Best free Android apps
You've got an Android device, either because you didn't want, or couldn't afford, an iPhone - and in years past that meant you had to live with substandard apps. Thankfully, those days are well and truly over, with reams of great little programs standing toe to toe with the best Apple's App Store has to offer.
- What's the best phone of 2017?
Admittedly, the huge quantity of apps doesn't mean they're all quality - far from it in fact, and finding the good ones can be tough.
There are tools and techniques to help, with various lists in the Play Store providing you with Editor's Picks across a range of categories, new releases and even apps that are specifically recommended for you based on your previous installs.
You can also hunt out apps that are similar to your favorites by searching for an app you have and seeing what else comes up.
And checking out user reviews and ratings can save you from downloading a dud of an app.
But even with all that, the sheer number of apps on Google Play means many of the best can often get lost, while weaker ones sometimes rise to the top.
So to make sure you never install a duff app here's our selection of the best you should install right now - each one carefully chosen to ensure you'll have a whole suite of fun, engaging and, dammit, useful apps on your phone or tablet.
New this week: Upflix
New content is added to Netflix every single day, but usually – unless it’s a Netflix original – the service doesn’t do a great job of highlighting it, so you might have no idea a film you’ve been eagerly anticipating has made it to the service.
Perhaps even worse, Netflix makes no real attempt to highlight the films and shows that will be leaving the service soon, leaving you with no idea that you’ve only got several days left to finish binging that sitcom or finally watch that documentary.
You can tell the app your Netflix region (so wherever you are in the world it will have accurate information), you can get push notifications for updates, and each entry is accompanied by the date that it was added or that it will be leaving.
On top of that, you can also view trailers and information on titles, and see their IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores. There are also links to take you straight to their page on Netflix or IMDB, and there are some basic search tools to find titles, genres or scores if you’re looking for something more specific.
New this week: GrammarPal
is an all-in-one spelling and grammar checker for anything you type into your phone. Whichever app you’re in, a little green circle will appear when you’re entering text and if you tap it the circle will show a number, indicating how many errors it’s spotted in your text.
Tap it again to highlight all the errors, with color-coding showing whether it’s a grammar or spelling mistake, then a tap on any error will suggest changes.
GrammarPal fixes mistakes, but it also tells you why it thinks something is a mistake, and if it regularly picks up on something you disagree with you can create a custom dictionary or rule to make the app ignore it.
You can set the position of the bubble, to make sure it’s always out of the way, and it’s small enough that it should be easy to ignore anyway, yet it’s never more than a tap away from making you a better communicator.
Tide: Stay focused, be peaceful
You might think that working solidly for hours on end is the best way to be productive, but many people find that actually taking short regular breaks is better. It’s such a popular idea that an entire technique has been built around it, called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s this that’s at the heart of .
The idea is simple: work for 25 minutes then get a 5-minute break. After 4 work periods you get a longer, 15-minute break.
It’s a technique that you might find works, and is definitely worth trying if you ever struggle to focus, as breaking the day into smaller chunks can make it feel more manageable, and you’ll probably find that you resist opening up Facebook while working when you know you’ll be given a break shortly.
You could just use a normal timer for all this, but Tide automates the process, alerting you after each work or break period has finished, but also giving you some control, allowing you to adjust the work and break durations, or change how many work periods you need before a longer break.
When an alarm goes off you have to tap to start the next work or break period, which is more useful than it sounds, as, for example, you might not be ready to go on break after exactly 25 minutes.
Tide also has a beautifully designed interface and optionally plays relaxing nature sounds while you work. We can live without that part, but if, like us, you’d rather work in silence than to the sounds of rolling waves, you can easily turn it off.
LinkedIn Job Search
Applying for jobs used to involve filling out lengthy arcane applications only to never hear back and wonder: should that time might have been better spent learning Japanese or solving world hunger?
With there’s still no guarantee that you’ll hear back from your dream job, but it takes out much of the hassle of applying at least, as many of the jobs on this app let you apply using your LinkedIn profile information, so you can apply in several taps, rather than filling out several pages.
That’s great, but it’s not new – LinkedIn itself has been offering that for a while. What the LinkedIn Job Search app does is get rid of all the LinkedIn fluff, like connections and groups, and leave you with just a simple yet powerful job search tool.
You can search by title or keyword, pick a location, as well as how far from that location you’re prepared to travel, choose how recent the job listings have to be and even search just specific companies if you want.
You can fill out as many or as few of these requirements as you want, then filter the results by either how recent they are or how relevant, and before you even tap on a listing you’ll be able to see whether it lets you apply through LinkedIn or not.
If you’re not ready to apply right now you can save it for later, and you can opt to get alerts on your phone if a saved job is about to expire, or if someone has looked at your application – so while there’s no guarantee you’ll get the job, you’ll at least know your application has been seen.
Android only offers 15 different volume levels as standard, which is generally fine, but can lead to situations where you can’t quite get the exact volume you want.
, as the name suggests, gives you more control, with 100 different volume levels built in. As a free app, that would already be just about enough to recommend it but Precise Volume is also packed full of handy tools and features, like custom volume presets and the ability to set a volume limit when using headphones, to protect your hearing.
Upgrade to pro for a one-off charge of $2.49/£2.49 and you get access to 1,000,000 different volume levels, plus the ability to have the volume automatically change based on the app, Bluetooth device or headphones you’re using.
Those features are useful, but not essential, and even the free app will power up your volume controls in ways that you might find surprisingly significant once you get used to having more fine-grained control.
Privacy seems increasingly hard to come by in the digital age, and our smartphones are partly to blame for that, as we text, browse and even work from them in public.
Inevitably, at some point, someone’s going to look over your shoulder, so you’d better hope you’re not working on something confidential or sending sexy messages to your significant other when it happens.
This app will add a pattern or color filter to your screen which makes it a lot harder to make out text and images from a distance.
The strength and color of the filter can be changed and you can choose only to cover a portion of the screen if you’d prefer. You can also quickly and easily enable or disable the filter and change the settings using toggles on the notifications shade, so it’s not too much of a hassle to set up and use.
There’s a separate (not available as an IAP) which adds additional pattern options and lets you set up multiple profiles for $1.58/£1.26, but unless you’re a secret agent the free version should do just fine.
Some podcast players are unintuitive or ugly, but Podcast Go is neither. While it’s not exactly feature-packed, it has all the key tools you’re likely to want.
Searching for and discovering podcasts is easy for a start, with over 300,000 available on the app, sorted into categories (such as entertainment or technology) which you can filter based on what’s popular or trending.
There are also tabs to view any new or unfinished episodes of podcasts you’re subscribed to, making it easy to keep on top of them.
