The year is almost over, and it was one for the record books, that's for sure. While 2020 may have been challenging for many of us, we've also seen some fantastic apps released this year. This is why I take the time every December to compile a roundup of the best apps to land on the Play Store that year (yes, I also have a 2020 list for the best games). I've selected 30 notable apps that offer a wide range of features and services, so there should be something in here for everyone. Heck, we've seen so many quality releases this year I've even included an honorable mention section at the end of the roundup. So whether you're into comic readers, music equalizers, video streaming services, or niche tools you never knew you needed but are indispensable once you get a taste, today's end-of-the-year app roundup has you covered.

Best Apps of 2020

Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More

Microsoft's all-in-one Office app combined Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into one app this year, and even though the name of the service has seen a few iterations, the functionality of the app is absolutely fantastic. Unlike Google's options, everything you need is in one place. Sure, tablets were ignored for a while, but they are now supported, which means you can get all of your office work done any form-factor of your choice now that Microsoft Office offers a wide selection of support. Just keep in mind that a paid subscription to Microsoft 365 is still required ($6.99 a month) if you'd like to take advantage of the many functions of this title.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $6.99 - $9.99

Poweramp Equalizer

Poweramp Equalizer is a recent release that's still in early access, and it's based on Poweramps's powerful equalizer, and so it would appear the developer has taken much of the functionality of the EQ from the primary app to create a standalone release that also offers a few improvements. So if you've enjoyed Poweramp's EQ in the past but would like to use it as its own standalone app with the rest of your music players, such as Spotify or YouTube Music, as of this release, you can, so don't miss out.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Poweramp Equalizer
Poweramp Equalizer
Developer: Max MP
Price: Free+

Pokémon HOME

Pokémon HOME ties into the vast majority of Pokémon games out there. Essentially this app is the replacement for Pokémon Bank, all so fans can easily store their captured Pokémon in the cloud, but as you would expect, this comes at a cost. While those that choose to use the app for free will be able to store up to 35 Pokémon, those that are willing to pay the $3 monthly subscription will be able to store up to 6,000 Pokémon. So thanks to games like Pokemon GO and Pokemon Sword/Shield, the property has seen a huge resurgence in the last year, which is why I'm sure more than a few people will be interested in keeping their catches somewhere safe, even when that comes at a slight cost.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $2.99 - $15.99

Pokémon HOME
Pokémon HOME
Developer: The Pokemon Company
Price: Free+

Plexamp

The hint is in the name. Plexamp is a music player that can connect to your Plex Media Server, though you will need a Plex Pass subscription ($4.99 a month) to use this release. More or less, this is pleasant looking music streaming app that works with the audio files stored on your local Plex Server. So if you're a Plex user that has already stored your music on your server, then Plexamp is definitely an app you should be looking at this year. After all, who wouldn't love to curate their own media library instead of relying on the whims of multinational corporations.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Plexamp
Plexamp
Developer: Plex Labs
Price: Free

Look to Speak

Look to Speak is an impressive app from Google Creative Lab that allows people to use their eyes to highlight pre-written phrases in order to have them spoken aloud by the app. Essentially this is an accessibility app, or at least the early development of one. While you can't use this title's nifty functionality outside of the app just yet since the tech is sandboxed within, it's proof Google has something cooking that should ideally help out those that live with communication disabilities. A sign of things to come, as it were, and what's already provided is pretty impressive.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Look to Speak
Look to Speak
Developer: Google Creative Lab
Price: Free

Bundled Notes - notes, writing, lists, to-do.

Bundled Notes is one of the newer to-do apps on the Play Store, and it offers robust organization that's sure to impress. The app's theme is slick, and there are a plethora of customization options available. Best of all, the title's popularity has allowed for numerous updates since its release, so new features are added all of the time. So if you're a Keep fan but have been looking for something that's a little more useful, Bundled Notes is here to save the day.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $1.89 - $17.99

Cubasis 3 - Music Studio and Audio Editor

Back in the day, I remember many of my music production friends were really into Cubase, and it would appear the music application has spread its wings to Android this year. Hence, Cubasis 3 is the result of Steinberg Media's mobile efforts. You can efficiently perform, record, mix, and share your creations with this app, which makes it a great DAW for Android. So if you're looking for the latest and greatest production-quality music creation app on Android, Cubasis 3 is the newest contender, though, like all Steinberg apps, it comes at a steep cost. Luckily there is a free trial available for those that would like to try before they buy.

