In February, we here at Android.AppStorm put together our best tips, tricks, features, and shortcuts. This month, we’ve gathered our favorite apps – the ones we use all the time, and that we’d recommend to our friends.
There’s a bit of overlap, naturally – between us, we use four or five different Twitter apps! We’ve skipped all the stock apps, however; we’re not giving out awards for great design, we’re trying to recommend apps that you might not already be aware of. By the same token, I doubt we need to tell you about the official apps for Facebook or Twitter; if you’re already a user, you know about the app, and if you’re not a user, the apps are unlikely to convince you to become one.
So here are 100 apps that, between us, we recommend trying out. Enjoy!
Alternatives to the Obvious
I use this on an hourly basis; the low data consumption and the sync’ed tabs over several installations of Opera on iOS, Symbian, desktop, and so on, make this a must-have browser.
Dolphin is a great alternative browser, especially if you can’t get Chrome yet; it has tabbed browsing, downloadable add-ons for extra features and gesture controls for common tasks like adding bookmarks.
For regular and advanced Twitter users, TweetCaster is as good as it gets. For beginners, the app might be confusing and overwhelming at first, but it’s a great way to understand how Twitter works. With time and constant usage, TweetCaster can make any Twitter newbie tweet like a pro.
Plume will keep even the most avid of Twitter users satisfied with its wide range of features and ease of use. Its fluid, well-designed interface makes it a definite contender to all the Twitter clients out there on the Play Store and for the small price you have to pay for this app, everything marries up perfectly into one neat, cheap package.
Seesmic is a very clever way of managing all your social networks (except Google+) from one place and combines a wealth of features in a clean and well-designed interface. It is, in my opinion, one of the best Twitter clients you can get for Android owing to an uncluttered design and nifty, intuitive features.
This is just the Facebook mobile website, wrapped in a secure browser to protect your privacy and stop Facebook tracking your browsing habits on mobile. And yet, it’s faster and more stable than the official app. Go figure. Okay, it doesn’t have notifications or the ability to upload photos, but I found that the official app’s notifications didn’t work half the time, and the developer says he’s working on photo uploads.
Allows you to replace your default lock screen with any of a large range of custom screens. Supports included wallpapers and lets you choose your own. The available lock screens range from simple to animated to informative (unread message/missed call count, weather, and the like) to fun!
With the best theme support out there, more features than any other launcher, excellent widgets and an insanely active development team, it is hard to recommend any other launcher at this time.
By far the best file manager available for Android. Every option you’d expect from a file browser is available, PLUS the wonderful sharing of a folder over HTTP so you can access your phone from a browser.
Though the Pro version does cost a fair chunk (especially compared to the official Dropbox app, which is free) Dropsync is worth it even for just one killer feature: two-way sync.
GO have added a few nifty features to their contacts app that the stock 2.x app is missing. The key features for me are T9 dialing (563 will find “JOE”) and the fast contact search.
An alternative to the Google Play Store, with a free app every day (many of which are not great, granted, but there’s the occasional gem) and a few exclusive apps.
Out and About
This app is very useful for any occasion when you’re planning to meet someone further than a few blocks away. When you set off, it texts the person you’re meeting to give them an estimated time of arrival; then, it keeps monitoring your location via GPS to keep that estimate up to date. If it predicts that you’re going to be significantly later than it originally thought, it can automatically send a text to let the other person know the new estimate.
It might seem like a pretty generic app, but is well worth featuring considering it also acts as a stellar deals/reviewing app. I went on vacation back in 2010 and used it all the time to find places that people recommended to eat at.
Endomondo is an activity tracker; it records you when you walk, cycle, jog, play sports, or generally do anything involving exercise. It allows you to compete with friends, win challenges, share your sporty stats socially, and track your music – all in one very simple app.
Yeah, I know; you already know about Amazon. But what makes this app more useful than the mobile site is the ability to snap a barcode and instantly see both Amazon’s price and the user reviews. When you see an interesting book, it’s often possible to snap the barcode, read the reviews, and order it on Kindle in less time and for less money than if you had queued up at the counter to buy the hard copy.
To Do: Take Notes
A simple note-taking app which has a super customizable widget that you can place on your home screen. You can edit the text from the widget itself – great for info you need to retrieve fast without opening an app, like directions, acccount numbers, shopping lists, etc.
Save all your critical information like web logins, bank account details, system passwords and passport information in a secure, encrypted file. The app syncs with Dropbox and also has a Windows app for retrieving and editing info.
I’ve tried a whole bunch of general purpose list making apps and stuck to this one for the longest time. Use it for creating quick memos and jotting down random pieces of info, as well as to create checklists for shopping, planning, etc.
As mush as I love Any.DO, Astrid just seems to be more functional. Aside from its recent update that gave it the beautiful Holo UI, it also contains great features including awesome widgets!