You can also optionally get alerts for new episodes, set new episodes to automatically download, build a playlist, and set podcasts to stop playing after a certain amount of time – ideal if, for example, you like to fall asleep to the soothing voice of your favorite podcaster.
There are all sorts of writing apps, but few address the problem of getting you to start writing in the first place. Actually putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, can be the single biggest hurdle in getting something written, whether that something is the novel you’ve been mulling for years or a piece of work with a looming deadline.
The app also lets you track your progress and set targets, allowing you to input a total word or character target, a deadline and a daily word target – or have it automatically calculate how many words you need to do each day in order to hit your deadline.
Over time you’ll see logs and charts of how much progress you’ve made, and the app will reward you with virtual guavas for completing your daily goals.
Why guavas? We’re not sure. But you can create your own treats that you’ll give yourself when you collect a certain number – for example you could decide that you’ll trade in one guava for a cookie, though doing that could set back your health targets... so maybe opt for a different reward.
If your life is a non-stop stream of smartphone messages you might want to know which ones are actually worth your attention before you take the time to pick up your phone, and aims to help with that.
Using a series of vibrations or sounds it will give you insight into the content of a message. For example, longer messages will have longer alerts, while messages framed as a question will have a different sound at the end of the alert.
And it goes further, also altering notification sounds based on keywords or tone, so you have an idea of whether a message is positive or negative, urgent or work-related.
You can also add your own filters, so that the app will pick up on (or ignore) specific words and phrases, and you can customize the types of alerts you get, opting for long or short vibration patterns, or to use sounds instead.
Converbration is also versatile, working with SMS, WhatsApp, Kik, Facebook Messenger, Allo, Google Hangouts, Viber, LINE, Telegram, VKontakte, WeChat, BBM, Kakao Talk, Yahoo Messenger, imo, Tango, GroupMe, hike messenger, and textPlus (with more to come, if you can believe that).
Get it customized how you want it, and get used to what the different alerts sound like, and you’ll never again pick up your phone just to find a generic ‘k’ or ‘lol’ response. The app is free, or you can pay $3.99/£3.79 to get rid of adverts.
Multi Timer StopWatch
You would think that getting a timer right would be easy, yet so many limit you to a single timer at once. We don’t know about you, but our exciting, fast-paced lives often require multiple timers, as we juggle cooking times, laundry and workouts among other thrilling activities.
Each timer can also be given its own sound and you can even set up TimerCeption (timers within timers), meaning the app will alert you after a certain amount of time has passed prior to the end of the timer.
There are widgets too, for easy access to the timers, and there’s a built-in stopwatch. Plus, you can turn off a timer just by waving your hand over the screen.
The app isn’t the prettiest we’ve ever seen, and if you want to get rid of adverts you’ll need to pay a one-time $2.99/£2.79 fee, but for free you get one of the most functional and feature-packed timers around.
is one of many apps that let you broadcast your thoughts and feelings to the world. But it lets you do so completely anonymously, with a username that you can change as often as you want and a profile that – at most – contains your age range, gender and approximate location.
The bulk of the app involves short messages, accompanied by an image (usually one suggested by the app and often more decorative than relevant, though you can upload your own). You can then scroll through these messages, sorting them either by those posted nearby, those in groups you belong to, the latest ones, or the most popular ones.
You can reply to the messages if you wish, or start a private conversation with the author. The app as a whole often feels like a more anonymous and visual version of Twitter, albeit without the big brands and famous faces, and with a lot more venting and secret sharing thanks to the anonymity.
But with its focus on people nearby it can also feel more social – encouraging people to talk and even meet.
That aspect is somewhat at odds with the intended anonymity, but you never have to share more than you want to. If you’d rather be a ghost, posting and replying while never revealing a thing, that’s easily achieved.
You can write what’s on your mind at any given time, like a brief diary entry, and assign a mood to it, and the app can also grab posts from Facebook if you allow it, and automatically work out the mood associated with them.
From there it builds out graphs of how happy you are on average and if there’s any specific time, day or reason that you tend to feel more one thing than another.
Once you’ve found these patterns the idea is that you might be able to better identify what causes your different moods, break habits and form new ones, for a happier you. But even if that doesn’t pan out, being able to predict when you’re likely to feel a particular way can make the emotion more manageable – especially as you’ll also know when it’s likely to pass.
The bulk of MoodCast is free, but there’s a single $2.99/£2.89 IAP to remove adverts, let you import Twitter and Instagram posts, and export the findings to an Excel spreadsheet.
Meteor – App Speed Test
This app not only tests your upload speed, download speed and ping, but also assigns each one a rating, ranging from ‘poor’ to ‘awesome’, so you have a better idea of what it means.
But Meteor goes further than that, by assigning the same rating to a selection of apps, so if for example it gives Google Maps a ‘very good’ rating, that means you can expect smooth and speedy mapping with your current data speeds.
And you can go further still, tapping on an app to get a breakdown of what performance is likely to be for different activities. In Spotify, for example, you can view separate ratings for listening to a song or downloading an album in normal, high or extreme quality.
Meteor isn’t perfect: the selection of apps that it can rate the performance of is currently limited to (deep breath): YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Waze, Google Maps, Skype, Amazon, Dropbox, Chrome, Flipboard, Gmail, Instagram, Google Street View, Twitter, Uber and WhatsApp.
What’s worse is you can only choose six of them at once. But it does far more than most speed test apps to help explain what you’re looking at on your phone and your current data speeds, and it’s got a stylish design and easy to navigate layout too.
It can block adverts, keeping speeds high, and if you’re using a device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset Pyrope is even faster, as it’s optimized for those chips – though it should still work fine on other chipsets.
It keeps you secure with an incognito mode, the ability to block pop-ups and cookies, and a ‘LookLock’, which stops other apps from seeing or reading the contents of any sites you’re viewing.
And as for other features, Pyrope is packed full of them. There’s a night mode with inverted colors, a power saving mode, a full-screen immersive mode, background audio, so videos can keep playing sound even when the browser isn’t in the foreground, the ability to save sites for offline reading, and gesture controls.
All that and Pyrope Browser looks pretty swish too, especially if you activate the ‘dynamic notification bar’, which changes the color of your notification bar to match the color of the site you’re on.
We’re used to beauty modes smoothing out our imperfections to usually unconvincing effect, but more drastically edits your selfies, letting you add a smile to moody snaps, making you look younger or older, changing your gender, beautifying you or letting you make a collage with four different altered photos.
Obviously these features feel more like gimmicks than must-have features, but it was a hit when it debuted on iOS and it’s not hard to see why. By limiting it to just a few effects, and using neural networks for the heavy lifting, FaceApp works well, with the added smiles in particular being freakishly convincing at times.
