With smartphones getting more and more powerful every year, we’re starting to see some amazing Android apps appear on the Google Play store. Without the right apps, that expensive smartphone is nothing but a pricey chunk of metal. Here are the best Android apps for phones and tablets.
We’re always taking a look at the latest and great Android smartphone and tablet apps here at Expert Reviews. From essential work-related software to fun and games, we’ve looked at all of them. We can help you find the best Android app for you.
Read about the best smartphones you can buy in 2018
Below you can find those useful Android apps for working on the go, essential software to make your life a bit easier, hoarding podcasts, or finding that hidden gem restaurant. It’s never been easier to download apps, what with Google Play store and PC store browsing, so there’s no excuse to have the latest and greatest.
If you’ve come in the hopes of finding a new hyper-addictive Android game to while away the commute, then we recommend you head over to our definitive list of the best Android games to play in 2018. And if you’re a bit of keep-fit freak, we have a handy list of the best fitness trackers right here to help you track your stats and train to the max.
And now we present to you the definitive list of the best Android apps for both smartphones and tablets on the Google Play store, broken down into categories for your convenience. Up first, though, we’ll discuss the best and brightest brand new Android apps of 2018 that you need to download.
Best new Android apps 2018
Simple Habit Meditation – Free
“But I don’t have any TIME to meditate!” – We’ve all said it, but it’s not just some lousy excuse; sadly, for many of us in the digital age, that statement is true. But no longer! With Simple Habit, anyone can meditate for just five minutes a day. No need to shut the curtains, light the candles, burn the incense, and listen to gong music – just open up the app and select a short meditation session, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
Simple Habit has excellent reviews from the majority of its users, who now find themselves happier and calmer than ever before, and it’s also award-winning; it took home the ‘Best App for Well-Being’ trophy at the 2018 Google Play Store App Awards. There are over 50 free meditation sessions to pick from for whenever you feel the need for an extra bit of headspace, and the premium version gives you access to more than 1000, all of which are designed to help you overcome your stressors and become the best version of you.
RememBear: Password Manager (free)
From the developers of the popular (not to mention adorable) TunnelBear VPN app comes RememBear, a management system which securely stores all of your various passwords for all of numerous online accounts. With a few taps of a button RememBear will log you into websites and apps with a couple of taps, saving you time, and your login details are guarded by fingerprint encryption and a ‘Master Password’. Reassuringly, RememBear’s security measures have been independently tested to ensure that they’re up to scratch. Best of all, though, there are cutesy bear animations.
Just a Line (free)
Another fun slice of experimental software from Google Creative has arrived on Android. Just a Line allows you to create augmented reality doodles using with the swipe of a finger. It’s a simple, but ingenious idea: focus the camera on an object, and you can daub it with virtual brushstrokes. As you move the camera your doodles will stay locked in place, so you can exercise your inner Basquiat without getting collared by the nearest law enforcement officer. Personally, we use it in the office to quickly and easily anthropomorphise inanimate objects to create such beautiful entities as Scary Toilet and Incredulous Stapler.
Grammarly Keyboard (free)
The grammar-preening browser extension has finally been condensed into Android app form. After you have installed and activated Grammarly, you will have no excuse for ever making a typo again. The omniscient, omnipotent keyboard will check your spelling and police your grammar across all other apps on your phone – whether you’re sending a quick test or drafting a lengthy work email, Grammarly will ensure your prose is as tidy as can be, so you can forget all about “i before e” and get on with your day. Your English teacher would be so disappointed in you. But who cares about them? They wore a corduroy tie.
Canva is a free app which allows users with little to no artistic skill to edit photos and create graphic design images to near-professional standard. Its suitable for anyone trying to brush up the image quality on their social media account banner, profile picture, or brand logo. Posters, flyers, and greeting cards can all be made from scratch using an intuitive, simple-to-learn interface. There are thousands of templates to choose from too – one of them is bound to serve your needs, but these templates can of course be customised further still. The four and five star reviews, many of them from professional photographers and professional designers, speak volumes about how capable Canva is.
It’s still in the beta stage, but ProtonVPN is already growing in popularity; this is probably due in no small part to the reputation of its CERN scientist developers, who previously made ProtonMail for Android, the world’s largest encrypted email service. ProtonVPN has been made with freedom and security in mind; it hides the IP address of the user when browsing the web, gives access to blocked sites, and protects users even when on Public Wi-Fi channels. ProtonVPN is free, exceptionally easy to use, and comes with a privacy guarantee – they do not collect data to share with third parties. Download it now, and reclaim your right to online privacy.
