Best free Android apps
Admittedly, the huge quantity of apps doesn’t mean they’re all quality – far from it in fact. To make sure you never install a duff app here’s our selection of the best you should install right now – each one carefully chosen to ensure you’ll have a whole suite of fun, engaging and, dammit, useful apps on your phone or tablet.
New this week: Google Trips
Simply search for a location and the app will provide information on attractions, restaurants and more, which you can save to your trip.
Any bookings you make – be it for flights, accommodation or whatever else – can be added from Gmail, and if you’re struggling to fill a day you can make use of pre-constructed day plans, which factor in the average time spent in locations and how long it takes to get between them.
Best of all, everything is available offline, so you won’t have to rack up roaming charges every time you check your itinerary.
New this week: Microsoft News Pro
The app has an attractive design and speedily loads articles – two things which are near vital for any app which asks you to spend time reading. But where it stands out is in delivering content you never knew you wanted.
When we got our news from ‘papers and TV headlines we had no control over what we were seeing, but in the age of feed readers and the internet we can filter out anything we don’t want to read. That’s handy, but risks us missing important or interesting things too.
Microsoft News Pro addresses that by giving you more limited control over what news is pumped into your face. You can add topics, and let it know if you want to see more or less of certain types of stories, but News Pro never puts all the power in your hands.
As a result you’ll see some stories you have no interest in, but you’ll also see great content you might have otherwise missed.
New this week: AccuBattery
It does this not by meddling with things behind the scenes, but simply giving you the information you need to make more informed decisions about when and how much to charge your phone.
Regularly charging your battery to 100% can shorten its lifespan, and AccuBattery gives estimates of the effect of charging to different percentages, with recommendations that you generally don’t charge beyond 80%.
To help you manage that it also has a built-in charge alarm, which goes off when the battery reaches the level you want it at, plus a scary battery health figure, which tells us our 8-month-old S7 Edge’s battery is already down to 83% health, with 600mAh gone from its original capacity.
That may not be entirely accurate, but it’s certainly the kind of number that will spur you into action.
And even if you’re already careful about how you charge your phone, AccuBattery could be worth having, as it provides more detailed information on how power-hungry your apps are, and how long your battery will last between charges, than Android itself does.
New this week: Attenborough’s Story of Life
These can be streamed over Wi-Fi or mobile data, giving you an almost endless (and very mobile) supply of animal and plant footage, complete with a handful of new clips recorded by Attenborough for the app.
You can search for specific content, filter by category, or simply browse the full selection. You’ll also find ‘featured collections’ which paste together a selection of related clips into a single longer video.
And if you’re feeling creative you can even create your own collection, which you can then name and share on social media.
Smart Reply, one of the standout features of Allo, suggests responses to messages and photos, learning how you talk over time, so you can send authentic responses without having to type – though it does seem a little impersonal.
The other big feature is Google Assistant, which works a bit like a text version of OK Google, but one which you can insert into any conversation, asking it questions or getting it to pull up information from the web.
Allo also has an incognito mode, with end-to-end encryption and expiring messages, for anyone who’s particularly security conscious.
As with any new messaging app the big problem with Allo will be convincing your friends to use it, but it’s worth the effort.
Podcast Player helps you discover new shows by having you follow topics, which can be as broad as ‘tech’ or as niche and specific as ‘beekeeping’.
The app is also packed full of other handy features, like auto-downloading the latest episodes of shows you’re subscribed to whenever you’re on Wi-Fi, and the ability to sync across devices, all wrapped up in an attractive, simple interface with absolutely no adverts. Podcast Player is so good you’ll wonder why it’s free.
Snap Swipe Drawer
It’s separate from the notifications shade too, so that doesn’t become too cluttered. Instead you can set the left, right or middle of the top edge to display your widgets when pulled on, while the rest will still take you to your notifications.
It’s potentially a bit slower than having your widgets on your home screen, since it requires an extra swipe, but Snap Swipe Drawer is available from anywhere, even while you’re in apps, so in that sense it can be faster and more convenient, and it certainly leaves your screens less cluttered.
It’s similar to Apple’s widgets, which are accessed with a swipe right from the notifications shade, but with one fewer finger flick.
The app replaces your standard home screen with a combined feed for those three services, plus Tumblr and Feedly (or as many of them as you want to include), so they’re always the first thing you’ll see when you turn your phone’s screen on.
Your actual apps, which would usually take center stage, are instead relegated to a second screen, though favorites can be accessed by tapping an icon in the bottom right corner, and for anything you want really fast access to you can add a widget above the main feed.
Flow Home definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s stylish, different and worth a look if you glanced at your Twitter timeline while reading this.
KinScreen also includes toggles to keep your screen on under certain circumstances, such as when on a call, although you’ll need to make sure your face doesn’t press a million buttons at the same time.
It’s not the only app to offer these tools, but it works well and while there is an IAP to unlock certain options, much of it (including the wave-to-wake feature) is free.
