'Twere the app picks before Christmas, and... we didn't pick a bunch of holiday apps. We just want to bring you the best of what we find on Google Play -- holiday or otherwise -- each and every week. We've got a bunch of different tools and a couple of games available for your enjoyment this week, with just two holiday-themed apps thrown in.
Stick around after the break and see how we did this week.
Jerry Hildenbrand - Press
Press is a great new Google Reader client from the folks at TwentyFive Squares. I've just started using it, but I can tell I've found the Google Reader client that I've been looking for. Press finds a happy medium that gives you all the content, yet formats things into a nice, easy to read package with all the right tools for the power-news-hound types.
A big part of what we do here at AC is read. We read press releases, manufacturer sites, general tech blogs, smartphone blogs -- you name it, there's probably someone here who reads it. I use Google Reader to keep track of it all. What I look for in a mobile app for my Google Reader feeds is stability, how easy it is to mark something read or unread (or star it for later), and how well it syncs for offline content. Press does all of that perfectly for me, and more. It has a great internal browser to open a feed link, customizable fonts, and a very nice image browser with pinch zooming. It also does it in a way that looks great -- both on a phone or a tablet.
Press runs on devices sporting Android 4.0 or higher, and will run you two bucks. If you like or need to read your news, it's a great purchase.
Download: Press ($1.99)
Simon Sage - Pudding Monsters
The guys that made Cut the Rope just released their next property called Pudding Monsters, and it stands to be just as mind-bending, adorable, and addictive as its classic predecessor. Players have to slide little cubes of sentient pudding across a table so they can fuse, create an amalgam monstrosity, and devour those that would devour them. In order to do so, you must slide them across a table strategically so they don't fall right off the edge. If you can make sure that three little stars are covered up when all of the pudding cubes are melded together, then you earn bragging rights. There are 75 levels right now, with more coming down the pipe shortly. The art style reminds me a little bit of Jelly Defense, that is absolutely a good thing. Be sure to give Pudding Monsters a shot - it's time well wasted.
Sean Brunett - FlightTrack
I'm sure that, like me, many of you are travelling for the holidays. When it comes to monitoring the status of flights, what gate you're supposed to be at, and everything else involving air travel, you want a reliable app. I've tried a wide variety of apps and can say that my favorite thus far is FlightTrack. It gives you a simple UI which is perfect for tracking your flight. The homepage displays whatever flights you have added for your upcoming trip, with the current status and date of them. You can click on a specific flight for more detailed information, as well as airport and weather forecasts. In addition, the app gives you easy shortcuts for searching for alternate flights, calling your airline, checking airplane seats via SeatGuru and looking at certain airport's flightboard. The app also has a Pro version for $4.99, which allows you to forward emails from sites like Tripit so that FlightTrack can automatically populate your flight details. It is a must have for travelers this holiday season.
Download: FlightTrack (Free)
Andrew Martonik - NYTimes for Android
I, like many of you, use a set of RSS feeds and a news reader to catch up on everything that’s happening for most of my daily news. Sometimes you just want to browse through and see what one publication has to offer though, and for that I open up the New York Times for Android app. It has just received a notable update that has improved the overall UI and navigation experience, making it simple to browse and read. The new app does what every news app should, and that’s get out of the way and let the content be the main focus.
The app is free if you just want to read the “Top Stories” section, but you can always sign up for a subscription if you’re interested in some of the more in-depth coverage.
Download: NYTimes for Android (Free)
Chris Parsons - Christmas Clock
It's that time of year again where I decide to get a little bit jolly and dress up my device with some holiday cheer. Nothing over the top, just a little something fun and simple. This year, it's Christmas Clock -- a nice little clock that is animated throughout the day. As the sun rises, you'll see it float across your screen until it becomes the moon. That can be disabled through the settings if you wish or it can be left to run automatically.
Download: Christmas Clock ($1.00)
Richard Devine - The Snowman and the Snowdog
As a child growing up in the UK, one thing about Christmas never, ever got old. The Snowman. The animated short-film is iconic in this part of the world. A silent animation, based upon a book containing no words that was first published in 1978. The movie -- all 26 minutes of it -- was made in 1982, which makes it older than me, but yet it never gets old. 30 years on, a sequel has been made, The Snowman and the Snowdog.
And, because this is 2012, why not have an official companion app to go along with it? It's such a simple game, but the kids -- and the big kids -- will adore it. You fly around with The Snowman and his Snowdog, collecting such items as snowflakes and Christmas fairies. These in turn give you more time to fly around and enjoy the beautifully re-created 3D world of The Snowman. Eventually, if you collect enough power up items, you'll find yourself at the North Pole. I'm definitely in the big kid category here, but I love this. And it's filling the time nicely until it hits TV screens across the UK on Christmas Eve.
Download: The Snowman and the Snowdog (Free) (U.K. Only)
Alex Dobie - Action Launcher Pro
If you're after a break from the standard 'home screen-plus-app drawer' Android launchers, then you might want to check out Action Launcher Pro. Created by Chris Lacy, the brains behind Tweet Lanes, Action Launcher arranges your home screens around an action bar, which you can use to perform various tasks. Hit the 'Apps' button, or swipe across from the left, and you'll get a smooth, scrollable list of all your installed applications, and there are also handy shortcuts for voice search, Google Play, and adding shortcuts and widgets. And a new feature called "covers" allows you to use icons as both app shortcuts and folders -- tap once to open the app, or twice to open up the folder view and see other apps behind the cover.
It's still early days, but already Action Launcher is showing signs of promise. It's available on Google Play now for $3.99 in the U.S. and £2.59 in the U.K., for devices running Android 4.0.3 or higher.
Download: Action Launcher Pro ($3.99)