Food, Entertainment & Travel
Happy Cow (free)
Why is the cow happy, you ask? Well, because it’s not being killed and eaten, we suppose. Happy Cow is a free-to-use restaurant locator which caters to vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians. The basic search function finds restaurants based on distance (the closest to you being the first on the list) and can be filtered by ‘Vegan’, ‘Vegetarian’, and ‘Veg Options’. As you’d expect, the third option will throw up the widest selection of restaurants, while selecting Vegan-only will narrow down the options considerably. Price-levels are also indicated on most of the eateries, and in major cities nearly all will have customer reviews (including photos) to help you make your decision. It’s also indispensable if you’re looking for suitable restaurants whilst on holiday, as Happy Cow can turn a vegan’s sorry evening spent dining on chips and salad into a memorable night of feasting and rejoicing.
Bandisintown Concerts (free)
Bandisintown is the ultimate database for every live musical performance happening anywhere on this good Earth, and now it’s also put its name to an award-winning gig-finder app that spares music fans from a lifetime of schedule browsing and email checking. Choose your favourite artists and you’ll be notified whenever they announce shows or tickets go live, and you can select preferred genres to receive recommendations for artists that you may not have heard of. The app makes keeping track of and organising your musical social life so much easier, allowing you to share events on social media and invite friends to gigs you’re interested in. It’s also the go-to for bookings tickets as well, as it provides links to literally hundreds of trusted ticket vending sites from each of its individual events pages. Every music lover needs this app, from Doom Metal heads to Jazz-Funk connoisseurs.
Finding good restaurants can be tricky no matter where you live, but Zomato can help you track down the best eateries in your local area. By using your phone’s GPS, Zomato can give you instant recommendations based on your location. What sets Zomato apart from other finder apps, though, is its slick interface and its superb level of detail. You can either explore by location, cuisine or search for something specific to satisfy your cravings, or check out one of the carefully curated collections, ranging from trending restaurants that week or new places that have opened to even something like rugby pubs or gluten-free cafes. You can also follow other users, whose posts are listed in your own Zomato feed.
No matter which place you pick, you always get the address (along with a Google Map location), opening times, average cost for two, a menu, photos and user reviews, along with photos. Our favourite feature is being able to call the restaurant straight from the app to make a reservation, but the Bookmark feature is also great for curating restaurants you want to visit another day. Some provide accepted payments types and nearby tube stops if you’re in London as well, while others even have a button to call an Uber taxi. Likewise, it’s easy to write a review of your own or upload pictures of your food thanks to the handy + button in the bottom-right-hand corner.
If you just want to find out what’s on at the cinema, Flixster combines local show times with reviews from Rotten Tomatoes to show you what’s hot in the world of film. You can browse through top box office hits or get detailed listings for individual cinemas up to a week in advance, and the upcoming films and DVD releases tabs keep you up to date on everything being released in the coming months. IMDb addicts will find plenty to like here as well, as each film listing includes filmographies of all the major stars. It’s not quite as comprehensive as IMDb, but this is an invaluable tool for cinema-goers.
There’s nothing more entertaining than learning German and Duolingo helps you do it for free. The app actually makes learning a new language fun and engaging, with challenges using a mix of typing, talking, listening and comprehension to develop your skills. As well as German you can use Duolingo to learn French, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. Rather than overwhelming you with information Duolingo presents everything in bite-size chunks, ideal for swatting up on a bit of French while on the train or waiting for the kettle to boil. The more you use it the more challenging the tasks get until you’ve developed a surprisingly good knowledge of a totally new language.
Google Translate (free)
Heading on holiday and worried about your rusty French/German/Italian/Spanish? Fret not, Google’s got your back. Google Translate has come along leaps and bounds in recent years and is now a really comprehensive tool. The app can translate back and forth between 80 languages and you can speak, type or take a picture to get a translation. You can even download language packs for offline use. So if you’re off on holiday to Germany and never want to be lost for words, download the German language pack and you can translate anything into English even without an internet connection. This is an invaluable travel tool.
Finding a taxi can be surprisingly difficult in London, and queuing up in the rain outside a station is everyone’s worst nightmare, particularly when you’re late for a meeting. Having the right amount of cash is also a common problem, but Uber does away with all that hassle to provide a smooth, stress-free taxi ride to any destination across the captial, although it’s also available in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Glasgow, and Merseyside in the UK.
When you open up the app, it can access your phone’s GPS to show you every Uber driver in your immediate location, allowing drivers to pick you up from anywhere – even if you don’t have a set address. You’ll receive a text with your driver’s name and car details so you know which car to get into, and you can follow your driver’s progress to see how close they are. Once you set your destination, all payment is handled electronically via your linked bank card or PayPal account, and you’ll be emailed a receipt of your journey once it’s been completed. Even better, the app lets you split your fare with a friend, so one person doesn’t have to take a massive hit to their wallet at the end of a night out.
