Here are some noteworthy Android apps in various levels of development. There’s some rough spots, but they’re functional enough to warrant trying them out.
These apps are all available on the Play Store, but a few have an extra step. A surprising number of Android users don’t know about Google +’s Beta Tester Communities, where users can sign up for betas. Once approved to join the community, a small number of users can try out new features, or even whole new apps before the general populace. All the relevant links to the apps tested are included.
There’s a number of different soft keyboards users can choose from, but Fleksy has a few unique features. Swiping across the keyboard adds a space or punctuation, and swiping up and down cycles through different punctuation and even different corrections. You only tap when you type, the rest is flicks of your thumb. Swipe down with both, and the keyboard shrinks until you finally get Invisible Mode, where the keys are transparent but still there, and the app acts like the keyboard is closed.
There are still a few bugs, like problems with capitalization and correction, mostly in apps like Drive and QuickOffice. It’s updated regularly however, so this may not be an issue. I happen to love the bigger virtual keys for my fat thumbs, and the swipe back to delete feature.
Fleksy is free on the Play Store after joining their beta community on G+
The developer of Falcon Pro (the Twitter client so popular/pirated Twitter wouldn’t allow any more users) has devised an ingenious news reader for those still smarting over Google shutting down Reader. Flyne, as in offline, uses the lists in your Twitter account to grab full news stories from articles linked in tweets. So if you follow CNN, Al-Jazeera America, or Polygon for example, this app will grab their stories linked in their tweets and present it to you. This saves users already signed up on Twitter from increasing their internet footprint and creating a new account with Feedly. For those who already use Feedly, support was just added, so you can switch over if the official app isn’t working out.
The best part is the full magazine-style layout for stories. Flyne grabs the full article (no break after a paragraph requiring opening a link like other readers), lists the account and grabs the header image. It might already beat the official Twitter and Feedly apps for eye candy. Twitter list access is $2 and Feedly access is $1. Charging for a beta seems a bit…off, but this is a developer who had to remove his app due to piracy. I can forgive wanting to get paid for his work, especially when it works.
Flyne is free to download once you’ve joined the Google+ Group.
The camera app formerly known as the Official Camera App of Cyanogenmod 10.2. This app is live and for free on the Play Store, but it’s still not quite ready for prime time yet. Though it does have a few interesting features that set it apart from the standard camera app; drag to set the focus, swipe in for features from the side, even a Pic Sphere feature that replicates the Photosphere found in 4.2 Android and up. Tapping on features brings up a widget to fine-tune, and you can swipe up from the bottom to choose between modes, similar to launching Google Now.
It does have a tendency to hang though, noticeably when switching between modes or stitching together panoramas. This has gotten better with updates, but it’s still not quite a daily driver yet. There’s also an HDR mode that requires you to have an incredibly steady hand. I’ve still got it installed though, and shoot a few photos of my kitchen whenever it updates.
Focal (Beta) is free on the Play Store.
Action Launcher Pro
Action Launcher, the desktop replacement with the hamburger menu for an app drawer, recently added 1-Swipe and QuickPage. The QuickPage is an all-black place to put your app shortcuts and widgets, sort of like a sideways navigation shade. 1-Swipe is an app drawer that swipes in from the side over any app you’re currently using. You can skip going back to the launcher and opening your app drawer, so that will save you some taps. The launcher has the standard theme support and adjustable number of screens, as well as Shutters, which open an app’s widget by swiping up on the icon.
The drawback is that all the swipyness doesn’t quite work smoothly yet. It’ll get there with time no doubt, but you’ll see a few dropped frames of animation when you open them up. Another new version is rolling out soon according to G+, so if you’ve got to have it buttery, maybe wait a fortnight.
Action Launcher Pro is $3.99 on the Play Store. Buy the app, then sign up on the G+ Community to get access to Beta features.
If you know any interesting apps that are mostly ready for prime-time, let me know in the comments.