Best apps of 2012: top entertainment apps for Android and iPhone
With Turntable.fm, Tweetbot, and other just-for-fun apps, you can stay entertained wherever you are.
Who says smartphones have to be all about getting things done? With the right set of apps, your smartphone can become an unlimited source of entertainment. Whether you’re into taking and sharing snapshots or just looking for something to do nearby, these apps will help you stave off boredom while you’re on the go.
Snapseed ($5) iOSIf you want to make your photos pop, check out Snapseed on the iPhone. This simple yet powerful photo editor enables you to touch up your images quickly, using simple gestures. You can adjust a photo’s colors, lighting, and focus, all with just a few swipes of your finger. Once you’re done editing a picture, you can share it via Facebook, Flickr, or Twitter, or save it to your phone’s gallery.
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AfterFocus (free) AndroidAnother powerful yet easy-to-use photo-editing app, AfterFocus allows you to adjust the focus in your pictures after you have taken them. You simply highlight the area where you wish to improve the focus, adjust the intensity, and presto: You have a great-looking image that looks as if you had taken it with a DSLR. After tweaking your photo, you have the option of applying a filter to it and sharing your masterpiece on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Twitter.
EDITOR'S PICKTurntable.fm (free) Android | iOSDo you think you have what it takes to be a DJ? Turntable.fm puts you in a room with four other DJs, all competing for the crowd’s affections. You create your own playlist (by searching for songs within Turntable’s extensive catalog) and take turns playing music for the room. The other Turntable.fm members in the crowd indicate whether they like or dislike the song currently playing. Too many dislikes, and your song is skipped.
StumbleUpon (free) Android | iOSThe ultimate time killer, StumbleUpon lets you “stumble” through Web pages that relate to your interests. The more you stumble and rate pages, the better StumbleUpon becomes at unearthing content that you’ll like. If you encounter a particularly juicy page, you can submit it to StumbleUpon so that other users can enjoy it as well. The app is great for discovering new websites and keeping up with the latest happenings on topics you care about.
Friendcaster for Facebook (free) AndroidThe official Facebook app is horrendous: It constantly hangs, it sometimes crashes, and it occasionally decides that it doesn’t feel like logging you in. Fortunately, Friendcaster for Facebook gives you a much more stable way of browsing Facebook while you’re on the go. The app lets you do everything from viewing your newsfeed to posting photos on your friends’ walls. Friendcaster offers a slight amount of customizability, too, so you’ll be able to change the theme of the app and the order in which you see the navigation icons in the main menu. One added benefit for owners of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) phones is that Friendcaster permits you to sync your Facebook contacts with the contacts in your address book--a feature sorely missing from the official Facebook app on Android 4.0.
Viddy (free) iOSOften dubbed “Instagram for videos,” Viddy lets you capture a 15-second clip and apply effects to it to create a more artistic look. The app provides different types of effects and filters, and part of the fun is experimenting to see which one makes your video look its best. You can share the finished video with friends on Facebook and Twitter, or with people who follow you on Viddy’s own social network, which currently boasts 26 million users.
Banjo (free) Android | iOSWondering what your friends are up to? With Banjo, you can see which of your buddies are nearby and available for meeting up. The app uses your Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to scan where your friends are checking in, and it displays that data on Google Maps. Banjo will even help you avoid people you don’t want to see by notifying you when a particular person is close to your location. The one drawback is that the app can put a strain on your phone’s battery, so you would be wise to stay near a power outlet if you plan to use it for long periods of time.
EDITOR'S PICKTweetbot ($3) iOSIf we had to choose a favorite Twitter client for iOS, Tweetbot would be it. Already have the official Twitter app? No problem: Tweetbot will import your accounts and automatically set them up the first time you launch it. Tweetbot allows you to use gestures to easily keep track of Twitter conversations, and it lets you mute tweets from specific users or tweets carrying particular hashtags (#YOLO, anyone?). Just like the official Twitter app, Tweetbot supports multiple Twitter accounts and can open most images and Web pages within the app itself. Once you’ve tried Tweetbot, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with any other Twitter app.
Schemer (free) Android | iOSIf you’re undecided about what to do this weekend, check Schemer, an app that suggests activities in your area based on your interests. Most activities are things that other Schemer users have suggested, but you’ll also find recommendations from sources such as the Food Network, National Geographic, and 7x7. If you’re especially fond of a particular activity, you can share it with the entire Schemer community and with your Google+ circles. Say good-bye to boring weekends, and start scheming.