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.


Today not only marks the beginning of the final month of 2013 and the run up to a holiday season that is likely to award many new Android phones to loved ones, but also the culmination of another week of Android news. This week we’ve seen the continuing rollout of Android 4.4 and more. Let’s take a look! (more…)

I am an Android customization addict and, to be honest, even the word “addict” is an understatement. Two months ago, I would have told you that there should be AA meetings for the kind of compulsion that I had. I kept hundreds of folders of iconsets ready in my Dropbox account, I mastered the dark corners of UCCW and Minimalistic Text, I spent hours every week on MyColorScreen, and even maintained a Google+ photo album as a visual history of the different homescreen designs I have made since 2010.

But most importantly, I installed Nova Launcher on any Android device I had in my hands for more than an hour, and enjoyed tinkering with every single setting the app allowed from gestures to grid layouts and more. Then I got an invite code to join the Aviate Launcher Beta, installed it on my LG G2 and … well, life wasn’t the same anymore. I haven’t had the impulse to switch back from Aviate to Nova in more than six weeks, I haven’t felt the need to change my icons either, and given my history with Android customization, this is the geeky version of a personal miracle.

In the following post, I’ll explain how Aviate won me over from Nova — and Apex, ADW and all their brethren — and why it squashed my urge to tinker with my homescreens every couple of days.


Most to-do and reminder apps are all about making lists of tasks that you need to complete, and reminding you to tackle them at specified times. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always follow a schedule, and we often find ourselves skipping or putting off tasks because we couldn’t find the time to do them when we planned to — leaving with a longer to-do list for the next day. Will we ever be able to conquer these all-powerful lists?

The developers at New Delhi, India-based Signals, believe they may be onto some sort of a solution: Instead of adapting your day to the way your time management app is set up, why not have the app adapt to your life? Their new app Shifu does this by reminding you of tasks when you have the time to complete them and are at the right location. From chores to returning calls to wishing friends on their birthday, Shifu can actually help you get stuff done regardless of your ever-changing schedule. I spoke with Prashant Singh, co-founder of Signals, to understand how Shifu works and to see if I could actually get more done with their novel take on to-dos.


If role-playing games in the spirit of the Super Nintendo-era entries to the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Phantasy Star series are your thing, Kemco should be planted firmly in your radar. The Japanese developer has now released more than 20 RPGs on Android, at varying degrees of old-school.

I decided to finally take the plunge with their latest, Fortuna Magus, which seems to be more of a throwback than other recent releases. It’s a fun and well-conceived adventure, with an engaging battle system and an unconventional story of three children heading out in search of their father a decade after he vanished, but a solid set-up is let down by poor writing and pacing issues.


This week rings the start of the holiday season and the shopping ordeal that comes with it. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to the Christmas presents, everyone will be running around against the clock trying to find the best deals and gift items.

Last year, we covered some great apps for last-minute holiday shopping, but as Android grew and garnered more apps over the past twelve months, many new and cool contenders rose up, so it’s time we added more apps to that list.


The personalization of news is a nice idea. It should strip out unrequired stories, leaving behind only those pieces of writing that excite, educate or entertain — AppStorm posts, for instance.

But in my experience, most tailored news apps tend to be a bit…meh. They certainly filter, but rarely with the desired result. Some try to sort stories by keyword — always an inaccurate, spam-ridden approach — while others simply provide broad brushstroke subjects, gathering plenty of content you would otherwise avoid.

So, I’m interested to see how Material, an app which claims to deliver news that is tailored to each user, copes with this challenge. The product of an accomplished developer (Inq), Material has recently been updated with a sleek new design and a batch of new features; critically, though, can it deliver a great mix of content?


Although I’d definitely take a paperback over my tablet as my medium of choice to read a novel, one can’t argue the convenience of a single device that can carry all the books you’d ever want to read. That’s why I’ve been steadily growing my ebook collection — being able to carry every tome I intend to digest this year in a jacket pocket, just makes sense. The ebook game is now in a hot innings, with new heavy hitters like Google Play and even India’s Flipkart taking to the field. So I thought it’d be interesting to see what Kobo had up its sleeve.

Known for manufacturing affordable dedicated ebook readers, and for going up against the likes of Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes’ and Nobles’ Nook devices, Kobo has now made its debut in the Play Store with a bookstore-and-reader combo app that promises to deliver a comprehensive reading experience on your smartphone or tablet. With a wide range of titles, cross-device content and bookmark sync, and a clean flat interface, Kobo sure looks like it’s up to bat — but can it score a home run? I spent a couple of weeks with the app to find out.


Unless you’re a radio producer, the days of needing dedicated voice recorders are long behind us. Mobile phones and tablets have built-in microphones that are perfectly acceptable for private use in listening back on interviews, meetings, lectures, or random musings. And they even tend to do alright nowadays with music at concerts.

But to get good-quality audio, you still need to do some tweaking. And there are apps for that. I’ve searched high and low for the best advanced audio recording apps, all of which include powerful features that help you get the sound just right. If you only want to record quick voice memos, these will all be overkill, but for the professionals who need clear, crisp audio on a budget, they might be just the ticket.

Do you feel “Scroogled” and want to show it with a range of trendy-as-ever Microsoft-branded clothing? Or are you more of a quiet type who simply wants all their subscriptions to be tied together in a single app that bears an identical name to the iOS service that does a similar job? This week’s for you so let’s dive in and take a look at what’s been going on in Mountain View!


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