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The Google Play Store is home to a massive number of apps and continues to grow every day, so how are you to know which are the best? We’ve done the research for you, and we’ve narrowed it down to the three best apps in each of the following categories.
No matter what your need is, you’ll find it here. Here are the best Android apps you can get in the Google Play Store right now.
Jump Ahead: Automation | Browsers | Customization | File Management | Health | Keyboards | Launchers | Media | Messaging | Music | Navigation | Phone/Contacts | Photography | Photo/Video Editing | Productivity | Reading | Root-Required | Security | Social | Texting | Utilities | VPNs
For the power to automate everything on your phone, you need Tasker. It costs $2.99, but it’s worth every penny. You can automate virtually every task on your phone based on a long list of variables, from time of day to location to everything in between. Never manually turn on your WiFi or Bluetooth again.
Tasker combined with IFTTT (another incredible automation app that nearly made this list) makes for a killer automation duo on Android.
Download: Tasker ($2.99)
MacroDroid is like a simplified version of Tasker. If Tasker seems too intimidating, give MacroDroid a shot.
Visually, it’s a lot more appealing, but it has many of the same functions. You can automate all sorts of things with just a few taps!
Download: MacroDroid (Free, premium version available)
Similar to Tasker, Automate brings device level automation to your Android device, but with a visual twist. You create what are called flows, built up of blocks (actions). And then, just like a flow chart, you connect one action to another to build a workflow. If you want to get into powerful automation, Automate is the best way to begin. You’ll find more than 300 blocks with actions related to Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, NFC, Google Drive, FTP, location, time of the day, and apps.
You can keep things simple with a flow of blocks, or you can use features like loops, conditions, and action triggers to create complex workflows. A workflow can start in multiple ways. It can be triggered automatically when it matches one of the conditions that you’ve set up. Or you can manually trigger a workflow using a home screen shortcut.
Download: Automate (Free, premium version available)
As Google’s own browser, Chrome is an obvious choice. If you use Chrome on the desktop, your tabs and bookmarks will always stay synced. It’s quick and easy to switch through tabs either by tapping the button in the top right or by swiping along the top bar.
Aside from that, it’s just super fast and easy to use. You can’t go wrong with Chrome.
Download: Chrome (Free)
If you use Firefox on the desktop, you might as well use it on Android too. All the features of a great browser are here—incognito mode, intuitive tab switching, bookmark syncing.
But Firefox goes a step further by allowing for add-ons, with which you can tailor your browser to your personal demands. For a customizable browser, go for Firefox.
Download: Firefox (Free)
Kiwi Browser is a faster, simplified version of Chrome. It’s an open-source browser, built on Chromium. What does this mean in real life? That it’s blazing fast.
Plus, the app is filled with pro features. You can listen to YouTube videos in the background, switch the address bar to the bottom of the page, and the app blocks all ads and trackers by default. The best part though is the Night Mode. When configured, not only will it switch the UI to dark, but the websites will flip colors too. The background will be black and the text will be white. On OLED screens, this makes reading much better on the eyes.
Download: Kiwi Browser (Free)
Tapet mathematically generates a pattern based wallpaper for you. Every wallpaper is generated on the device, which makes it unique to you.
You can swipe left in the preview to switch colors, and swipe right to switch the pattern. Swipe up to generate a new wallpaper. When you find something you like, just tap on the big checkmark button to make it your wallpaper.
Download: Tapet (Free, premium version available)
CandyCons has an extensive collection of icons that works with any third party launcher. You’ll find many icon packs on Play Store but CandyCons strikes the right balance between playfulness and simplicity.
You’ll find stylized, minimal versions of app icons you use every day. With more than a thousand icons in the gallery, you won’t have trouble finding a CandyCons icon for your favorite apps.
Download: CandyCons (Free)
KLWP Live Wallpaper Maker
KLWP’s app name is a bit confusing. It calls itself a live wallpaper maker, but in reality, it’s a full fledged home screen designer. You can load up widgets, create your own widget, customize presets, and create a home screen setup that’s unique to you. And when it’s applied, it just functions as a wallpaper, not widget.
All elements are still interactive but as a wallpaper. The only downside is the app’s user interface. It’s not very intuitive and it has a steep learning curve. But you can spend some time learning the tools and editing the presets to get a hang of it.
