10 free Android apps for staying in the know

Owning an Android smartphone means never having to say 'I don't know'

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Congress Android app
Know your government better with the Congress app. Click to view larger image.


Sunlight Labs' open-source Congress app can help you keep on top of all the things national legislators do, big and small, that affect your life and business. Congress defaults to your current location, giving you a directory of the state's U.S. senators and representatives; you can also search for legislators by state, ZIP code or last name.

Click on a legislator's name to see a profile with a photo, positions held, bills sponsored, committees served on and links to call her office or visit her Web site. You'll also find Twitter updates, YouTube videos and recent news about the congressperson from papers around the country. Click on a committee name to see all the other members of that committee.

The app also shows the latest bills introduced in Congress (some important and some just weird), laws passed and, when the information is available, how various members of Congress voted. Click on any bill to find out its sponsors, history and any votes.

Newspapers Android app
Read the world's news from dozens of sources with Newspapers. Click to view larger image.


While just about every big newspaper has a smartphone application these days, Dale Jefferson's Newspapers app gives you access to a broad swath of them in a single app. With news from dozens of papers from across the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and France, there's no reason to ever feel uninformed about current events.

Of course major papers such as The New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Guardian and Le Monde are represented (as well as online news sources like CNN and the BBC), but even regional papers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Arkansas Democrat Gazette and Fresno Bee, are listed. Some papers have additional features; The Wall Street Journal, for example, includes a stock symbol search.

The Newspapers app taps into the publications' mobile sites -- each one carries its paper's unique branding, layout, types of news and so on. There is no search -- the stories simply go back as far as each paper's mobile page goes. For just under $2 (specifically, $1.70), you can upgrade Newspapers to allow you to save favorites, if that seems important.

Geodelic Android app
Let Geodelic be your guide to the places most likely to interest you. Click to view larger image.


Where can you get the best Italian, Chinese or Indian food nearby? How can you find a top-notch tailor, plumber or dentist? What hotel is worth staying at when you're traveling for a meeting? Fire up Geodelic and have a look.

Geodelic is a location-sensitive search tool that finds the closest restaurants, hotels, movies, banks, gas stations and more based on your phone's GPS coordinates. You can view your results on a map or in a list, or in a fun "carousel" of points of interest (shown here), then call or get directions to each recommended spot right from its listing.

What sets Geodelic apart from other local search apps is its ability to "learn" based on your previous searches and give you customized updates. For instance, if you search for music-related terms a lot, Geodelic will prioritize record stores in your carousel. It will also give you updates on upcoming concerts and events based on your history. Geodelic's ability to guess what kinds of places will most interest you makes it especially useful when you set foot in a new city or an unfamiliar section of your hometown.

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