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The best Android apps of 2021

Our favorite Android apps for making music, listening to music, finding podcasts and everything else to do with audio.

Wondery

(Image credit: Wondery)

Wondery

Free + $4.99/£4.99 monthly or $34.99/£34.99 yearly subscription

Wondery is a podcast app, but rather than just serving up the same podcasts as every other app it has exclusive content.

The included podcasts cover a range of genres, such as true crime, history, business, and more, including some with daily episodes. And there’s a whole lot of content to get stuck into – there are over 40 seasons of its Business Wars podcast, for example.

The majority of the content on Wondery is free to access, but there’s also a Wondery+ subscription which for $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year will get rid of adverts and unlock some additional content, plus early access to shows.

Wondery probably won’t replace your main podcast app, but if you just can’t get enough audio content then it could make for a great companion to it.

(Image credit: Spotify Ltd.)

Spotify Kids

$14.99/£14.99 per month

Spotify Kids, as the name suggests, is Spotify, but for kids. It’s a similar idea to YouTube Kids, in that it’s a way to give children access to the service while keeping them safe from unsuitable content.

It therefore doesn’t have the full library of songs that you’d find in the main Spotify app, but what it does have is handpicked as being suitable for kids.

Spotify Kids also includes playlists designed for children, a more colorful, kid-friendly interface, and the ability to download songs for offline listening.

You can also customize the age range, so that your child only has access to songs suitable for those up to six, or gets access to music suitable for ages up to 12.

To use Spotify Kids you do need a Spotify Premium Family subscription, and each child you add will take up one of the family slots (of which there are six), but if you don’t already have Spotify Premium Family then you can get a one-month free trial.

(Image credit: Tuogol.inc)

Audio Manager

$0.99 / £0.89

We’ve all been there: you’ve finally fallen asleep only to be woken up by a drunken text or call from a friend in the middle of the night, but with Audio Manager that need never happen again.

Sure, you can stop it happening already by manually muting your phone when you go to bed, and many phones have limited scheduling options for Do Not Disturb mode, but Audio Manager lets you schedule specific audio settings for specific times and days. So you can lower the volume or mute your phone overnight, for example. You might perhaps also want it to automatically switch to vibrate during working hours.

And it’s not just days and times that you can set; you can also change the settings based on location, so that for example you could have your phone automatically mute when you enter your office, and turn the sound up full when you leave.

You can also have multiple routines set at once, so if there are any days, times or places where you consistently want your phone’s sound settings a particular way, Audio Manager can make sure that happens.

Muviz Edge

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Muviz Edge

Free + various IAPs

Muviz Edge adds visuals to your music by displaying a music visualizer around the edges of your phone’s screen while music is playing.

It works with streamed or local content from any app and you can customize the visuals, choosing from a number of patterns, and adjusting the colors, speed, and more. You can even get Muviz Edge to automatically match the colors of the album art for whatever you’re currently listening to.

It’s a bit limited in that a visualizer along the edge of your screen can only do so much – no matter how you tweak it all we’re really talking about is colored lines moving around the screen edge, but it still looks good.

It also requires IAPs to unlock some of the patterns and certain other features, but there’s enough here for free that it’s worth downloading even if you’re not prepared to shell out for all the extras.

Volume Panel Pro

(Image credit: LeeDrOiD / TechRadar)

Volume Panel Pro

$0.99 / £0.59

Volume Panel Pro is a replacement for your smartphone’s standard volume controls. Hit the volume key on your phone and you’ll see this instead, which in many cases will be an upgrade.

The Android app can display volumes for calls, media and alarms all in one go, so you don’t need to dig into menus to change individual settings. You can also choose which side of the phone screen to display the volume controls on and how far from the top, change the colors of both the panel and the sliders, choose which volume gets altered by default, choose how long the volume panel stays visible after you hit a volume key, and more.

It’s not a game-changing feature, but it’s a well thought out and customizable improvement on most standard Android volume controls, and it’s easily worth the low asking price.

Pocket Casts

(Image credit: Podcast Media LLC / TechRadar)

Pocket Casts

Free + $1.19 / £0.99 monthly subscription

We’ve covered Pocket Casts before, but it’s worth highlighting again because it’s now free. That doesn’t mean you’ll be bombarded with adverts or have your data sold; this Android app is truly free with no strings attached.

Those who want more or want to support the developers can subscribe to the new Pocket Casts Plus service (for $1.19 / £0.99 per month or $11.99 / £9.99 per year), which unlocks extras like desktop players, additional themes and the ability to upload and play non-podcast files on Pocket Casts.

But for everyone else, it’s the same app that so many have known and loved for years, complete with a slick interface and all sorts of handy tools, such as a volume boost for speech, the ability to change the playback speed and trim silence, Chromecast support, and a whole lot more.

The developers promise that the free version won’t be neglected either – this is still their core product and will continue to get updated and have new free features added. So if you’ve not already tried Pocket Casts there’s never been a better time.

Luminary

(Image credit: Future)

Luminary

Free + $7.99/£6.99 per month

Luminary is a podcast app that, as well as packing in access to most of the podcasts you know and love, also has its own exclusive content that you won’t find anywhere else.

Access to those exclusive shows – over 40 of which are either out or in the works at the time of writing – is the main reason to choose Luminary over other podcast players, but to get that access you will have to subscribe at a cost of $7.99/£6.99 per month (following one free month).

These exclusives are ad-free and in many cases come from big names like Lena Dunham and Trevor Noah, but even if you’re not up for paying, Luminary could still be worth considering.

Stick to the free content and this is basically like any other podcast app, but it’s a polished one, with an attractive interface and loads of features, including the ability to cast podcasts to speakers, download podcasts for offline listening, get new podcast suggestions based on what you like, change the play speed, activate a sleep timer, and more.

The only real downside to Luminary at the moment is that while it offers exclusive content, the Android app also lacks a few big-name shows that you’ll find on other platforms, such as Reply All and The Daily, so if any of your favorites are missing, you’re best off podcasting elsewhere.

Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts

$3.99/£3.99

Pocket Casts has long been our podcast player of choice, but the Android app is a very different beast today to what it once was, thanks to a major update bringing it to version 7.

It’s an update that’s mostly for the better in our opinion, but not without its critics. Love it or hate it though, it’s a big enough overhaul to warrant highlighting Pocket Casts again. It also makes the app worth revisiting if you tried it before but didn’t get on with the old version.

The changes include a whole new look and a wealth of new features, such as up-next syncing, listening history, the ability to play podcasts without subscribing, improved recommendations, the ability to search for specific episodes, new swipe controls, a draggable player and a whole lot more.

If you’re used to the old version of the app then version 7 will take some getting used to, but we reckon most people will come to love it.

TaoMix 2

TaoMix 2

Free + various IAP

TaoMix 2 is an ambient noise Android app designed to drown out the outside world and help you relax, sleep or focus.

There are lots of sounds to choose from, such as birds chirping, rain, waves, wind, a fireplace, a thunderstorm and many more. But you’re not limited to one sound – you can build a soundscape by selecting several at once.

Each of these sounds appears as a circle on your screen and there’s another circle which can be made to move around the screen, and which makes each sound more prominent when it overlaps with them, so the soundscapes vary over time based on the movements of this circle.

You can save any soundscape you make to easily return to it later and you can set a timer, so the soundscape will automatically turn off after a set period of time. You can even record your own sounds.

The core app is free, but to get the most out of TaoMix 2 you’ll want to invest in some of the sound packs to bulk up the available selection. These start at £0.69/US$0.99.