Google's Android operating system is now the hottest flavor in the smartphone market, gaining enough pace to surpass previous darling Apple's iOS, according to several research firms.
Canalys, for example, revealed in August that as the worldwide shipment for smartphones grew 64 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2010, handsets powered by Android OS saw a jump of 886 percent in unit shipments.
An earlier ZDNet Asia report highlighted that not having access to paid Android apps
in Asia-Pacific was turning developers in the region away from developing for the platform.
The Android Market allows developers and users only in some countries to create and buy paid apps, respectively, the report stated.
Currently, the Web site states that Japan is the only Asian market in which app developers can sell their wares, while users in Japan, Australia and New Zealand are the only ones who can download paid apps.
One Singapore-based mobile app developer, Lim Thean Chye, said in the report that because of this issue, he is unwilling to undertake further projects for the Android platform.
Mindful of the increasing Android momentum, particularly in the enterprise space, ZDNet Asia trawled the Web to find out what enterprise apps users cannot do without and also spoke to our resident tech blogger, Mister Tech (aka Lee Lup Yuen), for his recommended Android apps.
However, as paid apps are available only to users in three Asia-Pacific countries, the search for useful enterprise apps on the platform proved a tedious exercise. As such, we've included a couple of paid apps in this selection of five:
• Touchdown (Free; full features at US$19.99)
Touchdown is a push e-mail client for Microsoft Exchange Server accounts, and the software helps synchronize users' Exchange e-mails, calendar and contacts, noted Lee.
Jack Wallen from ZDNet Asia's sister site TechRepublic also favored the app, stating in an earlier article that it is "one of the best means" to get connected to Exchange on the Android phone. "Its Exchange connectivity is outstanding and the support from the developers is just as great," he added.
The app is available for free and allows users to test out the full features for five days upon download. However, for those who wish to have access to all the features permanently and are living in countries that support the downloading of paid Android apps (see box), they will have to fork out US$19.99.
• Barcode Scanner (Free)
TechRepublic's editor-in-chief Jason Hiner placed this app in his Top 25 "best of the best" Android apps list, saying in his report that it turns the Android camera into a barcode scanner.
"You'll be amazed at how fast it works," he pointed out. "This is great for when you're shopping retail and want to check the price of a product online before buying to make sure you're paying a fair price."
Wallen also said the app helps eliminate the need to search via Google and "sift through pages for [the products'] reviews and prices".
• Dropbox (Free)
This is another favorite of Lee, who identified the software as one of his essentials on another platform--Apple's iPad slate--in an earlier article.
He told ZDNet Asia that Dropbox, a cloud storage service, allows him to transfer files wirelessly from his PC and Mac devices to his Android smartphone, which makes the installation of Android applications easier.
• My Backup Pro (US$4.99, only available in some Asia-Pacific countries)
TechRepublic's Wallen described this app as "one of those apps you hope you never need, but when you do, you will be very glad you have it".
The app allows users to back up their data, such as applications, user contacts, call logs and phone settings, among others, into an SD card or online, he noted.
For users who do not want the hassle of manually backing up their information, they can utilize the app's scheduled backup feature, which will help store their phones' data on a regular basis, Wallen stated. Unfortunately, this is only available for people who have access to paid apps.
• Advanced Task Killer (US$4.99, only available in some Asia-Pacific countries)
Both Wallen and Hiner also mentioned the Advanced Task Killer (ATK) app as a great management tool to have, particularly when apps run hidden in the background and sap the handset of the handset's much-needed battery power.
"I have noticed on occasion a rare app hanging out in the background unnecessarily," Wallen said. "This can lead to a much lower battery life and slower app loading or usage. Advanced Task Killer allows you to kill an application with a single click."
Echoing Wallen's view, Hiner pointed out that the app comes with a widget that can be tapped once to kill all open apps, making ATK his "favorite" app management tool.