Android Central

Over the course of the last 12 months, I've lost count of the sheer amount of applications that I've downloaded, tried, deleted, and in some cases tried again. When all is said and done though, there's a select group of apps which I use a whole lot more than others to the point that they've become part of everyday life. Here's a little list of what's been getting me through the week.

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1. Pocket Casts

This is without a doubt one of the most used applications I have ever downloaded. Literally every morning begins by opening Pocket Casts, refreshing and downloading the latest podcasts to listen to on my long and endless car journeys around the UK in search of a paycheck. I used to be a Google Listen fan like so many of our readers, but Pocket Casts was good enough to tear me away and not look back. The UI is a lot nicer than Google Listen, and recently got an update to make it look just that bit sweeter on my new Galaxy Nexus. It has never crashed on me, but the most important thing of all is it's listings. I can't remember the last time I had to enter a URL for a podcast feed, whereas Google Listen this became far too frequent. And of course the icing on the cake, the worlds greatest Android podcast is in there ready to roll. 

2. Google Reader

Many would argue that there are better RSS readers out there, and said many may well be correct. But again, daily life consists of a lot of checking Google Reader throughout the day wherever I may be, which is never in front of a computer. It does what it needs to which is the most important thing, and it looks real nice in its ICS style. 

3. Wind Up Knight

We love Wind Up Knight here at Android Central, that's no secret. But there's not one game I've enjoyed playing more, and more to the point not one game I've wanted to complete more than this. It's so simple in execution, looks absolutely amazing and is most importantly great fun to play. Some may not favour its in-app purchasing model, but just for the record; I spent about $3 completing the game. 

4. Spotify

In the UK we've been using Spotify for some time now, and it still doesn't have much competition over here. Coupled with an unlimited data plan, there is almost no need to carry music on the actual phone anymore. Spotifys catalogue is so vast that anytime, anywhere, I can listen to pretty much anything that takes my fancy. 

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5. HDR Camera+

I was so impressed with the effects produced by this app, that it actually became for a long time a total replacement for the stock camera app. My phone is always my go to camera if i need a quick snap, but I often feel like the images lack depth and vibrancy. It's not perfect but this app has accounted for about 75% of all the photos taken on my phone this year. 

6. Alf for LOVEFiLM (UK only)

Amazon owned LOVEFiLM is pretty much unique in the UK, offering both a streaming and postal rental subscription service for DVD's, Bluray's and games. As with a lot of my day to day online operations I basically rely upon my phone 100% for managing this. Alf is the solution to this. The official LOVEFiLM app isn't a patch on this. 

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7. Swiftkey X

Without question my personal favourite keyboard. I've tried others, and there are indeed many excellent ones to choose from. But I always go back to Swiftkey X. It's predictions are first rate and apparently I'm 30% more efficient from using it. For me that's a whole lot more efficient.

8. Google Maps

I drive approximately 40,000 miles every year, up and down the length and breadth of the United Kingdom in my dayjob. I used to use a £250 TomTom Navigator to get me about, but that has been pretty much completely replaced by Google Maps Navigation. It has it's flaws I agree, how I long for offline maps. But it's always there when I need it, and its route planning is as good if not better at times than the TomTom ever was. 

9. TuneIn Radio Pro

The biggest reason for going for the pro version of TuneIn Radio, was for the recording capability. There are some radio shows which I really love listening to, but don't usually have the time to listen live. This lets me set it going in the background, and record to listen to at my leisure. The catalogue is superb, the UI is really nice and above all, it lets me tune into a quality radio station that kept me sane in the desert of Arizona! 

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10. Alphascope (Socialscope)

First things first, this isn't available in the Market. For anyone not familiar, Socialscope is a social networking application that is currently in private beta that requires an invitation to join. Thanks to one of the exceptionally good people over at the Crackberry Forums I managed to snag myself an invite and their current Android offering has quickly become my go to Twitter and Facebook client. While there are naturally bugs and bits and pieces that don't work quite as well as they should yet, what there is at present suits me better than Tweetdeck of which I was a long time user. Keep your eyes out for this one, and if you can snag an invite from someone give it a whirl. When it's finished it could well become a big player.

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And there we have it. The improvement in the offering in the Android Market during 2011 has been quite remarkable. Long may it continue in 2012.