First five... Android apps to download

So, you've just got yourself a shiny new Android-powered handset. Perhaps you picked up the Motorola Milestone. Maybe you opted for Samsung's Galaxy i7500. Or did you hold out for an HTC Hero? Whatever you picked, you've granted yourself access to one of the most promising mobile platforms around.

But entering the cavernous Android App Market for the first time can be daunting. Where do you start? Well, Pocket-lint's here to hold your hand, give you a biscuit and tell you everything will be all right. Here's the first five apps you should immediately download for your handset:

Taskiller

One of the biggest benefits of the Android platform over the iPhone is that you can run applications in the background. However, that benefit is double-edged because it can be quite easy to choke your phone up with a million background processes you don't actually want or need.

So kill them. Kill them dead. Taskiller offers a fully-featured task manager, complete with a homescreen widget that lets you clear the board with a single tap. There's a free and a paid version, but the only difference between them is ads in the free option, so plump for that. Oh, and top tip - be sure to add apps you need to keep running to the ignore list, so you don't accidentally stop the touchscreen working.

Price: Free

Bonsai Blast

Unfortunately, one of the areas of the Android Market that's most lacking is the games section. The majority of Android games aren't worth the time to download them, and the preloaded game, Teeter, will only last you so long. But thankfully, there's one or two standouts in the market that'll help you pass those long train journeys.

The best is called Bonsai Blast. It's a variant on classic puzzle game Bust-a-move set in a Japanese Zen Garden that sees you frantically trying to match up coloured balls to eliminate them before they reach a hole in the ground. At which point the world ends, obviously. Download this, and you'll spend half of next year completely oblivious of the fact that your bus has just sailed past the stop you normally get off at.

Price: Free

Spotify

If you're a music fan of any description, and you haven't tried Spotify yet, you're missing out. Imagine the world's biggest jukebox in the sky with the ability to play anything at a second's notice, create and share playlists, and even operate without an internet connection - in rural areas or on the tube, for example.

It was those features and more that won it the coveted Product of the Year status at the 6th Pocket-lint Awards. The Android version is almost as good as the desktop client, and certainly superior to the iPhone edition. But you do have to pony up for a £10 per month subscription to the premium version, which also removes ads from the desktop edition and ups the audio quality. If you used to buy even just one CD every other month or so, it's worth it.

Price: App is free to download, but £10 per month subscription required to use it

GyPSii

Location-based services are developing at a rate of knots, becoming more and more useful. Android's default Google Maps is great, but even better is GyPSii - a mobile social network that attempts to connect up the real and virtual worlds.

It lets you do simple stuff like geotag photos or videos and bookmark particular places, but it can also hook up with your friends on the service to see where they've been bookmarking and view their geotagged photos too. You can then share all your content through other social networks. Very powerful, very useful.

Price: Free

Beebplayer

The BBC's iPlayer has been a revolution in video-on-demand, but it's quite tricky to get it working on many mobile devices. Not so on Android, where Beebplayer offers radio and live television streams across any connection - Wi-Fi, HSDPA, 3G or even GPRS.

Sure, the quality isn't great - especially at the lower end of connectivity, but you can see what's going on and you should be able to get a reasonable radio connection at least through any data service. You can't yet download programs to watch offline at a later date, or access older content - it's restricted to live streams - but it's the best streaming app around for getting BBC content on the go.

Price: Free

What next?

You've almost certainly got some favourite Android apps, too, and we want to know what they are. See that comments box below? Tell us there what your must-have applications are.

 



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