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Mobile Apps

Android starter kit

Google's Android Market may not be overflowing with apps just yet, but it's still hours of work separating the good from the bad. We do the hard yards on your behalf, identifying which apps you need now.

In regards to apps, Android is most certainly the new kid on the block. The Android Market opened for business late in 2008 and now is home to several hundred custom applications for the Android platform.

While this number is far lower than the 15,000 apps on Apple's App Store, sorting through the available apps and finding the most useful can be a tricky task, especially for Australia with many apps having a US-centric focus.

The following are our picks for the best apps across a variety of purposes; from productivity, to photo editors, to travel tools and games. If you're interested in any of these apps, simply punch the title into the search field in the Android Market client.

Productivity


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Moxier Mail

While it's still in beta and comes with limited features, Moxier Mail is the best way of syncing your MS Exchange email account with your Android phone to date. This is a bare-bones app and is really only good for reading and replying to incoming mail, but the interface is nice and easy to read.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

OI File Manager

One of our iPhone pet hates is that we can't dig into the phone's file structure. OI File Manager gives Android users this ability, though be warned: this isn't for beginners.

News and information

Just as we use our phone to take part in discussions with the people we know, mobile internet is best when used to browse the discussions of the globe.

The iPhone has dozens of apps developed by the world's biggest news sources. Thankfully Android is not too far behind, with the ABC getting on-board for Aussie Android owners.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

ABC

Destined to be the first app listed in your alphabetically sorted app menu, the ABC app gives Android users quick access to the latest news and sports headlines. Certainly not as full-featured as the ABC's iPhone app, but an excellent news tool nonetheless.

(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Quickpedia

It goes without saying, Wikipedia is an endlessly useful internet tool. Bite-sized grabs of information, mostly test-based page design ... hmmm, this would be perfect for a phone! Quickpedia brings the best of Wikipedia to the Android and renders beautifully, centring images which live on the right column on the desktop page.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

WeatherBug

Along with a clock and a calendar, we think weather should be included in a smartphone's core functionality. Until something like that is implemented we have WeatherBug, an excellent free weather tool with detailed reports and a seven-day forecast. It can also run in the background, giving you updates and weather warnings as the day develops.

Social networking

Where would we be without messaging tools? We'd be like techno-hermits, existing on our own inane thoughts and opinions.

Thankfully we don't have to, we can listen to the inane babbling of millions of other people too! Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and MSN messengers: these are the tools most phone users want most.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

fBook

Now, what could fBook stand for? Foot Book? Flash Book? Fish Book? If you like to update your status and check in on your friends constantly throughout the day, fBook will keep you connected to Facebook on your Android phone.

(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Palringo

An iPhone favourite, Palringo connects you to your favourite instant messaging services including MSN, Yahoo, ICQ Gtalk and Facebook. Users connect to as many of these accounts simultaneously, and messages are delivered in the background, so you can take a call or send an SMS without signing out.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

TweetDroid

Twitter, Android style! This app features a clean attractive interface and a pretty full-featured Twitter tool. Browse the latest tweets from those you follow or search for a word or phrase. When tweeting you can add a photo or your location using the phone's other functionality.

Multimedia

Out of the box, the HTC Dream isn't exactly a multimedia powerhouse.

Of course, that's where apps step in. The large touchscreen is perfect for watching videos and browsing video sites online and developers have been quick to jump on these key areas.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

VTap

It's not YouTube, but its quite a lot like it. VTap sources the same "cat on a treadmill" videos you love from a variety of sources including MySpace and Funny Or Die. Its clean interface responds well to finger gestures making it very easy to use.

(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Shazam

Shazam is a mobile internet phenomenon and any self-respecting mobile user needs it on their phone. Shazam identifies the songs you hear by recording a short sample and matching it to a server (we're guessing that means a room filled with underpaid gnomes) that will identify the song which will then link you to Amazon to buy it or YouTube to play it.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Ring Droid

Making your own ringtones is something we should all be able to do, and you shouldn't have to pay for the privilege (are you listening Apple?). RingDroid clips your MP3s and makes them into perfect ringtone grabs.

Travel and photos

If there's one thing Google does as well as internet searches, it's mapping.

The following apps make best use of the HTC Dream's shabby camera and the excellent Google Maps, including neat ways to share your maps with friends and family.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Google My Maps Editor

Google Maps is available on nearly all modern mobile phones, but Google saves this nifty feature for its platform only. My Maps Editor adds the ability to create and edit Google Maps just as you would on your desktop. Plot a course for a friend to follow, or add pictures at locations along your holiday for friends to see. The only thing missing is the ability to send your map reference via SMS or email from the application.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

PinPoint

What My Maps Editor lacks PinPoint delivers. Using Google Maps, PinPoint will send you the current location via SMS or a map image via MMS or email to friends, family or the police if you happen to be holding someone's puppy for ransom.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

SnapPhoto

The less said about the built-in Android camera app, the better. Snap Photo can't improve the camera hardware, but it does add the basic raft of settings you'd expect on a camera phone; white balance, effects, a timer and focus modes. Check the box in settings and SnapPhoto can be your default camera app.

Games and fun

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy — and we wouldn't want that.

Like the iPhone App Store, games on the Android Market are well represented. Here is a taste of the fun to expect from your new Android phone.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Brain Genius Deluxe

The jury is out on whether brain training games can actually improve your mental prowess, but there's no doubting they make good mobile phone games. Brain Genius Deluxe features a collection of fun puzzles and best of all: it's free.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Barcode Beasties

Playing Barcode Beaties is a short but sweet experience. Use the phone's camera to read the barcode on any product and the game uses this data to create a virtual monster. Match two together and get ready to rumble. Ever wanted to know whether Coke was better than Pepsi? Now's your chance.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Zombie, Run!

When it comes to surviving the impending zombie apocalypse you can't have too much practice. Zombie, Run! uses the Dream's GPS and Google Maps to simulate a plague of the undead.


(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Bonsai Blast

Like the classic Namco game Bubble Bobble, but with a twist. Bonsai Blast is the perfect little game for a touchscreen phone, not requiring any mechanical controls to get the most out of this gem.