Skype and other Android Apps of the Week

by Kristen Nicole

Skype launched an official Android app this week, marking another access point for the instant messenger tool. Already launched on the iPhone, the Skype app for Android indicates the growing support of Google's mobile platform. We're seeing a number of large brands ensure their presence across iPhone and Android devices.

Bloomberg brought its publication to the Android market as well, while Foursquare updates and a handful of Google app updates round out this week's top performers list.

Social chatter

Skype has made its way to Android, bringing voice and text chat to your mobile phone. The free app lets you make calls over wifi and 3G, but is currently limited to the U.S. Access your Skype credits, manage your buddy list, read saved conversations and toggle between chat conversations. Requires Android 2.1 or higher.

Beejive is another chat tool that's finally landed in the Android market. Greata for professionals, Beejive lets you log into all your chat clients, from GoogleTalk to Facebook, AIM, ICQ and Jabber. Talk to all your friends at once, receive alerts, and share photos and voice notes, all for $9.99.

StartTalking, from AdelaVoice, is a voice-activated tool, bringing hands-free options for drivers. Reply to messages, post Twitter updates, and refresh your Facebook status. Free, StartTalking will also read incoming text messages aloud, ensuring you need only your voice to interact with this Android app.

Custom home screens

*Spark brings all your pertinent information to your Android home screen, including news bites, social networking updates, call records and more. Have the weather, blog articles and all your other important phone and web data centralized and accessible. Free, Spark's beta app also lets you share content easily across the social web.

Google has updated Car Home, making it a stand-alone app available in the Android market. Now it can be updated outside of OS system upgrades, and is more customizable for your needs. Free, Car Home offers quick access to navigation, voice actions and other features while driving. The new version has custom shortcuts and Bluetooth auto-connect.

Utility and more

ProOnGo has been updated, making it worth a second look. Using your phone camera to snap photos of receipts and files, this Android app now ties in with your credit card info for seamless expense tracking. Other updates include mileage tracking with GPS, file backup and QuickBooks integration, for a monthly subscription fee.

Bloomberg is the latest publication to seek mobile syndication through the Android market. The finance and business news service delivers news and portfolio tracking tools straight to your phone. In true Bloomberg form, you'll also get access to charts, graphing relevant business trends. The app is free.

Foursquare's gotten an update this week, with an improved interface and smoother functions. New tabs have been added to the free Android app, including Tips and To-Do, for easier access. More friend information has been added to the venue page, and you can also refresh the Me tab.