Android and Me

Top 10 Android App updates: Friendcaster, Springpad, n7player, Touchpal, …

2 years ago 11

Welcome back to our weekly Top 10 Android App Updates column, where we take a look at the most upgraded apps for the week. I’ve found that one of the best ways to discover useful apps is to look at what people are actually updating, and not focus on which apps have the most installs.

To find the most updated apps, I turn to AppAware. It’s a great tool that shows me which apps have active support from their developers and sometimes reminds me of an old app that I might have removed long ago. Make sure to install it so your activity can help determine our weekly top 10 list.

This week I’m going to do things a little different. I normally filter out apps that have over 10 million installs, but I’m going to make an exception for popular apps that had significant updates. I hope you enjoy this weekly feature and discover some apps that you might find useful.

NVIDIA TegraZone – Version 2.5.1

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Fixed comment encoding issue for regions with double-byte characters
  2. Turned notifications OFF by default, please go to settings to re-enable if you’d like
  3. Added support for 1900×1200 tablets and 1280×720 phones
  4. Minor bug fixes

TegraZone is nearing its first anniversary and now boasts between 1-5 million installs, but the daily download numbers have skyrocketed since the release of the HTC One X in Europe. We saw an overhauled version of this showcase app back at CES, but that has yet to be released yet. This minor update turns off the notifications by default and adds support for larger displays. Even if you don’t have a Tegra-powered device, this app is still a cool place to check out the best Android games.

Dolphin Browser HD – Version 8.0

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Re-designed Dolphin Sonar and Gesture: New interface, design, and easier access to help menu
  2. Menu bar: New design that gives easier access to most commands without having to leave the home screen
  3. Add-on Sidebar: New design that displays both Add-on icons and names
  4. New context menu and long press menu for more efficient browsing
  5. Various stability and performance improvement

My two browsers of choice are the default Browser and Google’s Chrome, but Dolphin Browser HD is still a great alternative. The latest update to version 8.0 includes a new design for numerous features and performance improvements. It maintains a stellar average review score of 4.7.

Springpad – Version 3.0.1

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Fixes audio playback button on small screen devices
  2. Moved the “All My Stuff” section higher up in the navigation slider
  3. Bug fixes and stability improvements specifically around navigating between notebooks
  4. Issue with missing attached notes have been resolved via server fix

Springpad is a free, easy-to-use app that lets you create notebooks for any topic or area of interest. They just released a major update to version 3.0 that includes a new look a ton of new features. I’ve never used the app, so I defer to their new promo video below.

Watch on YouTube

Google Currents – Version 1.1.0

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Sync speed – Dramatic (7X) performance boost.
  2. Instant online sync – No need to press “sync”. Just open an edition for latest content.
  3. Offline reading – Choose favorite editions for offline images.
  4. International – Currents now available worldwide (in 44 languages).
  5. Translate – Translate complete editions to your preferred language. (38 languages).
  6. Trending – Local trending stories provided for US, FR, UK, DE, IT, ES, JP, AU.
  7. Bug fixes

Google Currents has always impressed us with its slick user interface, but the app was always painfully slow. Thankfully the latest update improves sync speeds by 7x and also includes instant online sync. If you were frustrated by the old version, make sure you grab this latest update. And be sure to subscribe to Android and Me while you are at it.

AppAware – Version 3.1.1

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Reduced size by 600k
  2. Improved user experience
  3. Added shortcuts for comments
  4. All users in a topic are notified if someone replies to it
  5. Simplified UI
  6. Removed permissions
  7. Bug fixes

Regular readers know by now that we love AppAware. The latest update includes a simplified UI and UX, plus a smaller file size and reduced permissions. If you have an And Me Account, you can now edit your profile to connect your AppAware account and display your installed apps on our site. Check out my profile to see the  188 apps I have installed.

Instagram – Version 1.0.4

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Bug fixes for tablet users
  2. Location for photo geotag is updated more often
  3. Fixed Instagram photos not appearing in gallery
  4. Better support for Nvidia Tegra 3 handsets/tablets
  5. Increased device support for Instagram built-in camera and filters, including the HTC One X

Instagram has only been out a couple of weeks and it has already passed 5 million installs. Several updates in the last week have added support for tablets, and improved support for Tegra 3 devices. The latest update included multiple bug fixes and it finally works with the newly released HTC One X.

GPS Test – Version 1.2.7

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. OSNI Grid.
  2. Added 124 Datums.
  3. New White colour scheme.
  4. New White text colour.
  5. Latitude and Longitude can now have different Datums.
  6. Time to first fix field added to Satellite screen.
  7. Reformatted Latitude and Longitude display.

If you are looking for a simple app to test your GPS, then GPS Test gets the job done. It’s not as full featured as GPS Essentials, but it still has five screens of useful information. The latest update includes several new color schemes, along with time to first satellite fix.

Friendcaster for Facebook – Version 5.0.2

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Additional design improvements
  2. NEW! You can choose to hide some of your feed lists if you don’t want all of them (just hold down on the feed title (ie. News Feed) and an editor will pop up)
  3. NEW! Font size setting allows you to make the text larger
  4. Photo captions are hidden when viewing full screen photo
  5. A few other minor tweaks

The official Facebook for Android app has 549,285 1-star reviews, so it’s no surprise that users are turning to alternative apps to get their Facebook fix. Friendcaster is one of the more popular options that includes everyone’s favorite Facebook features and promises faster features. The latest version 5.0 includes five new themes, real time Facebook notifications, and support for multiple accounts.

n7player Music Player – Version 1.1.8

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Force Close fix for tag edit
  2. Main screen should no longer block in strange position in some times
  3. Pressing next/prev while the screen is in now playing mode will result in good album shown
  4. Tag edit now should work as intended (no longer empty tags after edit)
  5. Lockscreen widget should no longer block the call screen on some phones
  6. Headset long click control should now work as intended
  7. Further reduced memory footprint

I’ve never used n7player, but after reading over the market description I’m going to install it. N7player visualizes your music as a single plane full of album covers. Users can zoom in and out using multi-touch to see different views of their music. The latest update is mostly bug fixes, but you should still check it out if you need a new music player.

TouchPal Keyboard – Version 4.8.6

View in Google Play What’s new in this version:

  1. Default skin optimization and new skin option
  2. Add accent letters on particular languages
  3. Enhanced multilingual dictionaries (Needs to upgrade language packs)
  4. Improve usability of full keyboard symbols
  5. Fix bugs on former version

Looking for a keyboard that does slide input instead of tapping? Swype is still one of the most popular alternative keyboards, but it’s not available to download in the Google Play Store. TouchPal offers most of the same features, and they claim to be “most innovative and the best keyboard on Android.” I’ll stick with the stock Android keyboard, but I know a lot of people like sliding keyboards so you might want to check this one out.

Honorable mentions

Did you see any Android apps that received notable updates in the last week? Share your suggestions in the comments below and we will add them to our honorable mentions list.