New Android phone? Start with these free apps

If you're staring at your new Android phone not knowing which apps to try first, hit up our list before you download anything else.

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 free software plucked from the Android Market.

Our top picks mostly represent practical stuff, like a task manager, (way cooler) browser alternative, and phone tools. It isn't exhaustive by any means. In fact, we welcome you to chime in with your own essentials in the comments of this post. However, our roll call will get you going without overloading your phone's memory bank. Just two notes of caution. First, beware the brightness of your screen--in our experience that's Android's number one battery-slayer. Second, if you're interested in avoiding notification overload, it's worthwhile to configure most apps you download to adhere to your alerting wishes.

Happy holidays, and enjoy that new phone.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.

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