Google Opinion Rewards
Most of the questions are multiple choice and there are rarely more than a few questions in each survey, so the app won’t waste your time.
You’ll usually get around one survey a week, so it’s not going to make you rich, but you can earn enough to buy an app or rent a movie every month or two, all for just a few minutes of work.
Simply take a picture of a foreign menu and the app will let you tap on any of the different dishes, bringing up images, translations and other information about them from the internet, so you won’t just know what the name means but even what the dish looks like.
One potential flaw with this is that the app requires data to do its work, which can be expensive when abroad, but images are compressed and the app only uses around 700KB of data per menu.
And MenuSnap isn’t limited to English translations, with the ability to translate to and from over 50 languages.
Simply select any clip that’s saved to your phone (or shoot a new one straight from the app), and then choose from a number of filters, some of which are inspired by actual art styles, such as art nouveau, and the app will quickly apply the filter to your footage.
Depending on the clip and style you choose the result can range from beautiful to an incomprehensible mess, but it’s fun to play with and, if used with care, can lead to great-looking videos.
Once you’ve applied a filter you can share your creation straight to Instagram, Facebook, or any other compatible app on your phone, or just save it to your handset.
The good news is you can easily hide them away in a box, in a cupboard or at the bottom of the ocean. The bad news is by Google brings them into the digital world, where they’ll never be more than a click away – so please think about your future self when digitizing your images.
Follow some simple instructions, which basically involve moving your phone over an image, so the camera lens can clearly see all the different parts of it, and it will be immortalized in digital form and ready for sharing on social media.
PhotoScan has some clever tricks up its sleeve too, allowing it to enhance images, avoid glare, and crop and straighten shots, so that the finished product really is like a digital photo, rather than just a snapshot of a snapshot.
It’s all very quick and easy, which sadly means there’s no forgetting those baggy jeans and nineties haircuts if you’re hell-bent on documenting your entire drawer of old photos.
The app provides sliders to adjust all that, plus the hue and level of blur, on your current wallpaper. There’s also a toggle to invert the colors, and when you’re happy with your edits you can apply your new and improved wallpaper, or save it to your gallery – though saving it requires a $0.99/79p in app purchase (which also removes the adverts).
You can, of course, do many of the same things from a photo editor, but that tends to be overkill if you just want to make small tweaks. Wallpaper Modder keeps things simple, with all the controls on a single screen and your current wallpaper preloaded and ready for editing.
You can use the app to test your download and upload speeds or latency, see detailed coverage maps split by network and signal type, charts highlighting the best and worst networks in a given area and statistics on your signal quality.
Data can be saved and shared, the app will build up a history of your network usage while it’s on your phone, and all of this comes free of charge and adverts – so it’s perfect if you’re thinking about changing networks and want to get the best coverage with your new phone.
It can go even further than that, with a Focus Mode causing the text you’ve already written to fade into the background, so you can stay focused on the current sentence.
These features all make it ideal when you need to write a lot, pen prose quickly or put some thought into what you’re actually putting down on the digital paper.
But there’s more here when you need it, including a night mode with reversed colors if you’re working late, real-time syncing to Dropbox and Google Drive so you never lose your work, instant publishing to WordPress or Medium and a word count too, so you’ll know how far you’ve got left to go if you’re being that regimented.
But can add that feature to your handset, and it’s not limited to just bringing up the notifications screen. You can also set up swipes and taps to launch apps, toggle the torch, change the ringer mode and more.
There are three different gestures you can use, for any combination of these you want, with a swipe, a single tap and a double tap all supported, and while certain actions like putting your phone to sleep require root access, most work on unrooted devices.
Chances are you’ve come across Groupon before, but if not, all you need to know is it’s packed full of deals and offers, across various categories like entertainment, fashion, restaurants and holidays.
Using the app you can filter through any of the categories, as well as seeing what’s nearby. If you find a deal you want you can buy it and redeem it from the app and access to any deals and vouchers you’ve previously bought.
Grabbing vouchers from the app saves you having to print them off, and means you can take advantage of deals with no notice – if you’re out shopping and decide to get some lunch, you can just check the app for nearby offers to up the savings.
With up to 90% off you can save a lot of money – though the temptation to spend on things just because they’re good value can actually make Groupon quite expensive. Sadly, willpower not included.
Lessons are built into simple, bite-sized chunks, ideal for mobile, and SoloLearn starts at the very beginning, so it’s not intimidating to complete beginners.
Also like Duolingo there’s a large community around SoloLearn, with users able to comment on each lesson, or engage in larger question and answer discussions.
SoloLearn also lets you put your coding skills to the test, with a built-in code editor. If there’s a downside to the app it’s the fairly plain appearance, which doesn’t make it particularly inviting – that’s one area where it could stand to learn from Duolingo. But it’s completely free, with no IAP and no adverts, and perfect for those that feel they should learn to code but haven’t got round to it.
As you’ve probably guessed, Brave has a built-in ad-blocker, and it’s simple to use and configure for individual sites – just tap the lion icon at the top of a page to enable or disable ads, trackers and third-party cookies for the site you’re on (although TechRadar would just love it if you chose to whitelist us to help us keep the lights on…).
