If there’s one app category that seems more inventive than any other to me, it’s the camera app. I know what you’re all thinking: this can’t be the case. After all, mobile photography is pretty simple — take a picture, throw on a filter, and then move on with your life. For me, it’s not that simple. I love trying out new apps and seeing what they’re capable of, and if they line up with my personal philosophy for photography.

So what is my personal philosophy? I like to take slightly over-exposed photographs that are warmer in colour temperature. I prefer shooting in digital, but work hard in post to make sure my pictures look like film artefacts. For my DSLR, I’m always trying out new workflows but don’t move too far from my time-proven Aperture workhorse on my Mac. On my iPhone and Nexus 4, I dig Instagram for its social features. VSCO has some great filters for both desktop photo editors and mobile apps too. Is there space in my life for Camera Awesome, the latest mobile photography app to take the Android ecosystem by storm? Read on to find out.

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Modern calendar apps have two serious problems: they’re ugly, and they’re hard to use. I like Google Calendar as much as the next guy, but I’m always on the lookout for an experience that could be better — and by all accounts, I think Google Calendar could be better than it is. But there aren’t a lot of popular alternatives on the Play Store, and even fewer that people say you *have* to try out before making a decision.

That’s what makes Cal by Any.do interesting. It marries a well-designed calendar with the simplicity of Any.do, and it does it with aplomb. Although it’s been available for iPhone for a long time, Cal finally saw its release on Android recently with a few new features of its own — some of which are Android-exclusive, for now. Let’s dig in and find out whether or not this ecosystem is worth getting into.

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One of my biggest pet peeves with the Android ecosystem thus far has been a lack of great apps for writers. Maybe it’s because that’s what I do for a living and I can’t see past my own professional needs, but it’s been a thorn in my side since I started playing with Android in 2010. But over the past year, the ecosystem has made some remarkable progress, and writers haven’t been left as wanting as they were in the past.

I personally prefer Markdown as a writing method, which uses a simple syntax that makes typing HTML a lot easier. It’s been my preferred syntax for almost two years now, and I’ve been waiting for Android to catch up with iOS’s barrage of Markdown editors. At the same time as Android has been catching up, I’ve been asked if I could round up a few of my current favourite apps. Here are five of them.

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One of the things I use all the time on my iOS devices — and, in fact, strongly value — are text editors. As a platform, it’s hard to beat it for writing. Android has made some great progress recently, and I get really excited every time I see another text editor in the Play Store. That’s why I couldn’t wait to try out JotterPad X.

JotterPad is highly functional and is a sheer pleasure to look at, but the question remains: should you use it? Read on to find out if JotterPad X is right for you.

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I really like Google Chrome, but I often wish it had a few more features. I don’t like the way it handles javascript, and when it comes to mobile browsing, it’s just less efficient for me than Safari on iOS. There’s no doubt that as a whole package, Chrome can’t be beat — it’s just lacking for me in small details. I figured it was time for a change.

With that in mind, I decided to give Mercury Browser a shot. Its focus on design and flexibility is refreshing for me, and I love some of the features it brings to the table. Within minutes of use, I made it my default Android browser on my Nexus 4. Read on to find out if Mercury Browser is right for you.

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One of my favourite things about writing app reviews is the amount of cool new things I’m exposed to daily. It goes well beyond software, and I often learn about really cool projects simply because I’ve been exposed to unique designers and their interesting projects.

One of those exact situations happened recently with Neven Mrgan, a designer who believes in the end product and not the means (and yes, that’s how you spell his name). I like his work. As it turns out, he has released a new game on both iOS and Android called Blackbar that’s… Well, it’s unlike any game I’ve ever played. Read on to find out more about it.

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It’s hard to separate 5 Ants Games from Rovio Entertainment, the makers of Angry Birds and… Well, a lot of Angry Birds. The partnership between the two is bringing 5 Ants a lot of exposure, but it might not bring them longevity. That’s a shame, because it should. Their games are rightly getting great critical attention. I’m not the first to say it, but I certainly won’t be the last: Tiny Thief, their latest game, is a good way to pass an afternoon.

Tiny Thief is a side-scrolling puzzle game that encourages you to be a thief. Think of it like a more colourful, strategized version of Aladdin — without the musical. Is it worth your time? Read on to find out.

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I like to think of myself as a hard worker with a time-wasting problem. I don’t procrastinate. I just accidentally get caught up in tech articles, Instapaper and Twitter. I need all the help I can get to stay on track.

That’s one of the reasons I was interested when I heard about Mobile Worker, a time management app that was supposed to be perfect for freelancers and independent contractors. The app helps you stay organized and ensures efficiency. For me, I just needed a little extra kick in the pants to keep going. I downloaded the free version of the app to see if it would give me what I needed. Read on for my thoughts.

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One of the most important functions of a smartphone, for me, is note-taking. I don’t want anything clunky or heavy-handed to do it with either. The app has to sync and it has to work across multiple devices. So while I like Evernote and it fulfills most of those goals for me, particularly if I want to extensively organize my notes, it’s also too cumbersome just for simple little things like lists or brainstorming.

On my iOS devices and my Mac, I’ve been using Simplenote for years. One of the worst things about my Android toys, for me, is that Simplenote wasn’t an option. There is one app called Glance Note, but it’s slow and unwieldy and therefore defeats the purpose. That’s why I was extremely excited to see Simplenote show up for Android devices this month.

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I might be an oddball, but at this point in the Android game, I really don’t spend a lot of time customizing my Nexus devices. I’ve got a Nexus 4, and Android has been really usable and very friendly since 4.1 — I haven’t felt like it’s really required me to make any changes. And in all honesty, I prefer it when my phone just works like it should. Android is pretty much there.

But sometimes, I still get the temptation to just fiddle with it and see what I can do and it’s a bit of pain mostly. At this point, there are so many ways to customize your Android device that you’ll have to start Googling just to figure out a good place to start. Kitty Play solves some parts of that problem by aggregating a ton of customization resources within one app. The last time I got the itch to customize, I gave it a whirl. Read on for my thoughts.

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