A great way to keep all of your notes into a neat and well color coded fashion. It’s not as good as Evernote or the other apps, but it’s simple – and most of the time simple is better.
If you use Simplenote for writing and managing notes across devices, you can use Flick Note to get them on your Android device. Until Simplenote decides to come up with their official Android client, this is the best option available.
Wunderlist is my go-to app for simplicity and productivity. If you slack off in the memory department or if you just need a handy assistant, this is your new best friend.
Orbot bounces your data connection along a chain of computers running the desktop version of the software, and runs an encryption algorithm across everything you send and receive. Result: anonymity, security, and privacy.
I Have a Computer, and a Phone
Incredibly useful webpage pushing to Android devices that becomes super convenient if you’re about to, say, leave your desk but want to take that bit of content with you.
I recommend this application to any Android and Windows user. It is the perfect computer-phone interface and the diversity of the features offered – including full backup of all messages, contacts, and apps at once – means that there is bound to be something in the application you will find useful.
Kind of a one-trick pony, but it’s a good trick. Andmade allows you to select (by ticking boxes) which apps you want to use to share something from your phone, then lets you share using each app in turn. So suppose you want to share a photo and you choose to do so with Andmade Share (instead of the Android system); you can tick services like Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, and so on (just like the stock Share menu) and then share on each. When you finish sharing on Facebook, it’ll open up Twitter so you can share the image, and then Dropbox, and anything else you picked.
Advanced clipboard. Stores the last 20 things you copied, and lets you promote any of them to a “snippet” which is permanently available. I find it particularly useful for storing login names and emails.
A no frills app for scheduling profiles on Android, with several triggers (location, time,…) and several changes (connectivity, brightness…) The amazing aspect is the drop-down notification bar function that puts manual changes a click away.
Used to back up apps and data either because of flashing different ROMs or just because you just like to have it all backed up. Very practical for the avid flasher and great to keep all that game data and your settings.
A great system utility that manages your battery, mobile data, moving applications from phone memory to the SD card, system cache and various histories and last but not least a task manager. It also has widgets that provide various toggles and switches.
Another utility that specializes in keeping track of your mobile data traffic and suggest whether you need to upgrade or even downgrade your data plan. It also alerts you if an application is “hogging” your bandwidth.
This is like a greatly enhanced version of Android’s built-in app switcher. It essentially gives you an extra home screen that can be instantly accessed by double-tapping Home; this screen includes links to your last 16 apps, plus you can add any other icons and widgets that you like.
Okay, it’s not as cool as Airplay (and more expensive if you want to upload files), but WiFi File Explorer is still a very useful app. The premise is simple: connect your phone and your PC to the same Wi-Fi network, run the app on the phone, then load a certain URL on your PC’s browser, and you’ll be able to access all your phone’s files remotely.
Until I got a phone with built-in screenshot capabilities, this was my favourite choice. You can make it take a screenshot automatically based on a long-press of the search button (my choice), a shake, a notification icon, a delay, or a home screen shortcut. It has every extra feature I would ever want from a screenshot app, and most importantly it is reliable.
Vlingo isn’t exactly like Siri – it’s not designed to be – but it’s useful and pretty fun to boot. Double-tap the Home button (or say the key phrase you’ve assigned, in car mode) and it’ll let you issue specific commands like “check schedule” or “play artist: rick astley”.
If you have a huge phone (or small hands), you’ll appreciate this: it’s an icon you can place on your home screen to automatically pull down the status bar. If you have a phone that fits your hands perfectly, just skip this.
There are a few torch apps on Google Play, but this is my top choice. It has all the fancy features like strobing and sound effects, but more importantly it gets the basics right: you can make it automatically turn the light on when you load the app. Even better, you can set it to automatically turn on whenever you shake your phone on the lock screen! Very convenient.
Requires: Varies with device
Google Play link: Tiny Flashlight + LED
Developer: Nikolay Ananiev
Stopwatch & Timer has a few features that seem obvious, even necessary, once you start using it, but that similar apps lack: a landscape view with huge numbers; a setting to force the screen to stay on while the timer’s running; and an icon that stays in the bar at the top of the screen, which actually shows the number of seconds or minutes that have ticked away.
It feels strange that text messages aren’t automatically backed up to the cloud. This app automatically syncs SMS and MMS data to your Gmail account, and your call log to your Google Calendar, and can retrieve them, too, if you get a new phone or wipe your current one.
This app is the best all-round choice if you need a general-purpose scientific calculator, unit converter, and graph plotter.
Perhaps the most powerful app on Android, and one that makes it stand apart from other mobile platforms. Tasker essentially lets you program your phone. For example, make your phone automatically switch to silent mode when the GPS detects that you’re in the local cinema. We’ve got a tutorial for Tasker here, but if you want something simpler then try these Tasker alternatives.
