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The best Android apps of 2021

TechRadar logo TechRadar 10/14/2021 James Rogerson
graphical user interface, text, application: The best Android apps © Provided by TechRadar The best Android apps

The best Android apps are hard to find - if you've just got an Android phone, or want to find a way to reinvogorate an old one, a new app will do the job, but sorting through the thousands out there can be hard.

That's where we come in - our experts have been combing the Google Store for years to find the very best Android apps, testing them hard to find out which are truly useful and add that little bit of extra zing to life.

We don't just stick to the popular categories either - we look at Android camera apps, photo editors, health and fitness titles for Android phones and things to just keep your phone safer and more secure than ever.

And if you want to personalize your phone too - we've got you covered, with Android apps that can massively help you change the way your smartphone looks from its original state.

These app lists are constantly updated with a mixture of free and paid titles - and all are chosen by our experts, so you know that there won't be any hidden surprises and that it will be a worthwhile purchase if you're actually spending real money.

Best new Android app

This is the latest Android app we've chosen to feature, refreshed every few weeks. Our choices are usually new apps or apps that have recently received a major update, but occasionally hidden gems and other essentials will also be highlighted.

Soosee - Allergy, Vegan, Gluten & Food Scanner

Free + various IAP

If you have allergies or foods you’re trying to avoid, then you’re probably used to scouring ingredient lists for key words, but Soosee can do that for you.

Simply tell the app what you’re trying to avoid, from a huge list of possible options, then point your phone’s camera at an ingredient list, and it will highlight any problem ingredients.

There are more than 30 categories of ingredients that it can search for, and these include high environmental impact ones as well as those that you might have an allergy to or not want to include in your diet if you’re, say, a vegan.

But if there’s anything not covered then you can create your own custom categories, by entering the words you want the app to search for. Soosee can also scan in 18 different languages, making it extra useful if you’re abroad and struggling to even decipher an ingredient list.

In our experience it can sometimes be a little slow to spot things, so you need to leave it pointed at an ingredient list for a good few seconds at least, and you shouldn’t rely on this app if you have any serious allergies, since there’s always a risk it could miss some things, but otherwise this comes highly recommended.

The core app is free, but for $5.99 / £4.99 per year or a one-time payment of $11.99 / £9.99 you can enable as many ingredient groups as you want, and create unlimited custom groups, with the promise of more features coming soon.

The best Android camera apps and photo editors

Our favorite Android apps for shooting, sorting and editing photos and videos.

Glitch Lab

Free + $6.49/£5.99 IAP

Glitch Lab is a photo editor packed full of digital glitch effects. You’ve probably seen apps like this before, and the style of effects offered won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like making your pictures look a bit glitchy or retro, this is one of the most capable and versatile ways to do it.

There are over 100 effects in this Android app, and many of them are customizable, ensuring that your glitches won’t look like anyone else’s.

As if to demonstrate the power, it’s even possible to generate an image from scratch, building it up through a number of effects and tweaks.

There’s plenty here even for free, but to get the absolute most out of Glitch Lab you’ll need to grab the Pro IAP for $6.49/£5.99. This, at the time of writing, adds 42 extra effects, 37 new parameters for the free effects, increases the output quality, and more.

DoodleLens

$1.99/£1.89

DoodleLens is perhaps a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a fun one. Simply doodle something, then point your phone’s camera at the doodle from within the app, and you can copy it and paste it on top of the world around you in augmented reality.

You can also change the color of the doodle and even make very basic animations by copying multiple doodles and having the app cycle through them. You can then record and save the results.

DoodleLens probably isn’t an Android app you’ll use often, and we found it a bit hit and miss at recognizing our doodles, but when it works it raises a smile, which is all you can really ask for at $1.99/£1.89.

Pixtica

Free + various subscriptions

Pixtica is one of many tools hoping to replace your phone’s default camera app. Camera apps vary a lot, and their success largely depends on your phone make and model, but Pixtica is a decent option if you’re looking for something new.

It’s packed full of features, including numerous filters, a GIF recorder, panorama, hyperlapse, manual controls, and oddities such as a ‘Planet’ mode, which warps images into a sphere-like shape using Pixtica’s “advanced stereographic projection algorithm”.

There are all sorts of other modes too, whether you’re taking photos or shooting video, and the app is laid out intuitively. However, while many of the functions are free, you have to pay to unlock higher resolutions and to remove watermarks when using filters.

The payment gets you other things too, but those are the main things that make the purchase close to essential if you plan to use Pixtica. And that would be fine, except the app opts for a subscription fee (of $1.25/£1.25 for one month with discounts for six months or a year) rather than being available as a one-off purchase. We’re not fans of paying a subscription for a camera app, but if any such app is worth it, it’s Pixtica.

Scribbl

Free + $5.49/£5.49

Scribbl is a photo editor that lets you add animations to your pictures. By ‘animations’ we mean basically light trails, but there are various different ways they can be animated, numerous colors you can choose, and you can pick exactly where they appear on images and how large they are.

Essentially, it’s an app that does one thing but does it quite well. Once you’ve added an animation you can save the result to your phone’s gallery, ready for sharing.

The basic app is free, but for either a one-off fee or a monthly subscription you can remove adverts and unlock additional customization options, as well as unlocking the ability to remove the Scribbl watermark from your creations. If you like the app this is worth paying for, but you can get a good taste of it without spending anything.

Photo Watermark

Free + $0.99/£0.89 monthly subscription

Photo Watermark does exactly what the name suggests – it lets you add watermarks to photos – but the types of watermarks you can add are quite varied.

Not only can you add custom text as a watermark (including changing the font, size and color), you can also use your signature (or any other hand-written text) as a watermark by writing on the screen.

You can also apply stickers, a timestamp, a location, a mosaic effect, or ‘graffiti’ (which basically just lets you go wild on your images with a digital paintbrush). Whether you want to protect your photo or just log when and where it was taken, there should be a tool here to suit.

Photo Watermark is free, but it’s quite heavy on adverts. For $0.99/£0.89 per month you can get rid of them, but unless you’re adding watermarks to a ton of images it’s probably not worth it.

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph

Free + $1.99/£1.79 monthly subscription

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph is a photo editing Android app in two parts. The first of these is ‘Ripple’, a mode which lets you add motion to a static image by drawing the area and direction that you want the motion to happen.

This can be an effective way to make it look like water or smoke is moving for example, or simply to add a slightly trippy effect to things that you might expect to be static.

The ‘Motion’ mode, which lets you blend a video with a photo, leaves you with an ‘image’ that’s partially static and partially in motion.

In both cases it can be hard to make the effect look convincing, but it’s doable, as evidenced by all the impressive public submissions shared on the app. StoryZ also holds contests with specific themes, such as ‘stairs’ or ‘sand’, which you can enter by submitting a relevant creation. The best ones will be featured on the home page and competition page of the app.

You can use StoryZ for free, but if you find that you have more of a talent for it than we do then there’s also StoryZ Premium, which for a monthly subscription removes adverts and watermarks, increases the allowable length of videos in Motion mode, improves the toolset in Ripple mode and lets you save and share in high resolution.

