10 best Galaxy Note 2 apps: great apps for your new Note
17th May 2013 | 13:50
Make Samsung's S pen-powered monster all the more beast-like with these top apps
Samsung's Galaxy Note 2 is literally heaving with apps from the off, thanks to Samsung loading it up with its TouchWiz user interface, a whole separate collection of tools to make use of its S Pen stylus, and plenty of other third-party apps to help you hit the ground running and more than a little bewildered by the choice.
Then, once you've worked out what everything does, there's the small matter of around 700,000 other apps available on Google's Play Store, all designed to add further functionality to a phone that's already more functional than a Swiss Army Knife taped to the top of a universal remote control.
To help you sort your way through the amazing amounts of chaff available on Google's app shop, we've picked out ten of the best apps that compliment Samsung's whopping great telephone, making best use of its unprecedented, size, power, and versatility.
One of the most impressive Android apps out there and something of a modern tech miracle, AirDroid lets you remotely access your Note II or almost any Android phone from the comfort of a desktop web browser. There's a small amount of tedium involved in installing the phone app, registering an account and making sure you've applied the relevant permissions to make it all work, but one that's done you have access to a browser control panel of your phone system, from where you can download and upload stuff to your computer, send SMS messages and even control the phone's cameras and take shots from within the browser. It's properly impressive tech in action. And it's free.
2. Go Launcher EX
Samsung's TouchWiz user interface is very clever, stylish and responsive, and we mean no disrespect in suggesting this, but sometimes you just fancy a change. The beauty of Android means you can simply replace and change the entire Home screen and app management system as easily as you might download an app, with plenty of these replacement launchers available on Google Play to radically reboot your phone's appearance. One of the most popular is the Go Launcher series, which, once installed, lets you add additional plugins to boost its functionality, making is as slim and fast or as rammed with extras and widgets as you like. It's similar to getting a new phone, only without having to sign away the next 24 months of your life. And you can switch back to the original launcher in seconds if you hate the change.
Samsung's not exactly shy when it comes to providing ways to share and distribute photos via the Note II, but we can't help being charmed by newcomer Rando. It's a stylish and simple app, which does one thing -- shares "live" photos with strangers and sends you one back in return. There's no cheating by loading an image from your phone's memory, as the system demands you take a shot there and then, approve it, then upload it. Wait a few seconds or minutes and you get someone else's Rando back at you, giving you a weird glimpse into the life of a bored smartphone user somewhere else in the world. Which is oddly captivating, as you know they've also taken the shot just a few seconds ago.
You're going to have to take sides in the great Netflix/LoveFilm battle at some point. Netflix currently lets users stream an immense amount of film and TV content to mobile, with the Note II's power and immense display meaning you get to enjoy media on the equivalent of an 80-foot cinema screen if you hold the phone up right in front of your face. There's the £5.99 monthly subscription fee to stomach, but this payment open up access to its entire archive, making it a simpler proposition to understand than Amazon's weird, segmented LoveFilm charges, which always seem to want mo' money for some better content or to remove some arbitrary restriction.
5. Google Drive
Google arrived a little late to the cloud storage party, but is making up for it by trying very, very hard to ensure Google Drive becomes as ubiquitous and popular as its rival Dropbox. What's unique about Google Drive is the way you're able to integrate Google documents within the app, making it a simple way to fire up a word processor file, edit on your phone, then turn it off, safe in the knowledge Google's data elves will have saved a copy to the cloud that you can continue accessing from desktop at a later date. Plus it supports Google's clever group-editing features, so several people can work on the same file. Only they're at a desk and you're in the garden using your phone and therefore BEST at being a modern person.
6. VLC for Android Beta
The popular desktop media player's been tagged as a work-in-progress on Android for over a year now, with its keen coders gradually piecing together one of the best performing and most feature-packed mobile media players out there. It's ideal for Note II users who are looking for a way to play some of the more exotic movie files they may have downloaded over the years, also supporting network movie streams, separate subtitle files, letting you manually adjust the aspect ratio and much more. It's loads better and more robust than the self-effacing Google Play listing suggests.
7. Sky Go
If you have a Sky account, you'd be mad not to download the Sky Go app. It lets you access your TV packages on the go, bringing the joys of the Sky One daytime TV schedule to your office Wi-Fi connection. All the movies and sports channels are joined by up to 300 live TV feeds (depending on how many your Sky account lets you access), plus there's a selection of slightly old (but useful to have in an entertainment emergency) films to stream on-demand as well. You have to pay more to access the Sky Go Extra additional feature that lets you download and cache stuff to your phone for offline viewing, though, which sours the experience a little. Still, it's good for using your Note II as a spare TV when there's Big Important Sport on and it clashes with what's being watched elsewhere in the house.
8. Antivirus Security - FREE
We're not going to go down the road of suggesting Android's a piracy hell that enables clever Chinese hackers to access your phone and steal your bank account login details, as that's not really true in the slightest. However, if you're in the habit of downloading apps from sources other than the official Google Play store, it won't hurt to give apps a cursory scan before install -- as accessing apps from external sites is the weak point in Android's defences that can cause you trouble. Also, Android AVG includes a phone location and remote wiping service, which is genuinely useful for peace of mind, regardless of your thoughts on the much talked about Android malware situation.
A weird one, this. Seemingly aimed at the marital infidelity market, Snapchat lets users send each other messages within its locked-down system, with a time limit attached to each so they expire once the reader's read them. The idea being it's good for messages you don't want passed around the school, office, home, or local police station. As the app's listing suggests, though, it's not impervious to being beaten, as Android lets you take screen captures of what you're looking at, and the Galaxy Note II then lets you augment these and share them in a multitude of ways, so... it's still best to keep the sexy and secret stuff to handwritten letters you can later burn.
10. Real Racing 3
EA's "console quality" mobile race game stirred up quite a bit of controversy with its in-app purchases and ludicrous "grinding" approach to earning enough stuff to actually play the game, but... it's free. If you can live with some of the more miserable aspects of how big corporations are trying to monetise mobile games, you can at least see what the fuss is about when it comes to the look of the thing. It's extremely polished, akin to a top drawer PS2 game, great fun to play and looks dazzling on large screens. Just expect the fun to be regularly punctuated by pauses and requests to pay for nonsensical car upgrades.