Best Android apps - introduction
The Google Play store has exploded in recent years, with a proliferation of apps that can cater to your every need. The problem is: there are just too many of them, even with Editor's Picks, Featured and Best Selling, Top Paid and Top Free categories there to help.
There are things you can do to filter the winners from the wannabes. Google builds a list of apps it recommends for you based on your previous downloads, so that's often a good place to start.
You can also filter by new releases if you just want to see the latest things to hit the store. Or, if you want something similar to an app you already have, search for that app and see what comes up.
And of course using user reviews and ratings is an essential part of ensuring the apps you download are high quality. But the easiest (and best) way to find top quality apps is to have someone else do the searching for you.
- What's the best phone of 2016?
And that's why we made this list. Like you we want the best apps for our Android phones. The apps that are going to revolutionize 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 that 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.
New this week: Readly
$9.99/£7.99 per month
We say Netflix-like, but while most of the content on there is far from brand new, you have access to the latest issues of thousands of magazines on Readly, all in digital form and with unlimited access for $9.99/£7.99 per month.
You can read content from not just your own country but various others too and the selection is strong, with plenty of big names on offer, along with more niche magazines.
Readly is accessible on phone, tablet and computer, so you can access your magazines almost anywhere with a screen, and even download them for offline reading.
You also have access to back issues, and navigation is a breeze, handled by intuitive swipes and taps. Readly even supports crosswords and other puzzle content, so you can do just about everything you could with a paper version.
New this week: Adapticons
Free + $0.99/£0.99 IAP
You’re probably well aware of how customizable Android is, and may even have dabbled with custom icon packs to change up the look of your apps, but what if you want to go a step further and actually create icons of your own? Well, then you probably want .
This app, as the name suggests, lets you adapt your existing app icons – though the changes you make can be significant enough to almost count as a whole new icon.
You can pick from a range of shapes to surround the existing icon, not just squares and circles but also things like paw prints, flowers and hearts. Then choose the size and position of the existing icon within that shape, change the orientation if you like, and change the color.
If you want to change the original icon completely you can import new images from your gallery or icon packs and you can even change the text underneath the icon.
Batch edits make the whole process a lot faster if you want to make a whole set of similar icons, and the interface is intuitive and simple.
Many of the shapes and features are locked behind a $0.99/£0.99 IAP, but you can get a taste for free.
Free + $2.99/£2.49 IAP
The app lets you cast web videos and music from your phone or tablet to your smart TV and other smart devices, including Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Nexus Player, Android TV, Xbox One and Xbox 360.
It also works with some older smart TVs which support DLNA/UPnP/AllShare, but may not come with an easy built-in casting solution.
Just head to the video or audio you want using Tubio’s built-in browser and hit the cast button. It’s as simple as Chromecast, but more far-reaching. Although we can’t be sure it will work with all website video content, it certainly widens your options.
Tubio also works with locally stored content and you can keep using your phone as normal once you start streaming, without interrupting the content.
The app is free, but for $2.99/£2.49 you can get rid of adverts and unlock HD playback (where supported).
Free + various IAP
Want to learn something new? could be a good place to start. This website and app has over 40,000 video courses across more than 12,000 topics, covering everything from yoga and meditation to psychology, photography and web development.
Courses are of varied lengths and aimed at various different levels. Some are just a few hours long, others have dozens of hours of content.
And they’re more than just videos. You can also ask the instructors (all of whom are theoretically experts in their fields) questions, or communicate with other students.
Some courses are free, but many cost money (starting at under $10/£10 and rising to well over $100/£100). Don’t baulk at the fees though – the pricier ones are often available at a discount and you have access to them for life. Courses can also be downloaded, cast to your TV or viewed on just about anything with a web browser.
Some courses are better than others, but with numerous user reviews for most of them it’s easy to separate the good from the bad before you put any money down.
Free + $2.99/£2.59 IAP
is a simple app designed to remind you of the things you’re grateful for. When you open the app it asks you to write out something you’re grateful for and optionally add an associated image. You can build up a collection of these, which you can then view whenever you need a reminder that there are good things in your life.
That much is free, but Gratus really comes into its own when you pay a $2.99/£2.59 IAP, as this unlocks a reminder feature, so you’ll be reminded daily to add something you’re grateful for, along with the ability to see your entries in a widget or as a notification, allowing you to see them whenever you use your phone, without having to actively launch the Gratus app.
That’s important, because having to launch the app is an extra step that you might not get into the habit of doing.
Though the idea of writing or seeing things you’re grateful for might seem inconsequential it can have a lasting effect on your happiness, as it’s otherwise so easy to overlook good things, or take them for granted where writing them down helps cement them for future moments.
is a video streaming service a bit like Netflix, except, well, not really (bear with us). Like Netflix it has a variety of shows across a number of genres (all of which are fiction in this case), but unlike Netflix it’s all original content, so you won’t see these anywhere else.
Blackpills is also designed specifically for mobile. You can’t access it on a desktop, just an Android or iOS device, consisting of very short episodes of around 10-15 minutes, so you can fit them into a coffee break or while you’re waiting for the bus.
The app promises a new episode every day and a new original series every week, so while there’s not a huge amount of content on there right now it should grow rapidly, and it’s all completely free.
Blackpills also lets you subtitle the shows in various languages and change the streaming quality, though notably you can’t download any of its content for offline viewing.
Still, as a free service there’s little to complain about here, especially as – crucially – the content is of a generally quite high quality. It’s not quite a match for Netflix, but think low-to-mid budget TV standard, rather than student film.
Free + $2.99/£2.99 IAP
Your phone’s status bar can show you how much battery you’ve got left or how strong your signal is, but what if you want to be able to see how much memory your phone has left, how many unread messages you have, the battery temperature or your CPU usage?
You can also add bars for some of the jobs the status bar already does, such as one for battery life, and the length of the bars depends on the status of the thing they’re tracking. So for battery life it would run halfway across the top if you’re at 50%.
But you’re not limited to putting the bars at the top. They can run along the left, right or bottom edge instead, or some combination of the four.
You can customize the colors and sizes of the bars too, but if you want more than two displayed at once you’ll need to go pro with a one-off $2.99/£2.99 IAP. This lets you have up to nine bars at once.
It’s a worthwhile purchase if you want to be able to see more things at a glance, or just like the stylish design of the bars.
Free + $1.99/£1.99 IAP
Yes, it’s a forecast app, but it’s more interested in showing you how weather systems move than simply telling you whether it’s going to rain.
The app gives you a map and then you can choose whether to track precipitation, cloud, wind speed, temperature, pressure or wave height. Then zoom in or out with a pinch and swipe slowly to see how these conditions are predicted to change over a period of hours or days, by watching for example clouds or storms move across the map.
You can add arrows to give you a clearer picture of the direction weather systems are moving in, key details such as the temperature are shown at all times, and you can customize the units of measurement.
Flowx probably won’t replace your normal forecast app, in fact the app description even suggests you use Flowx alongside a more conventional weather app, but if you want deeper insight into weather patterns it’s a fascinating addition to your app arsenal.
And if you get really into it an IAP of $1.99/£1.99 per year or $4.99/£4.99 as a one-off will remove adverts, give you 10 days of data instead of 7 and ensure you get future features.
ES Disk Analyzer
can find and delete duplicate files, compress images (and suggest large or rarely used ones that you might want to compress), highlight the size of cached files in apps and clear the cache from any or all of them, and display big files, new files and rarely used apps, in case any of them are expendable.
ES Disk Analyzer also has a basic file explorer built in, but one which orders files and folders based on their size, so you can see where all your storage is going, and you can delete files and folders from there too.
Obviously, much of what it finds will be things you want to keep, so it’s up to you to decide what is and isn’t important, but ES Disk Analyzer at least highlights many things that you’re unlikely to need and makes it easy to get a clear picture of your overall storage use.
Space Launch Now
Free + $1.99/£1.69 IAP
If you’ve got any interest in Space Flight you probably know that launches of shuttles and satellites are happening all the time. The thing is keeping track of them all can be tricky, especially as various different space agencies are responsible for organisation.
You can also see details of different space vehicles, information on previous launches, and search for specific events if you know what you’re after.
Most of the features are free, but if you’re a serious shuttle-head you can pay $1.99/£1.69 to automatically have upcoming events synced to your calendar, get weather details from the launch pad for historical and upcoming launches, and get dynamic pictures of launch vehicles as a watch face for your Android Wear device. As well, of course, as supporting the developer - which should never be overlooked as a reason to pay.
Free + $2.99/£2.89 IAP
For one thing, you can make a list not just of things that you want to watch, but also have a second list of the things you’ve seen, so you’ll never again get halfway through a movie only to realize that you’ve watched it already… but it was just really, really forgettable.
You can also rate the movies you’ve seen, and the app builds up a third list with all of your ratings. Movies can be searched for by name or genre, or you can check out what’s coming soon, and results are shown as big poster-like images.
Tap on one and you can see a film’s length, release date, synopsis, trailer, cast and crew and its ratings both from users of the app, and from other sources, including IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.
You can also find reviews from other CineTrak users – or add your own, and if you’re looking for something similar the app has you covered there too, with a list of similar films.
