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We've covered the best new Android apps and games for years, but we've only occasionally talked about our personal favorites. It's high time we did a roundup of the Android Police staff's top applications, don't you think?
For this roundup, some of the fine writers at Android Police have selected their favorite Android apps. We've excluded applications and services that are incredibly popular, like Gmail or Spotify, in favor of software that might be new to some people.
I started using Subscriptions about a year ago, and it's fast become one of my favorite apps. These days we have subscriptions for everything, from our music to our TV. Keeping track of it all can be a nightmare, so having it all stored in one convenient place is invaluable to me. Plus, you can create custom entries, as well as choosing between popular options like Spotify or Netflix. I even have my rent listed here!
I love customizing Android, especially my homescreen. I often share my homescreen creations on Twitter, as well as various Telegram communities, and when I do, I like to frame each screenshot with the device I'm using. Snapmod is incredibly easy to use and is consistently updated with the latest device models.
Another app that I use when customizing my phone is Stokie. There are plenty of wallpaper apps out there, but this one does things a little differently. All of the wallpapers found in Stokie are, as the name suggests, stock wallpapers from a plethora of devices. I see a lot of phones come and go working here at AP, and now when someone on the team is reviewing something, and I like the wallpaper, I don't need to bug them about extracting it. Instead, I just navigate to that device in Stokie and download it myself. There's a free version as well, but I don't like ads and do like supporting developers.
Overdrop is a simple app that offers richly detailed weather forecasts and looks beautiful doing it. I've been using Overdrop since it came out in 2018, and it's by far my favorite weather app. The animations and themes are all smooth and clean, and the widgets are downright gorgeous. Anyone looking for a new weather app in the fallout of Apple buying DarkSky should definitely check this out.
I love Google's at a glance widget and have done since they released it on the Pixel 2. Google may have made it available to all Android devices since then, but it's limited. If you're using any launcher other than Google's own, the widget won't change color to remain visible on bright wallpapers, and you can't change the size of the text. Another Widget fixes all of these problems and adds in lots of other features to the experience. Another Widget has become one of the first apps I download on a new device.
Filmic Pro: The native camera app on your phone is probably pretty decent at capturing video, but if you want full control over settings like the frame rate, color profile, and ISO, Filmic Pro is the upgrade to make. The number of settings may be overwhelming to some, and there is a steep learning curve if you’re not already familiar with all the facets of capturing video, but this is the camera app to use if you’re trying to produce the highest quality video out of your phone.
CalcNote: You might have hated school, but your teachers weren’t wrong when they said you will use math for the rest of your life. In the real world, classic calculators are terrible because you have to follow an order of operations. I was introduced to notepad-style calculators by a Mac app called Soulver, and eventually found CalcNote when I went looking for an Android counterpart. This is what calculators should look like on smartphones, it’s perfect for back-of-the-napkin math.
One app that I started using about a year ago, and has subsequently made me feel far less overwhelmed, is Feedly. Twitter makes any news that isn’t reposted multiple times impossible to follow, and the endless stream of recommended content on Google News has the side effect of making me feel like I’m always missing something if I only read in five-minute intervals. With Feedly, all the news I’m interested in is collected until I have time to read it. I also pay for Feedly’s pro subscription, because the filter option is fantastic for websites that don’t have separate RSS feeds for different categories.
Plex is also a fantastic application. I’m sure many of you already know about it, but while writing a guide for ripping your own movies, I was reminded of just how seamless it makes hosting your own media collection compared to the competition. Even though I do have many of my own movies in Plex, I use it more for the music functionality these days — unlike Google Play Music, I’m not running into stupid device authorization limits.
This job involves taking a lot of screenshots, to the point where opening Google Photos multiple times a day to copy batches of images to my Dropbox actually takes up a fair bit of time. I started using Dropsync last year to automatically copy my phone’s screenshots to my PC over Dropbox, and it works very well. The same developer has similar apps available for OneDrive, MEGA, and other services.
Okay, this is a little bit of shameless self-promotion, but I do genuinely use PhotoStack at least several times a week. It’s a batch photo editor that I originally created because Adobe still hasn’t added watermarking support to the new Lightroom CC. PhotoStack can resize, convert, and add watermarks to many images at once. It’s a Progressive Web App with full offline support, available at photostack.app or the Play Store (the latter is essentially a web wrapper).