It also works with either existing photos in your gallery or new ones which you can snap from the app, though it can be a bit slow at snapping new shots, and struggles to find faces in pictures taken outside the app, so that’s still one thing that needs work.
Still, if you’re the kind of person who lives for Snapchat filters FaceApp is well worth a look, whether you want a believable tweak or a monstrous modification.
You can never have too much music in your life, unless that music is awful, which 80% of it probably is if you’re relying on the lucky dip that is radio for finding new things.
Even recommended songs on Spotify and the like can often seem like a pale imitation of the things you want to be listening to, which is why SoundR Music tries to give you more control.
While you can’t pick and choose specific songs like ‘proper’ streaming services, you can pick a genre, an emotion and an activity or setting, such as ‘party’ or ‘sleep’. So if you’re in the mood for chill techno you can listen to in the summer while you’re running, you can actually search for that.
The more you dig down the fewer results you get of course, but also the more personalized it becomes.
Whatever results emerge come in the form of playlists, rather than individual songs, and you can’t download these, but you can stream them completely free, with no adverts, and if you find something you like you can also favorite it – or, as you’re probably more likely to do, add it to a Spotify/Apple Music playlist.
Want to know how busy a local restaurant is without calling or leaving the house? Or how about something further afield, like the view at Machu Picchu?
Whether out of simple curiosity or actually wanting to know the situation somewhere before you head out, there are any number of reasons you might want to do this.
In some ways it reminds us a bit of Periscope, where you could peep in on the activity of strangers on the other side of the world, but here it’s pictures rather than video, and you make a request rather than hunting for broadcasts.
If there’s a downside to the app, it’s simply that it’s not yet well known, so there’s every chance you’ll send a request and there won’t be any users nearby, but hopefully that will change with time - so help out by downloading.
There are loads of great games on Android, but unearthing them isn’t always easy, with Google Play’s selection of filters and categories helping, but sometimes seeming overwhelming.
And these are in video form, not text, which is also probably for the best, because no amount of words can give you as much sense for a game as simply seeing it in action.
The app also supports Chromecast, so you’re not limited to watching content on a small screen, and as well as videos created for the app it also highlights a number of streams from YouTube, Twitch and Mobcrush, which you can watch without leaving the app.
Pacer Pedometer and Weight Loss Coach
The app is primarily a pedometer, and one which works quite accurately – or rather, if the initial readings aren’t accurate you can adjust the sensitivity until they are.
Like a dedicated fitness tracker it runs permanently, quietly counting your steps, distance travelled and active minutes as you work towards a target of your own creation.
And there are several different modes you can put it in, depending on whether you favor accuracy or conserving battery life more. This is arguably one area where a dedicated tracker has an advantage, as the heavy lifting is done by a device other than your phone, but if you have it permanently paired to your phone and syncing with an app, the drain won’t necessarily be much less than Pacer’s.
As well as daily step targets, Pacer also lets you work towards specific weight or BMI goals, and if you shell out on a $3.99/£3.99 monthly subscription you can get extra tools to help with that, such as an AI coach and access to groups, but the basic option is still impressively full-featured.
The app presents you with a grid, of anywhere from 16 x 16 to 96 x 96, and you just tap a dot to fill it with a color, or tap a pen below the grid to change the color you’re currently using.
You can select from a range of color palettes or create your own, zoom in or out, fill the background with a color, and undo your last action with a tap, but that’s about where the controls and options end.
This keeps things simple, as pixel art should be, and makes it easy for beginners to dive in and experiment, but there’s enough here to keep proficient pixel artists busy too. And once you’re done you can export or share your creation, so the whole world (or at least your whole social circle) can see it.
The app contains a large number of novels, across a range of genres, and they’re all completely free to read.
You can even download them to absorb when you don’t have an internet connection, and the app makes suggestions based on the type of content you like, so you’ll always have new things to delve into.
The novels on offer are mostly by upcoming and indie authors – generally unpublished in the traditional sense, but polished and aiming for publication, so you’re not traipsing through too much dross.
In fact, Inkitt even helps writers get published if their books prove popular on the service, but the app doesn’t contain any tools for uploading your manuscript – that needs to be done from the website, whereas the app is all about reading and getting lost in a book.
Forest: Stay Focused
Most apps increase our smartphone use, but is a rarity in that it pushes you to use your phone less, by having virtual trees grow when you leave your phone alone, and die if you start using it again before a certain amount of time has passed.
As a result you can end up with lush virtual forests if you stay phone-free, or withered husks if you don’t. That may not be much of a motivation to stay off your phone, but with competition against friends and the world, unlockable achievements, plus coins which can be earned too and used to purchase new tree designs, Forest does a good job of turning the avoidance of distraction into a game.
And avoiding distraction, rather than weaning you off your smartphone entirely, is the point of the app, so you can set a tree growing when you want to get some work done or watch a film.
You can also choose to whitelist certain apps, so important things that you need to be able to access won’t kill your tree, and if you spend $0.99/72p on an in-app purchase you even unlock the ability to use the coins you earn on planting real trees around the world.
This is an app drawer replacement which automatically sorts all your apps into categories, so rather than swiping through hundreds to get to what you need, you just tap a category (for example, media or games) and then have far fewer to sift through.
It’s also a handy option if you’re on that (increasingly less rare) Android handset that doesn’t have an app drawer, as this adds one without making you completely change your launcher.
You can sort the apps within each category by name, install time or when they were last used, and you can tweak the look of Smart Drawer, as well as optionally hiding apps or even locking them behind a PIN, so it’s fairly full featured.
One obvious missing feature is the ability to manually create categories, but the app is notably still in beta, and the developer claims it’s working on adding that exact feature.
Think streaming video and you probably think Netflix or Amazon, but there are a number of smaller services catering to specific niches that the big players don’t.
For English speakers, the catalog is Asia-focused, giving you a large amount of content from Japan, South Korea and elsewhere that you won’t find on other services.
The app works over mobile data as well as Wi-Fi, has Chromecast support, and it’s free to use, though if you decide you want to binge the latest K-drama you might want to shell out for a $4.99/£4.22 (roughly AU$6.50) monthly subscription, as this ups the video quality and gets rid of adverts.
gives you or your child all the tools you need to create your own cartoons. And we’re not talking some sort of flip-book style animation, but rather fully animated 3D characters in 3D environments, with dialogue and music.
There is a sizeable selection of colorful characters and settings to choose from, or you can create your own using basic drawing tools and watch as they’re turned into a 3D model.
Once you’ve picked your cast you can create an animation by dragging them around, tapping on objects and speaking in ridiculous voices. Then add music and move on to the next scene.
Animations are all at least three scenes long, so you can give them a beginning, middle and end, but the whole process needn’t take more than a few minutes and is easy for a child to learn.
