Here are our favourite Android apps of 2011

Say what you will about the “fragmented” ecosystem surrounding the Android OS, there has been a lot of progress made with the quality of apps as a whole. As the Google OS nears half a million total apps, there is a lot to be said for companies co-developing Android and iOS apps at the same time. Official apps like Twitter and Facebook have seen huge improvements to their core interfaces, bridging the quality gap from their iPhone counterparts, while first-rate games have launched simultaneously like Grand Theft Auto III and Where’s My Water?

It’s still very obvious that developers who build Android apps often have to weigh the pros and cons of having to support and patch for hundreds of handsets, running different screen sizes, processors, graphics drivers and versions of the operating system. And, if there is truth to the analytics, developers are making nearly four times the profit on iOS than Android.

Nonetheless, there seems to be no slowdown in the number of quality apps being released on the market, and here are a rundown of a few of our favourites. Note, not all of these debuted in 2011, but all of them received sizeable feature and performance updates throughout the year.

Since it was called Touiteur, our favourite Twitter app has been Plume (free/Premium $2.78). It incorporates an intuitive interface into an attractive package; it is fast and now supports real-time Twitter streaming. It allows for multiple accounts and all the features one could ask for save for one: push notifications. While the official Twitter for Android supports this longed-for inclusion, it does everything slightly worse than Plume, but since it’s free, it is worth giving it a try.

For RSS feeds, I use the official Google Reader application (free), though there are some excellent alternatives that offer a number of advanced features not seen in Reader. For a rundown, see our RSS Reader Roundup for Android. Out of all of them, I’d probably pay for gReader (free) Pro ($5.49) as it seems to be the only one still in development. Alternatively, go for Pulse News or Taptu, as they present your feeds in a gorgeous magazine-style layout.

Other social networking apps that I used a lot: Google+ keeps getting better, and is a great portal for those (few) who use the service. There is a great and growing community on there, though, and you can typically find lots to talk about on topics that may not be as accessible on a service like Twitter or Facebook. Also, Path. Version 2.0 is one of the most stunning and useable apps I downloaded this year, and it keeps getting used despite its narrow focus.

Task managers are plentiful on Android, but there are two that deserve special notice: Any.do (free) and Astrid. Both provide one-touch access to add and administrate your tasks, though Astrid is a bit more hands-on and in-depth. Any.do has one of the best interfaces on Android, and is proof that beautiful apps are possible on the platform.

For games, I find myself playing (too much of) Wind-up Knight (free), one of the best platformers to consume my time since the Mario World 3. Puzzlers like Where’s My Water and Apparatus were ported from iOS and did quite well, while  Flick Golf ($0.99) and Hyper Jump ($1.89) took up all of my twitch-gaming time. Oh, and World of Goo ($4.99) is one of the most addictive, intuitive and all-out fun games I’ve ever played on a mobile device.

What were your favourite apps or games of 2011? Which ones did you use most on your Android device? Let us know!