Christmas has rolled around again, and of course so has a wave of wallpapers and themes in the Android Market. However there are also many other all-year-round applications which have great value at Christmas. In this roundup I have listed some of the best ways to keep your phone both festive and useful!
Fun With Friends
At Christmas we all want to be with our friends, especially by gathering at one person’s house and having a Christmas party. Here are some applications that can help you make the most of your shindig.
If you decide to go out rather than stay in, use Foodspotting to have a sneak-peek at the food the place you are going to serves up. The idea behind Foodspotting is that people take a picture of the meal they are served and upload it for other potential customers to look at. Have a flick through some pictures and decide where looks good to eat. Full Review:Foodspotting: I’ll Have What She’s Tagging Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1+ Market Link:Foodspotting Developer:Foodspotting
Why should you stick to beer, wine, or straight liquor shots? Raid the drinks cabinet and load up 8,500+ Drink Recipes. Put your cabinet’s contents into the application and watch it calculate the possible cocktails and mixes you can create. Alternatively look up one of your favourite or famous drinks, and see what you need to go out and get to make it. Price: Free Requires: Android 1.6+ Market Link:8,500+ Drink Recipes Developer:Webworks and Applications Inc.
Nothing is more impressive at a party or dinner than a well executed illusion or magic trick. Magic 101 has around a dozen classic and impressive tricks that can be done well with only a little practice. Price: Free Requires: Android 1.6+ Market Link:Magic 101 Developer:Angelo Oddo
If your friends want to go out and do something as part of a Christmas party, use Poynt to search places to eat, movies to watch, and entertainment to go see. Would definitely be handy if you are all undecided on what to do. Full Review:Have a Great Night Out With Poynt Price: Free Requires: Android 1.6 or above Market Link:Poynt Developer:Poynt Corporation
Why cook when you can order in? I have yet to find a person who can say no to a Domino’s pizza on a cold rainy winter’s evening. I’ve used this application many times and the delivery is always at the time specified. The best part is that you customize and build you own pizza layer by layer, and can create a whole list of pizzas to order so that everyone is satisfied. Place the order and just wait for a knock at the door. Simple, easy, quick, and delicious.
Of course there are many other online-ordering applications on the Market, I know Pizza Hut has one. If you fancy something from a take-away chain see if they have an app. Full Article:Order Your Next Pizza on Your Phone Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1+ Market Link:Domino’s Pizza Developer:Domino’s Pizza Group Ltd
Live Wallpapers and Themes
Get your phone looking festive with some of these lovely themes and wallpapers!
A peaceful snowy landscape would look lovely on anybody’s phone. Highly customisable and I recommend it. Price: £0.65/$1 Requires: Android 2.1 and above Market Link:Snowfall Live Wallpaper Developer:Kittehface Software
This is a great wallpaper, and a good buy to get you in the Christmas mood.
This is the best Live Wallpaper I found. Highly customisable, fast, and (most importantly) attractive. A lot of Live Wallpapers look cheap and tacky, but ChristmasHD is fantastic. You are offered several themes, and can select your own images for the photo-frames, customise the names on the stockings, and change the colours of just about everything. The calendar in the corner even counts down to Christmas Day. This is only for newer phones, however, since the graphical workload is fairly intense.
Price: £0.10/$0.16 (though this may rise again) Requires: Android 2.2 and above Market Link: Christmas HD Developer: Dualboot Games
My own wallpaper of choice this year. Highly detailed and always great to look at.
This wallpaper is simple but just as pleasing as others. An array of christmas bulbs marquee around the edge of your screen, lighting up in turn every second or so. A good alternative if you don’t want your phone to be drained by a wallpaper like Christmas HD. Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1 or above Market Link:Christmas Lights LiveWallpaper Developer:Applet Turnover
If you are a fan of GoSMS like me, then you can add a touch of festivity by adding on this free theme. Price: Free Requires: Android 1.6 or above Market Link:GOSMS Theme Christmas Developer:GO Dev Team
If you use Handcent SMS instead don’t worry. A lovely Santa-Red theme has been created by the Handcent team for you to enjoy. Just download and install this application and then select the theme from within Handcent. Price: Free Requires: Android 1.5 or above Market Link:Handcent Skin(Christmas)Red Developer:handcent_market
This is the best Christmas Theme I found for Go Launcher EX. There are some others, but this one had the best alignment of artwork with icons, calmer and unintrusive colours etc. A simple download and installation from within Go Launcher! Price: $1.99 Requires: Android 2.0 or above Market Link:Christmas Eve GO Launcher EX Developer:GO Launcher Dev Team
A wonderfully decorated home-screen theme. Couple it with a Live Wallpaper and you are fully kitted out.