And once you’re done you can save your clip for later viewing, or export it to your gallery to share with friends. Toontastic is fun, but more importantly it has the potential to teach basic art and storytelling skills to kids.
Changing your phone’s volume is as simple as hitting the volume key...except when it isn’t. Doing that will usually just change the volume for what you’re currently using (media if watching Netflix for example, or the ringtone if you’re just on your home screen).
Changing the volume of a specific task that you’re not currently using tends to require a tap on the cog icon that pops up, and even then (depending on your phone) you won’t always be presented with a full list.
The app places a bar on the notification shade and optionally also the lock screen, with icons for as many of these as you want, so you can just tap them to instantly bring up their volume controls.
And that’s all there really is to it. It’s an attractive widget with a customizable look, and it fits with the overall appearance of Android, so it won’t look out of place. But more importantly, the next time you want to adjust the volume of something or mute your movie on a quiet train as your headphones have fallen out, Volume Notification will save you valuable seconds and frustrating taps.
ADW Launcher 2
Launchers are one of the best things about Android. These apps replace whatever overlay your phone’s manufacturer has put on your device with something new, and often something better.
That means customizable gesture controls, an abundance of themes, the ability to change the color of – or hide – the status bar, a choice of home screen transition effects and app drawer layouts, customizable folder styles and plenty more besides.
All these features are tucked away in menus, so if you want to keep things look clean and simple you can - but really ADW Launcher 2 is aimed at those who love to tinker and make Android their own.
We all need to-do lists from time to time, and while any number of note taking apps can do the job, they’re often a bit fiddly or basic.
That’s why, even if you never use it for more than your weekly shopping, a dedicated to-do list app is worth having.
Of these, is among the best. Beyond the attractive interface there are lots of little things that make it a firm favorite, such as the fact that once you tick something off it disappears, rather than your list simply getting clogged up with ticked items.
But by contrast, the ease with which you can view and restore previously checked off items when you need to do/buy/make/eat them again is a treat.
Wunderlist also lets you set reminders for deadlines, sort your lists alphabetically, put them into folders and sub lists to keep everything organized, and gives you access to your lists from the cloud on your phone, computer or tablet (perfect so you don’t lose your lists when you drop your phone in the bath).
For most users, that’s probably plenty, but Wunderlist goes even further, allowing you to easily share your lists with colleagues and friends, so you can build lists together or split the work. If needed, you can even attach photos and other files to your lists.
But the best thing about Wunderlist is that all these extra features stay tucked away, leaving you with a clean, clutter-free interface that makes it easy to create and complete lists - which is really the most important thing.
Ever tried hanging 4-6 medium sized bowling balls off your head? Well, the way you use your phone might be having a similar effect, as according to a study looking down at your phone at a 60-degree angle puts 60lbs of pressure on the neck and spine.
Reduce the angle and you reduce the pressure, but you’ll want to significantly reduce it if you’re going to avoid lasting negative effects.
Getting into the habit of doing that might not be easy, but is here to help. It’s a simple app that just pops an alert up on your screen if it detects bad posture – which it judges based on the angle of your phone, using its gyroscope.
You can choose the style and position of the alert, as well as choosing how often the app checks your posture and how strict you want it to be, and that’s it.
Posture is an app that you can just set and forget – unless your own posture is bad, in which case it will constantly be reminding you.
Chief among them is its integration with Google search, allowing you to search the web directly from the keyboard, which is ideal if you want to look something up while engaged in a text conversation.
Gboard also has an emoji and GIF search, plus voice typing and ‘Glide typing’ (where you swipe across letters rather than tapping them).
Like all the best keyboards Gboard also learns as you type, so it will start to suggest the words you use more regularly.
With a choice of themes, a one-handed mode, and the ability to sync your personal dictionary between devices, it’s easy to see why Gboard is worth having as a keyboard.
isn’t a new app, but it is an enduring and regularly updated favorite. Home to over 2,000 TED Talk videos and episodes of the TED Radio Hour podcast, it has interesting content from inspiring speakers on numerous different subjects, with talks covering everything from “the emotional impact of architecture” to “what a driverless world could look like.”
The talks are usually short – taking no more than 18 minutes, so you can fit one into a coffee break, and they can be streamed, downloaded or sent to a TV via Chromecast, depending on how you like to consume them.
Alternatively they can just be favorited to watch/listen to later, so whether you’re out and about or sat in your living room they’re always accessible.
The whole app is simply laid out with a polished look and lots of images, along with tools to help you find new talks. You can check out one of the curated playlists, search by suggested themes, or just type a term of your own into the search box.
And did we mention all of this is completely free? If only school had been this interesting, we might know as much about science and history as we do about phones.
Your phone probably came with a calculator app, but we can almost guarantee that is better. Not only does it have a basic calculator (which changes to a scientific one when you hold your phone in landscape orientation or swipe in from the right edge), it also has over 50 specialist calculators and unit converters.
These cover everything from solving equations, to converting weights and lengths, to working out percentages, averages, density and more. There’s even a currency converter, which updates to offer the current exchange rates, and a BMI calculator.
Most of these you’ll probably never need to use, but next time you need to calculate or convert anything All-in-One Calculator will ensure the answer is never more than a few taps away.
You start by adding close friends and family members of your choice as ‘Trusted Contacts’, and they can then request your location.
Your privacy isn’t at risk, as you can deny the request, but if you’re unable to respond within 5 minutes then the app will automatically share your location, and it works even if your phone is out of battery or offline, by sharing the last known location data.
This means that if those who care about you have reason to worry (for example, they know you’re walking home alone late at night) they can request your location. But you don’t have to wait for a request either – in an emergency or if you simply feel unsafe you can send out your location without being prompted.
It also has a built-in calculator, so you can type problems into the app if you’d prefer, and whatever method you choose you’ll be given a step-by-step guide to reaching the same conclusion as Photomath, so if you have no idea why X equals 4, the app will teach you.
That takes it beyond just being a clever calculator, and actually makes Photomath a great educational tool as well. The core features are all free, but there’s a $0.99/89p monthly subscription to unlock more in depth explanations and learning tools.
But Cortana is a decent voice-based assistant, and you can find it not just on Windows handsets but also Windows computers, iOS and, of course, Android.
If you want just one AI assistant across all your devices that gives Cortana an edge, especially as by having Cortana on multiple devices you can do things like get missed call alerts on your PC, or ask it to send an SMS from your PC, giving you control over phone functions even when you don’t have your phone to hand.
It’s fairly accomplished too. You can start talking to it just by tapping the ‘Cortana Mic’ app icon on your home screen, and it can do many of the same things rival apps can, like make calls, send emails, answer questions and look up information online.
