Here’s a few app suggestions for your new Android smartphone

The holiday season is upon us, and while we hope you are all enjoying some downtime with family and friends, we suspect there may be some tech related questions heading your way. While not everyone will be getting an Android smartphone or tablet, it seems to reason that at least a few of our regular readers will be hit up with app related questions from new users. The Play Store is full of apps and we are sure you have your favorites, but we also thought some suggestions may be helpful.

Happy Holidays from Android Community

The holiday season is now in full swing. We hope that means spending some quality time with friends, family, and loved ones in general, but we suspect it also means many of our regular readers will spend some time helping that same group of people with their new gadgets. Or for that matter, their old gadgets that have been neglected over time.

Google 2013 holiday roundup: Santa tracking, voicemails and AutoAwesome

Google offered up a few holiday themed goodies this year, and what better day to round those up than Christmas Eve. The regular news is slow, you are likely getting ready to spend some time with loved ones, and well, some of these items may help to keep the younger ones amazed. Here we are looking at the AutoAwesome Snow and Year in Review video as well as the Santa Tracker app and getting a call from Santa.

Send a call from Santa with Santa Tracker from Google

You know what cane great about December? Kids who celebrate the holidays are unendingly concerned about Santa. Is he watching? Is the elf on the shelf really telling Santa what we do? If your kids ever start cracking wise and call your bluff, have Santa send them a voicemail.

Flurry claims 50 million Android and iOS device activations during Christmas week

Christmas Day and the week immediately following it are obviously always going to be big for new device activations, but today we're finding out that the final week in December might just have been the biggest on record for iOS and Android. That's according to analytics firm Flurry, which said today that iOS and Android device activations for Christmas week topped a whopping 50 million. Looks like a bunch of people picked up a shiny new tablet of smartphone in the final week of 2012.

Merry Christmas from Android Community!

We hope this morning you find yourself surrounded with friends and family, loads of gifts, and of course boxes with neat little ribbons and bows on top. It's Christmas! From all of us here at Android Community to all of our dearest loyal readers, Merry Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Hanukkah! And anything else you're celebrating this wonderful day.

A few apps to get you started with your new smartphone

Coming up with a top 5, or even a top 10 list of apps is sort of difficult these days. But not because it is hard to find 5 or 10 apps to recommend, but because there are so many worth recommending. That being the case, we decided to recommend some apps that will get the new smartphone user started. After all, it is the holiday season and we suspect more than a few people will be getting a new Android smartphone. So without any further adieu, here are the apps that I install first when getting a new device. These are also the apps that I almost always have installed. Lookout: This is a security and antivirus app and while I appreciate that it scans apps that I install, I primarily use Lookout for the find my phone feature -- you know, just in case it gets lost of stolen. With Lookout you can remotely track your device as well as remotely lock and wipe your device. This app just gives me some peace of mind. Evernote: What can I say here, Evernote serves as my digital brain. I could easily write thousands of words about my love of this service. Evernote is free to use, available on multiple platforms and allows me to easily capture text notes, image notes and audio notes. If you are often taking notes or needing to jot things down to remember, Evernote is a good solution, especially if you like the ability to also grab those notes from a regular computer. Runkeeper: A big part of my mobile use comes with this app. I am an avid runner and like using Runkeeper on my smartphone. Runkeeper is an easy to use app that has been more than reliable for me. And similar to Evernote, all of my runs are also stored online so I can access and view them from my smartphone as well as on the computer. I have been using Runkeeper for years, across multiple devices and have logged thousands of miles. In fact, I only have one complaint and that is so minor and specific to my use case, it is not even worth mentioning. Facebook, Falcon Pro for Twitter and Untappd: A big part of smartphone use these days is social and given that, how can we not mention Facebook and Twitter. For Facebook I always use the official app. For Twitter I like the official app, however I have been rocking Falcon Pro lately given it seems to have a bit more feature wise. One of the Falcon Pro features is being able to see image previews while browsing the timeline. And sure, I like and use Google+, but rounding out my top 3 social apps is Untappd, one that beer lovers will likely enjoy. Pixlr Express: In buying a smartphone, one of my must have features is a good camera. I take at least a few pictures each and every day and love to edit and share them. Filters, such as in Instagram and the Flickr app are nice, but I like to be able to dive a bit deeper with other tasks such as cropping. The Pixlr Express app is free, easy to use and with lots of features. Slacker, Audible, DoggCatcher: Aside from running, my most common use is audio listening. I almost always have headphones plugged in and am listening to something. In my case I use Slacker, the $9.99 per month pro account because it gives me mobile caching as well as on-demand listening. And while I hate to keep recommending paid services, Audible is fantastic. It helps keep me entertained while getting in some long runs and doing chores around the house. Finally, while Audible is great, I only get one book per month with them and I supplement that with podcast listening. For the podcast listening, I have used DoggCatcher for years. I love the app and given it has been so reliable for me over the years, I cannot recommend it enough. Netflix, Hulu Plus: Video is one set of apps that I always have installed, but often do not use. I am a Netflix and Hulu Plus subscriber and these are my go to apps. They also work nicely when on hour, or hour plus car rides as they can help keep the kids entertained in the back seat. We think most will know what both of these services offer, movie and television streaming. In fact, we think the only real limiting factor here is whether you want to spend $8 for one, or subscribe to both and end up paying $16 per month. Flipboard, Instapaper: Rounding out my must have apps is reading. Flipboard, what can you say -- it does what it should and it does it well. If you want to read news in a magazine like set-up, you cannot go wrong with Flipboard. Personally I use it on my Galaxy S III and my Nexus 7. And given I spend all day working on the web, I often find stories I want to read, but don't have time to read at that very moment. This is where Instapaper comes in, it generally serves as an end-of-day reading list. And as you may have noticed, one category of apps that were left off were games. I do play some Android games, but more often than not play on my Nexus 7. I more often than not have no games installed on my smartphone. But if I were, two that I have been playing lately include Pudding Monsters and Dead Trigger.

