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Android proves a promising crossroad for app developers expanding beyond iOS. Path has finally introduced its photo-sharing app to the Android Market with an open beta version. A couple of familiar apps were also upgraded this week: Skype added video chat and Foursquare added notifications ahead of iOS users.
Path, a California-based startup, has taken a different approach to mobile photo sharing. It’s all about privacy, limiting you to 50 of your nearest and dearest friends. The idea is to have a controlled sharing experience, initially restricting photo-sharing only within its app. Broader sharing capabilities for porting photos to Twitter has been added to the iOS version through an extra app called With, but this week’s Android launch is an early version with fewer features. Add location and friend tags to your photo uploads, with emoticons to indicate how you feel about a posted picture. You can also chat with friends included in a photo share, creating pockets of interactive “rooms” around your images.
Skype’s added video-calling for its Android app, a feature that’s been a long time coming. Video calling lets you see the person you’re chatting with, adding a very nice visual enhancement to any conversation. Android users have had a range of apps supporting this capability, including Qik, which was recently acquired by Skype. And since Skype was snapped up by Microsoft, its feature roll-outs and partnerships have been advancing at a faster pace. Days after unveiling the Android update, Skype teamed-up with Facebook to offer video calls on the world’s most popular social network.
Foursquare’s launched a sweet new dashboard feature for its popular Android app, incorporating a notifications panel that takes you “beyond the check-in.” With this you can comment on a friend’s check-in, and see new comments or photos of a check-in you’ve commented on. There’s some social perks as well, alerting you when both you and a friend have the same place on your to-do list. And when a checked-in place starts swarming, you’ll know about it too. Now it’s easier than ever to manage and be aware of app activity.
Sports Tracker (Free)
Summer sees lots of fitness junkies spending time outdoors, and a mobile app can be the perfect companion for active lifestyles. Sports Tracker has landed on the Android Market, bringing its popular tools along with it. This is a social sports app that tracks and analyzes your workout data, and shares it with your friends. Share photos and progress reports with those that keep you motivated (or need a little motivation of their own). Sports Tracker keeps your workout diary on hand, monitoring calories burned to average training speed and altitude. Maps mark your time and distance, and you can even share new routes with friends on the network. The social aspects of Sports Tracker are what really pull you in -- working out is one of those things that works best with a buddy.
There are plenty of apps that help you search flights, navigate to an airport, and even send alerts for flight delays. But what happens once you get to the airport? These long-stretched hubs can be confusing and frustrating, adding to the stress of flying. GateGuru looks to give you a positive airport experience, offering reviews, tips and checkpoints for information at a given airport. You can delve a little deeper with selective gate ranges, helping you hone-in on food options, shopping and other services. GateGuru can also manage your itinerary through partnerships with Tripit and Kayak. Centralizing a good portion of your flight-related activity, GateGuru is something of a personal assistant.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Free)
Merriam-Webster already has a handful of specialized Android reference apps, but they're pretty expensive, priced between $19-$25. With a goal to make information more accessible to the masses, a free Merriam-Webster dictionary app has landed on Android. It features voice search, with support for looking up entries containing multiple words. This feature comes in handy when you’re looking up something you don’t know how to spell. There’s also offline access, which is very useful for any app. I don’t know how many times you’ve been caught without a signal and in need of a dictionary, but I do enough crossword puzzles to appreciate this perk.