Android Central

You've gotta love when the Android Central writers bring you a greatly diverse set of app picks for your Saturday afternoon reading. With these picks, we'll save you a few bucks, make your homescreen look nicer, kill some time with a game or find the nearest cell tower. As is normally the case, you just don't want to miss these picks, so read on.

Sean Brunett - Best Deals

Android Central

I highlighted a deals app a few weeks back dealing exclusively with outdoor gear. This Best Deals app aggregates a variety of great deals from all over the web so you don’t have to scour to fifty different websites or keep track of certain deals that occur every hour, like Amazon Hot Deals. When you open the app, you have four tabs up top: Online, Local, National and More. Under the More tab, you can find search functions, Sunday ads, Twitter deas, etc. The rest aggregate deas as you’d expect: Online is from web retailers, Local lets you pick your city and then gives you deals from that locale and National lets you view many of the deals produced by Groupon, Living Social, etc.. I use the app mostly for the online deas, which collects data from: DealCatcher, eDealInfo, Dealplus, DODTracker, Newegg, Buy.com, Amazon Hot Deals, Amazon Books, Amazon Computers, DealNews, Deals2buy, Hot-Deals and Slick Deals. It’s a great app if you’re looking to save some money.

Download: Best Deals (Free)

Phil Nickinson - Blue Skies Live Wallpaper

Android Central

Maybe it's because I spent the first half of my professional carreer in a windowless office, working at night. Or maybe it's because this latest career path frequently has me at 35,000 feet, crossing more time zones than I care to think about. Either way, I love live wallpapers that help me remember what time day it is, and Kittehface (make of many a great live wallpaper) has a gem in Blue Skies. You're flying just above the clouds, with the sun (or moon) in your face. The wallpaper (and thus my mood) changes along with the time of day, gently transitioning to night, slipping off the work shoes and sliding a drink into your weary, outstretched hand. That's what happens to me, anyway.

You can customize the camera speed, number of clouds and other features. For a buck, this one's a no-brainer.

Download: Blue Skies Live Wallpaper ($0.99)

Simon Sage - Huebrix

Android Central

Huebrix is an excellent little puzzle game that has been doing really well since its launch last month. It's vaguely reminiscent of Trainyard. Players have to trace paths from colored boxes through a grid with the express goal of covering precicely the number of squares shown on the origin square. Cramped quarters can make this hard enough, seeing as lines from multiple sources can't overlap. Things are further complicated by squares that block tracing altogether, only allow one-way traffic, or designate where a line must end. Huebrix has a really sharp, old-school vibe to it if you've ever spent time playing Nibbles back in the day. The soundtrack is also easygoing and pensive.

There's a free version with a little over 100 puzzles and pop-up adds, or you can pay a buck for 400 puzzles and no ads. They also sell limited-use hints through in-app purchases, which may be a necessary evil if you find yourself engrossed but stuck.

Download: Huebrix (Free)

Andrew Martonik - Cut the Rope: Experiments

Android Central

I picked this one up during the $0.25 app sale last week after being a big fan of the original Cut the Rope game, and it’s been just as good as the original. If you’ve somehow gone the last few months and not played the original, the idea is a simple one: get the candy to the little critter at the bottom of the screen. Going through a lot of different impromptu physics problems for each level, you start to get the hang of how to use each instrument to your advantage. Experiments brings a whole new set of levels, and feels like a worthy refresh.

Download: Cut the Rope: Experiments (Free); Paid version ($0.99)

Scott Young - Cogs

Android Central

As I'm sure many of you did, I went on a bit of a app buying spree during Google's 25¢ sale. Of all the apps I purchased, Cogs is getting bulk of my attention. You've all seen the games where you have to move the red brick to the exit, while moving other bricks out of the way, in the least amount of moves. Cogs takes this concept and James-Cameron-izes it, making some puzzles in the game take place in a 3D environment. The simple task of moving blocks around really takes on a new twist when you have to work around a 3D surface like a cube.  The 3D game surface is just one aspect of Cogs. Some of the tiles in Cogs have gears or pipes that you have to mesh or line up in order to spin a propeller or launch a rocket. It's a pretty unique style of gameplay that really adds something else for you to think about.

Cogs features two game modes, Inventor and Challenge. Inventor mode allows unlimited moves and unlimited time and you are rewarded with a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal based on how fast and how few moves you make. In Challenge Mode, you are time-limited to 30 seconds and you only get 10 moves to solve each puzzle.

Since you're probably wondering, no, there's not a free version of Cogs currently on Google Play, but you can purchase it for $2.99.