Getting into the Christmas spirit with your Android smartphone

Similar to what you would find for other holidays, searching the Google Play Store for Christmas will give countless results. That being the case, we here at Android Community spent some time digging through the listings and came up with a handful of Christmas related apps that should help keep you in the Christmas spirit. The app list includes some music, some sounds, wallpapers and live wallpapers and a naughty or nice scanner. Of course, there is the Santa Tracker app and also the Charlie Brown Christmas app, because really, can you get fully into the Christmas spirit without the Peanuts gang. Up first, the apps have that deal with sounds. We have Christmas Radio (free). This app offers more than 50 stations including North Pole Radio, which is said to be broadcasting directly from the North Pole. And in addition to being supported on smartphones, Christmas Radio is available for tablets and Google TV. Keeping with the sounds and we move over to ringtones. This app is called Christmas Ringtones. This is also a free app and thanks to recent update, now includes 10 additional sound clips. Next up, the scenery, which in this case comes in the form of wallpapers and live wallpapers. The regular wallpapers is the Christmas Wallpaper HD app and the live one is Christmas Tree Live Wallpaper. Both of these apps are available for free and feature just what you would expect -- wallpapers with Christmas trees as well as snow, lights and more. Moving past the audio and visual and we have two that should be fun for the kids, or maybe for the adults as well. We have the Elf Scanner - Naughty or Nice app which is $0.99 and A Charlie Brown Christmas which is priced at $1.99. The Elf Scanner app is as the name implies, it will allow you to scan your kids to see if they have been naughty or nice. The app has some nice looking graphics and in my limited time playing, seems to be really fun for the kids. As for the Charlie Brown Christmas app, what can we really say here as we suspect many will already be familiar. This app features dialog and soundtrack goodies from the original 1965 classic as well as the ability to decorate your own (virtual) Charlie Brown Christmas tree and more. Finally, what Christmas app roundup post would be complete without a way to track Santa. This one is the Google Santa Tracker app and it does just what you want -- it tracks Santa. This app is available for free and should help get those kids in bed at a respectable hour on Christmas Eve.

Google Santa Tracker app now available for Android

You can track Santa on the web using the handy Google Santa Tracker website, however we suspect some will be happy to learn that there is also an app available. The app is called Google Santa Tracker and can be found in the Google Play Store.
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