up your dry cleaning before the place closes at 6. With Zaarly, you can actually see if anyone in your area (strangers included) would be willing to make the pickup for you--for a price, of course. Just post your request on Zaarly, along with what you're willing to pay, and if anyone in your area is willing to do the deed, they'll hit you up. Or imagine you need a big truck to haul an old sofa to Goodwill tomorrow evening. Post your request on Zaarly and see if any locals bite. With Zaarly, you can pick up your phone and post a request for pretty much anything. And, of course, the app also works the other way around, allowing you to browse other people's needs and possibly make some extra cash. Your number is kept anonymous, so you don't have to worry about any future creepy callers.
We all like our daily deals, our Groupons, LivingSocials, and such. But this one here is a bit different. I like Scoutmob because it doesn't ask you to pay for anything up front. You don't have to buy a discount, you just fire up the Scoutmob app and watch as it homes in on your GPS location and pulls up all the 50-percent-off coupons available in your immediate area. If you find one you like, just go there, flash your screen, and get half off your bill. And since most deals are valid for several weeks at a time, you don't feel the pressure of those buy-it-today countdown timers. It's all really simple and straightforward.
So what's the catch? Well, it's not a catch, really, but Scoutmob focuses mostly on smaller, local restaurants and retailers, meaning it probably won't serve you up any coupons for Chipotle or Macy's. But as for me, I like the mom-and-pop focus. It encourages me to go out and try something new, and possibly find a hidden gem in the city. And that makes shopping and eating that much more exciting.
If you're into personalizing your Android OS, Zedge should, without question, be in your app drawer. Zedge is a huge community-powered database of downloadable ringtones, wallpaper, and notification sounds. The quality of the content is high, the database is easy to navigate, and, best of all, everything is free. As an added bonus, you can even do your searching on a desktop computer and keep a synced Favorites list across your devices.
I like food. I also like watching TV shows about food. So it only makes sense that I would want to eat the food that I find myself watching on TV. Well, this app here helps me do that. TVFoodMaps is essentially a GPS guided tour of all the restaurants featured on your favorite Food Network and Travel Channel shows. For food enthusiasts, it is a veritable treasure trove of eating advice. It can pull up a list of restaurants sorted by distance from you, or present them all in a Map view. Tap any listing to bring up details like restaurant address, phone number, TV show, and celebrity chef or host. Some listings even have YouTube clips of the TV segments featuring the restaurant. If you fancy yourself a food TV fanatic, this one is a must.
Plants vs. Zombies
OK, I know this was one of Antuan's picks. But that doesn't change the fact that I love the game too. And I would, quite frankly, be doing myself and you readers a huge disservice if I didn't include Plants vs. Zombies, my all-time favorite Android game, on my personal picks list. It would be dishonest of me.
Just to add on to Antuan's insights, I happen to think the Cattail is the best plant. It can only be planted on a Lilypad, which can only be planted in a swimming pool. Do yourself a favor and purchase the Cattail from Crazy Dave as soon as you're able, because with it, you will be unstoppable. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you obviously need to jump on the zombie-killing bandwagon.
Duck Hunt Nes
Now this one is installed on my phone purely for nostalgia, as I honestly don't play it too often. That said, Duck Hunt Nes is still one of my favorite Android games because of the emotions it evokes. The graphics, the 8-bit music, and the haunting snicker of that condescending dog all bring me back to a blissful preteen life revolving around video games.
With this Android version of the classic Duck Hunt, I get to dust off my old-school duck-shooting skills and add to them today's touch-screen technology. While it is fun, I must admit that I am perhaps a worse hunter than I was at 6 years old. That's embarrassing.
If you grew up in the '80s playing the original Nintendo Entertainment System, you owe it to yourself and your generation to download Duck Hunt for your Android device.