Awesome apps for a new Android device


When it comes to downloadable applications, iPhone and iPad seem to get all the love, no?

Oh sure, Apple can boast a very successful App Store — customers spent $10 billion dollars on apps there in 2013 — but the Google Play store has now caught up in the number of apps available for Android smartphones and tablets, each at about 1.2 million at last count.

After all, the open-platform Android enjoys a larger smartphone install base than Apple’s iPhone, and as of last month, Android tablets are outselling iPad, says Gartner.

If you’re looking for something worthy to download to your ‘droid-based phone or tablet, consider this handful of apps — many of which are exclusive to the platform.


Designed and developed “with smiles” by Yahoo in San Francisco, Aviate (getaviate.Com) is considered an intelligent home screen for your Android device.

The app re-skins your device by replacing the usual black background with clean, white wallpaper and a smarter way to organize your apps.

Specifically, swipe to the left, right or down to see apps cleverly segregated by time of day or the location you’re in, as well as automatically organized by type of app (Productivity, Games, Music, etc) and listed alphabetically once you swipe again to the left.

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You can also add photos and widgets to your main home screen, if you like.

While free, be forewarned you’ll need to sign up for Aviate and wait for a confirmation email, or ask a friend to invite you to be part of the beta.


Need to view, create or edit popular Microsoft Office docs, such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint files?

Android users can download and use the free Kingsoft Office (kingsoftstore.Com), a Microsoft Office alternative that supports nearly 25 kinds of files including .Doc/.Docx, .Dot/.Dotx, .Xls/.Xlsx, .Ppt, .Pptx, and .Pdf.

A built-in file manager automatically organizes your files. And gesture support means you can flick, swipe and tap to get your work done — even with one hand. Along with support for email, this app also lets you import and export files to popular cloud services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and others.

A Shareplay tab lets you give a wireless presentation using your Android device.


Speaking of Microsoft Office support, DejaOffice (dejaoffice.Com) is one of the most reliable ways to sync your ‘droid with Outlook on a PC or Mac.

Specifically, DejaOffice works with CompanionLink software on a personal computer (from the same company), so whenever you update something in Outlook — a calendar appointment, contact, note, journal entry or task — it’ll automatically be updated on your Android device (or vice versa).

While DejaOffice and its core features are free, CompanionLink costs $49.95 after the 14-day free trial, in order to sync your information over Wi-Fi or USB. Plus, it includes one year of “cloud” syncing over cellular connectivity (and then costs $14.95/quarter after that for this feature).

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DejaOffice includes multiple features such as support for Microsoft Exchange, advanced search, CRM (customer relationship management) tools, five different calendar views and colored-coded categories, and more.


Given how common malware (malicious software) is becoming on mobile devices, it might pay to protect your data with security software.

One of the best I’ve tested is Symantec’s Norton Mobile Security (mobilesecurity.Norton.Com), which not only protects your device from viruses and other malware but also locks down your privacy settings, scans Google Play downloads and memory cards for threats and helps you find your lost or stolen phone.

Along with security and privacy controls, this app lets you set up call blocking — simply enter the name and/or number of anyone whose calls or texts you want to block.

The anti-theft feature is quite impressive. Should your phone or tablet become lost or stolen, you can use a text message or a web portal (mobilesecurity.Norton.Com) to remotely lock your device; locate your phone or tablet on a map; wipe the data clean; send a message to whomever finds your device; or have it chime loudly, in case you’ve misplaced your phone. There’s also an option to use the device’s built-in front-facing camera to take a photo of anyone using your device once you list it as missing.

The app is free to try but $29.99/year to buy. Alternatively, Symantec also sells Norton 360 Multi-Device, for $69.99/year, which supports up to five devices, including PCs, Macs, phones and tablets.

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Of course you know you can buy e-books and audiobooks for your Android device, but you can also borrow e-books and audiobooks, for free, from your local library — with no more late fees.

As long as you have your library card and the free OverDrive Media Console (overdrive.Com) app installed on your favorite phone or tablet, you’re in business.

First, download and install the app from Google Play and once installed, you’ll be prompted to create an Adobe ID, if you don’t already have one, and authorize it to work with OverDrive. Now you can borrow e-books and audiobooks wirelessly.


Your Android phone or tablet is capable of logging into your home computer and letting you control the experience as if you were sitting in front of your PC or Mac.

Whether you left an important document on your desktop before you left on a business trip or want to stream a movie residing on your hard drive, you can use the Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop (splashtop.Com) app to log in securely and move the mouse via your fingertips. It is a free download, with no subscription required for local-network connections. For $1.99 month you can access your computer from anywhere.

The interface is clean and intuitive, making it an easy app to use — even for non-techy users.

While not tested, Google just launched a similar app, called Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android, which also lets you remotely access your computer from your Android device.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at [email protected].

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