Brave is still in beta though, and this is just the beginning, as it has ambitions to work with websites and advertisers, rather than simply blocking ads.
The desktop version of the browser already lets you choose to show unobtrusive ads, or pay publishers of the sites that you block ads on, and in future the company even plans to launch a revenue share model, where users who don’t block adverts get a small cut of the income – which they can either keep or distribute to the sites and bloggers they want to support.
You won’t find these features on mobile yet, but they’re likely planned for future updates, so this is one browser that’s sure to get a lot more interesting over time.
They can then reply to your recording with audio posts of their own, starting a group conversation with potentially dozens of strangers, all using their voices rather than text.
Of course, if you’re not much of a broadcaster you can just listen to other people’s recordings – which cover everything from news and opinions, to short stories and humor.
Much like Twitter and other social media platforms you can also follow users, so you’re never short of new content to hear.
Amazon Prime Now
The app gives Amazon Prime subscribers free same day delivery within a two-hour window on thousands of products, or one-hour delivery for an additional charge.
You can get everything from smartphones, to video games, to clothes, toys and even food sent to you.
Well… at least you can if you live somewhere with access to Prime Now, so its rather limited availability means physical stores might not be doomed quite yet.
Still, Prime Now’s availability is growing, and for those who can access it there’s one less reason to ever leave the house again.
That starts with finding a recipe, allowing you to filter not just based on the course or main ingredient, but also by how long it takes to cook or how many calories it has (among other things).
Then, once you find something you like the look of, you can add it to a personal recipe book with a tap, or add the ingredients to your shopping list.
When it comes time to actually cook you’re in safe hands, with fully illustrated and clearly laid out instructions for each recipe, along with video guides for many of the skills you’ll need.
The app also has a built-in timer and a measurements converter, plus new recipes and videos are added every single week.
The app lets you pick from a range of wallpapers across several categories, including Earth, landscapes, cityscapes, life and textures, with the option to have it automatically change the wallpaper each day.
The app also lets you have a separate wallpaper on your lock screen and home screen, but what really makes it stand out is simply the quality of the offerings. Images are sourced from Google Earth, Google+ and elsewhere, and while the selection isn’t as wide as some wallpaper apps the quality is universally high.
You can move the bubble if it’s in the way, and tap it to read or reply to the message, at which point a larger screen will appear over whatever you were looking at, but won’t take you away from the app or page you were on.
It’s designed to both be unobtrusive and mean you won’t have to leave the app or game you’re in to respond to messages.
Where it beats Facebook Messenger is in being able to grab messages from WhatsApp, Telegram, Hangouts, Line, Skype, Twitter, Threema, Textra, Facebook Messenger and Plus Messenger, and that list is likely to grow over time.
So wherever you’re getting contacted from there’s a good chance you’ll be able to respond through Flychat.
The app then creates a combined forecast using data from the most accurate providers in your region and tells you how certain it is of the forecast’s accuracy, so you’ll know exactly what to expect and never again find yourself wearing shorts in a storm.
Hourly and daily forecasts are available, and you can look up to ten days ahead, though of course the accuracy drops off the further forward you look.
If you want a second opinion you can also see what each individual forecast provider reckons the weather is going to be doing.
Climendo isn’t as feature packed as some weather apps. It doesn’t offer widgets and nor can you see details like humidity and pressure, but it’s likely to get the basics of how wet you’ll get right, and that’s surely the most important thing.
It can also improve the contrast and vibrancy of an image and correct uneven lighting, and it does it all with a single slider, working out on its own what needs fixing.
Light EQ works surprisingly well, bringing out details which can hardly be seen in dark originals and generally creating a much more useable image.
It’s not a miracle worker, it can’t add details which were completely absent, and photos which started noisy will generally still be noisy once you’re finished with them, but if you just want to add some light to a shot, this is a slick, simple solution.
High-quality free one-to-one video calls over Wi-Fi or mobile data are at the core of Google Duo, but it’s got some standout features as well, most notably ‘Knock Knock’, which lets you see a video preview of the caller before you decide whether to answer or not.
There’s strong security too thanks to end-to-end encryption, and as there’s no need to sign up for an account, you just need to input your phone number to get started.
Fast Speed Test
This Netflix creation estimates your download speed by performing a series of downloads from the company’s servers, giving you a quick estimate of how speedy your internet is.
It doesn’t test your upload speeds, ping or latency as it’s designed to keep things as simple as possible and there are plenty of other services for them if you need more details, but if you just want a speedy snapshot of the internet performance on your phone Fast Speed Test is hard to beat.
But what if there was another way? What if you could just search once and get back a list of locations where your content can be found?
That’s what JustWatch does, you simply tell it what country you’re in and which sites and services you’re interested in when you first download the app, after which it will bring back every relevant search result from then on.
That’s reason enough for stream fiends to grab it, especially as it’s free, but there’s more here, including lists of the latest releases on all of your subscribed services, so you’ll never miss a new Netflix series again.
