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The state of Android apps: These aren’t all task managers and widgets anymore

by Marty Gabel

The other day, after editing our weekly round-ups of the best apps and best games here on, I remarked to the managing editor of Appolicious and, Brad Spirrison, that “these aren't all task managers and widgets any more”. His response was, naturally enough, “that’s your headline.”

This trend was further reinforced after reading Android Police’s always-entertaining round-up of the best apps from the past few weeks. The sheer quality of the apps (and games) coming out is increasing at a dramatic rate. Now sure, there’s still a welcome place for task managers, widgets, live wallpapers, and various techie apps that help users understand the intricacies of their Android devices. These kinds of apps are valuable and a big part of the Android experience, but we are now seeing so much more.

Innovation and big names

Apps on the list include Lightbox Photos, which we highlighted the other day, and another beautiful-looking visual app called Retrollect. The photo-editing app TouchRetouch looks pretty swell too, and there’s an innovative security app using facial recognition called Visidon AppLock.

Then there’s the big-name brands. New apps from household name companies like BBC, Starbucks, McAfee, T-Mobile and Sony make an appearance, as does an app that’s seen some success on iOS, Fooducate. So not only is Android getting the best apps that have already appeared on rival smartphones, it’s proving to be an important platform that major brands cannot ignore. All this is very encouraging.

Don’t forget the games!

Then there are the games as well. Android Police mentioned some of these, naturally, but this time I was thinking more about what Appolicious Advisor, Kristen Nicole, showcased in her Android Games of the Week on Monday.

It’s great to see popular iOS titles like Burn the Rope finally make their way to Android. We’ve had Angry Birds for a while, I know, but some of Apple’s more obscure (but still popular) titles are finally seeing a place in the Android Market. Galaxy on Fire 2 THD, for example, which is specifically optimized for high-spec NVIDIA Tegra-powered tablets, may even look better than its iPad counterpart.

So it’s not all crappy chess games and scrappy-looking sudoku puzzles on Android any more. There’s still a place, of course, for smaller, more-casual and informal titles -- there always will be -- but Android fans should be happy to see slicker-looking games arriving in droves on the platform. A few months ago, they’d pop up every month or two. These days, not a week goes by without some high-profile titles emerging like Peggle, Plants vs. Zombies, or Cut the Rope.

But, buyer beware...

All this great technology comes at a cost, of course. Rather like how new iOS releases are often optimized for the iPhone 4 or iPod Touch 4th generation, leaving behind users of older devices like the iPhone 3G or 3GS, many of the new Android games are likely to play a bit sluggishly on older Android devices, and some, maybe not at all.

When it comes to apps though, hopefully whichever Android smartphone you’re rocking now should still work pretty well for a bit. But if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ll probably need to keep an eye out for a newer dual-core device if you want to stay in the game. With Android these days, it’s ain’t all task managers and widgets any more, that’s for sure.