Need some awesome free Android apps? Apple’s iPhone may have the kudos, but Google’s Android phones are no longer playing catch-up. In the all-important market for apps, 2011 was the year that Android-powered smart-phones hit number one, in terms of app downloads.

And the great news for Android smart-phone users is that, for a big fat wedge of this year’s outstanding apps, you don’t need to reach for your wallet. They’re free. So lets run down some of best apps to be had on Android – totally awesome and totally free.

Awesome Free Android Apps

android1. Google Translate – No surprise that a Google app starts off the Android app list – especially an app that is amazing as Google Translate. Not only does this app translate written text to-and-from any number of languages, it can also speak the translated phrase for you.

It can even translate someone else’s spoken phrases, and turn them into something vaguely intelligible to you. Great for anyone traveling outside of their language comfort zone. And great as an ice-breaker when you’re in company in another country – the translations are not always perfect, but that adds to the potential for humorous unintended consequences.

2. Where’s my Droid? – Phones may be extra smart these days, but us humble users can be pretty dumb at times. And topping the list of not-so-clever human-phone interactions is the misplaced phone – which, naturally enough, you will have left on ‘silent’. But you can save yourself a lot of cushion-lifting frustration, trying to track down that errant phone, with this helpful little app.

Just send a text to your phone’s number, with the phrase ‘Where’s my droid’. Immediately the app triggers your phone into a noisy attention-grabbing response. Even better, with GPS enabled, the app can tell you where your phone is. Shame it can’t do the same fore car keys.

3. Sleep Talk Recorder – Love this one. There are some slices of our lives for which we have to rely on hearsay for – what we get up to whilst fast asleep being one of them. Now with this neat little app, Sleep Talk Recorder, you can find out whether you really do you snore; or, more importantly, whether you can actually talk Klingon in your sleep.

The app is simple to setup, and relies on clever noise-filtering technology to start recording only when you’re sleep-talking. You end up with a nicely-edited and revealing insight into your night’s utterings and splutterings. Great for sleep-talkers, but it may just be defeated by sleep-walkers..

4. Shazam – This is an app to end those endless bar-room debates, over who is playing what song on the radio. Shazam is another acoustically-tuned app, but this one picks up snatches of songs, rather than sleep-talk. It takes those acoustic slices, and compares them to the stored-signature sounds found online.

Once it’s zeroed-in on the song in question, Shazam tells you the artist, song title, and even shows the album art. Shazam works best on better known radio-edit plays, rather than obscurities – and keep the banter down; a faintly-heard song over a lot of bar-room chatter is likely to draw a blank.

5. Google Skymap – Another one from the boys’n’gals at Google, but this is a gorgeous crystallization of all the potential lurking in your Android smart-phone. Take one smart-phone, add Google Skymap, and then point at the night-time sky. Suddenly all of those anonymous points of light, usually swamped-out by street lamps and flashing plane-lights, spring to life.

This app shows you which of them are planets, which are stars, what their names are; it even connects the dots for all those fancy constellations. With this app, you really will never look at the night-sky in quite the same way again.

6. Pandora Radio for Android – Radio stations may be two-a-penny on smart-phones, but Pandora’s offering is a distinctive and accomplished blend of radio station and personal play-list – as well as being no-penny-at-all.

You simply throw Pandora the name of an group or singer that you like, and it builds a radio station play-list around that, and similar, artists. It also provide a pretty mash-up of album and group art, backgrounders on the artists and a rating system. This is 21st century radio on-the-move, as it was meant to be.

7. Dropbox – With even the average Joe Sixpack juggling – in the course of one day – smart-phones, tablet PCs, laptop, and computers (at work and at home), keeping all of your info up-to-date is often a nightmare. Luckily, cloud-based apps like Dropbox have stepped in, to rescue us from a mish-mash of data confusion. Dropbox works so well because it seamlessly threads everything together.

Just drop those important files, pictures, contacts or music files into Dropbox, and they’re stored online and synchronized with all your other floating devices. You’ll never be lost for a file again.

8. Layar – In many ways, Layar is the app that, on Android phones, defines AR – augmented reality. AR takes the world around you and draws over it – on your smart-phone – with reams of useful information streamed down the internet. Layar includes, in its free version, such useful layers as special offers at restaurants, where the nearest ATM is, which houses are for sale – even who is twittering in your neighborhood.

There are now a huge number of customized layers that can be added to Layar, making your experience of reality potentially an ever-evolving one. Who’d have thought that reality would end up being super-sized like this?

9. Scoremobile – Finally, one for the sports fans. With this app tucked away on your Android smart-phone, you need never have to holler across the bar, for the TV sports channel to be turned up. Instead, you get all the latest results from your favorite sport – from NFL to NASCAR, baseball to golf – delivered straight to your handset.

Scoremobile let’s you set up a ‘stock-ticker’ style screen, which runs through the latest scores as they come in. Or you can tell the app to load up with scores from your selected sports/ teams at a certain scheduled time. There’s plenty of flexibility in this app, and you can even drill down into game and player stats. Obviously, for in-depth commentary or background you’ll need to turn elsewhere, but this free app is ideal for those who need their fix of sports news to hit hard, and fast.

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