Recently acquired by Google, Waze is the ultimate navigation app for drivers. It’s a travel mapping service that uses your phone’s GPS to provide a real-time picture of the roads around you. Simply pick your destination when you hop in your car and Waze will identify the quickest route while also showing the average road speed in areas of heavy traffic, any user-reported incidents, such as road hazards or accidents, speed camera locations, and which petrol stations are nearby and how much they’re charging per litre. It will also learn your preferred routes and departure times for home and work and adapt them if there’s an unexpected jam or hold-up. If you invite your friends to join as well, you can keep track of their movements if you need to co-ordinate arrival times at an event.
If you don’t commute by car, keeping track of train times is probably part of your morning routine. TheTrainLine gives you live departure times from your nearest and most recently used stations, and tapping on an individual journey will show you all the calling points as well. It uses the same information that powers the National Rail Enquiries app, but TheTrainLine has a clearer, more streamlined design and less intrusive adverts. It also has the added bonus of being able to buy train tickets online and browse and book hotels at your intended destination.
Google Maps may be the more ubiquitous navigation tool, but the free OpenStreetMap-based OsmAnd Maps app is far more detailed. You’ll need to download the maps you want to view from the Settings menu while you’re online, but these colourful maps have individual shop listings and street numbers, public footpaths, bench locations, filters that can be toggled on and off for points of interest plus longitude and latitude co-ordinates to name just a few of its extra features. It also gives you car, cycling and walking directions to help you get where you need to be, with optional voice-guidance and different maps styles to suit each type of transportation.
Citymapper – London Transport (free)
Citymapper only covers London and Manchester in the UK to date (plus around 20 other big cities worldwide), but it’s one of the most comprehensive travel apps we’ve seen. Set your destination and Citymapper will give you routes and estimated times for walking and cycling (along with the number of calories you’ll burn), taking a cab, bus routes and Tube and rail, showing you which one’s the cheapest and what the weather’s like at your intended destination. It’s great for anyone watching their fitness, but it’s also useful if you need to take a sudden detour. There’s also a Tube map you can view offline; live Tube service updates and distances to each respective Tube line from your location; and a list of nearby bus stops, train stations and Boris bike ranks, complete with how many bikes are free and how many spaces there are for incoming bikes.
News, Sports and Weather
BBC News (free)
Most newspapers have their own app, but BBC News remains one of the few news apps that doesn’t make you pay or subscribe to get the best content. It’s not quite as extensive as the main website, but it’s great for those who simply want a digest of the day’s top stories. You can tailor which topics appear on the home screen, giving you more control over your news feed, and it can send you breaking news notifications direct to your phone. Add in the ability to tap into live TV coverage of the BBC News channel and this is one of the most flexible news apps currently available on Google Play.
Sky Sports News (free)
Sports fans in need of their daily news fix need look no further than the Sky Sports News app. As well as all the day’s top stories, Sky Sports News has separate tabs for football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, golf, tennis, formula one and boxing. Its football and cricket coverage is particularly good, as it includes upcoming fixtures, live scores, results, league tables and TV listings for every game that’s being broadcast on Sky Sports. It’s a shame it doesn’t cover athletics in the same level of detail, but it’s still a great resource tool that doubles up as a handy news app.
If you want a slightly broader picture of the sports world or your favourite sport isn’t covered by Sky Sports News, Eurosport is here to fill the gap. It has headlines, videos, results, and live scores for every sport you can imagine, from football to figure skating. Not every sport is covered in the same level of detail, but you can usually rely on its extensive database of results to at least give you a run-down of the latest competitions. Set it up to send you score alerts as well and you’ll never miss a goal, try or point again.
For those short on time, sifting through the news every day can be a tiresome and laborious process. Flipboard tailors the news to your liking, drawing together stories from across the web that match your interests. You can subscribe to broad categories such as film, news and technology, but you can also follow individual outlets and sites if you do a little digging. It organises content in a flipbook style magazine format to catch the eye, but you can always search for specific news stories as well. You can even save stories to create your own magazines and share them with your friends. It makes the news a little more personal than your average newspaper app and saves you the trouble of having to visit multiple sites to get the information you need.
If there’s one thing we love to check more than train times, it’s the weather, and Accuweather is by far the most detailed weather app on the Google Play Store. You not only get the current temperature, humidity, UV index, dew point, visibility, pressure, wind speed and wind direction, but it also gives you all this information in detailed hourly and daily weather forecasts as well. It does have some downsides: the blocky weather maps don’t match the rest of its slick, minimalist design and the weather related news and videos aren’t always particularly relevant to your location, but if all you’re looking for is a quick rundown of the weather, AccuWeather is our app of choice. For £3.69, you can purchase Accuweather Platinum, an ad-free version of Accuweather which has ‘more accurate’ weather forecasts, push notifications for severe weather alerts, five day forecast summaries and – if you live in China or South Korea – Air Quality reports.