My final pick is probably Tusky, a client for Mastodon, a federated social network that looks and feels a lot like Twitter. I really enjoy Mastodon as a platform (contrary to popular belief, there are people on it), and Tusky is a full-featured app with push notifications, multiple account support, and even the ability to send scheduled posts. I’m @[email protected] on Mastodon, if you want to follow me over there.
For some reason, I've never been happy with the radar features within weather apps like AccuWeather, and so have always opted for a standalone radar app for its simplicity and general all-around looks. For a time, I used Storm Radar, but have since switched to MyRadar Weather Radar because it looks great on my OP7 Pro's screen. Of course, seeing that I've almost always lived in one of the rainiest cities in the country, you better believe I get a lot of use out of MyRadar Weather Radar for its terrific visual representations of my local weather.
I read comics, and yes, I take my comic reading apps seriously. I've never been pleased with the likes of Comixology and its many offshoots, thanks to the app's lack of customization. This is why I choose to use CDisplayEx. It's my comic reader of choice on Windows, and it's my comic reader of choice on Android. Not only does it offer a boatload of customization options for reading, but cloud storage is also supported so you can easily access your collection while on the go. Hands down, CDisplayEx is the best comic reader on Android, but since the app does not contain a store, you will have to bring your own library.
Sync for Reddit is my most-used app on Android; nothing else even gets close. Every morning I reach for my phone, and the first app I open is Sync for Reddit. Same deal before bed, and really throughout the day if I have any downtime. While I know Reddit apps can be a very personal choice, after using many throughout the years, I always come back to Sync for Reddit for its simplicity, stability, and looks.
Since Google absolutely refuses to retain any consistency between its Android icons, I am forced to use an icon pack to ensure a harmonious look to my interface. My go-to choice for icons is the Minimal O - Icon Pack. First and foremost, all of its icons are round, which is a style I've always enjoyed since it looks so clean. On top of that, the selection in this icon pack can't be beat. I've rarely run into an icon this app does not contain, and even in these rare instances, I've managed to find a similar icon that will work as a sensical replacement.
Since Sync for reddit is my most-used Android app, that would mean the Kodi media center is my second most used app. I've equipped both my living room and bedroom with Nvidia Shield streaming boxes, and I've equipped those boxes with large external hard drives so that I can store all of my ripped media in as few places as possible. Sure, I could place all of my content in the cloud with a media app like Plex, but I'm old-school, and so prefer to keep things simple with the likes of Kodi, an open source media center that works wonderfully on Android. Of course, this means I'm running dual libraries for both of my Kodi installs, but I figure that's good practice since I'll have an accessible backup should one of my drives fail. This means I mostly use Kodi for movies and TV shows, but if you're into retro games or music, Kodi can handle those libraries with just as much ease as the rest.
I read a ton of books, and tracking what I’ve read and when I read it was something I never thought to do until Goodreads came around. Setting reading goals, sharing with your friends, and joining like-minded people in online book groups is a ton of fun and a total balm for archiving OCD.
In the year of our Lord 2020, having only ever used a Windows PC and an Android phone/tablet, I still use iTunes to organize and store my music. It was a massive ordeal to listen to my music remotely until I found iSyncr. It syncs your playlists, songs, albums, listen counts, and every other iTunes metric directly to your Android system, and vice versa. It was a God-send.
Letterboxd is basically Goodreads but for movies. You log when and what you watched, share reviews, collaborate with friends, and keep a diary of your film habits. It’s very fun to compare what you rate a movie versus what your friends and film critics thought of it.
Instead of regular selfies or artsy photographs, I basically use Instagram to send memes to my friends and family. Since my interactions are almost entirely chat-based, Threads from Instagram was perfect for me. You select your most talked-to Instagram friends, and they appear in a simple chat list. You can share locations, stories, photos, or status updates with. It’s lightweight and intuitive, and super convenient.
I’m a huge astronomy nerd and since moving away from a heavy population, I’ve been enjoying the sky a lot more. At least once a week there’s something I can’t identify, so whipping out Stellarium and pointing it at the light - Venus, it turns out - is incredibly fun and convenient. You can explore and learn about constellations from various cultures, change your location to see a different country’s view, and even link up with digital telescopes. I have the premium version, and it’s been well-worth the cost.
