Thanks to Google's lack of discovery on the Play Store, it can be challenging to find the best apps on the OS. This is why we here at AP have taken the time to round up our favorites. The heaviest of heavy hitters, the must-haves every Android device should have installed. So if you're sick of Google's complacency and are looking to dig up a few handy apps to load up on your favorite Android phone, you've come to the right place
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Art and design
There are many apps out there if you'd like to paint and draw on your Android device. Sketchbook stands above the rest thanks to its ease of use and thought-out design. Nothing is too cluttered, yet all your tools are typically a tap away. The app supports layers, and thanks to a wide range of brush, pen, and pencil tips, you're never left in the lurch wanting more.
So if you're big into sketching, like black books for graffiti designs, Sketchbook is a beautiful tool that throws out the need for paper. Plus, the app is free, something the competition simply doesn't offer.
If you're unfamiliar with Krita, it's an open source painting and drawing app that originated on Linux. It was developed by the Krita Foundation and KDE, hence the odd name with a K. Despite the quirky name, this is an excellent painting app with years of development behind it. The port to Android is 1:1. There's no loss of features. It's the same app that you'll find on the desktop, making it a great choice for those on tablets and Chromebooks.
If you're on the hunt for a desktop-quality painting and drawing app, Krita is an awesome choice that's free. However, it's built for large screens, hence the lack of phone support.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best drawing apps on Android.
Books and reference
The Kindle app is Amazon's e-reading app. While losing the option to purchase e-books in the app is a big blow on Android, there's no denying Kindle is still the top e-reading app on the platform. The Amazon e-book store houses a huge collection of e-books, and it offers the best formatting out there. Sure, you'll have to deal with a proprietary format connected to your Amazon account, but it's worth it when you see how much better Kindle's e-books look over the ePub options.
If you're super nitpicky about formatting, prefer to keep your purchases in one place, and often look for niche e-books that can't be found at other stores, Kindle is your best bet.
Moon+ Reader Pro
If you're not hip with Amazon or prefer to control your e-book library built from a selection of e-books purchased from an assortment of stores, Moon Reader should be on your radar. There's no store built in, and you choose the formatting for uniformity between e-books. Still, that's the draw; the control is in your hands, not the publishers.
When you've built up an ePub library and prefer to use offline reading apps that put the control in your hands, Moon+ Reader Pro should be at the top of your list.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best e-reader apps on Android.
Business communication is big nowadays, especially if you work remotely. Slack has built an empire that will be hard to topple now that we've entered the age of working from home. Slack is the go-to communication service for many companies.
While there are plenty of competitors, Slack is established and reliable. The few times Slack does go down, it's a mini vacation for a slew of people across the web, all commiserating on social media, which can build comradery as everyone experiences a brief reprieve from work. Wouldn't you like to be a part of that?
ZOOM Cloud Meetings
Thanks to COVID-19, many of us are familiar with the video conferencing service ZOOM. The app is free and supports up to 100 participants in its free tier meetings, which is precisely why the service is so hot. There are paid plans ranging from $16 a month to $20. These plans bump up how many participants are allowed to 1,000 and extend the time limit for these streams.
No matter how you slice it, ZOOM is one of the best video conferencing apps. It's easy to set up, and unless you run a large business, you can easily use it for free with friends and family, .
OfficeSuite Pro + PDF
When performing work on an Android device, like a tablet or Chromebook, you may find that a local suite of office apps is handy for your business needs. This is the Pro version, so it is expensive. Still, $30 is cheaper than many desktop office suites. Plus, you get plenty of useful features for that money, including a range of file support for easy importing of documents, along with a way to easily exchange documents with other users, which is handy when cooperating with coworkers.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best business apps on Android.
Samsung Internet Browser
You may find that the Chrome browser doesn't quite do it for you. Samsung created a worthwhile browser that stays out of your way. The Samsung Internet Browser is based on Chromium for a familiar feel, but without the Google junk that comes with Chrome. It's a clean browser that loads content fast, making for an excellent backup browser, but it also shines with regular use since browsing without bloat is the core focus.