The app also builds up stats based on your watch list, telling you how many films you’ve seen and how long you’ve spent watching them.
All that’s completely free, but for $2.99/£2.89 you can remove adverts, get curated lists, staff picks and unlock the ability to collect achievements. If you use CineTrak a lot, that’s probably worth paying.
Shortcutter Quick Settings
Free + $2.49/£2.19 IAP
The quick settings that you can reach from the notification shade on Android phones can be enormously useful, saving time when you want to toggle often used features, but the features you use most may not be the ones available on this screen. If that’s the case, you’ll want .
This lets you add new shortcuts to the quick settings screen, with 63 options available in all. These cover expected things like the flashlight and NFC, but also far more unusual options like a random number generator, and one you can tap to launch straight into typing out a new tweet on Twitter.
As well as adding shortcuts to the quick settings screen, Shortcutter also has an optional swipe-out sidebar, or you can add shortcuts to the home screen or app drawer.
The core app is free but it’s well worth paying the $2.49/£2.19 IAP, as this unlocks additional quick settings to give you a more fully-featured experience.
Avoiding sunburn can seem like a dark art at times. It doesn’t always need to be that warm or sunny to get burned, and everyone’s different in terms of how much UV they can take. It’s also not always clear how often you should reapply sunscreen, but with you need never get burned again.
The app tells you the UV index now and throughout the day, so you can plan the best time to be outside. And based on the current index, combined with what you tell it about your skin (the tone, whether you have many freckles etc), it will estimate how quickly you’ll burn and what if anything you should wear to prevent damage – be it sunscreen, sunglasses or a hat.
You can also tell the app the type of sunscreen you’ve applied and what activity you’re doing, and then it will tell you how soon you should re-apply, and can even alert you when it’s time to.
UVLens is a simple, easy to use app that makes the effects of UV - and how to combat them – far clearer.
Free + various IAP
There are many apps aimed at motivating you to walk more, but is more gamified than most. Like a standard pedometer it tracks your steps, as well as making a rough estimate of how many calories you’ve burnt, but Walkr also has you exploring a galaxy.
Your steps are converted into energy which fuels your spaceship, allowing you to blast off to new solar systems and discover new planets.
These planets have cute illustrations and unique wildlife which you can feed by building food factories. Feeding the wildlife in turn gives you currency which you can spend on more buildings and ship upgrades.
And there are also missions to undertake, leaderboards to compare your progress with friends, and achievements to unlock.
Walkr can take a bit of learning as the tutorial only covers the very basics, but once you get to grips with it it’s surprisingly engaging.
It’s also essentially free, but you can speed up your progress with various IAP. We don’t recommend that, since it’s a bit of a cheat and the whole point of the app is to get you moving more. You might, however, want to spend $1.99/£1.56 to remove adverts.
Your browsing history, including passwords, cookies and trackers is erased automatically when you close the browser, or can be erased from within the browser with a single tap.
Firefox Focus also won’t appear in your recent apps list unless you turn the ‘stealth’ toggle off, but you can set it as your default browser, if you want to browse privately at all times.
It also blocks ad trackers, analytic trackers and social trackers by default, though you can unblock them if you’d prefer – and also block other content trackers if you want (at the risk of breaking some videos and web pages).
Web fonts can be blocked too, and all this blocking actually makes Firefox Focus run faster. And it won’t take up much space on your device either, coming in at just 3.5MB.
Obviously not everyone will want their history erased, and there are some limitations – for example you can only have one open tab currently, but if you’re after a speedy, lightweight browser and care about your privacy, Firefox Focus is a great choice.
By which we mean it will automatically launch an app of your choice when the alarm goes off, and in the case of a music app, such as Spotify, or a podcast app, keep playing whatever you were last listening to.
It isn’t the most reliable alarm app, as the name suggests. Mostly because if you don’t have anything queued in the app you’ve chosen you risk being met with silence.
That’s a shame, as an alarm is one thing you really need to be able to rely on. So in this case you might want to set a normal alarm for a few minutes later, or make sure you’re very careful about having content queued.
But when UnreliAlarm works – which it does most of the time – it’s far more enjoyable than hearing the same sounds every morning.
Free + various IAP
Enter a start and end point, an activity and a fitness level, and the app will present you with an appropriate route.
However you can also manually change the route to your liking and view information such as the total distance, estimated time it will take and even a breakdown of the types of surface you’ll be traveling on, how far up and down hill you’ll go and what the highest and lowest points are.
And the map itself highlights parks and other scenic areas, so you can make sure your routes pass through the most interesting places.
That’s way more detail than a typical mapping app would give you, and once you’ve planned a route you can get turn by turn navigation and save it for future use.
You can also add photos to routes and share them, so friends and family can see where you’ve been or attempt the same journey. And Komoot has global maps, so you can use it wherever you are.
The only downside to Komoot is that you only get one region for free and regions usually only cover a single city or county. After that you’ll pay $3.99/£3.99 for each of them, or $29.99/£29.99 for the whole world.
Free + IAP
You can track fuel costs, mileage, gas consumption, maintenance costs and more, and build charts of your fuel efficiency.
Monitoring this information could be useful for anyone, especially if you want a clearer breakdown of how much it actually costs to run your vehicle, and by seeing spikes in your spend, for example at certain gas stations, you could potentially cut your costs by filling up elsewhere.
But Drivvo is especially useful for anyone who has a work vehicle or fuel allowance and needs to monitor their running costs for that.
The core app is free, but for $6/£6 per year you can back your data up in the cloud, synchronize it between devices, export it into a spreadsheet and get rid of adverts.
You manage a cute little city, with new buildings added each time you add an income or expense, each of which you can do in several taps.
Workers can be hired and assigned jobs, buildings can be upgraded, and if you’re diligent in your tracking your city can flourish.
If friends are using the app too you can compete with them and visit their cities, and everything is backed up to the cloud, so you won’t lose your progress if you change phone.
But, like any good finance tracker, you can also see graphs and charts of your spending and income, to get a clearer picture of where your money is going, and there are dozens of achievements to work towards, many of which require saving and careful money management.
$49.99/£47.99 per year
It’s packed full of features, many of which you’ll find elsewhere, but you’ll be hard pushed to find them all in a single app.
These include support – and instant push notifications – for all types of email accounts, from Gmail and Outlook, to Exchange, Yahoo Mail, Office 365 and more.
You’ll also get read receipts, the ability to schedule emails, and snooze emails so they’ll pop up again at a more convenient time. You can even snooze to desktop, so they’ll appear at the top of your inbox next time you log in from a computer.
Sender profiles give you more information about the people emailing you, pulling in data from LinkedIn and other social networks, and you can unsubscribe from newsletters with a single tap and set up customizable gesture controls.
Newton Mail also works across devices and platforms and you can connect various apps, such as Evernote, Pocket and Todoist, allowing you to add emails to them without leaving your inbox. There’s even an Alexa skill, if you want Amazon’s AI assistant to read and manage your email.
And those are just the headline features, there’s too much to cover here. Sadly there’s also a but coming: unlike most email apps, Newton Mail isn’t free. You can try it for two weeks and after that it costs $49.99/£47.99 per year. Pricey, but if you live in your inbox it could prove invaluable.
Chances are that at some point in time you’ve come across a file type that your media player of choice can’t play. With , that’s no problem, as the app lets you convert audio and video files to and from almost any file type.
It supports MP3, WAV, FLAC, M4A, AAC, PCM, AIFF, Ogg, WMA, ALAC, MP4, AVI, FLV, MOV, WebM, MKV and MPEG files for both input and output, which also means you can convert a video file into an audio format. But file conversion is just one of Timbre’s skills.
It can also be used to cut audio and video files, which is handy if there’s a part you don’t want. You can also combine multiple files into a single one, split an audio file into two parts, change the bitrate of an audio file, and remove audio from a video.
None of these are tools that you’re likely to need often, but Timbre is a free, simple solution that’s great to have to hand for when you do.
8Bit Photo Lab
Free + IAP
8Bit Photo Lab is a photo filter app that takes you back to simpler times. Times when games didn’t have near-photo-realistic graphics and Android was just a glint in Andy Rubin’s eye.
Simply snap or import a picture and pick a color palette from over 40 options, such as Game Boy or Commodore 64. Your photo will then instantly transform into something you might have seen on a screen from that era.
But that’s just the beginning, you can also add effects such as noise and checkerboard patterns, change the resolution and aspect ratio, tweak the contrast, saturation and brightness, and add 8-bit stickers, such as a mouse cursor, or little characters that look like they’ve come straight out of a game from the late 80s.
Essentially, 8Bit Photo Lab is like Prisma for anyone who prefers old-school video games to modern art, but it’s a well thought-through app.
Once you’ve tweaked an image to perfection you can add exactly the same filter to other photos with a swipe, for example, and while you get plenty for free, you can unlock lots of extra options with an IAP, including the ability to turn your creations into animated wallpapers.
Your home screen is probably a busy mass of apps, folders and widgets, so the last thing you need is an intricate image adding to the chaos. Instead, a minimalist wallpaper can often look far more striking, and there’s no shortage of them in Minimalist Wallpapers.