Cloud services like Google Docs are doing a good job in the space and now you can add Dropbox Paper to the list of quality options.
It’s an accomplished app for creating documents, allowing you to add images, videos, tables and even code. But it also allows you to share, edit and collaborate on documents with a variety of tools.
You can invite people to collaborate using a link or email, add comments and edits, change the document in real time and give feedback to specific people or everyone on the project.
Dropbox Paper works in the web, so you can access it from almost any device, but the app is a slick way to use it from a smartphone.
But PixelPhone does, in fact you can tweak and customize almost every aspect of it, from the default action when you tap on a contact to the size of the dial pad.
There’s very little that you could reasonably expect from a phone app that PixelPhone can’t do, though to unlock the call recording feature you’ll have to pay for the pro version (£2.69/US$2.99).
But you get a whole lot for free and it really embodies the spirit of Android, by allowing you to tweak the look and feel of the app until you’re happy.
The app couldn’t be simpler: you just point your phone at whatever you want to animate, press the big yellow button on the screen, then slightly move anything that you want to show in motion. From that, press the button again and continue like that until you’ve created your masterpiece.
Once all the footage is in place you can play it back, adjust the frame rate if needed and remove any pictures that you forgot to get your hands out of.
You can always go back and add more frames to a project at any point, so you don’t need to set aside a whole afternoon to get an intricate animation done in one go. Once you finally are finished you can save it to your phone and send it to your friends/your kids/anyone else who’ll still talk to you after seeing your shonky stop motion.
Flytube fixes this by opening the video in a small window, which sits over the top of whatever screen you’re on, but can be moved to wherever is least in the way.
This will happen automatically if you launch the video from the Flytube app (which itself is a fairly slick take on YouTube), but if you want to stick to the official app you can get the same effect by sharing the video with Flytube.
While viewing a video in a small window isn’t ideal, it works well for songs that you’re listening to (rather than watching), or for quickly checking something before returning to full screen footage.
The app sports dozens of filters, largely based around specific painters or art styles and with a single tap (and a bit if a wait – plus you need to be online) you can apply any of these to any of your photos.
There’s no shortage of photo filter apps but these are a bit more inventive than most and actually look convincingly like the art styles they’re imitating.
Once you’ve applied your filter of choice you can lessen the effect with a swipe if it’s veered too far from the source image for your liking, then you can save and share your creations with another few taps.
One of the joys of a physical notebook is often the design of the cover and, while that can never be fully replicated on mobile, Notebook by Zoho takes a good stab at it, by letting you choose from a selection of covers for each of your virtual notebooks, or create your own.
This, coupled with being able to change the color of each note’s background, makes for a very colorful app, which feels fun and playful as much as functional.
Notes can be sorted and sifted with pinches and swipes, you can add checklists, audio and images, search for specific content, share your notes with others and upload to the cloud to access them across devices.
For now it lacks some of Evernote’s features, such as the ability to collaborate on documents, but it’s also a lot newer, so these things may be added over time and it’s a remarkably rich offering for something that’s completely free.
It’s both a storefront and reader, offering over 5,000 different magazines from across the world, though not all in English.
Both major titles and more niche offerings are covered and navigating them on a touchscreen is easy, with swipes to turn pages and pinches or double taps to zoom, or you can just select the ‘Text’ option to read articles without the images and formatted for your screen.
Your whole library is stored online, so you can access it from other devices, but you can also download your magazines if you want to read them on a plane or elsewhere with no internet connection.
The app uses AI to generate a series of possible replies to any message you get through SMS, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger or KakaoTalk, then you just have to tap one of them to send it.
The responses aren’t always perfect and may not sound like things you’d say, but they generally relate to whatever message you got and you can save your own commonly used replies if its voice doesn’t match yours.
And Fluenty works on both smartphones and smartwatches. It’s especially useful on the latter, where typing out a message really is a pain, but you might be surprised how often a one-tap response comes in handy on your phone too.
It only really gives you one true home screen, so if you like having all your apps visible, rather than leaving them in folders or the app drawer, ASAP Launcher might not be for you, but by limiting you it forces you to keep your home screen tidy.
And your apps are never far away. A swipe up from the dock will display your most commonly used apps, while a swipe in from the left edge will bring up the app drawer, which you can quickly swipe through or search.
Most other things are no more than a swipe or two away as well. Swiping the right edge brings up a scrollable bar full of shortcuts and toggles, while swiping left or right from the center of the screen will display your contacts, calendar, the weather and even a to-do list.
And if you don’t like the look of ASAP Launcher you can change the theme and highlight colors, or even switch up the icons with custom icon packs.
That makes them a bit more unique and the standards seem exceedingly high, yet they’re still free to download. If you’re feeling creative you can even add your own wallpaper designs and Walli promises that everyone who contributes to the app will get a share of the revenue.
The app is attractively laid out and while there are only a few different ways to filter images it’s enjoyable to browse and easy to find something that could help liven up your tired home screens.
