Best free Android apps
If you have an Android device you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to apps, with the Google Play store being home to thousands of them.
The huge quantity of apps doesn't mean they're all quality - far from it in fact. To make sure you never install a duff app here's our selection of the best 50 you should install right now.
We've carefully divided the apps into categories so you can find the apps that suit your needs, and each one has been carefully chosen to ensure that you have the best apps on your device.
Smartphones have made communicating easier, but they've also meant there are now hundreds of different ways to get in touch with people, from the humble SMS or phone call to emails and instant messaging.
Jumping between six different apps to message people is no fun and with drupe you don't have to. It combines many popular services, including call, SMS, email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Tango, Voxer, Hangouts, Telegram, Viber, Line, We Chat, Hike, Waze and Facebook's Hello dialler, allowing you to simply drag a contact image onto the one you want to use at any given time.
To make things even easier you can set drupe to always be available with a swipe across a certain part of your screen, making messaging simple again.
WhatsApp is arguably the king of instant messaging, but if you're concerned about security and privacy it doesn't quite cut it. That's where Bleep comes in. It's a new app by the makers of BitTorrent and it's basically WhatsApp for paranoid people.
Not only are messages fully encrypted but they're stored locally, so no-one can pull them from the cloud. You can also 'whisper' messages which are deleted as soon as they've been read and you don't even need to provide any personal details to register.
A few short years ago if we'd recommended the official Twitter app as the best resource for tweeting from your Android device, we'd have been laughed off the internet.
However a lot of work has since been put into the official app to help it compete and even surpass third party offerings. New features such as being able to embed tweets within tweets for some sort of tweetception shenanigans, as well as uploading GIFs, are all very welcome.
These new features plus a streamlined interface, a lack of superfluous features some of its competitor apps contain and no ads makes this the best app for firing off a quick tweet.
Periscope, Twitter's live video streaming app, has made its way to Android and it's an essential download for anyone who likes the immediacy of Twitter but craves something more visual.
You can easily create your own live streams or watch other people's, send comments and hearts in real time and if you miss the action there's a 24 hour window with which to replay streams. In short it's simple enough to dive straight into but has enough to it that you'll keep coming back, whether you're more creator or viewer.
WhatsApp is one of the most essential apps you can install on your Android device, especially if you have friends and family across the world.
Rather than using up your SMS allowance by sending text messages, WhatsApp lets you send messages over any Wi-Fi or mobile data connection instead. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, and if you're using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) they won't cost you any extra to send.
6. VLC for Android Beta
It might not be quite as glamorous as other media players, but if you want a no-nonsense app that can play pretty much any media file under the sun, then VLC for Android Beta is the app for you.
As the name suggests this app is still in Beta which means there could be the odd bug, but we've yet to encounter anything serious and it's perfectly stable for playing and streaming your media from around your house.
Similar to Netflix, Spotify has been pretty quick to establish itself as the top music streaming service, and the Spotify Music app brings some great features to your Android device, turning it in to a pocket jukebox that delivers your favourite tunes no matter where you are.
Even better you can now listen to Spotify music for free on Android, although if you want to download songs for offline listening and without any ads, then a Spotify Premium account is worth investing in.
8. TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio turns your Android device into a global radio, allowing you to stream over 100,000 radio stations from around the world. No matter what type of music you're in to, it's almost guaranteed that there's a radio station somewhere in the world that's dedicated to that genre.
Forget messing about with knobs, TuneIn Radio's interface is clear and easy to use on a touchscreen, and you can tune in with just a tap.
CloudPlayer, as the name suggests, lets you stream music you have stored in the cloud. This of course is something Google Play Music has been successfully doing for years, but with CloudPlayer you can link up your OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive accounts and access all of them in one place.
It also has both Chromecast and AirPlay support and lets you stream files in lossless quality, on top of which it's got all the basics you'd expect from a music player, like a 10-band equalizer and playlists. Some features are free but others require a one-time payment to upgrade to premium.
Evernote is an excellent app for your Android device that lets you stash and sync all your text notes, voice memos and files on your phone and access them through a desktop computer.
It's a brilliant productivity tool that lets you organise and search your notes so you always have exactly what you need at your fingertips.
Dropbox is probably the best known tool for syncing and sharing your files, photos and videos across all your devices, and its popularity is well earned. Any files that you save to your Dropbox folder on any of your PCs or devices will appear in the Dropbox app.
It took a while for Dropbox to come to Android, and after a shaky start this app is now essential with a number of helpful new features that let you save photos and videos from your device straight to Dropbox, as well as quickly editing your documents from within the app.