In fact, there are thousands of them, with new ones added each and every day. They’re sorted into various categories such as ‘nature’ and ‘abstract’, while the latest 500 can be viewed separately, so you always know what’s new.
You can save your favorites to easily return to later – which is especially handy if you ever change phone and lose all your downloaded wallpapers.
That’s all free, and while there is a one-off $0.99/£0.69 IAP to remove adverts we didn’t actually experience any while using the app. So while you won’t need to pay for the app, if you enjoy using it then it’s not a high price to have a different view on your phone whenever you want it.
Red Bull TV
If your taste in sports tends towards the extreme then Red Bull TV is the app for you. The app houses a wide selection of shows, films and documentaries focussed on the likes of BMX, surfing, rallying, climbing and more.
These are available on demand, but Red Bull TV lives up to its name by also offering live streaming TV that you can tune into 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There are also live sporting events broadcast on the app, such as the Red Bull Air Race and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, and a built in calendar tells you when these events are coming up, so you’ll never miss them.
And Red Bull TV even goes beyond sports, broadcasting music festivals and shows focussed on video games and other aspects of popular culture.
The quality of the content is variable but generally high. We’re talking full length sporting events with professional commentary, while the documentaries tend to be well shot.
You can watch on your phone or tablet, and choose what quality to stream it in, which is handy if you’re relying on mobile data. Or, if you’re at home, you can also cast videos to a Chromecast or Android TV.
There are any number of reasons you might want to keep track of your data use, from making sure you don’t go over your allowance, to checking no apps are going rogue and using more bytes than they should, and GlassWire makes all of that easy.
The app shows you both your overall data use (spit between mobile data and Wi-Fi) and the amount of data each individual app has used. You can view data use from the last 5 minutes, the last 90 days or various intervals in between, and apps are listed in order of how much data they’ve used.
You can also view graphs of your data use, as well as just seeing the numbers, and if you enter your monthly allowance and the day that it resets the app can also keep track of that and alert you when you’re nearing your limit.
GlassWire isn’t going to be needed by everyone, but if you ever wanted a closer look at your data use, there’s no better app for it.
Most meditation apps require a subscription to access the bulk of their guided meditations, but not Buddhify.
A one-off payment of $2.99/£1.99 gives you unlimited access to the entire app, including over 80 guided audio meditations, amounting to over 11 hours of content.
These vary in length from 5 to 30 minutes, and are divided by locations (such as at home or in the park), activities (such as eating or work break) and moods, so there’s sure to be at least one to suit your current needs. And if not there’s a solo meditation timer.
There are certain phone features that you might want to adjust or turn on for specific apps. For example, you might want GPS or Bluetooth on when using a sports tracker app, but not the rest of the time.
Similarly, you can tweak settings, for example having the screen go brighter automatically when you launch Netflix.
You can also create time-based profiles, if for example you want your phone to switch to silent at midnight.
For the most part these are simple toggles, which you can set and forget, and there are lots to choose from, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mobile data, GPS, mobile hotspot, rotation, screen off time, brightness, sound mode and media volume.
Free + $1.49/£1.39 IAP
Not only can you choose from over 50 sounds, split into numerous categories such as ‘fire’, ‘wind’ and ‘city’, but you can combine up to 10 of them, adjust the volume for each of them individually, and set a timer if you want the soundscape to turn off on its own.
That last option is great if you’re using it to help you get to sleep, but you might also want soothing sounds when meditating, reading, or to block out background noise when working.
TaoMix also has an attractive, minimalist and intuitive interface, allowing you to drag sound bubbles closer or further from a central point to increase or decrease their strength.
You can also play other audio from your device while using TaoMix, so if you want a soundscape mixed with music or a guided meditation, that’s possible. And you can save your favorite mixes to easily return to them later.
The free version doesn’t give you all the sounds and only lets you use three at a time, but a one off IAP of $1.49/£1.39 unlocks the rest.
Free + $0.99/£1.99 IAP
Some of the most interesting Android apps are those which add genuinely new features to your phone. Pocket Sense is one of those.
With this app you can set an alarm to go off if your phone is removed from your pocket, taken off charge, or moved from where it’s sat.
You can toggle any or all of those things to sound an alarm, so you’ll know the second someone tries to steal, move or use your phone.
You can choose from several different alarm sounds, all of which are very loud and can be set to audibly go off even when your phone is on silent.
Alarms will be turned off when you unlock your phone and you can optionally set a delay before an alarm sounds – so that when you yourself pick your phone up you won’t be greeted with an alarm, as you can unlock your handset first to cancel it.
Sensitivity can also be altered if you find it’s going off seemingly at random or not triggering when you want it to. But in our experience Pocket Sense worked well on the default settings, and is sure to give any thief or snooper a real fright.
There’s an IAP to remove adverts, but all the actual features of the app are free.
Today Weather – Forecast
Free + $0.99/79p IAP
Like many of the best weather apps it lets you choose your forecast source (currently offering Accuweather, Weather Underground, Dark Sky or Weather.com – with more likely to be added).
Then, it wraps the forecast up in an attractive skin, with daily weather-appropriate images, and packs in loads of information, such as the forecast for the next 15 days, the dew point, humidity, UV index, air quality index, phase of the moon, and the position of the sun in the sky - along with sunrise and set times.
Plus, Today Weather has a selection of different widgets available if you’d rather see the forecast on your home screen. All of that is free, but you can get rid of the adverts and add a weather map with an IAP.
Norton App Lock
Keeping your phone locked is one thing, but what if you want to give someone access but not free rein to open all of your apps? That’s where Norton App Lock comes in.
It lets you secure any or all of your apps with a PIN, pattern or fingerprint, and all you have to do to secure them is tap on the little padlock next to them in Norton’s list.
While it’s not the only app designed around letting you lock other apps, Norton App Lock does have a few extra things going for it. For one thing, it won’t re-lock an app until you turn the screen off, so if you’re actively using your phone and jumping between apps, you won’t have to keep unlocking the same ones. That might sound like common sense but not all of its rivals do the same.
Another problem some rival apps have is being slow, in that they’ll allow an app to load and then a second or two later will bring up a lock screen.
This is both annoying – since you have to wait a little longer to properly interact with a locked app – and less secure, as prying eyes will be able to catch a glimpse of the content before it’s locked. But Norton App Lock, at least in our experience, instantly locks apps.
With options to also automatically lock recommended apps, and unlock all apps with a single tap if you want to temporarily remove security, it’s a useful, thoughtful app, and one which is reassuringly run by one of the biggest names in computer security.
If you want to be fit and healthy, exercise is just one part of the equation. Just as important is what you eat, which is why Runtastic has launched an app called , packed full of healthy recipes to fuel you on your fitness journey.
The recipes are dietitian-approved, and as well as being healthy many of them are suited to specific dietary needs, such as vegetarian or gluten-free.
You can filter them by your dietary requirements, or by the preparation time, the calorie count, the meal type and more, and once you head into a recipe you can see all the dietary and nutritional information in detail.
Recipes themselves have both written and video instructions, so you’ve got the choice of words or pictures, and you can save favorites to return to later.
Runtasty also has a selection of how-to videos, showing you basic kitchen skills like how to chop an onion or poach an egg – the sorts of things that will come in handy when working your way through its recipe book.
The selection of recipes could be larger, but it’s a nicely laid out, very visual app, and for those on a diet or training plan it’s a much better bet than a standard recipe app.
Free + optional subscription
Books haven’t really changed. We can read them on our phones and Kindles now, but the way they’re presented is still largely the same as it was hundreds of years ago.
Or at least it is unless you’re using . This app presents all of its stories like text message conversations, and in most cases the stories actually take the form of a text message exchange, which is a perfect fit for a phone and in a weird way can make them seem more real than just reading words on a page.
The stories are mostly short or split up into chapters, so you can consume them in bite-sized chunks, and they encompass a wide range of genres.
Quality is variable, but more are added regularly and they’re professionally written (the iOS app lets readers also write their own stories, but the Android app doesn’t yet have this feature, and in any case the amateur attempts are kept separate from the main story selection).
Other than that missing feature the only real problem is that it limits how much you can read unless you subscribe, which costs $2.99 (roughly £2.30/AU$4) per week, $7.99 (around £6.20/AU$10.70) per month or $39.99 (approximately £31.20/AU$53.50) if you subscribe for a year.
This paywall is the only thing that’s likely to stop you getting hooked, but even if you stick to the free version you never have to wait more than an hour to keep reading.
Five Minute Journal
It also has you think ahead and write three things that you’ll do to make today great, which makes you plan ahead in a positive way, and holds you more accountable to actually doing those things.
Then, you add a daily affirmation, and in the evening write three great things that happened, so you can see the day in a positive light. But it also asks you how you could have made the day better, so that, perhaps, you’ll make the next day better instead.
It’s nicely presented, reminds you to add an entry at the beginning and end of each day, lets you add photos, and stores your past entries, so you can be reminded of days past.
Five Minute Journal is a small thing, and if anything it takes less than five minutes to fill out, but it’s based on proven positive psychology research and in its physical form has an army of fans who believe in it, so if you could use a bit more happiness in your life it’s well worth giving a try.
