While many are free, some of the best Android apps in this list require you to pay actual money. If you're a skinflint, that's a problem, which is why you should definitely have Google Opinion Rewards installed.
Complete short surveys for Google and you'll be given credit to spend on the store. Sometimes that could be 50p, sometimes 10p, but it all adds up and no survey takes longer than a minute or two. Seriously, download this now.
Avast Antivirus & Security is a powerful antivirus app that you can trust; its PC counterpart is one of the best free antiviruses of 2015. For those who want comprehensive cover, plenty of additional features are available as in-app purchases, including geofencing and remote data recovery. For those who just want basic protection, however, you’ll find this does everything you need for free.
Make sure your battery isn't draining unnessesarily
Getting the most from your phone’s battery is always key. Lollipop may have its own set of battery-saving tools, and many phones now offer power-saving modes, but these should be seen as a last resort.
Greenify sits in the background helping to regulate how much battery various apps are using. It freezes the apps you tell it to when you’re not using them, and instantly defrosts them when you need to gain access.
If you really want to tinker with Android, Tasker is a brilliant way of automating much of the functions you'd normally do manually. It takes a little getting your head around, but the scope here is enormous - especially if you have root access on your phone.
You can train your phone to open Spotify when you put your headphones in, for example, or automatically respond to texts with your street address. If you can feed it the instructions, Tasker can automate the rest.
Microsoft’s Garage project lets employees develop Android apps in their spare time, which is very fairminded of the company. One of the bestknown results of this scheme is Next Lock Screen, and this new version adds fingerprint scanning, provided your phone supports it; Smart Contacts and Smart Lock settings that let you configure how you unlock your device; and even locationsensitive wallpaper that changes automatically depending on where you are. Other useful features include detailed notifications that show all your missed calls, text messages and app alerts without you needing to “wake” your phone.
Because Next Lock Screen looks different to the standard Android layout, it effectively forces you to relearn your homescreen, which is jarring, but it has already amassed many devotees and recently won a “best lockscreen app for Android” award. Using it is almost like having a new phone without needing to pay for the upgrade.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have unlimited data on your phone, or a bottomless wallet, you’ll want to get the most out of your data package.
This is where Opera Max comes in. It crunches down the size of images and videos, speeds up website load times, and typically saves you from around a third to almost half of your general data use. You can restrict some apps to only ever connect via Wi-Fi, and temporarily turn off connections if you want to save some data for the end of the month.
Found an article you like but want to read it later, when you may not have an internet connection? Pocket is the solution to your problem.
Allowing you to save articles and videos to read and watch later across any Pocket-enabled device, you’ll never be short of something to read or share again. It’s the perfect distraction for Tube journeys, flights and those long train trips in signal black holes.
If you don't have a generous mobile data plan, you're going to want to use WiFi as much as possible, but finding good, free Wifi isn't always that easy. WifiMapper is the solution. Crowdsourced maps where the community shares where to get free WiFi, you should never have to rely on your data again.
The official Twitter app may be a serviceable free client, but it pales in comparison to Fenix.
Featuring a slick Material Design interface that’s fully customisable and incredibly responsive, this is the app for any self-confessed Twitter addict. Spend a couple of days using Fenix and your Twitter productivity will go through the roof.
The world's biggest social network, compressed to fit in your pocket
Ahh, Facebook, the social network standard you can’t be without. Now that Messenger has been spun out into a separate app, you’ll need both to get the full Facebook experience.
Facebook isn’t the most reliable Android app around, but its latest update has sought to fix such issues. Messenger is thankfully more stable, but switching between the two apps still isn’t as smooth as you’d like it to be.
Instant messaging, but with a chance of winning some of their revenue back
Describing itself as “the chat app that gives back”, Tengi shares many functions with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, letting you text, call and share photos via Wi-Fi or mobile data. Its unique selling point is that it automatically enters its users into a prize cash draw every week, where they can win up to £10,000. The more you chat, the more virtual ‘tickets’ you get, so the better your chances of winning. It’s free to use and there are no in-app purchases to worry about.
