Modern social networks let you share thoughts, impressions, frustrations, images, lessons learned, favorite restaurants or whatever else may be on your mind at any minute. But you won't always be at a computer when social-sharing inspiration strikes; on the contrary, you'll probably be out and about when you want you want to share with your social connections.
Thankfully, there's no shortage of great social-networking apps available for Google Android smartphones today. In fact, if you're using a popular social networking service, chances are there's an Android app for it. But which apps look and work best? Check out the following nine, free Android apps for today's coolest social networks. (Note: The following apps were tested on a Motorola Atrix 4G running Android v2.2.1, but most should run on all new Android devices.)
GetGlue is the latest social network for media buffs of all kinds. Music lovers, film geeks, reality-show gurus, video-gamers and bookworms can all share their latest interests, along with impressions of those interests, with other 'Glue users. And you can quickly view profiles of other like-minded users for media recommendations. GetGlue also employs a unique "ranking system," based on users' check-ins in different categories, to determine a person's sway in an area. And you get digital "stickers" as rewards for certain types of check-ins, which can be redeemed for real stickers that can be used to, well, stick stuff.
Foursquare for Android
Foursquare is the most popular location-based social check-in service, for good reason. More and more mainstream businesses are jumping on the foursquare bandwagon each day, enticing loyal foursquare users to frequent their establishments by offering deals, discounts and even freebies. Foursquare also can help keep track of friends and contacts around you at a given time and notify you of the most popular bars, restaurants, clubs, etc. And you're rewarded for frequent check-ins, or check-ins at specific types of venues, with "badges" that serve as mementos of where you've been, as well as proof of your foursquare prowess.
Facebook for Android
Facebook for Android offers all the basic Facebook Web-functionality, including access to your news feed and Friends' status updates. You can upload photos and view albums, as well as write on Friends' Walls and respond to posts on yours. A Facebook Places feature lets you "check-in" to various locations. And you can message connections via the app's built-in chat feature.
Facebook Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook
Gowalla for Android
Not unlike foursquare, Gowalla's location-based social check-in app helps you share the places you go with friends and other contacts. And like foursquare, you collect Gowalla "pins" and rewards based on the types of places where you check-in. A Gowalla "Passport" keeps track of everywhere you've been, logging states and countries you may visit. How do you choose between foursquare and Gowalla? Determine which services is being used by more of your friends...or just use 'em both.
PicPlz for Android
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to social networking, that may be an understatement. Take PicPlz, for example, a social network meant for enhancing pictures via basic visual effects and then sharing with friends and other like minded folks. Just snap pictures using your Android camera, add effects, if you so desire-70s; high-contrast monochrome; enhanced-definition; etc.-and upload your picture to the public or to a specific group of contacts. PicPlz also lets you easily view your friends' images and popular public images.
Twitter for Android
Any and all Twitter users with Android devices should download the most popular Twitter app on the Market: the official Twitter for Android app. The software boasts an intuitive and visually appealing interface. And though more advanced, feature-packed apps exist-like Plume for example-Twitter for Android provides all the basic Twitter functionality you'll need for free, with no ads.
Twitter Bible: Everything You Need To Know About Twitter
You've heard of Twitter and Facebook, where you post the mundane details of daily life online. You've seen Foursquare, which lets you share your location with others. But you may not have been introduced to one of the latest social networking crazes, Untappd, a mobile-based service for beer drinkers to share and discuss their various brews of choice. Find new beers and breweries, connect with other likeminded drinkers and earn tons of creative badges for your troubles. You'll never drink alone again. Cheers. (Note: Untappd is a browser-based Web app, and it works on iOS, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms, as well.)
Visit m.untappd.com and use your Android settings menu to create an Untappd home screen shortcut.
AppBrain App Market for Android
What makes the AppBrain App Market, a mobile software shop for Android, special? It recommends applications based on the apps already installed on your device, along with new or popular apps. And that's not all. The best part about AppBrain is that you can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to locate friends and connections who also use AppBrain, and then access lists of your friends' favorite Android applications.
Seesmic for Android
The standalone Twitter and Facebook apps mentioned in this post may do the job for the casual social networker, but the true aficionado of everything social is sure to find a friend in an application like Seesmic for Android, which lets you manage multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts using one, streamlined interface. Seesmic also supports Google Buzz and the enterprise-oriented Salesforce Chatter collaboration app. It's not the only app of its kind-TweetDeck and HootSuite offer similar functionality. But Seesmic is my favorite for its simple, clean interface.
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