Price: Free / $1.99
1Weather is arguably the best weather app out there. It features a simple, paginated design that shows you the current weather, forecast for up to 12 weeks, a radar, and other fun stats. Along with that, you’ll get a fairly decent set of lightly customizable widgets and the standard stuff like severe weather notifications and a radar so you can see the storms approaching. Perhaps its best feature is its minimal design which just shows you the weather. The free version has all of the features with advertising. The $1.99 charge removes advertising. Otherwise the two versions work the same way. Most will also likely enjoy the range of weather fun facts as well when you open the app. Other great weather apps include Dark Sky, Weather Underground, and Today Weather.
Bouncer was our pick for the best new Android app from 2018. It’s a security app with a unique premise. The app lets you grant temporary permissions to applications. So, for instance, you can let Facebook access your location long enough to check into a place, and Bouncer disables the permission once you leave Facebook. This is a great way to use all of the features of a social media app without digging into your settings to disable those permissions or giving those apps permanent access to your information. The app runs for $0.99 and should work on most (if not all) apps. It’s rumored that this could be an Android Q feature. If that’s true, then even Google really likes this app.
Price: Free / $1.99-$299.99 per month
Google Drive is a cloud storage solution available on Android where all new users get 15GB for free permanently upon signing up. You can, of course, buy more if needed. What makes Google Drive so special are the suite of Android apps that are attached to it. They include Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. Between the office apps, the Photos app (which allows unlimited photo and video backup), and Keep Notes for note taking, you have apps for practically anything you need to do in terms of productivity. Some of the features of these apps include live collaboration, deep sharing features, and compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. Microsoft Office has a similar setup with OneDrive and Office.
Google Maps and Waze
Google Maps virtually owns the navigation apps scene and it remains of the best Android apps ever. It gets frequent, almost weekly updates that seem to only add to its incredibly generous list of existing features. Aside from the very basics, Google Maps gives you access to places of interest, traffic data, directions to things like rest stops or gas stations, and they even let you have offline maps now (albiet temporarily). If you add to that the Waze experience, which includes tons of its own features, and you won’t need another navigation app. Ever. Google also owns and operates Waze. It’s unique and fun in ways that Google Maps isn’t and we also highly recommend it.
Google Assistant / Google Feed / Google Search
This is one seriously powerful app. It also works on most Android devices. You simply download the app and then enable it. From there, you can ask it whatever you want. It also supports a variety of commands. You can control lights, ask about population control, and it can even do simple math problems for you. There are a variety of products like Google, Bose QC II Bluetooth headphones, Home and Chromecast that extent the functionality even further. There is also a second Google Assistant app for those who want a quick launch icon on the home screen. The hardware stuff costs money, but Google Assistant is free. Amazon Alexa is another excellent app in this space, but it doesn’t support Google Android quite as much as we would like, yet.
LastPass Password Manager
Price: Free / $12 per year
LastPass is one of those must-have Android apps. It’s a password manager that lets you save your login credentials in a safe, secure way. On top of that, it can help generate nearly impossible passwords for you to use on your accounts. It’s all controlled with a master password. It has cross-platform support so you can use it on computers, mobile devices, tablets, or whatever. There are others, but LastPass always feels like it’s one step ahead. Additionally, the premium version is cheap. You can also grab LastPass Authenticator to go along with it for added security. There are other great options like 1Password, Dashlane, Bit Warden, KeepassDroid, and others that are just about as good. However, LastPass feels a little more friendly and secure (usually), especially with its extra authenticator app.
Price: Free / $4.99
Initially, we weren’t going to put any launchers on this list. Nova Launcher seems to be extend beyond what normal launchers are. It’s been around for years, it’s been consistently updated, and thus it’s never not been a great option for a launcher replacement. It comes with a host of features, including the ability to backup and restore your home screen set ups, icon theming for all of your Android apps, tons of customization elements for the home screen and app drawer, and more. You can even make it look like the Pixel Launcher if you want to. If you go premium, you can tack on gesture controls, unread count badges for apps, and icon swipe actions. Those looking for something simpler may want to try Lawnchair Launcher, Hyperion Launcher, and Rootless Launcher as well.
Price: Free / $3.99
Podcast Addict is an excellent podcast app for podcast fans. It features almost every podcast you can think of. In addition, it has a simple and effective UI, plenty of organizational features, plenty of playback and download features, and a single-cost premium version. You can browse podcasts by category or search for them individually. You can also set download rules, create playlists easily, and it supports both Chromecast and SONOS along with Android Auto and Wear OS. The UI isn’t the most elegant thing we’ve seen. However, the app makes up for it by hitting literally every other box we could think of. Pocket Casts, Doggcatcher, and CastBox are other excellent options in this space, but we like Podcast Addict the best.
