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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Six Android apps you need now


Pick up a new Android device recently? If so, you'll probably want to break it in with a few killer apps. Here are six hot picks available from Google Play now.
If you're rocking a new Android device, there's no question you're going to want some killer apps to test its limits. Lucky for you, we've put together a list of some of the hottest downloads available now.
Editors' note: For six of the hottest apps on iOS right now, check out Jason Parker's roundup.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET)
Feedly (free)
With Google Reader set to go away very soon, Feedly might be your best bet as an app that lets you access your RSS feeds while on the go. It looks great, works well, and even features two-way syncing with Google Reader. Also, according to its developers, Feedly will offer a seamless transition once Google's service officially bites the dust.
Compared with other RSS readers out there, Feedly is exceptionally visual. It makes use of large images and incorporates magazine-style layouts. To many, this is a good thing. But for those out there who are looking for a simpler text-based list, similar to Google Reader, this might not be the app for you.
If you do decide to try Feedly, then you can expect a wealth of features that enhance your reading experience. The app comes with themes and other customization options, integration with bookmarking tool Pocket, and more. The app even offers suggestions for interesting sites that you can subscribe to in a single tap.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET)
SpellTower ($1.99)
If Boggle and Bejeweled had a love child, SpellTower would be it.
In SpellTower, your goal is to find as many high-value words as you can among the board of lettered tiles (just like in Boggle). Thing is, as you find these words, the used tiles disappear, causing the remaining tiles to drop down and occupy the empty space (just as in Bejeweled). The result is a board that continues to change throughout your game. So, as you can imagine, when playing SpellTower, it is in your best interests to think ahead, and try to set yourself up for big moves as you go. And did I mention there's a multiplayer mode that is very much like those old-school Tetris head-to-head battles?

(Credit: Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET)
PushBullet (free)
PushBullet may not be the most popular app on this list, but it is a good one. Consider it a sleeper hit. PushBullet is the easiest way to get files, links, notes, lists, and addresses from your desktop computer to your mobile device. Once you install it, all you have to do is log in to the PushBullet Web site on your computer, then use one of the modules to push an item to your device. Once you do so, the item will appear in your Android notification bar, so you can access it with a single tap.
It's fast, reliable, and easy to use. Plus, PushBullet lets you add multiple mobile devices to your account, which widens your pushing possibilities considerably.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET)
Songza (free)
Songza is not your typical streaming-music app. It offers a different take on radio, as it tries to match the perfect playlist with your mood or whatever activity you happen to currently be engaged.
While other music apps start you off with a search bar, Songza gives you a Concierge screen, where it presents you with choices of different activities (e.g. working out, doing housework, or taking the day off). Here, you can either pick the one you're currently engaged in, or bypass the choices to look for more. In the end, Songza will serve you up a playlist that the company's curators deem appropriate for the given activity.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET)
SwiftKey 4 ($3.99)
SwiftKey 4 for Android is, quite simply, the best keyboard app we've reviewed. Sure, it costs $3.99 to install, but trust me when I say this: the app is well worth its price.
New in SwiftKey 4 is a feature called SwiftKey Flow, which brings Swype-like gesture capabilities to the app. With this, you can simply glide your finger across letters and watch as the app predicts what you're trying to type. You can even glide through the spacebar key and type multiple words without ever lifting your finger off the screen.
Of course, the Flow feature is just one part of what's special about SwiftKey. The other (bigger) part is the smart predictions. And the more you use the app, the smarter it gets. SwiftKey can not only predict the next letter you need to type, but also the next word, sometimes even before you begin typing it.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET)
Falcon Pro (99 cents)
Falcon's interface is about as attractive as they come, with its minimalist typeface and light-on-dark color scheme. But what's most impressive is this app's exceptionally smooth controls. Swiping up and down through your Twitter timeline is a pleasure, free of any jerky refreshes, while swiping laterally between control panels is as smooth as butter as well. Even though it may be one of the newer Twitter clients on the block, Falcon Pro could end up ruling them all.