It’s not quite as deeply integrated into Android as Google Now, so you can’t launch it with a voice command for example.
As a Microsoft service it also insists on using Bing rather than Google. But its answers are normally relevant and useful, and its voice is arguably less robotic than Google Now’s, so it’s a strong alternative.
All of the stories are condensed into bite-sized chunks, broken up with emoji and GIFs, which add to the conversational feel.
Each ‘conversation’ with Quartz only lasts a few minutes, so you can easily fit in a news update during even short breaks, and it’s an engaging way to take in the news.
Quartz isn’t perfect, it doesn’t let you pick the types of stories you want to see, and while it injects a certain amount of personality into the news your responses are generally limited to some variation of ‘tell me more’, or ‘next’.
But it’s an interesting approach to gathering news, and we’re hopeful many of these features will be fixed if a greater swell of users appears.
Simply search for a location and the app will provide information on attractions, restaurants and more, which you can save to your trip.
Any bookings you make – be it for flights, accommodation or whatever else – can be added from Gmail, and if you're struggling to fill a day you can make use of pre-constructed day plans, which factor in the average time spent in locations and how long it takes to get between them.
Best of all, everything is available offline, so you won't have to rack up roaming charges every time you check your itinerary.
Microsoft News Pro
The app has an attractive design and speedily loads articles – two things which are near vital for any app which asks you to spend time reading. But where it stands out is in delivering content you never knew you wanted.
When we got our news from ‘papers and TV headlines we had no control over what we were seeing, but in the age of feed readers and the internet we can filter out anything we don't want to read. That's handy, but risks us missing important or interesting things too.
Microsoft News Pro addresses that by giving you more limited control over what news is pumped into your face. You can add topics, and let it know if you want to see more or less of certain types of stories, but News Pro never puts all the power in your hands.
As a result you'll see some stories you have no interest in, but you'll also see great content you might have otherwise missed.
isn’t designed to extend your phone’s between-charge lifespan, so much as it’s aimed at lengthening the overall life of your battery – so that two years from now it’s still staying charged for a longer time.
It does this not by meddling with things behind the scenes, but simply giving you the information you need to make more informed decisions about when and how much to charge your phone.
Regularly charging your battery to 100% can shorten its lifespan, and AccuBattery gives estimates of the effect of charging to different percentages, with recommendations that you generally don’t charge beyond 80%.
To help you manage that it also has a built-in charge alarm, which goes off when the battery reaches the level you want it at, plus a scary battery health figure, which tells us our 8-month-old S7 Edge’s battery is already down to 83% health, with 600mAh gone from its original capacity.
That may not be entirely accurate, but it’s certainly the kind of number that will spur you into action.
And even if you’re already careful about how you charge your phone, AccuBattery could be worth having, as it provides more detailed information on how power-hungry your apps are, and how long your battery will last between charges, than Android itself does.
Attenborough’s Story of Life
These can be streamed over Wi-Fi or mobile data, giving you an almost endless (and very mobile) supply of animal and plant footage, complete with a handful of new clips recorded by Attenborough for the app.
You can search for specific content, filter by category, or simply browse the full selection. You’ll also find ‘featured collections’ which paste together a selection of related clips into a single longer video.
And if you’re feeling creative you can even create your own collection, which you can then name and share on social media.
Smart Reply, one of the standout features of Allo, suggests responses to messages and photos, learning how you talk over time, so you can send authentic responses without having to type - though it does seem a little impersonal.
The other big feature is Google Assistant, which works a bit like a text version of OK Google, but one which you can insert into any conversation, asking it questions or getting it to pull up information from the web.
Allo also has an incognito mode, with end-to-end encryption and expiring messages, for anyone who's particularly security conscious.
As with any new messaging app the big problem with Allo will be convincing your friends to use it, but it's worth the effort.
Podcast Player helps you discover new shows by having you follow topics, which can be as broad as 'tech' or as niche and specific as 'beekeeping'.
The app is also packed full of other handy features, like auto-downloading the latest episodes of shows you're subscribed to whenever you're on Wi-Fi, and the ability to sync across devices, all wrapped up in an attractive, simple interface with absolutely no adverts. Podcast Player is so good you'll wonder why it's free.
Snap Swipe Drawer
Widgets can be a handy way to quickly access key functions of an app or view information without opening an app, but they can also take up a lot of space, quickly forcing you into using extra home screens if you want more than a couple of widgets.
It's separate from the notifications shade too, so that doesn't become too cluttered. Instead you can set the left, right or middle of the top edge to display your widgets when pulled on, while the rest will still take you to your notifications.
It's potentially a bit slower than having your widgets on your home screen, since it requires an extra swipe, but Snap Swipe Drawer is available from anywhere, even while you're in apps, so in that sense it can be faster and more convenient, and it certainly leaves your screens less cluttered.
It’s similar to Apple’s widgets, which are accessed with a swipe right from the notifications shade, but with one fewer finger flick.
The app replaces your standard home screen with a combined feed for those three services, plus Tumblr and Feedly (or as many of them as you want to include), so they're always the first thing you'll see when you turn your phone's screen on.
Your actual apps, which would usually take center stage, are instead relegated to a second screen, though favorites can be accessed by tapping an icon in the bottom right corner, and for anything you want really fast access to you can add a widget above the main feed.
Flow Home definitely isn't for everyone, but it's stylish, different and worth a look if you glanced at your Twitter timeline while reading this.
is a great example of the power Android offers, as the app adds new functionality to your phone, allowing you to turn your screen on just by waving your hand over the proximity sensor, picking your phone up, or holding it at a certain angle.
KinScreen also includes toggles to keep your screen on under certain circumstances, such as when on a call, although you’ll need to make sure your face doesn’t press a million buttons at the same time.
It's not the only app to offer these tools, but it works well and while there is an IAP to unlock certain options, much of it (including the wave-to-wake feature) is free.
Google Opinion Rewards
Most of the questions are multiple choice and there are rarely more than a few questions in each survey, so the app won't waste your time.
You'll usually get around one survey a week, so it's not going to make you rich, but you can earn enough to buy an app or rent a movie every month or two, all for just a few minutes of work.
Simply select any clip that's saved to your phone (or shoot a new one straight from the app), and then choose from a number of filters, some of which are inspired by actual art styles, such as art nouveau, and the app will quickly apply the filter to your footage.
Depending on the clip and style you choose the result can range from beautiful to an incomprehensible mess, but it's fun to play with and, if used with care, can lead to great-looking videos.
Once you've applied a filter you can share your creation straight to Instagram, Facebook, or any other compatible app on your phone, or just save it to your handset.
If you’re anything like us you’d probably sooner forget those embarrassing outfits you were wearing in all your old printed photos.