LinkedIn Job Search
Thanks to LinkedIn, the days of filling out lengthy job applications are largely gone, as you can often apply in a few taps using your LinkedIn profile. But the LinkedIn app itself is more focused on networking than applying, which is where comes in.
It strips away all the networking, messaging, groups and profiles and puts the jobs front and center. You can search by job title or keyword, pick a radius from the desired location and select whether to sort by the date or relevance of the posting.
You’ll then be presented with a list of possible roles, and while not all jobs let you apply using your LinkedIn profile, many do and these are highlighted in the list so you can easily prioritize them.
Tapping on a listing gives you a full description along with links to apply, whether through LinkedIn or externally. You can also save jobs to go back to later, and on the main screen you can see recent searches and recommended jobs.
You can also opt to get notifications when someone views your application, when new jobs match your search and when saved jobs are about to expire. And although LinkedIn Job Search is linked to the main site and app, your network won’t be alerted to any of your job applications and searches.
It’s at once a fully-featured and simple app, and it makes finding and applying for jobs the easiest it’s ever been.
Free + IAP
Keeping up to date with what’s new on Netflix isn’t always that easy, and being aware of what’s about to get removed from the service is near impossible without outside help.
Which is what is. You pick your Netflix region and it will then show you two lists – one with new additions to the service, and the other with those about to leave, and in both cases sorted by the date that they were added or that they will be leaving.
But you get more than just names of titles. You can also see their IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores at a glance, and if you tap on a title you can see a synopsis, view trailers, or follow links to its Netflix or IMDB page.
You can also opt to get push notifications when new content is added, and there’s a ‘Roulette’ feature built in as well, letting you pick a genre and minimum Netflix, IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings, then be presented with a film or show that meets them.
There are some limitations – it would be nice for example if the Roulette feature was expanded into a proper search tool, so you could see all the titles with a specific rating, rather than just one at random, and there are adverts unless you pay $1/£0.99 to get rid of them, but as a mostly free tool Upflix is indispensable to anyone with a Netflix account.
Free + IAP
Certain apps and keyboards have built-in spellcheckers, but for grammar you’re largely on your own. At least, you were until GrammarPal came along.
The app makes a little floating bubble appear any time you start entering text. Tap on it and it will tell you how many (if any) errors there are. Tap again to highlight the errors and see suggested fixes.
Errors are color coded so you can see at a glance whether it’s a style issue, a spelling mistake or something else, and you can create an ignore list or a custom dictionary if you don’t want certain things to be flagged.
You can also change the position of the bubble, change the language, alter the way errors are marked (either highlighting or underlining them) and change the theme, so it’s possible to customize the app to your liking. However it’s also very unobtrusive, so most of the time all you’ll see is that floating bubble and it’s small enough to ignore.
For $1.99/£1.89 you can get the GrammarPal Pro upgrade, which lets you backup and restore your dictionary, undo changes and further personalize the app, but the free version has all the core features.
Tide: Stay focused, be peaceful
Staying focused throughout the work day can be challenging, especially with the internet ever-ready to distract us, but there are time management techniques to help, and makes use of one of the most famous.
Known as the Pomodoro Technique, this involves working for roughly 25 minutes, then taking a roughly 5-minute break, then after 4 work periods getting a longer break of at least 15 minutes.
Tide lets you customize the exact lengths of work and break periods, then essentially works as an elegant timer, with a soothing appearance and optionally nature sounds to help you get into the work zone.
It sounds an alarm after each work or break period, but waits for you to tap to start the next one rather than automatically transitioning, which is handy, since you might not be at an ideal stopping point. It also gives you the option to skip a break altogether.
We found the app gives you all the controls you might want, but importantly the technique itself is effective, as it seems a lot easier to focus and avoid distractions when you know a break is never more than 25 minutes away.
Free + monthly subscription
But it’s the exercise that’s the focus, and the workouts within the app are almost all designed to be done at home or outdoors with minimal equipment, so you don’t need to go to the gym.
For free you can pick from a handful of basic workout courses, which give you a guided workout each day. You can also view animations of every exercise in the app, split into categories based on which body part they exercise, which is handy for learning new exercises.
Each animation uses a 3D model of a person that you can zoom into and rotate, giving you a clearer look at the exercise than a video would, and making them a great tool for checking that you’re doing an exercise right.
But to get the most out of Fitonomy you might want to subscribe to one of its premium plans. These cost different amounts depending on the plan and how long you commit to, but they start at $4.99/£4.49 per month.
There are a range of plans with different focuses, but they all include workouts that get more intense each time, along with daily recipe suggestions, making for an experience that’s a bit like having a personal trainer in your pocket.
Free + various IAP
Words are then dragged into sentences, and the words, sentences and even individual letters are vocalized when tapped on.
As words and sentences are built, you’re rewarded with cute animations featuring an assortment of colorful creatures, making it as fun and engaging for little minds as it is educational.
For free you get access to a handful of words, but you’ll quickly hit a paywall, with new words (covering the entire alphabet and three different difficulty levels) costing between $5.99/£5.49 for around 25 more words and $29.99/£28.49 for all 315 extra words.
That might sound steep, but it works well on both phones and tablets, and the art, sound and animations are sure to keep your kids entertained - and learning - for a long time.
No matter how good your smartphone camera is your images can still be ruined by unwanted additions, be it people in the background, a trash can in your landscape or blemishes on your own face.
There are additional tools to clone or mirror parts of the image, and video tutorials to help you get more out of the app – though most of the features are fairly self-explanatory.
Results aren’t always perfect, with the app trying but not always entirely succeeding to hide the seams when you cut someone out, but you don’t have to save any changes you’re unhappy with and it generally does a surprisingly good job, all with only a few taps from you.
Talon for Twitter
It’s a good-looking app, as you can see in the images above, but more importantly it’s a very powerful app, primarily because of the amount of control it gives you.
You can choose between three different themes, selecting the colors, fonts and timestamp style and even the line spacing. The app supports home screen widgets too, which are similarly customizable, and the control it gives you doesn’t end at the aesthetics.
Talon also lets you create up to eight home pages that you can swipe across to get to different parts of your Twitter account – be it mentions, direct messages, tweets from users that you’ve favorited, or a number of other things.
Talon for Twitter also includes a night mode and a do not disturb option, so you won’t be bombarded with notifications when want to be slumbering.
We found Talon is great when you get down to the core activities of reading and posting. GIFs and videos can be viewed directly from your timeline, images can be rotated and cropped before you post them, users can be muted or favorited, you can be signed in to two accounts at once, and if you use Twitter on multiple devices you can use ‘TweetMarker’ to sync your timeline position.
And these are just some of the highlights of Talon, there’s too much to detail here, but suffice to say if it’s something you realistically wish a Twitter client could do, Talon probably can.
Multi Timer StopWatch
Free + $2.99/£2.79 IAP
Timer apps tend to assume we only have one thing to do (or time) at once, yet, for us at least, that’s often not true.
If, like us, you want to be able to set multiple timers at once, could be for you. It’s not unique in allowing this, but it does seem to be in the minority, and it also does a whole lot more to help it stand out above the rest.
Among other things it lets you save multiple timers too, which we’ve found far more useful than it sounds. So, if for example you regularly exercise for a set amount of time, or run the washing machine for the same duration, you can have permanent named timers for each of these activities.
You can also give each timer a custom sound, and add widgets to your home screen for even easier access. Plus, you can have timers within timers, allowing you to sound an alert after a certain duration prior to the timer coming to an end.
As the name suggests, Multi Timer StopWatch also has a stopwatch component, and there are all sorts of other things you can tweak and configure, such as the layout of the app itself and whether to show individual notifications for each active timer, or just a notification for the next one that’s going to go off.
The app’s more functional than stylish, and if you don’t want to see adverts across the bottom you will have to pay $2.99/£2.79 to get rid of them (a fee which also unlocks a dark theme), but otherwise you get the whole app for the generous price of zero dollars.
Free + IAP
We know it’s important to exercise our bodies, but our minds sometimes get neglected, and that’s where brain training apps come in.
The app first asks you what your goal is – for example to remember things better or stay focused - and then creates a training plan around that, consisting of a number of activities and games which you’re tasked with carrying out.
These are generally well-designed and enjoyable and the selection changes from day to day, so repetition shouldn’t set in.
You also level up over time and there’s a leaderboard where you can compare your scores in the games with your friends and people worldwide, all of which can help keep you motivated.
How much it actually trains your brain is questionable, but the backing by educational institutions is encouraging, and it would make sense that using your brain in various ways would improve its function.
The core app is free, but to unlock 19 additional exercises and a personalized plan you have to subscribe at a cost of £4.99/$5.99/AU$7.99 per month (or less if you subscribe for 6 or 12 months).
Instant – Quantified Self
Free + $9.99/£9.49 IAP
It monitors your phone usage, providing daily reports with that information, along with how many minutes you’ve spent using your phone, the places you’ve been, and estimates of how long you’ve slept, based on the motion (or lack thereof) of your handset at night. Plus, it can link up with Google Fit to track your steps.
In and of itself the information can be interesting and surprising, giving a history of not just your smartphone use but – with location and step tracking – the rest of your life too.
