Android powered smart devices, including smart phones and tablets, are currently outselling the other major smart operating systems by a huge margin. While published figures differ, some pundits allege that Android devices outsell Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows (smart device versions) by factors of between three or seven to one. According to Wikipedia, as of October 2012, Android powered smart phones had captured 75 percent of the market, with more than 500 million devices currently using Android. Approximately 1.3 million new Android devices are activated on an average day.
Android is an operating system currently developed and distributed by Google, but it is really a Linux based, open source operating system. Google operates the Google Play Store, the primary source of applications or “apps,” for Android, containing in excess of 700,000 Android apps. With so many apps available, many of them for free, the half-billion Android users may be unaware of which apps had been independently reviewed and rated such that they may better meet the Android users’ needs. For Android users looking for these independent ratings and reviews such that they can find the top rated apps, the popular Web site, Gizmo (techsupportalert.com), gladly obliges.
Gizmo, a pseudonym, is a real person who is the Webmaster of a massive collection of software reviews covering almost every major operating system, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and others. The ratings and reviews displayed for each software title are a summary of the scores given by members of a large community of thousands of international volunteers who often present diverse opinions.
For Android users, techsupportalert.com has several sections dedicated to Android apps. For those looking for the newest reviews and latest apps, Gizmo has a page “Android Apps: New and Updated Reviews” at techsupportalert.com/mobile-apps/android. On the right margin of that same webpage is a directory of hyperlinks for categories of Android apps, all with the prefix “Best Free” including Web Browser, Antivirus, File Manager, eBook Reader, Media Player, Music player and organizer, App Launcher, Image Editor, Image Viewer, and PDF Reader. Clicking on one of the listed “Best Free” hyperlinks directly opens detailed reviews and evaluations of the top-rated apps in each of the categories. These hyperlinks are a fast and effective way to locate many of the best apps available out of the hundreds of thousands listed at the Google Play Store.
For those interested in an even more comprehensive menu of rated Android Apps, Gizmo offers a master directory of Android apps at techsupportalert.com/best-free-android-apps.htm. Frequently updated, this menu currently has an even dozen headings including Home and Office apps, Multimedia, Disk and File Tools, Security and Privacy, Internet and e-mail, Phone and Messaging, Personal Development, Games, and several other headings.
As a sample, I clicked on the “Personal Development” link, which opened a page headed “11. Best Free Personal Development for Android.” The page displayed a brief review of the best (highest rated by the Gizmo community of reviewers) app in each category. One that I found listed as a “best,” which I promptly downloaded, was listed as “Best Free Astronomy Software for Android – Google Sky Map (2.2 MB).”
“Point your device at the night sky or browse the skies in manual mode from anywhere at anytime and it helps you identify the stars, planets, constellations and other celestial objects with labels. You can also zoom and search the objects with this absolutely fun and good educational app,” the description said.
Always being concerned with device security, I opened the category “7 Best Free Security and Privacy for Android,” which included sub-directories of Anti-malware, Apps Protection, Password Manager, Private Gallery (photo and media security), and a Device Tracker. While somewhat controversial, I choose to have comprehensive security devices on all of my Android (and other) devices. Of the free security suites available for Android, several of which are listed online at techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-antivirus-app-android.htm, my personal choice is the community top-rated Avast! Mobile Security. Other highly rated free security apps include Zoner Antivirus Free (which has a dedicated tablet version), Sophos Security & Antivirus, Dr. Web Antivirus Lite, AVG Antivirus Free, Lookout Mobile Security, and Comodo Mobile Security & Antivirus Free.
Of the free Android security apps, I agree with Gizmo that Avast! Mobile Security is very good, and worthy of its top community rating, 9 out of 10 stars. According to the rating and evaluation community at Gizmo, “avast! Mobile Security has established itself as one of the most complete security apps for Android by trying to cover every possible security concern we users may have and is officially designated as the Top Pick for this category.”
There are many true believers, including some of the Android developers at Google, who claim that comprehensive security on an Android device may be unnecessary and ineffective because apps run in a sandbox, or isolated system area that cannot access other system resources, unless access is explicitly approved by the user. These permissions are typically displayed on the Google Play Store listing for the apps prior to their download and installation. Several of the security publishers disagree, alleging that there are some very real threats to Android devices. As posted on Wikipedia, TrendMicro claims that “premium service abuse” is the most common type of Android malware; this occurs when spammed SMS (text messages) are sent from infected phones to “premium rate” telephone numbers, incurring a monetary charge without the knowledge or consent of the user. Other common Android malware contributes to identity theft by illicitly sending personal information to third parties, or displaying unwanted advertising on the Android device. While the security app publishers have claimed that security threats directed at Android devices have grown exponentially, “Google engineers have argued that the malware and virus threat on Android is being exaggerated by security companies for commercial reasons, and have accused the security industry of playing on fears to sell virus protection software to users.” (Source: Wikipedia).
With thousands of Android apps reviewed and rated by the Gizmo community in the mobile app section at techsupportalert.com, good information is easily accessible that may allow Android users to locate and download the best apps for their devices. Users of other devices, including Apple’s iOS and Mac, Microsoft’s Windows (all Windows devices), and Linux will also certainly find current information on the best free software for their devices on Gizmo’s techsupportalert.com.
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