Six months ago we pointed out the best Android apps to boost your mobile productivity, but since then more free applications have appeared in the Market that offer useful features you don't want to miss.
Let's take a look at a few notable free apps that make getting things done with your Android handset easier and more fun. All of these are available in the Android Market on your phone; the apps that have dedicated web sites are linked below.
Gmote: Turn Android into a remote control for your computer and its music and movies with Gmote. Perfect for controlling your media centre PC under the television from the couch, Gmote can browse what media files you want to play and offers regular play, pause, rewind, and volume controls (as shown). Alternately, you can go into Gmote's touchpad mode and drive the mouse on your computer screen with your phone, launching and switching applications. Gmote requires that you install server software on your computer as well as the Android app to work.
Sticky: Android doesn't come with a built in notes application, but Sticky will give you coloured digital Post-Its you can hide or show, drag and drop around your Android home screen.
Nightwatch: If you charge your phone on your nightstand while you sleep, you want Nightwatch. Nightwatch converts Android into a fullscreen clock automatically when you plug it in to charge.
Hungry!: Simplify your visits to the supermarket with Hungry!, a grocery shopping application. Enter the list of items you need to pick up at the grocery store, and check them off as you buy them with Hungry!. You can email your shopping list to your spouse with Hungry!, and see your purchase history and top most-bought items, as well.
Shake Awake: One of Android's annoyances (that will hopefully be fixed in future releases) is lack of easy access to the keypad when you're on a call. Right now, when you're on a call, Android slips into sleep mode, which means you have to mess with the wake button to punch in numbers on the keypad (like a teleconference PIN or to use any number-driven menu system). Shake Awake is here to fix that annoyance: While you're on a call, a quick movement of the handset wakes up Android for easy keypad access.
Useful Switchers: Easily toggle and configure Android's settings with Useful Switchers, an all-in-one settings panel. Set your ringer behaviour (sound and/or vibration), toggle your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, aeroplane Mode, and GPS on and off, set your screen brightness and timeout, and even launch a handy flashlight (bright white screen) all from one pane in Useful Switchers.
Contacts Clean-up: If you're the type who likes all of the notes in your wallet smoothed out, all facing the same way, and sorted by denomination, then you probably want all your contacts' phone numbers to be in the same format, too. Contacts Clean-up does just that: you enter the phone number format you like best (with or without dashes, dots, country codes, etc), and Contacts Clean-up will sweep through your contacts list and reformat them all in one shot.
ActionComplete: Practitioners of David Allen's Getting Things Done productivity system should check out ActionComplete, and GTD manager for Android. Set up your projects, next actions, wait list, and pending lists in ActionComplete, and associate people, places, and tags with each. ActionComplete will notify you when something is due—or if you've got location-awareness on, if you're in the place you've got something to do. (I haven't tested the location awareness/places feature thoroughly myself, but head into the app's preferences to turn on location awareness.) ActionComplete's web site says a web-based version of the app is "coming soon" as well.
No Signal Alert: When you walk into any dead zone where your phone's got zero bars of reception, No Signal Alert lets you know. Especially useful for when you're expecting that important call that just isn't coming (because it can't!), No Signal Alert offers audio, vibration, and status bar alerts when you've got no bars.
Free Dictionary Org: Ok, it's not the fanciest dictionary we've ever used, but it's free and it works like you'd expect: you enter a word to look up (and it suggests words as you tap), and Free Dictionary Org displays a definition fetched from the web (so it doesn't work offline).
Weather Channel: While it's not the prettiest weather application you'll ever see, the Weather Channel app is serious about giving you the current conditions, hourly, 36-hour, and 10-day forecast. Set up multiple places in this app for easy crowing about how perfect it is while your relatives are getting rained on.
Locale: Make sure your ringer switches to vibrate during that weekly meeting, but goes on full blast at home with Locale, a location-aware settings manager for Android. Based on conditions like battery power, location, date, or time, Locale can change Android's settings automatically for you.
What are your favourite useful and free Android apps? Let us know in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's founding editor, loves a good free Android app. Her Smarterware feature appears every week on Lifehacker.