2013 came and went, and we’ve already summarized some of the best apps to hit Google Play over the 12-month period ending in December. Now, with 2014 well and truly underway, here’s a quick snapshot of some of the best Android apps to launch in January.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone finally unveiled his secretive startup last month, a photo-based Q&A platform called Jelly. Stone described it as a service that works with people’s existing social networks and is designed to search the “group mind” to better help what goes around, comes around — basically to enable you to pay it forward.
There’s no question Jelly is a beautifully designed app, though only time will tell if it can find its niche among the myriad of existing Q&A apps out there. You can read our full review here.
If you’re an Android user with a large library of iTunes songs, then you’re probably familiar with doubleTwist, an app that lets you stream iTunes playlists, videos and photos wirelessly. However, January also saw the team behind the app release AirRecord, which lets users save songs and radio stations that they stream from iTunes to their Android devices, using AirPlay.
To get this working, just play something in iTunes on your Mac or PC, then select “dT Recorder” from the AirPlay device list.
Spill, a so-called ‘empathy engine’ that lets students anonymously share their problems with others in order to receive advice, launched its first mobile apps last month.
Although intended for the usual kinds of school and college-age issues (stress, relationships, problems with room mates, personal issues etc), it has also been used to help at-risk students get in touch with crisis professionals, although the company stresses that it wasn’t designed with crisis situations in mind.
Level [US only]
Back in October we brought you news of Level, a real-time money meter app that wants to be the Fitbit for personal spending. And we were impressed. For launch, however, the US-only service was restricted to iOS, but that changed this January when it arrived for Android too.
Level links up with your bank account(s) to deliver real-time metrics on your spending, savings and general financial standing. It’s not about sticking all your purchases in categories, such as ‘travel’ and ‘groceries’. There are other services for that.
Level automatically analyses and calculates a user’s total income, recurring bills and recommended savings each month. Based on this, it delivers the spendable balance broken down by day, week and month. And every time a transaction is complete, these numbers are updated accordingly.
Line, the chat app company with over 300 million registered users, launched a call identification app called Line Whoscall last month, designed to help users vet and block unwanted calls. It’s essentially a rebranded version of an app from Gogolook, the Taiwanese company Line acquired in December.
Glow, the latest startup from PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Mike Huang, expanded its reach within the healthcare realm last month, by launching on Android.
The premise behind Glow is to give women the knowledge to help plan their future, whether they want to have a family now or wait a few years, while they focus on their careers.
The service lets you start watching videos by making suggestions based on certain factors, including the time of day and what mood you’re in (videos for… ‘Entertaining You’, ‘Showing Your Friends’, ‘In Transit’ etc), it’s also possible to filter video suggestions by length – so if you only have time for a two minute video, it won’t suggest something that’s 10 minutes long.
Taking a group photo can be tricky – using the front camera often creates low-quality images, while the rear camera typically requires a number of takes and even so, you might get a shot of your faces, but what about the backdrop?
An app called Groopic aims to solve this problem by including the photographer in every group photo they take, with the use of a photo-combining technology. This means there’s no more asking for help from a stranger or setting up a tripod.
Launched initially back in November, Agent for Android isn’t technically a ‘new’ app, but last month it did go free so we’ll include it here anyway. Agent has proven to be a very popular service for automating actions in your day-to-day life, and it actually proclaims to be five apps in one.
The handiwork of Kulveer Taggar, a Y Combinator graduate who sold his first company for $5m back in 2008, Agent serves to preserve your battery, silence your phone during meetings, remember where you parked your car, send auto-responses when you’re driving AND allows only urgent calls/messages when you’re asleep.
Beats Music [US only]
Dr. Dre’s music streaming service, Beats Music, launched in the US for Android and iOS last month, and puts it up against the likes of Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and iTunes Radio.
Costing $9.99 per month, Beats Music serves up unlimited streaming from its catalog of more than 20 million songs. Rather than offering music and leaving users to discover their own tracks, Dre’s new service is striving to stand out from the competition by helping users discover artists and albums. For example, the Beats Music app on-boards users by asking what genres they’re interested in and then recommends music tailored to their tastes.
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