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SketchBook Pro tops Android Apps of the Week

by Kristen Nicole

Tablets are opening more doors for Android app developers. Although there are not too many breakthrough apps specifically for Android tablets yet, SketchBook Pro by Autodesk is pushing the envelope on Honeycomb-based digital canvasses. Also this week, Contour debuted its video viewfinder app in the Android Market, while ABC News finds a fresh audience with Android users.

SketchBook Pro ($4.99)

From Autodesk comes the latest SketchBook app, with an optimized edition just for Android Honeycomb tablets. SketchBook Pro is for doodlers, illustrators and artists of all sorts, using the same paint engine as its desktop version. Turn your tablet into a digital canvas, using your fingers or a stylus to create detailed designs. There are over 60 brush tools, support for up to six layers on one file, and the ability to export to Photoshop. Already available on iOS devices, SketchBook Pro’s presence on Android tablets is an indication of Honeycomb’s capabilities. And with some manufacturers offering styluses with their tablets (the HTC Flyer for example), SketchBook Pro’s launch comes at the right time.

Contour Connect (free)

The Contour Connect app turns your Android phone into a viewfinder, designed to use in conjunction with your ContourGPS and Contour+ video camera. Especially helpful for those that use mounted camcorders without viewfinders, this app gives you the accessory piece without having to purchase additional equipment. You can use your phone to line up your shot, and get the frame just the way you want it. Contour Connect also acts as a camera interface, showing you remaining battery life, microphone settings, video quality and lighting. It demonstrates the potential for the Android to become more than just a smartphone, enhancing other devices as well.

Viber (free)

Viber launched a free VoIP app on Android, offering free calls and texts on the go. Similar to other messaging apps, Viber is an alternative for using cell phone minutes. Communication is free between Viber users, even if they are overseas. Viber runs on 3G or WiFi networks. One of the perks of Viber is its ease of use and endless free features. Unlike other VoIP services, Viber doesn’t lock you in to too many in-app purchases. With Skype extending its mobile presence and Tango scaling out with $42 million in funding, Viber has some serious competition to face.

ABC News (free)

They are much later than the other broadcast news stations, but ABC has finally launched an Android app. Taking a few cues from the ABC News iPad app, the Android mobile version has a slick design and easy navigation. The in-app video player is a useful integration, but can be laggy at times. You get top stories and breaking news, with local channels for a handful of cities, including Chicago, New York and San Francisco. You can choose from a string of categories like Politics, Health, Entertainment and Technology. You can also modify font size, pick your top categories and get updates in local news.

Zinio (free)

Zinio introduced its app to the Android Market a few weeks back, launching for Honeycomb tablets first. The magazine library now has full smartphone support, adding yet another point of access for its app. Zinio has been ramping up lately, with cross-platform and cross device apps, spanning PCs, Macs, Android and iOS mobile devices. Considered the “Netflix of magazines,” Zinio offers you one of the broadest selections in magazine titles, with an automatically updated library for your digital subscriptions. Manage everything from a central app, get alerts when new editions are available, and flip through your magazines no matter where you are.

Redfin (free)

Real estate is always a curious market, but smartphone apps are at least making our searches more efficient. Redfin’s launched an Android app with several features to drill down on a given location, using your GPS as a starting point. It’s really an MLS-powered tool, geared up with data used by agents. One of this app’s selling points is its account history, which lets you collect and manage homes of interest. The mobile app syncs with the web app, ensuring you get the same experience every time you log in. Redfin joins the likes of Trulia and Zillow, which just filed its IPO this week. Even for real estate apps in the Android Market, it’s all about location.

Zaarly (free)

With the new Zaarly app, users can buy and sell anything with people nearby. It is a local community marketplace that lets you sell something quickly, or find something you’d rather not pay shipping for. Similar to Craigslist, Zaarly is also a good place to post services. Privacy is a focal point for Zaarly, concealing your personal information and replacing it with an anonymous phone number. Unlike Craigslist, Zaarly has a dedicated mobile app and is focused on a community of users, extending it beyond the basics of classifieds. The company is also backed by the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Lightbank (the early investors of Groupon).

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