KineMaster

Free + £2.91 (roughly $3.70) monthly subscription

KineMaster is probably one of the most powerful video editors on Android, but it’s also intuitive enough that anyone could enjoy using it.

The app lets you add audio and visual filters to footage, add text, stickers and other overlays, alter and trim videos frame-by-frame, adjust the speed, add transition effects and a whole lot more. You can also record videos straight from the KineMaster app. It can feel a little cramped on a phone screen, but otherwise everything works well.

You can use the KineMaster Android app for free, but all your videos will have a KineMaster watermark and you can’t use them commercially. To remove the watermarks, allow commercial use and unlock additional assets (such as effects and overlays) you have to pay a subscription, but at £2.91 (roughly $3.70) per month it remains affordable.

Moment – Pro Camera

$1.99/£1.79

A truly great camera app arguably needs to both avoid clutter and be packed full of manual controls, so you can capture an image exactly as you want it, but that’s a tough balance to strike, and few manage. Moment – Pro Cameraarguably does though.

It gives you full manual control, including RAW shooting, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and focus. There’s also tap to focus, a timer, a grid and several different lenses. It’s an impressive toolkit, with the app focusing more on powerful utilities than gimmicky filters, but it all has a very clean, minimalist look.

And it’s designed with ease of use in mind. You can double tap any setting to return it to auto or double tap the viewfinder to turn everything back to auto and all the controls are within easy reach.

The main downside of this Android app is that it can’t currently shoot videos, but for photos there’s a good chance you’ll want to replace your current camera app with this, and video is apparently in the works.

PhotoDirector

Free + optional subscription

Your phone might have a powerful camera, but chances are it doesn’t come with much in the way of photo editing tools. Fortunately, PhotoDirector is an Android app can fill in the gaps.

This app lets you adjust the tone, saturation, white balance and colors of photos you’ve previously taken, as well as adding filters and effects, which you can adjust the strength of and apply to all or just part of an image.

You can also add text, stickers, frames, change the perspective, mirror the image, cut sections and a whole lot more.

There are lots of tools, but PhotoDirector is easy to navigate and you can always undo your changes, so you’re safe to experiment.

And that’s just the editing part of the app. There’s also a built-in camera, which lets you shoot new photos with various effects and see live through the viewfinder how they will affect the image.

PhotoDirector is largely free, but if you want to direct to your best there’s a premium version that costs £2.59 (around US$3.70) per month, with discounts if you commit for three months or a year. This unlocks additional tools, boosts the output quality and removes adverts.

LightX Photo Editor

Free + $3.69/£3.49 IAP

If you want an all-in-one photo editor for Android then LightX Photo Editor is a good choice, not least because most of the features are free.

You can merge photos, add effects and filters, selectively apply colors to regions of an image, adjust the color balance, smooth and sharpen images, crop them, rotate them, draw on them, add frames and stickers, add text, create collages and a whole lot more.

That’s all handled through the Android app's intuitive interface; bring up the main menu with a tap, select the category of edits you want to make (filters or frames, for example) and you’ll be taken to a menu with all the relevant options.

Most of it is fairly self-explanatory, but there are also tutorial videos for if you get stuck, and for a one-off $3.69/£3.49 IAP you can get rid of adverts, unlock additional stickers and frames, and add the ability to save images in PNG format.

SKRWT

$1.49/£1.39

There are plenty of photo editing Android apps, but while most offer filters and effects few allow you to alter the perspective of a photo in the way SKRWT does.

There are no stickers here, no makeup modes and no real effects. Instead there are tools to shift the perspective, change the ratio and correct lens distortion.

You can also flip, rotate, mirror and crop images, but SKRWT isn't interested so much in modifying photos in unnatural ways, as in making them look exactly as you envisioned when you took them.

It's a professional tool, but it's easy to use and you can always undo your changes if you don't like them.

Our favorite Android apps for painting, drawing, sketching, design and animation.

Tattoodo

Free + $5.99/£4.59 per month

Tattoodo at its heart is a tattoo search engine, letting you search through millions of tattoo images, images that you can filter based on style, motifs or artist.

As well as searching and browsing you can also follow artists, so their latest work will pop up in your feed, and you can save images to boards, so you can build up a library of designs that you like.

If you have tattoos already and feel like sharing them with the world then images of them can be added to the app, and you can even book tattoo appointments and get free consultations through the Android app.

If you’re a tattoo artist then you can add your store and designs and potentially find new customers through the app too. It’s completely free if you’re looking for or at tattoos, but if you’re an artist and want to get bookings through the app you’ll need to pay for a $5.99/£4.59 monthly subscription.

Houzz

Free

Houzz is a one-stop Android app for decorating and furnishing your home. The app has numerous different sections, including a database of over 19 million photos to give you decor ideas, which can be filtered based on style, room and other things. These images can also be sketched on and shared.

Houzz lets you buy millions of products (such as furniture) and materials from within the app, and there’s a tool that lets you use augmented reality to see how a product would look in your home.

There are articles and videos related to remodelling and improving your home, too. You can find and hire interior decorators, architects and other professionals within the app, and there’s a community where users can ask and answer questions.

Houzz isn’t an app that everyone needs on their phone, but it is one that’s definitely worth looking at if you’re considering redecorating or making other home improvements.

Over

Free + $59.99/£54.99 per year

Over is designed primarily for adding text to images, which you might want to do if you’re making a poster or Instagram post, for example.

The Android app lets you select from a wide range of canvas sizes, including some created specifically for different social media purposes, such as Facebook cover photos. Then you can add images, text and graphics.

For images you can adjust the exposure, contrast and various other things; for text you can choose from a range of fonts, alignments and colors; and for graphics you can select from a range of pre-made designs, then adjust color, position and the like.

Projects can have multiple layers, and when you’re done you can save the result as a JPG or PNG, or share it.

It’s a handy app and everything that we’ve described so far is free, but for an admittedly hefty $59.99/£54.99 per year you get access to an ever-growing library of templates, hundreds of extra fonts, far more graphics and the promise of additional features in future.

For the average user this probably isn’t necessary, but if you’re using it for work or need to combine images and text regularly then it could be worth the outlay.

Draw.ai

Free + various IAP

Digital devices seem an ideal fit for drawing tutorials, yet few drawing apps seem to take advantage of them. Instead they often assume you already know what you’re doing or will learn outside the app, while many of the ones that do teach you rely on static images and text, but Draw.ai is an Android app that's more interactive.

While not a comprehensive guide to drawing, it offers a large assortment of images and guides you towards recreating each one step by step, one line at a time. By which we mean the app will draw a line or two from the image, then make it appear faint so you can draw the same thing over it.

This continues until the image is complete, after which you’re free to color it (without a guide). Once you’re finished, Draw.ai will show a short video of the entire process you went through.

The actual drawing tools are more limited than some apps, but there is at least a handy undo button that erases the last line you drew or change you made – something beginners will be making use of a lot.

Many of the images are free and more are added all the time, but to access everything you’ll have to pay a $5.99/£5.49 weekly subscription (with big discounts available if you pay monthly or yearly instead – you can get a full year for $59.99/£52.99).