The app is free to use, even if you don't own a Samsung device. So there's no harm in checking it out. Samsung might not have the best reputation when bloat is a topic of discussion, but in this case, the Samsung Internet Browser is a purpose-built release from the company that delivers.
Out of all the messaging apps on the Play Store, why choose Telegram? First and foremost, Telegram offers numerous apps, even for Linux, covering desktop messenger needs for the big three desktop operating systems. After all, when you're using a messenger, you want to receive messages on the devices you're using at the time. Plus, encrypted chats are available, though you'll have to enter these chats manually, unlike Signal. Themes are available for customization, and messages tend to be delivered at break-neck speed (especially compared to SMS).
Telegram straddles the middle of the road. It has enough features to compete with the big boys and offers more security than many. And you can't discount those desktop apps since they are extremely handy. The only downside is convincing your friends and family to make the switch.
Tor Browser: Official, Private, & Secure
The Tor Browser is a privacy tool, a browser that blocks trackers and fingerprinting while also offering encryption. It's also a handy tool to get around any sites your ISP or country blocks, much like a VPN. Best of all, it's open source, which means it's free to use and always will be.
Whether you're a security-conscious user or want to cruise banned sites or onion sites, install the Android version of the Tor Browser app to ensure it's there when you need it.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best communication apps on Android.
Duolingo: language lessons
Learning a new language is challenging, and you'll find plenty of apps that can help with this. Duolingo is a standout that covers 35+ languages through easily-digestible bite-sized lessons. The company gamified learning new languages, and this method keeps you motivated. When you have the urge to learn a new language or want to pick up a few helpful phrases for your next trip, Duolingo is handy in a pinch, thanks to its accessible lessons. You can also track your progress to ensure you reach your goals.
If you use the app for free, the content is limited. An optional subscription is $6.99 a month. The first 14 days of full access are free, so you can check everything out before going out of pocket.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best education apps on Android.
What would an all-time best-of Android app roundup be without Netflix on the list? Out of all the video streaming services, Netflix is at the top, along with YouTube. Since Netflix is more focused on Hollywood-like content and Netflix's original and exclusive series, this is the place to go for the top movies and TV shows.
The basic plan starts at $8.88, Standard is $13.99, and Premium is $17.99. If you want to watch 4K content, the Premium plan is what you're looking for. All in all, Netflix is available about everywhere. And since many TVs are Android TVs, there's a good chance you'll use the Android app. If you're a subscriber, you now get access to a handful of Android games, with more to come.
Twitch: Live Game Streaming
If you play video games, you've probably heard of Twitch. It's a game streaming platform that's owned by Amazon. It's the go-to place to view and stream gaming videos. Whether you want to check out the mechanics of a fresh release or want to see how older games are tackled, Twitch more than likely contains that content. And if there's something you feel is missing, you can spin up your own stream to fill that hole in the market.
You can watch for free as the service is ad-supported. If you like a streamer, you can subscribe to its channel for $4.99 while earning a few perks. Two more subscription tiers are also available for $9.99 and $24.99.
If you're an avid TV viewer or an avid TV pirate, you know it's tough to keep track of every show, especially now that many are not only separated by networks but also by streaming sites. So having a handy app to keep track of what you're watching across sites and services, as well as a place to organize what comes next in your viewing schedule, is handy.
You can track your favorite shows, see when the next episode or season airs, and save your account to the cloud to ensure your hard work remains accessible no matter what Android device you use. Plus, the app is open source, which means it's free, sans ads and in-app purchases. It's a clean and readable app that's free to use. So if you want to track your TV shows, SeriesGuide is an excellent choice.
There's a never-ending supply of banking and money apps on the Play Store. Yet PayPal manages to be at the top. You can use the app and service as a shield for online purchases, never dirtying your credit or debit cards. When you allow PayPal to do all the work, you'll have an avenue to easy returns if there's a dispute. PayPal tends to side with the buyers, not the sellers, which is excellent for consumers (but maybe not so great for eBay sellers).
