One of the things that is so great about Android is the openness of the ecosystem. Even though only the Play Store is pre-loaded on Google certified Android smart phones and tablets the Play Store is known for being open to pretty much anything. Google doesn’t discriminate based on an app’s content nor does Google restrict the functionality of Android devices just so that they can squeeze a few more bucks out of us.
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But even the Play Store has standards. Some are obvious; Google is constantly removing applications from the Play Store that contain malware, but other’s are not as clear cut. As with any standard there are always going to be a few apps that are pretty great, but that Google doesn’t allow for whatever reason. Keep in mind that side-loading apps is always risky, and that although the links we provided below are clean as far as we can tell, you install apps outside the confines of the Play Store at your own risk. With that disclaimer out of the way, here we go.
7. TV Portal
Think of this app as Hulu for those of you who live in an area where Hulu is not supported. TV Portal has a wide range of Movies and TV Shows available to be streamed to your Android device. The app is free, but if you spend three bucks you can get rid of in-app advertisements forever. I think it’s safe to assume that Google banned this app because of copyright related issues.
What does Dood’s Music Streamer do? It streams music, dude. This isn’t some fancy music streamer, this is a music streamer that does one thing: stream music. I imagine if Ron Swonson streamed music, this is what he would use. It isn’t complex but it get’s the job done. You can also cache songs for offline playback, which is pretty cool. This app is totally free, so if Pandora or Grooveshark aren’t your thing, try this out.
TubeMate was available in the Play Store, once upon a time. As the Android Market matured Google started cracking down on any App that allowed users to download video directly from YouTube. I occasionally use TubeMate when I am flying and I want to grab some TED talks or something else to watch on the plane. (If SouthWest thinks I’m paying $8 to use the internet for two hours they are going to continue to be very disappointed) Be careful of imitators, especially ones on the Play Store. These generally will not work and pretty much all of them are laced with malware.
This has got to be one of the most controversial bans from the Play Store in recent memory. Grooveshark has been allowed into the Play Store and then removed multiple times for some reason. This is a good option for those of you outside the US. Grooveshark works pretty much everywhere and is one of my favorite music streaming apps. If you need an alternative to Pandora, look no further.
Amazon: the only company to successfully hijack Android and bend it to their will. The Amazon Appstore doesn’t necessarily offer any huge advantages over the Play Store. I install it partly because I can, but mostly because Amazon gives away a free paid app every day. I have gotten my hands on some great games that I wouldn’t normally have played. After you have been burnt paying for a game that turned out to be glitchy or boring you get pretty cautious when dishing out cash. On a related note Amazon also gives away free song’s on their music store every day as well. Don’t miss out.
It isn’t hard to figure out why Google banned this app from the Play Store. Ad-Away would be a huge threat to mobile advertising as an industry if it were ever to become popular. Ad-Away is fairly effective, it simply blocks advertisements from your Android device. Keep in mind that some apps may not work with Ad-Away installed, but it is fairly easy to white list those apps so that you can continue to use them. Personally, I would encourage people not to use Ad-Away because in-app advertisements support developers and if they go away we will have to pay up front for a lot more of the apps that are currently free. But it’s an open operating system, the choice is up to you.
This is probably the best SNES emulator available for any mobile device. Graphics and 3D rendering are cool and all, but some days you just need some Castlevania to kill time while you wait for your Hot Pockets to nuke into lava-like pouches of sadness. If you aren’t using Snex9x you are missing out. I’m guessing that this emulator would draw a lawsuit because these games are not public domain, but for whatever reason you won’t find this emulator on the Play Store. I know there are other emulators out there, but this is the only one I have ever used, so I couldn’t tell you much about them. The next time you need to jump on some turtles and save a princess, you know what to do.