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Google Books leads Fresh Android Apps of the Week

by Caitlin M. Foyt

This week's Fresh Android apps features two very important updates for popular stand-alone apps Gmail and YouTube, as well as the release of Google Books.

Google Books (Android) FREE

Google has just unveiled its brand new e-book platform Google eBooks, a service for buying and reading digital literature and texts. Unlike competing services like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, Google eBooks is cloud-based, meaning you don't need a special device to gain access to your books— any browser will do the trick. And because your books are stored online, they automatically sync between all of your devices.

The Google Books app (notice that it's not called "Google eBooks," and then let's all collectively scratch our heads) gives you direct access to any of the titles that you have bought for when you're out and about. Currently, Google eBooks users have access to about 300,000 different books, coming from both large chains and indie bookstores; and these numbers are expected to grow exponentially by early 2011. Google is also working with academic presses and universities to make textbooks available via eBooks and has connections with GoodReads, a social network based around sharing information about reading book

Gmail update (Android) FREE

Gmail now features an option that gives you easier access to the email you care most about. The Priority Inbox makes messages from friends, family and work precedent, and then tosses all that other less important mail to the side.

In addition to the Priority Inbox option, the recent updates also now allow users to quickly switch between reply, reply all, and forward while composing a response, to respond to messages in-line, and let you send emails from any address you've configured in the desktop version of Gmail.

Twitsper (Android) FREE

Twitsper is a brand new app that gives Twitter users the ability to limit which followers can see their tweets, even if an account is set to private.

Create lists that include subsets of followers. After a list is created, users can specify which tweets followers see. To ensure the privacy of users, a tweet sent by any user on the list is only received by other members of the list who follow the user. If no list is selected, the user's tweet behaves just like a normal public tweet broadcast to all of the user's followers, or, if your account is public, to the entire world.

YouTube update (Android) FREE

YouTube for Android has been given a pretty significant make over. These changes appear to be redesigned in order to mimic the experience you get when visiting the website via a desktop computer. Some of the changes include adjustments to the player itself, in-page playback, the ability to read the video description, browse related content or rate the video while it is playing, or rate and flag videos without interrupting video playback. There are also subscription updates that make it easier to access new videos right from the home screen of the app. The app now will work similarly to how the iPhone works -- when you rotate your phone, the video will fill the screen. These updates only work for phones running Android 2.2 and above.

XFINITY Mobile (Android) FREE

Comcast just released XFINITY Mobile for the Android platform, giving Comcast customers remote access to their DVR and the ability to check local TV listings. The app also offers access to other Comcast services such as VoIP voicemail and Comcast mail. Perhaps one of the biggest features is the ability to have calls routed from your home phone to your cell phone when you’re out and about. Comcast said future updates will include TV show and movie streaming, but the time frame for this capability is still to be determined.