12. Todoist - To-Do List
If you want to give your productivity a real boost, you'll want to make the perfect to-do list that helps you keep organised and Todoist: To-Do List is the best app on Android for this purpose.
Not only can you schedule your days in advance to make the most of your time, you can share products, add documents from Dropbox and Google Drive, and sync all your tasks across your devices no matter what platform they're running.
13. Google Keep
Google Keep is the Android maker's own attempt at muscling in on the clipboard and to-do list app, presenting a versatile corkboard tool that lets users record audio notes, capture photos, create checklists and more.
The star of the show is the resizeable Home screen widget, from which you can access all the features and hit buttons to record clips and take images. Google's so proud of Keep that it's become canon - and has come pre-loaded as part of Android's app set since Android 4.3.
14. Google Hangouts
If you need to talk to member of your team remotely, Google Hangouts is an excellent messaging app that will help you keep in contact through video calls, text messages, photos, GIFs and much more.
Free group calls are great for virtual meetings, and you can connect your Google Voice account for phone number, SMS and voicemail integration. Of course it's not just a great productivity tool, it's also perfect for keeping in contact with friends and family as well.
15. Next Lock Screen
Android doesn't do a bad job of lock screens, but for a platform built on customisation they can be disappointingly limited.
Not so with Next Lock Screen. This Microsoft app gives you quick lock screen access to a large selection of apps of your choice, filtered into categories such as home, work or on the go.
It also gives you quick access to a flashlight, Wi-Fi toggles and more, all of which are customisable too. With music app controls, weather, upcoming calendar events and notifications displayed as well it's seriously full-featured.
16. Intel Remote Keyboard
Ever wished you could control your computer with your phone? No? Well Intel obviously did as its Remote Keyboard app allows you to do just that.
Download the app to your handset and the companion software to any Windows 8.1 computer and you'll be able to both use your phone screen as a trackpad and type on its keyboard.
How useful this will be depends on what you use your computer for, but if you have a mini PC, or ever hook your main computer up to your TV or use it in any other situation where the keyboard and mouse aren't necessarily right next to you then this is a godsend. Especially if you're lazy like us.
Boost your productivity with Pushbullet, which lets you view your Android phone's notifications and messages directly on your desktop PC. It means if you get a text message you can read it there and then without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag.
You can also quickly send files from your computer to your phone with only a few clicks, and if you regularly find that you email links to yourself just to open them on your smartphone, then you'll never have to do that again thanks to Pushbullet's link sharing features.
IF was formerly known as IFTTT, which stands for "if this then that" and handily sums up what this app does. It's a simple ethos that gives you a huge amount of options for making your Android device even smarter.
You can create simple statements such as "if any photo is taken then add them to Dropbox", or "if my location is home, send a text message to my partner saying "I'm home!"" which can also be shared with other IF users. You'll be amazed how much you can do with such a simple premise.
19. Nova Launcher
One of the best things about Android is how customisable it is, and there are loads of apps out there that can help you change the way Android displays and launches apps to suit your preferences.
Out of these Nova Launcher is the best, giving you complete control over your home screen. You can change the icons, themes, colours, layouts and much more.
There's a good chance that you've heard of Skype, the excellent voice and video service (with instant messaging thrown in for good measure as well). The Android app integrates brilliantly with your device, making it easy to make and receive calls.
Calls to other Skype users over Wi-Fi are free, but you can also make calls to mobiles and landlines as well. You'll need Skype credit for this, but you could find yourself saving a small fortune, especially if you're ringing people in other countries.
21. Photoshop Mix
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.
Snapseed is Google's own photo editor that's been designed from the ground up to make tweaking your snaps as easy and fun as possible on a touchscreen Android device.
Although the interface is simple enough to use with just your fingers, there's also a lot of depth to this app as well. You use tools to tweak and enhance your photographs to make them look the best they ever have, as well as playing around with fun filters that can transform the photos you've taken on your smartphone or tablet.
Instagram is the go-to app for quickly taking photos, adding quirky filters to them and sharing them with the world. Over 300 million people use Instagram and thanks to the social aspects and effortless interface it's easy to see why it's such a hit.
You're not limited to sharing your snaps on Instagram either, as you can easily add your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more with just a few taps.
24. Google Photos
There are probably hundreds of photo apps around, but Google Photos stands out as it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos, all for free.
That's reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on Android but on iOS and computers too.
But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it's well on its way.
