Facebook gets an update and other Android Apps of the Week

by Kristen Nicole

At long last, Facebook has finally offered a viable Android version of its popular mobile app. Also new to the Android Market this week is the public launch of the social music service Rdio, as well as Lonely Planet bringing augmented reality to its travel apps. Here are the top Android apps of the week.

Social, media & more

Facebook released a welcome update to its Android app, which now supports video playback.  There’s also one-click options for updating your status or responding to friend requests, incorporating more action around your mobile Facebook visits. Free, the app has also added a photo reel at the bottom of the home screen, as well as Events integration.

Rdio’s streaming music app beat the much heralded Spotify to the US market, bringing along options to discover and play music from the cloud.  Social, Rdio taps into your and your friends’ listening patterns to recommend more songs. The app is free, but you’ll need the $9.99 monthly subscription to enjoy all its features.

For even more Facebook face time, check out the updated Vonage Mobile app.   It now shows other Facebook friends that have the app, so you can call them for free.  For Facebook buddies that don’t have the app, you can invite them to sign up as well.

BuzzBox’s (listed as 'News' in the Android Market) personalized news delivery service has seen a bit of a boost this week.  A recent update removes the sign-up process, making it easier to get started with your recommendations. Customize the news you want and add BuzzBox widgets to your home screen, all for free.

With last month’s scare about data-scraping Android apps, securing your phone is more important than ever. A follow-up report from Lookout Security showed the depth of Android security issues, while its free app offers protection from malware and data harvesting that you (and even some app developers) don’t know about.

Navigating the local scene

Lonely Planet has updated its army of Android apps to support augmented reality features.  You can now see local attractions information overlaid on your phone, based on your GPS location.  Priced at $4.99, each Lonely Planet guide is specific to a popular travel destination, including Rome, Hong Kong and Amstrdam.

Upcoming

Shopkick is gearing up to launch a new app for retailer check-ins.  Linking to your Foursquare account, the Shopkick app will automatically confirm your location and check in for you, without pulling your phone out of your pocket. The same company behind Causeworld, Shopkick knows a thing or two about the check-in game.

For more check-in fun, keep an eye out for the Hotlist Android app.  It will tell you where the best places are in town, as well as where your friends will be.  It only makes sense for this service to go mobile.

The Chicago Blackhawks had a championship season last year, and fans can get even more involved with the NHL team’s upcoming Android app.  Slated for a mid-September release (when training camp starts), the free app will feature game highlights, player info, news, stats and photos.