Take a step back in time to see what you did on this day three years ago
Want to remind yourself of how foolish that haircut you had five years ago was? Timehop is here to do just that. But while there’s sure to be plenty of cringe-worthy moments dragged up from the past, Timehop also brings reminders of memories forgotten. That spontaneous road trip, the time you went to the zoo, or perhaps the day you met a loved one for the first time.
Plugging into Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Foursquare, Timehop gives you a slice of your past life every day of the week. Who knew looking back in time could be so addictive?
Instagram filters are so 2015. Or maybe even 2014 - whenever the damned thing was released. This year's hottest photography app is Prisma, which -as Tom wrote - "is like Instagram dropped acid."
It uses artificial-intelligence algorithms and neural networks to make your photographs into strange modern art. It's all very clever, and quite complex, but the bottom line is it gets weird and wonderful results, just ripe for sharing. So go download it and give it a try.
Because no video should be longer than six seconds
Depending on your age and your attention span, six second looped clips might sound like the best or worst thing ever to happen to video. But that's exactly what the Vine app offers, providing quickfire entertainment chunks.
The app lets you browse other peoples' creations, of course, but crucially it also lets you create your own six-second wonders. Just hold the record button to start filming, and release to stop - it'll let you keep adding segments until you reach your six-second limit.
Microsoft-owned Skype has been letting you chat for free over the internet on various different platforms for years – including, back in 2007, the Skypephone. The newly updated Android and iOS apps now include video group calling. This means you can chat to up to 25 friends or family members at once, each with their own onscreen video box (presumably quite small) – in HD, if your phone or tablet supports it.
Usually coming preinstalled on vanilla Android devices, Google’s ebook reader packs in features other free apps lack. And while the capability may not be initially apparent, you can upload your own ebooks and PDF files to Play Books and access them on any Android device associated with your login, with your progress synced across devices. This means you can read on your tablet when at home, then pick up your phone and carry on reading when out and about. Not bad for a free app.
Libraries are slowly catching up with the convinience of digital, and OverDrive lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks without even leaving the house - and best of all, there are no late fees, as titles are 'returned' automatically.
The only problem is that libraries need to opt in to the service, and without wanting to stereotype, libraries aren't always the fastest bodies to adopt change. Still, with over 30,000 libraries worldwide taking part, it's worth checking the website to see if your library card can work that bit harder for you.
22. Feedly(free; with in-app purchases; Pro account, $5/mth)
There are plenty of Reddit apps, but bafflingly no official one. Of the unofficial ones, Sync is probably the nicest to use and the most beautiful to look at, which is good if you spend a lot of time staring at Reddit.
If Reddit is known as the front page of the internet, then Imgur is its photo album.
Imgur is the perfect procrastination tool. With its card-based interface, images are put front and centre for you to flick through. Be it a cute animal GIF, the latest meme, world curios, or helpful tutorials about activities you didn’t even know existed, Imgur never fails to surprise and delight.
One of the great pleasures of smartphone ownership is the huge range of professional, fascinating and brilliant podcasts available free of charge. Thousands of hours of free entertainment is at your fingertips, if you know how to access them. Staying on top of the latest episodes and managing your phone's limited space though – who has time for that?
Doggcatcher solves the problem for you. Not only does it recommend a host of well-known podcasting heavy hitters, it's a massively customisable app that will check in on your feeds throughout the day and download new episodes as they appear to ensure that there's always something new for your commute. It won't just fill up your device either, intelligently removing episodes when done, and cutting down on new downloads if it notices you're no longer keeping up with a certain show.
It's always good to have an alternative, if for some reason you don't get on with Spotify, and Google Music offers a pretty great experience for the same monthly cost. Plus, you can upload MP3s from your own collection to stream remotely, should you find the catalogue at all lacking.
