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10/26/2011
05:09 PM
Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
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10 Epic Android Apps

Among the hundreds of thousands of Android apps, we've rounded up 10 epic, must-have choices. These apps will save your bacon, day in and day out.




According to the latest statistics, there are more than 250,000 apps available within the Android Market. Of course, the vast majority of these apps will never find their way onto most users' Android devices. The number of apps that most people download onto their smartphones is numbered in tens, and only a handful can be considered truly must-have apps.

So just what makes an Android app an epic, must-have app? Criteria could include an app that you use every day, or an app that helps make tasks easier. Business users may point to apps that make it easier to connect to company resources while on the road, or that help them be more productive. Or an epic app can be one that, while not used on a regular basis, comes in very handy to save your bacon in one way or another.

For this selection of 10 epic Android apps, we've used all of these criteria to come up with apps that should be considered a part of any user's smartphone. We've left out games, which, while a lot of fun, can't usually be considered vital. And we also haven't included apps that are most likely already bundled on your device, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Facebook (though in certain cases some of the apps on this list are pre-bundled on devices).

The apps on this list span the gamut from basic utilities to tools that make it easier to get things done. But there is one thing they all have in common--if you've installed these apps on your smartphone, at some point in time you will be very glad that you took the time to download them.




If you use your Android device for work, at some point you will need to work with Office files such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, whether they've been emailed to you or you've downloaded them to the device. That's what makes Documents To Go a must-have app for most Android users. A basic version provides simple document viewing capabilities while the full $14.99 version offers document editing and can now work with Google Apps documents.

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While the integrated Android Web browser is fine for basic browsing, anyone who regularly access Web content on their mobile device will quickly find it frustrating and will look for a better browser. Among the alternative browsers for Android, we've found the free Dolphin Browser HD to be the best, providing a rich and easy to view interface for viewing Web content on the smartphone.

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It can seem like a pretty simple thing, having an app to turn the screen on your Android device into a bright flashlight. But if you find yourself in a dark parking lot, or, like many of our friends during Hurricane Irene, stuck without power for days, knowing that you always have a flashlight on you in the form of your Android smartphone can literally be a life saver. You need to have Color Flashlight.

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With the rising cost of gas today, true road warriors need all the help they can get to cut the costs of constantly filling the tank of their car. And with the simple but extremely useful Android app GasBuddy, it is a very simple task to locate the closest cheap gas wherever you might be travelling.

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For business travelers, mobile devices can help to remove some of the hassle and time constraints of air travel. And one of the best Android apps for air travelers is the free GateGuru. With this app, users can view information on airport terminals, access information on security gate wait times, view itineraries, and access social information.

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One of the coolest apps period, Google Translate is the closest thing to a universal translator. Google Translate can translate text between nearly all languages, but the coolest thing is its conversation mode, which makes it possible to have a back and forth conversation with someone while the app translates each side of the conversation.

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For those users concerned about privacy, a smartphone can hold far too much historical data, from call logs to browsing history to text messages. With the free app History Eraser, Android users can selectively remove this historical data from their device and worry less about putting their smartphone in someone else's hands.

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E-books have increasingly replaced traditional books, not just for leisure but for business guides, training books, and media publications. With the apps for the Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook on your Android device, you can access all of these e-books without the need to take a dedicated e-book reader everywhere. And, for those with dedicated Kindle's or Nooks, these apps can sync to make sure you are always at the point where you last stopped reading.

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While Android devices have a lot going for them, one negative is their attractiveness as a target for malware and other security hacks. Android sees more of these types of attacks than any other mobile operating system. For that reason, a security app is a good thing to have on your device and one of the best is Lookout Mobile Security. This app provides antivirus scanning to stop malware from making it onto devices, has features to find lost or stolen phones, and can backup sensitive data.

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While it is possible to access Microsoft Exchange accounts with the email client on Android, this can quickly become frustrating for a serious business user. However, the app Touchdown comes pretty close to providing an Outlook like experience for Android users, making it much easier for users to access their mail, calendar, contacts and tasks while on their Android device.

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