The Web is flush with Android applications that sound great, but don't necessarily deliver. Some of these apps cost a few dollars and offer functionality provided for free via other applications. The challenge is finding free Android applications that perform as well, or better, than their paid counterparts.
That's where I come in, as I constantly comb the Android Market and third-party app stores for the best free downloads available. This latest installment is one you won't want to miss. Why? Every single one of these free Android apps has found a permanent home on personal Android smartphone, because they offer real value.
Click on for details and download links.
(Note: The following apps were tested on a Motorola (MOT) Atrix 4G running Android v2.2.1, but most should run on all new Android devices in the United States.)
Droidlight LED Flashlight for Android
The free Droidlight LED Flashlight application from Motorola turns your Android device's LED camera flash into a flashlight. And it couldn't be simpler to employ; just open up the app and tap the on-screen light bulb to toggle the flashlight on and off. The app is meant for use with Motorola Droid smartphones, but it'll also work on most popular Android devices, including the Google Nexus S-just don't leave it on for too long. Droidlight is a serious battery hog.
SpeedTest.net Speed Test for Android
Ever wondered just how fast the wireless carrier's cellular network is in or around your home or office? Thanks to the free Speed Test for Android application from SpeedTest.net, you can determine upload and download speeds for cellular and/or Wi-Fi networks. Just launch the app, hit "Begin Test" and you'll have a rough estimate of your network's upload and download speeds in a matter of seconds. And the app saves test results for future comparisons.
Google Translate for Android
Google's free Translate app for Android smartphones is one of the quickest and easiest ways to translate text while on the go. Simply cut and paste the characters you want to translate, type them manually, or speak the words and the app translates them into the language of your choice, delivering results back in either text or spoken words. You can also download a free add-on to access more languages.
Dictionary.com for Android
You don't have to be an avid reader or writer to appreciate the free Dictionary.com application for Android devices, which offers basic dictionary- lookup features, along with audio pronunciation, voice-to-text search and more. The best thing about the app is its Word of the Day widget, which sits on your Android home screen and delivers a definition for and information on a new, uncommon and typically multisyllabic word every day, so you don't have to open the app itself---unless you want additional details on each daily word.
Key Ring Reward Cards for Android
The free Key Ring Reward Cards application for Android mobile devices is a digital locker for a variety of retailer-reward or loyalty-card information. With more than 650 pre-saved reward-card options, it's simple to add your information to existing templates. And you can manually add any loyalty programs that aren't listed. Just open the app whenever you need it for access to your card-info. It also offers barcodes, where available, for quick scanning, along with a store locator, free coupons and more.
Currency Converter for Android
International travelers will find a friend in the free Currency Converter for Android software, which makes it easy and fast to convert cash values into more than 190 foreign currencies. You can even find precious-metal values for specific amounts of currency. The app uses OANDA Rates, the same exchange rates used by auditing firms and banks, according to the app-maker. A "percentage add-on" feature can be used to calculate typical conversion-rates charged by credit card companies and banks.
BattStatt Free for Android
BattStatt Free is a must-have application for any and all Android users who want or need to keep detailed tabs on their battery usage. The application itself provides basic information on battery type (Li-ion, etc.), voltage, temperature, health, level and more. And a customizable home- screen widget displays your current battery level as a percentage, in either words or numbers, depending on your personal preference.
Dropbox for Android
Dropbox, a cloud-based storage service, makes it quick and easy to share files between Web-connected devices, including PCs, tablets and smartphones. Dropbox apps exists for all major mobile platforms, and you get 2.0 GB of free storage just for creating an account-more if you recommend the service to others. You simply load up your Dropbox with content, launch the Android app and everything within your Dropbox is available to you via smartphone. You can also upload new content while on the go.
Amazon Appstore for Android
Google's official Android Market is a great place to find quality Android software, but the true app connoisseur always appreciates new options. Amazon's Appstore is one of, if not the, best Android Market alternative-at least for "non-rooted" devices. It provides a number of unique features and offers, including a new, normally paid app for free every day, and a cool Test Drive feature for trying out new software. Unfortunately, AT&T doesn't currently support the Amazon Appstore for Android, and it's only available in the United States...for now at least.
Also, check out our Reasons to the Love the Amazon Appstore-and Reasons to Hate it
My Coffee Card for Android
Coffee giant Starbucks released official mobile applications for iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones earlier this year, but it notably left out Android support. Thanks to the free My Coffee Card app for Android, Google phone users can now access the majority of features available via Starbucks Card Mobile for iPhone and BlackBerry, with a cool option to pay using only your Android device. Additional features include a store locator, the ability to reload your card, check rewards status and more.
Phone Found - Owner Info for Android
Unfortunately, the Android mobile OS doesn't have any built-in option to customize your device's locked home screen to include owner information-a security safeguard that can help ensure a lost smartphone is returned. The free Phone Found - Owner Info app fills this gap by letting users add contact information, such as name, e-mail address, and phone number, to their home screen. (Read more Android security best practices here.)