Finding high-quality Android apps in the Google Play Store can be challenging--what with 700,000 or so titles to choose from. Let us help.
Here are ten apps that you may not have stumbled across yet, all of which have impressed us in some way. While these gems may not change your life, they just might make your day a little easier or a little more fun.
Your smartphone is pretty smart, but apps like AutomateIt can make it even smarter.
The app lets you automate actions on your phone, so that whenever certain criteria are met, the action is triggered.
You can use AutomateIt for a variety of tasks, including sending a reply with your phone's location whenever a person texts you asking where you are. Or you can use it to turn Wi-Fi on and off under certain conditions to save battery life. You can even have AutomateIt switch your phone to vibrate mode whenever a meeting saved on your calendar starts.
If all of these settings seem a little too utilitarian, and just not fun enough, consider this: You also can use AutomateIt to play audio that says "Don't Touch Me!" whenever anyone comes too close to the proximity sensor on your phone.
Finding new music can often be even more challenging that finding new apps. A lot of what's out there is junk, and what sounds melodious to some may sound like dying cats to you. That's where 8tracks radio shines: This free app boasts almost 1 million playlists, each of which has been created by "someone who knows and loves music." You can browse through music by genres, artists, activity or mood tags, and more.
Here's a little secret: You don't have to be fabulously wealthy or famous to have your own private driver. Uber can hook you up with a driver and make you feel like a VIP. This app, which works in select cities in the United States and around the world, lets you request a ride when you need one. You pinpoint your location on a map, and a car is sent to pick you up.
You can choose between a sleek, black sedan or an SUV for larger parties, and the fare--which is comparable to cab fares in many cities--is automatically charged to your credit card, no tipping needed. Business users will appreciate that receipts are automatically emailed to you, and everyone will like the way Uber lets you ride in style.
Super Swiss Army Knife
Okay, so it can't turn your smartphone into an actual knife, but short of that, there's not much Super Swiss Army Knife can't do. You can use the app to transform your phone into a flashlight or ruler, or even a protractor (handy if you have a geometry problem that needs solving). Super Swiss Army Knife also allows you to measure the distance between you and another object, as well as the height of that object.
If you're hanging artwork, you'll appreciate the app's bubble-level tool, which helps you check whether objects are level, and the cross-vertical-measure tool, which tells you whether an item is level and--if it's not--the angle of deviation.
You may not want to admit it, but chances are you've forgotten where you parked your car at least once--if not more. Instead of wandering around the parking lot, install Car Locator. This app lets you save the location of your parked car, and then helps you find your way back to it when it's time to head home. Car Locator also keeps track of how long your car has been parked, which is helpful if you're trying to avoid parking tickets or steep garage fines. Just make sure you don't get caught feeding the meter.
Sometimes, the best ideas are the simplest ones. Case in point: AutoRotate Switch. This handy little app lets you turn your phone's automatic screen rotation off and on. If you've ever been annoyed by a screen that rotates from landscape to portrait view when you lie down in bed or flop down on the couch, you'll appreciate AutoRotate Switch.
Having trouble finding the motivation to exercise? Maybe a financial incentive would help. That's where GymPact comes in. This app pushes you to exercise by punishing you financially when you miss a planned workout.
With GymPact, you create your own exercise schedule--basically how many days a week you're planning to workout. Then, you create a financial stake--an amount that you're willing to pay if you don't work out. If you miss a workout, GymPact pockets your dues.
If you workout as scheduled, GymPact pays you back, using the money it collects from all those folks who missed their workouts. You won't get rich using GymPact, but you will get in shape and maybe earn enough to buy a pack of gum.
SnapPea allows you to transfer files--whether they're photos, songs, videos, or more--between your desktop computer and your phone. It also allows you to control your Android phone from your computer, using either a Web browser or a downloadable desktop application. It's almost like iTunes for Android, but without some of the restrictions that Apple imposes.
Snaptastic Photo Editor
Smartphone cameras have improved dramatically these last few years, but their photo-editing capabilities have lagged behind. Snaptastic helps rectify this problem by giving you easy-to-use tools for cropping and editing your photos.
With the app installed, you'll be able to adjust characteristics of your photos, such as exposure and color saturation, and easily post your customized creations to your social networks. A free, ad-supported version of the app is also available if you want to try out Snaptastic before spending your dough.
If Bejeweled and Words With Friends had a love child, it might look like SpellTower, one of the most addictive word games around. The object is to find words hidden within a grid of letters. Once you swipe or tap the letters to make the word, they disappear and new ones take their place. SpellTower includes a multiplayer option and different game modes, almost ensuring that you'll never want to put it down.