This past week brought a flurry of Google updates, spanning Android (Gingerbread 2.3 & Honeycomb 3.0 news), Chrome (OS and Web Store), and Apps. Google Books was one of the new products launched amidst all this news, with a penchant to compete against Amazon, Apple and other print media distributors. But there’s so much more to Android apps, including a new search tool to quench your slurpee fixes, and some spirited holiday sharing tools.
Skygrid’s custom news reader has hit the Android Market, with alerts and notifications to help track your favorite sources. Set your preferences for news categories, and you’ll automatically be updated with breaking and popular items. Search articles and share them across your favorite social networks. This rising app is free.
The Detroit Free Press app is one of the few local newspapers with an Android presence, and it’s getting into the holiday spirit, too. Its yearly Holiday Lights contest has incorporated its Android app for sharing your best photos. And while you’re there, view some of the photos other readers have shared. This news app is free.
Twitsper is a way to share your personal news with only the Twitter users you want. Like groups for Twitter, you can set permissions for only certain people to view individual tweets. Free, this Android app lets you pick your broadcast audience on a tweet-by-tweet basis, even if your account is set to private.
Google Books is a new app from the search engine giant, filled with books to download and read. There’s tons of free e-books here, with personalization tools to make reading on your phone a breeze. With an accompanying web app, you can pick up your reading where you left off when you get back to your computer. This Android app is free (of course).
Science Fun to Go is the latest kids educational tool from Seymour Simon, complete with e-books, images, videos, jokes and more. This portal is designed for children, teachers and parents, with illustrations that kids can enjoy on any Android phone or tablet. The app is free to download, with plenty to explore once you get inside.
Sure you can watch videos on your Android, and even record a few of your own. But VidTrim lets you edit clips as well. Pick start and stop times to trim a video down, which is useful for resizing files and making them easier to share. VidTrim’s beta app is free.
Search, security & more
Opera Mobile Browser for Android just got a little more popular, with two upcoming upgrades set to include HTML 5 video and Flash Player plug-ins. The added media support should make mobile browsing and other uses of your Flash Player more enjoyable, with seamless integration from Opera’s standpoint.
Loky, the app for hiding your personal phone information, has had a makeover. A shortened name, plus support for French and landscape modes for slide-out handsets, should make the app easier for more people to use. Set contacts, photos, texts and other data to private, keeping curious friends from digging into your dirt. Such security comes at a price, Loky is just under $5.00.
SalesTrackr is a heavy-duty business tool that tracks your hours, products sold and invoices. It’s a virtual front for whatever you need, like inventory, estimates, and more. This free Android app comes with a barcode scanner, international support and a way to keep tabs on customer orders. It even comes with data back-up and restoration, so you don’t lose your data.
I have a friend who will drive 10 miles (or more) to get a Slurpee. If you’re anything like her, you’ll get a kick out of this app. It marks local 7-11 stores on a map, and navigates you there. It even comes with a flavor suggestion feature, and stickers to earn, so you can mark which ones you’ve tried. This Android app is tasty and free.