25. Prey Anti Theft
If you've just dropped hundreds of pounds/dollars/kwachas on a new smartphone you'll probably want to protect your investment and Prey Anti Theft helps you do that.
If your phone is lost or stolen you can use your Prey account to find it on a map, take pictures using the front or rear camera, remotely lock it, remotely trigger an alarm even if it's on silent or display a tailored message on the screen, increasing your chances of getting it back, or at the very least scaring whoever stole it.
Sticking to a diet or exercise regime isn't always easy. Tracking the calories that you've consumed and worked off can make it easier to stay on track but that in itself can be a bit of a chore.
Thankfully Lifesum is here to make it as simple as possible, allowing you to add foods and exercises with calorie estimates, work to specific goals and get prompts as to when you should be eating more or less, all with an attractive interface and an intuitive layout.
You get all that for free, but if you subscribe to a gold membership you can get more detailed nutritional information, sync the data with fitness apps and wearables, follow specialist diets and more.
27. Google Fit
Google Fit is an excellent app for keeping track of your activity and you don't need any additional fitness trackers; you can just carry your Android phone around with you. If you do have Android Wear-compatible fitness trackers and wearables, then Google Fit gets even better.
Fitness goals can also be set to help you reach the level of fitness you desire, as well as keeping you motivated.
28. Endomondo Running Cycling Walk
Endomondo Running Cycling Walk bills itself as the only personal trainer you'll ever need, and it's pretty darn accurate claim. No matter what sports or fitness activity you perform, this app will track your progress and give you information on speed, distance, calories burnt and more.
You can keep a training diary to view your progress and set workout goals and challenges to help keep you motivated.
29. Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout
Finding time in our lives to exercise can be tough, but the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout can help you fit exercises into even the most hectic of schedules.
The official app of the scientifically proven body-weight workout is designed for all fitness levels and contains over 30 minutes of special videos to help you get fit with a seven minute routine that only needs a wall, chair and a bit of floor space.
30. Map My Fitness Workout Trainer
Map My Fitness Workout Trainer is another great app for keeping tabs on your workout regime. As the name suggests it uses the GPS positioning features of your Android smartphone to log your runs, letting you get an accurate look at your workout regime.
Voice feedback will keep you in the loop even when you're in the process of working out, giving you information on your pace, the route you're taking calories burns and plenty more.
31. Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
If you fancy learning a foreign language then make sure you download Duolingo: Learn Languages Free, as it's one of those rare apps that manages to be both educational and fun, ensuring that you'll keep coming back for more to brush up on your langueage skills.
Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, and English can all be learned, it's completely free with no ads or hidden fees and it's one of the best ways you can learn a new language with your Android device.
If you're anything like us you're probably glued to your phone, staring at its bright screen well into the night. If you are then you may also have noticed you have trouble sleeping, as the blue light emitted by your device can keep you awake.
Twilight provides an easy fix, by adapting the display colours to the time of day, filtering the blue light after sunset and in turn helping you get to sleep before 4am.
33. Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office? On Android? Don't worry, you have read that right; Microsoft's suite of office applications is now available on Android devices and not only is it free, it's also really rather good.
Word, Excel and PowerPoint are all included, so you can open and edit your documents no matter where you are.
34. Google Drive
If having Microsoft on your Android device feels a little weird, then worry not, as Google Drive has you covered as well. You can view all the files you save to the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as share them with friends and co-workers.
PDFs, photos, videos and much more can be accessed through this handy app.
35. Google Translate
If you need to quickly and easily find out what something means in another language, then there's no better way than with Google Translate. You can translate between 90 languages and even converse naturally with speakers of other languages and let Google do the translation.
One of the best features lets you use the camera of your Android device to translate real-world objects such as signposts and posters. Just point, shoot and translate!
36. Office Lens
Pictures of documents and whiteboards are trimmed and enhanced and can then be converted into Word, PowerPoint or PDF files and uploaded to OneNote or OneDrive for easy access from other devices. While scanning a business card will turn it into a contact on your phone, ensuring the content is easily accessible and never gets lost.
It's possible to type surprisingly quickly and accurately on a smartphone, but mistakes still happen more often than they would on a proper keyboard and when they do the means of fixing them are somewhat more limited.
But Inputting+ gives you a few extra tools, which would take the form of keyboard shortcuts on a PC. Any time you enter text with Inputting+ enabled a little circle will pop up and if you want to undo, redo or find and replace text you can do so by tapping on it.
It's still not quite as fast as an actual keyboard shortcut, but it's the next best thing and should help make text entry on Android error and frustration free.