Requires: Android 1.6 or above
Google Play link: Tasker
Developer: Crafty Apps
Full review: Automate Your Life and Android with Tasker
Pictures and Photos
The best and easiest-to-use panorama camera app out there. When you take a shot, it shows an overlay of the edge of the previous shot so you can easily line it up for the next one, resulting in high-quality panorama pictures.
PicsArt has a bunch of Photoshop-style features that you’ll want to try out, wrapped in a great user interface. Despite being free, it bundles a lot of features that even some premium apps lack.
I can say with confidence that PicsArt is one of the best photo editing tools ever made for smartphones.
Sound and Music
Can figure out what song is playing by listening to a few seconds of it. Keeps track of previous songs (and stores the snippets of sound for later submission, if you have no connection). It recently added a cool new feature that displays the lyrics in sync with the music, making it a portable karaoke app.
It’s been mentioned a hundred times before, but it bears repeating: simply the best audio recognition app. As well as recognising recorded music, it can deal with whistling and humming, too! (To a certain extent…)
By far the best podcast manager on Android. The interface is sleek and very intuitive, podcast discovery is not in your face but very functional (just the way I need it) and the app has never ever missed or messed up with my podcasts yet – something I can’t say about the other apps I’ve used.
A near-flawless and complete media player, Songbird for Android is perfect for anyone looking for a high-performance player with a serene interface. It has a decent lock-screen replacement, too.
If you use iTunes to keep your music organised on your computer, then you should check out iSyncr, as it’s the best companion for it on Android. Check out The Best Way to Synchronize Android With iTunes for some tips.
Sharing and Communication
Everyone that listens to music must have this application. It sends what you listen to to Last.fm and that’s it. There’s a reason it’s called Simple. It’s a very lightweight alternative to the official Last.fm app.
This is a walkie-talkie style application that allows you to use your data connection to instantly speak back and forth seamlessly. Great fun as well as practical for quick communication.
WhatsApp is majorly popular in third world countries, including Lebanon, India, and Pakistan. It’s a messaging application with no login, just a phone number, and a friend list based solely on your phonebook numbers. It’s available on every platform known to man, including Blackberry, Nokia’s S40 cheap devices, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian, and iOS, making it as universal as possible, and hence the weapon of choice for communicating with the maximum number of people.
I’d say this is the best IM client on Android. It supports Skype, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Yammer, AIM, ICQ, Facebook, and Myspace. Though it’s not particularly feature-rich, it has what you need: file sharing, the ability to link your existing accounts (and log into them all at once), and push notifications.
Why include this but not the official Facebook or Twitter apps? Because Path is currently a mobile-only social network, so you might not even have heard of it if you haven’t seen the app. It has a few unique features, most notably the deliberately limited friends list and the ability to share whether or not you are currently awake. Check out the review for more details.
Although Bubble is not a pretty app, it has a great idea and executes it well. It lets you jot down quick notes relating to your mobile contacts, which pop up whenever they ring. So, when your friend calls, you can remember to ask him about his recent job interview.
Trakt is a great free web service for tracking movies and TV shows. There are a few Trakt-capable apps for Android; Traktoid is my favorite for tracking TV shows (not movies). Two particularly awesome features in Traktoid are that all information is available for offline viewing, and the “eye” icon which transforms the list into a check list, so you can mark episodes or whole seasons as seen.
Out of all the TV apps, TV Show Favs is my favorite. You can create a list of all of your favorite TV shows and track your progress through the series, with the ability to mark an episode, season, or the whole series as watched. Any unwatched episodes are added to your To Do list.
And the Rest…
my6sense is a news reader that uses a “secret formula” called Digital Intuition to automatically learn your reading habits and guess what you want to read. Besides RSS and website feeds, it can also bring in information from Facebook and Twitter.
Okay, you need the extra accessory in order to use this, but it’s free if you live in a country that Square supports. This is an easy-to-use credit-card reader and app that lets you take credit card payments with your phone. Simply enter the amount owed, swipe the card, have the customer sign their signature, and the money will be deposited in the account of your choosing.
It’s a very new application, and it still misses many functions, but it looks great and works quite well. For accessing articles offline, sharing between what you read on a computer and what you have on your phone, it does a wonderful job.
The oldest of the popular “read later” apps, Read It Later should get credit for being one of the first to launch an official Android app (Readability recently joined in, but Instapaper is still staunchly iOS focused). More than anything else, Read It Later’s offline reading works beautifully, especially because it downloads articles including the images within.
There are a ton of wallpaper apps available for Android, but Wallbase – a fairly new entrant – takes the cake with a sexy interface, snappy performance and most importantly the best collection of wallpapers on the planet.
If you enjoyed this article, then check out our other bumper roundups:
- 50+ Apps and Resources to Customize Your Android Homescreen
- 60 Beautiful Wallpapers for Your Android Phone
- 35 Android Apps to Monitor Usage Stats and Tweak System Utilities
- Customize Every Aspect of Your Android Experience (Dialers, Keyboards, Lockscreens, and More)
- 40+ Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Out of Android