Android app round-up: Firefox Mobile, SoundHound, PowerAMP, WritePad, Handcent SMS, Coloroid review

Latest round-up of Android smartphone apps
Photo of Android app round-up: Firefox Mobile, SoundHound, PowerAMP, WritePad, Handcent SMS, Coloroid
From free to £6.14

This month, we’ve been playing an eyeball-popping game, getting to grips with SMS and writing, spending a lot of time with music and exploring an old favourite web browser that’s finally made it to Android.

Firefox Mobile
Firefox’s newly released free browser for Android has some clever features up its sleeve. The most important of these is that if you’re a desktop Firefox user, you can take advantage of Firefox Sync to synchronise history, bookmarks, tabs and passwords with your desktop PC. And yes, tabbed browsing is supported too with a neat thumbnails view that makes switching between tabs easy. Whatever browser you currently use, Firefox Mobile is worth checking out.

There are some apps you like to have handy even though you use them only very occasionally. The free SoundHound is one of those. It’s designed to identify music either played through a nearby loudspeaker or even sung into the handset. It’s quite possibly magic. We say that because even our own tuneless hummings were identified accurately. Oh, you can type titles, artist, and lyrics too – but that’s a lot less fun.

Once you’ve found the song you are after, you can link into a YouTube search to hear it sung properly (ahem!), or buy it from Amazon as an MP3, or even get a list of similar artists. Now, that part was a bit hit and miss as far as we were concerned, but overall SoundHound does a sterling job.

While we’re on the topic of music, PowerAMP could prove quite a find. You can try a 15-day free trial before deciding whether or not to part with £3.18 for the full version. PowerAMP plays a wide range of files including MP3, Ogg, WMA, FLAC, WAV, APE, WV and TTA.

There’s an equaliser so you can tweak how music sounds and it has plenty of presets. There is even a sleep timer, so you can get music to shut off after anything up to 120 minutes. The on-screen controls look great, and it can locate missing album art to complete the appealing on-screen appearance.

We’re big fans of free Android software, and find the quality is often so high that we don’t need to take the paid route. But sometimes an app is well worth its price, and the £6.14 it costs to install WritePad is a case in point.

If you really can’t manage to use the keyboard on your smartphone very well, then a good handwriting recognition app is a must – and WritePad is just such a thing. You can use it with any app that takes text input, and it claims to be able to ‘learn’ your handwriting style so that recognition errors get fewer as time goes on.

Handcent SMS
All Android smartphones have an SMS client, but you just might want to give Handcent SMS a go. This free app gives you full threaded messages and lots of display styles to choose between, as well as big library of smileys, quicktext and other speed up’ features. You can also get it to ignore texts from anyone not in your contact list if that appeals – immediately removing marketing spam.

Coloroid is a very basic game indeed. The board is a grid of squares. Tap adjacent squares of the same colour to turn all squares that colour. The goal is to make the whole board the same colour. You only have a limited number of moves in which to achieve this – so you have to choose wisely.

When you start, the board has just a few squares in it, and this gradually grows till the grid reaches a 35×35 square. That’s way too small and fiddly to work with on smaller-screened Android smartphones, but by then the game may have run its course anyway. And it’s free, so if you get a couple of hours fun from it, that’s good enough for us.

Company: Android


Various, as above.

All apps available via the Android Market