Sketch - Draw & Paint

Free + various IAP

Sketch – Draw & Paint is a photo editor, sketching app and art community all in one, and while it’s not the deepest option for any of those things, it’s fun and easy to use.

On the sketching side you get a variety of different pen and brush types of different sizes and colors, along with the ability to add text and stickers and some basic tools, such as a ruler and layers.

You can either start with a blank canvas or take or import a photo, which brings us to the photo editing aspect of this Android app: an aspect that relies on the same set of tools.

As for the community, Sketch lets you upload your creations and share them with other Sketch users, as you can also browse through people’s artworks. There are categories for this, including ‘trending’ and ‘newcomers’, or you can just search for something specific.

You can comment on or like any of the shared artworks, and follow their creator so you can more easily keep track of any other work they produce. The actual quality of work in the community is varied, but that means it should be less intimidating to share your own.

Sketch – Draw & Paint is mostly free, but you can buy extra sticker packs or for £0.99 (around US$1.30) per month subscribe to Sketch Premium to unlock all the stickers, remove adverts, get a transparent background and be able to use a custom canvas size.

Desygner

Free + $7.49/£5.99 subscription

Desygner lets you unleash your inner graphic designer on your phone or tablet, but with an intuitive interface and thousands of templates it’s simple enough for beginners to use.

You can combine text, shapes, images, stickers, backgrounds and more to create logos, posters, adverts, PowerPoint-like presentations, postcards or any number of other things where images and typography are important.

Each component of your design can be moved, resized, rotated, flipped, duplicated or have its color changed, and you can work with multiple layers. Results can then be saved to your device to be used wherever you want.

We suspect this Android app might be a bit limited for professional graphic designers, who may want more freedom to completely create designs from scratch, but for everyone else Desygner is a great way to make something that looks professional.

The basic app is free but certain features, as well as the majority of the templates, require a monthly subscription which costs $7.49/£5.99. That’s probably worth it if you’re going to use the app semi-regularly, but if you just want to design something as a one-off you might find the free version good enough.

Infinite Painter

$7.99/£6.99

There’s no shortage of Android apps for digital artists, but Infinite Painter is one of the most feature-packed, with dozens of brush presets and the ability to create your own, along with layers, blending, editing tools and more, plus the option to export your images as JPEG, PNG, PSD or ZIP.

But as well as being packed full of features, Infinite Painter also takes the time to show you how they all work, with detailed tutorials and guides, although the interface is so simple that you should be able to muddle your way through most things anyway.

A lot of the features are hidden behind a paywall, with it costing $7.99/£6.99 to unlock everything, but the app includes a free seven-day trial, letting you try everything out before you decide whether you want to put money down, which if you’re a fan of digital art you probably will, because you get a lot for your money.

Our favorite Android apps for learning new things, from history to music to coding and beyond.

The Sky by Redshift: Astronomy

Free + $2.99 / £2.99 yearly subscription

The Sky by Redshift: Astronomy is a near essential app for anyone with an interest in our galactic neighbors.

Simply point your smartphone up at the sky, and the app will tell you what planets, stars and constellations are above it. So it’s great for identifying the distant lights you can see, but also highlights those that are too far out to spot without a telescope.

You can tap on each object to learn more about it, see how the sky differs from night to night, view spacecraft, and more, with over 9,000 stars, 88 constellations, and hundreds of moons, asteroids, comets, and deep-sky objects included.

The Sky by Redshift: Astronomy is free to use, but there’s an optional $2.99 / £2.99 yearly subscription that removes adverts and unlocks additional features. To get even more in-depth, grab Redshift Sky Pro for $8.99 / £8.99 – a professional astronomy app with over 100,000 stars included.

Udemy

Free + various IAPs

Learning a new skill is one of the most satisfying things you can do, and Udemy is an excellent way to do it. With 130,000 video courses it’s safe to say there should be something for everyone here.

Those courses are taught by expert instructors in over 65 different languages, and cover everything from photography and drawing to coding, game development, yoga, nutrition, languages, instruments, and a whole lot more.

The courses vary in length and depth, but they’re competitively priced, and you only have to pay once to get lifetime access – there are no subscriptions here. There are even free courses, so Udemy is worth a look even if you don’t want to spend anything.

Many of the courses also involve assignments, articles and other supplementary materials, and the ability to communicate with the instructors or other people on the course, so it can be a fairly comprehensive learning tool.

Universe in a Nutshell

$2.99 / £3.29

Universe in a Nutshell is a fascinating educational app that shows you the relative size of numerous things in the universe.

Launch the app and you’ll be presented with animated images of a giraffe, the largest elephant, a human, and other creatures, along with a listing of their size. You can tap on any of them for more information, but you can also pinch to zoom in or out and see much bigger or smaller things.

Zoom out and you’ll whiz past creatures, man-made objects, countries, moons, planets, stars and beyond, until you finally reach the entire observable universe as the largest thing included. Zoom in and you eventually get right down to the tiniest particles, and every single one of these things can be tapped on for more information.

The colorful, cartoony presentation makes Universe in a Nutshell look like it’s designed for kids, and they’ll certainly enjoy exploring it, but it’s just as fascinating for adults.

Women Who Changed the World

$2.99 / £2.99

Women often get a raw deal in history, with their achievements less spoken of than those of men, but Women Who Changed the World aims to help change that, by celebrating and educating users about some of the most significant women in history.

These include Rosa Parks, Amelia Earheart, Frida Kahlo, and many, many more, with their lives and achievements detailed through interactive stories, complete with illustrations and narration.

Women Who Changed the world is clearly aimed at young children, with its cute art and basic interactions, but the histories it teaches about could and should be of interest to anyone.

Time Immersive

Free

Smartphones have the potential to give us new, more engaging and immersive ways to interact with journalism, and with Time Immersive, Time is exploring that potential.

The Android app contains Time stories that are engagingly narrated and instead of looking at flat photos or videos, you can view the subject of the story in full augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). For the former, all you need is a compatible phone (which many are) and a flat surface, which you can then project – for example – a section of the Amazon rainforest onto.

Viewing it from above, you can rotate your phone and move it closer or further to get a different perspective while listening to the Time story. Then, tap on points of interest for additional spoken content alongside a relevant photo or video.

If you have a Cardboard VR viewer then you can get even more immersed, viewing the area almost as if you were there.

At the time of writing the only available content is focused on the Amazon rainforest and the moon landing, but it’s well made, and more is promised.

Elements of Photography

Free + various IAP

Thanks to smartphones, most of us now have a fairly capable and versatile digital camera in our pockets at all times, but many of us won’t know how to get the most out of it.

That’s not necessarily a huge problem – phone cameras are typically designed to work well when you just point and shoot, but if you do want to take your photography to the next level then something like Elements of Photography can help.

This Android app contains a number of tutorials that guide you through the various principles of photography, from basics like shutter speed and composition to more advanced lessons.

Elements of Photography keeps things bite-sized and engaging by using small chunks of text and plenty of images rather than walls of explanation or time-consuming videos.

