Android for beginners: Setting up your phone
Camera and image editing apps
Third-party camera apps have exploded in popularity and the battle is only heating up since Facebook bought Instagram with both Google and Twitter trying to join in.
While not the first app to offer filters, Instagram is by far the most popular (100+ million users, a serious social network in its own right). What this shows is that it's not the feature set that's important, but building the right kind of community around the app.
Anyway, you should know the drill - snap a photo with some filter on top to make it look more interesting and share it. You can share photos to Facebook and Twitter (though Twitter's Instagram integration through the Cards feature is no more) and more importantly, you can follow other people to see their shots.
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Not to be outdone, Google bought the company behind the Snapseed app. Snapseed doesn't actually take photos - you use the regular camera app for that, but it focuses on editing them and does pretty well there.
There are tools to straighten photos, tune the colors and saturation, crop the image and do an automatic correction if you're in a hurry. On-screen hints will help you learn how to use every tool and filter. Snapseed can work with TIFF images too, which photo buffs will appreciate.
Snapseed features Google Plus integration (of course).
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Yes, the Twitter app is mostly for reading tweets and sending your own tweets, but a recent update added photo capturing capabilities complete with filters. This way, you can circumvent Instagram and post filtered photos straight to your Twitter feed.
Instagram recently disabled the feature that allowed Twitter clients (including the web interface) to display Instagrams inline, while photos captured with the Twitter app will work just fine.
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Alternative Music players
Apollo is the default music player in the Cyanogen Mod custom ROM and is one of the best on the market today. It's completely free and comes with a plethora of features not found in the default music player of stock Android.
Unfortunately, the app was pulled from the Play Store over an alleged copyright infringement. Its case is still pending, but you can find it if you look around the web hard enough.
PowerAmp is one of the most popular and powerful music players ever developed for Android. Complete with a set of widgets, PowerAmp also comes with a full list of cool features including gapless playback, ReplayGain and crossfade.
In addition, the app comes with a 10-band optimized graphic equalizer with dedicated bass and treble settings. Support for grabbing lyrics, OpenGL cover art animation, scrubbing, tag editor and rich audio file support.
The bad news is that PowerAmp costs a pretty penny, but it is well worth the investment considering the features offered. There's a try-before-you-buy option so you can see if it will meet your needs.
Users familiar with the desktop version of Winamp should feel right at home with its Android counterpart. Not only does its user interface resemble the desktop version of the app, but it's also wirelessly syncable.
The app offers you a wider range of podcasts to subscribe to in addition to supporting song imports from iTunes. Winamp for Android is available for devices running Android 2.1 and up.
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Album Art Grabber
This one isn't actually a music player, but it's quite nice to have anyway. After you upload all your favorite songs to your Android phone just to find out that half of them don't have their album art displaying correctly? We've all been there and then Album Art Grabber came along to solve the problem once and for all.
The app does exactly what its title says - it grabs album art covers for your songs that are missing it. Simply launch the app, press the auto button and enjoy the magic of album art grabbing. If, for some reason, the app struggles to find the right cover and returns with empty hands, you can search for it manually from a set of music sources and get the job done.
As of early December, Facebook has rewritten its Android app from HTML5 to native code. This means that the app is now a lot faster than it used to be.
It still packs the same functionality as before. You'll be asked if you'd like to import your Facebook contacts upon your first login.
The Facebook widget is also good to have on your homescreen for fast sharing what's interesting around you.
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Twitter, too, has a great homescreen widget for posting quick tweets and reading what the people you're following are up to.
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Google+ is Google's own ever growing social network. It has a bunch of unique features like hangouts and, most recently support for viewing the Street View-inspired photospheres captured with the LG Nexus 4.
You can also create hangouts, tag photos and join communities right from the app itself. Overall, we think this might be one of the best designed Android apps currently out there.
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