Android Central

Another week, another great list of app picks from the Android Central writers. Interestingly, this week there aren't any games! We've gone straight for apps that might actually be useful and save you some time (or in Sean's case, money) rather than waste it away playing Granny Smith. Don't worry though, we're sure there are more game picks to come in the future.

Simon Sage - Playboard

Android Central

Playboard is a really slick social app recommendation service. In addition to being able to subscribe to curated, themed collections of apps, users can build their own collections of their favorite apps on Google Play. The UI is fully Holo'd up, and you can share your new discoveries out to whatever plugs into the system-wide share menu. I'm always looking for new apps, and this is proving to be a really solid way to find some hidden gems. Check it out!

Download: Playboard (Free)

Alex Dobie - TVCatchup

Android Central

UK TV streaming app TVCatchup recently graduated from beta and launched on the Google Play Store. You'll need to be a UK TV license holder on a British network connection to use it, but for those that meet those requirements, it's the best way to watch live TV on a mobile device. The app provides a split view for Android tablets, with a channel list on the left hand side, in addition to fullscreen video on all supported devices. The app even does a decent job of switching to lower-resolution streams if your network connection is slow, although most HSPA+ networks should be fast enough to watch the widescreen SD-quality broadcasts.

TVCatchup for Android provides access to the same 50 channels that are available through its web interface, and runs on Android 2.2 to 4.1. The app is free to download, and supported by ads.

Download: TVCatchup (Free, UK Only)

Sean Brunett - Gear of the Day Outdoor Deals

Android Central

I’m going to Alaska in February, which will obviously be pretty cold. Normally I’d like to go in the summer, but I really want to see the Northern Lights. Even though I’m from upstate New York, originally, I don’t have all the winter gear that I’ll need up in Fairbanks. One thing that I’ve been doing is keeping an eye on deals at all of the outdoor stores, and an app that allows me to do this is Gear of the Day Outdoor Deals. It scans the sites for you and lets you know the best daily deals from a whole lot of different brands. Here are the stores it covers: 800-Ski-Shop, Altrec, Backcountry, Ballistic Reload, Big Sky Country, BonkTown, Chainlove, Christy Sports, Denali, DepartmentofGoods, Dogfunk, Eddie Bauer, evo, GearHog, gearSlash, GearX, Giantnerd, HucknRoll, Leftlane Sports, Masseys Outfitters, Moosejaw, Mounains Plus, Nantaha Outdoor Center, Nantucket Brand, Patagonia, ProBoardShop, Quiksilver, Ramsey Outdoor, RealCyclist, RedTag Sports, REI, Rocky Mountain Trail, Sierra Trading Post, Ski Center, Sparkle Cartel, Steep and Cheap, Tahoe Mountain Sports, The House, The Watch Co, The FlipFlopper, Trailblazer, TriVillage, Warehouse Skateboards, and Whiskey Militia. If you really like a deal, you can also share it with your friends.

Download: Gear of the Day Outdoor Deals (Free)

Andrew Martonik - ES File Explorer

Android Central

File explorers. Nerds have ‘em, normal users don’t. Of those who have them, there’s some sort of strange attachment and defense of whatever one they choose. There are a ton of options out there when it comes to full featured capable explorers, and I’ve chose ES File Explorer for my device. It’s not the prettiest thing ever, but its got more features than I’d ever need and it never fails when I’m using it. It’s one of those “essential apps” that I download on any new device right away.

Download: ES File Explorer (Free)

Jerry Hildenbrand - Discovery Earth for Google TV

Android Central

Discovery Sunrise and Discovery Atlas come together to deliver some really breathtaking video content on your Google TV. Sometimes, I need a break from tech talk and news, and documentary style video of our world is something I really enjoy seeing. The Discovery Earth app showcases some of the best content the Discovery network has to offer, and brings it into your living room in a nice tidy package.

You have points of interest on a world map, and each point is a link to the video clip, and a link back to TDC's website to purchase the show the clip came from. From sunrise over the Acadia National Park in Maine, to the koalas of Australia there sure to be something there for everyone. If you have a Google TV box, give it a look. While there may not be tons of content (yet), what's there is beautiful, and the app is completely free.

