Hooray! You finally got a new Android smartphone!
The Google Play Store and its plethora of options can be overwhelming for anyone. So instead of blindly downloading a crazy number of apps, let’s concentrate on the essential apps you need to get.
Official Social Network Apps
Let’s not get into the Facebook vs. Twitter war, and instead just get the best of both worlds. In fact, you can get the best of all social networking worlds. Our most pertinent advice would be to download the official version of each social networking app to start off with. There are great third-party apps for everything, but it’s best to start with the official experience. Google+ will be pre-installed with Android.
Pro Tip: If you’re running low on storage, it would be wise to install Facebook Lite to save storage space on your phone.
Download: Facebook for Android (Free)
Download: Facebook Lite for Android (Free)
Download: Twitter for Android (Free)
Download: Instagram for Android (Free)
Official Cloud Storage Apps
Again, let’s not worry about which is the best cloud storage app and just grab the ones you use. They are all free for download anyway. Google Drive comes pre-installed with Android.
It’s always useful to have at least one cloud drive with a lot of storage space on it, in case you want to backup music or photos. This keeps your phone’s memory free, while still giving you access to all your data. You can get 100GB of OneDrive space for free with a few clicks.
Download: Dropbox for Android (Free)
Download: Box for Android (Free)
Download: OneDrive for Android (Free)
Just because you’re on a mobile screen does not mean you won’t get the full power of Microsoft’s productivity suite. Microsoft Office is a free download on Android and totally worth it.
There are other great office suites on Android, but Microsoft Office’s compatibility with the file formats you use so often makes it a winner, especially in how well it displays the content of files.
Download: Microsoft Office for Android (Free) [No Longer Available]
It is more difficult to multi-task on a mobile screen because of the limited real estate. So when you come across an article or video you want to check out, what do you do? Add it to Pocket, the best bookmarking app out there, and check it out later.
This way, you get an uninterrupted browsing experience, without missing out on anything. Plus, Pocket also downloads and caches articles when you are connected to WiFi, so you save yourself some data and don’t have to wait when you want to read.
Download: Pocket for Android (Free)
TrueCaller or Facebook Hello
On a mobile phone, you often get calls from unknown numbers. Yup, it’s annoying, and it can be a security risk when getting calls from malicious numbers. But you can actually find out who is calling, or at least get an idea, and automatically block harmful callers.
The two best options are TrueCaller and Facebook Hello. TrueCaller is a crowd-sourced phone book, which will almost always show you who is calling, but the data might not be completely accurate. Facebook Hello gives you perfect data, but won’t always show you who is calling. We recommend downloading Hello if you are an avid Facebook user, but getting TrueCaller if you aren’t.
Download: TrueCaller for Android (Free)
Download: Facebook Hello for Android (Free) [No Longer Available]
Your contacts list is one of the most important parts of your phone, so don’t compromise on that. Contacts+ is the absolute best app for contacts, whether it’s managing them, placing calls, sending text messages, or using widgets to quick-reply and speed dial.
Download: Contacts+ for Android (Free)
Your smartphone and your computer will often need to play nice with each other, whether it’s transferring data, managing contacts, or even quickly replying to a text message while you’re on your laptop.
AirDroid creates a seamless wireless connection between phones and PCs, over a WiFi network or through Internet data, with which you can do all of the above actions. And if your phone is rooted, you will also be able to cast your phone’s screen to your PC.
Download: AirDroid for Android (Free)
Say goodbye to text messaging. WhatsApp enables you to send free messages to anyone in your phone book who also has WhatsApp installed. Recently, it also added VOIP calling for free phone calls. And the new WhatsApp Web interface lets you talk with friends from your PC too.
This one is a must-have. Of course, if not many in your circle use WhatsApp, you might want to try alternatives like Telegram, Line or others. It all depends on what your friends are using.
Download: WhatsApp for Android (Free)
Camera Zoom FX
A good smartphone will come with a good camera, but don’t just rely on the default camera app that is pre-loaded on your device. Chances are, it doesn’t take full advantage of everything Android can do with a camera. The right camera app can make a difference for photography beginners, although it’s not particularly useful if you already know enough about shooting photos.
Instead, download Camera Zoom FX. This app’s best part isn’t the options it opens up, although it does have that too, like setting certain hardware buttons to trigger the shutter, multitouch gestures, voice- and sound-activated shutter, and much more. Importantly, Camera Zoom FX has plenty of features that teach you the basics of photography and ensure you won’t take bad pictures, like a horizon indicator to ensure a perfectly flat horizon in your photos, or a crosshair that alerts you when your subject is moving.
Yes, it costs a few bucks, but it’s worth it to really get the most out of your camera.
Download: Camera Zoom FX for Android ($2.99)
It’s impossible to remember all the passwords for the several services you use. In fact, you’re probably more secure by not remembering those codes and letting a password manager handle that.
LastPass is the solution to simplify and secure your digital life, and it’s now also available on Android — and if you’re an existing user, it will sync all your saved data so far. LastPass works brilliantly on Android and saves you the trouble of tapping passwords on a mobile keyboard, which can often lead to errors and annoying retries.
LastPass is a free trial for 14 days, after which you will need to subscribe to LastPass Premium, which costs $12 per year.
Download: LastPass for Android (Free Trial)
ES File Explorer
One of the reasons to love Android over iOS is that it has an open file system, much like Windows and Mac. So you can browse through your phone’s storage to find files, copy/move them around, rename and recategorize them, and so on. To do all that, the best file explorer app on Android is ES File Explorer. It’s simple to use, has every option you might want, and even supports network folders so you can access your cloud storage.
Download: ES File Explorer for Android (Free)
What’s One More App You Absolutely Recommend?
An “essential 10 apps” list is always going to be controversial and everyone feels some apps were left out. So here’s a challenge. If you had to recommend one app that wasn’t on this list — and only one app — what would that be?
Image credit: Zeynep Demir / Shutterstock.com