Social updates top Android apps of the week

by Kristen Nicole

This week saw a series of socially oriented updates, from Facebook adding Places and Deals, to Twitter’s Android upgrades. As mobile media gets looped into social networks and marketing themes, we’re sure to see plenty more social updates as the Android Market flourishes. An update to Opera’s mobile browser also indicates ongoing interest in smartphone web surfing.

Social

Facebook added Places and Deals to its Android app, alongside a major mobile platform launch. Now you can share places with friends, receive local discounts and receive updates from friends that have shared their location as well. The free Android app has just become a socially-aware coupon machine.

Twitter is also maintaining its Android app, with an update released around the same time as Facebook’s. It includes “promoted tweets,” which is advertising in itself, as well as tweet details, actions and faster-loading timelines. Maps are now shown in-line with geo-local tweets, and more touchscreen interactivity has been added to this free app.

Tumblr has updated its mobile dashboard, making it easier to navigate for creating posts. Quick access to photos, galleries and more are centralized, so you can share any kind of media in real time. Direct blog management is included in the dashboard, so you can have a more native experience on your Android phone. Tumblr’s app is free.

Social discovery tool, StumbleUpon, has added Android apps to its endless list of channels, smartly incorporating it into its own Android app. Stumble through apps based on your recommendations, or search through this vertical for items of interest. The free app has also gotten a speed boost, and more social management tools like “following” have been added.

Blackboard’s campus locator has found a home in the Android Market, offering specialized apps for a handful of scholarly spreads. Your college experience is placed on a map, helping you find classes, restaurants, bookstores and sports events. Blackboard Mobile is available for free.

GroupMe has free conference calling and group SMS tools, so you can communicate with several people at once. Create groups from your contacts, manage your groups and send every member a message from the app. You can also initiate conference calls with a group, making this free Android tool another in a growing sea of mobile telephony apps.

Entertainment & search

In the spirit of Google TV, YouTube now has a remote control app. Launched by Google, the Android app controls your YouTube account on your computer (or connected TV) from across the room. Free, the app comes shortly after YouTube launched its standalone app, as Google develops a singular experience around its online video content.

Opera Mobile Browser has been updated to make for faster page loads, staying head-to-head with Firefox’s Android updates. The powerful Android browser has also added geo-location features, as well as sync options for its web browser. Look forward to Flash and HTML5 support next!

Realtor.com has joined the mobile search bubble, with an Android app launch this week. Search over four million homes for sale, with location-aware filters and integrated street views. Save searches and listings, add notes via text or voice, and highlight regions of interest for ongoing or future searches. This latest property search app is free.

Poynt Search is a top performer this week, with international straights. The local search app has taken up residence in Spain, Italy and France, offering localized recommendations and contact info. Simiar to Aloqa, Poynt categorizes its local search quite well, for weather, eateries, gas prices and more. Free, this Android app will be able to offer richer recommendations with international metrics behind it.