Download: KLWP Live Wallpaper Maker (Free, premium version available)
File Management Apps
Files by Google
Replace your ad-fueled cleaner app and your older file manager with this all-in-one file management app straight from Google. You can use it to quickly clear up some storage space by reviewing files you’re no longer using.
Switch to the Browse tab and you can access, copy or move any file on your Android device.
Download: Files by Google (Free)
Want to move files from your Android to your computer or vice-versa without a cable? AirDroid is your app.
On top of that, AirDroid has tons of other amazing features like texting from your computer, sharing a clipboard between your phone and computer, the ability to backup everything on your device, and more. AirDroid is a necessity for those who like to live the wire-free life.
Download: AirDroid (Free)
With 15GB of free storage, you wouldn’t want to miss out on Google Drive. Backup all your important files to the very modern-looking app, share them with others for easy collaboration, and save them offline for those long plane rides.
If you’re on Android, you’re already using the necessary Google account, so why not?
Download: Google Drive (Free)
As the best all-purpose fitness-tracking app for Android, Google Fit should be an instant download for anyone focused on fitness and health.
It allows you to track your exercise using the sensors in your smartphone, make goals, and it integrates with all the fantastic Android Wear devices currently available.
Download: Google Fit (Free)
7 Minute Workout
“I just don’t have the time to workout.” It’s a common excuse, but it doesn’t hold water. Do you have 7 minutes? Great, then you have time to exercise.
This app can kickstart a healthier routine by interrupting your long periods of sitting with short, intense workouts. Give it a try; you’ll be glad you did.
Download: 7 Minute Workout (Free, subscription available)
Strava is a clean, community-based health tracking app. It’s great for tracking runs, hikes and bike rides. The app provides a category-best analysis of your activity.
Plus, you can follow other Strava users, share your rides, and take part in some healthy competition in your area and across the globe.
Download: Strava (Free, subscription available)
Gboard is currently the best keyboard for Android. And it’s probably built into your phone. If not, you can download it from the Play Store. The app has gesture-based input, smart autocorrect, GIF search, emoji suggestions, and themes.
The best part is the built-in Google search. Just tap on the G button, start searching ,and you can paste in the search in the text box. No need to open a browser.
Download: Gboard (Free)
If you don’t like Gboard, try SwiftKey. SwiftKey was the pioneer of intelligent autocorrect suggestions and it’s still the king. If you’re looking for a customizable, fast typing experience which won’t result in typos, use SwiftKey.
Download: SwiftKey (Free)
Feksky is the best keyboard for a certain kind of Android user. If you can get used to the fast, gesture-based interface, you’ll fly through the app.
With killer text prediction and a customizable toolbar, Fleksy becomes the fastest keyboard app on Android. You can use modules to add extra functionality to the app. Features like web search, video search and GIF library are just the cherry on top.
The all-around best launcher for Android is easily Nova Launcher. With an insane amount of customization options as well as blazing fast speed, there’s no reason to keep your stock launcher.
Best of all, it’s free, though you can unlock some extra features with the paid Prime version.
Evie is a simple, lightning-fast launcher for Android. You’ll find the standard home screen customization features. But search is where Evie shines. Android doesn’t have good on-device search.
Once Evie is installed, you can just swipe down on the Home screen and start typing. Evie will instantly show the relevant results for an app, contact, file, and later, web search results as well.
Download: Evie Launcher (Free)
Smart Launcher 5
Smart Launcher bridges the gap between a simple and a feature-rich browser. When you first set it up, you’ll find it similar to Evie, with universal search, automatic smart categorization of apps, a preset home screen with folders, and so on. But if dive deeper and unlock the pro version, you’ll find home screen customization options similar to that of Nova Launcher.
You’ll find dozens of themes, customizable gestures, and a Black mode for OLED screens.
Download: Smart Launcher 5 (Free, premium version available)
There’s a good chance this app came pre-loaded on your Android device, but it’s well worth downloading even if it didn’t. At it’s most basic, it’s just an attractive gallery app, but it actually offers so much more.
Google offers free unlimited storage of photos under 16MP—which is amazing. Just setup automatic backup and never worry about losing photos again!