Monetization: $38.99 / no ads / IAPs from $2.49 - $3.99

Krita

Krita is probably my favorite drawing app on PC, so I was pretty chuffed to see that it was released on Android this year. Unlike the Linux version of the app, this Android release supports pressure sensitivity for pens, all while providing the entire host of features you would expect to find on PC. So if you enjoy digitally drawing and painting, you should definitely check out Krita, especially if you spend a lot of time using a Chromebook or a tablet. So while this is still an early access release that's in beta, what already provided is pretty solid.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $10.99 apiece

Krita
Krita
Price: Free+

GitHub

Back in 2012, GitHub released a mobile app on the Play Store, but it was eventually removed in 2015. As of this year, there is once again an official GitHub app available on Android. This means devs can once again access their accounts from a mobile app so that they can browse through repositories, share feedback in discussions, and perform searches. While the app is still missing a few useful features, such as highlighting and copying text inside a file, since the app is continually updated, I'm sure this and many other features will come in due time.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

GitHub
GitHub
Developer: GitHub
Price: Free

Adobe Photoshop Camera: Photo Editor & Lens Filter

Adobe Photoshop Camera is exactly that. This is a camera app for Android smartphones. Since this camera app is a release from Adobe, you can expect to find a plethora of filters and effects within the title that can be used to edit your photos on the fly. This means Adobe Photoshop Camera sports an AI to help users take the best photos possible, though like all things, the AI isn't perfect, and so night shots can be a pain for a few features such as face recognition. Still, if you're looking for a quality third-party photo app that also offers more than a few filters, you can't go wrong with Adobe Photoshop Camera, especially since it's a free release.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Dolby On: Record Audio & Music

Dolby On: Record Audio & Music can transform your phone into a powerful recording tool by offering noise reduction, a dynamic EQ, stereo widening, compression, and normalization. Basically, it's a recording app with smart noise reduction baked in, allowing for clear recordings, or at least better sounding recordings than a standard recording app. User reviews have remained positive since the app's release, and I have to say I agree. Dolby has indeed delivered on its claims, this is an excellent recorder, and it's totally free to use.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Peacock TV – Stream TV, Movies, Live Sports & More

For a brief few years, it looked as though streaming would save us from the evils of cable TV, but then all of the networks decided to offer their own streaming services, instead of everyone releasing all of their content in one place, because of money, of course. This means NBC is one of the many networks this year to join the ranks of every other stand-alone video streaming service with the launch of Peacock TV. Some free content is included in this release, though if you want to get the most out of this app, you'll have to subscribe to the service, which will run users $5 a month. Luckily NBC offers a competent catalog, so if you're worried about a drought of content, that's not an issue with Peacock TV.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs from $4.99 - $9.99

Mi Control Center: Notifications and Quick Actions

If you've ever wanted to mimic the iOS Control Center, then Mi Control Center is precisely what you're looking for. As you can see, this app accurately copies the layout of the iOS Control Center, as well as the directional swipes you'd expect to use on iOS. This means you can swipe from the top right of your screen to pull up your device settings, and you can swipe from the top left to pull up your notifications. Easy peasy.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs from $0.99 - $6.49

MiniReview - Android Game Reviews & Gameplay

If you're sick of the Play Store's lack of game discoverability or are utterly tired of seeing the same free-to-play games in every Play Store list, then you're going to want to check out MiniReview. This is a game discovery app that comes from Nimble Thor, a popular YouTuber that focuses on reviewing Android games on his channel. Well, much like everyone else, Nimble was sick of the Play Store's lack of filtration options, and so he partnered with a developer to create this game review app. You'll find tons of video reviews from Nimble within the app, as well as reviews from its mobile gaming community, and you can even rate the games being reviewed to create your own list of favorites. Plus, there are tons of filtering options that allow you to drill down to the specifics you're looking for. Essentially MiniReview is here to help people discover new and worthwhile games through an interface that's much more pleasant to use than the Play Store.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Simple Dialer - Manage your phone calls easily

Simple Dialer is just that, and seeing that it comes from a developer that has a history of creating beneficially simple apps to replace everyday necessities, I suppose it's no surprise to see that the studio has released a dialer this year that fits within the rest of the dev's catalog. So if you're the sort that loves minimal apps, or simply prefer as little clutter as possible when using an Android device, then picking up Simple Dialer is an easy choice.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Ratio