The good news is you can easily hide them away in a box, in a cupboard or at the bottom of the ocean. The bad news is by Google brings them into the digital world, where they’ll never be more than a click away - so please think about your future self when digitizing your images.
Follow some simple instructions, which basically involve moving your phone over an image, so the camera lens can clearly see all the different parts of it, and it will be immortalized in digital form and ready for sharing on social media.
PhotoScan has some clever tricks up its sleeve too, allowing it to enhance images, avoid glare, and crop and straighten shots, so that the finished product really is like a digital photo, rather than just a snapshot of a snapshot.
It’s all very quick and easy, which sadly means there’s no forgetting those baggy jeans and nineties haircuts if you’re hell-bent on documenting your entire drawer of old photos.
Ever wondered how strong the network's signal is in your area and whether a rival provider would be better? Or wanted to know where your nearest cell tower is? can tell you all that and a whole lot more, with data taken from your handset and those of over 10 million other users.
You can use the app to test your download and upload speeds or latency, see detailed coverage maps split by network and signal type, charts highlighting the best and worst networks in a given area and statistics on your signal quality.
Data can be saved and shared, the app will build up a history of your network usage while it's on your phone, and all of this comes free of charge and adverts - so it’s perfect if you’re thinking about changing networks and want to get the best coverage with your new phone.
Distractions are the enemy of productivity and when writing on mobile even a busy interface can prove distracting, with options and icons taking up valuable space on the screen.
It can go even further than that, with a Focus Mode causing the text you've already written to fade into the background, so you can stay focused on the current sentence.
These features all make it ideal when you need to write a lot, pen prose quickly or put some thought into what you're actually putting down on the digital paper.
But there's more here when you need it, including a night mode with reversed colors if you're working late, real-time syncing to Dropbox and Google Drive so you never lose your work, instant publishing to WordPress or Medium and a word count too, so you'll know how far you've got left to go if you’re being that regimented.
Lessons are built into simple, bite-sized chunks, ideal for mobile, and SoloLearn starts at the very beginning, so it’s not intimidating to complete beginners.
Also like Duolingo there’s a large community around SoloLearn, with users able to comment on each lesson, or engage in larger question and answer discussions.
SoloLearn also lets you put your coding skills to the test, with a built-in code editor. If there’s a downside to the app it’s the fairly plain appearance, which doesn’t make it particularly inviting – that’s one area where it could stand to learn from Duolingo. But it’s completely free, with no IAP and no adverts, and perfect for those that feel they should learn to code but haven’t got round to it.
Amazon Prime Now
The app gives Amazon Prime subscribers free same day delivery within a two-hour window on thousands of products, or one-hour delivery for an additional charge.
You can get everything from smartphones, to video games, to clothes, toys and even food sent to you.
Well... at least you can if you live somewhere with access to Prime Now, so its rather limited availability means physical stores might not be doomed quite yet.
Still, Prime Now’s availability is growing, and for those who can access it there’s one less reason to ever leave the house again.
That starts with finding a recipe, allowing you to filter not just based on the course or main ingredient, but also by how long it takes to cook or how many calories it has (among other things).
Then, once you find something you like the look of, you can add it to a personal recipe book with a tap, or add the ingredients to your shopping list.
When it comes time to actually cook you’re in safe hands, with fully illustrated and clearly laid out instructions for each recipe, along with video guides for many of the skills you’ll need.
The app also has a built-in timer and a measurements converter, plus new recipes and videos are added every single week.
The app then creates a combined forecast using data from the most accurate providers in your region and tells you how certain it is of the forecast’s accuracy, so you’ll know exactly what to expect and never again find yourself wearing shorts in a storm.
Hourly and daily forecasts are available, and you can look up to ten days ahead, though of course the accuracy drops off the further forward you look.
If you want a second opinion you can also see what each individual forecast provider reckons the weather is going to be doing.
Climendo isn’t as feature packed as some weather apps. It doesn’t offer widgets and nor can you see details like humidity and pressure, but it’s likely to get the basics of how wet you’ll get right, and that’s surely the most important thing.
We've all been there. You've decided you want to watch a very specific show or film and now need to hunt through all six billion different streaming sites to see if or where it's available.
But what if there was another way? What if you could just search once and get back a list of locations where your content can be found?
That's what JustWatch does, you simply tell it what country you're in and which sites and services you're interested in when you first download the app, after which it will bring back every relevant search result from then on.
That's reason enough for stream fiends to grab it, especially as it's free, but there's more here, including lists of the latest releases on all of your subscribed services, so you'll never miss a new Netflix series again.
Ever wanted to bring all your old Warhammer pieces or children's toys to life? Well with Motion you can, or at least to some kind of stop motion life.
The app couldn't be simpler: you just point your phone at whatever you want to animate, press the big yellow button on the screen, then slightly move anything that you want to show in motion. From that, press the button again and continue like that until you've created your masterpiece.
Once all the footage is in place you can play it back, adjust the frame rate if needed and remove any pictures that you forgot to get your hands out of.
You can always go back and add more frames to a project at any point, so you don't need to set aside a whole afternoon to get an intricate animation done in one go. Once you finally are finished you can save it to your phone and send it to your friends/your kids/anyone else who'll still talk to you after seeing your shonky stop motion.
You might never be the next Picasso, but with Prisma you can make your photos look convincingly like an artistic masterpiece.
The app sports dozens of filters, largely based around specific painters or art styles and with a single tap (and a bit if a wait - plus you need to be online) you can apply any of these to any of your photos.
There's no shortage of photo filter apps but these are a bit more inventive than most and actually look convincingly like the art styles they're imitating.
Once you've applied your filter of choice you can lessen the effect with a swipe if it's veered too far from the source image for your liking, then you can save and share your creations with another few taps.
There are plenty of wallpaper apps for Android, but Walli is a bit different, as all of its wallpapers are made by artists, many of whom are users of the app.
That makes them a bit more unique and the standards seem exceedingly high, yet they're still free to download. If you're feeling creative you can even add your own wallpaper designs and Walli promises that everyone who contributes to the app will get a share of the revenue.
The app is attractively laid out and while there are only a few different ways to filter images it's enjoyable to browse and easy to find something that could help liven up your tired home screens.
Pi Music Player
A high-quality, feature-packed, easy to use music player with a stylish aesthetic and no cost. That might sound too good to be true, but somehow Pi Music Player delivers on all fronts.
For one thing it looks great (not that you'll probably spend too long looking at it once you've queued some tracks up), but with album artwork and a classy interface you won't mind the time you do spend in front of it.
It also has features you won't find in all players, like a sleep timer which will turn the music off after a set period and a ringtone cutter, allowing you to select the exact point in a song that you want as a ringtone.