Download: Google Photos (Free)
If you’re not a fan of Google’s offering, go for Piktures. It’s an intuitive gallery app that makes viewing all your pictures a breeze.
You can even protect photos with a PIN or sort by a calendar view! It’s way more useful than your phone’s built-in gallery app.
Download: Piktures (Free, premium version available)
Do you ever watch videos on your Android device? If so, VLC should be your default media player. It has way more features—like swiping to change the volume—than your default media player app, and it can handle all kinds of file types.
VLC already dominates the desktop market, and this mobile app firmly positions it as the best in the mobile sector too.
Download: VLC (Free)
For more media entertainment, you might also check out these 4chan apps for your smartphone.
Google Voice for Android existed in a weird wasteland for years while Google left it neglected and not updated—but it’s back with a vengeance thanks to an awesome Google Voice update.
The new Google Voice is revamped, revitalized, and still the best way to get a free US number that you can use from anywhere.
Download: Google Voice (Free)
For the privacy conscious, Telegram is one of the best encrypted messaging services. It’s free, ad-free, open-source, and Telegram cares about your privacy.
You’ll only be sending text messages here, but you can set them to self destruct and be confident that no one else is peeking in on your conversation.
Download: Telegram (Free)
WhatsApp is the notorious leader of the messaging world, even after being bought by Facebook. With over a billion monthly active users, Whatsapp has done well establishing itself as the go-to messaging app.
If you want to keep in touch with friends around the world, WhatsApp is probably the best option you have. Check out our list of the best WhatsApp features to get the most out of the messenger.
Download: WhatsApp (Free)
Google Play Music
Simply put, Google Play Music is the best music player on Android. You can upload your own songs to Google’s servers, listen to free music with ads, or pay $9.99 a month for ad-free music. Plus, it has a gorgeous and easy-to-use interface.
It’s simple, quick, and everything you need to play music.
Download: Google Play Music (Free, premium version available)
Spotify is a powerful streaming music service, and its Android app is no exception. Listen to radio, shuffle songs from any artist, and do it all for free.
Spotify premium can get rid of the ads for $9.99 and allows you to play music offline. For listening to specific kinds of music without buying it, Spotify is the way to go.
Download: Spotify (Free, premium version available)
This streaming radio service is unique in that it utilizes the Music Genome Project to alter the songs it plays to better suit your preferences. It’s got a nice tablet interface, tons of content, the ability to look up lyrics and artist info, and it’s free.
Pandora Premium, like the other paid music subscriptions in this list, costs $9.99 a month. Give it a shot if you just want to listen to radio designed for you.
Download: Pandora (Free, premium version available)
If you’re using an Android device already, there’s a good chance it came with Google Maps installed. Google Maps is the gold standard of mapping, and the app lives up to that reputation.
There are all sorts of cool Google Maps features and tricks, like adding a stop along your route or downloading offline maps, that make it even better than it used to be. Look for no further for the leader of the navigation world.
Download: Google Maps (Free)
Even though it was purchased by Google a while back, Waze has yet to be folded into Google Maps and still manages to stand out with extra features like warnings about accidents and speedtraps.
The interface is a tad more dated than Google Maps, but many people swear by the app and actually prefer that aesthetic.
Download: Waze (Free)
Maps.me is the best offline maps app for Android. If you’re traveling to new countries or areas, it’s best to download the Maps.me database for the country before you head out. It’s a free and open source app that provides data from the OpenStreetMap database. The app features detailed offline maps for 345 countries and islands across the world.
Along with the offline maps, you also get navigation, offline search, bookmarking, and traffic updates (not available offline).
Download: Maps.me (Free, subscription available)
Your dialer and contacts app needs an upgrade. You just don’t know it yet. Drupe’s contacts app brings the functionality of a dialer and contact manager in one app.
It’s the only app you’ll need to add contacts, edit them, search for contacts, quickly dial contacts, manage your call log, and more. The app features a gesture-based UI. Once the app is set up, you can swipe from a corner of the screen and your favorite contacts will show up on the left, with modes to contact them on the right. Just swipe from the contact on the left to the shortcut on the right to take action (this can be messaging someone on WhatsApp or calling someone on Skype).