On top of that, it's a particuarly good choice if you use a lot of YouTube. When YouTube Red launches in the UK, a Google Play subscription will cover both services, giving you all the benefits that promises as a freebie.
Transform your Android smartphone into a DJ deck with djay 2. As the video shows, you can mix your favoruite songs wherever you are. Perhaps most cleverly, you're not hemmed in by the music you have stored locally, as djay 2 plugs directly into Spotify to let your creativity really run wild...
Make Android handle any video file you throw at it
Say hello to the only video player you’ll ever need. VLC plays practically any video format you can throw at, isn’t power-hungry, and is incredibly simple to use.
Thanks to its open-source roots, the update process is transparent, so you always know what your device can or can’t support.
31. TunnelBear VPN (Free; with in-app purchases; Pro account, £4.99/mth)
A simple VPN without fuss
Some VPN apps can be confusing. Very confusing. Some VPN apps are buggy. Very buggy. Well, this one is simple to understand and it works. Very well. Bravo, Bear.
TunnelBear comes with a free tier, that grants you access 500 VPN MBs. That means you can download and watch about one hour's worth of BBC iPlayer video on your Android device before your credit is up. Luckily, the paid-for tier isn't too steep. Unlimited usage for Android-only devices will cost you £2.99/month, or a full suite (for up to 5 computers, phones or tablets) costs £4.99.
Gone are the days of scouring magazine listings for upcoming gigs that you want tickets for. Songkick plugs directly into Spotify or Google Play, and alerts you whenever your favourite artists are on tour near you.
Buy tickets in the app, or just use it to keep tabs on your favourites. Either way, you won't need to do the research yourself again.
Ordering gig tickets online is a terrible experience generally. Not only do they sell out in seconds, but you'rre often stung with an extortionate booking fee at the end of things.
DICE fixes that firstly by having no booking fees. Your ticket is locked to your phone, meaning that touts and bots are also blocked out. It's generally a safer, fairer and better way to get gig tickets. What's not to like?
The Oculus Rift will set you back a whopping £500, but if you want a (somewhat glitchy) taste of virtual reality on a budget, then TrinusVR is worth a look. In short, it lets you stream PC games to your Android phone as if it were an Oculus Rift, letting you mount your handset in Google Cardboard for a passable VR experience, but with a much wider PC catalogue of games.
Google Fit comes preinstalled on some Android devices, but if you don’t have it you should head on over to the Play store and download Google’s health aggregator.
Not only does it track your walking, running and cycling activity when you’re carrying your phone, but it’s also compatible with smartwatch OS Android Wear for phone-free tracking. It dishes out performance-based recommendations on reachable goals and aggregates fitness data from all of the tracking apps that plug into it.
Where every street is a race against your neighbours
Planning to cycle to work, or just want something to help track and improve your cycling bests? Strava is the answer.
Split between running and cycling, Strava is really best at keeping track of your cycling routes. It can tell you how quickly you’re riding, using GPS to track your progress, and lets you compete with yourself on future rides.
Strava’s best feature is how it pushes you to do better, allowing you to go toe to toe with complete strangers to mix things up.
Having trouble getting incentivised to use all those fitness apps? Bounts to the rescue – it plugs into other fitness apps and devices including Fitbit, Moves, Jawbone, MapMyFitness, Strava, Runkeeper and more, and offers real honest-to-goodness rewards for your hard work.
By connecting apps, Bounts will translate your workout into a number of points – capped at 15 per day for the free app, and higher for a paid subscription. Points can then be used to receive free vouchers, for brands such as Topshop, Next, Amazon, WHSmith, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and iTunes. You can even undo all your good work with Pizza Express vouchers if you like...
Who said your run had to be boring? Zombies Run uses your running route to drop you into a zombie apocalypse.
