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Got a new Android phone? Start here if you want to know which apps to download.

Book Review: Best Android Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders by Mike Hendrickson and Brian Sawyer

Nearly a quarter of mobile phone users (in the United States, I assume) are the owners of smart phones, according to a recent report from Nielsen. Of those, 9% are owners of phones running the Android operating system. Small potatoes, you might think, but this is a 2% increase over the previous quarter, with expectations of continued growth.

If you recently bought a smart phone, chances are you bought one running Android. If not, why are you reading this article? All kidding aside, the trend towards smart phone purchases for consumers not on the AT&T network has been towards Android phones, and until Apple begins selling the iPhone through other networks, I expect to see more Android phones on the market.

One of the first things I hear from my iPhone-toting friends is that they have more apps available to them than Android users. This is true, for now. In the past couple of years, the number of Android apps has gone from zero to over 70,000, with more released every day. Sounds impressive, right?

Personally, I find it overwhelming to wade through the piles of apps, whether they be from the Android Market or the iTunes Store. Thankfully, we have folks like Mike Hendrickson and Brian Sawyer to cull through the heap and pull out some of the best, as they have done in their new book, Best Android Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders.

The first chapter of apps are 32 of the “best of the best” apps selected in the 2009 Android Developer Challenge. The rest of the book is broken out into chapters that cover the authors' picks for best business, communication, lifestyle, entertainment, games, utilities/tools, and reference apps, along with a few honorable mentions. For each app, they give a brief synopsis (under 100 words), show some screen shots with helpful hints or tips related to them, indicate the free/pay status (as of the publication deadline), and list the name of the developer.

The book includes an index of QR codes for all of the apps listed, which is very handy for locating and downloading the apps that may be of interest to the reader. My one complaint is that the space between the codes is so small that I had trouble getting my phone’s camera to properly read the code I was aiming for.

I have been using several of the apps recommended prior to reading the book, and I’ve added quite a few more to my arsenal after reading it. All in all, it’s a good place to start if you’re not sure which apps to get, particularly if you’re like me and don’t always know what’s possible. However, I recommend picking up a copy of the book soon before it becomes outdated and irrelevant.

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