Apps of the Week

It's "Apps of the Week" time, and the first weekly post of April is looking to be a good one

If you haven't been keeping up on things, each of the Android Central writers take the opportunity every week to tell you about an app that they've been using regularly on their device. We package 'em up nicely and post them on Saturdays -- Apps of the Week. This week we have a good way to get slick deals on apps (how meta), a way to keep up on your reading, a great new game and a few odds-and-ends.

Hang tight, as you'll be able to see every one of our picks this week after the break. Let's see how they stack up.

Casey Rendon - AppSales

AppSales

I love free apps, and the option to download ad-supported versions instead of paid versions. However, not all apps have a free version available, and some really killer apps can cost a pretty penny. That’s why I wait for sales, using AppSales to monitor prices for me. By default, AppSales will give a notification any time an app in the Play Store is discounted by 25% or more and has at least 1,000 downloads. The minimum discount filter can be changed based on how frugal you’re feeling, as can the minimum downloads filter. If you’re only interested in specific kinds of apps, you can narrow things down further by deselecting any of the 33 categories that Play Store apps are divided into. Notifications can be turned off for manual checking only, or they can be left on and their frequency changed to anywhere from every hour to every day. If you want to check to make sure a deal you’ve found is worth it, as opposed to a sale that happens every week, there’s a price history available for each app that goes back 60 days. For a more proactive shopping approach, you can monitor apps you’re waiting to go on sale by adding them to AppSales’s watch list. Those looking to stretch their Play Store dollars can check this app out using the link below.

Download: AppSales (Free)

Sean Brunett - Goodreads

Goodreads

Amazon recently acquired Goodreads, the social book site where you can share what you're reading and see recommendations from others. If you haven't checked it out yet, the Android app is pretty good. Updates displays all of the most recent activity from your friends, My Books shows all of the titles you've chosen from three categories: Read, Currently Reading and To Read, My Profile allows you to make changes to your bio on the site. The app also gives recommendations based on the books in your lists. There are plenty of groups you can join to gather around a specific genre or author. It's not determined yet if Amazon will change the app, but in my view it doesn't need much. It's functional and very easy to navigate.

Download: Goodreads (Free)

Simon Sage - Epoch

Epoch

Epoch is a gorgeous cover based shooter with swipe controls that recently found its way to Google Play. Players have to duck behind debris in a post apocalyptic wasteland and shoot it out against other robots. Yes, you're a robot. Sure, there's a storyline about some princess, blah, blah, blah, but the important part is the you've got a replaceable gun arm and make freakin' sweet jetpack-assisted flips in the middle of firefights. As you collect scraps from each level, you upgrade your chassis and get new types of rockets. The graphics are awesome, gameplay fluid, and hey - robots. Totally worth five bucks. 

Download: Epoch ($4.99)

Andrew Martonik - Humble Bundle (Beta)

Humble Bundle (Beta)

The Humble Bundle is one of the best deals on Android when it comes to getting great indie games for an unbelievable price. In its move to offering Android versions of every game -- and even offering mobile-specific bundles -- there is now a very acceptable Humble Bundle app to manage your downloads. The app is admittedly in “beta” mode right now, and isn’t without hiccups, but it does the job well.

After linking it to your Humble Bundle account, you can download, install and update any app in your library at any time. Because the apps are all DRM-free you can of course download and install them via their individual .apk files, but the Humble Bundle app keeps everything nice and tidy in one place.

Download: Humble Bundle (Beta) (Free)

Jerry Hildenbrand - Mr. Number

Mr. Number

I still use my phone as a phone. I'm that guy who needs the multi-thousand minute or unlimited voice plans, and it's my preferred way to communicate. I also ported my number to Google Voice, and use it across several different phones that each have a number from the SIM card as well.

I need a way to block spam calls.

I've tried probably every single call blocker, including the root only ones, and have decided Mr. Number is the one that works best for me. I can block all the unknown number tele-marketers who call at once, can block all 800 and 877 numbers while whitelisting specific ones, and add any number to my block list with just a tap. In the list I can decide who goes to voicemail and who gets connected then immediately hung up on. And it does it all without adding a bunch of "call lag" to my phone like so many other call blockers out there do.

Whether it's calls from political fundraisers, tele-marketers, or even a psycho ex, This will help. Give Mr. Number a try if you need to keep spam calls out of your life.

Download: Mr. Number (free)

Alex Dobie - Action Launcher Pro

Action Launcher Pro

While many Android launchers don't stray too far from the standard 5-7 home screen plus app drawer setup, Chris Lacy's Action Launcher is an example of a different approach to home screens. As the name suggests, this is a launcher that uses an action bar up top to allow access to certain features. It also includes an app list on the left edge, accessible by using the app button or swiping from left to right.