PayPal offers biometrics for easy sign-ins, alerts any time money leaves or goes, and you can perform transfers from your device. While you may never replace your bank with PayPal, the conveniences and protection that the app brings to the table are worth the effort of connecting a bank account.
Goodbudget: Budget & Finance
Keeping tabs on your budget is an important part of being an adult, ensuring you won't bounce checks or go over budget by splurging on non-necessities. In comes Goodbudget with a simple UI that's easy to navigate. You can sync your info across devices, which makes it easy to budget on the go and from home. It's easy to share these budgets with partners and children to get the whole family on board, and you can even sync across to iOS, for those who live in multi-OS houses.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best budgeting apps on Android.
Food and drink
Food delivery services blew up during COVID-19, and despite the strain, DoorDash is still humming along. Uber Eats is also a top option, but the service offers fewer restaurants. This may differ from area to area. Still, the app is easier to use than Uber's option. Finding restaurants is a breeze, and tracking is reliable, so you'll know when your order will arrive. Even the fees and deals tend to be better on DoorDash than many of its competitors.
If you use the app all the time, there's a subscription that cuts out DoorDash's delivery fees. The convenience of having Indian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, and southern food at our fingertips is hard to resist.
If you eat out a lot for dating and family outings and often make reservations, OpenTable is indispensable to securing a table with ease. Plus, if you're an avid foodie, OpenTable is a great discovery app for uncovering the better eats in your area. Add top user reviews, and you have the perfect app to uncover good eats that are well-reviewed and to secure your table on the day you prefer.
Best of all, OpenTable is free and doesn't contain in-app purchases to muddy up the experience. What you see is what you get. And what you get is a quality app for restaurant discovery and booking. What's not to like?
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the top cooking and recipe apps on Android.
Health and fitness
The defacto fitness tracking app across platforms, Strava can log all of your exercises with ease, and since there's a social aspect, you can share your gains and times with friends and family for that extra bit of encouragement we all need to keep on trucking. The app supports tracking up to 30 activities, and you can log your activities manually in the rare case that nothing matches. There's also a Wear app included, so you can easily record while on the go without your phone.
The app is free to use with a limited feature set, but you can also subscribe for $8 a month to unlock features like route planning and advanced metrics.
When pushing to be healthy, one of the best things to do is track your intake of calories to ensure you're burning more than taking in, which can be a total pain to log. Thankfully apps like MyFitnessPal exist, making it easier to log your food intake by scanning barcodes. Since so much of the database is crowdsourced, you can pull up all kinds of name-brand products to easily pick them without scanning a thing.
Sure, if you're eating healthy, you'll be eating much less processed food with barcodes. Still, you'll intake a good bit, which means you can record the calories of your intake by scanning a barcode once and then choosing that option every time you partake. Easy-peasy. Plus, you can manually log whatever you wish.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best health and fitness apps for Android.
House and home
Zillow: Houses & Apartments
Straight up, who doesn't love looking at the available houses on the market while dreaming big? Zillow is probably the most well-known real estate app, and for a good reason, it's a blast to peruse. Pick a town, and then look at the pics of each home that strikes your fancy.
Estimated prices are included, along with the general taxes, which means you can quickly decide if a house fits your current budget. You can even schedule tours of these houses within the app, and you can make offers. Even if you're into looking at pics of strange houses and crime scenes, this is the app for you.
Planta - Care for your plants
Not everyone has a green thumb, so there are indeed apps to help ensure you care for your houseplant properly. Planta is easily a top contender in this field. So if you've ever had trouble remembering when to water your plants or are unsure how much sunlight they need per day, Planta offers plenty of solutions to ensure your plants live long and healthy lives.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best house and home apps for Android.
Maps and navigation
Ridesharing has changed how many of us get around, and Uber is the king. More drivers are driving for this service than the rest, which means you'll catch rides faster. Yes, extra fees seem to be continually growing, and there's a subscription for those that use the app frequently, but that doesn't change how useful the app and this service are.