But you can also set a daily usage goal if you want to cut down on your phone use, with reminders to help you stick to it, and for more in depth information you can upgrade to pro with a one-off $9.99/£9.49 IAP (or pay monthly) and get a complete history of your app usage, along with detailed weekly reports and the ability to back your data up to the cloud.
If you plan to use Instant to limit your phone or app use this could be worth paying for, but if you’re just curious about how many hundreds of times you’ve unlocked your phone today and how many minutes you’ve wasted on Facebook the free version will do the trick.
Meteor – App Speed Test
There are any number of apps and websites dedicated to testing your current data speeds, but for the most part that’s all they do. aims to add context, not only telling you your download speed, upload speed and ping, but also telling you the implications of that for the apps you use.
Meteor will tell you the overall performance you can expect from YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Waze, Google Maps, Skype, Amazon, Dropbox, Chrome, Flipboard, Gmail, Instagram, Google Street View, Twitter, Uber and WhatsApp based on your current results.
It can assign ‘awesome’, ‘very good’, ‘OK’, or ‘poor’ ratings to each app, and also gives one of those scores to the overall speeds you’re getting.
But if you want more detail you can tap on an app and see the same ratings for individual activities. For example, if you tap on YouTube you’ll see separate ratings for different streaming qualities.
The ratings are all color coded too, so you can see them at a glance, and the app is attractively laid out, with separate tabs for your test history.
The only small fault we can see is that the number of apps it can provide performance information for isn’t larger, and that, for some reason, you can only choose to see information for six of the current selection at any given time.
But Meteor has only just launched, so it’s likely to improve over time.
Free + various IAP
There’s no shortage of mapping apps on Android, but most of these are aimed at motorists or at the very least at mapping proper streets. on the other hand focuses on the tracks and trails people love to hike.
It offers maps for much of the world, including the US and UK, with data coming from a range of sources, such as Ordnance Survey, OpenStreetMap and Topo Map.
As well as providing maps of the world’s wilderness, it also lets you create or follow trails, view your heading, bearing, latitude, longitude and altitude, and download maps for offline use.
But perhaps the best feature is Skyline, which uses your phone’s camera to deliver an augmented view of the world, with the name, direction and distance of various locations, landmarks and waypoints overlaid on the landscape.
The only bad thing about ViewRanger is that it’s not free. You can download the app itself free of charge, but (with few exceptions) the actual maps within cost money, and depending on how big and detailed a map you want, you can spend anywhere from a couple of dollars/pounds to hundreds if you’re looking to map the whole world.
Despite all the curated playlists, recommendations and radio stations we have at our fingertips, finding new music that we actually like - and are currently in the mood for - can sometimes feel like a chore.
We won’t pretend that completely solves the problem, but it does help, letting you choose a genre, followed by one or more moods or settings, such as ‘happy’ or ‘morning’. It’s this which really helps SoundR Music stand out, as most alternatives limit you to a single mood or other keyword.
Once you’ve dug down into what you’re in the mood for, you’re then presented with a selection of playlists that the app reckons you’ll be into, and you can stream these free of charge, favoriting any you particularly like, so you can easily return to them later.
Add in a colorful interface that’s more polished than you’d often find in such a new app, and the fact that it’s completely free with no adverts, and it’s easy to recommend.
It’s light on battery use thanks to its power saving mode, which, like the power saving modes on most phones, restricts performance and some functionality to conserve juice.
And it’s light on resources thanks to its ‘web refiner’, which filters out adverts. Pyrope Browser is also optimized for Snapdragon chipsets (which many smartphones use) and promises 10% - 40% performance increases if run on a device with a Snapdragon chip.
But as you’re probably starting to realize, Pyrope Browser is also packed full of features and modes. As well as those above, there’s a night mode, which inverts colors to strain your eyes less at night, an immersive mode, which cuts away the search bar and buttons, and a background audio mode, which allows audio to keep playing even when you leave the browser.
The stylish look meanwhile is helped by a ‘dynamic notification bar’, which changes the color of your notification bar to match that of whatever website you’re on.
With gesture controls, an incognito mode and more on top of all that, this is a browser that’s easy to love.
Email by EasilyDo
It makes sorting and searching your email easy, with messages automatically added to categories such as receipts, packages or travel. It also features a powerful search tool, letting you search by keyword, name or phrase.
You can delete or archive a message with a single swipe, and there’s a dedicated unsubscribe button at the top of messages, plus a whole screen dedicated to managing subscriptions, so you can easily ditch all those mailing lists you’ve found yourself on.
You can also add all your accounts to it, as there’s support for Gmail, Hotmail, iCloud, Yahoo, Outlook, Office/Outlook 365, and AOL mail.
This app is fast, and gives you a chance to undo sent or deleted messages in case you change your mind. And Email by EasilyDo looks great too, with a clean interface seemingly inspired by the Material Design of Android itself.
Pacer Pedometer and Weight Loss Coach
Free + optional $3.99/£3.99 monthly subscription
Fitness trackers are all the rage, but the abilities of basic ones can largely be replicated by smartphone apps, for little to no money.
It does a pretty accurate job of it too, and you can make it more accurate by adjusting the sensitivity. You can also set goals, and have your step count permanently displayed on the notifications screen, so it’s never more than a glance away.
As well as steps, Pacer also tells you how far you’ve walked, how much active time you’ve had, and makes a stab at estimating how many calories you’ve burned.
You can also track your weight and BMI, connect with friends and motivate one another. That all comes free, and should be enough for most people, but for $3.99/£3.99 per month (or less if you pay for a year upfront) you can also get rid of adverts, join groups and access an AI weight loss coach - the last one being the reason most would pay the subscription for.
That not only gives your creations a very different look to more conventional art apps, but also means you need far less talent to actually use it, as your canvas is a grid and you just tap the squares you want to fill.
This means that although you’ll need to work out which ones to use in order to create an image, you won’t need any actual technique when filling them in.
We don’t want to undersell it though. With canvases going up to 96 x 96 and custom color palettes there’s plenty here for experts, it’s just that Dotpict is welcoming to newbies too.
If you get artist’s block there are also a couple of games built in, for some reason. These are basic, but the art looks like it was made in the app, demonstrating the potential of pixel paintings.
Essentially, if you want to see where somewhere looks right now – be it as vague as a country or as specific as a bar – you can just make the request on the app, and if there are any users in that location they’ll be prompted to send you a photo.
This could be used to see how bad the traffic actually is, how choppy the sea is, how crowded your favorite bar is or whether the supermarket is open, among many other things, but is likely to be used as much just out of curiosity about more exotic locales.
Want to see what the center of Tokyo looks like right now? Request a picture. How about the top of a mountain? You know what to do.
Right now there aren’t anywhere near enough users to reliably get a response, but you can help change that by downloading the app and taking photos that others request.
The app has a mix of exclusive video content – covering news, reviews and guides to games – and video streams from players, taken from Twitch, YouTube and the like, but which you can watch all in one place on Core.
You can also follow streamers that you want to see more from, and while much of the content is available elsewhere it’s worth checking out for the exclusive videos, which are well-presented and a good way to get a look at new games.
As a fairly new app, content is currently quite limited, but more is likely to be added regularly. There’s also Chromecast support, and the team are listening to comments and reviews, so if there’s something you want to see more or less of it’s worth getting in touch.
Forest: Stay Focused
Free + $0.99/72p IAP
As great as smartphones are, they can become addictive, with all sorts of apps vying for our attention and the urge to check Facebook ever-present. This can be bad for both productivity and relationships, with screen-based distractions interrupting work and quality time.
Specifically, it rewards you by building a virtual forest, with each new bush or tree being completed when you successfully spend a certain amount of time not using your phone. You can set how long you want to stay distraction free and if you fail your tree will wither and die.
The tree, whether alive or dead, will then appear on a patch of ground, alongside any others you grow that day, with each day having a new forest.
Extra incentive to stay off your phone comes from the ability to compete with friends, and to earn coins, which can be spent on new tree designs or even on planting real trees (though that latter feature first requires spending $0.99/72p on a one time IAP, which also removes adverts and lets you compete with global users).
Pickle – A simple note
$0.99/£69p (roughly AU$1.30)
is about as simple as a note-taking app gets, and that’s the beauty of it. You don’t have multiple lists or folders, just one long note, laid out like an SMS conversation, with each new addition getting its own text bubble.
Eventually, of course, you’ll end up with far more notes here than you can easily skim through, but you can search for keywords, or add hashtags and then choose to view only the notes with those tags.
You can add photos and links, as well as text, edit or delete notes with a swipe, and change the font size and background color, but that’s about it. It won’t replace Evernote for power users, but if you just want a simple note taker without the clutter, Pickle is it.
Be aware though that after a 7-day free trial it costs $0.99/69p (roughly AU$1.30) as a one-off IAP.
From $5.75 (around £4.75/AU$7.50) per month
You can use it not only on Android, but also Windows, iOS and Mac, all with a single subscription, and the app is nicely designed, with a world map from which you can tap on the country you want to access a server from.
Do that and NordVPN will automatically select the best performing server in that country, but there’s also a list of over 600 servers if you’d rather choose your own.