But Pi Music Player has the basics covered well too, with an equalizer, several different ways to sort and view your music, multiple themes and easy-to-build playlists.
Music Maker Jam
You're not likely to compose a masterpiece with Music Maker Jam, but if you want to get started in music creation it's a simple, approachable tool and even if you're already an expert it's fun to fiddle around with.
There's less to it than something like Caustic 3, but that means you can learn the basics and start making music that actually sounds good in a matter of minutes, by combining up to eight samples and looping and tweaking them until you're happy.
There are only a few screens you need to worry about and everything is laid out intuitively in a manner that doesn't feel cluttered on a smartphone screen, plus there's a short tutorial to get you started.
A bunch of samples are included for free, but you can buy extras or even record your own if you're really feeling creative.
If you prefer to use emojis and GIFs than words, then Dango could be your saviour. Dubbed an 'emoji assistant' it's essentially a cute little icon which pops up whenever you're using a messaging app. Tap it and it will display relevant emojis, GIFs and stickers to whatever you're typing, so you can quickly add them to your message.
But it can also analyze the text in messages you receive, so you can send a relevant emoji response with a tap, and Dango is smart enough only to display GIFs as an option in apps which fully support them.
Emoji keyboards already exist, but with Dango you can keep using your keyboard of choice and still have speedy access, while the icon is small enough that it's not intrusive when you're happy just with words.
You might understandably be concerned about privacy with the app analyzing your messages, but it promises that data never leaves your device, so the only thing to worry about is an emoji addiction.
Bored of tapping and swiping? Then Gravity Gestures could be for you, as it allows you to launch four apps or functions of your choice with gestures, which for the most part take the form of a couple of quick rotations of your phone.
They're fast and intuitive to do and in many cases can be a lot quicker than hunting out an icon on your home screens. That's especially ideal if you map one of the gestures to something like your camera, where wasted time can mean a missed shot.
The app itself has adverts, but once you've set your gestures up you never need to set foot in it again, so they're not remotely intrusive.
If you've ever wanted to be a patron of the arts now's your chance, as Patreon is designed to help artists find backers and you don't have to be rich to get involved.
Nor do you have to do it purely out of the kindness of your own heart, as just like on Kickstarter you can net rewards for backing projects.
But rather than a one off pledge (and a one off reward), on Patreon you donate an amount every month, and get ongoing rewards, such as monthly concept art and behind the scenes access.
The app is easy to navigate and gives you the ability to browse projects, follow creators and read your messages, so you can invest in creativity wherever you are.
Kids Place - Parental Control
Letting a child loose on your phone or tablet is asking for trouble. If they don't find something inappropriate, fire off a gibberish email to your boss or accidentally delete all your photos you've got off lucky, but with Kids Place - Parental Control you can create a safe environment for them, where they can't access anything you don't want them to.
The app lets you choose exactly which other apps you want to allow them to use and then they can launch them from within Kids Place itself and won't be able to exit to the main home screen without a PIN.
In app purchases can also be blocked, screen time controls can be added if you don't want them glued to the tablet all day and you can even set Kids Place to automatically launch when your device is turned on.
The look of the app feels slightly lacking in polish, but it's easy for children to navigate, with big icons to launch other whitelisted apps.
Playing music out of smartphone speakers is never ideal, but with AmpMe you can at least pump up the volume, if not the quality, to impressive levels.
The app lets you start playing a song through SoundCloud, YouTube or your own music collection and then any nearby friends with the app can join the party, with the music syncing up and playing out of everyone's phones.
It works over both Wi-Fi and mobile data, so if you're in a field with no proper speakers AmpMe could get the party started. But it can also connect to tablets, iOS devices and Bluetooth speakers, so you're not limited to just Android or just tinny phone sound.
It's a shame there aren't more supported music sources and the app does have adverts, but it's free and it works at the push of a button.
If you only have one movie information app on your phone it should probably be IMDB, but if you have two then Cinematics makes for a strong second choice.
It's an incredibly fast way of finding out what the consensus on a film is, with IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings shown at the top of each listing.
From there you're just a tap away from trailers, reviews, cast lists and similar films, or if you just want to know what's popular, what's currently in cinemas or what's coming soon you can see all that from tabs on the home page.
It lacks the trivia, community and more in depth details found on IMDB, but for the basics it's a lot faster to navigate.
Essentially Spaces is for group conversations, but it's as much about sharing as talking, because you can easily drop links, pictures and videos too, using Chrome and YouTube, both of which are built into the app.
With that in mind each of your spaces is likely to have a specific theme or purpose, rather than just be used for general chatter. Whether you're planning a group holiday or just dedicating a space to sharing the latest funny memes, Spaces is a good way to do it.
Each post can be commented on by members of the space, which means conversations are split up into mini discussions around each post, so it's easy to skim through if you're looking for something or have no interest in a specific post. With built in search tools you can easily find long lost posts too.
After a lengthy stint in the US, Android Pay is now available in the UK too and by working on all contactless payment machines with any NFC-enabled Android 4.4 or above device it's open to a huge amount of people.
Paying with your phone is fast, convenient and secure, as it's contactless and your card number isn't shared during the transaction.
You can store all of your credit and debit cards on it, along with gift cards, so you almost won't need a wallet any more.
There are a handful of banks that don't yet support Android Pay, but assuming yours isn't one of them there's little reason not to at least give it a try.
Call Recorder - ACR
With Call Recorder – ACR the days of having a pen and paper to hand to write down important information mid-call are over.
The app will record your calls for you, as you can probably guess from the name, and it records both sides of the conversation, so you won't just be listening to the soothing tones of your own voice.
If you regularly find yourself scrambling for a pen you can set it to start recording every call automatically, but if you want to be a bit pickier that's easy to do too, with various filters or the option to just start recording manually.
Add in a range of different recording formats, support for cloud storage and a simple system for playing back recordings, which allows you to pause and jump around to different points in them, and Call Recorder – ACR is a full-featured solution. Just remember to tell people you're recording to stay legal and all that.
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.
There are a few other tools, like being able to cherry-pick who can see your broadcast or just send it out to the world at large. But in short it's simple enough to dive straight into but has enough to it that you'll keep coming back, whether you're more creator or viewer.
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, send videos, make calls and have group chats. Best of all, if you're using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) none of this will cost you anything.
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.
There are over 30 million songs to choose from, so you'll never be lacking something to listen to and with various playlists, including an ever changing one tailored to your own tastes, it's easy to discover new music too.
Even better you can now listen to Spotify music for free on Android, although if you want to download songs for offline listening and without any ads, then a Spotify Premium account is worth investing in.
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.
