Apps of the Week

We've got the usual great set of app picks for your enjoyment this week, covering all genres. You can add a watermark to a picture, keep those pictures safe from unwanted eyes, check out some classic comic strips and more.

Read on and see how we did this week. And if you see an app you like, spend a couple bucks on it -- hard working developers deserve to be paid when they make something great.

Alex Dobie - Add Watermark

Add Watermark

Since getting the Samsung Galaxy Camera -- and in preparation for CES 2013 -- I've been looking for apps to help streamline the blogging, liveblogging and content creation process. That means apps that can save time getting images off the camera, processed, and uploaded as fast as possible. Add Watermark by Androidvilla is one of the best I've come across so far.

VPN Deals: Lifetime license for $16, monthly plans at $1 & more

At a basic level, the app does exactly what it claims to -- you can add watermarks to your photos based on an image file on the your device, and the main menu lets you control anchor points, opacity, size and rotation. You can also control how images are resized and re-compressed, which helps if you're saving pics for the web.

But the really cool stuff comes when you introduce sharing into the mix. Add Watermark can be configured to automatically display the sharing intents menu when a file -- or several files --have been watermarked, and it's also possible to batch-process multiple images, and share all of them on to another application. That means a large number of photos can be resized, watermarked and sent on to Dropbox or an email recipient in about three or four screen presses -- very cool.

There are plenty more features on offer, so don't be fooled by the deceptively simple name for this app. Add Watermark is available as a limited free version, or a full-featured paid version, from the Google Play Store.

Download: Add Watermark (Free); Paid ($1.99)

Sean Brunett - Calvin and Hobbes Search Engine

Calvin and Hobbes Search Engine

I’ve always been a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes. I love the book collections that are available and I love looking up the comics from my Android devices. One of my favorites is simply called Calvin and Hobbes Search Engine. It allows you to browse and search the entire collection of comic strips that were made, save favorites for later viewing and share some of the ones that you like best. It’s a well made app, but I wish it had a feature that allowed you to touch the comic strip and it would automatically resize it for your specific screen. Other than that, it works like a charm and does exactly what it says. This is a must for any Calvin and Hobbes fan. 

Download: Calvin and Hobbes Search Engine ($1.43)

Jerry Hildenbrand - PhotoVault


I know a lot of us have pictures on our phone that aren't fit for the general public (or for mom). Like pictures of that car you test drove last night. The chassis was perfect, the headlights were magnificent, and the limited slip rear end just begged for pictures. Of course, you don't want just anyone passing these pictures around. That's where PhotoVault comes into play.

It acts like a gallery, but one you can put a password lock on. Pictures can be moved back and forth between the public gallery and the private password protected one with a simple long press. Once they are marked as private, someone can't just pick up your phone and see them. Of course, someone with a bit of Android knowledge can probably ferret them out, but if someone like that gets hold of your phone all bets are off anyway. If you have a need to keep casual observers (and girlfriends) from seeing everything you photograph, PhotoVault has you covered. Grab it from Google Play for $1.50.

Download: PhotoVault ($1.50)

Andrew Martonik - USAA Mobile

USAA Mobile

I realize that banking apps are an interesting choice, as there are probably more important things in choosing a bank than whether or not they have a good mobile app. But for some people -- like the users reading this site -- having an app that you can manage your finances on completely is a big deal.

USAA has a pretty solid offering with its mobile app, with every function you’d probably be looking for and then some. Beyond simple account management, you can follow investment accounts, insurance claims and real estate functions. I’ve also never had any issues with compatibility across multiple devices, which is also important for many of us that switch so often. Hard to argue with anything in this app, and if you’re already a USAA customer you really should give it a look.

Download: USAA Mobile (Free)

Richard Devine - Survival Run with Bear Grylls

Android Central

At first glance, this looks like just another Temple Run clone. It is, and it isn't. The idea behind the game is pretty much the same, it's an endless running game, but the execution is quite different. For, unlike Temple Run, in Survival Run you don't just run.

Taking control of Bear Grylls trying to out run a Grizzly Bear, you also get to slide down hills, swim through rivers, and even base jump. It's a casual game with plenty to unlock, apparently, although I haven't got that far yet. There's also a second 'game' on the way at some point in the future called Concrete Jungle that isn't yet active. It's free to download, and a pretty decent time killer. 

Download: Survival Run with Bear Grylls (Free)

Chris Parsons - Zooper Widget

Zooper Widget

If you're looking to try out some new widgets on your device, you may want to give Zooper Widget a go. The set is available for free, though there is a pro version available should you decided you need it. With plenty of customization options and widgets that look great, Zooper Widget has become my widget tool of choice for now. Create your own or use the already included templates, either way Zooper adds a nice touch to any device.

Download: Zooper Widget (Free)

Simon Sage - Townsmen


While poking around for some good free games, I stumbled on Townsmen. For anyone that played the old Settlers game, this is a real treat. The game is a mix of sim and strategy. The main focus is on creating a sustainable community with an ongoing supply chain that ultimately results in building soldiers to conquer nearby enemies. Though that sounds simple, it can get quite complex; workers in the mine have to be fed with bread (and other food), which is made by bringing grain from farms to mills, which makes flour, which has to then in turn be brought to the baker. Each part of that process requires specific buildings built with other resources and properly manned by citizens of the town. All the while, your community’s morale has to be kept high by meeting basic needs and making various luxury goods available.

It’s a really deep game with cutely stylized graphics. The only real drawback is that there are quite a few freemium trappings, such as an ongoing banner, tap-to-collect mechanics, occasional pop-up ads, and premium currency which is doled out sparingly as you progress, or through in-app purchases. Those Prestige points can be spent on speeding up construction and adding time to the fast-forward mechanism. Luckily, you can get ads removed simply by installing a game from a partner, which is a nice touch.

Overall, Townsmen offers really deep gameplay for those that love to micromanage. Building up a complex, functioning village with varied supply chains can be really rewarding, and a familiar feeling for those that have put time into the Settlers games in the past.

Download: Townsmen (Free)