I don’t know if you’ve heard, but a bunch of these new sites called ‘social networks’ have been cropping up all over the place and they seem pretty popular. Social networks, of course, allow us to share some or all facets of our lives with our friends, our family, and the general public. While the vast majority of social networks are web-based, a lot of them come with accompanying Android apps. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular ones (as well as a few niche networks).
Facebook seems like a reasonable place to start, seeing as it is the biggest social network on the Internet, and by a long shot with over 900 Million active users. Facebook allows users to share just about anything from status updates to news stories to current locations, and the Android app extends that functionality.
With Facebook for Android, users can do just about anything they can do on the website, as well as post specific location-based info to the site. In its most recent update, the app added a separate Camera app, which lets you take a photo, then immediately tag and upload it.
Twitter is another widely popular social network that asks the question, “What are you doing?” With the ability to post messages of no more than 140 characters (by design), Twitter allows you to post pithy thoughts or updates on what you’re currently up to. Knowing how important mobile access was, Twitter early on allowed for posting via SMS and the mobile web.
The Android app allows you to post, view replies and DMs, and even get notifications for any or all updates. It also makes what they call “Discovery” very easy through search and trending topics.
LinkedIn has been deemed by many as a “Facebook for professionals”. LinkedIn allows you to upload your resume, listing education, experience, achievement, and much more. Others can also add recommendations as well as contact you for job opportunities.
The Android app will allow you to view profiles and your news feed, as well as sync your LinkedIn calendar with your device’s calendar.
Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1 or above Google Play Link:LinkedIn Developer:LinkedIn
Google+ is Google’s latest attempt at social networking, and it seems like this time they really got it right. Beyond features that Facebook already offers – like status, links, photos, and location – Google+ offers a few really cool extras – including Hangouts, which are real-time, multi-person video chats.
The Android app allows you to access all of the information on Google+, as well as Hangouts (which is awesome). It will also automatically upload the photos you take on your device to Google+ (without automatically sharing them) so that you have a nice backup.
The social network that is quite possibly making the biggest splash as of late is Instagram, the phone-only photo sharing social network. This completely free app that gained popularity on the iPhone before making waves on Android allows you to take photos, apply filters, and share them to your Instagram followers as well as with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. While still growing in popularity, it has created quite a nice community of people to share photos with.
Facebook recently aquired Instagram for $1 Billion. I recently gave my thoughts about what Facebook might have in store for it.
One could argue that it was Foursquare that popularized location-based sharing apps, as most of us probably shared our first location using this app. Foursquare allows you to “check-in” to places, using the GPS device on your phone to grab your current location. It also offers accolades in the form of badges for reaching certain achievements. If you check-in to a place more than anyone else, you are made “mayor” of that location.
Foursquare also offers some value-added functionality, partnering with businesses to offer discounts and deals to people who check-in to those establishments.
Path is a pretty neat social network that allows you to share information with your family and friends. Billed as a “smart journal,” you can record and share everything from statuses, photos, and locations, to when you wake up and go to sleep. It will even keep track of the number of hours you slept.
Path limits the number of friends and followers you’re allowed to have, but for those of us who like to share things with the wider world, Path also connects to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Tumblr.
Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1 or above Google Play Link:Path Developer:Path, Inc.
I couldn’t do a social networks round up in good conscience without talking about Myspace, which many people consider the first social network. What once allowed you to share notes, photos, and connect with people, all the while giving you the ability to customize layouts in a way that certainly would make a popular Tumblr today (“horriblemyspacelayouts.tumblr.com”) now allows you to do all of those those in a more focus manor. Myspace has grown now to become a promotion platform for musicians, both well-known and waiting to be discovered. The Android app extends Myspace’s functionality to the mobile realm.
While some might not call Spotify a social network, it certainly has all the makings of one. Primarily, it’s a cross-platform app for streaming music (and the one I would call the best at that). However, Spotify also allows you to share songs, albums, and playlists you create, as well as see what your friends are listening to. It has tight integration with Facebook, to the point where you can even listen to a song along with your friend at the click of a button.
The mobile app allows you view and share music, and stream it if you have a premium account.
Price: Free, requires Premium Account to stream music Requires: Android 1.5 or above Google Play Link:Spotify Developer:Spotify Ltd.
Goodreads is a social network that allows you to track and compare your reading list with friends and family. You can create lists of books you’ve read, plan to read, and are currently reading. You can even set up goals, rate and review books, and compare your taste with that of your friends.
The Android app allows you to browse your lists (which they call shelves), view profiles, and quickly update the progress you’re making.
Flixster was one of the first niche social networks I joined as a way to create a movies list (both what I’ve seen and what I want to see) and share reviews with friends. Since I joined all those years ago, Flixster has grown into quite a site, allowing you not only to rate and review movies and share with friends, but also watch “UltraViolet” digital copies of movies and connect with Netflix.
The Android app will even allow you to manage your Netflix queue and stream full length UltraViolet movies.
Pair might be stretching the definition of “social network” considering that each network can only contain two people: you and your significant other. This lets the two of you build a shared timeline of events that only you can see.
The mobile app has a few features built for couples, like real-time doodling, a shared to-do list, and “ThumbKiss”, which shows you where your partner is touching the screen so that you can touch the same area.
Price: Free Requires: Android 2.2 or above Google Play Link:Pair Developer:TenthBit Inc.
Rounding out our round up is what was once my favorite social networking site for photos, Flickr. Flickr allows you to upload and organize your own photos, browse other photos, and join groups and communities. For more space and higher resolution photos, you can upgrade to a pro account for $24/year.
The Android app will allow you to browse and upload photos right from your device.
Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1 or above Google Play Link:Flickr Developer:Yahoo! Inc.
It’s pretty commonplace for social networks to have some kind of mobile extension, whether it be with a native Android app, or a mobile optimized website, or both. I was surprised to see some very popular social networks, like Pinterest, without an Android app; I can only assume that one is in the works.
What’s your favorite social network, and does it have an Android app? Let us know in the comments!