If you're staring down at your shiny new Android phone wondering which apps to try first, hit up our list before you download anything else. Great applications proliferate on Google's Android platform, and our Android Starter Kit is merely a sampling of the best software plucked from the Android Market.
Our top picks mostly represent practical stuff, like a task manager, a (way cooler) browser alternative, and phone tools. It isn't exhaustive by any means, but our roll call will get you going without overloading your phone's memory bank.
Though basic, the free Barcode Scanner is a must-have for downloading apps and contact information via QR codes. It's also great for scanning product bar codes.
- CNET editors' rating: 5.0 stars
Just because Android apps have no "close" button doesn't mean they shut down when you return to the home page or move on to another app. Your calendar, note pad, and programs in which you turn on event notifications periodically run in the background, depleting your battery.
Download and run Advanced Task Killer Free. You'll be amazed at the apps that run on start-up without your knowledge. Though you can kill the task killer along with other apps, we recommend letting it run so you can easily use it a couple times throughout the day.
- CNET editors' rating: 3.5 stars
If you're waiting for the Android 2.2 update, but you need to install an app that isn't in the Android Market, this simple freebie will serve as your bridge--just as long as you've adjusted your Android settings to allow non-Market apps.
Want to take a voice note? This free, standalone app is one good way to do it. Voice Recorder simply, intuitively lets you record a voice note and save it, or send it on from your Android phone's default Gmail account (no SMS attachments or uploading to social networks yet).
If you're disciplined enough to shut down your apps at a specified time of day, you can set an alarm that turns on Voice Recorder for a predetermined duration. You can also choose to turn any recording into a ringtone, for instance, if you favor singing into the mic or performing some spoken word arrangement. Launch a recording from the app or from a widget you can pin to the start screen. Performance was mostly good during our tests, though the app did crash once.
There's more than one way to uninstall an unwanted app. Uninstallers like Quick Uninstaller are by far the most convenient. The free, ad-supported app replicates your program window to show you your app icons. Menu options let you sort by name, date, and size to help you more quickly zero in on your prey. Then, simply tap one of the app icons to select it, and tap again to uninstall.