Ratio is a newfangled launcher that arrived this year, and what you get with this release is a pleasant experience that floats pertinent info to the launcher's primary UI, such as things like weather, notes, and a timer. So if you're a power user, you'll like what's provided, and for those that prefer minimal experiences, there's a lot to like here too, thanks to a simple interface that's easy to read and looks great in action. Plus, the app is free to use, and even though the Play Store states there are in-app purchases, there are currently none to be found, so it has that going for it too. Just keep in mind the app will be monetized in the future.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Ratio - The Productivity Launcher
Ratio - The Productivity Launcher

Socratic by Google

Socratic is a homework assistance app that was originally released in 2017, and Google picked up the property last year and has released a new version of the app in 2020, complete with access to Google's AI algorithms to improve performance. So if you're looking for a homework app that uses AI to help anyone with any subject, Socratic is an excellent choice. This is especially useful for those currently homeschooling their children, so it is a pertinent release for the year as well.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Socratic by Google
Socratic by Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Typewise Swipe Keyboard - Big Keys & Privacy

Typewise Keyboard isn't your typical soft-keyboard for Android. You see, the devs have completely redesigned the layout most people are familiar with to offer something a little more intuitive, but of course, you will have to spend some time with this release to get comfortable with this new layout. Supposedly this keyboard will allow for 80% fewer typos once you get up to speed, which is definitely enticing. Finally, someone has brought something new to the table in the soft-keyboard game, and so far, user reviews are very positive, which shows this app very well could be going places.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $1.99 - $24.99

byte - video communities

For those that remember, Vine was one of the first short-form video sharing platforms, but sadly it eventually went bust. Apparently, there was still room in the market for such an app, and so TikTok is the new leader in short-form video sharing. Of course, now that it's proven that people love such easily-digestible content, the creator of Vine has released an all-new video-looping service called byte, and since this is a developer revisiting their old stomping grounds, it's nor surprise to see that this is one of the more popular releases this year.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

byte - video communities
byte - video communities
Developer: Clash App, Inc
Price: Free

AppNotifier

In November 2019, people started noticing that they were no longer receiving app update notifications from the Play Store. In classic Google fashion, the company simply removed the feature instead of fixing the bug that caused the breakage, and so now no one can receive app update notifications anymore. That is until an enterprising developer released AppNotifier this year. This app brings back the functionality Google removed so people can once again enjoy their app update notifications. There's also a feature to turn back on install notifications too, which is my favorite feature since I tend to install apps from the Play Store webpage on my PC. While I'm personally disgusted that Google broke my typical workflow out of laziness, at least Android devs are here to help where Google fails.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

AppNotifier
AppNotifier
Developer: Braden Farmer
Price: Free

HEY Email

HEY Email is clearly an email app, and it comes from Basecamp, the very tool AP uses daily to organize our content, so a trusted and responsive developer for sure. HEY is designed from the ground up as an intuitive replacement for current email services, and so it brings a fresh UI as well as many useful features, such as a way to screen your emails. As you would expect, filter options are available in order to keep your essential messages separate from your revolving door of daily emails. Of course, quality email apps don't come cheap, especially as an early adopter, so a yearly $99 subscription fee is required after a 14-day free trial, though a $12 monthly sub should be available sometime in 2021.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

HEY Email
HEY Email
Developer: Basecamp
Price: Free

Google AdMob

Somehow Google's advertising service AdMob hasn't had a dedicated Android app until this year. That's right. Google finally got around to creating an app for AdMob, which will allow users to keep tabs on their earnings while offering useful metrics and trends. Currently, the app is still in early access, and this access is apparently limited, so whether or not you can use this release is a bit of a crapshoot. Still, it's a good sign of things to come, especially after such a long wait, so it's definitely a release to keep an eye on if you're deep into Google's advertising platform.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Google AdMob
Google AdMob
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

TeamViewer Universal Add-On

As the Play Store listing states, this is not a stand-alone app but a plugin for the TeamViewer QuickSupport app that previously did not support many devices. Luckily Universal Add-On is here, so many of the users who previously could not integrate the QuickSupport app on their Android devices now can. Basically, before this add-on was released, users couldn't remote control Pixel, Xiaomi, and Oppo devices with TeamViewer QuickSupport, so as you can imagine, adding this support through a plug-in was well-received by many Android users that require remote access.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

TeamViewer Universal Add-On
TeamViewer Universal Add-On
Developer: TeamViewer
Price: Free

