The Android Market may not have as many apps as the iPhone App Store yet, but there are still more than enough to be overwhelmed, and it continues to grow at a breakneck pace. To help you sort through them all, here is my latest list of the 20 most useful Android apps (this is an update of my 2010 Android list). I've also recently updated my list of the most useful iPhone apps and you'll notice several of the same apps on both lists.
Remember that I primarily had business professionals in mind when making this list and also keep in mind that this is a snapshot in time. The Android platform is developing so quickly that I guarantee my home screen will look different a month from now.
Still, here's my list of tried-and-true Android apps that I can highly recommend.
1. Google VoiceGoogle Voice is a service that is so useful I consider it one of the top benefits of Android itself. The service gives you a phone number that can ring to multiple places or devices and it allows you to access all of your voicemail and text messages from the Web. The Android app integrates even deeper. It can make outgoing calls look like they're coming from your Google Voice number so that you can keep your real mobile number private.
3. DropboxDropbox is a great cloud service that automatically syncs a folder of files between multiple computers (Windows, Mac, or Linux). This app extends Dropbox to Android and interacts with other apps (such as Documents To Go) to open the files. It allows you to access PDFs, image files, and business documents by simply dragging them to a folder on your computer and then you immediately have access to them from your mobile phone, once you have this app installed.
4. EvernoteOnce you get used to typing on a virtual keyboard (and it honestly took me over a year to do it), then these devices are great for note-taking, and Evernote is a great note-taking app. It is similar to Dropbox in that it saves data locally but syncs it across all your machines and devices.
5. TaskosThere are plenty of to-do apps to choose from on Android but I now prefer Taskos because of the clean, easy, Android-friendly user experience. It also has a few extras that give it an advantage over apps. The biggest one is voice recognition, which lets you speak a task that the app turns into a to-do item (you might have to correct a word or two). QuickOffice.
8. Google DocsIf you mostly work with Google Docs (including uploading Microsoft Office files to your Google Docs repository) then the only app you'll really need is the Google Docs app. It's a nice mobile implementation of document management, although the one annoyance is that always open up files in a web browser rather than within the app itself, which would be a little smoother.
9. TripitI dig Tripit. It is by far the best app I've found for keeping track of all my travel itineraries. It runs on some great backend systems. You simply forward your confirmation emails for your flights, hotels, rental cars, and more to Tripit and it automatically organizes them into trips with all your details and confirmation numbers. Or, if you use Gmail, you can even use a plugin to automatically catch confirmation emails and turn them into Tripit trips.
10. PlacesThis is an awesome app for finding shops and services near your current location. From restaurants to medical facilities to taxis, this app is very accurate and takes advantage of the business information from Google Local. This app is better than the info you get from a GPS unit (or app) and better than any of the similar apps available on the iPhone. It's also integrated into Google Maps.
12. Speed TestI'm obsessed with running speed tests to check my bandwidth in various places, both to see 3G/4G fluctuations and to check the quality of Wi-Fi. There are a number of really good speed test apps, but my favorite is the Speedtest.net app. It's generally consistent and it has some of the best graphics and options.
13. Amazon KindleI've never completely warmed up to the Amazon Kindle e-reader, but I'm a big fan of the Kindle mobile app. Since it was released I've read a lot more books simply because my smartphone is always with me and I can pull it out and read a few pages anytime I've got a couple minutes free.
14. Google+I've written a lot about Google+ since it launched in July and I'm pretty active over there (+Jason Hiner). One of the great things that Google did was to release a Google+ Android app at the same time it launched the service as a beta. And, surprisingly, the app was actually pretty good and has been improved since. It immediately became one of my most used mobile apps and definitely stole some of my time away from Android's Twitter app, mostly because Google+ is a little more interactive.
15. TED AirThe TED conference features a meeting of the minds of some of society's most influential thinkers. You'll disagree with some of them since there's a large diversity of viewpoints, but many talks are worth listening to in order to catch the latest creative thinking on society's biggest challenges. The cool thing is that they've taken the videos from the conference and made them freely available on the Web. The TED Air app provides a great way to access the videos on a mobile device. I hope more conferences follow TED's lead on this.
16. Google GogglesThis is a fun app that is a little bit ahead of its time. It does visual searches. You can take pictures of things and then the app tries to tell you what they are. It's limited in its scope but it is pretty cool, and it's definitely a peek into the future. One of the coolest features is the ability to take pictures of text in a foreign language and let the app translate it for you. In a foreign country, this can help you read street signs and avoid going into the wrong bathroom. :-) On a more practical level, Goggles is a QR code reader.
18. AudibleAs much as I like the Kindle ebooks, I actually consume more books as audiobooks via Audible. With the Audible app you can connect to your Audible library and download over the air. The app also gives you a self-contained player optimized for audiobooks, with a skip-back-30-seconds button and the opportunity to make notes and bookmarks (although I wish the app would store these online so that they could be accessed from the Audible site).
19. ShazamIf you want to impress your friends with a mobile app, show them Shazam. Ever hear a song being played at a store or on the radio and ask yourself, "Oh, what song is that?" That's where Shazam comes in. Just hit the button and let it listen for 15 seconds, query its database, and then return the name of artist and the song. It has about an 80% success rate. This one isn't particularly productive, but it is really cool. (You have to live a little, every once in a while.)
20. Google FinanceThis is a great little app that regularly gets overlooked. It connects to your Google Finance account, where you can set up a list of stocks and companies to follow and sort them into groups (portfolios). The app provides three simple tabs -- a look at the market, a look at your portfolios, and the latest market news. It even does real-time updates when you have the app open.
Your picks?What are your picks for the most useful, valuable, and productive Android smartphone apps? Post them in the discussion below.
This was originally published on TechRepublic.