Stuck at the airport? Call an Uber. The car broke down, and you had to leave it with a mechanic? Call an Uber. The uses are endless, allowing you to get around with ease while also cutting down on drunk drivers and other hazards.
The app is intuitive, though the design seems to change all the time (calm down, Uber). Still, Uber has changed how we use transportation, and if you live in a city, that's a very fantastic thing.
Music and audio
FL Studio Mobile
If you're into music production, you've probably heard about FruityLoops. The DAW may now be called FL Studio, but in our hearts, it will always be FruityLoops. Dating back to 1997 on the PC, FL is a well-known DAW that makes it easy to build music tracks by painting them on the screen (much like Sony's Acid Pro), with a step sequencer built in, so you can build tracks and then paint those tracks together to create a song.
Audio recording is supported, along with MIDI controller support as well as MIDI file exports and imports. The app works on Android and ChromeOS alike, with trackpad and mouse support out of the box. Not too shabby.
Poweramp Music Player
If you're looking to play locally stored music with one of the best audio engines around, Poweramp Music Player is that app. It's the longstanding king, and it's been updated several times over the years to offer a better and better experience. If you're into FLACs and other lossless files, this is one of the best apps to play them.
Poweramp is an audio player for audiophiles that's also great for everyone else. You can still unlock the complete feature set of Poweramp through , which is remarkable for an 11-year-old app that's managed to stand the test of time.
Shazam: Music Discovery
Shazam is a music recognition and discovery app that's been available on Android going on 13 years. That's a long time for an app to be supported, and what's crazy is that this app is free, without any ads. It's remarkable that Shazam is still here, and that has everything to do with how well it works. Sure, Google and other phone manufacturers offer similar apps and functionality, but Shazam is standalone and offers a bunch of extra features for easy discovery once you've defined a tune.
When you want to know who wrote some random song that's playing, whip out your phone, start this app, and the answer is only a few moments away, starting your journey of discovering what that band and similar-sounding artists have to offer.
Spotify: Music and Podcasts
If you're a diehard FLAC fanatic, only playing music files locally, you may not have considered streaming. After you build up a library of your favorite music, Spotify can become infinitely more helpful. You'll be paying Spotify monthly for access to tons of music and for Spotify's recommendations. Specifically Discovery Weekly and Release Radar. These weekly customized playlists are how you can discover a vast amount of new music, worlds better than the crawling you'd have to do on Amazon and iTunes for new releases.
You may not feel that subscriptions are worth it, but Spotify is worth every penny every month. Sure, there are some downsides, like live music in playlists and remixes, plus the constant assault of podcast promotion, so it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Still, we've yet to find a better music streaming service.
If you're looking for more, check out our roundup of the best music players on Android.
Simple Gallery Pro: Photos
Simple Mobile Tools is a staple on Android, and a few of its apps have gone paid, with Simple Gallery Pro leading the charge as a standout. There's also a free deprecated version, though the Pro app is easily worth $1.30. There are tons of sorting options for the gallery and a built-in editor.
Compared to the stock photo apps that ship with Android devices, Simple Gallery Pro is a breath of fresh air. Many consider it the best gallery app on the platform, and we agree.
For years, Android lacked quality photo editing apps. With the release of Snapseed, that's no longer the case. To better illustrate what we mean, we have writers that exclusively use this app to edit photos on Chromebooks and Android. It's a robust editing app that allows pros and amateurs an easy way to correct and edit their photos without jumping to a desktop PC with a full-featured app. Snapseed may not be a replacement for the desktop version of Photoshop, but it sure beats the mobile version.
When you need to edit a pic in a pinch but require something that's more robust than the stock options on your device, Snapseed should be your mobile go-to. Best of all, it's free.
If you're looking for more photography apps, check out our roundup of the best Android apps for photographers.
Bitwarden Password Manager
Password managers might not appeal to everyone, especially since Google offers a built-in manager with Chrome. Still, if you're looking for an extra bit of security, Bitwarden Password Manager is one of the best password managers available. An unlimited number of passwords are supported, plus these passwords are protected with plenty of encryption, including AES-256 bit, salted hashtags, and PBKDF2 SHA-256 keys. There's also a built-in password generator, so you won't have to think up your own passwords.
