The Android Market continues to blossom in a solid second place, as it chases the App Store down. While a swing in fortunes is highly unlikely, quality and quantity is improving greatly.

There still aren't many killer apps for Android phones, such as iMovie for the iPhone 4, and games are still extremely primitive, but the extremely well-designed and user-friendly Market does have a lot to offer.

The one advantage Android phones have over Apple is the free Google Maps Navigation app, which transforms any Android-toting smartphone into a full-function sat nav system complete with turn-by-turn voice instructions.

It's a masterstroke from Google, and something which adds so much value to new Android phones. Just install a simply piece of voice software and you're good to go.

The screen is good enough and large enough to handle the app, and the GPS signal remains true for most of the time.

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Voice instructions are clear and delivered in plenty of time, and there's also the opportunity to add satellite and traffic layers. You're able to simply speak your destination into the phone thanks to the voice-to-text functionality.

It's also easy to cycle through the directions using the arrow keys at the top of the screen. Returning to your current position can be achieved by pressing the navigation arrow.

It'll also run in the background while you perform other tasks, while directions appear in the notifications tab at the top of the screen, and voice instructions continue as normal.

It's a magnificent piece of functionality and it is, without question, Android's killer app.

The Acer Liquid E can do something that the iPhone 4 can't do, without opening the wallet, which is the beauty of Android.

Social networking

We've talked a lot about NemoPlayer, but the social networking applications on the Android 2.1 OS have enjoyed a nice little bump, including an excellent official Twitter app.

Android apps have a habit of being somewhat less aesthetically pleasing than their iPhone cousins, but Twitter is one of the exceptions to that mandate.

The application's Home screen features a cute animation of the Twitter bird tweeting out clickable trending topics.

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It really is a fully-functional incarnation. If you'd like to tweet a photo, there's a camera button to summon the handset's snapper, or an upload key to add in a picture you've already taken.

The app also uses GPS to pinpoint your location if that's your bag.

Accessing your lists, tweets, mentions and retweets is also a doddle, and it's really easy to mention those you're following by ticking a check box. All in all, it's a great effort and even boasts a live updates Home screen widget which fills half a screen.

There are other Twitter apps available on the market, including the also excellent Twitdroid and Tweetcaster (which showcases tweets in a rolling slideshow), but the official one is by far the best, and it's free too.

Facebook for Android has improved in recent times, but it's not really up there with Facebook for iPhone.

Google Talk is on board and Skype is downloadable for free from the app store. The iPhone now has MSN messenger, but Android doesn't.

Calendar, documents and weather

The on-board calendar app syncs with your Google schedule, while RoadSync allows all your businessy-type business to be arranged.

We'd like to see an integrated Roadsync/Google calendar here, so we know whether we should be partying or in an important business meeting, but no dice.

Facebook event functionality, like on the Palm Pre Plus' webOS calendar, would also be a welcome bonus. You could do this on the web and have it ported to your phone, but that's a little convoluted.

The Documents to Go app enables Android phones to read Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, slideshows and PDFs, but you'll have to buy the full version to create those documents.

The Accuweather widget, which has become a fixture on Android phones, is available but doesn't look quite as good as it does on the Sense UI.

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The trouble with having five Home screens is that two of them are pretty much dominated by the bookmarks and media widgets, while the two big social networking sites also take up a page.

Once you add the centre Home screen which features all of your pre-eminent apps and a Google search bar, there's scant room for anything else.

On the last available homescreen, we went for Accuweather, the connectivity bar and a custom version of the Sense UI clock and that was our lot.