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

Free

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. HTC Zoe

Free

HTC's camera application has plenty of interesting tricks inside it, and using it on phones with better cameras than the ones HTC's been putting in its own mobiles recently is an excellent idea.

The selling point of Zoe is that it creates short animated clips, which are shareable with friends – who then make edits too.

The results can then be shared to the big social networks like Instagram or Facebook, or kept within Zoe's own walled garden.

Best Android apps 2014
Splock, Twitter and Vine

5. Glympse

Free

Relative newcomer Glympse simplifies the endless check-in-check-out location-based app concept no end by coming with one key trick – the ability to share your location with anyone.

Using GPS to accurately pinpoint the coffee shop from which you're stealing the Wi-Fi, the results are sent to friends in a format that displays in the web browser of the recipient – so they don't need the app to know where you are.

You can even share live data, so people can watch you flitting about town from hotspot to hotspot.

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.

13. WhoSampled

Free

If you need to know who did the original of the twee music from that supermarket advert, then get WhoSampled.

It's the app version of the music database website that tells you who's stolen bass lines from whom over the years, and gives music lovers an instant mass of trivia.

It'll even offer to scan your existing music collection to pinpoint exactly where that addictive loop you can't get enough of first appeared. And you erroneously thought Gary Barlow came up with himself. (Spoiler: it was probably the Bee Gees again).

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.

Best Android apps
Carbon, Handcent SMS and WhatsApp

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. Nokia HERE

Free

One of Nokia's long-standing key apps is now on Android, just about, with the Windows Phone maker doing a deal to place its HERE mapping tool exclusively within the Samsung App Store.

Users of larger Samsung mobiles running Android 4.1 or higher can download it, then enjoy a feature-packed tool with full offline map support that's a damn fine rival or replacement for Google's omnipresent Maps.