As I write this, I count 99 apps on Google Inc.’s Play Store page in my region. They range from system-level apps, to developer apps, to single-purpose utilities, and a lot more. You might know about apps like Now Launcher, the new Gboard keyboard, and Google Keep. But lost in this sea are some true hidden gems.
There are many useful single-purpose apps that Google has created for Android that don’t get prime-time coverage. Today, we’re talking about those unsung heroes.
If you like those satellite wallpapers on the Pixel phones, you’ll like Google’s Wallpapers app. The app brings a collection of wallpapers, ranging from art to textures.
But the most exciting collection is Earth. You’ll find dozens of cool top-down satellite images of our humble planet. And you can turn on the Daily Wallpaper feature to switch between them automatically.
Download: Wallpapers (Free)
2. PhotoScan by Google Photos
PhotoScan is an extension of Google Photos. It’s a scanner app for your old printed photos. The app is really simple to use. You just hold your phone on top of a photo and move it in the way the app tells you to. The app then scans, combines and enhances the photo. The end result is surprisingly good.
Yes, it won’t be as great as a physical scanner or a professional service. But as an app, PhotoScan is the best out there. It uses Google’s artificial intelligent to calibrate the colors and remove glare. Plus, you can automatically back up all scanned photos directly to Google Photos.
Download: PhotoScan by Google Photos (Free)
Snapseed is a photo-editing app Google acquired a few years ago, and it’s still going strong. If you’re looking for a free, powerful photo editor for basic editing, or just to add filters to your photos, you can’t do better than Snapseed.
There are no ads and the interface is simple enough. The app offers a variety of editing tools like Face Enhance, Healing, White Balance, Perspective, True Image, Crop, Rotate, and so on. If you’re a fan of black and white photos, you’ll really enjoy the Drama collection of filters.
Download: Snapseed (Free)
4. Google Fit
It’s a shame that Google Fit isn’t preinstalled on all Android Phones. Even if you don’t particularly care about fitness, you should still install this app and let it track your activity in the background.
You’ll be surprised to see how many steps you took or how many minutes you were active in a day. You can use Google Fit to track workouts, set goals, record your weight, and more. Plus, it integrates with exercise tracking apps like RunKeeper.
Download: Google Fit (Free)
5. Google Opinion Rewards
Opinion Rewards is a really simple app. You take some surveys, fill out some forms, share your opinion — and in return, you get Google Play credit that you can use to buy apps, games, movies, and more. It’s a good way to earn a dollar or two while you’re watching TV.
Download: Google Opinion Rewards (Free)
6. Google Trips
The first thing you do when you’re planning a trip is to Google — for flights, directions, places to stay, things to do, etc. The Google Trips app lets you do this in a single app and in a better way. All your trip organization is saved in one app and the information is downloaded offline as well.
You can view nearby attractions, plan your days on a map, discover things to do, and more. The Automatic Trip Organization feature takes information from your email account (like online bookings and reservations) and presents the information in the app in a visual manner.
Download: Google Trips (Free)
7. Chrome Remote Desktop
There are a number of remote desktop viewers available for Android. Some of them are paid, some of them are free but limited. If you don’t want to deal with yet another app on your PC, you can just install an extension on your Chrome browser to access your PC from anywhere in the world using your Android phone.
Yes, it works for the whole PC and isn’t just limited to the Chrome browser. As long as both the PC and Android device are online, you’ll be able to access your PC securely.
Download: Chrome Remote Desktop (Free)
8. Trusted Contacts
Trusted Contacts is Google’s version of Find My Friends. I would recommend you install and configure the app on your family member’s devices, especially if you have kids. Trusted Contacts isn’t just an active location-tracking app. Your trusted contacts can request your location, and you’re free to deny the request if you want. If you don’t respond within 5 minutes, your location is shared automatically.
If you enable the proactive tracking mode, the app will share your location constantly. This even works when you’re offline. A really good use case for this app is when you’re traveling. Using Trusted Contacts, you can let your loved ones know that you’re doing just fine.
Download: Trusted Contacts (Free)
9. YouTube Kids
In my experience, the easiest way to win over a kid is to let them play a game or watch a video on your phone. Next time, use the YouTube Kids app.
Both the content and the design are customized for kids. The app features both educational and entertaining content created specifically for kids.
Download: YouTube Kids (Free)
10. YouTube Go
YouTube Go is a new app that’s currently in open beta in India. The app is customized for developing countries.
YouTube Go lets users download videos to their device in a compressed format. Plus, two users with the YouTube Go app installed can exchange videos between their devices.
Download: YouTube Go (Free)
The Forgotten Heroes
Keep scrolling through Google’s Play Store page and you’ll find a number of surprising entries. The Calculator app is available for anyone to download, as is the Clock app. Google’s Phone app, though, is limited to Pixel, Nexus, Android One, and Google Play Edition devices.
What is the one obscure app on Android that you find really useful? Share your favorite hidden gems on Android with us in the comments below.