If you are one of many folks who have recently switched to an Android phone, you may be overwhelmed by the 30,000 apps available at the Android Marketplace. Not to worry. Armed with my new Droid X, a little research and some trial and error, I've come up with five apps that will get you off on the right track and provide some fun along the way.

Please note: The Android Marketplace offers a 24 hour return policy on most apps. If you are unhappy with a purchace, simply go to "My Downloads", select the app you wish to return and confirm. It's that simple.

Here are my Top 5 Starter Apps for new Android Users...

1. Lookout

Lookout-Android-AppsLookout is a powerful antivirus security app that scans every app downloaded, blocks viruses and malware and allows you to backup contacts, photos, and call history. Lookout even provides a means to locate your phone on a map and activate an alarm to find it.

Winner of the "Best Android App of 2010", Lookout is easy to use, runs quietly in the background, uses minimal battery power and is totally free.

Some folks are still getting used to the idea that virus protection is necessary for their smartphones, but it is, and with so many apps out there, you can never be too sure that what you are downloading is safe and "as advertised". Therefore, the highly-rated and powerful Lookout app is a great way to ensure that all downloads to your phone are properly screened prior to installation.

2. Advanced Task Killer

Advanced Task KillerAlso known as ATK, Advanced Task Killer is a great way to make sure your phone doesn't have a zillion apps running in the background, eating up your battery charge and slowing down your phone's performance.

ATK's interface is simple to use, and allows you to select which apps you want to "kill" (turn off), how aggressively you want the app to function and several other settings that allow for personalization and a perfect fit.

I really love ATK, and discovered just how important it was shortly after getting my Droid X. I didn't realize that each time I opened an application, it remained running even after I left it and went on to something else.

With Advanced Task Killer you will enjoy better performance and extended battery life. Oh, and it's free.

3. Seesmic

Seesmic-Android-AppsIf you enjoy Twitter or Google Buzz, then you will love Seesmic. It's an attractive, fast-loading social networking application that allows you to access your Twitter stream, read tweets, check on direct messages, reply, etc., and offers a number of customization options that make it a cozy way to interact with Twitter at your convenience.

Seesmic's screen layout is quickly and easily understood. The top line of clickable options include timeline, replies, messages and profile. The Twitter stream loads quickly including icons for all your followers, and responding to people, sending direct messages, retweeting, etc., is all made spacious and easy. Having used Ubertwitter on my old BlackBerry, I can say that Seemic is the touchscreen, next step in mobile social networking.

Some of the recent upgrades to Seesmic include:

1. Adding and extra large text size option
2. You can now change your Twitter account password in Seesmic
3. The composer now auto-corrects and auto-capitalizes words and sentences.

So for all you social butterflies out there, Seesmic is an excellent way to stay connected. And yes, Seesmic is free, too!

Now that we've covered security, performance and social networking, well, let's go with something just plain fun and intriguing.

4. Police Radio

PoliceRadioTurn your phone into a genuine scanner and stay informed on what's happening in your neighborhood, town, or city. Police Radio allows you to select your county, city, town, you name it! And you can load multiple locations and specify police, EMS, and fire. The sound quality is excellent and the channels load quickly. The interface is simple to use and within a minute of downloading this app you can be listening in on all the going's on in your area.

When I first downloaded Police Radio it didn't seem very responsive. Then I realized that because I live in a rural area there simply wasn't much going on. So I added New York City police and some others and presto! The Police Radio came crackling alive with all kinds of real time activity. This fun and useful app is definately worth checking out.

I recommend loading several locations initially, and then toggling between them. Try it out and see how much fun Police Radio can be.

Now I just wouldn't feel right if I did not include at least one game in my top five selections. Now, I could have picked a game that really shows off the Android platform's power, but I've selected a game that I've been playing and enjoying that is a bit old school, but a whole lot of fun.

5. Word Wrench

wordwrench-spelling-wordIf you love word games like Boggle, Scrabble and Jumble, you'll really love this game. Word Wrench challenges you to find four, five and six letter words. You begin each round with a six letter anagram, a timer and lots of hope. There are over 800 puzzles, no ads and once you get the hang of it you'll find Word Wrench to be extremely addictive. Oh, and if you want to advance to the next round, you better spell a six letter word or else you'll be stuck at your level for a while.

Word Wrench plays well on any Android phone. In addition to the challenging play there are a small number of customization options that allow you to change the colors, choose vibrate, etc. This is the kind of game that really helps pass the time when you are waiting for an appointment or just need to keep your mind crisp. A lite, free version of the game is available if you are unsure if you want to purchase the full game, but if you are a word lover you won't be disappointed!


Well, that wraps up my first list of cool and useful Android apps. I suspect we'll be doing much more on this topic in the future. Thanks for your time and have fun exploring these and all the other apps available at the Android Marketplace!