Download: Drupe Contacts (Free, premium version available)
While this app used to be split up into Truecaller and Truedialer, all of Truedialer’s features can now be found in Truecaller! It’s just one app that can handle all your contacts and your dialer, streamlining everything for you under one consistent interface.
Truecaller is well-known for its crowd-sourced Caller ID system, so you always know who’s calling. Aside from that, it’s just a fluid and nice-looking app.
Download: Truecaller (Free, subscription available)
As phone manufacturers have moved to create their own customized Phone and Contacts apps, Google has been working to keep Android devices all running the same apps. While Phone and Contacts used to be built-in to Android, they can now be found on the Play Store.
If you’re tired of your Samsung- or LG-themed Phone or Contacts app, try Google’s offerings. They’re simple, they work, and they’re pretty. They don’t have all the features of third-party apps, but they have the reliability of Google.
When Android hardware makers tinker with their software, they often mess with the stock camera app, making it clunky, bloated, and less functional.
If you’re unhappy with your stock camera app, try out Open Camera. It’s a powerful, ad-free, open source camera app that might not be the prettiest app in the world, but it gets the job done.
Download: Open Camera (Free)
Camera 360 is probably the most popular alternative camera app out there, and for good reason. It has tons of cool filters, a bunch of different camera modes, and even sharing aspects like its own kind of social network.
If you’re dissatisfied with your current camera app and want something with editing functionality built in, Camera 360’s right for you.
Download: Camera 360 (Free, subscription available)
The Play Store is filled with free third-party camera apps. But they’re a mess of feature overload and UI problems. Footej cuts through the bloat by offering a simple, to the point interface with quick access to basic tools you need for capturing the perfect shot.
When you open the app, you’ll find the basic manual photography tools in the bottom-right corner. There is no huge toolbar at the top. From the shortcuts, you can quickly change the shutter speed, ISO, focus, white balance, and exposure. You can quickly switch between auto and manual modes for focus and exposure. If your device supports it, you can shoot in RAW as well.
Download: Footej (Free, premium version available)
Photo/Video Editing Apps
After you’ve taken your photos and it’s time to edit them, you’ll be glad you’ve downloaded Snapseed. It’s a powerful, yet easy-to-use photo editing tool, and since being acquired by Google, it’s been getting more and more baked into Google’s services.
For the best free, simple photo editor on Android, Snapseed should be your pick.
Download: Snapseed (Free)
InShot is a video editor designed for the social media generation. You can quickly crop video, trim it, merge it, split it, apply filters, do basic color correction, add background music and export it for one of the presets – IGTV, Instagram Stories, YouTube, and so on.
The app is free to use and more importantly, it’s simple enough that you can master it in a couple of minutes. It uses the same photo editing UI that Instagram pioneered.
Download: InShot (Free, subscription available)
PowerDirector is a surprisingly powerful video editor that works on your Android device. It features a multi-track editing view and is filled with features you would normally find in a professional grade video editing app on the desktop.
Using PowerDirector, you can go from clips on your phone to a finished YouTube video, with an intro, background score, color correction, filters, transition effects, 4K output, slow motion, and more. The app can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but hang in there, watch some tutorials, and you’ll be making amazing YouTube videos with just your phone, in no time.
Download: PowerDirector (Free, subscription available)
Microsoft Office Suite
Microsoft Office suite has a knack of finding its way in your life. You’ll have to deal with a Word document or an Excel sheet at some point in your life. If you don’t want to install those apps on your PC, you can try editing or creating documents directly on your Android phone.
You won’t have access to all the features (like complex Excel macros), but all the basic features are available in the Android app.
Google’s productivity suite works really well on an Android device (not a surprise). You can not only create documents but easily share and collaborate as well, right from your phone. Using collaboration on Google Docs and Slides on Android is especially magical.
You should be using a to-do list app to organize your life. Even if it’s something as simple as your work tasks or the grocery list. Todoist is a great place to start.
The app is available on every platform and it has all the basic features you’d need from a to-do app, for free. You can use natural language to input tasks, create subtasks, start projects, take notes, and set reminders.
Download: Todoist (Free, subscription available)
If you’re a college student, check out these apps:
As the king of the eReader and ebook market, Amazon’s Kindle app is an obvious contender here, and for good reason. With the Kindle app for Android, you have access to Amazon’s massive ebook collection, seamless syncing, and advanced bookmarking, note-taking, and customization features. If you’re a fan of ebooks and Amazon, this is a must-have.
