We pick out some of the best Android apps to download on your new phone, including free apps, paid apps, popular Android apps and some apps you might not even know.
What it does cover are the apps that you should install on your Android smart phone or tablet as soon as it comes out of the box. With these ten apps installed, you should be able to tackle just about anything.
1. Google Drive
Free, with additional costs for increased storage
Google Drive isn’t just a cloud storage service. In addition to syncing and storing your files, Google Drive includes a powerful mobile office suite, so you can create and edit files from your phone. Drive can even store your files locally, for offline viewing and editing. It might not replace your desktop office utilities, but it comes surprisingly close.
Evernote is your list keeper, note taker, voice recorder, to-do manager, webpage clipper, and all-around digital multi-tool. It’s overwhelming at first, but you’ll quickly find a vast number of ways to put it to good use.
My favorite feature is optical character recognition (OCR), which makes text in photos searchable. Next time you get handed a business card, just snap a picture, and all the critical information will be captured and made searchable between all of your devices and computers, as well as accessible on the Web.
3. Opera Mini
This browser features a number of data-saving features which allow you to traverse the net without worrying about exceeding your data allowance. A recent update also added a nifty ad blocker to further improve the online experience.
Obviously, the standout feature of Opera Mini is the data-saving aspect. What’s really nice about this browser is that it gives you a certain level of control over how scaled-down you want each website to be. That means you can find the perfect balance between conserving your precious data and maintaining a decent web experience.
It severely limits the amount of data whichever website you’re visiting sends to your handset. Text will be displayed in a simple font and pictures will be compressed. I found that Extreme usually saved me an impressive 89% of the data needed to load a site.
It’s all very straightforward and a great way to save your data when you’re approaching your limit for the month. Even if you have unlimited data, Opera Mini is great for when you need to get online but your signal isn’t very strong.
What is Trello?
When it comes to organisation apps, you’re beyond spoilt for choice. It seems like new apps offering to help simplify your life appear on the Play Store every day. Among the hordes of organisation apps however, Trello stands out as a powerful yet simple tool for planning projects.
Trello makes it incredibly easy to start using different boards. It works best in its full desktop browser setup, but the mobile app is just as useful, if slightly more difficult to use. If you have a Trello account, you can simply sign in when you download the app and your existing boards will be synced to your phone.
What’s great about Trello is that it can be used for so many things. If you want to use it simply as a ‘to do’ list with extra features, it’s great for that. If you want to use it to visualise a personal project it’s great for that too. And if you want to use it as a way of organising your team at work it’s range of collaborative working options make it the perfect tool.
I used Trello to organise my work tasks, personal ‘to do’ items, and plan projects and found it very easy to use. I was never looking through menus for a particular option or wishing I could do something that Trello doesn’t allow. It all just works well.
Contrary to what it may seem sometimes, most of us don’t use our phones as our sole means of computer interaction. AirDroid, though, will let you bypass jumping from one device to another, giving you remote access to everything on your phone via a web browser — even text messages. That could be especially handy if you’re at work and it’s frowned upon for you to text with a friend. It’s a feature that’s so useful, you wonder why it’s not a standard feature in Android.
It’s more than just a wireless file transfer and notification tool. AirDroid also allows you to share your phone’s screen with your laptop, create a Wi-Fi hotspot, clear out RAM space, and access your phone via a desktop web browser. Basically, the developers have provided you with every type of sharing and maintenance facility you need.
When it comes to the main features, such as file sharing and notifications, AirDroid is incredibly easy to use, as all good apps should be. You can log in using Facebook, Google, or Twitter, or create an account in seconds by adding your email address and a password. Once I’d signed up on my phone, it was simply a case of downloading the desktop version of the app on my laptop and logging in using the email and password I’d set up through my phone.
6. Office Lens
What is Office Lens?
Office Lens is a new app that transforms your smartphone camera into a full-blown scanner. Created by Microsoft, it’s designed to work best with the company’s productivity programs, such as the Office 365 suite, OneDrive and OneNote.