The paid premium version unlocks offline access and passcode protection, but for free you still get a vast, feature-packed digitial notebook that's easy to navigate.
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.
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.
Or if you're not much of a photographer just follow other people and keep up to date with their lives and adventures, one picture at a time.
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.
If you're serious about running or cycling then you should be serious about Strava. As smartphone fitness tools go it's one of the best, allowing you to track your performance, set goals and see daily progress updates.
There are leaderboards and challenges to give it a competitive edge and if you're ever not sure where to run or cycle you can find user created routes on the app, or share your own. All of that comes free of charge, while a premium version adds even more tools.
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.
You can also synchronise your saved articles across every device you've installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading. With unlimited storage you can build up a whole library of content and the app even makes recommendations of new things it thinks you might like.
Uber is transforming the way we travel. You can quickly and easily request a taxi using the app and get picked up within minutes. You can also 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. It's fast, convenient and a whole lot more high-tech than taxis have ever been before.
Citymapper - Bus, Tube, Rail
Arriving in a brand new city is always exciting but it can also be a little daunting, especially if you need to get around using public transport. Citymapper - Bus, Tube, Rail is a brilliant app that brings you real-time information on public transport for cities around the world.
You can easily plan your route using all kinds of transport, from buses to ferries, and you can be kept up to date with real-time data, including any disruptions or cancellations. An essential app for any city-bound traveller.
Google Maps is probably already on your phone, but as the best free mapping option around it's well worth highlighting.
Transit directions, live traffic updates, voice-guided GPS navigation, Street View and more are all included, making this more feature-packed than even most paid options. Importantly it's detailed and accurate too, with information on millions of places, so you'll never be late or get lost again.
Whether you're trying to find your way around or just want to find somewhere new to eat, Google Maps has you covered.
VLC for Android
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 is the app for you.
It spent a long time in beta, but it now delivers a stable, full-featured experience, complete with support for subtitles, multi-track audio, DVD ISOs and network streams.
That's all packaged in an easy to use player, with widgets and gesture controls. So you don't need to worry about getting your media to work, you just need to launch VLC and press play. The app will do the rest.
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 and easily sharing them with other people, or just keeping them safely backed up.
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.
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 arguably the best, giving you complete control over your home screen. You can change the icons, themes, colours and layout, completely hide apps that you don't use, set up gesture controls and add funky affects when navigating your phone.
It might sound bloated but you can use as many or as few of these features as you want, so if you want to keep your Android experience slick and minimalist Nova Launcher can do that too.
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, as it can gather data from them, displaying it all in one place.
Fitness goals for dailys step counts, calories burned, or time or distance of exercise can also be set to help you reach the level of fitness you desire, as well as keeping you motivated.
Map My Fitness Workout Trainer
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 burned and plenty more.
Get friends involved too and you can view each other's activity, helping you keep each other motivated and take part in a little friendly competition.
Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
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 language skills, with bite-sized, genuinely useful lessons and tests.
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 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! Couple this with Google Maps and you've got all you need to travel the world.
If you want to keep your various accounts and logins secure then it makes sense to have a strong, unique and regularly changed password for each. But unless you have a photographic memory that also means you'll be hitting the password reset button roughly 6000 times a day.
That's not ideal and it's where password managers, such as 1Password, come in. This gives you an online database of all your passwords and automatically fills in login fields, so the only password you need to remember is the one for 1Password itself.
Except now you don't even need to do that, as the app has added fingerprint support for devices running Android Marshmallow.
1Password is securely encrypted, so your logins are safe and it works across Android, iOS, PC and Mac. The core app is free but to unlock all the features you will need to make a one time in-app purchase.
Calorie Counter - MyFitnessPal
Counting your calories is a sure fire way to lose weight, but it's a bit of a faff isn't it? The Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal app makes watching what you eat easier than ever. A huge database of food is at hand to help you log your meals, and an excellent barcode scanner makes it simple to log your food throughout the day.
Along with calories, the nutritional information of various food and snacks is recorded and you can set goals to help you keep you on track, making it a whole lot easier to choose a clementine over a chocolate bar.
Endomondo - Running & Walking
Endomondo - Running & Walking bills itself as the only personal trainer you'll ever need, and it's a 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. Plus social features allow you to share and compete with your friends.
While Endomondo works well on its own it can also be linked up to other apps and wearables, so you can get a complete picture of your progress.
Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout
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. So not only do you need very little time, but also very little space or equipment. Secretly we hate this app, as it's killed most of our excuses for being lazy.
Skyscanner - All Flights!
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, or look for the best deals on specific airlines or cabin classes.
You can book your chosen flight directly from the app while you're on the go. You can also search for random destinations to give you inspiration for your next holiday.
theScore - Sports & Scores
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 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.
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. It's not just music though, there are also podcasts, sports and talk radio.
Forget messing about with knobs, TuneIn Radio's interface is clear and easy to use on a touchscreen, and you can tune in with just a tap. You can also save your favourites, so it's easy to get back to that Vietnamese comedy broadcast you discovered at 3AM.
Sometimes locking your phone isn't enough. Say you want to lend it to a friend or colleague but don't want to risk them digging up those ill-advised photos you took in Ibiza or that Harry Potter fanfic you've got planned out in your notes app.
With App Lock there's no danger of anyone getting into anything you don't want them to, as you can use it to lock individual apps with a PIN, pattern or fingerprint.
The app itself is mostly just a long list of your other apps, with toggles for whether you want to lock them or not, so there's not much to it, but it does what it sets out to without any bloat.
The lockscreens it presents you with look good too, with colours to match the apps they're locking. But if you're using a fingerprint scanner you won't waste too much time looking at them anyway, as you'll be swiftly in.
With millions of child-friendly videos, YouTube has the potential to be a digital playground for kids, the problem is there's also a lot of unsuitable content. That's where YouTube Kids comes in, automatically filtering unsuitable content and providing a simple, colourful interface which your child can easily navigate.
It's slick and polished, which is no surprise coming Google. It's not all just entertainment either, as there's a 'Learning' category too, and there are parental controls, allowing you to add a timer or block certain content.
Being automated there's a chance some unsuitable stuff will still slip through, but if you switch the search option off your child will be limited to the app's recommendations. This still gives them a lot to watch, while completely cutting them off from the wider world of YouTube.
This one pioneered the concept of the alternative keyboard, with SwiftKey the first to offer to 'learn' your writing style and attempt to predict your next word. The hope being that, with practice, it'll know what phrases you commonly use and might save you quite a bit of fuss in typing a simple message to a friend.
Rivals have sprung up but SwiftKey is still the king, with accurate predictions and a massive number of customisation options.
You used to have to pay for the app, but now you don't have to spend a penny to give your keyboard a big boost.