Pi Music Player
For one thing it looks great (not that you’ll probably spend too long looking at it once you’ve queued some tracks up), but with album artwork and a classy interface you won’t mind the time you do spend in front of it.
It also has features you won’t find in all players, like a sleep timer which will turn the music off after a set period and a ringtone cutter, allowing you to select the exact point in a song that you want as a ringtone.
But Pi Music Player has the basics covered well too, with an equalizer, several different ways to sort and view your music, multiple themes and easy-to-build playlists.
Music Maker Jam
There’s less to it than something like Caustic 3, but that means you can learn the basics and start making music that actually sounds good in a matter of minutes, by combining up to eight samples and looping and tweaking them until you’re happy.
There are only a few screens you need to worry about and everything is laid out intuitively in a manner that doesn’t feel cluttered on a smartphone screen, plus there’s a short tutorial to get you started.
A bunch of samples are included for free, but you can buy extras or even record your own if you’re really feeling creative.
But it can also analyze the text in messages you receive, so you can send a relevant emoji response with a tap, and Dango is smart enough only to display GIFs as an option in apps which fully support them.
Emoji keyboards already exist, but with Dango you can keep using your keyboard of choice and still have speedy access, while the icon is small enough that it’s not intrusive when you’re happy just with words.
You might understandably be concerned about privacy with the app analyzing your messages, but it promises that data never leaves your device, so the only thing to worry about is an emoji addiction.
They’re fast and intuitive to do and in many cases can be a lot quicker than hunting out an icon on your home screens. That’s especially ideal if you map one of the gestures to something like your camera, where wasted time can mean a missed shot.
The app itself has adverts, but once you’ve set your gestures up you never need to set foot in it again, so they’re not remotely intrusive.
Nor do you have to do it purely out of the kindness of your own heart, as just like on Kickstarter you can net rewards for backing projects.
But rather than a one off pledge (and a one off reward), on Patreon you donate an amount every month, and get ongoing rewards, such as monthly concept art and behind the scenes access.
The app is easy to navigate and gives you the ability to browse projects, follow creators and read your messages, so you can invest in creativity wherever you are.
Kids Place – Parental Control
The app lets you choose exactly which other apps you want to allow them to use and then they can launch them from within Kids Place itself and won’t be able to exit to the main home screen without a PIN.
In app purchases can also be blocked, screen time controls can be added if you don’t want them glued to the tablet all day and you can even set Kids Place to automatically launch when your device is turned on.
The look of the app feels slightly lacking in polish, but it’s easy for children to navigate, with big icons to launch other whitelisted apps.
The app lets you start playing a song through SoundCloud, YouTube or your own music collection and then any nearby friends with the app can join the party, with the music syncing up and playing out of everyone’s phones.
It works over both Wi-Fi and mobile data, so if you’re in a field with no proper speakers AmpMe could get the party started. But it can also connect to tablets, iOS devices and Bluetooth speakers, so you’re not limited to just Android or just tinny phone sound.
It’s a shame there aren’t more supported music sources and the app does have adverts, but it’s free and it works at the push of a button.
It’s an incredibly fast way of finding out what the consensus on a film is, with IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings shown at the top of each listing.
From there you’re just a tap away from trailers, reviews, cast lists and similar films, or if you just want to know what’s popular, what’s currently in cinemas or what’s coming soon you can see all that from tabs on the home page.
It lacks the trivia, community and more in depth details found on IMDB, but for the basics it’s a lot faster to navigate.
Essentially Spaces is for group conversations, but it’s as much about sharing as talking, because you can easily drop links, pictures and videos too, using Chrome and YouTube, both of which are built into the app.
With that in mind each of your spaces is likely to have a specific theme or purpose, rather than just be used for general chatter. Whether you’re planning a group holiday or just dedicating a space to sharing the latest funny memes, Spaces is a good way to do it.
Each post can be commented on by members of the space, which means conversations are split up into mini discussions around each post, so it’s easy to skim through if you’re looking for something or have no interest in a specific post. With built in search tools you can easily find long lost posts too.
Paying with your phone is fast, convenient and secure, as it’s contactless and your card number isn’t shared during the transaction.
You can store all of your credit and debit cards on it, along with gift cards, so you almost won’t need a wallet any more.
There are a handful of banks that don’t yet support Android Pay, but assuming yours isn’t one of them there’s little reason not to at least give it a try.
It distils the whole process of playing with stocks, currencies, commodities and indices into a handful of simple screens, with easily digestible information.
And playing is the key word, because you don’t have to risk any of your actual money. Instead, you can use ‘FunBux’ to make investments and trades. Not only is this good for learning the ropes but it’s surprisingly fun in its own right, though when you make a big profit you’ll be kicking yourself for not investing real money.
When you feel ready though you can do exactly that, and with alerts for when stocks rise or fall a certain amount you don’t have to watch the market all day. It’s quite possibly the most entertaining take on the stock market since 1987’s Wall Street and far lower stakes than getting tangled up with a real life Gordon Gekko.
