The Google Play app store has exploded in recent years, with a proliferation of apps that can cater to your every need. The problem is: there are just too many of them.

Even with Editor's Picks, Featured and Best Selling, Top Paid and Top Free categories there to help you out with your downloading decision it's still a difficult task finding the best apps around.

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

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

1. BBC Weather

BBC Weather

Free from the BBC, which arrived late to the weather app party in 2013 and delivered a completely stonking, triple-A meteorological experience. A variety of stylish widgets, long-range forecasts, location-aware settings and support for multiple locations make finding out how much it's raining everywhere a joy.

Best Android apps
Google Launcher, Mailbox and Yahoo News Digest

2. Google Now Launcher

Free

Exclusive to Nexus devices since launch, the Google Now Launcher has recently been opened up to owners of any Android phone running version 4.1 of the OS or higher. Install it and you get the weird experience that is having Google Now fill an entire Home screen, dumping a permanent collection of you cards to the left of the existing Home screen setup. Useful if you use Google Now. Not so much if you don't.

3. Mailbox

Free

Here's another way to manage your get-bigger-genitals and sex-herb spam emails. Mailbox is compatible with both Gmail and iCloud email accounts, pulling in your messages to a fantastically stylish interface from which you can manage emails in more of an SMS-like chat system. Swiping away, snoozing senders, reminders and more populate a packed feature list that put this among 2014's most impressive apps released thus far.

4. Yahoo News Digest

Free

Yahoo News Digest is a lovely little app that's the perfect antidote to the modern feeling of being flooded by constant news. This picks out the ten or so biggest local news stories of the day and presents them in a gorgeous layout with big photos and aggregated lists of links, additional sources and more. You even get a little animation and a fact of the day for being good and reading all your news. It makes finding and reading the day's headlines easy.

Best Android apps
Shpock, Twitter and Vine

5. Shpock

Free

Despite the use of the US term "yard sale" in its listing, Shpock manages to offer plenty of local listings wherever you are in the world. Part eBay and part Pinterest, it's a pretty and simple way to offer used stuff for sale and find bargains nearby. Despite being relatively new there's still stacks of stuff on it already, so it would appear to have reached critical mass and has its own active community.

6. Twitter

Free

Another must-have for those who want to keep up to date with what's going on in the world in 140 characters or fewer. Now that Twitter has put the shackles on most of its alternatives, the official app is one of the best to use, with functionality so simple anyone can use it - and seeing some of the hashtags that trend, it looks like anyone does.

7. Vine

Free

The movie-making sensation took a little while to appear on Android, then took a while for the numerous bugs to disappear – but now it's all good. It's a simple recording/stop-motion/animation tool, letting you shoot live video on your phone and share it via social networks. The app is also the best way of browsing Vines from others, as the categories and pages mean you can leaf through it like telly, favouriting users.

8. Dropbox

Free

Dropbox

Pretty much essential for anyone juggling a work PC, home PC, laptop, tablet, phone and internet fridge, Dropbox's key power lies in letting you access any files anywhere. It can also automatically upload photos taken on your phone to your account, meaning that, after a bit of uploading and downloading, all your shots are *right there* on your desktop without any tedious cable connecting.

Speedtest, eBay and Feedly
Speedtest, eBay and Feedly

9. Speedtest

Free

Get angry about how slow your internet is. Get smug about how fast your internet is. Spy on the network speeds of your friends and neighbours. If one of your frequent conversations with your mates is how fast your internet currently is, then Speedtest is for you. You can do unlimited broadband up/down speed tests on any boring weekday evening.

10. eBay

Free

The app itself isn't what you'd call attractive, but eBay lets you browse, watch items and buy stuff, integrating a Paypal sign-in for quick getting of things. Better still, now Android phones all have immense cameras on them, it's a doddle to sell items straight through the app - take a photo, upload it, have most of the listing data pre-filled for you. The app is better as a selling tool than the desktop site, in fact.

11. Feedly

Free

If you felt a bit lost and disconnected from the News Borg when Google shut down its Reader RSS aggregator, Feedly will help. It's a more glamorous and swishy-slidy way of getting data from RSS feeds, with numerous ways of displaying site snippets and navigating through your unread pile of possibly interesting things.

12. BBC iPlayer

Free

BBC iPlayer

Took some time for the BBC to gradually get BBC iPlayer to full parity with the iOS release, but it's just about there now for the vast majority of popular Android models. A piecemeal approach to introducing offline download support has annoyed some users, but it remains a superb way of using your phone as a modern portable telly for the bedroom, as long as your broadband's up to the task.

Best Android apps
Carbon, Handcent SMS and WhatsApp

13. Carbon

Free

The official Twitter app is a rather weird, ever-changing affair, that often introduces more annoyances and quirks with each new redesign. So best avoid it and enjoy the thrills of third-party tweet app Carbon, which, with its recent 2.0 update, enhanced an already posh experience with new gesture input, more hardcore shortcuts and a handy widget.

14. Handcent SMS

Free

If you wish to rage against Google's Hangouts enforcement push and Facebook Messenger, get Handcent SMS. It's one of the most popular alternative SMS apps, with the recent 6.0 update arriving with an all-new, on-message, late-2014-season, flat graphic design update. It's always been an ugly but reliable workhorse for hardcore texters, now it's a really pretty workhorse for those who get anywhere near hitting their 5,000-a-month SMS usage limits.

15. WhatsApp

Free (for the first year)

The instant messaging behemoth is an essential Android install, especially if you can convince the people you message most frequently to use it too. The concept is simple - it takes over text messaging on your mobile, routing messages through any Wi-Fi connection instead. Which means no more SMS allowances, no size restrictions, plus images are sent at a decent resolution.

16. Motorola Gallery

Free

Best Android apps
Motorola Gallery - exclusive but great

Of slightly niche appeal given that it's limited to users of the Moto X, some US-only DROID phones and the Moto G, but with the latter emerging as one of the world's most popular mobiles, that's quite a few people. Motorola Gallery offers a completely different way of sorting and viewing your photos, offering sorting by date, folder or album, with a fullscreen slideshow option for entertaining/boring the relatives with your adventures. It's quite pretty, akin to Sony's box-based Xperia gallery app.