You also get tips, tools (such as a depth of field calculator) and a quiz, though these, along with many of the tutorials, are hidden behind IAP. Still, unlocking everything only costs $7.99/£5.49, and there’s enough free content that you should be able to decide whether the rest is worth the money.

Fluent Forever

£8.99/$9.99 per month

Fluent Forever is one of a growing number of language apps, but whereas most aim to gamify the learning process, Fluent Forever is rather more serious in its approach.

That might make it feel a bit less accessible, but if you’re serious about learning a language then it could also work better, especially if the likes of Duolingo aren’t doing the trick for you.

There are numerous different exercises in the app, along with explainer videos, but one of its core features is personalized flash cards, which let you select a card with an image of your choice for each word you’re trying to learn.

That, along with pronunciation lessons, and a focus on only the words and grammar that are important to you, could be the trick to making you fluent forever.

At the time of writing, the Android app supports French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. It costs £8.99/$9.99 per month, but there’s a two-week free trial.

SmartPlant

Free + $3.99/£3.99 per month

There’s more to looking after many plants than putting them in the sun and giving them the occasional sip of water. Some need watering more often than others, some have different temperature or lighting requirements, some even require pruning or other care and attention.

Knowing exactly what any given plant needs isn’t always easy though and we’re sure we’re not alone in wondering why plants we thought we’d looked after well had died. But with SmartPlant you don’t need to wonder any more, and you’re more likely to keep your plants alive in the first place.

The Android app lets you build a database of any and all plants you own and it will automatically create a calendar for each of them, advising you on what to do at specific points of the year – for example telling you where to place it, when to re-pot it and how much to water it. And if you’re not sure what a plant is called then you can snap a picture of it to have SmartPlant identify it.

The app also has general information on a wide range of plants, such as the type of soil they like and when they bloom.

If you need more, then an optional subscription lets you talk to experts in-app. They can give you advice on general plant care, solving problems or any other plant-related query.

Flowkey

Free + $19.99/£17.99 monthly subscription

Flowkey is an Android app that aims to teach you piano, and can give you feedback on your playing just by listening through your phone’s microphone – no cables are required.

As well as real feedback, Flowkey also offers a large number of video tutorials covering things like ‘Note Value and Rhythm’ and ‘Mastering Key Jumps’, plus a selection of over 1,000 songs that you can learn.

These songs cover a range of genres, including classical, pop, jazz and more, and include famous pieces, such as Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and Perfect by Ed Sheeran. The selection also includes songs suited for various different skill levels.

There’s a lot here, but most of it isn’t free. There are a handful of free songs and tutorials to get you started, but to get much out of Flowkey you’ll have to invest in a monthly subscription. That’s not cheap, coming in at $19.99/£17.99 per month (albeit with big discounts if you commit for six months or a year).

That could be a tough sell since you’ll probably still want proper lessons too, but you certainly get a lot of content for your money.

Learn Java Pro

$3/£3

Learn Java Pro is one of many apps focused on teaching you to code – in this case in Java, but where most take you through bite-sized exercises, this has both a coding area (where you can practice your Java skills) and an extensive library of tutorials taking you through basic and advanced aspects of Java.

These tutorials aren’t interactive as such; they’re more like a textbook, which is the part of learning that’s missing from many other coding apps. But there’s a shortcut to the coding area at the top right corner of each tutorial, so you’re never more than a tap away from practicing what you’ve learnt.

There’s also a library of practice programs, plus various questions and answers related to all things Java. Learn Java Pro works offline so you can read and practice anywhere, and all of the content is available for the one low price listed above, so while this Android app isn't free, it’s still rather generous and a great learning tool.

Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED

$4.99/£4.59

We’ve not always been entirely convinced by digital versions of real-world exhibits, but Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED is an Android app that does it right.

The app is a digital version of Shepard Fairey’s DAMAGED exhibit and it’s a great option for anyone who can’t make it to the real show in Los Angeles.

The app lets you walk around the exhibit with taps and swipes, or you can set it so that rotating your phone also changes your view in the exhibit. Or go even further and use an augmented reality mode that lets you physically walk around the exhibit, using your phone as a window into it.

It’s not just the exhibit, either – you also get over 100 minutes of narration from Fairey explaining the various artworks, which combined show that the world – and especially the US – is in a state of crisis, but that much of the damage can be repaired. 

MasterClass

From $89.99/£84.99

MasterClass gives you lessons in various skills, from cookery to acting to creative writing and a whole lot more, but how it really stands out is that these lessons are all taught by some of the best in the business.

You can learn cookery from Gordon Ramsay for example, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, tennis from Serena Williams or photography from Annie Leibovitz.

Of course, this is an app, not a face to face lesson, so you’re not interacting with these people, but they’ve created video lessons and various other materials – such as workbooks – for MasterClass.

This content in this Android app isn’t free; in fact it’s quite expensive, coming in at $89.99/£84.99 for a single course or $179.99/£169.99 for an ‘all access pass’, letting you access every course for a year. That’s steep, but it could be worth it if you’re serious about learning and want some top-class tuition. You can also explore the app and see video previews of any of the courses before paying.

Drops

Free + $10/£8.99 monthly subscription

Apps have revolutionized language learning, but there’s more than one way to learn from an app, and while some focus on typing and speaking, Drops leans into the strengths of a smartphone by making all interactions swipe- and tap-based.

Drops gives you a series of exercises to carry out each time you use it, taking various forms. One asks you to swipe a word to its corresponding picture, another asks you to tap pairs of words and pictures, and one breaks up a word or phrase into several parts and has you tap them in the correct order.

There are others too, and Drops has a lot of content covering all sorts of categories from food to plants and even politics in a variety of languages. Impressively, the Android app also feels as slick and polished as Duolingo, without imitating it.

Drops gives you five minutes of language learning each day for free, but the app is designed to be bite-sized and the makers claim this is enough to make progress.

If you do want more though you can pay for unlimited access at a price of $10/£8.99, with discounts available if you pay for a year upfront.

Our favorite Android apps for having fun on your phone or tablet, through watching videos, reading, socializing and more.

Bookly

Free + optional subscription

Bookly aims to turn reading into a habit, as well as tracking what and how much you’ve read. It uses a lot of tools to do this, but it starts by simply asking how many books you want to read in a year, and when and for how long you want to read each day or week.

Then, it will set about reminding you to read at those times, and pushing you towards hitting your reading goals.

Within the Bookly app you can add books that you’re reading and update your progress within them in terms of page numbers or percentage, so it works both for paper and digital books. You can also enter how many pages a book has manually – which is handy if the app can’t find the exact edition of the book you’re reading, as has been the case with our current novel.

Bookly also shows stats for how many pages you’ve read and how much time you’ve spent reading over seven or 30 days, as well as tracking how many days you’ve consecutively read for. There are also achievements to unlock, and all of this is free.

However, to really use Bookly long term you’re going to want to subscribe to Bookly Pro, for $4.99 / £4.49 per month, with discounts if you commit to six months or a year. This removes a 10-book limit in the app, which is near essential for continued use. But it also unlocks all sorts of additional stats, plus ambient sounds, a ‘personal assistant’ to help you hit your reading goals, and more.