Download: Discovery Earth for Google TV (Free)

Chris Parsons - Zoodles Kid Mode

Android Central

If you're looking for a way to let kids use your device but don't want to worry about them accessing things they shouldn't, Zoodles is a great option to try out. It allows you to go ahead and create profiles for children where you determine which amount of access they have. Rather than granting them access to your whole device, you get a whole subset of games, story books and activities built right into the app. For basic options, it's free but there is premium upgrade options as well where parents can get more items and features. Overall though, the basic app itself is great. One caveat though is the fact you need Flash on your device for it to work. Something to keep in mind.

Download: Zoodles Kid Mode (Free)

Richard Devine - TabletSMS

Android Central

DeskSMS has been a pretty useful application to me, as I spend an increasing amount of time in front of a computer it means I can leave my phone out of sight but still receive text messages. When at home now, since getting a Nexus 7, an increasing amount of time is spent using the tablet. TabletSMS is an add-on to DeskSMS that allows you to send and receive text messages on your tablet.

You need to have the latest version of DeskSMS installed on the phone that you wish to text from, but after that setup is really simple. The UI is nicely done, and it just works. That's the beauty of it. Sending a text message is no more difficult than doing it on your phone -- you select a contact, type your message, and send it. It's nicely done, and well worth the yearly fee for DeskSMS on it's own. Especially if you still communicate a lot by SMS.

Download: TabletSMS (Free)


Reader comments

Apps of the Week - Playboard, TVCatchup, Gear of the Day Outdoor Deals and more!


Great selection guys !
+1 for ES File Explorer.
The cloud features alone makes it the best File Manager out there

+1 ES has been my go to file manager for a few years now! What sealed the deal was when they added ROOT explorer support!

Es File Explorer is amazing, and the developer is great too.
When I was flashing a lot of ROM's last year, it was a pain having to use another app to calculate/check MD5 checksums to make sure the 800mb file transferred intact.

I emailed the dev and said it would be a good idea to include this, and might as well add SHA. 3 days later there was an update in the market and it could do MD5 and SHA. How good is that?

Support the DEV He rocks. I wish more devs were this responsive.


Playboard is a nice app, but its shortcomings are significant. In particular, there's no way to save your place while you're browsing the apps. If your 55 apps in on a list of 100 and you stop to check out an app, when you return, you'll be back at the start again. You'll need to flip through 55 apps you've already browsed to get back to where you were. Totally defeats the purpose for me. I uninstalled the sucker. Too bad. Good stuff in there.

IMHO Discovery networks' programming went down the toilet years ago. Almost all they air are stupid reality shows now.

I spend most of my time on Nat Geo, History, and Science channels now.

Tablet talk is better than TabletSMS imo if you don't use the desktop portion. The only difference is in TabletSMS you can get MMS messages but you cant do anything with them so its kind of not an advantage. You cant save the images or even enlarge them.

I highly recommend Solid Explorer (Beta) over ES File Explorer. I used ES for the longest time and since switching to Solid Explorer I've realized that I didn't know what I was missing. Every feature I can possibly think of is matched between the two but Solid Explorer is infinitely more beautiful. It offers brain-dead simple connections to Dropbox,Box,or any of the other popular services and then displays them just like a normal folder. Instead of entering multi-select mode to chose more than one file/folder, you just tap on their icons instead of the text names. It's dual-paned meaning you can easily move things between two folders while looking at the two of them, in landscape you see the two side-by-side, in portrait you swipe horizontally between them and there's a nice indicator bar at the bottom that's very unobtrusive but clearly shows which side you're on. Additionally, setting up an ftp server on your phone (to transfer between other devices wirelessly) is unbelievably easy, and soon it will be even easier (one-touch) if you're just connecting to another android device.

Also, since you mentioned TV Catchup, I thought I'd mention another of my favorite TV apps. I think it was mentioned on this site before but it's gotten some amazing improvements recently to its UI and functionality.

TV Shows Fav. You select which shows are your favorite and it will tell you when new episodes are coming up and allow you to mark which episodes you've seen so you can keep track of how far you are into a catch-up marathon or just remember what the last episode you saw was if you miss a couple of weeks. It's UI is absolutely gorgeous Holo theme and uses space beautifully on a phone or tablet. It works offline and pulls in updates whenever it can. You sign up with an account so it syncs your favorites and everything else across devices (not to mention backing it up). The developer is incredibly responsive and helpful. The app's available for free, but I highly recommend the $5 premium unlock key to get rid of ads, unlock notifications, themes, and just to support the developer.