Photo 360º by Sfera leads Android Apps of the Week

by Kristen Nicole

While we wait for Instagram to hit the Google Play market, Photo 360 by Sfera offers a new way to take panoramic photos of objects and people. GrooVe IP Lite, on the other hand, connects your Android device to Google Voice to circumvent your monthly minute limit with VoIP calls. H&R Block has launched yet another app in the midst of tax season, while Jelli Radio makes a splash at SXSW. Here are this week’s top Android apps.

Photo 360º by Sfera (Free)

While many Android apps offer the ability to stitch together a series of photos for a panoramic snapshot, Photo 360º by Sfera doesn’t require multiple clicks. Just launch the app and start a 360-degree turn to capture what’s around you and the app will do the rest. You can take inclusive photos of objects and people, walking around something clockwise to see it from all sides. You can capture what’s “behind you” by leveraging the front-facing camera as well. The app also captures sound, which can be added to your panorama for a multimedia experience. Geo-tag your photos and share them on Facebook and Twitter.

GrooVe IP Lite (Free)

Watching your voice minutes on your wireless plan? Get GrooVe IP Lite to relieve some of the stress around maintaining minutes. This free Android app will connect your mobile phone to Google Voice, making calls with VoIP over W-iFi. You can even use this app to make calls on a device that’s lacking a mobile plan, as long as you still have data. The full version for $4.99 comes with a separate dialer to act more like a full-fledged phone, and gets rid of the ads.

H&R Block At Home 1040EZ (Free)

Just in time for tax season, another H&R Block Android app joins the fold. It looks to simplify things with an app that lets you send a photo of your W-2, then pre-fills your tax form based on your snapshot. Press a button to e-file your taxes for free, and let H&R Block take care of the rest. This over-simplified tax app comes at a cost, as it’s only for 1040EZ employees. So you must be single or married filing jointly, with an income of $100,000 or less, rent or lease your residence and have zero dependants.

Jelli Radio (Free)

How about a crowd-sourced juke box instead of a radio program curated by someone else? Jelli Radio skips the corporate control and streams radio based on user input. Vote the songs you like, downplay the ones you don’t and have your say in what music gets played. You can see a list of upcoming songs on multiple stations, which cover the expected genres. Send “rocket” requests for tunes you don’t see on the list, and chat with other Jelli users on the songs you love. With a special SXSW streaming station, this new Android app is ready for prime time and makes its appeal with one of the nation’s toughest tech savvy fan bases.

AIVC - Pro Version ($2.36)

It’s true, the iPhone 4S’s Siri tool has plenty of room for improvement, even losing out to Android’s voice commands in some tests. In the meantime, Android users can play around with AIVC Pro, an artificial intelligence voice control that acts as your personal assistant named Alice. Have a conversation with her, giving out instructions to make phone calls or send SMS or email messages, or ask for general term information, such as a web search or the weather. Set up meetings, play your favorite artist album, schedule an alarm and launch Android apps. There’s a free version available to try before you buy.

Woopra (Free)

Have a website or online business? Woopra analytics has finally hit Android, with extensive features for monitoring your site. Starting with the Live Dashboard, get a real-time snapshot of your entire site performance, seeing at a glance which visitors are currently on your site, where they’re coming from and their activity. Drill down on which visitors are new or returning, and how they’re engaging with your website. Customize alerts for visitor activity, such as when they get an error message so you can resolve it immediately, or when a purchase over $100 has been made. There’s also live chat so you can correspond with site visitors, and additional segmented reports to gain insight on vital site stats to make more informed decisions on the go.