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The Android apps of 2012 worth paying for: A favorites list

These 20 Android apps that debuted in this past year, made our favorites list for 2012.

Favorite paid apps

Our favorite collection of paid apps for Android phones and tablets this year includes new apps and games launched in the past 12 months, as well apps that received significant updates.

There are also a few all-time must-haves, including handy utilities and some great advanced features apps for alarm clocks, music players, launchers and cameras.

Perfectly Clear $1.99

Even on high-end Android phones, camera photos can some times look dull and faded. Perfectly Clear uses a patented photo correction method that enhances your photos.

You choose the type of correction you want to use on the photo, preview it, and then apply the filter. There’s also an in-app purchase of $0.99 available for a portrait correction pack, with skin tone smoothing, eye enhancing, and teeth whitening filters.

View in Google Play

N.O.V.A. 3 $6.99

N.O.V.A. 3 is the closest thing to the Halo game franchise you will get on your Android phone. The graphics are among the best on the platform, and you can fight enemies on your own or connect to up 12 players in multiplayer mode over the Web.

The controls, however, can be a bit tricky to master considering the large amount of commands you have available.

View in Google Play

Smart Tools $2.50

Smart Tools is the Swiss Army Knife of Android apps. In one app you get a flashlight, compass, light meter, sound level meter, vibrometer, magnifier and 10 other tools you probably didn’t know you could use your smartphone for, such as measuring angles.

View in Google Play

Word Lens $1.99

Word Lens is an app that makes use of augmented reality in a really practical way. You point your camera at what you want to translate, such as words printed on street signs, walls, posters, magazines, and they get instantly translated on screen.

There’s a demo version to try, while the paid version lets you choose from one of three languages (Spanish, French, Italian). You can also look-up translations by typing them in or taping on a word, which some times can be more reliable than translation results from the camera.

View in Google Play

Alarm Clock Ultra $3

If you are guilty of hitting the snooze button too many times, Alarm Clock Ultra has an ingenious way to keep you honest. To turn off the alarm you need to wake up to solve puzzles.

It comes with three difficulty levels and the app also has a series of background sounds to help you sleep better, such as white noise and nature sounds. Free trial version available.

View in Google Play

Poweramp $2.49

Poweramp replaces the built-in music player on your Android phone, and as the name implies, it adds a bunch of new features.

You can play with the 10-band equalizer, use crossfading between songs, set playlists for gapless playback with no breaks between songs but no crossfading either.

In terms of customizations, you can also change the app background. If you’re not sure you would use all these features, start with the free trial app.

View in Google Play

Paper Camera $1.99

Go beyond Instagram and try some novel filters for your photos. Paper Camera gives a new touch to your photos with 12 different original effects, to make your photos looks like cartoons, sketches or coming books.

The results can be rather wonderful.

View in Google Play

SwiftKey $1.99

SwiftKey is your Android keyboard on steroids. The keyboard looks through your tweets, Gmail, Facebook posts and SMS messages to learn the words you use most often, so when you type new messages, it can suggest them at the top of the keyboard.

It’s also great for multilingual users, with 20 languages supported (up to three at once enabled), and you can customize the keyboard layout with foreign characters and change the color theme.

View in Google Play

mSecure Password Manager $9.99

It might seem a bit pricey, but mSecure’s Password Manager will prove its worth in time.

The app stores encrypted website logins, bank account and cards details, and even if you lose your phone, the app syncs them via Dropbox or Wi-Fi so you can recover them for your new device.

You can also generate secure passwords for each of your accounts, all controlled by a master password.

View in Google Play

Organ Trail: Director's Cut $2.99

Organ Trail is a retro zombie survival game from a small Chicago independent team funded via Kickstarter.

The aim of the game is to travel from one end to the other of a zombie-infested USA, along with four friends (whom you get to name at the start) in a rusty station wagon, scavenging for food, fuel and killing zombies.

Team members might die of diseases during the game or you might have to put them down yourself when they get bit by zombies too.

View in Google Play

ZombieSmash $0.99

If you want to test your zombie survival skills in a modern game type, then ZombieSmash is your choice, with a comedic twist to it. You will play the character of Joey, a lone survivor, fighting herds of zombies.

For a gory splatter, you can also try the endless siege mode, where you are confronted with a never-ending zombie onslaught.

View in Google Play

Scramble With Friends $0.99

If you like Words With Friends, you’ll enjoy Scramble With Friends, where you have to make up the biggest words by touching together letters from a four by four grid.

You can play with your friends or strangers online, and each round has two minutes. Letters have different point totals and you get more points the longer the word is. There’s a free ad-supported version available too.

View in Google Play

Camera Zoom FX $1.49 (on sale)

Camera Zoom FX is multifunctional app that is worthy of replacing your built-in camera app with some great features.

This includes tweaking autofocus and white balance, setting the ISO speed and focus metering, and up to 10 shots per second in burst mode.

There are also a lot of post-processing options built-in, with dozens of filters and color effects, textures and cropping options.

View in Google Play

HD Widgets $1.99

Widgets are the core of the Android home screen and this app takes them to the next level. HD Widgets has over 85 widgets for Android phones and tablets to choose from, with various sizes for clocks, dates, weather, utility switches and more.

If the built-in widgets are not enough, you can customize your own within the app to suit your taste for color, size and functionality.

View in Google Play

Grand Theft Auto 3 $4.99

The acclaimed classic console game brings the addictive game style to Android phones and tablets. The graphics are very sharp considering the console game came out more than 10 years ago.

While the game is a copy of the console version, the controls are adapted to touch screens, so they might take some getting used to at first.

View in Google Play

Nova Launcher Prime $4

Nova adds a touch of sparkle to the stock Android launcher. You can change how many home screens you have, the number of icons in the dock, or other details such as the folder background shape and screen transitions.

The Prime version also allows you to use gestures on the screen like swiping and pinching to bring up the app drawer and various other actions.

View in Google Play

Motiongraph $0.99

Motiongraph is an app from Sony that lets you create cinemagraphs, seemingly still images with movement in only one specific area.

The app records a few seconds of action, such as pouring water in a glass or flickering Christmas lights. You then highlight the area you want to animate and the app freezes the rest of the video portions to create the special effect.

The resulting GIF files are usually good, as Motiongraph has built-in image stabilization and allows controls of focus, exposure and white balance too.

View in Google Play

Exchange by TouchDown $19.99

If you’re looking for a solid Exchange client for your work email, this app is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Outlook on Android.

There are a few missing features though, such as a spell check, and it can be a bit of a drain on battery if you receive large amounts of email regularly.

You’ll need to download the free trial version for your phone or tablet and then download the separate key.

View in Google Play

Asphalt 7: Heat $0.99

The latest installment in the Asphalt series is a must-have for racing games fans. You get to drive 60 luxury cars on 15 tracks set in real cities around the world, against the computer or up to five friends online or locally.

There are 150 races to go though before you can finish this game. The graphics are great, but the game can be a bit slow to load on some devices.

View in Google Play

Falcon Pro $0.99

Falcon is a nicely designed third-party Twitter client, probably the most eye-pleasing for Android phones and tablets.

The app has all the core features you would expect from a mobile Twitter client, with intuitive and simple and the app also has an internal browser so you can check out links shared by the people you’re following without leaving the app.

View in Google Play