Download: Cogs ($2.99)

Chris Parsons - Project Downforce

Android Central

Picture it. 1987 and you're sitting in front of your TV and Nintendo Entertainment System wondering what, exactly you want to play. Sure, you could play Super Mario Brothers but you got a fancy new racing game to try out called Rad Racer. It's like nothing you have ever seen before and you're instantly hooked. That's pretty much the feeling I had when I found Project Downforce in the Google Play Store. It's got 3 game modes - GP, Single Race and Time Trial all set over 7 different locations with retro graphics, great on screen controls and a surprisingly awesome soundtrack. You can get in on this action for only $.99 right now. Need to see the gameplay? Check it out here.

Download: Project Downforce ($0.99)

Jerry Hildenbrand - OpenSignalMaps

Android Central

OpenSignalMaps is one of the best tools in Google Play to help you find a data connection for your phone. It can find the closest cell tower, the give you a ton of information about it as well as how your connection is. It also will display open Wifi hotspots, which are always a score with today's capped data plans. When you fire the app up, it shows you the signal strength and direction of the tower you're connected to by default, but a quick tap changes the app to look at the Wifi interface, and another tap will reset all data connections.

Besides your current data connection, OpenSignalMaps uses crowd sourced data to map towers and hotspots in your area. You have complete control over how and when the data is sent, and I've not noticed any battery hit while using it for quite a while. If you find yourself on the edge of good coverage, or in a city where one connection may be better than another, give OpenSignalMaps a try -- it's free!

Download: OpenSignalMaps (Free)

Richard Devine - Rayman Jungle Run

Android Central

Very rarely does a mobile game come along that physically I find it hard to put down. The last one was our old favorite, WInd Up Knight, but now, we have Rayman Jungle Run. This came out last week, and I must admit to being skeptical at first. What a mistake that was.

Rayman Jungle Run is the perfect mobile game. It sits apart from titles such as Horn in its simplicity. With cutesy, yet also very nice looking graphics, and one touch control system, it's a perfect time killer. You're offered up a variety of levels where Rayman has a different special ability, and basically he runs, and you do the rest. And thats all there is to it. Simple, excellent fun to play, and well worth the asking price. Be sure to check out our hands on video too.

Download: Rayman Jungle Run ($2.99)

Alex Dobie - Pure Calendar Agenda Widget

Android Central

A few manufacturer skins come with decent calendar apps, but often neglected is the humble agenda widget. Vanilla Android includes a decent agenda widget, though if you've got a lot of stuff on your plate, you might find yourself doing a lot of scrolling. Enter Pure Calendar's Agenda widget, which allows you to set up and customize your own agenda based on a number of sources, including Google Calendar, and a number of popular task list providers.

There's also a substantial list of skins available, so you're bound to find one that matches your home screen setup. And for £1.79 in the UK, it's hard to complain about the price.

Download: Pure Calendar Agenda Widget (£1.79)

 
There are 9 comments

Nahte27 says:

I tried Open Signal Maps, and IMHO Sensorly blows it out of the water.

icebike says:

Was just going to ask if it really worked.

So many of these things have no real idea of where the towers are unless they have internet access to hit some database, because the onboard antennas in phones are purposely designed to be omnidirectional, and can't locate the tower by themselves.

I've never found one of these that are of any real use when you have no signal, although sometimes just knowing which way to drive for a better signal would be helpful. Its not like we get to pick and choose our tower connections anyway.

Nahte27 says:

Sensorly doesn't show where the tower is, but it does have a MUCH better and filled out map than OSM, which I think is more important and helpful than tower locations.

You can check out the map here (which is also crowdsourced like OSM): http://www.sensorly.com/

TekWarren says:

I like the features of Open Signal Maps, I like the "heat mapping" they use so you get an actual idea of how good the signal strength is (not just that there is some signal). However, they are incredibly slow to update the map tiles and the app constantly crashes on me and ends up locking up my device and eating battery. I want the app to work and I do try it again after any updates but over time it always ends up causing problems and I have remove it.

nyreyn says:

Blue Skies is visually nice, but it brought all my devices (Asus A500, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy SIII) to a crashing halt. If it hadn't done that, I'd use it religiously.

No impact on battery life or performance on my Xoom & HTC Rezound... been using this one for awhile - it looks amazing. Sorry to hear it didn't work out for you.

Blue skies is ok. I ran it for awhile. Fresh Leaves is beautiful though.

montgoss says:

"Pure Calendar widget" looks like a clone of Agenda Widget (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.roflharrison.agenda), which is free (with a "plus" version for cheaper than Pure Calendar Widget if you want to support the developer). Agenda Widget is awesome and I suggest you check it out if you're looking for any sort of agenda widget. It is highly customizable and has a few themes to use as well.

jean15paul says:

Huh? Apparently Alex has a secret meeting at CTIA on Thurs Oct 11th. Interesting!