5 Essential Free Apps for your New Android phone

Did you get a new Android device over the holiday season? If so, welcome to the family – we think you and your new phone are going to be really happy together!

Depending on the model, different apps are going to be pre-installed on your phone. Some of these do the job nicely, and others can really be swapped for something a little more impressive. You’re also going to need apps that meet any specific requirements, ones that you just download for fun, and others that you just have to check out because they sound so cool. In other words, there are a whole lot of possibilities out there.

For the moment, however, we’re going to stick to the basics you need to get you started. Here’s my guide to the essential free apps you need to download NOW!

Barcode Scanner is important precisely because there are so many apps and so much cool information out there. Of course, it’s not just barcode information that Barcode Scanner is good for – it also handles QR codes, which, once you start using them, you’re going to see everywhere. These codes allow you to download apps and information directly, without even having to think about opening a browser!

Astro File Manager is another one that’s going to come in handy as soon as you start to add more apps. It basically provides a user-friendly interface that will allow you to keep all your software under control,  installing and uninstalling, backing up, removing runaway processes, file management and much more. Lots of these tasks can be done using the options under Settings on your phone, but Astro is more comprehensive and, crucially, gives you access to all the tools in one single app.

Google Goggles is on the list for sheer coolness. If it’s one thing your Android is good at, it’s being innovative, and if you keep your eye on the latest news, you’ll discover apps you never even thought were possible. I’m not going to say that Google Goggles is THE coolest, but it sure is an excellent way to showcase some of the Android’s abilities. Use your camera to find out about the world around you; from translations to landmarks, wine and artwork, simply take a picture and let Goggles tell you what it is.

eBuddy is another essential for anyone who wants to get the most out of their phone. This instant messenger supports almost all of the usual IM services and, as James points out in his review, if you have cheap or flat rate internet, it can be quicker and cheaper than calling or texting.  As it’s a multiprotocol client, you’ll be able to add all your IM services, bringing all your friends to the one handy tool.

Robo Defense Free is exactly what you need to relax after such intense downloading. This game has been consistently voted one of the top titles of 2010, and with good reason. Assemble your robots into battalions to keep the enemy out, plan your defense strategy and use points earned to buy more powerful weapons – Robo Defense is a Tower Defense-style game that has been perfectly crafted for mobile gaming, so you won’t be disappointed.

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