Even in 2015 there are still times and places where we can't get an internet connection, but this doesn't have to mean you can't read websites, however, thanks to the excellent Pocket app. It allows you to save articles, news stories, blog posts, videos and much more, letting you read and watch them offline.
installed you can also synchronise your saved articles across them all, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading.
If you've got a huge list of websites and news sources that you like to keep up to date with, then you'll need to get Feedly. This excellent RSS feed reader collects all the latest news from your favourite sources and brings them together in an elegant interface that makes it easy to find what you're looking for.
Amazon's Kindle app is a great e-reader, which is seamlessly linked with your Amazon account. Support for magazines and newspapers is limited at the moment, with only a handful of niche publications in Android-friendly format.
But for books it's great, with plenty of screen and text display options to get it looking a way that hurts your eyes the least. Another exciting new way to collect classic novels you'll probably never get around to reading because there's the internet now.
Another app that's been out there for a while on Android, the eBay tool has also been updated so much that it's now a credible alternative to the desktop site.
You can list items that you want to sell direct from the app, while there's a simple PIN system that makes paying for your winnings via PayPal much simpler and less convoluted than it is on the full blown web site.
Tinder is the dating app that's taking the world by storm, and it's easy to see why as it lets you view and connect with people nearby, and its simple interface could net you a match made in heaven.
All you need to do is swipe through the photos of people who are using the app nearby and if you like the look of someone swipe right and if not swipe left. If someone likes you back, you'll be put in contact with them through the app. It's also compatible with Android Wear devices.
43. SketchBook Express
If you're a budding digital artist on the go then make sure you download Sketchbook Express, an amazingly powerful and versatile app that can turn your Android phone or tablet into a digital canvas.
This free version of the renowned Sketchbook Pro software features plenty of the tools that come with the paid application, including 15 preset brushes and multi-touch navigation.
44. Field Trip
Whether you want to learn more about your area or live like a local when away from home Field Trip can help.
With content pulled from numerous publications it will guide you through local history, interesting shops, great restaurants and more. You can browse it of course but you don't even need to do that, as you can set the app to alert you whenever you're near a point of interest, so you never miss out on something when on the move.
There's a surprising amount of content too, with even small towns often proving home to multiple points of interest.
Uber is transforming the way we travel. You can quickly and easily request a taxi using the app and get picked up within minutes and you can compare rates and get quotes, as well as paying with Google Wallet, PayPal or by adding your credit card to a secure Uber account.
The Uber service is available in over 50 countries, and it's rapidly growing. Give it a try and you'll never want to hail a taxi the old fashioned way again.
46. Vivino Wine Scanner
Finding a good bottle of wine can be a minefield, especially if you don't know a Beaujolais from a Barolo, but help is at hand from Vivino.
Just use the app to take a picture of any wine label and it will come back with a description, user reviews, ratings, average prices, food pairings and more, so you know whether or not you're buying a good wine at a good price.
There's also a premium subscription service for true connoisseurs, but the free app gives you all the tools you need to pick the right bottle.
Ever wanted to go to a gig but it's sold out? Rather than turning up at the event and trying to buy tickets at hugely inflated prices from unscrupulous scalpers, use the Twickets app instead.
This puts fans who have missed out in touch with other fans who can't make it to the event. Sports, comedy, musicals, cinemas, live music and much more are all covered, and the only rule is that no one can post tickets above face value, so you'll never be ripped off.
48. Amazon Appstore
There's a particularly great reason to have the Amazon Appstore on your phone or tablet - free stuff. Amazon is enticing users to stick its alternate Android app store on their devices with the promise of a free app every day, with some classics like Sega's ChucChu Rocket and World of Goo featuring as previous daily freebies.
The catch is these are unsupported releases, meaning no updates or fixes in the future, but you can't moan too much about getting some ace freebies every day.
49. Skyscanner - All Flights!
Compare millions of flights from airlines around the world with the Skyscanner app and grab yourself a real bargain.
In only a few seconds you'll be able search and compare flights to find the cheapest ones available, and you can book your chosen flight directly from the app while you're on the go. You can also search for random destinations to give you inspiration for your next holiday.
50. theScore - Sports & Scores
If you're a sports fantatic 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 all the major sports including football (both real and American), basketball, hockey, golf and much more, you'll get the latest news and alerts to keep you up to date with any game. Player Card Profiles is a particularly great feature that gives you in-depth stats and analysis of players.
- Not enough? Check out our list of 50 best Android apps.