Sync for Reddit (free)
TIL. AMA. 2meirl42meirl4meirl. Banana for Scale. All these Reddit treasures and more can be in the palm of your hand thanks to Sync for Reddit, our favourite Reddit app for Android. Ditching the ‘classic’ (out-dated) Reddit look you find on the desktop website, Reddit Sync instead adopts a Google Now-style card interface, which is easy to navigate. It has native Imgur support, meaning you don’t have to leave the app to view photo galleries, and it also supports those all-important animated gifs and YouTube videos, too. You can log in with your Reddit details for a more personalised experience. TL;DR: Excellent Reddit app.
Music, Video and TV
Music makers and music lovers alike need this essential app on their smartphone. With over 150 million tracks and counting on its constantly expanding musical database (the largest in the world), SoundCloud could keep your ears entertained 24/7 for the rest of your life – and then some. It’s an innovative music-sharing platform where users can upload their homemade songs and share them for free with followers. Meanwhile, listeners can choose to follow their favourite artists as well as customise their personal tastes; SoundCloud then provides a daily dose of fresh material suited to your specific preferences. You’ll also find a lot of intriguing cover songs on SoundCloud, a large number of podcasts, and (if this is your thing) a disturbing number of Smashmouth – All Star remixes.
Spotify is the biggest music streaming service in the world, used daily by millions of individuals and businesses alike. It’s perhaps the easiest way to curate and save playlists, share music, and find the obscure tracks that other music sites – or even YouTube – don’t have. It has simple search functions and allows the user to browse different collections by genre, listen to the newest releases, or simply pick their favourite song and hit ‘Song Radio’ to hear a theoretically endless number of tracks in the same sub-genre. Spotify is kind of like the Netflix or music, only its selection is much, much better. It’s free, but if you want to get rid of the ads you’ll need to stump up for a Premium subscription fee at £9.99 per month.
The Internet Movie Database (or IMDb) is your one stop shop for everything related to the world of film and television. Stalking your favourite actor? IMDb. Want to find out who the wrote the terrible film you just watched so that you can bait them on Twitter? IMDb. Craving two hundred Trivia facts and tidbits about your favourite TV show? IMDb. The app and website are essentially interchangeable, offering film buffs and TV addicts free access to an encyclopaedic archive which contains all there is to know about any movie or series in existence. Nothing quite beats the joy of seeing a character actor in a film you’re watching with your housemates, turning to them and saying, “She played so and son in that one thing”, and them going, “Nahh, I don’t think so”, only for IMDb to prove you were right all along. As you always are, you brilliant movie buff, you.
Amazon Prime Video (free, subscription required)
Amazon’s video service has some excellent content, and is fast becoming a serious rival for Netflix. You have to be a Prime member to watch it, which costs £79 a year, and you also get free one-day delivery of course. The app works very well, with HD streaming and resume watching capabilities, as well as ‘show-info’ button. Unfortunately it does not support Chromecasting to your TV, which is the primary quibble in the user reviews. For a time Amazon prime Video was unavailable on app stores and had to be downloaded from a specific website, but this oddity has since been rectified and the app now has over 50 million downloads on Google Play.
BBC iPlayer Radio (free)
BBC Radio is brilliant, and if you don’t agree then you’re not listening to enough of it. Now you can listen to the huge range of excellent shows either streamed live or download them as podcasts and enjoy them when you’re out-and-about without any mobile signal or data cost worries. There’s everything from Radio 1 to Radio 6 plus regional stations and the World Service too. It’s easy to browse, you can add favourite shows to a list, and so it’s entirely replaced the various radios we have at home for sheer convenience. Pair it with a Bluetooth speaker and you’re sorted for music too.
MX Player (free)
One great thing about Android handsets is that you can simply drag-and-drop video files to their internal storage from a PC via a basic USB lead. Every phone has its own native video player, but MX Player is one of the most stable and easy to use media players we’ve tested. It supports a wide range of file formats thanks to its extensive number of codecs, and its multi-core decoders make it very fast and powerful. Pinch-zooming to change the aspect ratio is quick and simple, so you can resize video to fit the screen to your liking. If your phone runs out of battery while watching a film or video, MX Player will even remember where it stopped when you return to the app.
Netflix (free, subscription required)
The range of devices that Netflix works with is a key reason it’s our favourite TV and movie streaming service. The range of content is excellent and the resume function means you can start watching on one device and then switch to another seamlessly. There’s a one-month free trial if you don’t want to hand over your money straight away, but TV and film buffs won’t regret it. One of the biggest recent improvements is the addition of a ‘download and go’ feature, which lets you store your ever-growing watchlist to your phone or tablet for offline viewing. Now there is a catch: not everything is available to download. But, handily, Netflix have a separate category called ‘Available to Download’ which does all the sifting for you. The app also gives you two choices for download video quality, Standard or High, though it does not specify whether the latter is 720 or 1080p.
