The stock version of Android includes some fantastic native apps. Many people stick with them and never use anything else.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t equally robust alternatives available. Let’s have a look at some of the best alternatives to pre-installed Android apps.
1. Replace Messages With QKSMS
Google has a dubious track record when it comes to messaging apps. We’ve lost count of how many the company has launched, only to stop supporting them a couple of years later.
If you want something with more long-term reliability, there are lots of great third-party SMS apps available.
We particularly like QKSMS thanks to its open source nature. Open source apps have a lot of benefits, including the lack of a price tag, transparent code, and more control over your privacy.
QKSMS is highly customizable. It offers several app-wide themes, or you can change the look of particular conversations on a case-by-case basis.
The app offers all the features would expect, including blacklists, spam filters, and MMS support.
Download: QKSMS (Free)
2. Replace Chrome With Brave Browser
Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world for good reason. But it does have some shortcomings; it lacks the extensive privacy tools that are important to a lot of users, and it’s slowly decreased in speed over the years.
One of the best alternatives is Brave Browser. It’s based on the Chromium code and thus looks very similar to Chrome. However, independent testing shows it’s faster than Google’s app.
Brave also packs in a few extra features. The most useful is Shields. They let you toggle blockers for tracking, scripts, third-party cookies, and fingerprint protection on a simple dropdown menu.
The browser does still reward web publishers for their efforts thanks to its revenue-sharing micropayments system. You can read more about how it works on Brave’s website.
Download: Brave (Free)
3. Replace Google Play Music With MediaMonkey
However, on stock Android, the app doubles as your music player. For some people, that’s great. After all, you can store 50,000 songs for free in the cloud.
But you might prefer to manage your music locally, especially if you’re planning on being away from a stable internet connection for a long time. And if you want to use Google Play Music solely as a music player, there are much better apps.
For a holistic solution that can sync audio files between your PC and phone, check out MediaMonkey. The sync feature can move your music files complete with all their metadata such as ratings, artwork, lyrics, and play history.
It’s also Chromecast-compatible, supports UPnP and DLNA devices, and has near-endless search and music management features.
The app is free, but you’ll need to pay the $2.49 to unlock the sync capabilities.
Download: MediaMonkey (Free, premium version available)
4. Replace Google Calendar With Business Calendar
Like with SMS, there is no shortage of high-quality alternative calendar apps.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with Google Calendar. But if a calendar is a big part of your day-to-day workflow, you can probably find a third-party app that’s better suited to your needs.
There are so many available that it’s hard to pick a clear winner. Much of the decision depends on identifying which features are most important to you.
For a solid all-round app, try Business Calendar. Aside from useful features like multi-day views, customizable calendar widgets, and graphical and textual views, it also comes with a built-in task manager, contact management, and customizable event templates.
The app can also sync with Google and Exchange calendars, giving you a single location from which you can stay organized. An ad-free pro version is also available.
5. Replace Camera With Camera ZOOM FX
Google makes its own camera app that ships with stock Android, but most camera apps are created by your phone’s manufacturer. Regardless of whether you’re running the Google app or a manufacturer’s app, you can do better.
We favor Camera ZOOM FX because of its lightning speed. It’s so good, we included it in our list of best camera apps for Android and iOS.
A snappy camera app is essential. I’ve missed several photo opportunities because my camera app took so long to load after opening it.
Aside from the blistering speed, Camera ZOOM FX also offers multiple shooting modes, the ability to capture RAW images, extensive photo editing tools, tilt-shift, a speed burst mode, hundreds of effects, and more.
A $4 pro version is available. It introduces a few extra features, but is unnecessary for most users.
6. Replace Gmail With Blue Mail
Gmail is excellent if you only use its own email addresses. However, the way it handles multiple email accounts—especially on the mobile apps—could be better.
If you need to sync emails from lots of different domains to your device, one of the best independent third-party apps is Blue Mail. It’s the highest-rated email app in the Google Play Store and made our list of five excellent email apps for Android.
The app supports all the major email providers, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Alto, iCloud, and Office 365.
It lets you create rich text signatures, respects your spam identification, and has offline support. Lastly, Blue Mail is compatible with Android Wear devices.
Download: Blue Mail (Free)
7. Replace Google Photos With Piktures
Google Photos is an excellent app. Apart from the generous free backup feature, it also comes with a ton of powerful search tools that help you find photos of people, places, and events in a flash.
However, from a gallery app standpoint, it’s a bit lacking. To breathe new life into your gallery, you should try Piktures.
Piktures has been one of the standard bearers of third-party Android gallery apps for many years. Some of its best features include:
- An orientation sensor: It can override your phone’s rotation lock when a picture is incorrectly rotated by 90 degrees on your screen.
- A maximum brightness lock: It can override your phone’s brightness when viewing photos so they’re always displayed in all their glory.
- A calendar view: It shows the thumbnails of snaps taken in a certain month along with an image count.
- An OCR extraction tool: You can take a picture of a document, extract the text, and edit it.
There’s a $6 premium version of the app that adds support for cloud services and external drives.
Download: Piktures (Free, premium version available)
8. Replace Phone With Truecaller
Did you even know that alternative dialer apps existed? Lots of people aren’t aware.
The only one worth considering is Truecaller. By uploading tens of thousands of users’ address books, it has created a vast database of numbers.
It then draws on the database to identify calls from unknown users and numbers that you don’t have saved in your address book. This reduces the number of spam and telemarketing calls that you unwittingly answer.
You can also choose to list your own number publicly in the address book. Doing so lets other people search for and find your contact details if they want to get in touch with you.
Download: Truecaller (Free, subscription available)
Say Bye to Stock: New Apps, New Possibilities
Hopefully, these apps will open your eyes to the world of possibilities. You can find replacement apps for even the most mundane of phone tasks. But one app you don’t need to replace is the Google app, which performs a ton of functions.
However, the list of high-quality Android apps is endless. Some of them can even solve Android’s biggest annoyances.