Pokémon Home

Free + various subscriptions

Pokémon Home is something that most serious Pokémon collectors, and those who play or plan to play more than one Pokémon game, are likely to be interested in.

Essentially this Android app is a home for your Pokémon, or more specifically cloud storage for them. You can move them from supported games (including Pokémon Sword and Shield) to Pokémon Home, at which point they’ll be added to an in-app Pokédex and can be viewed on your phone at any time.

Pokémon Home also allows you to trade your Pokémon with other users, and transfer them from Pokémon Home to supported games – so a big part of it is being able to move Pokémon from one game to another.

The core service is free, but to be able to store more than 30 Pokémon you’ll need to pay a subscription, so if you want to build up a collection in Home, rather than just storing a handful at a time, then you’ll need to pay.

How much you’ll pay will depend on whether you opt for a one-month plan at $2.99/£2.99, a three-month one at $4.99/£4.99, or a 12-month one at $15.99/£15.99 at the time of writing. Paying for a premium plan also unlocks other options, such as the ability to move Pokémon from Pokémon Bank.

Disney+

Free + subscription

Disney+ should need no introduction – it’s Disney’s Netflix competitor, and the Android app gives you access to Disney’s vast library of film and TV content on your phone or tablet, along with new and exclusive content such as The Mandalorian.

You can stream content or download it, so you never need to go without, and given Disney’s massive library there’s an enormous amount of content on day one, making this near essential for any Disney fan.

As well as the Android app, you will of course need a subscription, but you get a seven-day free trial at the time of writing, which should be more than long enough to decide whether Disney’s catalog is for you – if somehow you’ve not already watched enough Disney stuff to know.

Stadia

Free

Stadia is Google’s big play to get into gaming, and more specifically game streaming. It essentially allows you to play AAA console and PC games on a phone screen, a TV, a laptop or a tablet, without having the high-end hardware that would usually be required to run them, as instead Google’s hardware does the heavy lifting and then streams the games over an internet connection.

That also means you can seamlessly pick up on one device where you left off on another, and you don’t have to wait for games to download or update, you just need a fairly fast Wi-Fi connection.

Well, that and compatible hardware, which at the time of writing limits you to Pixel handsets, a Chromecast Ultra, and a handful of other devices.

So if you have, say, a Google Pixel 4, then the Stadia Android app can give you access to the sorts of games that would usually be found on an Xbox One or gaming PC. And going forward you can expect more phones and other devices to get Stadia support.

YouTube Kids

Free

YouTube is packed full of great content for kids, but there’s also a lot of unsuitable stuff. The solution – assuming you don’t want to completely micromanage their viewing – is YouTube Kids, an app that’s been around for a while and has only got better with time.

The app lets you select an age range for your child and will only show them age-appropriate content, though you can further filter what they can and can’t access if you want.

YouTube Kids also lets you set up multiple profiles, so if you have more than one kid they can each have their own tailored safe space.

You can also set timers to limit how long they can watch for, see the history of what they’ve watched, choose whether to let them search for videos manually (or be limited to channels that have been verified by YouTube Kids), and more. 

You have a lot of control, your kids get access to a lot of content, and it’s all wrapped up in a slick, colorful Android app that’s a joy to use.

Trill Project

Free

Trill Project is an anonymous social network that lets you follow topics of your choice, post related content, reply to other people’s posts, and message them in private.

You don’t get a profile picture or custom username, so anonymity is easy to maintain, but while in some apps and services that can lead to abusive behavior, here content is heavily moderated, and there’s a real focus on users being supportive.

A lot of the topics on Trill Project deal with potentially heavy subjects like mental health, loneliness and sexuality, but there’s plenty of lighter content too, so whatever you want to say, this could be the place – as long as it’s in the spirit of the Android app and its community.

Goodreads

Free

Goodreads is all about finding, logging and reviewing books, and it’s pretty much essential for any avid reader.

If you see a book that you think looks interesting, you can search for it on Goodreads and see the average user rating, along with often hundreds of user reviews in the Android app. Still interested in it? Then you can add it to your ‘want to read’ list, so you won’t lose track of the books you like the look of.

Goodreads will also show you other books by that author and other books that readers of the one you’re looking at enjoyed, making it easy to find similar content you might like. There are also lists of books across a range of categories, helping you explore further and dig up books you might never have found otherwise.

When you’ve read a book, you can give it a star rating and leave a review if you want, and you can also join groups, and add friends, making Goodreads a bit like a book-focused social network at times.

With all that, plus reading challenges, personalized recommendations and a whole lot more, it really is a book-lover’s dream.

Unrd

Free + various IAP

Smartphones have helped unlock new ways to experience stories and one great example of that is Unrd.

Falling somewhere between an Android app and a game, Unrd lets you “live someone else’s life” by overlaying a fake phone interface on your screen, belonging to a character in a story. You can access their messages – including photos, videos and audio – and piece together a story from them.

But you don’t get the whole story in one go – new messages arrive in real time over a number of days, making the experience feel more immersive and ‘real’.

There are numerous stories here, so you’re not limited to just one, and more are being added over time across a number of genres.

It’s worth noting that Unrd is different to something like A Normal Lost Phone, as while they’re conceptually similar, the latter allows for more interaction, having you do things like figure out passwords to access locked off parts of the phone. It’s more of a game then, where Unrd is more of a story.

The core app is free but there are various IAP to unlock additional content in stories or get to it faster. It looks like some future stories may be totally locked behind IAP too, but at the time of writing all the available ones seem to be free.

VLC for Android

Free

You’ve probably come across VLC before, but if not you really, really should, because it’s one of the very best video player apps on Android. Even if you have tried it before, it could be worth revisiting, as it’s received several recent updates.

This completely free app has almost everything you might want from a video player, including extensive file support (such as MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC), support for DVD ISOs, network streams and network shares, the ability to add and display subtitles, adjust the aspect ratio, and alter the look and sound with an equalizer and filters.

And those are just the headline features. There’s plenty more to dig into beyond this. We’re not the biggest fans of VLC’s distinctive orange color scheme, but that’s about the only thing we can find to complain about with this Android app, and it can be partially hidden if you switch to the black theme.

ExpressVPN

15 months for the price of 12 and 30-day money back guarantee

Getting a VPN app for your Android phone opens up an avalanche of opportunities when it comes to streaming.

On holiday or abroad on business? A VPN can spoof your IP address so you look like you're back at home and thus allow you to stream all your usual Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer content.

And if you're in an office, school or country that blocks some entertainment websites altogether (yes China, we're looking at you), you can get around those restrictions, too.

ExpressVPN comes #1 in our top picks list thanks to its sheer ease-of-use, wealth of servers, connection speeds, watertight security, extra features, brilliant support...the list goes on. Oh, and it's brilliant at unlocking all of the streaming services listed above and more.

You can sign up to ExpressVPN and get the app by heading to the company's website.

Our favorite Android apps for working out, reducing stress and crafting meals.