Other than the usual suspects like Google apps and well-known third-party applications, there are some gems I’d like to share, so let’s start with calorie counter YAZIO. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been outright overweight (not according to the BMI, that is), but for a long time, I hadn’t exactly been thin, either. The subscription-supported app helped me understand how much calories I take in while offering a selection of great recipes. A Google Fit integration helped me keep in check how many calories I burn, too. These days, I still sometimes install the app to see how well I maintain my weight and balance my intake. You could also use MyFitnessPal, which offers a bigger free feature set, but I don’t trust it anymore following a user data breach in 2018.
KptnCook is an extraordinary cooking app that lets you discover three new recipes a day — you really need to revisit it every day to build a collection. It has an integrated shopping list that shows you prices and product recommendations for some shops, which is how the app earns money — a fair and often helpful compromise if you ask me. The recipes are also rather easy and don’t use obscure ingredients, all while being healthy.
Everyone talks about how important it is to use a password manager, but I don’t see many people mentioning Bitwarden. The free open-source tool syncs your sensitive data across all of your devices running the usual operating systems. There's an optional $10-a-year subscription for advanced stuff like encrypted file storage and YubiKey support, but you really don’t need it to get access to all of the relevant password management features. Bitwarden may not look as shiny as some of the others we’ve mentioned, but it does the job just fine for me.
I live in Berlin, so owning a car doesn’t make a ton of sense for me — I mostly go by bike or public transport. That’s where Citymapper comes in. The navigation app specializes in shared transportation and cooperates with car-, scooter-, and bike-sharing platforms, but I mostly love it for its public transport and bike routing capabilities. It tells you which section of a train to board and shows you the right station exit. During the ride, it notifies you when to exit. The app cooperates with a few transport agencies like the New York MTA while also relying on crowd-sourced data for delays. The only caveat: It only supports a small selection of cities and regions, mostly in the US and Europe.
Sync for Reddit is my go-to Reddit client. I love its clean, simple interface, and like that it handles links in Chrome custom tabs out of the box, which a lot of other third-party Reddit clients don’t do. The development has stalled a bit as the developer has been taking a break, but now he’s hard at work to release a redesigned version of the app. Sync comes with ads, which you can get rid of for a small fee.
SMS spam is still a thing, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. But you can at least use a good SMS app to navigate through all that junk. That’s exactly where Microsoft’s SMS Organizer comes into the picture. To say the least, the app has made my life a tiny bit easier by keeping my inbox clean and arranging messages under their designated categories. Besides, the app keeps track of my bill payments, upcoming journeys, and bank accounts/digital wallets, which Microsoft says are handled offline. What I use it the most for is quickly copying one-time passwords (OTPs), which are used extensively for user verifications in this part of the world. OnePlus has also started following SMS Organizer’s lead, but the Microsoft app feels more complete with its tons of features and the option to backup conversations to Google Drive. It was only last year that the app made its debut outside India.
There are times when concentrating on work is just not possible (my editors cannot know this), and the only thing that can get me in the zone is some mellow music. But playing that kind of playlists on Spotify messes up my personalized recommendations, and fixing that is a chore in itself. A couple of years back, I discovered Tide and promptly switched to it. Back then, it was a rather basic app with a few music choices, including some nature sounds, and a Focus Mode based on the Pomodoro technique. The app has since improved quite a bit with more automation and granular controls. While there are a couple of alternatives to Tide, I think I’m gonna stick with it.
My choice of password manager is Enpass. When I was moving away from LastPass, I did consider the open-source Bitwarden, but the more offline approach of Enpass drew me in. The password manager doesn’t send the encrypted password file to its own servers; instead, it lets the user pick their preferred cloud storage for enabling cross-device syncing. You can skip the online backup process entirely if you’ll be using it only on one device. When I switched to Enpass, I went for their premium tier using a one-time purchase, but the service has since adopted the subscription model. My account was upgraded automatically to their lifetime unlimited plan without paying a dime extra.
The final app that I frequently use is Bouncer — a tiny little tool to help me give and manage temporary app permissions. Costing just a dollar, the app from Sam Ruston is wildly useful for keeping some of your permissions-hungry apps in check. Like one of my banking apps needs microphone access for a feature that I’ve never even touched, but without that permission, it refuses to open. With Bouncer, you can choose to remove the permission as soon as you hit the home button (which is customizable) or with a manual click of a button. Android 10 already lets you do that for location permissions, but Bouncer covers the entire spectrum.