It does this by automatically grouping them together into ‘Moments’, based on when they were taken and who was in them and then in a few taps you can share them with a group of friends.
Anyone you’ve shared a Moment with can add their own photos to it, so you can build albums as a group and make sure you have every shot from that night out, to hopefully piece together what happened between leaving the house and waking up in Spain.
Your photos can of course be shared on Facebook, but it also works with Instagram and shots from other people can be saved onto your phone’s camera roll, so it’s not totally reliant on the all-encompassing social network.
Sesame Lock Screen
As with the app drawer you can scroll through or search for specific apps, but it also adds contacts into the mix as well as connecting to the likes of YouTube and Spotify, so you can search for specific songs and playlists.
It even features a kind of ‘live widget’ functionality, where you can hook it up to apps like Uber or Lyft and see live car availability without having to launch their apps.
But Sesame is smart as well, learning what apps you use the most and putting them at the top of the list, so the longer you have it for the less searching is likely to be required and it’s never far away.
You can stick Sesame Lock Screen either on your lock screen (while leaving any security settings intact), or get to it with a long press of the home button from anywhere on your phone to add a little extra sauce to your Android experience.
Quik – Free Video Editor
You simply pick out clips or images from your gallery and Quik will automatically add music and transitions.
It can automatically detect faces and colours, so it usually does a good job of framing photos on its own and it cycles through your images and clips in time to the music, so with a few taps you can come away with a competent creation.
But if you want to take more control you can. You can choose from 24 different video styles and dozens of tracks, or add your own music. You can add titles and text overlays, re-order the clips, choose at what point the music should start, change the pace and set the orientation.
That’s all handled through a simple, colourful interface with just a handful of screens and menus, making it as quick as the name suggests.
Cover Lock Screen
These aren’t just random apps though, as they’re context sensitive. That means, based on whether you’re at home, at work, out or in the car, Cover Lock Screen will learn what you use where, so they’re usually the apps you’ll want to see.
CLS is one of the better thought-out lock screen apps, with useful features like the ability to hide any apps that you don’t want displayed on your phone and have different wallpapers for different locations.
It also stands out by looking good and uncluttered, as the apps only lie at one side of the screen, so there’s still plenty of room for the clock and wallpaper to shine through.
For one thing it comes from HTC, so it’s got the backing of a big brand. As such it’s also suitably polished, with a clean, colourful interface that’s easy to navigate and shows you the state of your phone’s storage and memory at a glance.
Head beyond the main screen and there are options to clear out any temporary files to claw space back on your device and find the apps you never use, so you can delete them and get even more MBs.
Boost+ can also be used to free up memory in order to speed your phone up and save battery life, which you can do either as and when you feel like it or set the app to run clean-up duty automatically.
Finally, for some reason, it also lets you lock other apps. That in itself is a useful feature, but feels somewhat unrelated to its core functionality – but hey, privacy is privacy, right?
It does this by testing you on the meaning of 1200 words, with definitions, example sentences and audio pronunciations provided for each.
You can work your way through different sections, unlocking new words to learn as you go and the word choices are tricky enough that you’re sure to come across a number of new ones, especially in the advanced sections.
To make things a bit more interesting there’s also a competitive element, allowing you to face off against another user to see which of you knows the most definitions in a twenty question test.
Animatic by Inkboard
You use a basic selection of pens, pencils and other drawing tools to create an image, then vary it slightly across multiple frames. For example, changing the position of someone’s legs in each picture, so that once you flip through it you get a basic animation with a sense of movement.
Since this is an app and not a book the flipping is handled by the software, you just pick the speed and then export it as a video or a GIF which you can share on social media or through other apps. Art skills very much not included.
But back in this world you’ll just have to trust us that if you’ve ever used or laughed at a GIF then GIPHY is worth downloading. It features the world’s largest library of moving pictures, sorted across various categories, which, along with a search tool, makes it easy to find the perfect one for any situation.
Browsing is fun, but the real appeal of GIPHY is being able to easily share your findings in emails, messages and social media, breathing new life into your reactions and greetings.
Call Recorder – ACR
The app will record your calls for you, as you can probably guess from the name, and it records both sides of the conversation, so you won’t just be listening to the soothing tones of your own voice.
If you regularly find yourself scrambling for a pen you can set it to start recording every call automatically, but if you want to be a bit pickier that’s easy to do too, with various filters or the option to just start recording manually.
Add in a range of different recording formats, support for cloud storage and a simple system for playing back recordings, which allows you to pause and jump around to different points in them, and Call Recorder – ACR is a full-featured solution. Just remember to tell people you’re recording to stay legal and all that.
You can easily create your own live streams or watch other people’s, send comments and hearts in real time and if you miss the action there’s a 24 hour window with which to replay streams.
There are a few other tools, like being able to cherry-pick who can see your broadcast or just send it out to the world at large. But in short it’s simple enough to dive straight into but has enough to it that you’ll keep coming back, whether you’re more creator or viewer.
