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I find that many of the most important apps on my Android aren't the ones I use every day, or even the ones I did a great deal of research on. Instead, my phone is full of apps I downloaded while standing in the middle of the grocery store, or caught in a moment of navigational disorientation. So for this compilation, I'm sharing the apps I've found worth downloading, even if you only use them once.
Some of these apps may just sit on your phone, running in the background, only to be unleashed in emergencies. Others, you'll always be glad to keep on your Android device for any number of reasons, whether you're out shopping, lost, or just need entertaining.
Load it & forget it
Lookout Mobile Security is akin to the iPhone's MobileMe, keeping tabs on your Android's exact location, scanning it for viruses, and giving you remote access to the device. Protect your phone and its content, even if it's lost or stolen. Best of all, Lookout's Android app is free. You'll be glad you downloaded this app, when you least expect it.
Mobile entertainment is booming, and you're going to need Flash on your phone. If it doesn't have it already, nab the Adobe Flash Player app. Now you'll be able to play graphically enhanced games, watch online videos, and enjoy the mobile web in its designated glory. You might never use the app directly, but it comes in handy for other apps on your phone.
Pandora Radio is a streaming radio service delivering hours of music, custom tailored to your preferences. Set different stations for your different tastes, and Pandora will improve the station as you interact with its music. View details on artists, download their music, and share your stations with others. Pandora for Android is free.
Amazon's Kindle app brings a worldly library straight to your Android, as a bookstore and bookcase all in one. Search for books, receive reader recommendations, and download titles to your phone. The Kindle app is free, as are many of the e-books themselves. Just turn your phone to the sky, and learn about the heavens.
The Google Sky Map app is fun and educational, telling the skies' secrets at any given time. See constellations, see details on distant stars and planets, and choose from a number of sky views for gridded, highlighted and other perspectives.
Living Music Wallpaper was inspired from the Zune MP3 player, but it offers a dynamic background for your Android, based on your music. Taking the album cover art from the tunes stored on your SD card, you'll get an ever-changing wallpaper that constantly reflects your personal style. This app is free.
In a pinch
Google Maps is getting padded with a number of features, including local search, friend discovery and more. One of its primary features, however, is voice navigation, which audibly guides you to your desired destination. Google Places, traffic and street views are just a few of the verticals Google has recently added to this free Android tool. Can't recall the name of that designer you wanted to look up once you got home?
Evernote keeps tabs on everything, and has a growing number of apps that sync with its service in some way. Bookmark photos, videos, text notes and web sites to be organized, tagged and made searchable for your future access. Evernote's very useful Android app is free.
PDAnet is an app to tether your phone to your computer, getting you out of a bind when you need to access the internet. Free, PDAnet also forwards text and chat messages, so you don't have to juggle your phone and your laptop to stay in communication with friends and colleagues.
ShopSavvy's barcode scanner is worth a download, especially if you're a shopper. Search QR codes, keywords and barcodes, to pull up web, market and product searches. See local and web results, price comparisons and ratings for each product.