HTC Google Nexus OneThe Android smartphone platform is quickly growing market share following the launch of the Google Nexus one in recent months.

The platform has thousands of apps that can be downloaded from the Android marketplace and many make good use of mobile broadband connections to add useful functionality.

We’ve been using the HTC Hero phone using Android since late 2009 and have put together a list of our five favourite apps. Feel free to comment with other suggestions of apps you love. Some of the apps we love the most are things you would pay good money for as a standalone device or piece of software.

1: Google Maps Navigation

Since launch the Google maps application has been a great way to find local business locations, get walking or written driving directions and even zoom down to street view. However, the most recent improvements add full turn by turn driving directions like you would expect from a dedicated GPS navigation system. Instead of paying several hundred dollars for a GPS system with maps that become outdated you get a free application with constantly updated maps. Pretty cool!

2: Google Goggles

No, that is not a spelling mistake. Google Goggles uses your phone camera and GPS to do a visual search with no typing. Point it at a product logo for brand information, a piece of art for details on the artist and name of painting or towards a landmark for useful tourist info. It also acts as an augmented reality app in towns and cities for restaurants, bars and cafes. Just point the app towards a cafe and using the compass, GPS and video it shows you user reviews, menus and information on the venues you point the phone at. This sounds like an April fools joke but it is not. Google expects visual search to keep getting smarter so this may be just the start.

3: Fring

This is one of our current favourite apps at the moment and allows you to connect with VOIP and IM programs such as Skype, Google Talk, AOL and MSN all in one place. There is no decent official Skype app on Android so the ability to chat and even make Skype calls via this app which can save a lot of money is a great bonus.

4: Cardio Trainer

Cardio TrainerWe’ve purchased an Android phone almost entirely because of this fitness application. The application uses GPS to track your route and calculate calories consumed for a wide variety of activities such as walking, running, cycling, kayaking and more. If you jog or cycle the same route most days you can even race yourself with audio cues on how you are doing.

Once you complete a route you can have them uploaded via mobile broadband or wi-fi to a secure online area to review all your workouts with Google maps tracking the routes and detailed stats. The map data can even be exported into a Google Earth file.

5: Cnet Scan and Shop

This clever app combines smart use of the phone camera, GPS and mobile broadband connection. When you are out and about looking at electronic type products you can scan the barcode using your phone camera and bring up Cnet reviews along with local and online price comparisons to make an information purchase decision.