App Picks

You like apps. We like apps. The Android Market has tons of great apps, but sometimes they are hard to find. Let's take a look at some of our favorite applications from this past week together after the break.

 Jerry Hildenbrand - ElectroDroid (Paid)


Like many EE's in the 1990s, I felt the call of software development and got away from my roots. That ElectroDroidmeans things I should be able to calculate and remember the formulas to do, I just don't. To offset this, I've tried all manner of cheatsheets, pocket guides, and reference books to a certain degree of success, but none are as simple as this tiny free App from the Android Market called ElectroDroid. Things like Voltage drop calculation, resistor and inductor color codes, schematic symbols, and even SI unit prefixes are all at my fingertips -- no digging through my pockets or notebooks looking for the right reference. It's been years since I sat at a CAD workstation, and even longer since I've been in the field, and ElectroDroid has been a lifesaver the few times I have had to use it, and if you're doing any type of field engineering or electrical work you'll probably find a use for it too. ElectroDroid is free in the Android Market for devices running Android 1.6 and higher, with an ad-free version available for €1.95 (about $2.80). [Market Link]

Anndrew Vacca - Discover Mobile (Free)


DiscoverIt is all too easy to spend a weekend on the town without a shred of regard for my finances. Come Monday morning, my head is hurting, but my wallet is hurting even more. Thankfully, Discover Card has an easy-to-use Android app that helps you keep track of your spending and manage your account. Its clean homescreen gets right to the point: see your current balance, your previous statement, your upcoming due date, your available line of credit, and your rewards balance. And with a powerful recent transaction search, you'll never be left wondering where your money went. Goodbye, Monday morning financial hangover. [Market Link]

Menno - Start Talking [beta] (Free)

Start Talking

In sci-fi movies you always see people interacting with computers with only their voice. Sure, they might grab a keyboard or delve into virtual reality for complicated tasks, but for simple stuff they just talk with the Start Talkingcomputer and get things done. It's awesome, and along with flying cars, it's what I always assumed the future would bring. Instead, most talk services require some sort of input on your part to get them to work, whether it is tapping a button on your Bluetooth headset, or hitting a shortcut, it still requires some input on your part. Start Talking is one of the few applications that aims to be totally "hands free" after you activate it. How the app works is it runs in the background and activates itself when you say a configurable activation phrase. Then, you can use the application to send a text message, or update your Twitter/facebook accounts. If someone sends you a text, you can have it read the text out to you and then you can respond without ever touching your device. I used it on my way to the meetup this week, and while I had to say things a few times to make sure the program got it right, I never had to take my hands off the steering wheel or my eyes off the road to do it. The app is currently in beta, so don't be surprised if you run into a few bugs, but it's an awesome application to try out, and for me it's worked more often than not. Free in the Android Market. [Market Link]

Joshua Munoz - Pac-Man (Paid)

Pac Man

Pac ManIt might seem antiquated, but I, too, grew up on Pac-Man. Hearing the distinctive "wakka-wakka" sound as this disembodied yellow head floated around devouring anything in its path carries a bit of nostalgia for me, so when I discovered it on the Market, I had to buy it. It's nothing more than advertised, just the Pac-Man game on your phone's screen, with a digital joystick to move around, but man, is this game still as fun as ever. For a mere 99 cents, you're gettin' the best of old school, and that's something I'm not sure any other game out there can really touch. [Market Link]

Alex Dobie - XE Currency (Free)


XE CurrencyIf you travel a lot, or happen to be paid in mystical currency from far away lands, then the Currency app is a tool which may come in handy. Based on technology from the popular conversion website, the app provides a simple, easy way to see how a range of different currencies stack up against each other. To set your "home" currency, simply tap the entry you want and shake your phone -- it'll immediately set to 1.00. By default you get US Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling, Canadian Dollars and Australian Dollars, but more can be added via the "edit currencies" menu, where you can choose from 180 different flavors of money. The XE Currency app is available for free on the Android Market, for devices running Android 1.5 and above. [Market Link]

Chris Parsons - X-Men (Paid)


X-Men, from Konami games which came out in 1992 and features arcade game styling is another classic X-Mengame that now lives on in the Android world. You'll get to play as some of your favourite X-Men characters including: Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler and battle The Blob, Wendigo, Nimrod, The White Queen, Juggernaut, Mystique and of course, Magneto. The gameplay controls are rather easy but may take a few rounds to get used to. Overall, the graphics are what you would expect from a game developed in 1992 meaning -- they're certainly not mind blowing any more but that's part of the joy in playing the classics. Plus, if you're looking for some online battles with your friends you can add up to 4 players through the multi-player mode and kick some Sentinel butt over WiFi. You can grab X-Men today from the Android Market for $3. [Market Link]

Sean Brunett - PhotoFunia (Free)


PhotofuniaApps that allow users to do cool stuff with their photos are always fun. PhotoFunia offers a wide selection of scenes/effects that it then places your favorite photos in. It uses facial recognition to draw the face(s) from the photo to put it on something else, like a bodybuilder or Brazilian carnival dancer. Some of the other fun effects are: pencil drawing, wanted poster, NYC billboards, national gallery and more. With over 150 effects to choose from, you should be able to find some that suit what you’re looking for. PhotoFunia is a great app to play around with, especially if you take a lot of pictures with your camera and want to do something fun with them. [Market Link]