by James A. Martin

Top 3 Android Apps for Summer 2012

Jul 27, 20123 mins

Every few months mobile-apps blogger James A. Martin rounds up his favorite new apps. The Android apps featured here in his summer 2012 showcase will help you manage your Android device, find the stories and other content you want when you want, and get the most from your smartphone camera.

In my last post, I wrote about my three favorite iPad and iPhone apps for summer 2012. Today, the kudos continue with a look at the top three Android apps I’ve reviewed in the past three months, listed in no particular order of preference.


Sand Studio’s AirDroid is a free app that makes managing your Android devices easy via a PC or Mac’s Web browser. The software connects to your ‘droid over an https connection for security. Once you’re connected, you can do all sorts of things: drag and drop files; manage text messages, contacts, apps, ringtones, MP3 and other files; and take screen shots of your Android’s display (if you give the app root permission). I also love the ability to view videos I recorded on my smartphone in full screen on my Mac, without first having to transfer them to my computer. Though AirDroid works with all of the popular browsers, you get a few more features if you use it with Google Chrome, such as the ability to copy music folders.

AirDroid offers a whole lot of goodness at a sweet price: zero dollars and zero cents. Honestly, I’d pay for this app—but I’m glad I don’t have to.

AirDroid Android app screen shot


Flipboard has been available for a while on the iOS platform, but it just made its long-awaited Android debut in June. It’s an essential, free app for anyone who wants to aggregate their favorite online-content sources, whether it’s Facebook or a major newspaper, in one sleek, easy-to-browse interface.

Full disclosure: I initially hesitated to add Flipboard to this list of favorites for two reasons. First, the app is not currently optimized for Android tablets. (The iOS version is iPad-optimized.) It still looks great on my Samsung Galaxy note’s 5.3-inch smartphone screen, however.

Second, you must select stories in advance to read offline; Google Currents, a similar app, doesn’t force you to plan ahead for offline viewing. But I don’t find myself in an offline environment very often, so this isn’t a big issue for me—it could be for you if you’re a voracious reader who frequently flies long distances on airplanes without Wi-Fi.

Ultimately, those two drawbacks are negligible compared to the rich reading experience Flipboard offers.

Flipboard Android app screen shot

Camera ZOOM FX

I use this image-capture and enhancement app because it combines handy photo-taking tools with a ton of filters and effects.

In particular, I love the ability to snap a photo using my voice. For instance, if you’re taking a self-portrait or snapping a photo of yourself with a friend, just clap your hands or make some other noise. A second later, your Android’s camera takes the picture. The only challenge is positioning your Android phone somewhere to get a decent picture without using your hands. For this, I’ve found windowsills to be invaluable.

You can also shoot using a timer or burst mode. When you’ve grabbed your pic, Camera ZOOM FX helps you get creative with 20 color filters, 10 photo filters and 12 distortion features.

Camera ZOOM FX offers more features and filters than I’ll ever use, and the $3 sale price is an excellent bargain. (The app usually costs $5.)

Camera Zoom FX Android app screen shot