Fiit: Home Workout & Fitness Plans

£20 / around $30 per month or £120 / $170 per year

If you’ve found yourself looking jealously at Apple Fitness Plus, then Fiit: Home Workout & Fitness Plans is the ideal app for you, as it’s much the same idea, just without the need for Apple gear.

The Fiit app includes hundreds of workout videos, with more added regularly, across categories including cardio, strength, and rebalance (which includes yoga, Pilates and the like). Hook up a compatible fitness tracker and you can get your heart rate, calorie burn and reps shown on-screen and recorded in the app, along with a score in cardio classes.

Fiit also includes training plans, group classes, leaderboards, and the ability to show the videos on your TV. They’re great exercise videos too, with likeable trainers doing a good job of explaining the workouts, and background music from big name artists.

There are some issues with Fiit – the monthly price is high, especially in the face of Apple Fitness Plus, and there’s no native Chromecast support at the time of writing, but on the whole Fiit is a hugely impressive service.

Otter – Diet Diary

$0.99 / £0.79

Otter – Diet Diary isn’t an Android app for losing weight (though you could use it that way), but for making you aware of what you eat and how it affects you.

It’s a simple app that presents you with a calendar where you can enter your meals, optionally along with a photo, a description, and a star rating. You can also tally how much fluid you’ve had in the day, and add general comments on your diet for the day.

How much you get out of Otter will depend entirely on how much you put into it. Neglect to log how certain foods make you feel and you’ll be left with a fairly basic (but still potentially useful) food diary, but if you do keep track of how you feel each day and after eating particular things, over time you could get a handle on which foods you respond well to, and which you don’t.

You’ll also be building up a record of how healthy and varied your diet is (or isn’t) and how hydrated you’re staying, and by doing this you might feel compelled to make healthier choices.

Glug: Drink Water Reminders

Free + $2.99 / £2.59 IAP

Drinking enough water is one of those things that sounds simple but that a lot of people struggle with. It’s easy to simply forget to drink unless you’re desperately thirsty, but your body needs lots of hydration to perform at its best.

Glug is here to remind you to drink at regular intervals and hit your daily hydration goals. You start by telling the app how much water you want to drink over the course of a day (in milliliters or ounces), as well as the earliest and latest times that you’re okay with being reminded about it.

Once done, you’ll get regular reminders throughout the day to drink. Once you tell the app that you’ve had a drink, the next reminder will be scheduled.

You can enter each drink amount down to the milliliter, or just tap on one of the customizable presets for different drink sizes. You can also delay or silence reminders if you don’t want to hear from the app. A progress bar shows how close you are to your daily goal – and whether you’re where you should ideally be at by this point in the day.

All of this is completely free, but if you want to support Glug – and get rid of ads – then you can make a one-off payment of $2.99 / £2.59.

Mindfulness with Petit BamBou

Free + $8.49 / £7.99 monthly subscription

Mindfulness with Petit BamBou is a meditation app with a lot to recommend in it. There are guided meditation sessions lasting from between three and 50 minutes, and while they’re mostly audio, the app also makes use of cartoons to add a visual aspect.

The meditations cover a variety of areas, such as stress, embracing pain, and time management, and there are also some designed specifically for kids.

There are also unguided meditations, breathing exercises, and soothing sounds and stories, so Mindfulness with Petit BamBou is the complete package really.

Like most full-featured meditation apps it’s not entirely free though. For free you get access to a couple of programs of guided meditations, plus some stories, sounds, unguided meditations, and a few other things. The bulk of the guided content is hidden behind a paywall, but if you meditate much – and make this your main meditation app – then it should be worth the money.

Health Sync

$2.99 / £2.59

If you use tech to track your health and fitness then you might have encountered a problem – while there are numerous handy devices and apps for this, they don’t all talk to each other, which means your data can end up spread across a variety of services when it would be much more convenient to see it all in one place.

Health Sync is a solution, or at least a partial one. It lets you sync your data between Google Fit and Samsung Health, or sync a variety of other services with either of those, including Fitbit, Garmin, InBody, Oura Ring, Polar, Suunto and Withings.

It also lets you choose different services and sync directions for different kinds of data. For example, you could sync your weight from Withings Health Mate to Samsung Health, your sleep from Oura to Google Fit, and your exercise from Samsung Health to Google Fit. You can in many cases also sync the same data to both Google Fit and Samsung Health.

Health Sync doesn’t support all sources, and some sources only work for syncing certain things or syncing in a certain direction, which means it’s only a partial solution. But it should at least cut down on the number of apps you need to open to view your data. And while it’s not free, you do get a free trial, and then it’s just a one-off purchase.

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness

Free + $39.99/£29.99 yearly subscription

If you have a young child who often struggles to get to sleep then Moshi could help. The app contains a large selection of ‘sleep stories’, which take the form of soothing, kid-friendly audio stories, many of which are narrated by big names like Patrick Stewart and Brian Blessed.

And they’re well thought out. Each story becomes increasingly sleepy as it goes on, and slowly fades out at the end, rather than suddenly stopping. They also contain musical transitions that are apparently designed to be mesmerizing.

Moshi also includes tracks that are just soothing music, and even some meditations, and new content is added weekly.

All this doesn’t come for free – you’ll have to shell out $39.99/£29.99 per year, but you can get a seven-day free trial, and can you really put a price on ensuring your kids get a good night’s sleep?

SleepTown

Free + $1.99/£1.79 IAP

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can be almost as important as getting enough sleep, and SleepTown aims to help with that by letting you build a colorful town if you stick to your goals.

When you set up the Android app, you tell it the times when you want to go to bed and get up. Then it’s a simple case of tapping a button in-app when you turn in for the night and when you get out of bed so it knows when you were asleep (or at least trying to be asleep).

Stick to your goal and a random building will be constructed in your town each day. Fail, and construction of that day’s building will fail, though it does allow you up to two days off each week.

As well as building up a town over time, you’ll also be building up a log of the times and durations of your sleep.

There’s also a Pro version, which you can unlock for $1.99/£1.79. This lets you choose which building to construct next, back up your data, unlock achievements, and earn reward tickets, which can be used to increase the chances of getting rare buildings.

The sleep incentives offered by SleepTown certainly won’t work for everyone, but if you struggle to switch off the lights at a reasonable time or often hit the snooze button in the morning, and you like the idea of being rewarded with virtual buildings for your efforts, SleepTown could make a real difference.

Vanilla Bean

Free

Ever more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan, but while the availability of vegetarian and vegan food in restaurants is also increasing, you still won’t find it everywhere.

That’s why Android app Vanilla Bean is so handy, as it will tell you which nearby restaurants have vegan and vegetarian options. Using filters you can also search for places that are purely vegan or veggie, and places that offer some combination of gluten-free, organic, raw, fair trade, and locally sourced food, as well as filtering by price.

The results list shows you at a glance which of those things applies to a given restaurant, while tapping on a restaurant will provide an overview of it, along with its address, opening hours, photos and reviews.

Those last couple of points are where Vanilla Bean falters slightly right now, as there aren’t yet many pictures or reviews, but as a user of the app you can add your own.

