Apps of the Week

The app picks just keep on coming. Straight from the Android Central writers to you, the best apps we're using for the previous week are listed here. We've got some productivity tools and a few fun games for you to enjoy on your own phone or tablet this weekend.

Stick around after the break and see if our picks are up to par this week.

Sean Brunett - NHL Gamecenter

NHL Gamecenter

The NHL is finally back after a lengthy CBA fight that didn’t benefit many people. Regardless, I’m a huge hockey fan who is excited that we’ll be able to watch the games soon. For all of the hockey nuts out there, NHL Gamecenter is the app you’ll want to get. The basic app is free, but if you’d like to upgrade to enjoy premium features, you’ll have to be a subscriber. With the basic version of the app, you get access to schedules, videos, standings and a nice version of the NHL Shop. You also get a live game simulation that keeps you up-to-date on shots, scores, line changes and the like for your favorite team. There are two upgrade packages: NHL Gamecenter Premium and NHL Gamecenter LiveTM. With the former ($4.99), you gain access to live radio broadcasts for any home or away team you like, in-game video highlights, shortened game replays. The latter ($49.99), gives you a chance to watch any out-of-market game you want on your phone or tablet. For me, it’s great because I live in a city that doesn’t show my favorite team because I’m from elsewhere, so I can still watch my team without having to worry about another cable box and add-on package with my ISP. I’m incredibly excited about the return of hockey and NHL Gamecenter is a must for everyone who feels the same way I do. By the way, let’s go Buffalo!

Download: NHL Gamecenter (Free)

Jerry Hildenbrand - Aldiko Sync (Root)

Aldiko Sync

I read a lot. I have a decent sized library of physical technical books, but for "pleasure" reading I've moved completely to digital copy, and my choice of format is ePub -- I hate DRM. This causes a conflict every time I see a good book on sale at Amazon while using my Kindle Fire HD, but that's for another time. My reader app of choice is Aldiko. I know some of you guys use it as well, because it has over 10 Million installs. If you're using Aldiko, and have more than one device, you need Aldiko Sync.

You need to be rooted, but it's so worth it. The tap of a button syncs your library, including saving your place in every book you might have open. It's like WhisperSync, without the Amazon Kindle DRM monkey on the back of your books. It does it by reading from and writing to a folder on Dropbox. Take a few minutes and set things up, and you'll never be scanning pages to find your spot again. The pro version is fully automatic, but the free version is a breeze to use as well -- just tap an icon to sync, then tap an icon to open Aldiko. Unless you enjoy reading how Bilbo outwitted Gollum over and over again while you look for the spot you left off at, give it a shot.

Download: Aldiko Sync (Free); Unlock key ($0.99)

Anndrew Vacca - Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

I originally fell in love with Candy Crush on iOS, so my heart skipped a beat at its recent arrival on the Play Store. Before the flaming begins, let me preface by admitting that Candy Crush is pure nonsense, a guilty pleasure akin to Bejweled that has become immensely popular with moms on Facebook. If you're not a mom on Facebook, don't fret-- Candy Crush is highly addictive and immensely fun. You know this type of game: repeatedly match three candies in a row until you've achieved the level's goal, and continue until your brain feels like mush. There are insanely difficult levels, which makes the money-mongering model of having to pay for lives or wait 30 minutes for your next chance truly aggravating,  but this title is sweet enough for you to overlook the shortcomings and lose yourself for a few hours.

Download: Candy Crush Saga (Free)

Simon Sage - Lego City Fire Hose Frenzy

LEGO City Fire Hose Frenzy

I was a little jealous of Ashley getting to play with Legos at CES, but luckily I got my fix this week thanks to Lego Fire Hose Frenzy climbing the charts in Google Play. There aren't any ads or in-app purchases, just a handful different puzzles where players have to put out fires as quickly as they can. Players are ranked out of three stars based on how speedily they complete a level and how many of the bonus Lego nubs they're able to douse in the process. Though most levels involve the same standard set-up of shooting the hose from a ladder, there are a few that put players in a sweet-ass Lego helicopter. The core mechanic is very similar to Sprinkle but the Lego feel and lower difficulty curve make Firehose Frenzy a great game for kids.

Download: Lego City Fire Hose Frenzy (Free)

Phil Nickinson - Rise of the Blobs

Android Central

From the makers of Wind-up Knight comes a new game -- Rise of the Blobs. You're a marshmallow (just go with it) atop a column. The blobs are rising. You're armed with fruit. Match colors and destroy the blobs in chains. The more you get rid of, the better you'll do. There are plenty of power-ups to keep things interesting. Gameplay can get a little quick a little fast, and some of the menu screens are extremely busy. But the overall presmise is pretty simple. I could do without the usual push for in-app purchases to speed things along, but it's still playable without them. And, best of all, it's free.

Download: Rise of the Blobs (Free)

Richard Devine - Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers

Endless running games are all pretty similar deep down, it goes with the territory. But I've played quite a few now, and I still think they're great time wasters. The latest I've come across is Subway Surfers. It's free, and there are some in-app purchases like coin doublers.

In Subway Surfers, you're running away from a cop through what's supposed to be the New York Subway. The usual running, sliding, jumping features are there all activated by relevant gestures, but there's more than just running. Hoverboards. That's right, for limited periods throughout each run, double tapping on the screen brings out your hoverboard. The graphics are extremely bright and colorful, and it's a really addictive little time wasting game. 