Bitwarden is also a cross-platform service, meaning you're covered on other operating systems. Bitwarden offers all the features you'd expect from the well-known subscription apps, except it's open source and there's a free tier for individuals. It doesn't get much better than this. Even if you want to subscribe to the premium tier, it's only $10 a year.
There are many cloud storage solutions, but seeing that we use Android phones, it makes sense that Google's cloud storage option has some of the best integration with the OS and its apps. It's great if you're a big reader. You can keep your e-books on a local drive and your staples in the cloud. Then, you can access them with ease no matter what reading app you're using at the time.
It's a rare day that an Android app doesn't offer Drive support if it also offers support for other cloud storage services. Plus, with the Drive app installed, you won't have to rely on other apps with built-in connections to Drive. Drive is one of the most convenient cloud storage services for Android, and since it's an app many of us rely on every day, it's easily one of the all-time best apps.
Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard
One of the great things about Android is its versatility. You can use third-party tools to replace some of your core components, such as your software keyboard. So if you're not a fan of GBoard, or want to test another option, Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard may be what you're looking for.
SwiftKey is a full-featured software keyboard, now owned by Microsoft, bringing to the table excellent swipe-based input. Like many software keyboard apps, this release learns from your typing, so ideally, its predictions get better the more you use it.
Solid Explorer File Manager
There's a boatload of file managers available on the Play Store, and Solid Explorer is one of the best third-party file managers. This app works great on Android TV and Chromebooks, and it's super useful on Android phones and tablets. The number of features blows the stock pre-installed options on our devices out of the water.
Solid Explorer offers built-in cloud storage support, including Drive. Plus, archiving is supported, meaning you can open RAR files (perfect for those of us that collect comics archived as CBRs). There's also built-in NAS support and FTP support, not to mention a host of themes.
Anyone can try the app for free. To unlock the app, do so through an in-app purchase. Some functions are sold piecemeal, but these are the more niche options most people won't use.
If you're looking for more, check out our roundup of the best productivity apps on Android.
When the other social media apps are too mainstream for your needs, Mastodon's official app may be more your speed. Mastodon is a Twitter alternative where you spin up your own server, leaving you in control of your network. If you've been itching to microblog but can't stand Twitter and its many clones, perhaps running your own network will offer the street cred worthy of others joining your feed.
Sync for Reddit (Pro)
There are many Reddit apps. Some have come and gone, and others have stuck around. Sync for Reddit is one of the mainstays. It's been around for years, with active development the entire time. It's easily themeable, suits phones and tablets, and you can browse Reddit when its servers have issues.
Like all Reddit apps, issues can pop up, but at least the dev is responsive, so these issues won't stick around for too long. Sync for Reddit is ten years old, but it's still popular because it's reliable.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best social apps on Android.
This one is for all of your automation nuts out there. Tasker is one of the most powerful tools on Android. Despite Google's constant whittling away of OS access, the app has continued to find an audience, which is a testament to how useful Tasker is.
There are more than 350 actions available to set up your own automations (without the need for root access), such as turning on a dark mode at a particular time of day or automatically switching off notifications once you connect to your home Wi-Fi after work. While the app isn't intuitive, those that spend their time figuring things out will be rewarded. There's a seven-day free trial for anyone that wants to take a look, and if you like what you see, you can unlock the full app with a single purchase.
Twilio Authy 2-Factor Authentication
There are more than a few two-factor authorization apps on the Play Store, and even Google offers one. Twilio (formerly Authy) can save your info in the cloud, so if you change devices often, you won't be left out. This way, you can easily move from phone to phone and from tablet to tablet over the course of years, and you'll still have access to the accounts you stored in Twilio.
Who can remember all the accounts they have two-factor turned on for? This is why your go-to for two-factor authentication should always be Twilio. This way, anytime a site or service asks for your two-factor code, all you have to do is install Twilio on whatever Android device you have on hand, and you're good to go.