SnoreFree

$9.99/£9.99 per month

Curing snoring can be a tricky task, as the cause and effective remedies vary from person to person and often prove elusive.

One unusual approach that you might not have tried is mouth exercises designed specifically to reduce or completely stop your snoring. As you’ve probably guessed by now, SnoreFree contains exactly these exercises.

Created by Viennese speech therapist Dario Lindes, these exercises have apparently led to an over 80% success rate over the many years he’s been using them.

Each technique is explained in detail and accompanied by a demonstration video, so they’re easy to get to grips with, and you’ll be guided through a 10-15 minute routine every day. You do have to pay a moderately expensive subscription to use the Android app, but discounts are available if you commit for a year, and you can test out some of the exercises for free.

SuperBetter

Free

SuperBetter isn’t new, in fact it has been changing people’s lives for years now, but the fact that it’s capable of doing that makes it well worth highlighting.

The Android app essentially gamifies the process of looking after your physical and mental wellbeing, providing you with quests, power ups and bad guys to beat, all of which take the form of small tasks, such as drinking a glass of water, or walking around the block, or things to avoid, such as overeating.

Completing the challenges awards you achievements, unlocks new challenges, and helps level you up – in game, and in real life.

Sticking with SuperBetter can help you build good habits, kerb bad ones and generally become happier and healthier.

FibriCheck

Starts at €3.99 (around $4.50 / £3.50 / AU$6.50) per month

Recent Apple Watches and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 have an ECG (electrocardiogram) built in, but phones so far are left out. FibriCheck though promises to be just as good, and it works on Android handsets with no special hardware.

By placing your finger on your phone’s camera, the FibriCheck app can measure your heart’s rhythm and detect any abnormalities – which could be signs of atrial fibrillation, among other things.

The Android app generates an instant report that you can download and – if you wish – share with your doctor, and optionally you can also get your measurements reviewed in-app by medical experts (though this costs more).

After a 1-day free trial, which is worth doing just to get a one-off reading, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to keep using Fibricheck. The basic subscription starts at €3.99 (around $4.50 / £3.50 / AU$6.50) per month, while getting a review of each reading by medical experts along with a more detailed report starts at €10.99 (roughly $12 / £10 / AU$18). In both cases that’s if you commit to a year upfront. The prices go up if you pay monthly.

It’s not cheap then, but it is a remarkable feature to have access to on your smartphone. And if you’re skeptical of the accuracy it might reassure you to know that FibriCheck has been CE-certified and FDA-approved.

Endomondo

Free + £9.99 (roughly $13) monthly subscription

If you run, cycle or even like to track your walks then there’s a good chance you’ve come across Endomondo before. As one of the oldest, biggest and best apps in the business - it stays that way thanks to regular updates; at the time of writing the app was updated less than two weeks ago.

Even if you don’t run or cycle you might still want to check out Endomondo, as - despite its GPS-tracking specialities - it can also track more than 60 other sports, such as golf, climbing and ice skating.

Alongside route and distance tracking, Endomondo can also track your speed, pace, calories and more. Ff you’re doing a sport that can’t be tracked with GPS then you can manually enter your workout, so you’ve still got a log of your achievements.

Additionally, you can link Endomondo to heart rate monitors and cadence sensors to incorporate their data into your records. The app can also be connected to auxiliary fitness accounts such as Google Fit, Garmin Connect and Polar Flow, so all your health and fitness data will be in sync.

Endomondo also lets you create goals for individual workouts or for your week, so you have targets to hit - the Android app will even alert you when you achieve a personal best. Plus, you can create and participate in challenges against friends and other users of the app.

And if all that isn’t enough then you can also subscribe to Endomondo Premium, which adds heart rate zone analysis, interval training, personal training plans, access to advanced statistics (such as how far you’ve run in total each month), and more.

Simple Habit

Free + $9.99/£9.99 monthly subscription 

Meditation apps are meant, among other things, to relax and de-stress us, but if you’re anything like us they run the risk of doing the opposite, becoming chores that we feel guilty for neglecting.

Simple Habit doesn’t completely solve that problem, but it gets some way there, by offering short 5-minute meditations, that you can easily fit in at any point during your day.

Other meditation apps have short sessions too, but there are usually only a few of them, mixed in with longer meditations, while they’re all short in Simple Habit (though we do have to point out some stretch beyond 5 minutes to cater for those that do want a bit more relaxation).

Simple Habit also has a variety of different teachers to guide you, so if you don’t get on with one (or just get bored of their voice) there are plenty of others to choose from.

The rest of the Android app is as you’d expect, with meditations designed around specific life circumstances, goals or moods, and a simple interface that doesn’t get in the way.

Like Headspace, most of the meditations are locked behind a subscription, but you can listen to a handful for free to see if Simple Habit is for you.

Our favorite Android apps for making music, listening to music, finding podcasts and everything else to do with audio.

Wondery

Free + $4.99/£4.99 monthly or $34.99/£34.99 yearly subscription

Wondery is a podcast app, but rather than just serving up the same podcasts as every other app it has exclusive content.

The included podcasts cover a range of genres, such as true crime, history, business, and more, including some with daily episodes. And there’s a whole lot of content to get stuck into – there are over 40 seasons of its Business Wars podcast, for example.

The majority of the content on Wondery is free to access, but there’s also a Wondery+ subscription which for $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year will get rid of adverts and unlock some additional content, plus early access to shows.

Wondery probably won’t replace your main podcast app, but if you just can’t get enough audio content then it could make for a great companion to it.

Spotify Kids

$14.99/£14.99 per month

Spotify Kids, as the name suggests, is Spotify, but for kids. It’s a similar idea to YouTube Kids, in that it’s a way to give children access to the service while keeping them safe from unsuitable content.

It therefore doesn’t have the full library of songs that you’d find in the main Spotify app, but what it does have is handpicked as being suitable for kids.

Spotify Kids also includes playlists designed for children, a more colorful, kid-friendly interface, and the ability to download songs for offline listening.

You can also customize the age range, so that your child only has access to songs suitable for those up to six, or gets access to music suitable for ages up to 12.

To use Spotify Kids you do need a Spotify Premium Family subscription, and each child you add will take up one of the family slots (of which there are six), but if you don’t already have Spotify Premium Family then you can get a one-month free trial.

Audio Manager

$0.99 / £0.89

We’ve all been there: you’ve finally fallen asleep only to be woken up by a drunken text or call from a friend in the middle of the night, but with Audio Manager that need never happen again.

Sure, you can stop it happening already by manually muting your phone when you go to bed, and many phones have limited scheduling options for Do Not Disturb mode, but Audio Manager lets you schedule specific audio settings for specific times and days. So you can lower the volume or mute your phone overnight, for example. You might perhaps also want it to automatically switch to vibrate during working hours.

And it’s not just days and times that you can set; you can also change the settings based on location, so that for example you could have your phone automatically mute when you enter your office, and turn the sound up full when you leave.

You can also have multiple routines set at once, so if there are any days, times or places where you consistently want your phone’s sound settings a particular way, Audio Manager can make sure that happens.