Frenzied flesh-feeders chase you down, inspiring you to get fit and run further. You’ll be issued directions as you run, telling you where your nearby supplies are and the speed of the encroaching horde. Using your GPS, Zombies Run can tell you if you’re running fast enough to survive. The 5k version gives you enough content to get you from a standing start to running 5km in just a few short weeks.
Sworkit is aimed squarely at people who want to get fit, but keep making excuses to dodge the gym by A) bringing the workout to your home, and B) allowing you to set exactly how much time you've got. After you give Sworkit the timespan you have to excercise, the app brings up a 'playlist' of excercises, allowing you to veto areas you'd rather avoid.
Demonstration videos are provided by professional personal trainers, and with 160 excercises included, it certainly offers more variety and flexibility than the seven minute workout, allowing you to really push yourself and see results.
Of course, running and exercise is only half the battle if you're looking to lose weight, and My Fitness Pal covers the rest. Simply search for the food as you eat it (or scan in the barcode if you're eating out), and My Fitness Pal will do the rest, giving you a full summary of how much you're eating, and how quickly you can expect the pounds to drop.
There are some paid options in there, including additional dietary plans for those who really want to take control, but the free option will be enough for the majority of people. It plugs in with the plenty of other exercise apps, along with connected scales and activity trackers, to ensure that your good behaviour is rewarded with bonus calories each day.
Get inspired to go that extra mile with a charitable donation in your name
If good intentions, a competitive spirit or zombies don't get you out of the house, then maybe doing your bit for charity will. Charity Miles is an app with commerical sponsors who will pay out a certain number of pence per mile to the charity of your choosing, in return for displaying their logo as your background for the duration of the run. If that doesn't inspire you to go the extra mile, we don't know what will...
Thinking of taking a quick city break, but don’t fancy paying extortionate hotel fees? Airbnb is your saviour.
You could just log on to the Airbnb website, but its Android app makes the booking process effortless. What’s more, you can find everything you need within the app – no printing out maps, booking confirmations or emails. Perfect for a hassle-free holiday.
Google Maps is so 2015; in 2016 everyone should be using Citymapper – that is, if you’re lucky enough to live in a mapped city. That's currently only London and Manchester in the UK.
Citymapper provides you with an extensive list of public transport routes, working out how much each journey will cost if you use cash, card or city-wide travelcards. It also tells you which transport links are nearby, updating journeys with live transport data.
Of course, chances are you won't be able to learn every single word in every single language of the countries you travel, and that's where Google Translate comes in. At first, this may seem like quite a dull inclusion into the list - everyone knows you can get quite stiff and stilted direct translations online, so why the need for an app?
Simply, because the Google Translate app throws in a bit of magic to the mix: point the camera at text, and you'll get the translation right there in front of you on your screen, with no need for fiddly typing and inevitable typos. Sure, the translations aren't flawless, but it's enough to tell if the dish you're about to order will trigger your seafood allergy.
Let this app automatically keep your holiday plans up to date
Planning a trip is stressful enough without having to deal with dozens of apps, printed confirmation emails and mental notes. That’s where TripIt comes in: it’s an app-based personal assistant that helps you stay on top of your holiday plans.
Just forward your hotel, airline, car rental and restaurant confirmation emails to email@example.com, and your itinerary will be instantly available in the app – even offline – along with maps and directions to ensure you don’t get lost. If you use Gmail (and really, at this point, who doesn’t?), this will happen automatically.
Controversies aside, Uber is indispensable for anyone living in a big city, where hailing a black cab could be a quick way to bankruptcy.
Currently available in seven cities across the UK, Uber can get you a ride anywhere within minutes of making a request. There are also five tiers of vehicles to hire, so you can travel like royalty if you so wish.
Internet of Things products are pricey. Who knew that future-proofing your home for the 21st century would cost so much money? Rather than investing in the very best smart home sensors, though, you could dip a cautious toe in the water with the Manything beta. In short, it takes an old phone and makes it your personal connected security camera, so you can keep an eye on your house when you're away.
It's free for a month, and even then it only costs money if you connect more than one phone to it - and who has that many old phones just lying around anyway?
