So all these great Android applications – or “apps”, as all the cool kids say – where do they come from?  Does Santa leave them on your smart phone?  Are there app fairies that will come and bless your Droid with nifty programs?

Umm, no.  But there are alternatives.

The best place to get apps for your Android phone is probably already on the phone.  The Android Market

has both free and paid apps.  As you can see, it is just called “Market”, whether from hubris (there can only be one market!) or from a desire to have the name fit on one line.

The second-best place to get apps is the Amazon AppStore

They have lots of software, some free and some paid.  To use the AppStore, you need to sign up with Amazon’s one-click purchasing.  This makes it very easy to purchase apps, even free ones.  On the bright side, Amazon offers a paid app every day, for free.  They call it, unsurprisingly, the Free App of the Day.  Open up the AppStore application every day and see if their free app is right for you.  I have some, and have bypassed others.

There are a few other places that are portals to the Market.  The first is AppBrain

which gives you lots of ways to search and sort to find what you’re looking for, and then you can go into the Market to get that app.  I tend to search here before jumping to the Market.

The final place I look to get information on apps is BestApps

(which has some good apps, including two new ones every day) but I definitely see it as advice instead of a rule.

pix by Rjabinnik and Rounien and laihiu, and Amazon, AppBrain, and BestApps