Further keeping things simple there’s a one-tap toggle to unlock most geo-restricted content, and NordVPN takes your privacy seriously too, with 2048-bit encryption and no logs kept of your activity.
It’s a subscription-based service with no free tier and no easily accessible free trial (you can get three days free, but only from Nord’s website and only if you select to pay with Bitcoin), but it’s cheaper than some VPNs and the cost is often further cut by sales and promotions.
ADW Launcher 2
Free + $3.60/£3.80 IAP
This isn’t one for fans of minimalist, simple interfaces as ADW Launcher 2 is all about customization.
You can change the style of the app drawer, the animation when transitioning between home screens, the number of apps shown on each page, the theme, the icons and just about everything else you might ever want to tweak.
As well as making the interface look and animate exactly as you want, ADW Launcher 2 also has some clever features that add whole new functionality. These include the ability to disguise folders as a single app – viewing the contents with a swipe, or launching the first app in the folder with a tap.
There are also various customizable gesture controls letting you launch apps or functions with swipes and pinches. The bulk of the app is completely free, but there’s a single IAP to unlock a larger selection of customization options.
Free + $4.99/£2.99 monthly subscription
The app is built specifically for list making, so it’s not a multi-purpose note taking app like Evernote, but it creates more effective to-do points as a result.
Any list you create automatically has check boxes attached to it, and any item you tick off is automatically removed. That means you can see at a glance what still needs doing, as everything that’s been done already is hidden.
But re-adding completed items to a list is easy too, as your checked off items aren’t deleted, they’re simply a tap away.
That, plus the ability to sort lists into folders (for instance, work and home) and sub-lists (to split your grocery shopping between multiple stores), makes Wunderlist a strong option for most users.
But if you need more power, Wunderlist also lets you share and collaborate on lists, set deadlines and reminders, and attach PDFs, presentations and photos to your lists.
These features are free, but with some limitations. For a $4.99/£2.99 monthly subscription you can unlock unlimited file attachments, unlimited sub lists, assign an unlimited number of tasks to others and get access to a selection of backgrounds.
It’s a handy option for anyone managing their whole life with lists, but most users should be fine with the free offering.
Pixoff: Battery Saver
Free + $0.99/89p IAP
Your phone’s screen is one of the biggest drains on a battery, but if your handset has an AMOLED display (like most Samsung handsets and a number of others do) then there are things you can do to minimize the drain.
While LCD screens light up the entire display no matter what you’re viewing, AMOLED screens can turn pixels on and off individually, so when you’re viewing a pure black the pixels don’t need to be lit at all.
That’s handled automatically by your phone, but with you can choose to turn off some of the pixels whatever you’re doing. This makes the screen appear darker and lower resolution than it would otherwise, but it can save battery in the process, and the app lets you control how many pixels you disable and in what arrangement.
It’s unlikely to be something you’ll want on all the time, but if you have a QHD display the visual effect isn’t that huge, and could be handy if you’re trying to conserve battery. In fact, to make things easier there’s even an option to have it automatically enable when your battery falls below a certain level.
Or you can have Pixoff keep the screen black when your phone is in a pocket or face down on a surface, and it avoids burn-in by slightly adjusting the placement of the black pixels at regular intervals.
All of which makes Pixoff a powerful, well thought-out tool. The core app is free, but for denser arrangements of black pixels (which saves more battery life) you’ll have to buy a $0.99/89p IAP.
Free or $3.49/£2.39 for Pro version
Never feel like you have enough storage space on your phone? Then could be for you, as beyond being a file explorer it also has tools to help you identify what’s taking up space and what you can get rid of.
Its ‘CorpseFinder’ tool searches for directories or files that have been left behind by deleted applications, while ‘SystemCleaner’ scans for known file types that can safely be deleted.
‘AppCleaner’ looks for files within applications that can be deleted without causing loss of important data, ‘Duplicates’ looks for duplicate files, and ‘Storage analyzer’ shows which things on your phone are taking up the most space.
Whichever tool you’re using within the app, the first step is simply to identify things that you might want to delete.
Once SD Maid has done that you still have complete control over which, if any, files and folders you actually do delete, so you’ve only got yourself to blame if it erases something important – though in theory nothing it finds should be vital anyway.
The ‘AppCleaner’ and ‘Duplicates’ tools require the Pro upgrade, but most of the rest of the app is free, and it’s a great tool for clearing out files you might never even have found otherwise.
is an essential app for anyone with an interest in the night sky. Using your current location, the app will highlight the planets, stars and constellations that should be visible to you, and with a tap you can fly out to them, viewing 3D models of the night sky.
With 100,000 stars, 70,000 deep sky objects, 500 asteroids, 16 comets, 26 moons and all known planets, exploring the whole universe is an unending task with this app.
Using the 3D graphics and animations it’s an enjoyable experience to just tap around and dart between solar systems and stars, but if you want more information the app also has 10 guided tours and links to Wikipedia pages for anything you happen to be looking at.
Free + IAP
The app has lessons for dozens of languages, including some missing from Duolingo, such as Japanese, and there's a range of different content, designed to help you read, write and speak your language of choice.
Daily lessons give you something new to learn every day, and there's also a wide selection of permanent lessons and tests split across numerous categories (such as 'travel' and 'family). There's even a chat bot, which you can speak to in the language you're learning to give youb much-needed feedback.
With leaderboards and charts to track and compare your progress there's also plenty of incentive to keep using Mondly beyond just the satisfaction of learning a new language.
The app actually has quite a lot of free content, so you can try it out without spending anything, but to get the most out of Mondly you'll ultimately want to stump up for extra content, which starts at $4.99/£4.99 in one-off payments.
As you do so soothing sounds play, and a colored blob gradually grows around the dot. Within a few minutes the app promises to lessen your stress and increase your focus, and though it sounds gimmicky it works in our experience.
Supposedly it’s based on the principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness practice, as well as being scientifically tested and validated with EEG (electroencephalogram) technology. But credentials aside it’s just a great way to find some calm on a busy day.
Free + $9.99/£9.99 monthly subscription
Meditation apps are meant, among other things, to relax and de-stress us, but if you’re anything like us they run the risk of doing the opposite, becoming chores that we feel guilty for neglecting.
Other meditation apps have short sessions too, but there are usually only a few of them, mixed in with longer meditations, while they’re all short in Simple Habit (though we do have to point out some stretch beyond 5 minutes to cater for those that do want a bit more relaxation).
Simple Habit also has a variety of different teachers to guide you, so if you don’t get on with one (or just get bored of their voice) there are plenty of others to choose from.
The rest of the app is as you’d expect, with meditations designed around specific life circumstances, goals or moods, and a simple interface that doesn’t get in the way.
Free + various IAP
is a great music maker for people who don’t know how to make music. It provides you with a grid of pads (24 on mobile, 48 on phablets and tablets), each of which contains a sample, with different grids fitting a particular style of music.
That second point means that everything broadly fits together, and even tapping the pads at random can produce something aurally pleasing.
But Remixlive is also good software for those who know how to make music, as you can create your own samples, either by recording sounds with your device’s microphone or importing them.
You can control levels, change the tempo and record and export your tracks too, with most of these features are hidden behind IAP, ranging from $0.99/89p to $3.49/£2.69 each, as are most of the pre-built samples.
But if you’re only interested in certain features you shouldn’t have to spend much to get them, and you get three grids included for free, with three more available for no charge via in-app purchase.
Free with ads or $3.99/£3.49
The complete selection of weather providers that it uses includes AccuWeather, Weather Underground, NOAA, Met Office, Foreca, Dark Sky, SMHI, YR and World Weather Online – though only the most accurate ones for your location will be used.
You can see hourly or ten day forecasts, complete with the likelihood of each being accurate, or you can dig down to the individual forecasts from each weather provider, to see how they vary.
Climendo lacks some of the more detailed information found in other apps – such as humidity and UV index - but if you just want accurate information on whether or not you need an umbrella then this app is up there with the best.
There’s no shortage of apps for digital artists, but is one of the most feature-packed, with dozens of brush presets and the ability to create your own, along with layers, blending, editing tools and more, plus the option to export your images as JPEG, PNG, PSD or ZIP.
But as well as being packed full of features, Infinite Painter also takes the time to show you how they all work, with detailed tutorials and guides, although the interface is so simple that you should be able to muddle your way through most things anyway.
A lot of the features are hidden behind a paywall, with it costing $7.99/£6.26 to unlock everything, but the app includes a free seven-day trial, letting you try everything out before you decide whether you want to put money down, which if you’re a fan of digital art you probably will, because you get a lot for your money.
Solid Explorer File Manager
File managers aren't exciting, but they are useful, especially if you have a lot stored on your phone. Google Play is full of options, but Solid Explorer File Manager is one of the best for a variety of reasons.
For one thing it's not limited to just displaying local storage, as you can also link cloud storage accounts to the app, allowing you to view and manage all of your online storage in one place.
It also looks good, with a Material Design-influenced interface that's easy to navigate. There's a menu bar permanently visible at the top, which lets you quickly jump between storage sources or 'collections' (such as videos, music and photos), and folders are clearly laid out.
It's not free, but there's a 14-day trial so you can see what you think before you put any cash down.