If you’ve never done personal budgeting before or hate tools like Mint (and the fact that it’s owned by Intuit), I strongly suggest You Need A Budget. It’s a powerful money management tool and personal financial planning app that allows extreme levels of customization. It’s definitely a power user kind of service, but once you learn it, YNAB is $84 a year incredibly well spent. You’ll know exactly where all your money comes from, where it goes, and can set up powerful automations and rules to help you manage spending and bills. I doubt I’ll ever stop using it. The desktop web interface is also excellent.
If you do circuit or interval fitness routines, practice an instrument, do yoga, meditate, or anything else that requires more than a simple single-stop timer, Seconds Pro is a powerful way to set up complex routines. For example: Seconds Pro allows you to create a timer that goes for intervals of 15 seconds on, 5 seconds off for 5 sets, then goes for 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off for 3 sets, then goes through a custom combination of various lengths and breaks for 10 sets, then repeats this entire loop again 3 times. It’s timers on timers on timers. Worth the money for sure.
If you’ve read a little bit about me, you probably know two of my favorite things are working out and traveling. Being an Android aficionado, I obviously needed to have an app for each of these hobbies.
Strava is probably my favorite fitness app. First, it's not just a tracker, but a true community of bike riders and runners that can interact with each other, share routes, and gain awards. It's also dead-simple to use and lets you keep track of your gear's wear and tear, whether it's a bike or a pair of running shoes, so you know how much you've used them, and when it's time for a change. I also like that Strava has an independent WearOS app that works without your phone, so you can leave it at home and still track your workout using your smartwatch's GPS.
Being a frequent traveler, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of expenses, especially when you’re a group of friends. Thankfully, Settle Up is a simple and efficient way to do so. It syncs your expenses on the cloud, can handle many payment types, works across platforms, and automatically calculates how everybody should settle their expenses at the end of a trip. I highly recommend it if you travel with friends, or just share expenses with people, as it takes the pain away and offers a transparent way for everybody to keep track of what’s been spent.
I love cooking. My husband jokes that I can open the fridge, find 6 ingredients that don’t make sense together, then whip out a delicious meal that no one would have thought about. The fact is that I do have a good intuition, but I take notes and inspiration from recipes I find online, and so far Yummly has been the best recipe search engine and manager I’ve found. It aggregates recipes found on thousands of blogs and presents them with a big image, detailed ingredients, and user comments. It also lets me add them to collections and manage my pantry and shopping list.
Having a password manager and 2FA app is essential these days for anyone, and my pick for the last 18 months has been Myki. It’s not easy to explain how the app works (you can read my full review for the details) but suffice it to say that it resides on your phone, keeps you in control, doesn’t use the cloud, and yet still syncs with other devices and the browser. It’s not perfect, but I like it a lot more than any of the popular alternatives out there.
Clue was one of the first apps I covered on Android Police and remains to this day, six years later, my period tracking app of choice. It’s still pink-less, flower-less, and butterfly-less — it’s just done tastefully. Plus, it has all the features I want, including account sync, sharing with a significant other, customizable symptom tracking, reminders, and a detailed analysis.
Although I’m not a fan of the app’s latest developments, JotterPad has been and continues to be my writing app of choice on Android. Nothing comes close to its simplicity, but what I like the most about it are two distinct features: the version history and the built-in dictionary with thesaurus and rhymes. I’ve been taken hostage by that sweet and easy access to synonyms and I can’t switch to any app that doesn’t offer it.
I don’t follow TV shows as much as I used to, but I still track everything I watch on trakt.tv. And for that, one app has stood the test of time for many years: SeriesGuide. It’s beautiful, straightforward, continuously updated, and syncs all my watched and collected progress with trakt. Oh, and it does movies too.
Trusted Contacts may be one of Google’s least known apps, but it’s indispensible for me and my family. My parents and in-laws tend to place their phones away and not hear them, and we sometimes get worried sick about their wereabouts after the fifth call goes unanswered. Trusted Contacts provides an easy middle-ground between their privacy and our paranoia: It lets us see when they were last active, ping them, and if the ping goes unanswered for a few minutes (customizable), it shares their location. Granted, now that everyone is staying indoors a lot more than usual, the app has lost some of its appeal, but it was very helpful the few times we actually needed it.