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The best free Android apps of 2022: the best apps in the Google Play Store

An image of an Android phone against a brown background with the words "best free android apps"
(Image credit: SoundCloud)

Finding the best free android apps on the Google Play Store can be a real chore, what with all the options out there. Who knew, when Google launched Android 13 years ago, that there would be this many available apps to choose from. You can find one to cater for every need, whim, or desire. And, a lot of them come with that magic price tag, free, so that you’re just a few clicks away from taking your phone to the next level.

But, just because there’s such a glut of apps out there doesn’t mean that most of them are quality. There’s a lot that you should probably skip. In fact,  the Play Store gives you a lot of tools to parse through all the noise, from Editor’s Picks for different categories to recommendations for new releases or for apps based on your prior downloads.

You can also narrow the search by reading reviews and ratings or searching for an app you have and seeing what similar results pop up.

With that said, there are so many in the store’s library, that a free android app that’s worth downloading can still get lost in the shuffle. To help you find the best android apps that are free, we’ve collected our top picks here to make sure you have all the apps you could want or need on your phone or tablet, sorted into categories so you can more easily find what you're looking for. 

Not an Android user? You can use these apps on one of the best Android emulators.

Best new free Android app

Every month we add a new app to this list, and you'll find the latest addition below.

Screenshots of Merlin Bird ID on Android

(Image credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab

Birds are perhaps the animal you’ll see most (aside from any pets you might have), yet with so many different species, identifying exactly what bird you’ve just seen can be tricky. But with Merlin Bird ID (opens in new tab) it doesn’t have to be.

This app gives you a few different ways to identify our feathered friends. One way is to answer a few questions – including where in the world you saw it, what sort of size it was, what the main colors were, and what it was doing. Alternatively, you can upload a picture of the bird or a recording of the sounds it makes (with Merlin Bird ID letting you record these directly from the app too).

Whichever method you choose, Merlin Bird ID will then present you with a list of likely matches, complete with names, images, bird call recordings, and details. If the bird you saw is listed you can record the sighting, and it will be added to a list in the app showing you all the birds you’ve logged.

If you just want to learn more about birds in general, you can also search Merlin’s database and read about ones that you haven’t necessarily spotted. So whether you just having a passing interest in birds or want to really dive deep, Merlin is an excellent tool.

James Rogerson
James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.