YouTube’s just keeps on getting better. With a new cleaner design, you can now watch a video while searching for the next one. The video currently playing minimises into a small overlay window, letting you browse the rest of YouTube’s content at your leisure, but we’d recommend keeping your phone vertical as the window becomes unreasonably small and obscured by your keyboard in landscape. You can also now search for playlists and take advantage of the “play all” button so you enjoy uninterrupted entertainment without having to pause and find the next video. A recent update allows users in ‘select countries’ to download ‘certain’ videos to their phones and watch them on-the-go. Most videos, however, do not support this function – not yet, at least.
Google Play Music (free, optional subscription available)
If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet from a manufacturer other than Google, there’s a good chance you’re using the stock music app rather than the excellent Google Play Music. It’s the ideal way to take a huge collection of MP3s on the move, even if you don’t have room for them on your device, without having to pay a monthly fee.
Uploading a huge library of files can take a while, so it’s a good idea to leave Google’s upload tool running overnight. Once it’s done, though, your music will be stored safely in the cloud for accessing through the mobile and tablet apps, or any web browser.
Admittedly there is an optional paid tier that lets you stream music you don’t own, but even if you don’t break out the credit card you can upload a whopping 20,000 music tracks to Google’s servers for free. You can stream over Wi-Fi or mobile data, or pre-load your favourite tracks to your device before you leave the house for offline listening.
Google constantly updates the app with new visual styles and extra features, and the current Material Design interface is particularly simple and easy to navigate. We love the big album art, cover view for choosing what to listen to and Instant Mix automatic playlists for when you simply can’t make a decision.
BT Sport (free, subscription required)
The best thing about BT Sport for Android is its support for Chromecast. If you’ve got a Chromecast dongle plugged into your TV and you have BT Sport then you can use it to watch BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. Video streaming quality is excellent both on your device and via Chromecast. As well as live coverage the app also has catch-up content and additional video streams during some MotoGP events. The app is easy to use, well designed and most importantly of all great for watching loads of live sport.
Amazon Kindle (free)
You don’t need to be a Kindle owner to use the Amazon Kindle app, as this effectively turns your tablet or smartphone into your very own eReader. Sign in with your Amazon account and you can browse the Kindle bookstore straight from your Android device and read books in full colour and high definition. The app also lets you change the font size and adjust the margins and line spacing just like a normal Kindle device and there’s a downloadable dictionary and Wikipedia support as well. Kindle owners won’t be disappointed either, as you can sync your entire library, and your progress through each book, to your Android device. This lets you keep on reading your book seamlessly even when away from your Kindle. Kobo Books is the most similar book reading app, and Kindle’s main rival, but it’s e-library is not as well-stocked as Amazon’s bookstore.
TuneIn Radio (free)
With 70,000 live radio stations at its disposal, TuneIn Radio is an essential app for music fans. You can pick from local radio stations or browse by location and continent to discover radio stations across the world. Once you’ve picked a station, it keeps playing even when you’ve put your phone to sleep, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it open while you’re on the move. The audio quality is superb, too, with minimal buffering and lag to disrupt your listening experience, but TuneIn Radio isn’t just limited to music. It’s also home to two million podcasts, concerts and shows, and there’s sports, news, talk and comedy to be found among its ranks as well. Upgrade to the Pro version and you’ll get rid of the adverts and be able to record what you’re listening to.
Amazo Music (free)
Music-streaming apps that give you a wide selection of songs for free are about as rare as a blue moon, but there are a few good alternatives if you don’t want to pay up for a subscription service such as Spotify. Formerly called Amazon MP3, Amazon Music is one of our favourites as it’s tied in with Amazon’s Cloud Player service, which not only gives you access to every single MP3 and CD album you’ve ever purchased from Amazon, but it also lets you upload or import an additional 250 tracks from your iTunes library or PC for free. It can also be used as a general MP3 player for music stored on your phone, or you can buy more music directly from the app’s MP3 store. You’ll need to watch your data allowance if you’re streaming on the move, but the option to download your music and listen offline should keep bandwidth usage to a minimum.
If you can’t get from A to B without some audio accompaniment, you might as well be learning something on the way. Podcasts are a great way of doing this, and our podcatcher of choice is DoggCatcher. It’s comprehensively customisable with all manner of automated features including automatic download, synchronisation and deletion of files when you’re done with them. Perhaps the best thing about it is the developer, who since launching the app, has updated it in excess of 100 times and takes on board user feedback very quickly indeed. Back in the good old days (2016) DoggCatcher could be downloaded free of charge, but there is now a £2.79 fee. It’s a shame that they didn’t create a premium version and keep the free-to-download version available, but it is also understandable that they need to charge to continue to provide such an excellent and frequently updated service.
Alternatively: For a free alternative, try Podkicker, a no-frills app which helps you to quickly find, download, and manage your favourite audio shows. Podkicker also has a ‘Pro’ version for £1.59, but all it does is remove ads (which aren’t intrusive anyway) and give subscribers new app updates slightly earlier than non-paying users.
If you’ve ever shouted at the car radio when a DJ’s failed to tell you the name of a song you’ve just heard, Shazam is for you. Just open the app and place your phone next to your speaker and Shazam will identify the track in seconds. You don’t just get a name and artist, though, as Shazam gives you the song lyrics and discography of the particular artist as well so you can find out more about them. If it’s a track you really like, you can buy the song directly from Amazon MP3, listen to it on Spotify and Rdio or watch the video on YouTube. It also tags the track with the time and date you heard it so you can keep a log of everything you’ve listened to. You don’t even have to be online to use it, as Shazam will match the song and add it to your tag list as soon as you regain a connection. There is a paid version of Shazam, but all it does is eliminate the ads.
With a huge range of comic books and graphic novels both past and present, ComiXology is your one-stop shop for buying and reading the latest comics and graphic novels. Its smart interface is largely a storefront where you can buy new issues or browse its extensive back catalogue, but any titles you purchase from the main website will automatically sync with your phone, making it easy to read your comics on the move. Marvel, DC, Image, IDW and Disney comics are all present, but there’s also a large library of exclusive digital titles you won’t find anywhere else. Reading comics is as simple as downloading them to your phone and you can sort them by series, name or use the search bar to pinpoint specific issues.
Alternatively: Manga Rock (Free) is currently the most popular Manga reading app on Google Play. It has a vast library, recommends new and often lesser-known titles tailored to you specific personal preferences, and – like ComiXology – it also offers downloads for offline Manga consumption on-the-move.
BBC iPlayer (free)
There’s tons of brilliant content produced by the BBC every year, both on radio and TV. A recent update to the BBC iPlayer app now lets you download programmes to watch later on your phone. You can keep them for up to 30 days, but they’ll expire seven days after your first play so you don’t clog up your phone’s internal storage. Most handsets should now be compatible, with the BBC opening up the service to any handset with Android 4, if you’re having problems then head to the BBC’s Android Devices – Why aren’t downloads working?
Photo and Video
Flickr is one of the most generous photo storage apps around as it gives you a free terabyte of space when you first sign up. All your photos are stored at their original resolution to give you the best quality, plus if you fancy being a bit more artistic, Flickr lets you add a variety of fun filters when you upload them as well. It’s easy to share your pictures with friends on other social networks, too, as you can upload them to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or send them in an email, all the while tailoring your privacy settings so you can keep track of who sees your photos.
Lapse It Pro (£2.99)
Lapse It lets keen photographers use their Android camera to make their very own cool time lapse videos and stop motion films by automatically shooting a series of still images and then collating them. This can be tricky with normal cameras at the best of times, but Lapse It creates videos in a flash and renders to MP4, MOV and FLV files so they’re easy to share on the web. A lot will depend on the quality of your phone’s camera, but there are plenty of options to help you tweak the picture to get it just right, including focus, flash, colour effects, scene modes, white balance and frame interval. The free version limits you to a resolution of 240p, but the full version lets you capture video in Full HD and add a soundtrack.
Cloud storage, Office and Productivity
Dropbox is one of our favourite cloud storage services. The Free version gives you 2GB of storage to start off with, but this can be upgraded to 18GB if you complete certain tasks. As long as your other devices have Dropbox installed, you can reach your files from anywhere you can fire up a browser. You’ll have to upload videos manually with this app, but you can set it to automatically upload any photos you take on your phone. It’s a shame you don’t get more initial storage for free, but it’s fantastic for transferring files quickly between your mobile and home PC.
Google Drive (free)
Google Drive has always been one of the best cloud storage services, and recently it got even better as users now have 15GB of free storage to play with instead of 5GB. This is more than 7x what you get with Dropbox, but Google Drive’s main strength is actually as an office suite. You can create and edit new documents straight from your phone, although editing can be a bit fiddly if your phone’s screen is quite small. The best feature is being able to make your docs available offline so you can continue to edit them on the move, regardless of whether you have a signal. If your printer is Cloud Ready as well, you can even print your documents directly using Google Cloud Print.
Touch Calendar (free)
Touch Calendar pulls together all your online calendars into one easy-to-use app. It syncs with your Google Calendar (and by extension any other calendar you subscribe to on Google Calendar) and your phone’s calendar so you’re constantly up to date, and you can use it to add events, set starting and finishing times, reminders, event locations, add guests by email and change the privacy setting for each event. It defaults to a completely zoomed out view on start-up, but zooming in and out and scrolling through each month is quick and simple thanks to its snappy and responsive interface. The full version also includes a home screen widget that shows a semi-transparent overlay of the calendar which you can tap to immediately enter the app.
This note-taking app has been going from strength to strength and the latest update lets you preview PDF files and add mark-ups to your notes to personalise them even further. This is on top of its already fantastic set of features which include being able to create voice reminders, searchable to-do lists and take photos, all of which you can share with your friends. Regular announcements and tips help you get the best out of the app and any note you create will automatically sync across all your devices that have Evernote installed.
Focus@Will is aimed at anyone who finds it difficult to concentrate. While a lot of people listen to music while working or studying, most of the time the tempo or lyrics can actually make it even more difficult to focus. Focus@Will has a catalogue of music that is specifically designed to help you focus by using ‘attention amplifying’ music channels. In reality, this translates to a lot of instrumental or ambient sounds, which do seem to help, and there’s different levels of intensity. The Android app is free and the Free Personal account gives you restricted access to only some of the music, otherwise it’s $4.99/month or $44.99/year.
Alternatively: Study Music Memory Booster (Free) is a new study aid app which provides optional alpha beats and nature sounds which can be overlaid with the relaxing music you’re already listening to. Apparently, additional background white noise can boost productivity, especially in combination with the right ambient or classical music. Most of Study Music Memory Booster’s music library requires no internet connection, so users can study anytime and anywhere.
Pushbullet is a multipurpose Android app. Its main selling point is the ability to easily ‘push’ content, such as images, URLs or text, between devices. These devices can include tablets, smartphones or desktop Chrome browsers and you can easily label each device. Easily pushing content between devices will be a godsend to anyone used to emailing themselves links or information. You can also use Pushbullet to mirror the notifications from your tablet or smartphone to your desktop, which is handy if you don’t always have your device directly to hand. Nowadays, Pushbullet has expanded its repertoire to include universal copy and paste, which gives you a universal clipboard across your devices. So if you copy a link on your desktop, it’s automatically in your clipboard on your smartphone or tablet. Pushbullet has also added in the ability to send SMS from your desktop as well, making Pushbullet a must-have Android app.
Health and Fitness
Endomondo – Running and Walking (free)
Endomondo covers a huge range of sports, but this fitness tracker is primarily aimed at runners and cyclists. You have to pay a subscription to get the very best out of it, but the free version still has an impressive amount of features. As well as tracking your own workouts, you can set your own goals, find exercise routes created by other users to follow, connect your heart rate monitor and a pair of headphones to get audio alerts every mile or kilometre, enter workouts manually, sync your results across social networks and take part in community challenges.
If you’ve ever wished exercise could be more like video games, you’ll love Fitocracy. You earn points for each exercise you complete in order to level up and earn badges, and you can even go on “quests” to earn bonus points. It’s particularly good for bodybuilding and strength training, but it also covers more general sports as well. It’s incredibly addictive and recommended challenges and exercises on our homepage actually made us want to try out new exercises at the gym more than any other fitness app we tested. Fitocracy gets even better when your friends use it too, as they can either give you “props” for impressive workout regimes or compete against you to improve your motivation.
Strava Cycling – GPS Riding (free)
General fitness tracker apps are one thing, but there’s nothing like having one specifically tailored to your favourite sport. Strava Cycling is by far the most detailed cycling app we tested, as it not only tracks and records your rides, but it also gives you live performance stats as you cycle and an even more thorough run-down of your ride once you’ve finished. It keeps a detailed log of your average rides, distance and time spent cycling every week as well as yearly and all-time round-ups of your achievements, shows you popular “segments” or cycle-routes nearby with standard, terrain and satellite maps (letting you earn achievements if you rank highly enough in the community leaderboards), and gives you monthly challenges to compete in. You can use it to view running routes, too, but you’ll need to download the dedicated Strava Run GPS Running app to record your workout.
Fitness fanatics may want to check out our Best Fitness Apps article, dedicated to the best fitness tracking and calorie countings apps available in 2018. Including one which motivates you by pretending that there are zombies in hot pursuit of your flesh.
Tools and Utilities
If you’re prone to looking at your phone late at night just before you go to bed then it could be disrupting your sleep. The bright, blue-hued light given off by your phone’s screen keeps the brain awake and stops you from nodding off. Twilight changes the hue of your phone screen to a red/sepia tone late at night, ensuring that you’re never kept awake by a glowing screen. Settings can be fiddled to set the screen brightness and tone to get it just to your liking. By default the intensity of the filter is adjusted based on the time of day, so you’ll always see a screen that’s easy on the eye.
Lux Lite (free)
Lux Lite is a brilliant little app that controls the brightness of your phone’s display, letting you adjust how bright you want it to be at various ambient light levels (presuming your handset, like most, has an ambient light sensor). It does far more than that though, allowing you to set how quickly it reacts to changing light conditions, the colour temperature of your display and even lets you reduce brightness below the minimal setting, for use in very dark conditions when you don’t want to be dazzled. There’s so much here it’s astounding, but thankfully a wizard helps you get the most out of it straight away. Essential stuff.
Google Opinion Rewards (free)
It may sound like a scam, but Google Opinion Rewards is one of those apps that’s a win-win. Every few days, the app will notify you that a new survey is available, and if you complete it, you’ll be paid in Google Play credit that you can spend on apps, games, music, TV shows and films. The surveys are normally very short with most taking fewer than 15 seconds to complete. You’re likely to get more surveys if you have Google location history switched on, as many of the surveys are based on places you’ve been recently. Most surveys pay between 10p to 30p but some can pay as much as 55p. Occasionally you’ll get a survey that pays nothing, which is nothing short of a kick in the teeth. If you’re happy to give up a few seconds of your time to Google every day, you’ll gradually build up a decent stack of credit.
Speedtest by Ookla (free)
If you’re having trouble with your phone’s internet speeds, Speedtest will show you the ping rate, download and upload speed of your mobile network using its quick and simple test. It’s accurate and you can test other servers to compare results. We also use it at home as a quick test when things are lagging online, you can instantly see if it’s your broadband that’s at fault. Speedtest also keeps a log of your tests which can you can export to CSV or share over email, and you can pass on individual results via social networks.
History Eraser (free)
Clearing your phone’s history can often make your device run a bit faster and free up some much needed storage space. History Eraser does exactly what it says in the title but you can choose which bits you want to delete, whether it’s clearing out your internet searches, cleaning your apps cache or erasing an extensive call log. It extends to your SMS and MMS messages as well, separating them into sent, received, drafts and failed messages. You can set up auto clean intervals of up to three days to help protect your privacy.
If you find your phone’s continually running out of battery, JuiceDefender can help make the last few pixels of the bar last longer. There are three set profiles to choose from, ranging from balanced to extreme, or you can create your own customised conservation plan using the advanced profile option. Each profile gives you a detailed rundown of how the app will affect your phone’s performance, and you can configure individual apps as well. It’s very easy to use and once it’s set-up, it works quietly away in the background to give you as much juice as possible.
AVG Anitvirus Security – Free (free)
We often don’t think about installing security apps on our phones and tablets in the same way we would a PC or laptop, but Android devices are increasingly targeted by criminals. The 2018 MyFitnessPal app breach is a recent example; while the thieves didn’t manage to get users’ payment card details, they got access to scrambled passwords and were also able to view vast reserves of data about our terrible diets. AVG’s free antivirus app not only scans your apps and files for malware and lets you browse the web safely and securely, but it also helps you find lost or stolen devices via Google Maps, kills programs that are slowing down your phone, protects you from phishing attacks and lets you lock or wipe your device remotely.
SwiftKey Keyboard (free)
Onscreen keyboards can often make or break a phone depending on how easy they are to use, but the best ones are usually only found on top-end Android handsets. SwiftKey Keyboard breaks down that barrier with its clean, simple layout and double-function keys. You can either tap out each word or form them by gliding your finger across the keys in one touch. It can learn your writing style from how you use Gmail, Facebook and Twitter so it can give you relevant predictions and you customise the layout to your liking, including whether it makes a sound when you press the keys. The bilingual can even download multiple languages.
Reddit can be a confusing place for web users, but BaconReader is by far one of the most accessible apps for browsing the so-called front page of the internet on your phone. It’s easy to use and posts can be either viewed as an endlessly scrolling list or a slideshow that opens any attached media files. A wide variety of subreddits are just a tap away thanks its simple menu system, and it separates Hot posts into New, Rising, Top and Controversial to make navigating its copious amount of content a little less daunting. It’s not ad-free, sadly – the Premium £1.23 version is there for that – but we didn’t find them particularly intrusive.
If you keep a blog, you probably already have the respective Android app for your blogging service, but for those who simply follow other people’s blogs, Tumblr is one of the best ways to do it. The Dashboard artfully arranges all the latest posts from your favourite bloggers while the Search tab includes a search bar and trending tags and blogs options, making it easy to keep up to date with the latest internet hits. You can also blog straight from the app and keep track of posts you’ve liked in the past. You don’t get as many menu options compared to logging in on the website and GIF files don’t load automatically, but it’s very easy to use and a great way to browse other blogs if you’re on the move.
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