If you own an Android smartphone, you’ll need some essential apps to sync your files, watch movies, track your sleeping patterns, for exercises, and more. These are some of the best, most useful apps that Google Play Store has to offer and most of them are free except if you need access to other things the apps offers you might need to upgrade with a certain amount.
Evernote is one of the best note-taking apps out there, it lets you scribble memos, schedules, random thoughts, and just about anything you’d want to jot down in digital form. Where it really excels is in organization: Evernote lets you sort all your documents into notebooks and label them with categories and custom tags so they’ll be easily searchable and accessible. It also syncs seamlessly across multiple devices.
This note-taking app becomes a powerful tool for organizing just about everything. Notes can be anything—text, images, audio, or a mix—and are organized into notebooks. One of its killer features is optical character recognition, which makes the text in images searchable. Cloud-storage makes it the perfect tool for organizing the little pieces of a project into a finished draft.
All those features come with the free version of the app. If you buy a $5/month premium account, you also gain the ability to link your Evernote account with third-party apps, as well as better sharing options.
Dropbox remains the best app for seamlessly syncing files to and from your portable devices. It works across the web, Windows, macOS, iOS, and of course Android, which means you need never find yourself without access to an important file. You can use Dropbox to automatically back up your photos and videos to the cloud, keep that important set of PDFs with you, or take notes that sync back to your laptop.
On the negative side, the free Dropbox plan only offers a miserly 2GB of storage. However, if you need more space, premium plans start at $10 per month for 1TB of storage.
Dropbox pioneered the personal cloud service, where all your stuff would be available no matter what device you were using. On Android, it holds its own—even against the highly integrated Google Drive. Dropbox can also act as a seamless backup for your images, automatically uploading every photo to the cloud. It even includes some light image editing tools. If you’re the type of person with lots of files already stored in Dropbox, this app is a must-have.
If an event isn’t being organized on Facebook, it’s probably being done through Eventbrite. This service makes it easy to manage invites, RSVPs, and even ticket purchasing. Attendees get handy reminders about the events they planned to attend, organizers can see guest lists. It can also generate QR codes, making event check-in a breeze.
It is for free.
Pinterest is a social network of stuff, a place to “pin” things that interest you on themed boards.
The Android app offers a great way to gather images from around the web for making lists or just collections of stuff that catch your eye. You could use it to help redecorate your living room or even to help you choose a tattoo artist. It easily integrates with your browser for fast pinning, and you can view the pins of others for added inspiration.
You can get different pictorial ideas for anything and everything
Plex makes it easy to stream music, movies, TV shows, photos, and more from your computer to your Android device. You need to set up the app on your Windows or macOS computer first, and then you can beam any content stored on the hard drive to your phone no matter where you happen to be.
Although you can stream files to other computers for free, to send them to your Android phone. While avoiding limits on your file sizes—you’ll need a $5 per month Plex Pass subscription. Also, you must have all your content downloaded to the computer disk, because Plex can’t work with protected videos purchased from Google, Apple, or Amazon. Finally, you’ll rely on a pretty fast connection to avoid too-long buffering times.
- VLC Player
Android devices can play movies and music right out of the box, but it’s still worth supplementing your default apps with VLC Player. Think of it as an all-in-one app you can rely on for any media playback job.
VLC Player can handle just about every file format out there. Besides simple playback, it packs in tons of other features: You can play web streams, apply subtitles, tweak sound settings via the built-in equalizer, watch videos in pop-up windows on top of other apps, stream content from computers on your local Wi-Fi network, and more.
Mozilla makes a big point about how it doesn’t collect your data, the app comes with a full complement of security settings—including an option to protect your information from advertisers and a private browsing mode. Like the desktop version, Firefox for mobile has a robust selection of plug-ins, excellent tab management, and a dynamic start page for bookmarks and the latest headlines. You can even sync settings, history, and tabs with the desktop variant
Most people are probably visit in times of desperation; after being laid off or after a day in the office so bad that you’re just not going to take it anymore. While that might still be true, the LinkedIn app aims to be a companion to LinkedIn web service that you check every day.
Sure there’s the all-important profile pages showing off your work experience, and the handy tools for networking, but the service now includes visitor metrics and a newsfeed for a decidedly more social feel. It’s also sometimes the only way to chat with a businessperson you’re looking to connect with. It’s like Facebook for grown-ups.
- Sleep As Android
Sleep as Android tracks the quality of your shut-eye. You don’t have to fasten a fitness tracker to your wrist to track your sleeping patterns, you can use your phone and the Sleep as Android app instead. When you place your phone on your mattress, the app can monitor movement and noise to work out how well you’re sleeping and how much shut-eye you bank.
The basics come free, but pay the one-time upgrade free, and you can access a ton of useful extras. These include a smart alarm that wakes you up based on your sleep cycles, and an ad-free experience in the app.
Cookpad connects you with a vibrant array of recipes. Easily add favorite recipes, manage shopping lists, and find new recipes you’ll love based on those you already like. Once you start using it, you’ll have one less excuse to eat out.
- Any do
At its core, Any.do is a list manager. You can quickly create a shopping list and have it synced among your devices and even share the list with others.
The app also doubles as a task manager, keeping you on top of what needs to be done. This very capable app sports many features, but we particularly like one called the Any.do Moment, which encourages you to take a second and review your plans for the day. Lists are one thing, but building good productivity habits is quite another.