You can even send your own ebooks, documents, and articles to the app.
Download: Kindle (Free, subscription available)
If you’re not fond of the Amazon approach, Moon+ Reader is another of the best ebook readers for Android. It can read formats from ePub to Mobi and everything in between, has vast customization options, and it even allows for syncing with Dropbox.
For reading various formats of ebooks in a highly customized way, Moon+ Reader is the way to go.
Reading the news is Feedly’s domain. It’s one of the best news readers for Android, and it makes it super easy to gather all of your news and RSS feeds together in one place.
It has a modern interface made better with day and night themes, the ability to save articles for later, and the ability to share articles to your other apps.
Download: Feedly (Free, subscription available)
Titanium Backup is a must have for any root user, simply because of the massive backup capabilities it possesses. Plus, you can use it to delete all the undeletable bloatware that is clogging up your device.
Most of the features are available for free, but power users need to shell out $5.99 for the Pro version.
If your device is rooted and you like tinkering with it, you’re likely going to run into times where you need to access sensitive files. That’s where Root Browser comes in. It asks for root permission when you try going past a certain point in the file system, and it allows you to tinker with files most users never see.
It can be extremely useful, but be careful not to delete anything vital!
Download: Root Browser (Free, premium version available)
Magisk calls itself a systemless interface. Other than root access, Magisk gives you a powerful system for flashing files and modules. You can use Magisk to flash custom files that will change the behavior of the OS and add new features without flashing a whole new custom ROM.
And Magisk does all this without involving a complex recovery system. You can flash Xposed modules using Magisk as well. Browse the Magisk module repository to see if something catches your eyes.
Download: Magisk (Free)
Unless you’re spending all your time in pirated apps, you don’t need an antivirus app on your Android phone. Most antivirus Android apps do more harm than good. While virus is not a big problem on Android, malware is. It has a tendency to seep in through the cracks, an accidentally tapped ad leads to a download that you didn’t even notice.
This is why you should install Malwarebytes security. It has the best malware detection in all Android apps (and it will check for viruses and other threats as well). Do a malware scan once in a month for peace of mind.
Download: Malwarebytes Security (Free, subscription available)
LastPass is a third-party password manager that will supercharge your security. Create strong, unique passwords for your favorite sites and save them in the LastPass vault. Then, you only need to remember the LastPass password.
Once you’ve saved the passwords, you can just use LastPass’s autofill tool to automatically sign in. LastPass stores passwords on its own servers and they’re protected with industry standard encryption. If you’re looking for a completely private password manager, take a look at KeePass2Android.
Download: LastPass (Free, premium version available)
Google Find My Device
Previously known as Android Device Manager, Google Find My Device helps you locate and manage your Android phone. You can use the app to locate all your devices and if something is stolen, you can quickly erase a device.
Download: Google Find My Device (Free)
Faster for Facebook Lite
We’ve already established that Facebook is ruining your Android device and you should avoid it like the plague. But you might still want to use Facebook every now and then.
Use Faster for Facebook Lite. The app brings a web-based Facebook interface with native Android features. You can browse the feed, participate in groups, watch videos and even use Facebook Messenger, all from this one app.
Download: Faster for Facebook Lite (Free, premium version available)
Fenix 2 gives you the best Twitter experience for Android. Fenix 2 is thoughtfully designed and has a gorgeous view for tweet threads. The app makes it easy to quickly switch between multiple accounts. True to the spirit of Android, the main screen is completely customizable. Plus, the app features rich previews from Instagram and YouTube.
Download: Fenix 2 ($3.99)
Bought by Facebook a while back, Instagram is the Twitter of pictures. Snap some cool pictures of your surroundings (or selfie it) and edit your pictures with the built-in filters.
It’s an extremely visual and fun-to-use social network; give it a try!
Download: Instagram (Free)
As a part of Google’s moves to put all the stock Android apps in the Play Store, Messages is really just the barebones texting app. But if your phone’s manufacturer heavily tweaked your SMS app (looking at you, Samsung), it’s a nice, simple alternative.