Rather than using up your SMS allowance by sending text messages, WhatsApp lets you send messages over any Wi-Fi or mobile data connection instead. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, send videos, make calls and have group chats. Best of all, if you’re using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) none of this will cost you anything.
There are over 30 million songs to choose from, so you’ll never be lacking something to listen to and with various playlists, including an ever changing one tailored to your own tastes, it’s easy to discover new music too.
Even better you can now listen to Spotify music for free on Android, although if you want to download songs for offline listening and without any ads, then a Spotify Premium account is worth investing in.
It’s a brilliant productivity tool that lets you organise and search your notes so you always have exactly what you need at your fingertips.
The paid premium version unlocks offline access and passcode protection, but for free you still get a vast, feature-packed digitial notebook that’s easy to navigate.
Inevitably many of the memories will be mundane, but mixed in with them there’ll be key moments from your life and good days you’d almost forgotten. If you don’t have a photographic memory Timehop’s ability to keep the past current makes it more than worth the download.
You can also quickly send files from your computer to your phone with only a few clicks, and if you regularly find that you email links to yourself just to open them on your smartphone, then you’ll never have to do that again thanks to Pushbullet’s link sharing features.
Although the interface is simple enough to use with just your fingers, there’s also a lot of depth to this app as well. You use tools to tweak and enhance your photographs to make them look the best they ever have, as well as playing around with fun filters that can transform the photos you’ve taken on your smartphone or tablet.
You’re not limited to sharing your snaps on Instagram either, as you can easily add your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more with just a few taps.
Or if you’re not much of a photographer just follow other people and keep up to date with their lives and adventures, one picture at a time.
That’s reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on Android but on iOS and computers too.
But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it’s well on its way.
There are leaderboards and challenges to give it a competitive edge and if you’re ever not sure where to run or cycle you can find user created routes on the app, or share your own. All of that comes free of charge, while a premium version adds even more tools.
You can also synchronise your saved articles across every device you’ve installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading. With unlimited storage you can build up a whole library of content and the app even makes recommendations of new things it thinks you might like.
The Uber service is available in over 50 countries, and it’s rapidly growing. Give it a try and you’ll never want to hail a taxi the old fashioned way again. It’s fast, convenient and a whole lot more high-tech than taxis have ever been before.
Citymapper – Bus, Tube, Rail
You can easily plan your route using all kinds of transport, from buses to ferries, and you can be kept up to date with real-time data, including any disruptions or cancellations. An essential app for any city-bound traveller.
Transit directions, live traffic updates, voice-guided GPS navigation, Street View and more are all included, making this more feature-packed than even most paid options. Importantly it’s detailed and accurate too, with information on millions of places, so you’ll never be late or get lost again.
Whether you’re trying to find your way around or just want to find somewhere new to eat, Google Maps has you covered.
This Google app is designed to take panoramic photos, which you can then experience in VR. Images are given real depth, you can look around them as you wish and even hear sounds as they happen if recorded.
It’s a new way to experience photos which brings them to life more than ever before. You’ll look ridiculous wearing the viewer on your head in the process, but it’s worth it to relive embarrassing drunken antics in glorious VR.
However a lot of work has since been put into the official app to help it compete and even surpass third party offerings. New features such as being able to embed tweets within tweets for some sort of tweetception shenanigans, as well as uploading GIFs, are all very welcome.
These new features plus a streamlined interface, a lack of superfluous features some of its competitor apps contain and no ads makes this the best app for firing off a quick tweet.
VLC for Android
It spent a long time in beta, but it now delivers a stable, full-featured experience, complete with support for subtitles, multi-track audio, DVD ISOs and network streams.
That’s all packaged in an easy to use player, with widgets and gesture controls. So you don’t need to worry about getting your media to work, you just need to launch VLC and press play. The app will do the rest.
It took a while for Dropbox to come to Android, and after a shaky start this app is now essential with a number of helpful new features that let you save photos and videos from your device straight to Dropbox. As well as quickly editing your documents from within the app and easily sharing them with other people, or just keeping them safely backed up.
You can create simple statements such as “if any photo is taken then add them to Dropbox”, or “if my location is home, send a text message to my partner saying “I’m home!”” which can also be shared with other IF users. You’ll be amazed how much you can do with such a simple premise.
Out of these Nova Launcher is arguably the best, giving you complete control over your home screen. You can change the icons, themes, colours and layout, completely hide apps that you don’t use, set up gesture controls and add funky affects when navigating your phone.
It might sound bloated but you can use as many or as few of these features as you want, so if you want to keep your Android experience slick and minimalist Nova Launcher can do that too.
Calls to other Skype users over Wi-Fi are free, but you can also make calls to mobiles and landlines as well. You’ll need Skype credit for this, but you could find yourself saving a small fortune, especially if you’re ringing people in other countries.
Fitness goals for dailys step counts, calories burned, or time or distance of exercise can also be set to help you reach the level of fitness you desire, as well as keeping you motivated.