The Acquisition Of Gifts
Perhaps it’s a bit late for this now… but at least you’ll know for next year!
One of the biggest problems at Christmas is presents, and remembering what to get for whom. Thankfully the sleek and simplistic interface of Any.Do offers the ideal method for keeping track of presents you are going to buy and have bought.
Just make a note for each person, go out shopping, and cross off each person one by one. Full Review:Any.DO Helps You Make Things Happen Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1+ Market Link:Any.Do Developer:Any.Do
A great way to get people gifts is to order them online, and eBay is a vast repository of treats. You can acquire pretty much anything you can think of for a better price than you would in the high street – though it probably makes sense to stick to ‘Buy It Now’ deals, since you can be outbid on auctions and you don’t want to wait several days for another auction to end so close to Christmas. Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1+ Market Link:eBay Developer:eBay Mobile
Catalogue shopping at its best. If you want to find a present quickly then this is the application for you. With an automatic store locator, stock checker, and the entire product catalogue in your phone, you can reserve items and pick them up later that day. Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1+ Market Link: Argos Developer:Argos Limited
As I’m sure you’ve heard on TV, they live electricals. Comet specialise in all manner of electronic gadgets, from mobile phones and sat-navs to TVs and home cinema systems. If you are giving someone a gadget this year, have a price-comparison spree with this application. Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1+ Market Link:Comet Developer:Comet PLC
Ever hear a song at Christmas which you could swear you know but can’t remember the title or artist? No worries, just run Soundhound, hold it near the music, and it will tell you who sang the song plus an encyclopaedic snippet about it. (And if you’re not fast enough, don’t worry – let’s be honest, if it’s a Christmas tune, you’ll hear it again soon enough…) Full Article:How to Identify Music With Your Phone Price: Free Requires: Android Varies with device Market Link:SoundHound Developer:SoundHound Inc.
Christmas time is always family time, but many families are separated by great distance and are unable to see each other. Take advantage of your front-facing camera, and say hello to the people who are missing you. Price: Free Requires: Android 2.3 and above Market Link:Skype Developer:Skype
Along with Talking Tom and his friends, you now have Talking Santa. Talk to him and he will try to repeat what you say in his deep voice. I found it far more fun to move my finger across his face to slap him, and watch him get annoyed and stamp on presents, to be honest. You can always make things up with him by bringing a sleigh of cookies and milk. Price: Free Requires: Android 2.1 and above Market Link:Talking Santa Free Developer:Outfit 7
This great story has been adapted into an eBook with illustrations by Oceanhouse Media. If you have any kids who enjoying using your phone or tablet, let them use it to enjoy this story. It also has narration of the story, and illustration interaction. So some items in the illustrations can be touched and their names spoken aloud.
A game everybody loves to play at Christmas. If your household hasn’t got the physical version, try this digital one instead. It is available on most phones and tablets, and supporting multiplayer means that you can play with your friends, or a random opponent across the globe. Price: £1.85 Requires: Android 2.0 and above Market Link:Jenga Developer:NaturalMotionGamesLtd
Many ‘apps’ on the Android Market offer you some ringtones for Christmas, but I always find these to be cheap-sounding near-polyphonic attempts. Never anything near as good as the real songs. Thankfully if you follow this tutorial on using Ringdroid you can easily create your own high quality ringtone for Christmas.
Try it some with of these classics. They have a good melodies which would loop well into ringtones. Look for a festive tune you enjoy on Amazon MP3. They are only $0.99 a piece, the price of a cheap app. Here are a few with sections that I feel work particularly well as ringtones: