Best Android apps 2016: download these now

The Google Play store has exploded in recent years, with a proliferation of apps that can cater to your every need. The problem is: there are just too many of them, even with Editor’s Picks, Featured and Best Selling, Top Paid and Top Free categories there to help

What’s the best phone of 2016?

And that’s why we made this list.

The Google Play store has exploded in recent years, with a proliferation of apps that can cater to your every need. The problem is: there are just too many of them, even with Editor’s Picks, Featured and Best Selling, Top Paid and Top Free categories there to help

What’s the best phone of 2016?

And that’s why we made this list. Like you we want the best apps for our Android phones. The apps that are going to revolutionise functionality or, at the very least, offer something so great that it becomes one of the must-have apps that has to be downloaded whenever you get a new handset.

The following apps will be constantly updated and are a mixture of paid and free ones and have been chosen by our Android experts. So, even if you do dip into actual cash for one of these apps, you are safe in the knowledge that it is a worthwhile purchase.

Free with ads or $3.99/£3.49

The problem with weather apps is that, for the most part, they only use one source for their data, but Climendo uses lots, and then works out what the most likely weather at any given time is.

The complete selection of weather providers that it uses includes AccuWeather, Weather Underground, NOAA, Met Office, Foreca, Dark Sky, SMHI, YR and World Weather Online – though only the most accurate ones for your location will be used.

You can see hourly or ten day forecasts, complete with the likelihood of each being accurate, or you can dig down to the individual forecasts from each weather provider, to see how they vary.

Climendo lacks some of the more detailed information found in other apps – such as humidity and UV index – but if you just want accurate information on whether or not you need an umbrella then this app is up there with the best.

$7.99/£6.26

There’s no shortage of apps for digital artists, but Infinite Painter is one of the most feature-packed, with dozens of brush presets and the ability to create your own, along with layers, blending, editing tools and more, plus the option to export your images as JPEG, PNG, PSD or ZIP.

But as well as being packed full of features, Infinite Painter also takes the time to show you how they all work, with detailed tutorials and guides, although the interface is so simple that you should be able to muddle your way through most things anyway.

A lot of the features are hidden behind a paywall, with it costing $7.99/£6.26 to unlock everything, but the app includes a free seven-day trial, letting you try everything out before you decide whether you want to put money down, which if you’re a fan of digital art you probably will, because you get a lot for your money.

Free

Google Duo is an app which may soon be a household name, or could fade into relative obscurity like Google+, because much as Google’s struggling social network tried to take on the might of Facebook, Google Duo is attempting to overthrow FaceTime and Skype.

It’s a free one-to-one video calling app, but it has some neat features to help it stand out, such as ‘Knock Knock’, which lets you see a live video feed of the caller before answering.

It sports end-to-end encryption and also works on both Android and iOS, giving it one up on FaceTime.

Of course none of that matters if no one uses it, but Google Duo doesn’t require you to set up an account, it simply needs your phone number, like WhatsApp, so hopefully the barrier for entry will be low enough that it becomes a hit.

£1.49/$1.99

File managers aren’t exciting, but they are useful, especially if you have a lot stored on your phone. Google Play is full of options, but Solid Explorer File Manager is one of the best for a variety of reasons.

For one thing it’s not limited to just displaying local storage, as you can also link cloud storage accounts to the app, allowing you to view and manage all of your online storage in one place.

It also looks good, with a Material Design-influenced interface that’s easy to navigate. There’s a menu bar permanently visible at the top, which lets you quickly jump between storage sources or ‘collections’ (such as videos, music and photos), and folders are clearly laid out.

It’s not free, but there’s a 14-day trial so you can see what you think before you put any cash down.

Free

Netflix might be known mostly for its video streaming, but to ensure you get fast reliable streamed videos you need to be on a speedy and stable internet connection.

To help you establish just how good your data speed is Netflix also launched the fast.com website, which it’s now turned into an app.

Fast Speed Test isn’t the first or only internet speed test tool, but it is one of the most simple and quick to use. The second you open the app it starts testing your download speed, so there’s no need to press any buttons.

You can watch it fluctuate in front of your eyes before giving you a final reading a few seconds later and that’s really all there is to it. You can hit the refresh button to test again or follow a link to speedtest.net for a second opinion, or, if you’re happy with the results, head straight back to your House of Cards marathon, safe in the knowledge you won’t suddenly lose connection.

Free

Between Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and dozens of other services there are numerous ways to legally watch content that don’t require you to go anywhere near a TV schedule, but with different libraries and different payment models finding the specific things you want can sometimes be a chore.

JustWatch simplifies that process by letting you search for specific shows or films on all the available providers in your country or just those that you filter it by, so you can see exactly how and where you can watch things.

JustWatch also provides an up to date list of new arrivals on your favourite services and of price drops, so you can skip the searching and just watch.

Free

Learning the periodic table can be a fairly dull experience, but Isotope helps bring it to life, with high-quality images of the elements, accompanied by in-depth information covering everything from their atomic number to their thermodynamic properties.

That makes it great for serious science types, but a simple layout and trivia on each element makes it engaging for kids too.

The core app is free, giving you the periodic table, images and basic information on the elements, but for more in depth information and trivia plus an alternate theme there’s a one-time £0.79/US$0.99 in-app purchase that’s well worth making.

Free

Ever wished that, instead of reading, you could listen to techradar or another favorite site? We’re not talking about podcasts or videos, but actually having the articles read out to you.

If you’re suitably rich and eccentric you could hire someone as your personal article reader, but for everyone else there’s Narro.

Narro essentially turns any article you want into a podcast – simply share it with the app from your browser and it’s ready to go. When it comes time to listen you can use your normal podcast player by adding your personal Narro feed to it, so you don’t have to juggle apps to get all your spoken word content.

The only problem Narro has is that its robotic voice isn’t as pleasant to listen to as a human one, but even there it does all it can to minimize the issue, by giving you a large selection of male and female voices sporting different accents to choose from.

You can listen to 15 articles completely free each month, but stump up for a Pro subscription and you get unlimited access.

Free

You might not think your phone app is missing anything, but that just means you’ve probably not tried PixelPhone, which sets out to be one of the most customizable and feature-packed phone apps around.

It largely succeeds too, with various themes to change the appearance, the ability to adjust font, dial pad and photo sizes, customizable shortcuts and gesture controls, the option to block calls, built in caller ID and more besides.

All of that comes absolutely free, but stump up for the £2.69/US$2.99 pro version and you’ll also be able to record calls. Most of these tools can be found elsewhere, but it usually requires multiple apps to get them all.

If there’s any downside it’s that the included themes aren’t that attractive, but there are various premium themes that you can add to it with in-app purchases.

Free

Stop motion clips let you bring worlds to life on zero budget and Motion is a slick, simple way of creating them on an Android device.

All you have to do is line up a shot, then press the shutter button to save it. Rinse and repeat until you’ve built a full clip, then you can view it back, adjust the frame rate and delete any frames that you don’t like.

From there you can save your project and easily add to it any time, so if you’ve got a stop motion epic in mind you don’t have to film it all in one go. But once you are done you can export it to your phone as a video and easily share it with the world.

The simple controls make Motion suitable for kids, but it’s powerful enough to create really good footage too. All you need is an idea and the patience to make tiny adjustments to a scene over and over again.

£0.59/US$0.99

One of the great things about Android is how customizable it is and icon packs are one of the best examples of that.

The Urmun Icon Pack gives you access to over 3790 high quality icons, each of which offers a stylish alternative to the standard app icons to freshen up your home screens.

It doesn’t work with all launchers, but many, including Nova Launcher, Action Launcher, ADW Launcher, Apex Launcher, Cyanogen and more are supported and you can apply the new icons to them with a single tap.

Urmun also comes with a range of mostly abstract wallpapers which match the style of the icons, for a cohesive look. Urmun is one of the better examples of icon packs, but if you don’t like the style there are dozens of other options, including more by the same developer, with links to them from within Urmun itself.

Free

Prisma is essentially a photo filter app, but it’s so much more than that suggests, with each of its filters completely reinventing your image in one of dozens of art styles.

There’s pop art, impressionism, gothic, anime and many other styles to choose from and any of them can be applied with just a tap.

As the image is analysed and essentially rebuilt in your style of choice it’s not an instant change; in fact you might find yourself waiting upwards of 30 seconds, but the results are usually worth it, changing boring photos into interesting ones and eye-catching images into masterworks.

It’s an app that does one thing but does it well and simply – other than lessening the effect of a filter by sliding your finger across the image, there’s not much more to it. You can also save and share your photos straight from Prisma, but sadly they’re not really print quality at the end – just for the phone screen and Facebook profile.

From free

There are any number of file managers available for Android to help you dive into the depths of your storage, but if you’ve got various different types of files, from PDFs to pictures, sorting through them can be a headache.

Pearltrees makes things easier, by allowing you to create ‘collections’ which can include photos, web pages, files and notes. You can create collections of specific file types or specific themes or whatever other sorting method works for you and they’re laid out in a far more colorful and easy to navigate manner than a typical file manager.

Pearltrees has some other tricks up its sleeve too, as it also saves your content to the cloud so you can access it from other devices and share it with people.

That last point is worth highlighting, as the free version doesn’t allow you to store things privately, which really isn’t ideal if you plan to use it to manage all your content. For that you’ll have to take out a monthly subscription, which also gives you more cloud storage, but it’s worth it if you’re struggling to organize a cluttered smartphone.

Free

Some say print is dead, but with Zinio it can live on in a digital world. The app gives you access to both the latest issues and back issues of thousands of magazines from around the world, letting you buy single issues or subscribe to your favorites.

You can download the magazines to your phone or tablet to read anywhere and with simple pinch and swipe controls you can easily read and navigate a magazine even on smaller screens.

Content on Zinio is also often cheaper than the physical alternative, not to mention less of a waste of paper and space.

It also gives you access to a greater selection of titles than your local corner shop, so really you’ll just need to find the time to read them all.

Free

We’re still waiting for Google Allo to automate our conversations, but in the meantime there’s Fluenty with smart replies of its own.

Unlike Allo it’s not a messaging platform; instead it works with existing services like SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Hangouts, so wherever you choose to talk to your friends Fluenty will be there. Well, assuming you choose to talk to your friends on one of the above services or KakaoTalk.

But like Allo it suggests responses to the messages you get, saving you having to type one out. Fluenty uses an AI engine which has apparently been trained on more than 700 million public conversations and it shows, with the app usually doing a decent job of offering relevant replies.

But if you’re not happy with the options it’s giving you it’s also possible to set up a custom reply list full of the types of phrases you’re likely to use frequently, or just type out a response the old fashioned way.

Free

ASAP Launcher is a home screen replacement which packs in some of our favorite features from other apps and launchers.

As the name suggests it’s all about getting where you need to be quickly. If where you need to be is an app you can swipe the left edge to bring up an alphabetical app drawer, with a search bar at the top, or swipe up from the dock to display your most frequently used apps.

It you want to toggle a setting a swipe from the right edge will bring up a small panel full of shortcuts and toggles, a bit like the edge screen found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Samsung’s others curved-screen handsets.

If it’s contacts, calendar events, your to-do list or the weather forecast that you want to find all of them can be reached by swiping left or right from the center of the screen.

The downside to all this is that you only get one real home screen to fill with apps, but with so many shortcuts one is likely to be enough and it helps ensure your phone never feels too cluttered.

Free

There are a few music players that stand head and shoulders above the rest and Pi Music Player is one of them.

It has a simple layout with a stylish Material Design-influenced look, complete with three different themes, so you can skin it to your own tastes, but easy as it is to navigate this is far from a simple player, as it includes a 5-band equalizer, a sleep timer, gesture controls, widgets and a tool to help you cut down tracks into ringtones.

That’s on top of all the basics you’d expect, like lock screen controls, playlists and album artwork. Remarkably it’s completely free too, with no adverts.

£0.62/US$0.99 (around AU$1.33)

Smartphone cameras are getting better all the time, but there’s one annoyance suffered by most, and that’s the sometimes awkward nature of the shutter button.

Few handsets have dedicated shutter keys, which generally means you’re left either tapping on the screen, which can obscure the viewfinder, or using the volume keys, which aren’t always ideally positioned and the act of pressing them can sometimes shake the phone, leaving your shot out of focus.

Dactyl allows you to use your phone’s fingerprint scanner to take a picture, which means you don’t have to press a button, so the phone won’t shake. You also won’t obscure the viewfinder and you have one more option to use for taking photos, if you don’t like the position of any of the usual buttons.

It’s a surprisingly intuitive option once you start using it, though it does have a few limitations. Firstly, obviously you need a fingerprint scanner on your phone and secondly it doesn’t work with all camera apps, but many are supported, including popular ones like Google Camera, Retrica, Z Camera and Open Camera, with more likely to be added over time.

Free

If a picture’s worth a thousand words then Dango‘s worth a million, as it puts a massive library of GIFs, emojis and stickers at your fingertips.

The trouble then could potentially be finding relevant ones, but Dango solves that by analyzing any messages you send or receive from any app and suggesting an emoji or GIF to suit. As an obvious example if you type ‘bye’ it will bring up an assortment of people and animals waving, but it works even with more unusual words.

It works with any keyboard too and doesn’t get in the way – if you don’t want to add some visuals to your message the Dango icon will just sit quietly above the keyboard, only springing into action when you tap on it.

Free + IAP for all features

Our phones might be smart but for the most part our clocks aren’t yet and even most alarm clock apps are disappointingly basic, but Sleep as Android proves that there’s a lot more an alarm clock can do than just wake someone up.

You can set it to wake you up after just 15 or 30 minutes if you want a short nap, record any noises so you’ll know if you snore or talk in your sleep, drift off to soothing sounds, have a voice remind you that you’re sleeping to potentially allow for lucid dreaming, wake up to songs on Spotify, make sure you get up on time by having to solve a problem to turn off the alarm and a whole lot more.

Many of these features are free, but stump up for a single IAP and you also get access to sleep cycle tracking, allowing you to put your phone on your mattress so that the app can track the duration and quality of your sleep, as well as helping you wake up at the optimal point in your sleep cycle.

Sleep as Android isn’t the prettiest app, but it puts most other alarm clocks of both the physical and app variety to shame – and it’s so regularly updated with advanced, prototype features that you feel you’re really getting good value if you do upgrade.

Free

Making your own music can be a liberating experience, but getting started can be daunting, especially if you can’t play an instrument and don’t know a synthesizer from a sequencer.

Music Maker Jam keeps things simple with an easy to use 8-channel mixer and a two-minute tutorial which shows you the basics.

From there you can combine samples from hundreds of categories, with thousands of loops to choose from or even record your own vocals. Straightforward controls then let you adjust the volumes, change keys and add effects and it’s surprisingly easy to come up with something that will get stuck in your head.

Once you’re happy with a creation you can save it and, if you’re feeling suitably brave, share it with the Music Maker Jam community. The core app is free and surprisingly generous in its content, but you can buy additional packs of loops if you start feeling constrained.

£0.79/US$0.99 (around AU$1.35)

Twitter might be one of the biggest social networks around, but its official app leaves something to be desired. Thankfully there’s a whole world of third party options and Flamingo for Twitter is one of the newest and best.

Despite still being in beta it already feels slick and polished, with a material design inspired interface, which includes pages that are coloured to match any images, for a pleasingly unified look. There’s also a number of visual customization options and if you have multiple accounts you can theme them all individually.

So it looks good, but Flamingo is also enjoyable to use, thanks to thoughtful features like being able to swipe pages to close them and long press on images and profile pages to preview them.

But the best thing about Flamingo is that as good as it is now, the fact that it’s in beta means there’s likely plenty more to come, so this is one app which will hopefully just keep getting better.

Free

If you’ve used a recent Motorola phone you’ve probably come across ‘Moto Actions’, which are essentially gesture controls that allow you to do things like launch the camera with a flick of your wrist.

Gravity Gestures takes this idea and runs with it, not only opening the feature up to non-Motorola handsets, but also giving you more control over what each gesture does, as you can set each one to launch a specific app, shortcut or feature, or even have a gesture assigned to a contact.

Launch the camera with a shake, turn the torch on with a twist or dive into Facebook with a flick, it’s your choice.

The app’s hit rate at responding to gestures is high and it gives you one more way to quickly get where you want to be.

£2.49/US$2.99 (around AU$4.13)

There are only so many ways you can make a keyboard, especially on a smartphone, but WRIO Keyboard manages to be unlike most others, yet somehow still very usable.

It uses a honeycomb layout, with large keys that are easy to hit so you can type quickly and accident-free. The actual layout is similar but not identical to a standard QWERTY keyboard, so it takes some getting used to, but once you do it’s surprisingly fast, especially as it incorporates a number of gesture controls, like swipes to delete or restore text and undo auto-corrections.

WRIO Keyboard is fairly attractive too and with multiple themes you’re bound to find a color scheme you like.

We’ll say it right now: it’s not for everyone and given it takes some getting used to it could have really done with a free version, but give it a chance and it might just become your keyboard of choice (especially if you don’t get on with any of the conventional options).

Free

If you’ve ever used Kickstarter you’ll be immediately at home with Patreon. Like Kickstarter it’s packed full of projects, from categories as diverse as podcasts, games and science, and you can browse and back them to your heart’s content, netting yourself rewards in the process.

Where Patreon differs though is that rather than making a one off payment you make a smaller monthly payment, for ongoing access to projects and extras.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff to be found and the danger of spending a lot of money, but it’s all in the name of helping artists and other creators, so at least it’s going to a good cause.

The app has many of the same features as the website, allowing you to follow creators, view projects and send messages, but now you can do it from the comfort of your couch, or the bus, or anywhere really.

£1.49/US$0.99 (around AU$3)

Whether you’re trying to work or relax background noise can have a significant impact on your ability to. It’s not always easy to tune out conversations or annoying songs, while the sounds in an office or train can be unpredictable, all of which are the enemy of productivity and sleep.

Noisli overcomes these issues by giving you a selection of soothing background sounds that you can play, such as the sounds of rain, a gentle breeze or waves rolling into shore.

You can adjust the volume of the sounds and also create and save combinations, so if you want to be able to hear both the chatter of a coffee shop and a burning log fire at the same time you can.

There’s a timer which you can use if you only want the sounds to play for a certain amount of time and even the interface is soothing, with a selection of relaxing background shades that the app cycles through.

On your way home from work you can trade the noises of a busy train or honking cars for the sounds of night time in nature… but try not to get so relaxed that you miss your stop.

Free

AmpMe is a slick and simple way to create a multi-speaker setup from a handful of smartphones or tablets.

If you and a few friends want to play music at a decent volume but don’t have proper speakers to hand one of you just starts playing a song through AmpMe (which can connect to YouTube, SoundCloud and local storage), then everyone else with the app can join the party and have the song also played through their devices.

That might not be so useful at home where there’s likely to be better options, but if you’re camping or anywhere else without a proper set of speakers it can turn quiet background music into room, tent or field-filling sound.

AmpMe can also connect to Bluetooth speakers, so even if you do have a better option you could still add smartphones to the mix to beef it up and your iPhone-toting friends won’t be left out as it’s cross-platform.

Free

Contactless payments are likely to become ever more popular and Android Pay, with its availability on most NFC-enabled Android phones, could soon become synonymous with it.

Not only is it available to a staggering number of people across the US and UK, it’s also simple to use. Just grab the app, add details of one or more cards (which you can do just by holding the camera over them) and get spending at any location that offers contactless terminals, by tapping your phone against the card reader.

You can set a default card to make sure money is being taken from the right place and you can add store and gift cards too.

You have to unlock your phone to spend more than £30/US$30, but that’s enough to buy lunch, pay for the cinema or treat your friends to a round of drinks, though we all know you’re only doing it to show off your fancy new tech.

£4.18/US$5 (around AU$6.73) monthly subscription

Netflix is the king of video streaming subscription services, but it’s not the only option and nor are you limited to other big names like Amazon and Hulu. There are also smaller options that carve out their own niche and IndieFlix is one such service.

Its focus on independent films means you won’t see much crossover with the larger services and rather than getting the big blockbusters you’ll be discovering new things you may never have heard of. There’s also a large selection of shorts, which are handy if you don’t have time for a full movie.

Otherwise it’s a lot like Netflix. You can stream content on a wide variety of devices and while its selection isn’t the largest around, with over 8,000 titles there’s still more than you could get through in a lifetime.

The app is easy to navigate too and while it’s not free you do get a 30-day free trial, so give it a shot if you’re looking for a new addition to your streaming arsenal.

Free

For many people the camera is one of the most important parts of a smartphone and that comes down to both hardware and software.

You’re stuck with the hardware on your phone of choice, unless you plan to invest in certain expensive accessories, but your software choices are far less restrictive and if you’re not happy with your phone’s default camera app you should check out Footej Camera.

It gives you a simple interface that’s light on clutter, so you can focus on framing your shots and while it doesn’t have the wealth of filters and options found on some camera apps it has the most important things covered, with adjustable exposure and white balance, an optional grid and timer, a burst mode and a similar selection of tools for video.

It goes further still, with the ability to shoot video in GIF format or slow motion, a built in gallery and shutter speed controls and if you invest in the £1.49/US$1.99 (around AU$2.69) premium package you can shoot in higher quality.

However, even if you stick with the free version Footej Camera is a joy to use.

Free + optional £2.99/US$2.99 yearly subscription

Dark Sky has made waves on iOS and it’s now arrived on Android, bringing hyperlocal and incredibly detailed weather forecasts with it.

Not only can you see the weather for today or the coming days for any town or city, but also forecasts for your exact location. As well as being geographically precise it also aims to give you down to the minute forecasts, so you’ll know exactly when that threatening cloud will shower you with rain.

You can see precise forecasts for temperature, wind, humidity, pressure, visibility and UV index too, explore a detailed weather map of the world, set alerts for the specific weather conditions and stick a range of weather widgets on your home screens.

The minimalist black and white interface won’t be for everyone and certain features are locked behind a £2.99/US$2.99 yearly subscription, which is worth taking out if you have more than a passing interest in the weather around you, but even the free version of the app has a competitive number of features.

£3.99/US$4.99 (around AU$6.79)

Nova Launcher Prime has been around for a long time and thanks to regular updates and a wealth of features it remains one of the very best Android launchers available.

It’s enormously customisable, allowing you to change your phone’s theme and home screen transitions, add a scrollable dock, choose what direction the app drawer scrolls and even add widgets to the dock.

As bloated as it might sound Nova is actually a slick, speedy launcher, which looks a whole lot like stock Android until you start fiddling with it.

There’s a free version available too, just called Nova Launcher, but Nova Launcher Prime gives you access to gesture controls, among other features that aren’t found in the free one, so it’s worth investing in, given that the home screen is one of the things you’ll interact with most on your phone.

Free

A number of services offer shortcuts to favourite apps or try and put your most commonly used ones front and centre and Sesame Lock Screen does the same, but it also goes a lot further, with a powerful search tool on your – you guessed it – lock screen.

And despite its name, Sesame Lock Screen is more than just a replacement, as you can optionally access it with a long press of the home button too.

However you choose to access it you’re presented with a list of all your apps, sorted by how commonly used they are. As such the app you’re looking for will very likely be at the top of the screen anyway, but if it’s not there’s also a keyboard which you can use to search for apps.

This is where it goes beyond most similar services, because as well as apps you can also search for subsections of the settings screen, specific contacts (with shortcuts provided to text, call or email them) and playlists and songs from Spotify or other connected apps.

It’s fast too, as the keyboard always sits at the bottom of Sesame Lock Screen, so there are no extra taps required to bring it up. Plus,if you’re looking for something with more than one word you can just type the first letter of each to find it faster. Want to listen to Radiohead on Spotify? Just search ‘sr’.

£0.79/$0.99 (around AU$1.32)

We don’t know about you, but we have hundreds of apps and games on our phones and one volume most definitely does not fit all. That’s all the more true depending on whether we’re using the built in speakers, a headset or a Bluetooth connection.

Ultimately, there are a whole lot of variables and App Volume Control Pro does a good job of accounting for them all.

It allows you to set individual volumes for any app, under any usage condition (e.g. headset, Bluetooth etc), as well as the volume that calls and other system sounds should play at while the app is running.

Navigating it is simple, with just an alphabetical list of all your installed apps, along with a toggle to enable or disable custom sound settings for them.

Some amount of fine tuning may still be necessary, particularly when it comes to listening to music, but if you ever regularly find yourself manually adjusting the volume when you fire up certain apps App Volume Control Pro is well worth a download.

Free (premium version needs a subscription)

Spotify is an app which requires no introduction, as one of the first and best streaming music services used by millions of people the world over. It’s no wonder the user base is so large either, what with there being millions of tracks at your fingertips.

For free you can listen to any artist, album or playlist on your phone, but only on shuffle mode and with advert interruptions. Stump up for a premium subscription though and there are no restrictions, just non-stop musical bliss, including an offline mode, so you don’t even need an internet connection to play your favourites.

Free

Strava is a seriously compelling tool for runners and cyclists, letting you create, find and follow routes and track your speed, distance, pace and elevation.

But for many of us running and cycling is at its best when it’s gently competitive, whether that’s trying to top your own records or someone elses and Strave excels there too, with leaderboards, personal records and comparisons to friends and other app users.

Most of the core features are completely free, but you can unlock its full potential by signing up for a premium account. This unlocks filtered leaderboards, daily progress tracking and much, much more.

Free

Evernote is the first and last word in note-taking, or it might as well be anyway. With multiple notebooks to help you keep your thoughts tidy, simple to-do lists, a powerful search tool so you can easily find specific notes and the ability to sync between devices it’s a must have for anyone who ever jots things down. Which we’d wager is just about everyone.

It goes that little bit further than just being a notebook though, as you can also share your notes and collaborate on projects with others, easily track expenses and attach files, all through an attractive, clutter-free interface.

Free

Life is busy and there’s not always time to read that article on bees or that guide to knitting cat jumpers. Pocket solves that by allowing you to easily save web pages and even videos for later, storing them all in one place.

It’s much more than just a bookmarking system though as it also makes them available offline, so you can catch up with things on the tube or any other time you don’t have an internet connection.

It’s free, slick and you can even synchronise your saved articles across every device you’ve installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading.

Free

Pushbullet is all about saving time and not having to dig out your phone every five minutes. Need to get a file or link from your phone to your computer or vice-versa? Pushbullet can do that in a couple of taps.

Wondering who keeps texting but too busy to check your phone? Pushbullet can display the notification on your computer and even lets you interact with the notifications from there.

It’s one of those apps that we wonder how we ever did without now we’ve got it. Hopefully we’ll never have to go back, those were dark days.

Free

Periscope is like the love child of YouTube and Twitter. It lets you post live video streams which your followers can watch and comment on as you broadcast, or view up to 24 hours later if you make it available for replays.

The immediacy and impermanence of each clip has a certain appeal and it’s a slickly laid out app, with nice details, like getting to see hearts flutter up the screen as and when your followers send them.

Even if you don’t want to make your own videos there’s something addictive about viewing other peoples, so embrace your inner voyeur and give Periscope a download. You might lose a lot of time to it, but you won’t regret it.

Free

WhatsApp is almost more essential than an SMS app, as it’s basically a supercharged, restriction free version of good old text messaging.

It uses a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection so you don’t have to worry about message allowances, you can see when people have received and read your messages, send videos and voice messages and even make calls with it.

You will have to convince your friends and family to download it if they haven’t already, but given that it’s free for the first year there’s really no reason for them not to. Once they do have it the app uses their normal phone number, so there’s no need to add them or find out user names and you’re always logged in, so you’ll never miss messages.

Free

With Timehop you’ll get regular reminders of good times from the past, with the app telling you what you were up to on this day in years past.

It grabs information from your phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare and lets you reminisce about things which might otherwise have been lost to the mists of time, buried beneath years of accumulated photos and posts.

It can backfire a bit if you ever share sad things, but as long as your social media accounts are full of mostly positive updates Timehop is a great way to revisit them.

Free

Google’s camera app has never been one of the best around, but when it comes to editing photos the company’s Snapseed app is in a whole other league.

It’s fast and simple, so anyone can edit their snaps in a matter of seconds and while it’s not as feature-packed as some editing apps that’s mostly because it lacks the gimmicks. All the basics from filters to cropping are present and correct and you can even fine tune your photos with selective edits to specific regions of an image.

Or skip all that and just use the auto correct tool for instant image improvements.

Free

The big selling point of Google Photos is that it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos. Except it’s not really a selling point, as amazingly the app is free.

Not only does that ensure your photos are automatically backed up, it also allows you to delete them from your device and free up space without losing them.

Add in editing tools, montage and collage creation, easy sharing and Chromecast support and Google Photos is just about the best gallery app around.

It even makes it easy to dig up old images, thanks to a deep search tool that allows you to hunt for shots based on where they were taken or what’s in them.

Free

If you’re a taxi driver you’re probably not a fan of Uber, but for everyone else it’s great. You can request a ride straight from your smartphone, get arrival and cost estimates and automatically pay via the app.

Drivers are incentivised to provide good service, as customers can leave reviews and it’s generally quicker and more convenient than hunting down a cab. Especially as you can see a map of where your driver is while you wait.

The only real limitation is that you can’t currently use it everywhere, especially outside of cities. But Uber is available in over 50 countries, and it’s rapidly growing, bringing public transport into the modern age.

Free

Google Maps is the only map you need. Not only does it provide accurate and detailed maps of 220 countries and territories at zero cost, it’s also feature packed.

Its Street View service is a feature which no other map can match, giving you a street level view of places. It also provides traffic information, directions, voice-guided GPS navigation, listings of businesses and other location information and a whole lot more.

Google Maps is also being updated and improved all the time, so if there’s a feature you wish it had there’s a good chance that one day it will.

Free

Google Maps is essential, but Citymapper – Bus, Tube, Rail complements it well, by giving you comprehensive journey planning tools for cities around the world.

It’s handy if you live in a metropolis and even more useful if you’re visiting one and have no idea how to get around. With step-by-step directions for walking, tube services, bus, bike, taxi, train, tram and ferry, plus real time updates and information on disruptions, it will get you where you’re going and get you there fast.

As well as that it’s even got a few fitness smarts, as it can give you an estimate of the calories you’ve burned on your journey.

£2.49/US$3.99/AU$3.99

There are any number of podcast apps for Android but Pocket Casts is easily one of the best. Its slick, colourful interface helps it stand out from the drab designs of many competitors and it’s feature packed, with Chromecast support, auto downloads, sleep timers and more.

There are even tools to improve the listening experience of podcasts, such as the ability to remove silent sections to speed them up or toggle video podcasts to audio only. There are cheaper and even free alternatives to Pocket Casts, but you more than get your money’s worth with it.

Free

If you watch much local video content on your Android device the basic player which comes with your phone probably won’t cut it. That’s where VLC for Android comes in. It’s not the most attractive of apps, but its functionality is unbeatable, with support for just about every file type, including MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC.

VLC doesn’t stop there though, it also supports multi-track audio, subtitles and ISO files. Plus it has gesture controls, so you never need to obscure your content with menu screens. Streaming may be the future, but for as long as we’re still using downloaded content as well VLC will remain an essential app.

£3.30/$4.99/AU$6.09

The idea behind Plex is that it assimilates your existing media collection and serves it up, through one standard interface, via the cloud.

It’s a bit of a struggle to get going as you need a free account on Plex’s servers to access your stuff, but once it’s all up and running it offers streaming and transcoding of files, meaning everything ought to play everywhere. It’s attractively designed too and even lets you sync your media for offline viewing, so it’s not always dependent on an internet connection

It supports Chromecast too, so if you’ve bought into Google’s own media-managing dream, then you’re going to get a lot of use out of this app.

£2.99/$4.61/AU$5.90

Running is a great way to get fit but it can also be a bit boring, which makes building up the enthusiasm to run a struggle in itself. The unique Zombies, Run! app manages to make running fun by creating an audio adventure game where you run away from zombies in a bid to rescue survivors.

As you run the story unfolds with missions asking you to reach certain distances to bring supplies for your base. With over 200 missions it will keep you running for a long time and not only is the story well-written and entertaining but it makes running fun again, and you’ll be getting fit without even noticing it.

£4.99/$4.99/$AU9.25

A hefty price, but can you put a price on not dying of obesity at age 52? That fitness promise is what you pay for with the RunTastic Pro. It is able to map you, track you, automatically cheer you on, generate live feedback and more, also covering interval training and letting users create their own regular routes to attack again and again.

Voice coaching keeps you motivated and on track and a leaderboard provides extra incentive to go faster and further. It’s also great for finding new routes to run, as other users can post theirs to the app. It’s serious stuff for competitive people and a seriously good tool for getting or staying in shape.

£4.25/$4.99

Pushbullet is one of our favourite Android apps, but a challenger has emerged. Join does many of the same things, allowing you to view your smartphone notifications on your computer and even respond to them without dragging out your phone. Like Pushbullet it also lets you send files and links between devices in a couple of taps or clicks.

But Join also does a couple of things that Pushbullet doesn’t, like letting you set the wallpaper on your handset by right-clicking an image from your computer, or remotely locating your phone by showing it on a map or ringing it loudly.

It also has a slightly different approach to monetisation. Where Pushbullet gives you most of the features for free but requires a subscription to access everything, Join is a premium app, which after its free trial is up asks for a one-time payment to unlock everything.

So if you like the idea of Pushbullet but don’t want to pay every month, Join is a great alternative.

Free

Dropbox is one of the biggest names in cloud storage, letting you access all your photos, documents, videos and other files from any location and any device, just as long as you’ve got an internet connection.

With automatic photo backup, the ability to share large files without attaching them to an email and support for editing Microsoft Office documents straight from the app it’s got some serious productivity smarts.

Other cloud storage solutions tick many of the same boxes, but the popularity of Dropbox means that support for it is baked right into a huge number of apps and services.

Free

IF was formerly known as IFTTT, which stands for “if this then that”, concisely summing up what this app does. It powers up your Android device in all new ways, letting you automate various functions.

You can create simple statements such as “if my location is home, turn on Wi-Fi”, or “if I snap a screenshot email it to me”. As these are all simple two-part statements they’re easy to create and they can also be shared with the wider IF community. That also means there are tons of pre-existing ‘recipes’ to choose from, so you might not even feel the need to create your own.

Free

Skype is an excellent app for keeping in contact with friends and family throughout the world via instant messages, voice and video calls. If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network you can make calls to other Skype members absolutely free.

You can also buy Skype credit to make calls to landlines and mobile phones, and it’s far cheaper to use Skype than make long distance calls on your mobile network.

One downside to it is that unlike WhatsApp you need to create an account to use it, which is one extra hoop to jump through, but the service has been around so long we’d be surprised if you and most people you know don’t already have one.

£8.06/$9.99 (roughly AU$13.24)

FiLMiC Pro has been on iOS for a while and it’s so good that it was even used to make the arthouse feature film ‘Tangerine’. Now it’s arrived on Android and it’s every bit as impressive here.

As a premium video camera app it doesn’t come cheap, but it gives you far greater control over your footage than most alternatives.

There are standard, manual and hybrid shooting modes, with options to adjust the temperature, tint, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, focus and more. You can also shoot in slow or fast motion and a variety of different resolutions and aspect ratios, including the likes of Cinemascope and letterbox.

Shooting your film isn’t the end of the fun either, as FiLMiC Pro lets you alter the exposure and saturation after you’ve captured your footage. Then, there are a variety of encoding and sharing options. So you can save it in the quality you want and easily upload it to the cloud and social networks.

Free + £7.18/US$9.99/AU$12.85 IAP

Computing skills have never been more vital and being able to program could put you ahead of the game. Javvy probably won’t make you an expert, but it covers the basics and beyond of Java programming in easy and enjoyable bite-sized chunks.

It features over 150 interactive tutorials, to take you from the basics to more advanced things like HashMaps and classes.

You can try it out for free, but if you’re serious about learning Java you’ll want to shell out for more chapters, either a bit at a time or with a single £7.18/US$9.99/AU$12.85 in-app purchase.

£0.77/US$0.99/AU$1.16

There are plenty of photo editing apps, but while most offer filters and effects few allow you to alter the perspective of a photo in the way SKRWT does.

There are no stickers here, no makeup modes and no real effects. Instead there are tools to shift the perspective, change the ratio and correct lens distortion.

You can also flip, rotate, mirror and crop images, but SKRWT isn’t interested so much in modifying photos in unnatural ways, as in making them look exactly as you envisioned when you took them.

It’s a professional tool, but it’s easy to use and you can always undo your changes if you don’t like them.

Free

You’re likely to already have the Google Drive app installed on your Android device, but if you don’t make sure you download it as it’s an incredibly useful tool.

You can backup your files and folders and then view and download them from any device with an internet connection. Any pictures or videos you’ve saved to Google Photos will also be visible and you can choose to share files with people, giving them instant access.

You can even use your device’s camera to scan documents straight into Google Drive, which is one thing many rival cloud storage services don’t offer.

Free

News apps are meant to be an easy, convenient way to keep up with what’s going on in the world wherever you are. Sadly though the requirement to launch them or even just swipe to their homescreen widgets means they’re still not always convenient enough.

But TapDeck in its latest incarnation makes it impossible to ignore the news, because it turns your wallpaper into the story.

As with other news aggregators you can pick which sources and types of content interest you. Then. when your wallpaper morphs into an image you want to learn more about, just swipe across it with two fingers to get the full story.

The images and stories will change on their own, so you’ll always have new things to read and a new wallpaper to stare at.

If you want to have a proper browse through the news you can still launch the TapDeck app, but if you spend a lot of time just browsing your phone having it as the wallpaper should keep you well enough informed.

Free

Although for many English speakers it’s easy enough for us to communicate with the locals when we’re travelling by pointing at things and speaking LOUDLY AND SLOWLY, it’s also quite nice to learn a bit of the local lingo before you leave as well, which is where Duolingo: Learn Languages Free comes in.

This excellent app makes learning a second language easy, fun and convenient, with a number of daily challenges and tests to help you learn. The bite sized nature ensures it’s never overwhelming and the app guides you in such a way that you can keep progressing while reinforcing the basics.

We can’t quite work out how such a slick, feature-packed app manages to be completely free of both cost and adverts, but we’re not complaining.

Free

VR could soon take off, with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR all around the corner, but in the meantime there’s the humble Google Cardboard.

Google’s take on VR also has a major advantage in that it’s really, really cheap, taking the barrier for entry down to almost zero assuming you already have a smartphone.

To make the most of Google Cardboard you’ll want the companion app, Cardboard Camera. This is designed to let you create your own VR content, in the form of panoramic photos. These are more than just static shots, as you can look around them and hear accompanying sounds.

Strapping your phone to your face with a piece of cardboard in order to experience them means they won’t replace standard photos, but they certainly impress.

Free

Google Now Launcher brings you closer to stock Android and ensures that Google Now is rarely more than a swipe away.

Just swipe right from your home screen to bring up your Google Now cards. Or if you want to search you can do that from a bar at the top of all your home screens. The Google Now Launcher is not as feature-packed as some launchers, but like stock Android itself it’s clean, minimal, fast and easy to navigate.

It’s an essentail download for any fans of Google Now or anyone who objects to bloat. It also makes finding and launching apps easy, with app suggestions presented at the top of your app drawer.

Free (£8.23/$9.99/around AU$14 in-app purchase for all features)

Unless you’re happy having pieces of paper cluttering your desk with passwords scrawled all over them, or are brave/stupid enough to use the same login for almost everything, there’s really no avoiding password managers.

Not that you should want to avoid them, especially when it comes to 1Password, which doesn’t even require a subscription. In fact, it doesn’t cost anything at all, though if you want it to automatically generate passwords or to be able to fully manage your account from your Android device you will need to shell out for a single in-app purchase.

1Password remembers all of your passwords no matter which device you’re on. Well, all but one, as the name suggests. You will still need to remember whatever password you use for the app itself. Unless that is you have a fingerprint scanner on your phone, in which case all it needs is a tap.

AES-256 encryption, secure notes and a slick interface with all your logins organised into folders are just the icing on the cake.

£1.15/US$1.49/AU$1.99

There’s an enormous number of music players to choose from on Android, but Shuttle+ is one of the best.

With an attractive and intuitive Material Design-inspired interface and most of the options you’d hope for from a premium player, including gapless playback, a sleep timer, lots of themes, automatic album artwork downloads, a 6-band equalizer, widgets, Chromecast support and a lot more besides it’s a joy to use.

There’s a free version, but the premium one is only £1.10/US$1.75/AU$1.99 and has far more features, so it’s worth the investment if you play a lot of music on your phone.

£9.70/US$14.95/AU$19.22 a year

Unfortunately viruses and other malware often target Android owners, and considering we use our devices for important task such as online banking, it’s a good idea to make sure your device is free from any nasty programs, which is where the Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus comes in.

It’s one of the best tools for keeping your Android handset or tablet free from viruses. However a much bigger threat to your device is it getting lost or stolen, and this is where the app really proves to be worth the money thanks to a suite of anti-theft tools that can help you lock and track your device.

It could help you get it back, but if that fails you can remotely wipe your data to make sure your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

£2.45/US$3.62/AU$4.55

If you’re addicted to listening to podcasts on your Android device, then DoggCatcher Podcast Player is up there with Pocket Casts as one of the best apps. The clear and attractive interface makes it a cinch to manage and play your podcasts, and you can set it to automatically download new episodes, so you’re never stuck for things to listen to.

What sets DoggCatcher Podcast Player apart from free podcast apps is the wealth of options and customisability, such as multiple themes, variable playback speeds, Chromecast support, widgets and personalised recommendations. If you have a huge list of podcasts you listen to regularly, then this is the player you need.

Free

There’s a good chance that you already have Google Fit installed on your Android device, but if not – and you’re serious about getting fit – then it’s definitely worth a download.

Google Fit not only tracks your activity, including walking, running and cycling, but it brings together information from numerous third party apps and devices to bring you a comprehensive view of your fitness so you don’t have to switch from app to app to get an idea of how you’re doing.

With the ability to set goals and see stats and graphs you can really keep track of your progress and being able ot do it all in one place makes it less of a chore, so you’re more likely to keep it up.

£2.99/US$2.99/$AU5.53

Tasker is one of the first, and best, task managers for Android. It does it all. Turns stuff on or off depending on location, manages multiple schedules for changing phone state depending on the time of day, even letting users have their phone automatically reply to text messages if it’s set to a quiet state.

In many ways it’s like a more powerful and more impenetrable version of IF. If you’re brave enough to learn its ways there’s a lot here, with the promise of total automation by combining triggers such as an app, day or time, with actions, variables and conditions.

Tasker is so powerful it can even be used to create whole new apps. It’s complex, vast, and you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

£0.99/US$1.53/AU$1.96

There are plenty of weather apps available for Android, but what makes Weather Timeline – Forecast worth choosing over them (and spending money on), is its unique focus on delivering weather forecasts in a timeline, so you can easily see conditions at a glance.

It means you can view the current weather, weather for the next hour, the next 48 hours and next week. It can help you plan your day without any nasty weather surprises.

The Weather Time Machine feature also lets you see forecasts for months and years in advance, as well as checking out how the weather was behaving decades ago. It’s also Android Wear compatible.

Free

Amazon’s Kindle app connects seamlessly with its online book shop services, letting account holders send books to the app, sync existing libraries via the cloud, and access books across the many Android phones and tablets people have kicking about the place these days.

Of course there’s also a shop in it, as flogging you books is the reason Amazon is offering this comprehensive cloud reader for free. But with over 1.5 million books available, often low prices and the ability to try before you buy with sample chapters we can’t be too cynical.

While reading on an ereader is typically preferable to a phone or tablet, the Kindle app makes it as pleasurable as possible, with a simple interface, speedy page turns and the ability to sync your progress in a book, so you can start on your phone and finish on your ereader.

Free

Endomondo – Running & Walking is a fitness tracking app which also includes cycling and over 40 other sports, making the name a bit misleading.

Get past that though and there’s a lot to like here. It ticks all the fitness app boxes, with personalised goals and training logs so you can look back on your workouts and progress.

After each workout you’ll also get a detailed summary, showing distance, duration, calories burned and more. Endomondo also aims to keep you motivated via audio feedback during workouts and competition with friends. Get really into it and you can even compete for prizes.

Fitness apps tend to work best in tandem with other devices and services though and Endomondo is no exception, as it allows you to link up to wearable devices and your MyFitnessPal account, to view your calories and nutritional intake.

Free

If you’ve ever struggled to find the time to exercise Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout could be for you, as it gives you a workout in just 7 minutes.

That might not sound like enough, but the exercises are designed so that with regular use they’ll have a real impact, helping you lose weight and stay healthy.

Best of all it’s a body-weight workout, so all you need for it is a wall, a chair and a small amount of floor space That means you can exercise almost anywhere, even at work if you don’t mind getting some weird looks.

There’s over 30 minutes of video at the heart of the app, guiding you through the exercises, and the workouts can be tailored to anyone from couch potatoes to athletes.

Free

Amazon Music has two sides. On the one hand it’s a music player, allowing you to play locally stored files. But cleverly it also allows you to stream from the cloud any music you’ve bought from Amazon itself.

Music bought elsewhere can also be uploaded to Amazon’s cloud, though while the first 250 songs are free you’ll have to pay to go beyond that.

However, to really get the most out of it you’ll want to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, as then you can also stream over a million songs and hundreds of playlists, making it a lot like Spotify or Apple Music, just with less content.

But as you can combine your own library with Amazon’s you can fill in any content gaps that you care about, which is something you can’t do with the likes of Spotify- if it doesn’t have a song on its servers you can’t play it.

Free

Hangouts hasn’t quite become the SMS replacement app Google seemingly hoped it would, as its overload of features sometimes detracted from the simplicity of texting, but if features are what you want Hangouts is an accomplished option.

Yes, you can text, as well as sending MMS messages, but you can also have group chats with up to 100 people, which sounds exhausting to us.

Video and voice calls are also supported, as are group video calls with up to ten participants. You can communicate the old fashioned way using your minutes and text allowance, or using Wi-Fi or mobile data. Chat with people on iOS and desktop as well as Android, sync conversations between devices, send GIFs and more. It’s an all-in-one communication solution.

£4.42/US$6.50/AU$7.97

Phones get lost and sometimes even stolen, that’s just a fact of life, but with Cerberus they can be a whole lot easier to get back.

The app duplicates many of Google’s Android Device Manager abilities, such as tracking, ringing, locking and erasing a handset. But it goes much, much further too, allowing you to sound an alarm, display a message on the screen, take pictures, videos and screenshots to identify the thief, record audio and a whole lot more.

It’s a comprehensive service and while it comes with a one off cost it will more than pay for itself if you ever need to use it.

Free

Whether you have your own blog or just like reading other people’s the Tumblr app has you covered. You can build, customise and post to your blog right from the app, filling it with whatever your heart desires, which, if you’re anything like the rest of the internet, probably involves cats in some way.

Or if you’re looking for something interesting to read you can search for content or browse through categories. And there is plenty of interesting stuff to read. Tumblr has been around for years and has blogs on art, music, design, news, social commentary, science and just about anything else anyone’s bothered to put online, all of which looks great on a big tablet screen.

There’s a community vibe too, with people commenting on blogs, reposting content, following each other and private messaging. There’s a lot to take in, but don’t be scared, dive in and see what you can find. It’ll probably be cats.

£9.99/US$9.99/AU$11.99 monthly subscription

After a lengthy stint on iOS, Apple Music has finally come to Android, providing Google fans with a new Spotify alternative.

With over 30 million songs, numerous radio stations, curated content, personal recommendations and more it’s a strong offering and it’s only going to get better, with music videos for example coming soon.

It goes beyond just the music itself, with photos and text giving you an insight into artists and their inspirations and coming from Apple it’s no surprise that it’s impeccably stylish.

At £9.99/US$9.99/AU$11.99 per month it costs the same as Spotify, but you can also get a three-month free trial to try it out.

Free

Flights are often the most expensive part of travel, but with the Skyscanner app you can make sure your airfare is as cheap as possible.

It’s a flight comparison service which allows you to plug in dates and a destination to see all the deals, or if you’re not sure where you want to go you can select ‘Everywhere’ for inspiration.

If you want to go deeper there’s also the ability to filter by price, cabin class, airline and take off and landing times. Because the day you’re planning to travel might not always be the cheapest you can also see flights across the rest of the week or month if you’re flexible, and when you’re ready to book you can do so direct from the app.

Free

If you’re a sports fanatic and need to keep up with the results no matter what sport or team you support, then theScore is an essential app that you’ll want to make sure is installed on your Android device.

Covering Premier League, Champions League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Europa League, European Championships, World Cup, Formula 1 racing, ATP tennis, MMA, PGA golf, NFL, NCAA Football, MLB, NBA, NHL and every other major sport and competition it’s bound to have all the stats, scores and news you need.

With customisable alerts and Android Wear support you’ll never miss a moment and you can keep track of everything at a glance, all from your personalised ‘MyScore’ stream.

£7.69/US$12.09/AU$15.22

If you never want to run out of things to listen to again, TuneIn Radio Pro is the app for you. It gives you access to over 100,000 radio stations from around the world, so no matter what your favourite genre is, you’ll be covered.

There are podcasts on offer too and you can create a profile, giving you easy access to all your favourited stations.

The Pro version is pretty expensive for an app, but not only does it remove annoying ads, it brings handy features such as the ability to record shows and listen to them at any time, as well as access to over 40,000 audiobooks and advanced social tools for finding and sharing new music.

Free

Sketchbook Express is better on a tablet than a phone, unless you have a truly monstrous handset. But assuming the canvas is big enough it’s a brilliant drawing tool, with 15 preset brushes, pressure sensitivity, multiple image layers and the ability to add text to your creations.

Surprisingly it’s also free and uses the same paint engine as SketchBook Pro, so while it doesn’t have as many features, what’s there works well.

If you manage to sketch something you’re proud of you can also share it to deviantART straight from the app, so friends and strangers can check it out.

Free

If you don’t have the time to learn a new language, then Google Translate will prove very useful. It can translate 90 different languages and can use your voice, keyboard and handwriting to translate.

You can avoid expensive data charges while travelling by downloading language packs in advance. The app can also speak translations aloud and you can save translations for future use.

Even better, it can also use your camera so all you need to do is point your Android device at an unintelligible sign or menu, take a photograph and Google Translate will turn the text into the language of your choice.

Free

Microsoft Office is the king of office suites on PC and that’s largely the case on Android too. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are all available, letting you create, view and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations to your heart’s content.

The apps are almost as full of features as their desktop counterparts, with the ability to add charts, footnotes, tables, images and more in Word, add formulas to Excel and create beautiful presentations in PowerPoint.

You probably won’t want to do much more than read a document on a phone screen, but these apps really come into their own on a tablet. Be aware though that you do need an Office 365 subscription to get full access to all the features.

Free

Having a password, PIN or fingerprint lock on your phone is just common sense, but what if you want to go further and lock specific apps?

Android doesn’t offer that feature, but there are apps for it, like App Lock, which lets you lock down individual apps with a pattern, PIN, or, perhaps most usefully, a fingerprint.

That last one obviously only helps if you have a scanner on your phone, but if it’s there then it removes the pain of entering a pattern or PIN every time you launch an app.

App Lock itself is fairly barebones. It gives you a list of all your apps and lets you toggle which ones you want to lock. Additional options let you decide how quickly it will re-lock apps, prevent the uninstalling of apps without your PIN and setting it to ask you whether you want to lock newly installed apps.

The bulk of the interaction comes when launching an app which you’ve locked. In which case you’ll be presented with a fairly attractive lockscreen in a colour that matches the app.

Go into WhatsApp, for example, it’s green – and the app is fast, simple and works well. If you want to keep your photos, conversations or anything else private App Lock is essential.

Free

Twickets is kind of like the ebay of ticket sales. If an event has sold out, whether it’s a football match, concert, live comedy, play, festival or anything else, you can check the app to see if anyone’s selling tickets.

That might sound like a recipe for getting ripped off, but tickets can’t be sold for more than face value, so it will simply be people who can’t make the event and want to get some of their money back selling them, rather than opportunists and profiteers.

Sales are securely handled too, with protections in place for both buyers and sellers, so you’re unlikely to get scammed.

£2.99/US$3.99 (around AU$5.10)

Many phones have IR blasters built in, allowing you to control your TV with them. This can be useful, but given that most televisions come with a remote it’s often unnecessary. Being able to control your computer with your phone though can be far more beneficial, especially if you’re using it to watch or listen to something, without being sat right at your desk.

That’s where Unified Remote Full comes in. Using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with no IR blaster required, it can communicate with your PC or Mac, along with other devices such as a Raspberry Pi.

There are over 90 built in remotes, giving you full control over various pieces of software, so whether you want a full virtual mouse and keyboard or just want a Netflix remote with buttons for playing and pausing content Unified Remote has you covered.

There’s a free version of the app, but most of the content is locked behind a one-time payment, which it’s well worth making if your PC is your primary device for media consumption.

£4.99/US$4.99 (around AU$6.80)

Describes itself as a ‘pro’ DJ app for people who enjoy nodding along and pumping their fists in the air while someone else’s record plays. Cross DJ Pro comes with specialist features such as BPM tracking, pitch shifting and a split audio output for previewing tracks before they’re mixed in, with filter effects in here too for adding a bit more oomph to whatever party you’re ruining with your rubbish music.

With 72 samples, the ability to record and save your own samples to the app, realistic scratching sounds and more there’s a lot to play with, while an intuitive interface and big buttons make it easy to hit the right notes.

Free

If you felt a bit lost and disconnected from the News Borg when Google shut down its Reader RSS aggregator, Feedly will help.

It’s a more glamorous and swishy-slidy way of getting data from RSS feeds, with numerous ways of displaying site snippets and navigating through your unread pile of possibly interesting things.

It’s fast and simple, but still manages to look good. Just add RSS feeds to your feedly and you’re ready to consume content from your phone. If you’re new to RSS and not sure where to start the app also has a range of topics you can browse through for inspiration.

Free

There are any number of reasons you might want to record a call, from having proof of what someone said to simply making sure you can refer back to it in case you miss or forget something.

With Call Recorder – ACR this is simple, as it will record both sides of a conversation and you can set it to start recording automatically or manually.

So if you want you can leave it activated and have every single phone call recorded (although you’ll need to let people know if you are).

Or if you want to be pickier but not to have to manually start it you can tell it just to record calls from non-contacts, selected contacts or other filters.

Once a call has been recorded you can play it back and jump around to different points if there’s a specific part you want to hear.

There are various other settings too, such as the ability to change the format of recordings and automatically delete very short ones. The best thing about it though is that it just works. Tell it to record a call and it will – which is kind of what you want, right?

£7.95/US$12.95 monthly subscription

Modern life can be hectic and most of us could probably do with some calm. Headspace aims to provide that through numerous guided mediations, ranging from ten minutes to over an hour in length.

There are also a number which are focused on helping you flourish in specific aspects of life, such as relationships or fitness, and they’re all expertly guided by a former Buddhist monk.

You get access to ten short meditations for free, but to get the most out of it and unlock hundreds of others you’ll have to subscribe.

£1.99/US$2.49/AU$3.52

Threema might look like any other messaging app, but it’s got privacy and security at its heart. It has all the standard features you’d expect, including group chats, the ability to share images, videos and voice messages and even a few extra features like support for QR codes and group polls.

But everything you send and receive, including media, is encrypted and Threema’s servers store as little information as possible, with contacts lists managed from your own device and messages deleted from the servers as soon as they’ve been delivered.

If that’s not enough it also allows you to communicate anonymously, for the full experience of feeling like you’re in a really boring spy movie.

Free

Whether you want to save space or battery life Hermit could be the answer. Often apps take up a surprising amount of space and can eat up battery by running in the background, but Hermit gives you an alternative that it calls ‘lite apps’.

Essentially these are lightweight website wrappers, which you can apply to any site to make them look and operate more like an app, complete with notifications and their own icons on your homescreen. But they typically have a smaller file size and they never run in the background, so battery use is minimal.

Hermit has a library of lite apps built in, including popular services like Facebook and Twitter, but you can create your own for any other site. The free version lets you use any two lite apps, but a one-time in-app purchase of £3.37 (roughly $4.76/AU$6.34) will let you use as many as you want.

Not only are these app alternatives light on battery and storage, they’re also customisable, with numerous themes and optional permissions. Plus, each of them runs in its own sandbox, so you’re protected against viruses.

Free (with optional subscription)

It’s great learning a new skill, but finding the time to do so can be tricky. Skillshare makes that a little bit easier, by breaking down lessons and tutorials into bitesize chunks that you can fit in while you take a coffee break.

As it’s an app it’s always with you, so you can learn on your commute too and there’s a vast variety of courses offered, from film making and photography, to game design, chocolate making and screen printing.

The courses aren’t generally detailed enough to make you an expert, but they’re a great way to get started or hone your skills. Some content is free, but to access the bulk of it or download the videos for offline access you’ll need a $9.99 (roughly £6.96/AU$13.08) monthly subscription.

Free

Adobe Photoshop Mix isn’t quite the full Photoshop experience, but it is a slick photo editing app designed for fast and intuitive use on a smartphone.

You can easily crop and merge images, adjust the colours, add filters and do more fine-tuned editing of a specific segment of a picture.

Importantly you can always return to the original image too, so if you create a monstrosity the photo it was based on isn’t lost and when you’re done creating you can share your pictures in a snap as well.

Free

SwiftKey is probably the single best keyboard you can get for Android. It was the first to offer to ‘learn’ your writing style and attempt to predict your next word, getting better at predictions over time.

Others have since copied its approach but SwiftKey has stayed ahead, proving faster and more accurate than the competition. It’s also hugely customisable, with over 70 colours, designs and themes.

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.

Free

If there’s one thing that makes us more certain the English language is in trouble than anything else it’s GIFs, and now GIPHY has its own app the days of verbal conversations may really be numbered.

But maybe that’s not such a bad thing, after all… if it’s true that a picture tells a thousand words a GIF must be an entire essay.

With the GIPHY app you can browse through an enormous library of GIFs, sorted into various categories, such as ‘Animals’ and ‘Emotions’. Or if you know what you want to express you can just type in a word or phrase and see what comes up – and some of the results are insane, to say the least.

Then from there you can easily share it across various messaging and social media services and never write out another message again.

£2.50/$3.86/AU$4.97

If you’ve got a huge collection of ebooks, then Calibre Companion is definitely worth the asking price. It helps you organise your digital library and displays all of your ebooks in an attractive interface that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

You can add and remove ebooks via Wi-Fi to ensure you have all the books you need on your portable device. It’s not designed for reading your books from, but it ensures your library stays organised. A free version is also available, but it is limited to just 20 books.

Free

If you want complete control over the way your Android device looks and behaves, then Action Launcher 3 is a must have app.

It matches Android’s Material Design look but has a bunch of bespoke features, allowing you to edit icons and themes, access widgets by swiping over an app and even add cover images to folders.

If you’ve set up home screens in other interfaces such as Nova, Google Now Launcher and TouchWiz, as well as the default Android interface, you can import all your settings so all of your favourite apps and shortcuts are exactly where you want them, making setup time minimal.

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