Five must-download mobile apps of 2012

Camera Awesome, a photography mobile app for iOS, Camera Awesome, a photography mobile app for iOS, offers several ways to “awesomize” your pictures, including automatic levelization and color adjustment. Photo Credit: Camera Awesome

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With half of 2012 already in the books, now is a good time to showcase the best apps and games released in 2012 so far. Whether you are a social butterfly or couch potato, a shutterbug or a drawing game fanatic, there are great new apps worth downloading right away.

Camera Awesome (iPhone, iPod Touch Free)

Way more than just an incremental improvement over the pre-installed Camera app on the iPhone, Camera Awesome is so easy to use and has so many features that, after using it, you may not buy another stand-alone digital camera ever again. Created by 10-year-old photo-sharing site SmugMug, Camera Awesome offers several ways to "awesomize" your pictures, including automatic levelization and color adjustment. Furthermore, the interface is gorgeous. And while most casual photographers will have more than they need from Camera Awesome without ever paying a dime, there are several additional presets and filters that can be purchased for 99 cents a pop (or all at once for $9.99).

Highlight (iPhone, iPod Touch Free)

Highlight is one of several new and innovative apps that help users identify Facebook friends and other people with similar interests who are in their physical proximity. The app works best when you are at an event or urban location where other users have Highlight downloaded to their devices. When you enable push notifications to allow the app to alert you when a Highlight contact is nearby, you might realize that your old high school buddy works in the building next to you, or that there is an attractive person in line at Starbucks who shares your taste in music.

Viggle (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Free)

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Didn't we all have that childhood fantasy about an invention that could actually reward viewers for watching their favorite television shows? Thanks to Viggle, that dream is now a reality. Viggle lets users check-in and earn loyalty points from the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and the Gap for watching their favorite programs. Beyond earning credit for vegging, Viggle treats users to trivia questions, polls and tweets related to the programs they are watching.

Instagram (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Free)

It didn't take long for Instagram to become a household name after it made its debut on the iPhone in late 2010. It did take awhile, however, for the photo-sharing app to arrive on Android, which it finally did in April. It was worth the wait, both for the company and its community. Within a week, Instagram attracted more than 5 million downloads (enriching the experience for existing users of the service). Shortly thereafter, the 12-person company was acquired by Facebook for what was then a 10-figure valuation. Now that is a positive development you'd like to share with friends!

Draw Something (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android Free)

Modeled after Pictionary and adapted for touch-screen devices, Draw Something was downloaded more than 50 million times in its first 50 days of availability, making it the fastest growing app of all time. The collaborative game works well when played between Facebook friends or complete strangers. It's accessible enough that young children and tech-illiterate adults can pick it up in a flash. Despite a slowdown in usage after it was acquired by Zynga in March, Draw Something is still a blast to play.

(Have questions or comments about a mobile app? Contact brad@appolicious.com, or visit www.appolicious.com and www.androidapps.com to learn more.)

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