Halfway into 2012, there are now more than 1.2 million mobile applications available to download to iOS and Android devices. With so many options literally at our fingertips – including dozens of worthy titles introduced to us each day – the task of compiling a mid-year “best of” list of new apps is more challenging (and enjoyable) than ever. The TechCrunch made a list of some of the best mobile applications to help you choose.
Camera Awesome (iPhone, iPod Touch; free)
This is another photo-sharing service that actually helps you take better pictures. Beyond Camera Awesome’s stunning interface, there are several ways this app can «awesomize» your pictures, including automatic levelization and color adjustment. All presets and filters can be purchased in-app for $9.99 (or a la carte at 99 cents a pop).
Pocket (formerly Read It Later) (iOS, Android; free)
Independent “read later” apps may become an endangered species this fall when Apple incorporates its Offline Reading List into Safari as part of iOS 6. Until then (and perhaps thereafter), the best bookmarking app for your buck (actually free) is Pocket. Formerly known as Read It Later, the app’s April rebrand involved more than just a name-change and price reduction. Pocket’s new features, which include the ability to seamlessly view videos and images as well as grid-based article lists, do not undermine the app’s simple and elegant interface.
Khan Academy (iPad; free)
The best thing about this app is how it doesn’t clutter or distract from the expert video tutorials that are produced by next-generation educator Salman Khan. The more than 3,200 educational videos that touch on everything from «Getting a seed round from a VC», to «Earth Formation» to «The Bay of Pigs Invasion» are categorized within a simple taxonomy. The YouTube-hosted videos that contain subtitles are extensively logged, allowing users to quickly and easily locate a phrase or passage that may have gone over their heads.
TouchTV (iPad; free)
From customized news provider SkyGrid comes TouchTV, which beautifully showcases video clips from broadcast and cable networks onto the iPad. TouchTV runs video clips (typically up to five minutes in length) from 16 official providers including ESPN, Bloomberg Television and Jimmy Kimmel Live. While downloading TouchTV alone is not enough to “cut the cord” from your satellite or cable provider, the app offers a glimpse of what an app-enabled television universe can look like.
Any.Do (iPhone, iPod Touc; free)
Any.Do, which is backed by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, is an uber-productivity app that lets you easily create and complete tasks with the swipe of a finger. The app’s voice-dictation technology reliably records tasks without a user needing to type anything. You can also share your to-do lists with friends in the hopes they might help out with whatever needs to get done.
Highlight (iPhone, iPod Touch; free)
Highlight alerts you when a Facebook friend or individual with similar interests is nearby, and lets you learn more about other Highlight users when they are in your vicinity. Like similar services including Sonar, Banjo and Kismet, Highlight is only effective if there is a critical mass of other users in your area. While each service has its strong points, Highlight looks to have the greatest chance of any to crossover to the mainstream.
Viggle (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android; free)
Receiving discount cards from the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and the Gap just for watching TV for many could be considered the American dream. Viggle makes it a reality by letting users check-in and earn loyalty points for watching their favorite programs. The app performs reliably, while offering additional features including trivia questions, polls and curated tweets as gravy.
LinkedIn Update (Universal iOS; free)
The best thing about LinkedIn’s April iOS update is that the app is now finally compatible and optimized for the iPad. Presumably inspired by Flipboard (where it has a key presence), LinkedIn functions best as a social magazine on the iPad. The magic of LinkedIn on the iPad is how it integrates content shared by your connections with the ability to map common relationships with the sender in ways not possible via any other app or site.
Clear (iPhone, iPod Touch; $2.99)
Clear is the to-do list for those who just want to get their stuff done and move on. While it lacks many of the features of heavy-hitter task-managers like Omnifocus and newer contemporaries like Any.Do, Clear excels in letting users quickly create categories and list the things they need to do that fall under those categories. The app’s beautifully designed interface also lets users sort these listed items by priority and quickly swipe to erase them when they’ve been completed.
HomeSnap (iPhone, iPod Touch; free)
While HomeSnap can’t do much to bring the nation’s housing market back to pre-crash levels, the app – with an assist from augmented reality – can help users determine the value of a home merely by taking its picture. In addition to financials, you can also see school information, historical data and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a given home. HomeSnap is not 100 percent reliable, but neither is information provided by a seller or broker.
Flipboard (Android; free)
This is a socially curated magazine – which beautifully presents news, photos and status updates shared by your social graph – included YouTube integration as part of its Android launch (Google+ integration arrived a few days earlier). Flipboard is also the best way to read content from third-party publishers on mobile devices, including the New York Times which on June 28 debuted its NYT Everywhere service to subscribers within the app.
Instagram (Android; free)
Instagram’s arrival to Android was a positive development to say the least for the photo-sharing pioneer. Within one week, Instagram attracted more than 5 million downloads. A few days later, the company was acquired by Facebook for what was at the time a 10-figure valuation. The company’s immediate triumph illustrates how apps need to be available for both iOS and Android devices to emerge as a true pop-culture sensations.
Google Drive (Android, iOS; free with subscription)
In our two months of using the service, we are finding that Google Drive is a superior and more cost-effective solution for storing and sharing documents than Dropbox. For individuals and organizations that already rely on Google Docs, migrating to Google Drive is a no-brainer. The app works seamlessly across all of our Android devices. Now that the service as of June 28 is available to download to iOS devices, there is not much else standing in the way of market domination.
Airbnb (Android; free)
The service, a vacation-rental marketplace, for the first time made it possible for property owners and travelers to quickly instant message each other for questions or go over any issues that arise during a stay. There are more than Airbnb 200,000 listings across the world, as well as curated travel recommendations from the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Jack Dorsey.
Chrome (Android, iOS; free on Ice Cream Sandwich devices only)
If you use the Chrome desktop browser and own an Android smartphone or tablet powered by Ice Cream Sandwich, owning this app is a no-brainer. The Chrome mobile and desktop apps interact seamlessly with one another, meaning you can access your bookmarks and browsing history on the app. The app also lets you swipe between tabs without ever having to go to the tabs menu. The Chrome app also supports voice search, bookmarking and private browsing.