The latest version of the app has added a new way to handle widgets, too. Add an app with an associated widget to your home screen, and it'll turn into a "shutter." This is a combination of an app shortcut and a widget -- tap the app to open it, swipe up on it to load its widget in a small window. It's an excellent way to enjoy the benefits of widgets without cluttering up your home screen.

If you're not keen on your phone's built-in launcher, and are looking for something that stands out from the crowd of competitors, Action Launcher Pro is definitely worth a look. You'll need a phone running Android 4.0.3 or higher.

Download: Action Launcher Pro ($3.99)


Happen to miss previous editions of our weekly app picks? You can check them out right here. Our continuing weekly app coverage can also be seen right here as well.

 
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Apps of the Week: AppSales, Goodreads, Epoch and more!

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Jerry, if you use (and only give out) your Google Voice number, why do you need a call blocker?

GV already blocks a bazillion telemarketers and any caller you mark as spam will never bother you again.

Since switching our house phone to a Obihai OBI100 and Google Voice we get free phone service and zero telemarketers. Even if Google started charging for GV we'd gladly pay.

The spam comes in on the SIM card numbers. I get the political begging, the please buy our brooms for charity, and apparently whoever had this AT&T number before me really needs to call Tamara back before she "does something stupid."

Drawback of using throwaway pre-paid numbers.

For a few weeks straight after putting my Nexus 4 on T-Mobile prepaid, I constantly keep getting calls from strange numbers asking for "Jim".

Finally asked one caller what number they were actually calling and it was neither my number, my Google voice number or the SIM card number.

I told that person to email "Jim" and tell him to get his call forwarding straightened up. No problems since.

But I really do like Mr. Number, worked very well for me in the past but have not had to use it in awhile.

got tired of Action Launcher after it kept removing 2 of my folders in the dock whenever I rebooted or quit an app

Action Launcher Pro has the potential for greatness, but it's not there yet. I'm sticking with Holo but still try it again every update.

I too keep "checking back" with Action Launcher Pro from time to time. Conceptually, I love this app and really want to make it my "main" but it still has some growing up to do. It is improving rapidly though and getting ever closer to that line I need it to reach to hold me.

When was the last time you tried Action Launcher? Most of the issue with icons rearranging or disappearing went away in one of the last couple of updates.

I believe Action Launcher is up to version 1.5.7 now, so I would give it another try.

I also do remember the dock losing icons after changing how many icons you wanted in the dock.

I purchased action launcher about a week ago and have this bug where covers in the hot seat get deleted.I still switched to it from Nova, but bug fixes are appreciated.

I hope this is just somebody's idea, and not a real feature in iOS7. It it is, Apple will probably try to patent it and sue Chris Lacey... We *so* need to reform this patent BS.

Does the Humble Bundle app start at bootup?

The last thing I need is yet another app that thinks it needs to be running all the time when it will get used once or twice a month at most.

-Suntan

Can't say I've ever noticed it running unnecessarily or taking any effect on battery life.

But also still surprised people worry about apps starting at boot. Unless its an improperly coded app there's no issues with it starting when the phone powers on.

First off, it is labeled beta, with regards to your disclaimer about being improperly coded.

Second, I don't need a longer boot, even though I do it infrequently.

Finally, yeah I'm "that guy" that gets annoyed when app developers think their apps are *a lot* more important than they really are.

Anyway, I was just wondering if the app was constantly running to monitor if any of the installed apps updated, like some of the other "app managers" do.

-Suntan

Goodreads is a major disappointment in that its best web feature 'explore books' is not available via the android app....maybe amzn fixes that now that they own it

thanks for the heads up on the other apps

Action Launcher Pro is awesome. I hesitated a bit before purchasing since there is no free trial but I am really glad I went ahead and got it. Until the other day I was using TSF Shell, which was by far my favorite out of many. I have purchased Nova, Apex SPB Shell, and ADW, and used GoLauncher extensively back in the FroYo days. (I am a launcher nut, I know.) When TSF came out with an "upgrade" the other day they turned it into just another ordinary launcher, but without the speed and convenience that are the reasons for using a launcher in the first place.

Thank you for highlighting Action Launcher. It is exactly what I was looking for!

Thanks, Jerry. Been using Blacklist for a while, but the interface is so clunky I find myself just dealing with the annoying calls rather than trying to add them to the "block" list.

Mr Number seems awesome so far. Great interface and much more powerful as far as setting up your "block" list.