With its slick, streamlined interface, Flipboard is one of the best apps for reading the news. With it, you browse the articles, videos, podcasts, and other media that matter most to you. The app’s signature magazine-style interface lets you explore the day’s headlines in a gorgeous environment. The Daily Edition feature gives you the most important news along with themed stories for each day of the week. Flipboard has been one of our top picks for years, and it’s easy to see why.
You never have enough time to catch up on all those online articles. Instead of leaving tabs to proliferate, Pocket lets you save articles from any browser, whether it’s on your computer, tablet, or phone. Then read these pieces at your leisure on the Android app. You can even sync the items so they’ll be accessible when you’re offline. What’s more, Pocket strips out all the advertising and other distractions from webpages to give you a clean reading experience that’s easy on the eyes.
Extra features, such as advanced search and auto tagging, require a premium $5 per month subscription. It also has the added bonus of removing the ads from the Pocket app.
- Microsoft Edge
This allows you to easily sync web pages, bookmarks, and browsing history between your Android device and the Edge browser on your desktop. Top features of the mobile browser include an integrated reading view, news ratings (handled by NewsGuard), and a content blocker (powered by Adblock Plus). You can search with Bing using your voice or by selecting a photo, as well as earn points via the Microsoft Rewards program. Both Microsoft Edge’s dark and light theme look elegant and are easy to navigate.
This calorie counter and exercise tracker aims to help you lose weight the old-fashioned way—expending more calories than you take in. With its smart design and an extensive library of foods, it makes quickly logging the calories you take in and what you burn while exercising a snap.
A barcode scanner makes it even easier to log that post-workout snack. This fitness app also plays nice with other such apps, so your data won’t be tied up in just one place. MyFitnessPal won’t give you a whole workout regimen, but it can make you more aware of your habits.
A simple app with a beautiful design for tracking your period and predicting when the next will occur. Using the data you enter about your cycle—and other factors—you can use Clue to plan ahead, whether it’s for pregnancy or just to keep ahead of your cycle. Reminders and a handy calendar tool can help take the guesswork out of life. Best of all, it’s totally gender neutral, and not the expected pink.
IFTTT lets multiple accounts connect with each other or If This Then That, ties together different apps: When a trigger happens in one service (“if this”), then an action results in another (“then that”). You can integrate a whole bunch of programs, including social media, web apps, hardware devices, online services, smart home platforms, and more.
The app works particularly well with an Android device: You can use it to change your phone’s wallpaper every day, back up your SMS messages to email, post to multiple social networks at the same time, or switch off your Wi-Fi when you leave the house. This is just an idea of what’s possible—IFTTT has many more abilities for you to explore.
- Wickr Me
Sometimes the most secure message is one that simply doesn’t exist. That’s the thinking behind Wickr Me, a fully encrypted secure messaging service that even handles media messages. The twist is that you set a lifespan for each message, ensuring that your private messages stay private, the way Snapchat message do.
If you want to record your own podcast, Anchor is likely one of the easiest ways to do it. This app lets you record by yourself or with friends and build out entire podcast episodes entirely from your phone. Anchor even implements some basic audio editing tools for perfecting each clip in the app.
- Google Podcasts
On top of playing your favorite shows, it also syncs your listening across devices—and supported devices include Google Home speakers. The interface is clean and clutter-free, so searching for and discovering new podcasts is simple. Once you subscribe to a show, new episodes download and join your queue automatically.
Snapseed gives you access to just about every image-tweaking tool you can think of, helping you do everything from adjusting colors to removing objects. You can do intensive work tweaking the effects on a very fine level, or just slap on some filters in seconds. Despite the wealth of features, Snapseed and its tools remain straightforward to use. Once you’re done, you can easily share and export the results.
Originally an independent app, Snapseed is now developed by Google. Like many of the tech giant’s apps, it’s free.
This fitness app can count steps and log activities to help you achieve daily goals. There are also social features, so you can compete against your friends. It’s a must-have (really, you must have it) for Fitbit users, but also a smart choice for anyone looking to be more active.
Digitize your documents with CamScanner, several apps let you use your phone’s camera to digitize paper documents, but few are as slick and powerful as CamScanner. It can crop and enhance images in seconds, leaving you with a digital document that’s aligned and easy to read—even if your phone’s camera isn’t the best. You can join documents together, add your own annotations on top, and then share the result as a PDF or JPG.
On top of this basic version, you can sign up for a premium account for $5 per month. With this version, CamScanner will turn images into digital text that you can search through on your phone or via the app’s web interface.
- Eve by Glow
Tracking your period isn’t just about knowing the cycle, but also the other factors surrounding it. Eve by Glow lets you track physical and emotional states, which can lead to some important insights when you take the time to interpret your own data. Eve also boasts a vibrant community and a wealth of information about sexual health built right in.
Give your Android keyboard an upgrade with SwiftKey. You might be happy with the keyboard that came with your Android smartphone, but if you want to take typing to the next level, then you need SwiftKey. It picks up on the phrases, slang, and nicknames you rely on and uses that information to provide more intelligent autocorrect and text predictions. If you prefer swiping to tapping, SwiftKey supports that too. This helps you type faster.
Besides adapting to your own typing style, SwiftKey also gives you easy access to emojis and GIFs, supports multiple languages, and provides lots of color themes to jazz up the keyboard’s appearance.