See the apps that we're all using this week
Apps are what make these extremely powerful devices we all carry really sing. They offer up functionality and entertainment at our fingertips, and each week we like to point out the few that have stayed installed on our own devices. Some are new, some not-so-new, but in any case if we have them installed and in-use on a regular basis, they must be doing something right. Read through our picks this week and see if you can find a couple that appeal to you as well.
Of course we're only able to highlight a handful of apps that we use on a weekly basis, but we know there are even more out there that you've found yourself and are using. After reading our picks for the week, be sure to let us know if you've found an app or two that you've kept installed on your own Android device.
Jerry Hildenbrand — Star Wars: Tiny Death Star
Build the biggest and most baddest-ass Death Star ever, right on your Android. This Lucasfilm licensed version of the popular Tiny Towers game from Nimblebit has everything required to make a great mobile game — great graphics, an engaging story, and the ability to play in very short bursts. Your job is to appease the emperor and Lord Vader by assembling the new Death Star, level by level. From apartments, to Duct Repair facilities, to Imperial interrogation rooms, you'll find every sort of business needed to create a finely-tuned — and profitable — Death Star.
There are in-app purchases for Imperial Bucks and credits, but you can play the game just fine (though a bit slower) without spending any real money. If you're like me and always looking for a great time-waster, give Tiny Death Star a try.
Download: Star Wars: Tiny Death Star (Free)
Phil Nickinson — Yo
I like to try to learn about things I simply don't understand. Physics. Women. Yo. Two of those things I have hope for. Yo, on the other hand, continues to elude me. I just don't get it. And so it's going to live on my phone for a little while. I'm going to try to understand what it is that makes it at all useful. The idea of notifying someone — yo! — with very little context just seems like a waste of pixels. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's the best idea since the 140-character limit. Or the image filters and 1:1 aspect ratios. Or something else that we easily could live without. I dunno. But I'm trying.
Download: Yo (Free)
Alex Dobie — Fenix
With the official Twitter experience on the web and elsewhere becoming ever crappier, I've been on the lookout for better Twitter apps on Android, and Fenix is one of the best I've used so far. Most importantly, it's a smooth, good-looking app that fits into Google's design language. The app also includes a slick, full-width timeline view that slows images inline, along with a builtin browser for displaying links in tweets. And it's easy to swipe between views and see your mentions, retweets and favorites. Fenix a paid app, which may be a barrier to some, but it's easily worth the small upfront investment if you're a regular Twitter user.
Download: Fenix ($4.49)
Ara Wagoner — Inside.com
Inside.com, for those who aren't in the know, is a news curation app that trims news down to about 100 words at the most and sends them out to users in feeds and in frequent notifications. This app earned its keep in the first hour of having it on my phone, because it alerted my to NSA news I could slip into the 6. It's great for popping up important/interesting news that I can use to fill time that the producer hasn't. However, the news it's shown me has become less useful and more invasive. Each morning, I wake up to a swarm of notifications on my phone, and today it was over a dozen. There is no way to turn off notifications across the entire app, you can only turn them off per individual feed. And that's a shame, because I don't mind swiping away an errant article or two every few hours during the day, but first thing in the morning, I do not want to swipe through a swamp of stories to find the notifications that actually matter, like Hangouts, Gmail, and Google+. I'll finagle the feed settings... individually... a bit... but it may not be long for my phone.
Download: Inside.com (Free)
Richard Devine — App in the Air
It's show season again which means it's time to head back out to the airport and go fly somewhere. When I do, I always use App in the Air, initially an iOS app that not too long ago found its way over to Android. In essence it's a flight tracking app, but I love how it looks, I love that it syncs with TripIt so I never have to bother with entering any of my flights and I love that it's so ridiculously easy to use.
App in the Air also has some pretty deep social ties, allowing its users to submit airport tips and tricks covering everything from security checks to the quality of the first class lounges. It's got a huge amount of airports and airlines covered and has the option of notifications as a paid upgrade while the main app remains completely free.
Download: App in the Air (Free)
Andrew Martonik — Cabinet Beta
Everyone has their favorite file manager app, and right now my go-to choice is Cabinet Beta. It's an extremely simple Material Design-inspired file manager that lets you do all of the basic stuff you need a file manager for and not much more. There's no crazy navigation scheme or superpowers lurking inside Cabinet, but it's great if all you need to do is move and manage files from time to time. As the name suggests it's still in beta, but I haven't run into many issues. If you're looking for a new file manager, Cabinet Beta may be worth taking for a spin.
Download: Cabinet Beta (Free, Donation)