Better than 99% of the default phone keyboards out there
I review a lot of Android phones, and after giving the stock keyboard a fair once-over for the purposes of grading the handset, I inevitably download Google Keyboard. Why? Because it leaves almost all stock keyboards in the dust, and it's guaranteed to play nicely with Android because it's made by Google.
It has built-in swipe-typing, which means you can hammer out messages by tracing your fingers around the keyboard, and you can fully customise its colour and style. Right now, it's the best keyboard you can get on Android, and will likely remain so until Google get their act together and port the GBoard over from iOS.
Keeping your thoughts and notes in one handy cloud space
All hail the mighty Evernote. This cloud-based note taking and work management app is just far too useful to be without.
Evernote is the place where you put everything. It’s your home for thoughts, work notes, chats with colleagues and workplace collaboration. You can write documents in a clutter-free environment, and share them effortlessly with others. You can upload images and make handwritten notes on top. Evernote is everything you want it to be and more.
The research is pretty clear: exposure to screens late at night can disrupt your sleep, leaving you weaker the next day. The simple solution is to stop using phones and tablets before bed, but that's easier said than done, and that's where Twilight comes in.
Functioning in a similar way to Flux for desktops, Twilight adapts the colouring of the screen to fade out the blue lights as the sun sets and you get nearer to bed time, tinting everything in a soft red glow when it really matters. It takes a little getting used to at first, but if it helps you get better quality sleep then it's well worth taking the time to adapt.
Work remotely? IF can email someone when you upload a file to Dropbox or Google Drive, Heck, it doesn’t have to be an email, it could ping them on WhatsApp or notify them on Slack instead. You could create a recipe to add YouTube videos you mark as “watch later” into a Pocket account. Or perhaps you’d rather have IF schedule tweets and Facebook posts for you when you make a note in OneNote.
A real time-saver when working on your computer or laptop, AirDroid allows you to control your phone remotely – allowing you to respond to text messages with a full sized keyboard, mirror applications and painlessly share files between your phone and computer.
Some of the functionality requires a rooted device, but given the app is free (with a paid option for multiple devices, unlimited data transfers and more), it’s certainly worth finding out if AirDroid can make you more productive.
Born out of Microsoft’s purchase of Acompli, the new Outlook app for Android is quite possibly the best email client available on Google’s mobile OS.
Working with Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Apple iCloud, Outlook is a power user’s dream.
It automatically organises itself to surface the more important emails to the top, filtering the rest into an “Other” inbox for you to peruse at your leisure. You can swipe to delete, archive or schedule emails to appear when you have time to deal with them properly, and it contains your entire Outlook calendar, so there’s no need to switch app just to check an appointment.
Combining the power of Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive into one app
Juggling two, three or even four online storage accounts can become an absolute headache. Thankfully, Unclouded is here to alleviate your concerns.
Pulling all your connected accounts into one uncluttered interface, Unclouded lets you access your files from one location, no matter where they’re stored. Unclouded currently supports Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and Mega, so it’s really only iCloud users who are left out.
For one or two accounts it's free to use, but if you want to manage the content of any others, you'll need to pay. Thankfully Unclouded lets you pick and choose services you’d like, so you're never paying for something you don't use.
Google's answer to Siri is a rather handy digital assistant, with an almost creepy knowledge of the world around you, and your appointments. It comes pre-installed on plenty of Android phones, but if it's not there, it's well worth a download to ensure you don't miss anything in your hectic schedule.
Your Android phone already comes with the Gmail app - unsurprisingly, given Android is Google's baby. But if you want something a bit more experimental, Inbox by Gmail is well worth a go.
It's essentially a better way of organising your email, letting you group related messages in the same place, snooze emails to pop up as notifications again later, or pin them to the top so they can't be missed. It'll also bring up time sensitive emails when the time is right, allowing you to instantly find reservations or flight information without spending that time searching.
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