Iris tops Android Apps of the Week

by Kristen Nicole

With all the hullabaloo around the Siri integration with the iPhone 4S, Android lovers have been looking for an alternative to run on Android devices. There’s a handful of apps already on the Market, like Speaktoit, but the quick development and launch of iris has pushed this personal assistant app to the top of the list. There’s a few other personal management apps that gained popularity this week, including Garmin Fit, Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker and MindMeister.

iris. (beta) (Free)

Want a phone that talks back? Try iris for Android. It’s inspired by Siri, interacting with you through speech, and wowing with its personality. Ask iris to perform searches, or complete tasks on your phone, such as calling a contact or sending a text. You’ll need Voice Search and TTS library already installed on your phone (most already have these pre-installed). iris (Siri backwards) is all about leveraging the newness of Android 4.0, with an Ice Cream Sandwich-like UI as well. This is a beta app, so expect a few kinks along the way. The great thing about iris (and Siri) is their potential to learn and improve the more you interact with them.

Garmin Fit ($0.99)

Garmin’s putting its GPS know-how to good use with a new fitness app for Android. Garmin Fit lets you track your progress while running or jogging, auto-syncing your data to the Garmin Connect online portal. See your speed, pace, distance, time and calories burned, and play music directly from the app, as well as respond to texts. The real perk here is the integration with the ANT+ adapter (another $50), which enables the Garmin Fit app to also monitor your heart rate and cadence. Add personal notes for a given session, and view your progress with history views, charts and maps.

Trulia - For Rent (Free)

Trulia is known for real estate search, and even has a tab for rental searches. But with today’s economy and a growing need for a standalone service, Trulia - For Rent is the perfect app for apartment hunters. Look for homes and apartments that are available for rent, with personalized search options based on your criteria. The Android app is equipped with GPS, so you can peruse nearby rentals anytime. Jot notes about particular rentals, and share them with friends and the community at large. Want to keep your eye on a property? Sign-up for email alerts to learn of new availabilities.

Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker (Free)

Shoeboxed launched its receipt-organizing service a few years back, but demonstrates much more promise as a mobile app. Take a photo of your receipts in real time, tracking your expenses and generating necessary reports on the go. You don’t even need a shoeboxed.com account to get started, and if you need to send receipts to the IRS come April, you have them in digitized form with this app. It’s great for travelers, it helps you stay on top of tax prep and deductions, and supports exporting to QuickBooks, Quicken, FreshBooks and other money-management services.

Vonage Extensions (Free)

Vonage is expanding its mobile services with the launch of Extensions, bundling international calls with your home service. You’ll get unlimited calls from your Android device, taking advantage of your home phone even when you’re on the go. The app will also pull up your existing address book, saving you time and money. The app is free to download, but you’ll need a home Vonage account to get started. Only the first Extension is included in your home calling plan, so be wary of how this app is used, especially if there’s more than one person in the house.

MindMeister (mind mapper) (Free)

Mind mapping can be a useful way to organize thoughts, and MindMeister aims to simplify things for you. This new Android app lets you create, edit and share mind maps, with auto-sync features so the latest version is always available to you, even if you’re collaborating with others. You can create an unlimited number of mind maps and folders, with easy editing based on multi-touchscreen capabilities for drag-n-drop, zoom and panning. There’s a number of icons and styling options to help you visualize your thoughts, and options for inserting new ideas no matter how complex your mind map has become.

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