Download: Subway Surfers (Free)

Alex Dobie - BT SmartTalk

BT SmartTalk

If you're a BT land line customer in the UK, here's a VOIP app that could help you cut down on some expensive calls when you're out an about. BT SmartTalk allows you to make calls over Wifi or cellular data and use up your BT home phone calling allowance rather than your mobile minutes. This could be particularly useful for calling 0845, 0800 or premium rate numbers, which are much more expensive when called from a mobile phone.

There are a few limitations -- outgoing calls will go out under your mobile phone number, and there's no way to have the app automatically pick up incoming calls to your land line. But it's a great start from BT, and we hope we'll see more features added soon.

The app is available through Google Play devices running Android 2.1 and above. Note that you'll need a BT land line number in order to use it.

Download: BT SmartTalk (Free)

Chris Parsons - Airbnb

Airbnb

If you travel a lot then you know, getting a place to stay is one of the top things on your list to do before anything else. Often times, finding a place to stay is nearly impossible or even outstandingly expensive though. Good news is, it doesn't have to be! If you're stuck with no availability, high rates or just want to stay somewhere "not normal" to stay at Airbnb might be able to help you out. With thousands of properties listed from rooms in houses right down to full blown castles and tree houses, there is a spot out there for everyone no matter your price range and dates of travel. The Airbnb is a great way to find those places and connect with the folks offering them.

Download: Airbnb (Free)

Andrew Martonik - Tapatalk HD

Tapatalk HD

The Tapatalk HD app just came out of beta a few days ago, but I'm already enjoying having a tablet-optimized app for reading the forums. Even on a smaller screen like the Nexus 7, the tabbed view does wonders for navigating when compared to the traditional phone layout. The overall UI has just been cleaned up and brought up to modern design standards, following Android app guidelines everywhere. The settings menu is sparse, but has all of the things most users will need.

If you spend any decent amount of time in forums, Tapatalk HD is going to be your best way to experience them on a tablet. And at just $2.99, you're getting great bang for your buck.

Download: Tapatalk HD ($2.99)

 
There are 18 comments

Wicket says:

rise of the blobs is dang good and challenging! lot's fun! :)

My issue for Candy Crush Sega is $50 for boosters and $2 to recharge every time you want to use them. Unfortunately, this is a sad trend with some Android games.

meyerweb says:

This model will only work if people are dumb enough to pay. I won't. If enough people just say no, this model will die.

I'm amazed that people will complain a $4 app costs too much, and then get sucked into this payment model.Might as well take a stack of 5 dollar bills and a matchbook, and entertain yourself watching the bills burn, one by one.

Suntan says:

Thanks for the head's up about the lego firefighter game. My son and I are about half way through EPIC Stickman and this looks like a good one to play next.

-Suntan

Subway surfers is a whole lot of fun. I am addicted. You can play and there is no need to do the IAPs.

MrJazz says:

So disappointed. I thought Phil said Rise of the BOOBS...

WAldenIV says:

Once they start to sag, there is no going back.

btgrave says:

Sooo many Nexus 4 pictures :)

icebike says:

Trying to understand why Aldiko sync should need root, when none of the other syncing readers do.

srkmagnus says:

From the Play Store description:

"The app requires a rooted device to work with Aldiko v2.2.0+. This is because Aldiko no longer allows other apps access to its database."

Sync is not made by the developer of Aldiko. So since Aldiko removed the ability for other apps to access its data base root is needed...perhaps Jerry can elaborate.

icebike says:

Ah, that sounds perfectly reasonable. I missed the fact that the sync was written by others.

Maybe we should all lobby the reader author to include sync as a feature.

I us FBreader from the market. It works on a plugin model, sadly no sync. But it does support an OPDS scanner so you can fetch books right off of your Calibre machine, which you can leave running in the background on one of your home computers.

All the books I buy go directly into my Calibre library, and get converted into *cough*open*cough* Epub format. From there they are available on all my readers.

icebike says:

Ah, that sounds perfectly reasonable. I missed the fact that the sync was written by others.

Maybe we should all lobby the reader author to include sync as a feature.

I us FBreader from the market. It works on a plugin model, sadly no sync. But it does support an OPDS scanner so you can fetch books right off of your Calibre machine, which you can leave running in the background on one of your home computers.

All the books I buy go directly into my Calibre library, and get converted into *cough*open*cough* Epub format. From there they are available on all my readers.

speednut says:

Jerry, what do you like about Aldiko over Moon Reader (syncs with Dropbox too, without root)? I'd like to know what else makes you stick with Aldiko.
Please sometime do write an anti-DRM rant post, there is no such thing as too many "DRM is EVIL" articles.

robocopvn says:

Candy Crush Saga is unreasonably difficult. some level you cannot pass it because of the randomness of the arrangement of candies, plus the limitation of moves. It becomes boring after 2 days and level 32 for me

cile1977 says:

I recmmend you to try Moon+ Reader instead of Aldiko. It has built in sync through Dropbox and support for more file types (all in free version). It has one fault - it has some bad design decisions out of the box, like page background, but it can be customized easy.

serwis says:

And that is true dude "Once they start to sag, there is no going back"

davidtb says:

Thank you Andrew for including a healthy dose of apps that aren't games.

Wolfgar2k says:

The LEGO City game isn't compatible with my LG Optimus G? I'm sure it's enough machine to handle that game> (Expecially since my wife's GNex is compatible.)

Looks like the other LEGO City game isn't compatible either.