Between Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and dozens of other services there are numerous ways to legally watch content that don't require you to go anywhere near a TV schedule, but with different libraries and different payment models finding the specific things you want can sometimes be a chore.
JustWatch simplifies that process by letting you search for specific shows or films on all the available providers in your country or just those that you filter it by, so you can see exactly how and where you can watch things.
JustWatch also provides an up to date list of new arrivals on your favourite services and of price drops, so you can skip the searching and just watch.
Stop motion clips let you bring worlds to life on zero budget and Motion is a slick, simple way of creating them on an Android device.
All you have to do is line up a shot, then press the shutter button to save it. Rinse and repeat until you've built a full clip, then you can view it back, adjust the frame rate and delete any frames that you don't like.
From there you can save your project and easily add to it any time, so if you've got a stop motion epic in mind you don't have to film it all in one go. But once you are done you can export it to your phone as a video and easily share it with the world.
The simple controls make Motion suitable for kids, but it's powerful enough to create really good footage too. All you need is an idea and the patience to make tiny adjustments to a scene over and over again.
Urmun Icon Pack
One of the great things about Android is how customizable it is and icon packs are one of the best examples of that.
The Urmun Icon Pack gives you access to over 3790 high quality icons, each of which offers a stylish alternative to the standard app icons to freshen up your home screens.
It doesn't work with all launchers, but many, including Nova Launcher, Action Launcher, ADW Launcher, Apex Launcher, Cyanogen and more are supported and you can apply the new icons to them with a single tap.
Urmun also comes with a range of mostly abstract wallpapers which match the style of the icons, for a cohesive look. Urmun is one of the better examples of icon packs, but if you don't like the style there are dozens of other options, including more by the same developer, with links to them from within Urmun itself.
Sleep as Android
Free + IAP for all features
Our phones might be smart but for the most part our clocks aren't yet and even most alarm clock apps are disappointingly basic, but Sleep as Android proves that there's a lot more an alarm clock can do than just wake someone up.
You can set it to wake you up after just 15 or 30 minutes if you want a short nap, record any noises so you'll know if you snore or talk in your sleep, drift off to soothing sounds, have a voice remind you that you're sleeping to potentially allow for lucid dreaming, wake up to songs on Spotify, make sure you get up on time by having to solve a problem to turn off the alarm and a whole lot more.
Many of these features are free, but stump up for a single IAP and you also get access to sleep cycle tracking, allowing you to put your phone on your mattress so that the app can track the duration and quality of your sleep, as well as helping you wake up at the optimal point in your sleep cycle.
Sleep as Android isn't the prettiest app, but it puts most other alarm clocks of both the physical and app variety to shame - and it's so regularly updated with advanced, prototype features that you feel you're really getting good value if you do upgrade.
Flamingo for Twitter
£0.79/US$0.99 (around AU$1.35)
Twitter might be one of the biggest social networks around, but its official app leaves something to be desired. Thankfully there's a whole world of third party options and Flamingo for Twitter is one of the newest and best.
Despite still being in beta it already feels slick and polished, with a material design inspired interface, which includes pages that are coloured to match any images, for a pleasingly unified look. There's also a number of visual customization options and if you have multiple accounts you can theme them all individually.
So it looks good, but Flamingo is also enjoyable to use, thanks to thoughtful features like being able to swipe pages to close them and long press on images and profile pages to preview them.
But the best thing about Flamingo is that as good as it is now, the fact that it's in beta means there's likely plenty more to come, so this is one app which will hopefully just keep getting better.
£1.49/US$0.99 (around AU$3)
Whether you're trying to work or relax background noise can have a significant impact on your ability to. It's not always easy to tune out conversations or annoying songs, while the sounds in an office or train can be unpredictable, all of which are the enemy of productivity and sleep.
Noisli overcomes these issues by giving you a selection of soothing background sounds that you can play, such as the sounds of rain, a gentle breeze or waves rolling into shore.
You can adjust the volume of the sounds and also create and save combinations, so if you want to be able to hear both the chatter of a coffee shop and a burning log fire at the same time you can.
There's a timer which you can use if you only want the sounds to play for a certain amount of time and even the interface is soothing, with a selection of relaxing background shades that the app cycles through.
On your way home from work you can trade the noises of a busy train or honking cars for the sounds of night time in nature... but try not to get so relaxed that you miss your stop.
£4.18/US$5 (around AU$6.73) monthly subscription
Netflix is the king of video streaming subscription services, but it's not the only option and nor are you limited to other big names like Amazon and Hulu. There are also smaller options that carve out their own niche and IndieFlix is one such service.
Its focus on independent films means you won't see much crossover with the larger services and rather than getting the big blockbusters you'll be discovering new things you may never have heard of. There's also a large selection of shorts, which are handy if you don't have time for a full movie.
Otherwise it's a lot like Netflix. You can stream content on a wide variety of devices and while its selection isn't the largest around, with over 8,000 titles there's still more than you could get through in a lifetime.
The app is easy to navigate too and while it's not free you do get a 30-day free trial, so give it a shot if you're looking for a new addition to your streaming arsenal.
Free + optional £2.99/US$2.99 yearly subscription
Dark Sky has made waves on iOS and it's now arrived on Android, bringing hyperlocal and incredibly detailed weather forecasts with it.
Not only can you see the weather for today or the coming days for any town or city, but also forecasts for your exact location. As well as being geographically precise it also aims to give you down to the minute forecasts, so you'll know exactly when that threatening cloud will shower you with rain.
You can see precise forecasts for temperature, wind, humidity, pressure, visibility and UV index too, explore a detailed weather map of the world, set alerts for the specific weather conditions and stick a range of weather widgets on your home screens.
The minimalist black and white interface won't be for everyone and certain features are locked behind a £2.99/US$2.99 yearly subscription, which is worth taking out if you have more than a passing interest in the weather around you, but even the free version of the app has a competitive number of features.
Nova Launcher Prime
£3.99/US$4.99 (around AU$6.79)
Nova Launcher Prime has been around for a long time and thanks to regular updates and a wealth of features it remains one of the very best Android launchers available.
It's enormously customisable, allowing you to change your phone's theme and home screen transitions, add a scrollable dock, choose what direction the app drawer scrolls and even add widgets to the dock.
As bloated as it might sound Nova is actually a slick, speedy launcher, which looks a whole lot like stock Android until you start fiddling with it.
There's a free version available too, just called Nova Launcher, but Nova Launcher Prime gives you access to gesture controls, among other features that aren't found in the free one, so it's worth investing in, given that the home screen is one of the things you'll interact with most on your phone.
Evernote is the first and last word in note-taking, or it might as well be anyway. With multiple notebooks to help you keep your thoughts tidy, simple to-do lists, a powerful search tool so you can easily find specific notes and the ability to sync between devices it's a must have for anyone who ever jots things down. Which we'd wager is just about everyone.
It goes that little bit further than just being a notebook though, as you can also share your notes and collaborate on projects with others, easily track expenses and attach files, all through an attractive, clutter-free interface.
Life is busy and there's not always time to read that article on bees or that guide to knitting cat jumpers. Pocket solves that by allowing you to easily save web pages and even videos for later, storing them all in one place.
It's much more than just a bookmarking system though as it also makes them available offline, so you can catch up with things on the tube or any other time you don't have an internet connection.
It's free, slick and you can even synchronise your saved articles across every device you've installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading.
There are any number of podcast apps for Android but Pocket Casts is easily one of the best. Its slick, colourful interface helps it stand out from the drab designs of many competitors and it's feature packed, with Chromecast support, auto downloads, sleep timers and more.
There are even tools to improve the listening experience of podcasts, such as the ability to remove silent sections to speed them up or toggle video podcasts to audio only. There are cheaper and even free alternatives to Pocket Casts, but you more than get your money's worth with it.
The idea behind Plex is that it assimilates your existing media collection and serves it up, through one standard interface, via the cloud.
It's a bit of a struggle to get going as you need a free account on Plex's servers to access your stuff, but once it's all up and running it offers streaming and transcoding of files, meaning everything ought to play everywhere. It's attractively designed too and even lets you sync your media for offline viewing, so it's not always dependent on an internet connection
It supports Chromecast too, so if you've bought into Google's own media-managing dream, then you're going to get a lot of use out of this app.
Runtastic Running PRO
A hefty price, but can you put a price on not dying of obesity at age 52? That fitness promise is what you pay for with the RunTastic Pro. It is able to map you, track you, automatically cheer you on, generate live feedback and more, also covering interval training and letting users create their own regular routes to attack again and again.
Voice coaching keeps you motivated and on track and a leaderboard provides extra incentive to go faster and further. It's also great for finding new routes to run, as other users can post theirs to the app. It's serious stuff for competitive people and a seriously good tool for getting or staying in shape.
IF by IFTTT
IF was formerly known as IFTTT, which stands for "if this then that", concisely summing up what this app does. It powers up your Android device in all new ways, letting you automate various functions.
You can create simple statements such as "if my location is home, turn on Wi-Fi", or "if I snap a screenshot email it to me". As these are all simple two-part statements they're easy to create and they can also be shared with the wider IF community. That also means there are tons of pre-existing 'recipes' to choose from, so you might not even feel the need to create your own.
