The Android Market has come a long way since its initial release a couple of years ago. With more than 80,000 apps, including MakeUseOf’s Android app, there’s something out there for everybody.
Here at MUO, we’ve covered Android apps extensively. Just off the top of my head, we’ve written articles about apps for students, busy moms, runners, movie fans and even programmers. We’ve also shown you the best finance, voice and health apps, as well as how to write your own application.
But, what are the best Android apps?
In this article, I’m going to cover the top 20 best Android apps that aren’t games. If you’re looking for a clear cut list of the most useful apps that belong on your phone, this is it.
Communication & Social Apps
Since this is your phone we’re talking about, communication and social applications are probably a good place to start.
If you’re like most people, you spend more time on Facebook than any other website on the Internet. If you’d like to be able to keep track of all of your friends on your phone, the Facebook for Android app is a must. You can even sync your Facebook contacts with your phone.
With the Twitter app, you can do everything you can do online with Twitter. Send tweets, DMs, share photos and video and view the real-time search, maps and trending topics.
3. Foursquare & Gowalla
Since both of these apps pretty much do the same thing, I decided to include them together. Foursquare and Gowalla let you explore your city, see where your friends are and check into venues to receive prizes and rewards. Honestly, they’re both great apps. I routinely use them both.
4. Google Voice
Place calls and send text messages showing your Google number. You can find a lot of creative ways to use this app, including having your Google calls forwarded to your phone.
5. Meebo IM
An all-in-one chat client, Meebo IM lets you chat with your friends on AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Myspace, Google Talk, Jabber and ICQ, all at the same time. Not using Meebo? Here’s 8 reasons why you should.
Entertainment & Multimedia Apps
Now lets take a look at some apps for your entertainment. This section is mostly comprised of movies, music and sports applications.
If you’re looking to follow all of your favorite sports teams or the day’s latest action, the ESPN ScoreCenter app is all you need. Whether you follow the NFL or the Premier League, ScoreCenter is the most comprehensive sports app for the Android. Use it to keep track of stats for your fantasy sports teams.
If you’re a movie buff, you should check out the Movies app. Made by Flixster, this app helps you look up showtimes for the top box office movies, view local theaters, browse 65,000 DVDs, read reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and even manage your Netflix queue.
If you want to look up even more detailed movie information, the IMDb Movies & TV app is good also.
Pandora Radio lets you stream your favorite music on your phone (in the US only). This is the ideal way to listen to music because it allows you to hear all the latest tunes without having to continually upload them to your phone and take up space.
Like Pandora Radio, Last.fm can also be used to listen to streaming music. What makes it different, however, is the ability to learn about your favorite artists, find nearby concerts and share your music tastes with the Last.fm scrobbler.
In this section, you’ll find a few useful lifestyle apps. These can be used when you’re out looking for something to do in your town.
Urbanspoon is a very useful app for when you’re out on the town and can’t decide where you want to eat. Shake your phone and Urbanspoon recommends restaurants near you.
Groupon is the best site to help you find daily deals in your city. The daily deals concept is a hot topic right now and has been generating a lot of buzz. Get in on the savings while you can.
Yelp not only lets you search for places to eat, shop, drink and play, but it lets you leave/read reviews of all of the places around you. Very helpful if you’re looking for that perfect place to stay or eat dinner.
News & Reference Apps
Need to find something? With these apps, you can locate just about anything.
13. Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages might be one of the most underrated apps out there. It does exactly what you would expect it to, but it does it so well. Speak or type a business or service and receive locally relevant results.
14. USA Today
Behind on the day’s news? Use the USA Today app to catch up on the latest news, scores, weather and photos you would normally find in the USA Today newspaper.
15. Google Maps
Since I recently moved to the city, this app has saved me countless hours of being lost. Use it to find your way around and get walking, driving and public transportation directions to find the quickest way to get somewhere.
One feature I really like is, when signed into your Google account, how you can look up directions on your computer and, when it’s time to leave, you open the app on your phone and it remembers your search history.
Tools & Utilities Apps
There are a lot of great tools and utilities apps on the Android Market. To round out our list, lets look at the best ones.
16. Backgrounds & Ringtones
There are 2 things that you surely need to do when you get a new phone: change the background and get a custom ringtone. Since these apps could easily be merged into one I decided to do so on this list. They each house a wide selection of creativity for you to choose from.
Keep your phone running super fast by killing tasks when you’re done with them. There are a lot of task killing apps out there. This one’s the best.
Lookout gives your phone security with its antivirus and backup capabilities. You can also use it to locate your phone when it’s lost.
We’ve written lots about the usefulness of Dropbox. Now you can access it on your Android device.
Evernote allows you to jot down notes, clip articles, take snapshots and save recordings for later. Everything you save gets synchronized with your account on your PC.
[Bonus] Barcode Scanner
Using the Barcode Scanner app, you can scan all the QR Codes on this page to quickly download the apps on your phone.
What do you think of the list? Is there a favorite app you would like to add?
Image Credit: Jiri Vratislavsky