Pulse SMS or Android Messages
Price: Free / $10.99 once / $0.99 per month
There are a ton of great SMS apps. However, two stand above the rest. They are Pulse SMS and Android Messages. Pulse SMS features theming, GIF support, password protected conversations, a blacklist for spammers, dual-SIM support, and more. Android Messages is a little more basic but it’s simple and it gets the job done. Both of these apps also offer SMS messaging from your desktop. Pulse charges either a monthly subscription or a single $10.99 charge while Android Messages is free. Pulse SMS uses a server structure while Android Messages live streams your messages. Both methods have their pros and cons, but they’re both still excellent options to access your texts everywhere. Textra is another great option if you don’t need desktop texting. Pulse SMS also went open source in early 2020.
Price: Free trial / $2.99
File browsing is something everyone inevitably has (or wants) to do, so you might as well do it with a capable, fantastic file browser. Solid Explorer is pretty much as good as it gets in the file explorer apps realm. It features Material Design, archiving support, support for the most popular cloud services, and even some more power user stuff like FTP, SFPT, WebDav, and SMB/CIFS support. It looks great, it’s incredibly stable, and it just works well. There is a 14-day free trial with a $2.99 price tag at the end of it. This is, by far, the best file manager on Android for most people.
SwiftKey Keyboard is one of the most powerful and customizable third-party keyboards available. It hit the market several years ago with a predictive engine unlike anything any other keyboard had and the app has grown a lot of over the years. It’s a free download and you can purchase themes for it if you want to. Other features include a dedicated number row, SwiftKey Flow which allows for gesture typing, multiple language support, cross-device syncing of your library and much more. It’s about as good as it gets in the keyboard space. It’s true that Microsoft now owns SwiftKey, but so far they have managed not to mess it up. Gboard, Google’s keyboard app, is also exceptionally good and is an excruciatingly close second place here.
Tasker and IFTTT
Price: $2.99 and Free, respectively
Tasker is a glorious application if you have the patience to learn how to use the app. What it does is allow users to create custom made commands and then use them in various places. There are many apps out there that have Tasker support and you can even use Tasker to create very complex commands for NFC tags. It’s difficult to truly explain what this app can do because it can do so many things. Between the apps supported, plugins you an add, and the sheer volume of stuff that you can do, there aren’t many apps out there as useful as this one. IFTTT is another excellent automation app. In some cases, it may even be better than Tasker thanks to its simplicity and wide range of uses.
Price: Free / $27.99 per year
TickTick isn’t as popular as other to-do list apps. However, it may be the best one. It covers the basics like recurring tasks, reminders, push notifications, various organizational features, and categories. The app also lets you share tasks and entire categories with other people. This makes it great for family use, small teams at work, or other such groups. It’s also great for stuff like grocery lists, honey-do lists, or any other list. You get all of the features for free, albeit in a somewhat limited capacity, such as two reminders per task (premium makes that infinite). Some other excellent options in the space include Todoist, Microsoft To Do, Any.do, and Ike.
YouTube and YouTube Music
Price: Free / $12.99+
We don’t typically recommend streaming services to people. After all, everybody has their own preferences and there are plenty of great options out there. However, we really like the combination of YouTube Music and YouTube. For one price, you get unlimited music from YouTube Music with more than enough tracks to compete with Spotify and Apple Music. However, you also get ad-free YouTube along with background video play and offline downloading. That one-two bunch is right up there with the Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ bundle for $12.99 per month as one of the best deals for video and audio streaming. In fact, the two combined should cover basically all of your video and audio streaming needs. Our only complaint is lower than average music quality on YouTube Music. Audiophiles may want to check out Hi-Fi options like Tidal or Deezer even if those services come at a premium.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Last, but certainly not least on our list is Zedge. This is a wallpapers, ringtones, notification tones, and alarm tones app that gives you an unbelievable number of options to customize the most basic parts of your device. On top of having an exhaustive collection of things, Zedge also promotes various items during holiday seasons making it easy to theme your phone up for Christmas, Halloween, and other holidays. It’s not 100% perfect. It does have the occasional bug and some irritating advertisements. Zedge Premium is a new initiative to provide premium content at a reasonable price. You watch ads or fill out surveys to earn Zedge credits. You can buy them as well with in-app purchases. It’s a good way to support the developer and the artists. We also recommend Walli (with an i) for wallpapers.