Wavelet: Headphone specific equalization

Wavelet is a software equalizer designed for use with headphones. The selling point of this release is that it offers an auto-eq, and thanks to the app's 2300 precalculated optimizations, there's a boatload of supported headphones out there that this app can auto-adjust for the best sound experience possible. Of course, if you prefer to fiddle with your EQ on your own, you have the option to do that too. All in all, this is a robust EQ that offers wide support, so if you'd like to fine-tune your EQ system-wide without the need for ROOT, then Wavelet is what you're looking for.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $5.49 a piece

FairEmail - open source, privacy oriented email

FairEmail is an excellent open-source email client for Android that supports unlimited synced accounts, a unified inbox, conversation threading, and plenty more. Most notably, it works similarly to Gmail, so if you're looking for a new email app that offers worthwhile security that doesn't break the bank while behaving similarly to your most-used email app, FairEmail is one of the better choices this year.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $6.99 a piece

Kuro Reader Pro/Donate (cbz, cbr, cbt, cb7 reader)

I'm an avid comic book reader, to the point I've purchased several high-end tablets over the last few years in search of the perfect digital comic book reading device. As you can imagine, this means I've used all of the comic apps available during my search, and I have to say Kuro Reader Pro has replaced CDisplayEx on all of my Android devices. Not only is the dev responsive, but this is the smoothest comic reader on the platform to date. There are a bunch of categorization options for large libraries, and the app can read files stored on an SD card. Even the reading options are fairly robust, whether you want to fit to width or height or even stretch an image to fill the entirety of the screen. And yes, you can set the reading direction, so the app is great for manga too. Seriously, I've spent a lot of time looking for the perfect comic reader, and while I've yet to find it, Kuro comes the closest, hands-down.

Monetization: $2.99 / no ads / no IAPs

Access Dots - iOS 14 cam/mic access indicators!

Recently iOS implemented an alert system for users that reports on apps utilizing things like the camera or clipboard in the background, which made a lot of Android users salty since the permissions on our OS leave a lot to be desired. Well, this glaring hole in the Android market was recently filled by an enterprising app developer with the release of Access Dots, an app that can mimic the warnings of iOS whenever a third-party app is using the camera or microphone in the background. So if you're security conscious, you'll probably want to give Access Dots a proper spin. You might come away surprised by how many apps ask for access to things that are wholly unnecessary for the app to run.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs from $2.49 - $26.99

FilterBox - Pro Notification Manager

Filter Box is a notification manager that can store all of your notifications in one place for easy readability at a glance. No matter the apps you choose to use, your notifications will be stored within Filter Box so that you can view your notification history in a chronological timeline. You can even set up your own rules in the app to better filter and store your notification to match your personal preferences. Best of all, you can unlock the entire app for a single fee, and there's a 30-day free trial so you can thoroughly test things before you buy-in.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $3.99 a piece

FilterBox - Pro Notification Manager
FilterBox - Pro Notification Manager

Best Live Wallpaper of 2020

Elements Live Wallpaper

Yes, it's almost the end of 2020, and we're still covering Live Wallpapers. Seeing that so few are released anymore, it can be challenging to find the good ones that are new. This is why I wanted to highlight Elements Live Wallpaper, a premium release from this year that offers more than a few settings to customize the app's beautiful abstract square designs. Not only can you adjust the app's background color as well as the shapes floating above it, but you can also choose your animation speed, block count, as well as the style of interaction for the moving blocks. This is a full-feature live wallpaper, and best of all, it looks fantastic in action.

Monetization: $2.99 / no ads / no IAPs

Elements Live Wallpaper
Elements Live Wallpaper
Developer: DotCode Apps
Price: $0.99

Best WTF App of 2020

6

When I saw 6 listed on the Play Store earlier this year, I knew it would wind up as our best WTF app of the year. This is an app that displays the number 6 on your screen, and that's it. You can change the color of the number and the background, but that's really all there is to see. Of course, if you choose to look at your phone while it's upside down (turn off auto screen rotation first), then you can double this app's usefulness by displaying the number 9. So not only is this a customizable release, it's also versatile, which is probably why reviews for this title are absolutely glowing.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

6
6
Developer: deletescape
Price: Free

Honorable Mentions of 2020

First, I'd like to point everyone towards the COVID tracing apps we've cataloged this year. They've been a significant part of our app roundups in 2020, and if you'd like to see which states and countries currently offer a tracker, we have a running roundup with every release so far, which you can view here.

Apps