The HTC Thunderbolt it just the latest amazing Android device to arrive on a major carrier. With the upcoming launch of the Motorola Droid Bionic, Samsung Droid Charge, Sony XPERIA PLAY and others, Android is about to be gracing the smart phones of a lot of new users.
If you are new to Android, we have a collection of the ten essential apps for Android smart phones, like the HTC Thunderbolt, which will get you up and running — and help you get the most out of your Android smartphone.
Best of all, these top 10 Android Apps are all free!
10 Essential Apps for Android Smartphones
Astro File Manager is an app that should have shipped with Android, a file manager. The Astro app is like Finder in OS X or Explorer in Windows. After you install it, you can browse through your locally stored files on the phone’s memory and on the SD card. Perfect for moving around music or application files. This app pairs up great with Dropbox, when it comes to moving files to the phone without the need to hook up to your computer.
Dropbox is another great service and tool for Android. Register for the service online and you’ll get 2GB of free storage. Anything you upload to the Dropbox service from your computers will be available on your Thunderbolt as soon as it is uploaded. This is great for moving files to the Thunderbolt, especially Android apps, known as .apk files, that allow you to try out apps that aren’t on the Android Marketplace. Unlike the iPhone, you don’t need to jailbreak or root your phone to install non-market apps.
Speaking of non market apps, check out the Amazon Android App Store, which is currently running a collection of free app deals to deliver great tools for free. Even without the free apps, it’s nice to have a choice and some competition in the Android App space. Recently Amazon gave away Angry Birds Rio, and today you can score Wolfram Alpha for free.
Amazon still has the best ebook reader on Android. The Kindle Android app gives you access to the entire Kindle library of ebooks at competitive prices and allows you to keep your books in sync across your iPad, Mac, PC and pretty much any other mobile device. Google Books is an OK competitor, but the Kindle app stands out above the rest.
Google Voice is a service which integrates amazingly well with Android and gives you a huge amount of control in how you use your phone and where your phone calls go. The Google Voice service is free and comes with a new phone number that you can forward to numerous locations. You can send text messages through the Google Voice app without any extra fees and much more. For an intro to Google Voice, check out Google Voice University.
Another great tool is Evernote. This Android app will sync up with the Evernote website and apps on your other devices. You can send websites to Evernote while on the go, and look them up later when you have more time. You can also use the camera to take snapshots of receipts or important papers to file in Evernote for safekeeping.
Prey is like FindMyIPhone for Android. This free service can be used to track down your lost or stolen Android device from the Prey website. Setup is simple and it is one of the first apps we install on any Android device we use. While you are there, install it on your computer too. Check out our Editor’s Choice review of Prey over at Notebooks.com.
Pandora is, as most of you know, a free online radio service that delivers customized music. With the Pandora Android app, you can listen to your favorite stations wherever you go. If you have a good enough signal, be sure to switch to the high fidelity setting to boost the audio quality. This is especially helpful if you plan to connect the Thunderbolt to your car stereo.
The Android Facebook App is leaps and bounds better than the web interface and can sync your contacts to the phone or sync your Facebook friend’s pictures to their contacts. Be warned, adding additional syncing services will drain your battery life. The Android Facebook App is now on par with the iPhone app, so you won’t need to give up features to keep up with your friends on Android.
So, PrankDial isn’t going to make you more efficient or help you maximize your Android device, but you can use it to have a lot of fun. Choose from a collection of prank calls and then choose your victim. You can make the call look like it is coming from any number you choose. Best of all, PrankDial records and delivers the call to you for immediate gratification. You get 3 free calls a day. You do need to tell the recipient that they are being recorded in order to legally use this app.