While Trail Sense is a lesser-known app with only 10,000 installs, it's an incredibly useful tool if you hit the trail a lot. First and foremost, Trail Sense works offline, keeping your data on your device. By accessing your phone's sensors, you can tap into tools like a compass and GPS navigation by placing digital beacons as you trek, ensuring you can find your way back by following those beacons on the return trip.
If you spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors and would like to carry around a useful set of tools to keep track of your location, Trail Sense is a nifty little app that might come in handy when you have no access to data.
Travel and local
Let's start off easy with Google Maps. It's an app that many of us have used and are familiar with. Still, that doesn't discount the usefulness of this listing. Google Maps is a staple, not to mention the go-to map software for mobile devices, and for a good reason, this is still one of the best maps and navigation software currently available.
Google Maps is an excellent app for hunting down food to eat and gas stations to stop at, and you can review the places you've visited. Plus, the navigation aspect is sublime. While people love Waze, there's no denying that Google Maps is used by more people, allowing its crowdsourced content to grow faster than any other mapping software.
Whether you're looking for a rideshare, the closest biking path, or want to know how long of a walk it is to the grocery store, Google Maps is more than likely the place you'll be looking for this info.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best travel apps on Android.
MX Player Pro
Out of all the native video players on Android, MX Player is one of the oldest, and yet it's still one of the best video players, thanks to its vast video codec support. Sure, you can view most videos in Google Photos or any of the built-in manufacturer players, but MX almost always performs better. It's handy on a phone and tablet and even more helpful on Chromebooks and Android TV. We've yet to find a file this video player can't play. Even if you get most of your media from the high seas, MX Player shouldn't falter.
What would an all-time best-of Android app list be without YouTube on it? YouTube is the go-to service for community-made video content. It also houses purchased Play Store movies, plus there are tons of music on there, along with an endless sea of tutorials, reviews, and first looks. The answers to all of life's questions are squirreled away somewhere on the service, and it's only a matter of digging them up so that you're better informed. Plus, many make a living posting content to the site.
YouTube is its own ecosystem of video content, a never-ending stream of information at everyone's fingertips. Because of that, it's probably one of the most used mobile apps. If you watch video content, you've likely used YouTube several times. This app doesn't need an introduction, but it is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.
VLC for Android
The two primary go-to video players for Android are VLC and MX Player. Typically, when one doesn't work well with your video format, the other will. If you sideload video files and want a robust and trustworthy video player, VLC will easily do in a pinch, especially if your other media player has failed to play your current file.
In the end, the ability to choose your local video player leaves room for third parties like VLC to offer its wares just as it does on PC. What's great is the Android version is as reliable as the PC counterpart, which is why VLC is one of the most-used video players on the Android platform.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best video players on Android.
Today Weather: Powered by NOAA
If you're looking for an all-in-one solution for your weather reporting needs, look no further than Today Weather. The app offers access to a wide selection of weather sources that are separated by country. This way, you can nail down which source is the most accurate for your location and stick with it. Plus, you get a large selection of widgets, and severe weather alerts are available, so you can stay on top of the larger storms in your area. Hands down, Today Weather, is one of the most robust weather apps on the Android platform, and it doesn't look half bad either.
MyRadar Weather Radar Ad Free
Maybe you've installed several weather widgets for your homescreen in the search to find the most accurate and beautiful app. MyRadar should be one of the first apps you install on your new Android device. Being able to view an animated weather map helps pinpoint where storms are headed, and there's also a quick view of the current temp and forecast if you're in a rush.
The app's map offers plenty of filters to drill down to the view you require, and there's a video section for those that prefer to watch someone report the weather. If you require a weather app with one of the best radar views available, MyRadar is an excellent choice, especially since most phones now come with weather apps that don't provide a detailed radar view.
If you're looking for more, check out our list of the best weather apps for Android.
What apps do you consider the best?
Now that everyone has had a chance to pore over the best Android apps out there, which apps are your favorites? Of course, if you're looking for a few games to pad out your newfound apps, perhaps a roundup of the best Android games is exactly what you're looking for.