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Best Apps of 2012: Top Replacement Apps for Android and iPhone

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Illustration: Kagan McLeod
Love your phone but hate the mail app? Wish the camera had more features? Here are a few apps that make the ones that came with your phone obsolete.

Camera+ ($1) iOS
Why settle for the iPhone’s built-in camera software? Camera+ has all of the regular features, as well as a few extras. You can choose from four shooting modes (Normal, Stabilizer, Timer, and Burst), and you can touch up photos you take within the app in the “Lightbox.” Camera+ also lets you share photos on Facebook and Twitter.

Opera Mini (free) Android | iOS
By compressing Web-page data be­­fore it reaches your device, Opera Mini loads pages faster than traditional mobile browsers do. This approach reduces the amount of data you consume while browsing, too. And since Opera Mini can sync with the desktop version of Opera, you’ll always have your bookmarks and history available.

Editor's Pick (Android): Assistant
(free) Android
Move over, Siri. This virtual assistant (represented by a customizable on-screen avatar) can do everything from composing email to telling jokes. Speak your request, and Assistant does the rest. Each update to the app adds more functionality, so before long you may be able to command your phone entirely with your voice.

Waze (free) Android | iOS
Never be stuck in a traffic jam again. Waze gives turn-by-turn directions and relies on its community of users to plot the fastest course to your destination. For instance, if a user reports a delay due to an accident, Waze will reroute you to bypass most (or all) of the resulting mess. Waze is a useful tool to have, especially if you’re looking for a free GPS navigation app.

K-9 Mail (free) Android
Android’s built-in Gmail app is good, but only if you have a Gmail account. If you don’t, try K-9 Mail. This open-source app supports POP, IMAP, and Exchange, and has downloadable plug-ins that add functionality. You can use multiple email accounts at once, and see all of your messages in the unified inbox.

Sparrow ($3) iOS
Sparrow provides a slick way to check your email. It doesn’t support push notifications, but it does handle multiple email accounts, and it can connect to your Facebook account to attach photos to your friends’ email addresses. One advantage that it has over the iOS Mail app is in presentation: It lets you flick through messages as you would pieces of paper, and it color-codes email based on labels you apply.

Editor's Pick (iOS): GroupMe
(free) Android | iOS
Anyone who has ever tried to organize a bunch of friends knows how much of a hassle it can be. With GroupMe you can create group chats where you can message multiple people all at once and better coordinate your efforts. All members of the group chat can see everyone else’s responses, so no one is out of the loop.

DoubleTwist (free) Android
Want to use your phone as your primary media player? DoubleTwist is right up your alley. It organizes the music on your SD Card and lets you rate and create playlists of your tracks. Unlike the built-in Android Music app, DoubleTwist permits you to browse and stream podcasts, and also lets you listen to Internet radio stations.

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