My Top 10 Third Party Android Apps of 2012

My top 10 list of third party Android apps for 2012.

Android logoThis year marks my third with Android so I thought I might start a new year’s tradition of listing my top 10 third party Android apps from the previous year. Most of these were available earlier than 2012 but they are the ones that I depend on daily on my phone and tablet. The core of the Android experience are the great first party apps Google provides but I find the usability of the platform much enhanced by the work of third party developers.

So in no particular order, here are my picks for the year (with links to the Play store in each title):

  • Flipboard – A lot of my time with my Nexus 7 is spent reading and Flipboard is my top pick for catching up on what is going on. I have connected all the social networks I use to curate links but also use some of the topic-based channels. I also have this installed on my phone for those times in line at the store.
  • Pocket – One of the great features of Android is the application sharing API which connects apps together. I use Flipboard, Google Reader, Zite and other apps to find articles and then share them to Pocket for reading later. I have used this app since it was called Read It Later Pro and still see no reason to switch to anything else for reading web content on a phone or tablet.
  • Evernote – The only single app pinned to my dock on my Nexus 7 (the rest are folders of apps), I use Evernote frequently to save ideas, photos and code snippets across all my devices. I use it so much I’ve paid for the Premium version which unlocks a number of useful features such as OCR.
  • Any.DO – Another very useful app I use across all my devices to keep track of tasks. I especially like it on my phone where I can schedule missed calls and other tasks and then take action on my computer or tablet later.
  • Plume – I’ve used the official Twitter app and Hootsuite but find Plume the best app for getting the most out of Twitter on the go. I especially like the universal inbox for managing multiple accounts and ability to adjust the look and feel.
  • Netflix – The Nexus 7 is the first Android device I have used that supports Netflix and it is fantastic for watching TV shows and movies when traveling or when something else is on your Netflix-connected TV.
  • Kindle – As I mentioned earlier I spend a lot of time reading on my tablet and Amazon’s Kindle app is as good as it gets for ebook reading. Syncing across devices works much better than anything else I have tried and the selection of content and pricing is second to none.
  • Pocket Casts – If you like to listen to podcasts Pocket Casts is the only app you need. I use it on my phone for audio podcasts and on my tablet for video podcasts. While the user interface could use some improvement the rest of the app works well for downloading and listening (or watching) podcasts. Well worth the $3 charged.
  • 3M Cloud Library – A new entry released only last month, this app gives you access to the ebook selection from your public library. The interface is intuitive and the reading  view is comparable to the Kindle app. The integrated user experience beats the heck out of dealing with Adobe Digital Editions and manually loading ebooks to your tablet.
  • Amazon Appstore – I have almost 100 apps “purchased” from Amazon’s app store. Most of them are the free app of the day variety which is a great way to find new paid apps with no risk.

Apps Are iPad’s Sustainable Advantage

Until Android or Windows tablets match the range and quality of iPad’s app ecosystem they will continue to be a very small niche. Right now I don’t think this is possible unless Apple stumbles for a year or two.

How Apple Can Disrupt The Tablet Market

iPad Event InvitationI have long espoused that there is no tablet market, just an iPad market. But with the introduction of the Kindle Fire and to a lesser degree Nook Tablet there is a competitive threat to be dealt with. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble were smart to not take on Apple straight up as Samsung and others have done, and failed, with Android tablets. No, they developed highly customized user experiences centered around reading and content consumption and carved out a foot hold with price. And like what Android did with smartphones over time, you can extrapolate the same course might be taken in the tablet space with incremental improvements and “good enough” solutions at prices half or less Apple charges for the iPad.

So it will be interesting to see what Apple does next week when they announce the iPad 3. Rumor has it they will keep the iPad 2 on the market as an entry level device and might even field an 8 GB model. That would be most interesting but to fully disrupt the nascent tablet market they would have to hit the $299 price point. Since refurb original iPads sell for that today it would be conceivable that the 8 GB iPad 2 could retail as low as $299. If that’s the case, game over even for the Kindle Fire.

There is also a ridiculous rumor Apple will announce a 7.85 inch iPad before the holiday season at $199 to compete head to head with the Kindle Fire. This is just not how Apple rolls, especially since they are sure to introduce a new resolution for developers to deal with, so I still think it is more likely to see a 4 inch iPod Touch at the end of the year based upon the iPhone 5. This would retail in the $199 price point but would not run iPad apps. I think Apple could command at least $100 over competitors especially if they are delivering a larger and more capable device.

We’ll see what happens next week but this will fully play out over the next 6 months.

Amazon Releases Kindle Fire Source Code

Can’t wait to see what the folks at SlateDroid and XDA Developers cook up with this code… (via BriefMobile)