The 22 Best Android Apps

Not sure what to download from the Android Market? Try these top titles, including Barcode Scanner, BeyondPod, and SkyFire.

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Here are the top productivity tools, utilities, and games for smartphones based on Google's Android OS. If you're looking for multiplatform apps or titles exclusive to BlackBerry or iPhone, turn to the other articles in this package.

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Check your head: In the Thinking Space "mind-mapping" app, you can create maps to connect thoughts and ideas. It's great for organizing and for forming new concepts. Ad-supported free version, $4 premium version

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Manage your files: Astro File Manager makes your phone act as a miniature PC. You can copy/move/rename files, back up apps, send files as attachments, and create compressed files. Ad-supported free version, $4 premium version

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Handle tasks wisely: The GTasks task manager syncs with the desktop Google Tasks, which you can also access in the Web version of Gmail and Google Calendar. It's so useful, it should be included on every Android phone. Free

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Manage archives: The powerful AndroZip File Manager works with archives, including 7ZIPhone, BZIP2, GZIPhone, RAR, TAR, and ZIPhone files. You can use it to create GZIP, TAR, or ZIPhone archives, too. Free

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Text with panache: Forget the stock SMS utility. Handcent SMS brings customizable texting tools--with iPhone-style speech bubbles--to Android. Free

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Entertain a child: With Toddler Lock you can turn your phone into a toy that can keep your little one rapt for hours. It shows a single screen (locking away all others) that displays colorful shapes when your toddler touches it. Soothing sounds play in the background. Free

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Use gestures to find files: Gesture Search lets you quickly locate a contact, a bookmark, an app, or a music track by drawing letters and digits on your phone's touchscreen. Free

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Find the best Wi-Fi: Want to find the least-crowded Wi-Fi channel? Wifi Analyzer shows a graphical representation of Wi-Fi SSIDs' signal strength, plus which channels are being used. Free

6 Ways to Improve Your WiFi Network

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Customize alerts: In Missed Call you can customize your phone's LED light, ringtones, vibrations, and alerts for missed calls, incoming calls, SMS, Bluetooth, and calendar events. Free

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Find a lost Android: If you lose your phone, AntiDroidTheft turns on remote GPS tracking so that you can determine its location. You can also trigger the phone's camera to shoot an image that might help you locate the handset. Free

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Shine a light: Color Flashlight turns a phone into a bright light with a wide array of hues and strobe patterns. Free

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View Flash video now: Thanks to the Skyfire browser, you can play streaming Flash video. 'Nuff said. Free

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Browse better: The Dolphin Browser HD Web browser has tabs, gesture-based navigation, and plug-ins. It's a far more functional browser than the one that came preloaded on your phone. Free

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Share Web pages: Bookmarklet plugs into the Android Web browser (or Dolphin HD) and lets you share Web pages with AIM, Bit.ly, Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Twitter, and other services. Free

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Make recipes mobile: Through Digital Recipe Sidekick you can browse and import recipes from AllRecipes.com, save recipes to SD Card, e-mail them, edit them, or enter your own. The app will even read recipes to you. Free

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Scan bar codes: Barcode Scanner handles bar codes--including 2D QR codes--and lets you look up the associated product or URL for instant price checks and comparison shopping. Free

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Convert and calculate: The in-beta ConvertMe app is a handy unit converter, currency converter, and tip calculator. It comes with more than 1500 units across more than 65 categories, and it supports 14 languages. Free

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Take a measurement: The Smart Measure app, which uses your phone's camera, measures the height of objects and estimates the distance between your phone and the object. Free

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Level it: With Spirit Level Plus, you can use your phone to make sure that pictures hang straight. The app also shows the angle of incline. Free

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Track podcasts: With BeyondPod, which integrates with the Android music player, you can discover and manage audio and video podcasts. The premium version adds better controls for updating and managing subscriptions. Free basic version, $7 premium version

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Discover cool podcasts: The Listen app helps you search for thousands of audio feeds, stream them, or subscribe to them. It integrates with Google Reader on the desktop, as well. Free

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Work smart with photos: Using Picasa Tool Pro you can batch-upload photos, as well as browse and manage your albums, photos, and comments. Free

Slideshow: Ten Great iPhone Hobby Apps