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10 alternative applications for Android phones

If you wish to get more out of your Android device, a bit of an OS refresh maybe, here's a bunch of 10 alternative applications that get our recommendation.

Dec 22, 2010, 01.45 AM IST
As bound in open source awesomeness as Android is, using some of the default applications can be a less-than-exciting experience. The stock applications offer basic features and although they work well enough, there's always something better out there. For instance, the default Webkit-based internet browser with Android is free and fast, but it doesn't have a whole lot of interesting things to fiddle around with or anywhere close to a genre-defining feature set.

In case you're worried about experimenting, everything is reversible. If you don't like the alternative browser, email client or media player, you can always choose to uninstall and get back to the default application. So, if you wish to get more out of your Android device, a bit of an OS refresh maybe, here's a bunch of 10 alternative applications that get our recommendation.

Best Alternative Keyboard Application: SwiftKey ($3.99)

A slightly larger and a much more useable version of the Android keyboard, SwiftKey is a decent offering that introduces a whole lot of features, including a revolutionary text prediction option. It doesn't just predict the word you're typing currently, but also uses a pre-set algorithm to guess the next word. Over time, it ‘learns’ how you write and becomes more accurate. You can try it out for a month before you buy it.

Best Alternative Email Application: K-9 Email (Free)

The default Android email client is very basic. It serves the purpose, but some complain that it feels and looks rather bland. K-9 Mail on the other hand does the job in a better way, and it allows you to customise pretty much everything according to you taste. You can edit colours and fonts, combine multiple inboxes/accounts, use various gesture options and even set individual view options for every folder.

Best Alternative MP3 Player: MortPlayer (Free)

MortPlayer is specifically made for people with enormous MP3 collections, gathered over time and put together by folders. It doesn't work by the way of tags or playlists; it just boots and loads up the content of a particular folder and plays whatever is in it. No fancy stuff. It is considered a great tool and application simply because it bridges a tiny gap.

Best Alternative IM Application: Nimbuzz(Free)

Standalone messengers are good for what they do, but what do you do when you have friends who prefer separate IM clients? You can get Nimbuzz, a cross-platform all-in-one messenger app which is regarded as the most complete and feature available in the Market. It supports the likes of Google Talk, Facebook, MySpace, Skype and many more such services. Better yet, it’s free!

Best Alternative Video Player: RockPlayer Universal ($9.99)

(Free ad supported version also available)

RockPlayer is a high-performance alternative to the stock Android Video Player, specifically optimised for mobile devices. It supports a variety of video formats such as avi, rmvb, flv, mkv, mp4, mov, wmv, asf & ts. It also features a resume feature, subtitle support and accurate audio encoding.

Best Alternative Texting/SMS Application: ChompSMS (Free)

The stock Android messaging application is incredibly basic, nothing more than a collection of bits of plain text on a plain background. ChompSMS not only manages to add some design flourishes, but also introduces a whole list of features such as chat-style bubbles, contact pictures, signatures, quick reply, templates, blacklisting, themes, and loads of customisation options. You can also bypass your service provider and send SMS using the ChompSMS network (over a data connection) if you buy credits from them online.

Best Alternative Internet Browser Application: Opera Mini 5.1 (Free)

The default browser does the job well, but Opera Mini does the same job a lot better with a radically different approach to browsing. It's blazing fast because it compresses data and it comes with the option of different layout modes: desktop and mobile, allowing you to override the view as per your choice. It also supports Opera Link, used for syncing bookmarks with a desktop PC.

Best Alternative Camera Application: Camera Zoom FX ($4.50)

Take a look at this if you're not fully satisfied with the results from your Android device's camera. Camera Zoom FX is not just an enhanced tool for zooming in, but it adds a variety of features such as image stabilisation, burst mode recording, geo-tagging, sound activation, customisable grid-overlays, and lots more.

Best Alternative Home Screen/Launcher Application: ADW Launcher (Free)

ADW Launcher is a revolutionary home screen replacement application that not only changes the layout of the desktop/home screen itself in so many different ways, but is actually faster and much more responsive than the default home-screen launcher. It features new floating docks, cool visual style icons, themes and also rearranges the app drawer as per your requirements. To put it in simple words, it's like having a new phone, only in app form.

Best Alternative Music Application: TuneWiki (Free)

It’s hard to give the crown to any music application in particular as there are so many contenders for the top spot, but if we were to recommend just one, TuneWiki would be it. It is a solid, usable player that packs a simple user interface, a nice widget for the home screen, Twitter and Facebook integration and real-time maps of what kind of stuff fellow TuneWiki users might be listening to. It can also provide timed lyrics for songs in more than 40 languages.

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