Download: Messages (Free)
Pulse is an SMS app that Google should have built. It’s a simple and fast SMS client that works on Android phone, Android watch and even on laptops and tablets. You can continue your SMS conversations, no matter which device you’re using.
The app lets you pin chats, archive old threads, add users to blacklist, and more. You can use the app to share rich media like messages, photos, and location.
Download: Pulse SMS (Free, subscription available)
If you’re looking for customization in your texting app, go for Chomp. Chomp has been around for ages and it’s only getting better. The app follows Material Design guidelines, but it offers a huge range of customization option – right from the background, font, text size, ringtones to LED customization.
Plus it offers the usual messaging features like pinned chats, passcode lock, scheduled messages, blacklist, quick reply, and more.
Download: Chomp SMS (Free)
Clipper is a powerful clipboard manager for Android. Once active, it automatically saves everything that you copy to your clipboard. Your Android phone might be your primary productivity or communication device. If you need to copy and paste multiple phrases often, start using Clipper. Once it’s saved clipboard items to the app, you can go in and merge them, quickly add older items back to the clipboard, save old clipboard items in a different list, and more.
If you pay for the Clipper+ premium version, you get access to unlimited clipping, search and online clipping sync.
Sesame Shortcuts fixes on device search on Android. By default, Google search shows you results from the web, and not from your phone. Sesame Shortcuts integrates directly into a third party launcher’s search feature (like Nova or Smart Launcher).
Once it’s set up, Sesame will show you results not only from your device (like contacts, apps), but can go deeper within the app as well. For example, it can show results for calendar events, Slack channels, subreddits, YouTube channels, files in Google Drive and more. You can go into settings and create your own shortcuts too. Sesame Shortcuts has an unlimited trial. But you’ll be reminded ever 14 days to upgrade.
Download: Sesame Shortcuts (Free, premium version available)
AMDroid is a powerful alarm clock with unlimited, fully customizable alarm profiles. The default alarm feature in the Clock app is limited and unintuitive. AMDroid lets you easily customize multiple alarms with individual profiles.
Designed for deep sleepers, you can set recurring alarms, one time alarms, and countdown alarms (for the nap time). The alarm wakes you up gradually and shows you real-time weather information as well. There are built-in challenges you can solve to wake yourself up. The app features sleep tracking and smart alarm timing. If you’re a light sleeper, the app will wake you up at just the right time in between a thirty-minute window so you’re not in a groggy state all day.
Download: AMDroid (Free, premium version available)
TunnelBear is a free, simple and secure VPN app for Android. The app encrypts all the data and doesn’t log anything. The app will give you a 500 MB data allowance for free. If you want to use more than that, you’ll have to sign up for a premium plan.
Using a VPN is just as risky as not using one. If you choose a bad service, the provider might be tracking all your data. TunnelBear is known for its privacy-first approach and is one of the few providers who has been audited by a third party. It’s also one of the few apps that let you choose the country in the free plan as well.
Download: TunnelBear (Free, subscription available)
If you’re looking for a free and unlimited VPN service, take a look at Turbo VPN. The free version of the app lets you choose from a couple of locations across the world (it covers important locations like the US and UK). Using Turbo VPN, you can unblock sites and bypass firewalls.
If you’re looking for a faster connection (in the free plan, I got about 1/10th of my normal speed), you can opt for a premium plan which will also remove ads.
Download: Turbo VPN (Free, subscription available)
Using a VPN is absolutely essential if your goal is privacy. They shield your data from prying eyes so that nobody, not even your wireless provider, can peek in on what you’re doing.
With ExpressVPN, getting this kind of private connection is as easy as pressing a button. And there’s no limit on bandwidth either, like there can be with other VPN providers. You can even choose a VPN location outside your home country to make websites and apps think that you’re there.
The app is free to download, and you get a 7-day free trial. The monthly fee gets lower depending on how many months you pay in advance. Plus, with the link below, you can get 3 free months of ExpressVPN’s service.
MakeUseOf readers can get 3 months FREE when signing up for a year of ExpressVPN using this link!
What Are Your Favorite Android Apps?
Out of the thousands of apps out there, we did our best to narrow down the best of them, but we’re sure to be missing some. Which apps could you not live without? Let us know in the comments!