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Kevin, Roving reporter

Essential Android Apps

Once upon a time Apple completely dominated the phone application market. That was until Google wanted a piece of the mobile world so they introduced the Android. Now, more people own Android phones than they do Apple phones, with 75% of the apps on the Android market free.

For those new to Androids, here’s some apps that will complement your Android phone.

SnesDroid

(Free)

SnesDroid

The problem with the Apple IOS is that it doesn’t have any emulators unless you jailbreak it. The Android market, though, does have emulators that hit you with a relentless splash of nostalgia for classic games. Though there are many emulators, the best free one is SnesDroid, an emulator that plays any Super Nintendo game. The best part is a lot of the games are free to get online.

SnesDroid also makes great use of the touch panels. All the buttons reside on the bottom corners of the screen. It also plays the games in full-screen mode and supports multi-touch functions. The ability to fast forward and up to five-player support makes this app stand out.

What’s also great is that you can save the "state" of your game, which means you can have a save file on the actual phone itself. It also contains a bucket of customizable settings to keep the gamers happy.

SnesDroid is a gem of an app. It’s almost a big enough reason for Nintendo fanboys to jump ship over to the Android. Having the power to play Super Nintendo games in the palm of your hands is amazing. An essential app for the nostalgic gamer.

4 out of 5

Astrid Task/To-Do List

(Free)

Astrid Task/To-Do List

This app is also available for the Apple app store, but it's more suited to Android because Android doesn’t have a more advanced task manager like Apple does. Astrid is a very productive app to have. It syncs up with Astrid.com, which is the website counterpart, and also Google Tasks.

Astrid is as simple as any app can get. Open it up and create a task or reminder. You can also add a timeframe, end date and reminder if you like. Once you’ve added the task, it shows up on a list of your active tasks. You can change the order of these in the settings, and for the sneaky among you, you can make your tasks hidden so others can't see them.

When you click on the left corner button a list of all your tasks is shown. Task categories range from active tasks, today's tasks, recently modified, and "I’ve assigned" tasks.

Astrid is an incredibly useful application that no Android owner should be without. If you don’t have it, set yourself the task of getting it.

4 out of 5

SMS Popup

(Free)

SMS Popup

SMS Popup lets you quickly read and reply to text messages that you get on your Android phone. Once you install it, it becomes a default program that is really useful. If it's a long text it will only display the first 2-3 lines. The handy thing about the app is even when the phone’s screen is locked, the SMS pop-up will appear.

There’s three different options you get with SMS Popup: Close (which exits the SMS), Delete (which deletes the message - not recommended as it may just be a preview of the text) and Reply (takes you straight to the message so you can reply).

SMS Popup lets you customise your notification settings with sounds, vibration patterns and also LED colours if your phone has that functionality. You can apply voice recognition to your texts as well.

SMS Popup is a great app that should be installed as soon as possible.

5 out of 5

Melbourne Train Trapper

(Free)

Melbourne Train Trapper

This is Android’s answer to Apple’s Metlink. Although Android does have the Metlink app, it is currently in Beta stage and is terrible to use.

Melbourne Train Trapper does things a bit differently. Using your phone’s GPS, it tracks down your nearest train station and gives you the upcoming times the trains will be at that station.

For the most part, it’s accurate with the detection. The train times are in sync with Metro’s train times. You can also change the station you want to look at, or favourite them. You can view the train map to see where you might be heading. A great addition is the ability to add reminders so you are notified when your train is approaching.

Melbourne Train Trapper also features a stack of customisable settings to cater to your needs. At the moment it doesn’t seem to offer V/Line train times, but that will surely be fixed later on. Overall this is a reliable source of train times and a must-have for commuters.

4 out of 5

Easy Battery Saver

(Free)

Easy Battery Saver

Smartphones consume a lot of energy. Most of the time you’re recharging your phone at least once a day. But how can you save energy when you’re not using it during the night or you’re running low on battery? Easy Battery Saver gives you the option of conserving energy with the push of a button.

It features five different energy modes. "Normal mode" is, of course, your general phone battery setting. "General Power Saving" lets you keep your basic network connection and general settings. "Intelligent" enables network connection and lets you choose which applications to keep on. "Super Power Saving" allows only your phone calls and text messaging to go through, blocking the internet and all your apps. "Advanced Customized" gives you the ability to customise your own battery saving mode.

You also get an in-depth chart of how many hours you have left on your phone. It even breaks it down to how much talk time, web surfing, audio playback or video playback you have left. It also has a "Consumption tracker" that shows which apps are sucking up all your phone’s battery. Quick tutorials for tips on the using this app are provided as well.

Easy Battery Saver is an easy app that maximises your battery consumption. It's definitely worth the free download as you are bound to run into a "low battery" situation someday.

5 out of 5

Tips for Buying Apps on Android

Here are some things to look out for when you're buying Android apps:

  • Because Google rarely let third party applications in the app market, you can be reasonably safe from fake apps. That said, you should still read the reviews and star ratings for more verification.
  • Unlike Apple, Android doesn’t have dedicated gift cards so you will need a debit card or credit card to buy apps. Google gift cards do exist, but they are hard to find.
  • When uninstalling apps, be sure to delete them from your apps page. Don’t just delete them from your homepage.

For more app, web and game reviews, check our our Reviews Archive.





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