Top 5 Free Android Apps

Five apps that define the Android experience

With Google's recent announcement that it will finally open its Android Market virtual application storefront to premium downloads, it seems like the ideal juncture to look back at the first generation of free Android apps and assess which ones truly exemplified the promise inherent in the open mobile platform. The best Android applications offer an experience unique to the operating system, exploiting its core strengths--specifically, its open development environment and tight integration with Google services--to introduce services and tools that revolutionize how users interact with the people, places and things around them. Here are five free applications that define the Android experience as we presently know it, and set the stage for future innovations to follow.