ReadWriteWeb doesn't do a lot of mobile application reviews, but every now and then (ideally, every month, but realistically, every 2-3 months) we like to round-up some of our favorite newcomers to the smartphone application scene.
We last rounded up our picks for top new apps in October, when there were 225,00 apps available in iTunes. Today, Apple offers over 300,000 apps, according to its website. And in October, Google announced there were 100,000 apps in the Android Market. Now, independent Android app tracker Androlib puts that number at closer to 195,000 apps. How on earth can you find the good ones? We hope to help...a little.
Friends is an attractive, well-built iPhone application that lets you manage contacts from email, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks in one interface, even viewing status updates, friend lists and shared photos. If your contact list is large (mine was around 5,000), setup may take a while, but the result is worth it. Friends is $1.99 in the iTunes app store.
For what it's worth, Friends reminds us a lot of Twezr, an app that combines all your communication (email, Facebook, Twitter) into one interface. This is something that people clearly wanted - the demand was so high, its servers crashed. On December 3rd, Founder Delip Andra announced that the company was working on adding capacity and no new users would be allowed in for now. That appears to still be the case. If deciding between the two, it looks like Friends is the way to go.
SkyFire's November update for Android delivered the "Facebook edition" of the alternative mobile browser, which introduced features for tracking content (links, photos, videos) shared by your Facebook friends. "All the the random status updates and musings are left for later - this is just the meat of your Facebook feed," we said in our review. Social feed reading? We're in. The app is free in the Android Market.
Speak With Me's VoiceDJ (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
We were offered the opportunity to review VoiceDJ at launch, but unfortunately it requires the latest Apple firmware. Since my iPhone is rocking a great, untethered jailbreak which I'm not willing to part with, I can't give you a hands-on, tested recommendation on this one. But Robert Scoble will. In truth, VoiceDJ sounds great - it lets you control the music library on your mobile device using conversational style voice commands (e.g., "Play The Killers"). Now that's a smart smartphone! How long until Apple buys it, we wonder? VoiceDJ is free in iTunes.
Qik and Tango competitor ooVoo just launched a new Android application that allows for multi-user video chat sessions - with up to 6 participants! Unfortunately, the app is Android-only for now with an iPhone version coming "soon." (Psst...how's that for a switch? Building for Android first?) Until it reaches cross-platform status, it's less useful than the one-to-one iPhone/Android and now iPod Touch mobile video calling app Tango, but it's definitely one to watch. ooVoo is free in the Android Market.
mSpot just announced an iPhone version of its cloud music service that lets you upload your music collection to its servers then stream it to your mobile phone. (Android has had this app since June, now with over 1 million downloads). Unlike the shuttered cloud music service Lala (acquired by Apple), mSpot doesn't try to match your library with its master collection - it simply puts your music online for streaming purposes. mSpot offers 2 GB of storage for free; 40 GB for $3.99.
On a personal note, I'll admit this is a viable alternative to iTunes and a "cheaper" way to do streaming music than competitors like MOG and Rdio (~$10/month) but it's just your own tracks. For a few extra dollars, you can have an all-you-can-eat buffet of music, including new releases, at your fingertips. For a couple of us at RWW, we can tell you that MOG is is the first thing that has actually prompted us to "pay for" music in ages. Previous coverage: MOG launch, Rdio review, Comparisons (note dates, some stale content)
The newly launched LiveNation app for iOS devices lets you find concerts in your area and buy tickets. Yes, concert tickets are overpriced. No, sometimes you don't have a choice but to pay those outrageous fees. At least it's a little easier to do so now from your iPhone. We'll hold our thanks, though, if you don't mind. Sigh.
Google Reader (Android)
Google Reader application built for Android. I know reading RSS feeds is kind of geeky, but some of us still rely on what's now only one of the only dedicated RSS reader apps left to get our jobs done. The new native mobile app for Google Reader includes some nifty additions that the Web app and/or mobile Web app don't have, like sharing feeds to Facebook and Twitter, optional volume key navigation and a long-press to rename a folder, unsubscribe or change folders. Google Reader is free in the Android Market. (See our coverage here, QR code here)Finally! An official
Google Voice (iPhone)
At long last, Apple permitted the official Google Voice mobile application into its store in November. Now, Google Voice users can make cheap international calls from their iPhones, send text messages to other U.S. numbers, see call logs, check voicemails and transcriptions and receive push notifications for new voicemails or text messages. The app is free in iTunes. (Our coverage here).
OK, the video is a little hokey (you like saving money, right?) and comes across a bit like a late night infomercial, but the truth is, I do like saving money. And with Pushpins, I can. Well, maybe you can. This mobile couponing application supports over 2,000 stores, but only the following big names: Carrs, Dominick's, Genuardi's, Pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, ShopRite, Tom Thumb, Vons. If that list includes one of your favorites, enjoy - the app looks great. But in all seriousness, if I don't see more apps supporting Publix soon, I'm going to get mad. We don't all live on the West Coast, you know. Pushpins is free on iTunes.
This free iPhone app (Android, BlackBerry launching next year) helps you locate products in stores, manage shopping lists, read product reviews, get offers (sometimes in the form of digital coupons saved to your loyalty card) and earn rewards. We would rather it ditch its standalone check-in badges though, and integrate with Facebook or Foursquare's services instead. Aisle411 supports 600 stores in select markets, so again, it may or may not be useful to you just yet.
SlideRocket (Mobile Web)
Although not an app per se, we have to give a quick shout-out to SlideRocket, which introduced a mobile-friendly, iPad-friendly HTML5 player for its PowerPoint alternative presentations service in November. Yay for Web standards! Thank you, SlideRocket.
- Thanks to eBay's acquisition of Milo.com, eBay's RedLaser barcode scanner now includes results from nearby retailers. (We told you barcode scanning was hot!) (iPhone, Android)
- Flipboard for iPad has been updated twice...this month! (Free, iPad)
- Bing has added more services (Grubhub, Open Table, Facebook, Foursquare and others) to its app. You can now use it to find a restaurant, book a table, access Streetside maps, check-in to your location, update Facebook, get reminders and more. What doesn't this app do? (Free, iPhone)
- Laura Croft and the Guardian of Light (iPhone, iPad $6.99)
- Pocket God ($0.99, Android)
- Angry Birds Season ($0.99 iOS, Free on Android)
- Rock Band Reloaded ($4.99 iPhone, $9.99 iPad)
- Riven: The Sequel to Myst ($5.99, iPhone, iPad)
Be on the Lookout For:
- BBC iPlayer for iPad: an international version is expected soon
- Jigsaw for iPhone/Nokia: This crazy app will use the phone's microphone, GPS and accelerometer to monitor your every move, collecting data that can be shared with a doctor, fitness trainer or, for the uber-oversharers, social networks. (Sarah sat at her desk blogging for 8 hours today!)
That's it for now! Tell us about your favorite new apps in the comments below.