One of the many things I like about Android is the vastness of its app ecosystem. If you want something specific to work on your phone, you can be sure there are dozens of apps to match your needs. While this is a good thing, it can also be problematic. Not all apps are created equal in the Android universe, and chances are some of them are sub-standard, outdated or even hold security threats for your data. Thankfully, there are apps made to actually help you look for more apps.
A major online presence for books and other products, Amazon has now embraced the mobile industry and started offering Android apps for sale. Their credibility in retail is solid, so you’re sure you’re getting only the best, high quality apps. Amazon mostly features paid apps – but they do release one free app every day. A unique feature not found in other apps is a Save For Later button, which saves apps for viewing at a later time.
The Amazon App Store is only available in the USA, U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
AppAware is an app discovery tool sporting the Holo theme. What sets it apart from others is its social networking feature. You can add friends, view app comments from other users, or recommend apps yourself. You can also customize what app category is shown on the main screen, with the ability to delete default categories. There’s also a handy Recommend button for sharing an app you like.
I used to go to the AndroidZoom website to get a full list of newly loaded apps. Now with the mobile app, browsing for new apps is even easier on the go. Short and helpful reviews are shown for each app, with a list of pros and cons.
One! recommends alternatives to apps that are already installed on your phone or tablet. This is great if you’re not really looking for a particular app but would like to view apps similar to what you are using. This is best for people who don’t have time, or simply don’t want to browse through a long list of apps.
Playboard is dubbed as Flipboard for app discovery because of its similar UI. While most apps featured can be found anywhere else, Playboard’s appeal is its attractive and user-friendly interface. A notable filter allows you to search by country, which comes in handy for apps made for your location.
Mobango is one of the few apps that allow direct downloading from the web instead of redirecting to the Play Store. The rich UI makes information accessible in one view, with flipping animations for screenshots. Mobango has a social sharing feature, and you can also sign up to store media files (music and videos) and share it with other Mobango users.
This is a more thorough version of One! Best Recommendations that we mentioned above. In addition to the same comparative app suggestions, it has a lot of categories to browse through. For each app window, there are tabs for Pros and Cons and another one for related apps. There’s also an option to share the app or store it in your wish list.
Facebook App Center
The Facebook App Center is not a separate app, but is accessible within the Facebook mobile app itself. Tap on the profile sidebar and you should find the link for App Center. This is a combination of apps available to use only in Facebook and apps that can be downloaded from the Play Store. Facebook apps usually have the button “Use”, while Android apps have the button “Play”, which takes you to the Play Store download page.
AppBrain’s best feature is the ability to install apps using the Fast Web Installer. This enables direct download and installation straight from the source. AppBrain also has the most flexible search filters I have seen since I started using the Android platform. It’s easily my go-to app for quickly browsing new apps in a certain category.
1Mobile has the same UI as Google Play, but with a more organized selection of apps. It has categories not present in the Play Store, such as Tower Defense under Games and Mobile Dictionary under Apps. Customized app lists also appear on the bottom of an app preview screen such as Blog As You Go – Apps for Bloggers and Sleep Well, Sleep Long – Apps for Sleeping. All apps featured are free.
Although there are many great alternatives to the Play Store, there is no match for the authority of Google’s official market. New app releases, major app updates and notifications are usually first seen in the Play Store – so don’t think it’s completely replaceable by any of the apps mentioned above.
Nevertheless, with Android’s ample supply of excellent apps, these tools come in handy for a more customised, flexible app searching experience. There’s no single solution that has all features covered, so hopefully this roundup helps you decide which apps you think better fit your needs. For a gorgeous UI, I recommend Playboard. For functionality, AppBrain and Best App Market are sure to satisfy even the most specific app search. With such choices, app discovery shouldn’t be a chore, but a task worthy of the effort.