Though Apple’s App Store has overtaken Android’s market in terms of the total number of apps, Android has defeated iOS by the number of free apps it offers.

Android’s Market has 134,342 free applications for download while iOS has 121,845. Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 are lagging way behind with a total of 30,000 apps each.

Though Apple and Android have stacked up head to head, Android operating system’s strong integration with Google products and its availability in a wide range of devices, makes it a strong challenge for Apple’s iPad and iPhone.

Many of the iOS apps which you need to pay for are available for free on Android.

As Android is completely open-source apps can change the functionality and appearance of the operating system, if you allow them.

Google’s OpenHome

Android’s OpenHome is a great customization app available in the market. The app works as a replacement of the default home screen, where you can load customised skins, icon packs and fonts, most of which are freely available in the market. OpenHome also allows for other custom tweeks like soft keyboard improvements and widget modifications.

Google Voice

Google Voice offers free PC to PC calling worldwide. The app forwards all your missed calls to a Google generated number that you can check on the Web, in your e-mail, via the app. The app also lets you stream audio messages from the Web, without wasting any mobile minutes. You can scroll through your messages visually and stream the audio messages from the Web for free. Google Voice’s deep integration with Gmail offers a great advantage compared to the voicemail alternative for iPhone.

Voice-guided GPS 

The voice-guided GPS in Android is a built-in mechanism which allows users to jump directly into navigation from address links in other apps, unlike the iPhone map app, where you must copy and paste the address into your app of choice manually. The GPS in Android phones can save you from reading out directions while driving.

Google Finance

The Android app syncs directly to your Google Finance portfolios and it streams in financial data along with updates and financial news in your device.

Gmail and Calendar

The integration of the Android devices with the Google account, the mobile functionality of Google apps like Gmail and Calendar are massive. If you draft an email on the phone, it is instantly viewable on the draft folders on the Web and if you update an appointment on the Web calendar, it will be seen on your phone in a jiffy.

Winamp, the media player for android, can be wirelessly connected with your desktop and you can move iTunes library to Android, Playlist support and also SHOUT cast radio.

Android has been detected as a vulnerable device in terms of malware attacks, so there are several free apps for Android smartphone security as well.