Map My Fitness Workout Trainer
Voice feedback will keep you in the loop even when you’re in the process of working out, giving you information on your pace, the route you’re taking, calories burned and plenty more.
Get friends involved too and you can view each other’s activity, helping you keep each other motivated and take part in a little friendly competition.
Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, and English can all be learned, it’s completely free with no ads or hidden fees and it’s one of the best ways you can learn a new language with your Android device.
You can view all the files you save to the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as share them with friends and co-workers. You can even edit them from Google Drive itself and use your camera to scan paper documents straight into your cloud storage.
PDFs, photos, videos and much more can be accessed through this handy app.
One of the best features lets you use the camera of your Android device to translate real-world objects such as signposts and posters. Just point, shoot and translate! Couple this with Google Maps and you’ve got all you need to travel the world.
That’s not ideal and it’s where password managers, such as 1Password, come in. This gives you an online database of all your passwords and automatically fills in login fields, so the only password you need to remember is the one for 1Password itself.
Except now you don’t even need to do that, as the app has added fingerprint support for devices running Android Marshmallow.
1Password is securely encrypted, so your logins are safe and it works across Android, iOS, PC and Mac. The core app is free but to unlock all the features you will need to make a one time in-app purchase.
As the internet’s all about sharing you can also easily spread the stories you read to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and more from the Feedly app.
The Android app has been overhauled to make it as fast and intuitive to use as possible. The main page puts icons for sending and receiving money front and centre and to do so you just tap on one and select one of your contacts, or enter their email or phone number. From there it’s just a few more taps to have it sent or requested.
There are other tools if you need them, including the ability to change your account details, change your currency and even pay for things in store using the app and they’re all easy to navigate as well.
It’s all wrapped up in an incredibly stylish interface and secured with a password or fingerprint, so if someone gets access to your phone they don’t automatically get access to your PayPal account.
Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal
Along with calories, the nutritional information of various food and snacks is recorded and you can set goals to help you keep you on track, making it a whole lot easier to choose a clementine over a chocolate bar.
Endomondo – Running & Walking
You can keep a training diary to view your progress and set workout goals and challenges to help keep you motivated. Plus social features allow you to share and compete with your friends.
While Endomondo works well on its own it can also be linked up to other apps and wearables, so you can get a complete picture of your progress.
Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout
The official app of the scientifically proven body-weight workout is designed for all fitness levels and contains over 30 minutes of special videos to help you get fit with a seven minute routine that only needs a wall, chair and a bit of floor space. So not only do you need very little time, but also very little space or equipment. Secretly we hate this app, as it’s killed most of our excuses for being lazy.
Skyscanner – All Flights!
In only a few seconds you’ll be able search and compare flights to find the cheapest ones available, or look for the best deals on specific airlines or cabin classes.
You can book your chosen flight directly from the app while you’re on the go. You can also search for random destinations to give you inspiration for your next holiday.
theScore – Sports & Scores
Covering all the major sports including football (both real and American), basketball, hockey, golf and much more, you’ll get the latest news and alerts to keep you up to date with any game. Player Card Profiles is a particularly great feature that gives you in-depth stats and analysis of players.
Forget messing about with knobs, TuneIn Radio’s interface is clear and easy to use on a touchscreen, and you can tune in with just a tap. You can also save your favourites, so it’s easy to get back to that Vietnamese comedy broadcast you discovered at 3AM.
Twilight provides an easy fix, by adapting the display colours to the time of day, filtering the blue light after sunset and in turn helping you get to sleep before 4am. You can customise the colour profile to your liking and set it to automatically turn on and off at the appropriate times, so you don’t need to remember to.
With App Lock there’s no danger of anyone getting into anything you don’t want them to, as you can use it to lock individual apps with a PIN, pattern or fingerprint.
The app itself is mostly just a long list of your other apps, with toggles for whether you want to lock them or not, so there’s not much to it, but it does what it sets out to without any bloat.
The lockscreens it presents you with look good too, with colours to match the apps they’re locking. But if you’re using a fingerprint scanner you won’t waste too much time looking at them anyway, as you’ll be swiftly in.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
You can change the white balance, temperature, contrast, exposure and more. Reduce noise, improve clarity, add filters and effects, crop and rotate your shots. Best of all if you make a mistake you can revert to the previous version of the image with a single tap.
You’ll still need to subscribe to Creative Cloud if you want to use Lightroom on desktop, but this free version is perfect for mobile modders.
It’s slick and polished, which is no surprise coming Google. It’s not all just entertainment either, as there’s a ‘Learning’ category too, and there are parental controls, allowing you to add a timer or block certain content.
Being automated there’s a chance some unsuitable stuff will still slip through, but if you switch the search option off your child will be limited to the app’s recommendations. This still gives them a lot to watch, while completely cutting them off from the wider world of YouTube.
Rivals have sprung up but SwiftKey is still the king, with accurate predictions and a massive number of customisation options.
You used to have to pay for the app, but now you don’t have to spend a penny to give your keyboard a big boost.