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App rush

Get up to speed while working and playing on the move

Gulf News

Here’s the pick of the Google Play store from the past weeks.

Xbox SmartGlass (Free)

Launched by Microsoft, this is an official companion app for its Xbox 360 console, enabling you to control the device from your Android smartphone alas, not tablets for now. The app can control TV shows and films, music, web browsing and other features of the console, and in time will also be usable as a second screen for games.

Amazon Cloud Drive Photos (Free)

Amazon has extended its Cloud Drive storage service out with a new app focusing on photos. It offers 5GB of storage (for free) to store images in, and access them from Android devices as well as computers. It supports both phones and tablets, and can share to Facebook and email.

18 Months (Free)

This is the official app for Calvin Harris’ new album 18 Months, complete with a nifty feature to play every track in full. It requires some work though: dancing. Well, moving your Android smartphone, anyway: the idea is that by dancing (or waggling the handset) you keep the song playing. Fun and innovative.

Snapchat (Free)

Snapchat bills itself as “the first real-time picture chatting app”, and has been doing rather well on iOS, where its users have shared more than 1bn photos. The idea: send photos to friends with a built-in time limit up to 10 seconds. The photo then wipes itself off the recipient’s handset.

The xx (Free)

The xx have released a stylish app that lives up to their latest album Coexist, offering “HD Visualiser videos” for every track on the album for fans who own it digitally, as well as interactive artwork, news and notifications from the band, official music videos, lyrics and ticketing info.

Bamboo Paper (Free)

This app is the work of Wacom, and is designed to work with its Bamboo Stylus accessory. Promising “note taking on your smartphone made easy”, it involves scribbling sketches or writing notes which can then be flipped through. Made for Android smartphones, it (kind of) brings them the functionality seen in Samsung’s Galaxy Note devices. The stylus costs around 25.

Belkin MediaPlay (Free)

Belkin’s new Android app builds on the myTwonky technology, with the aim of helping you pipe films and music from your Android device to a connected TV (via its browser), or play content from your home library on your smartphone or tablet.

Photo Warp+ (Free)

More than 14m people have downloaded developer Tonuzaba Entertainment’s first Photo Warp app, so this sequel should find a healthy audience. It’s all about, yes, warping photos, with a range of effects to play merry havoc with images.

Insync for Android (1.49)

Insync’s new app ties in to the Google Drive service, to access documents and other files stored in Google’s cloud service, upload new ones, and share with friends and colleagues. All of which you can do in the official Google Drive service. Insync claims a host of additional features though, from exporting files to the SD card in your device, to saving folders for offline use, and streaming music or video files.

Flip Launcher (Free)

This is a smartphone app for power Android users who want to save a few precious seconds when navigating to and opening specific apps and shortcuts. The idea here: you flip to them, having set up to 24 as your designated flips.

The Montblanc Worldsecond (Free)

Luxury watchmaker Montblanc is working on an interesting digital marketing campaign that aims to get people around the world taking photos at the same instant, then making them available to browse. This app helps you do that, with four Instagram-ish filters to apply, uploading pics to the Montblanc Worldsecond site, as well as (if you choose) to Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Goalmaster | Goal Tracker (Free)

This is a simple but potentially-useful app focused on tracking goals of the personal motivation kind, rather than the football kind. You can create entries for your ambitions, then analyse your progress, and share your success (hopefully) on Facebook.

Echofon (Free)

Twitter app Echofon is still in beta on Android, so you won’t find it on the Google Play store the link above takes you to UberMedia’s latest build. It’s shaping up as a slick alternative to the official Twitter app, with features for power users as well as newcomers to microblogging.

Audio Glow Live Wallpaper (0.62)

There are shedloads of live wallpapers available for Android smartphones, and most of them are unappealing. Audio Glow has the makings of a good one though: a glowing music visualizer that bases its visuals on whatever music (or app sound) is playing at the time.

Wrike Project Management (Free)

Now for something more serious (with less rhymes): project management on the go. That’s what Wrike is about on desktop computers, and now it has an Android app for use “whether you are at a meeting, in an airport or on vacation in Haiti”. The app is free for existing users of Wrike.

TasKarou Launcher Overlay (Free)

This is more about personal productivity on Android tablets: a multitasking launcher overlay that promises to make it quicker to flick between apps, rather than using the default Android controls. Probably good for freeing up regular seconds of funtime on that Haitian vacation...

Guardian News and Media 2012