£8.06/$9.99 (roughly AU$13.24)
FiLMiC Pro has been on iOS for a while and it's so good that it was even used to make the arthouse feature film 'Tangerine'. Now it's arrived on Android and it's every bit as impressive here.
As a premium video camera app it doesn't come cheap, but it gives you far greater control over your footage than most alternatives.
There are standard, manual and hybrid shooting modes, with options to adjust the temperature, tint, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, focus and more. You can also shoot in slow or fast motion and a variety of different resolutions and aspect ratios, including the likes of Cinemascope and letterbox.
Shooting your film isn't the end of the fun either, as FiLMiC Pro lets you alter the exposure and saturation after you've captured your footage. Then, there are a variety of encoding and sharing options. So you can save it in the quality you want and easily upload it to the cloud and social networks.
Free + £7.18/US$9.99/AU$12.85 IAP
Computing skills have never been more vital and being able to program could put you ahead of the game. Javvy probably won't make you an expert, but it covers the basics and beyond of Java programming in easy and enjoyable bite-sized chunks.
It features over 150 interactive tutorials, to take you from the basics to more advanced things like HashMaps and classes.
You can try it out for free, but if you're serious about learning Java you'll want to shell out for more chapters, either a bit at a time or with a single £7.18/US$9.99/AU$12.85 in-app purchase.
There are plenty of photo editing apps, but while most offer filters and effects few allow you to alter the perspective of a photo in the way SKRWT does.
There are no stickers here, no makeup modes and no real effects. Instead there are tools to shift the perspective, change the ratio and correct lens distortion.
You can also flip, rotate, mirror and crop images, but SKRWT isn't interested so much in modifying photos in unnatural ways, as in making them look exactly as you envisioned when you took them.
It's a professional tool, but it's easy to use and you can always undo your changes if you don't like them.
Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
Although for many English speakers it's easy enough for us to communicate with the locals when we're travelling by pointing at things and speaking LOUDLY AND SLOWLY, it's also quite nice to learn a bit of the local lingo before you leave as well, which is where Duolingo: Learn Languages Free comes in.
This excellent app makes learning a second language easy, fun and convenient, with a number of daily challenges and tests to help you learn. The bite sized nature ensures it's never overwhelming and the app guides you in such a way that you can keep progressing while reinforcing the basics.
We can't quite work out how such a slick, feature-packed app manages to be completely free of both cost and adverts, but we're not complaining.
Free (£8.23/$9.99/around AU$14 in-app purchase for all features)
Unless you're happy having pieces of paper cluttering your desk with passwords scrawled all over them, or are brave/stupid enough to use the same login for almost everything, there's really no avoiding password managers.
Not that you should want to avoid them, especially when it comes to 1Password, which doesn't even require a subscription. In fact, it doesn't cost anything at all, though if you want it to automatically generate passwords or to be able to fully manage your account from your Android device you will need to shell out for a single in-app purchase.
1Password remembers all of your passwords no matter which device you're on. Well, all but one, as the name suggests. You will still need to remember whatever password you use for the app itself. Unless that is you have a fingerprint scanner on your phone, in which case all it needs is a tap.
AES-256 encryption, secure notes and a slick interface with all your logins organised into folders are just the icing on the cake.
Shuttle+ Music Player
There's an enormous number of music players to choose from on Android, but Shuttle+ is one of the best.
With an attractive and intuitive Material Design-inspired interface and most of the options you'd hope for from a premium player, including gapless playback, a sleep timer, lots of themes, automatic album artwork downloads, a 6-band equalizer, widgets, Chromecast support and a lot more besides it's a joy to use.
There's a free version, but the premium one is only £1.10/US$1.75/AU$1.99 and has far more features, so it's worth the investment if you play a lot of music on your phone.
DoggCatcher Podcast Player
If you're addicted to listening to podcasts on your Android device, then DoggCatcher Podcast Player is up there with Pocket Casts as one of the best apps. The clear and attractive interface makes it a cinch to manage and play your podcasts, and you can set it to automatically download new episodes, so you're never stuck for things to listen to.
What sets DoggCatcher Podcast Player apart from free podcast apps is the wealth of options and customisability, such as multiple themes, variable playback speeds, Chromecast support, widgets and personalised recommendations. If you have a huge list of podcasts you listen to regularly, then this is the player you need.
Tasker is one of the first, and best, task managers for Android. It does it all. Turns stuff on or off depending on location, manages multiple schedules for changing phone state depending on the time of day, even letting users have their phone automatically reply to text messages if it's set to a quiet state.
In many ways it's like a more powerful and more impenetrable version of IF. If you're brave enough to learn its ways there's a lot here, with the promise of total automation by combining triggers such as an app, day or time, with actions, variables and conditions.
Tasker is so powerful it can even be used to create whole new apps. It's complex, vast, and you'll wonder how you lived without it.
Weather Timeline - Forecast
There are plenty of weather apps available for Android, but what makes Weather Timeline – Forecast worth choosing over them (and spending money on), is its unique focus on delivering weather forecasts in a timeline, so you can easily see conditions at a glance.
It means you can view the current weather, weather for the next hour, the next 48 hours and next week. It can help you plan your day without any nasty weather surprises.
The Weather Time Machine feature also lets you see forecasts for months and years in advance, as well as checking out how the weather was behaving decades ago. It's also Android Wear compatible.
Phones get lost and sometimes even stolen, that's just a fact of life, but with Cerberus they can be a whole lot easier to get back.
The app duplicates many of Google's Android Device Manager abilities, such as tracking, ringing, locking and erasing a handset. But it goes much, much further too, allowing you to sound an alarm, display a message on the screen, take pictures, videos and screenshots to identify the thief, record audio and a whole lot more.
It's a comprehensive service and while it comes with a one off cost it will more than pay for itself if you ever need to use it.
TuneIn Radio Pro
If you never want to run out of things to listen to again, TuneIn Radio Pro is the app for you. It gives you access to over 100,000 radio stations from around the world, so no matter what your favourite genre is, you'll be covered.
There are podcasts on offer too and you can create a profile, giving you easy access to all your favourited stations.
The Pro version is pretty expensive for an app, but not only does it remove annoying ads, it brings handy features such as the ability to record shows and listen to them at any time, as well as access to over 40,000 audiobooks and advanced social tools for finding and sharing new music.
Unified Remote Full
£2.99/US$3.99 (around AU$5.10)
Many phones have IR blasters built in, allowing you to control your TV with them. This can be useful, but given that most televisions come with a remote it's often unnecessary. Being able to control your computer with your phone though can be far more beneficial, especially if you're using it to watch or listen to something, without being sat right at your desk.
That's where Unified Remote Full comes in. Using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with no IR blaster required, it can communicate with your PC or Mac, along with other devices such as a Raspberry Pi.
There are over 90 built in remotes, giving you full control over various pieces of software, so whether you want a full virtual mouse and keyboard or just want a Netflix remote with buttons for playing and pausing content Unified Remote has you covered.
There's a free version of the app, but most of the content is locked behind a one-time payment, which it's well worth making if your PC is your primary device for media consumption.
£4.99/US$4.99 (around AU$6.80)
Describes itself as a 'pro' DJ app for people who enjoy nodding along and pumping their fists in the air while someone else's record plays. Cross DJ Pro comes with specialist features such as BPM tracking, pitch shifting and a split audio output for previewing tracks before they're mixed in, with filter effects in here too for adding a bit more oomph to whatever party you're ruining with your rubbish music.
With 72 samples, the ability to record and save your own samples to the app, realistic scratching sounds and more there's a lot to play with, while an intuitive interface and big buttons make it easy to hit the right notes.
£7.95/US$12.95 monthly subscription
Modern life can be hectic and most of us could probably do with some calm. Headspace aims to provide that through numerous guided mediations, ranging from ten minutes to over an hour in length.
There are also a number which are focused on helping you flourish in specific aspects of life, such as relationships or fitness, and they're all expertly guided by a former Buddhist monk.
You get access to ten short meditations for free, but to get the most out of it and unlock hundreds of others you'll have to subscribe.
Threema might look like any other messaging app, but it's got privacy and security at its heart. It has all the standard features you'd expect, including group chats, the ability to share images, videos and voice messages and even a few extra features like support for QR codes and group polls.
But everything you send and receive, including media, is encrypted and Threema's servers store as little information as possible, with contacts lists managed from your own device and messages deleted from the servers as soon as they've been delivered.
If that's not enough it also allows you to communicate anonymously, for the full experience of feeling like you're in a really boring spy movie.
Free (with optional subscription)
It's great learning a new skill, but finding the time to do so can be tricky. Skillshare makes that a little bit easier, by breaking down lessons and tutorials into bitesize chunks that you can fit in while you take a coffee break.
As it's an app it's always with you, so you can learn on your commute too and there's a vast variety of courses offered, from film making and photography, to game design, chocolate making and screen printing.
The courses aren't generally detailed enough to make you an expert, but they're a great way to get started or hone your skills. Some content is free, but to access the bulk of it or download the videos for offline access you'll need a $9.99 (roughly £6.96/AU$13.08) monthly subscription.