You can use Office Lens to digitise almost anything you’d like to, including whiteboard notes, receipts, business cards and documents. It automatically identifies the object you’d like to capture, surrounding it with a bold white line. When you press the camera button, it cuts out anything lying outside that virtual border.
Office Lens also offers you a broad range of options. You can make use of Whiteboard, Document and Picture modes, and save your scans as PDF, PowerPoint and Word files. Whiteboard and Document are the most useful settings. The former lets you quickly create digital versions of the physical notes you might jot down in a meeting, while the latter automatically recognises printed text with optical character recognition (OCR).
Office Lens is a genuinely handy app, especially for those of you who don’t have regular access to a scanner.
What is MailWise?
MailWise is a free app that lets you manage multiple email accounts from a single base. In principle, it could hardly be simpler. If you struggle to juggle the messages from your various inboxes, MailWise is here to help.
It’s really convenient and does what it says on the tin. You can add a wide range of addresses from different email providers, including Gmail, Outlook, AOL and Yahoo, and the process is straightforward and quick. You can also add different email signatures for different accounts.
The UI is clean and slick too, feeling similar in use to the Gmail app. Different emails from the same conversation threads are automatically grouped together for less clutter, and swipes work as they should. For example, dragging your finger down from the top of the screen prompts a refresh, while swiping individual messages brings up options like archive, star and delete.
MailWise is simple to use and cuts out the faff involved with keeping on top of your various inboxes. It’s worth using alongside the stock Android Email app for a while, which performs many of the same tasks but isn’t quite as slick.
8. Google Photos
What is Google Photos?
Launched at I/O 2015, Photos is the new Google app designed to take care of all your precious images and videos. It’s been ripped out of failing social network Google Plus, and will serve as the company’s answer to Apple’s iCloud service.
It provides free unlimited storage, as long as you opt for the High Quality option, which is recommended for images produced by a smartphone with a 16-megapixel camera or less. We’ll get to the other storage model in the dreaded ‘What’s bad?’ section. Since Photos backs up your pictures and videos to the cloud, it enables you to clear up space in your device, so you no longer have to think about clogging up your memory or storage card. Particularly handy for users of smartphones without a microSD card slot.
You’re no longer limited to browsing your files by date either, thanks to Google’s nifty organisational tools. It automatically groups images by people, places and themes, such as food, skylines, beaches and cars. What’s more, you can search for specific terms, including colours and objects. As you’d expect from Google, search accuracy is impressive, though it’s not quite perfect. A cool new feature allows you to quickly create stories, animations and collages from your snaps, and then share them via WhatsApp, email, Facebook and a wide range of other major platforms.
9. Solid Explorer
What is Solid Explorer?
There was a time when ES File Explorer was the go-to third-party file manager for Android devices. But times have changed, and while ES is still a formidable app when it comes to file explorers, there are now several other top-notch alternatives. One of which is Solid Explorer File Manager. Like any decent app of its type, Solid allows you to manage both your internal storage and cloud storage through one app. But it’s also got a lot more going for it…
The developers have paid attention to Google’s Material design guidelines here. Solid Explorer is incredibly easy to use with its clean interface and familiar layout. Somehow the app manages to pack in a load of features while maintaining a clutter-free interface.
But it’s not just about looks. The app comes with some seriously useful functionality on top of the usual file browsing, such as the ability to use two independent panels to browse and drag files between them. One nice feature, if you’re using an SD card as well as internal storage, is that you can simply swipe left and right to switch between a list of files in the two.
10. Expense IQ
What is Expense IQ?
This app, from developer Handy Apps, tries to make managing your expenses and personal finance easy. With a clean layout and several useful features, Expense IQ will have you planning budgets and staying on top of your spending in no time.
Firstly, Handy Apps has used Material Design guidelines for the layout, so everything feels familiar and cleanly implemented. The main menu slides in from the left and is where you’ll access the various sections. Each section is clearly marked, which is helpful in an app that could easily become confusing, what with all the financial information and various features.
So what about those features? Expense IQ’s main components are the expense manager and budget manager. The former allows you to quickly enter any expenses you incur throughout your day by tapping the small plus symbol in the bottom right of the Overview screen – the default screen that appears when the app opens.