Muviz Edge

Free + various IAPs

Muviz Edge adds visuals to your music by displaying a music visualizer around the edges of your phone’s screen while music is playing.

It works with streamed or local content from any app and you can customize the visuals, choosing from a number of patterns, and adjusting the colors, speed, and more. You can even get Muviz Edge to automatically match the colors of the album art for whatever you’re currently listening to.

It’s a bit limited in that a visualizer along the edge of your screen can only do so much – no matter how you tweak it all we’re really talking about is colored lines moving around the screen edge, but it still looks good.

It also requires IAPs to unlock some of the patterns and certain other features, but there’s enough here for free that it’s worth downloading even if you’re not prepared to shell out for all the extras.

Volume Panel Pro

$0.99 / £0.59

Volume Panel Pro is a replacement for your smartphone’s standard volume controls. Hit the volume key on your phone and you’ll see this instead, which in many cases will be an upgrade.

The Android app can display volumes for calls, media and alarms all in one go, so you don’t need to dig into menus to change individual settings. You can also choose which side of the phone screen to display the volume controls on and how far from the top, change the colors of both the panel and the sliders, choose which volume gets altered by default, choose how long the volume panel stays visible after you hit a volume key, and more.

It’s not a game-changing feature, but it’s a well thought out and customizable improvement on most standard Android volume controls, and it’s easily worth the low asking price.

Pocket Casts

Free + $1.19 / £0.99 monthly subscription

We’ve covered Pocket Casts before, but it’s worth highlighting again because it’s now free. That doesn’t mean you’ll be bombarded with adverts or have your data sold; this Android app is truly free with no strings attached.

Those who want more or want to support the developers can subscribe to the new Pocket Casts Plus service (for $1.19 / £0.99 per month or $11.99 / £9.99 per year), which unlocks extras like desktop players, additional themes and the ability to upload and play non-podcast files on Pocket Casts.

But for everyone else, it’s the same app that so many have known and loved for years, complete with a slick interface and all sorts of handy tools, such as a volume boost for speech, the ability to change the playback speed and trim silence, Chromecast support, and a whole lot more.

The developers promise that the free version won’t be neglected either – this is still their core product and will continue to get updated and have new free features added. So if you’ve not already tried Pocket Casts there’s never been a better time.

Luminary

Free + $7.99/£6.99 per month

Luminary is a podcast app that, as well as packing in access to most of the podcasts you know and love, also has its own exclusive content that you won’t find anywhere else.

Access to those exclusive shows – over 40 of which are either out or in the works at the time of writing – is the main reason to choose Luminary over other podcast players, but to get that access you will have to subscribe at a cost of $7.99/£6.99 per month (following one free month).

These exclusives are ad-free and in many cases come from big names like Lena Dunham and Trevor Noah, but even if you’re not up for paying, Luminary could still be worth considering.

Stick to the free content and this is basically like any other podcast app, but it’s a polished one, with an attractive interface and loads of features, including the ability to cast podcasts to speakers, download podcasts for offline listening, get new podcast suggestions based on what you like, change the play speed, activate a sleep timer, and more.

The only real downside to Luminary at the moment is that while it offers exclusive content, the Android app also lacks a few big-name shows that you’ll find on other platforms, such as Reply All and The Daily, so if any of your favorites are missing, you’re best off podcasting elsewhere.

Pocket Casts

$3.99/£3.99

Pocket Casts has long been our podcast player of choice, but the Android app is a very different beast today to what it once was, thanks to a major update bringing it to version 7.

It’s an update that’s mostly for the better in our opinion, but not without its critics. Love it or hate it though, it’s a big enough overhaul to warrant highlighting Pocket Casts again. It also makes the app worth revisiting if you tried it before but didn’t get on with the old version.

The changes include a whole new look and a wealth of new features, such as up-next syncing, listening history, the ability to play podcasts without subscribing, improved recommendations, the ability to search for specific episodes, new swipe controls, a draggable player and a whole lot more.

If you’re used to the old version of the app then version 7 will take some getting used to, but we reckon most people will come to love it.

TaoMix 2

Free + various IAP

TaoMix 2 is an ambient noise Android app designed to drown out the outside world and help you relax, sleep or focus.

There are lots of sounds to choose from, such as birds chirping, rain, waves, wind, a fireplace, a thunderstorm and many more. But you’re not limited to one sound – you can build a soundscape by selecting several at once.

Each of these sounds appears as a circle on your screen and there’s another circle which can be made to move around the screen, and which makes each sound more prominent when it overlaps with them, so the soundscapes vary over time based on the movements of this circle.

You can save any soundscape you make to easily return to it later and you can set a timer, so the soundscape will automatically turn off after a set period of time. You can even record your own sounds.

The core app is free, but to get the most out of TaoMix 2 you’ll want to invest in some of the sound packs to bulk up the available selection. These start at £0.69/US$0.99.

Our favorite Android apps for taking notes, writing and editing documents and generally working on the move.

Typewise Keyboard

Free + $1.99/£1.89 monthly subscription

Typewise Keyboard aims to reinvent the smartphone keyboard, by opting for hexagonal keys which are 70% larger than typical smartphone keyboard keys and therefore easier to hit, reducing typos.

Typewise Keyboard also has numerous gesture controls, which can speed up typing significantly once you get used to them, as can the presence of not one but two spacebars, or rather, space hexagons.

Other notable features include a focus on privacy, as everything is stored locally, and an absence of permissions (there’s just one required in order to enable vibration).

There’s an autocorrect feature too, and if you don’t get on with the hexagons you can switch to a more conventional layout – although if you’re going to do that then there are a lot of strong alternative keyboards.

Typewise is mostly free, but for $1.99/£1.89 a month (with discounts if you pay for a year upfront) you can access numerous themes, along with vibration and various additional settings and options.

We’re not big on paying a subscription for a keyboard, but most users probably won’t feel the need and there is also a lifetime licence available for $24.99/£19.49.

In any case, the free version is definitely worth a try, and worth persevering with for at least a few days, as it does have a learning curve, but we were impressed once we got the hang of it.

Fleksy

Free + various IAP

Are you bored of using the same old keyboard? If so, then you might want to give Fleksy a try, as it’s stylish and near endlessly customizable through dozens of themes.

Of course, the Android app also does the actual job of being a keyboard admirably. In our experience you can type on it quite fast with minimal mistakes, and the autocorrect works well. It also has extras such as GIFs, handwriting support, gesture controls, and even a whole ‘Fleksyapps’ section, which lets you access a number of apps from within the keyboard.

Say, for example, you’re mid-conversation with a friend, trying to decide where to go for lunch. Usually if you want to look places up, you’d have to switch to another app, but with Fleksy you can just access Yelp from within the keyboard and keep on typing.

You can also access the likes of YouTube and Skyscanner, and we expect other apps will be added over time.

For the most part Fleksy is free, but certain themes cost ‘Fleksycoins’, which can be obtained through doing things like watching adverts (which are never forced on you) and earning badges from your use of the app, or purchased with real money.

Email TypeApp

Free + various IAP

With the death of Inbox by Gmail, there’s a good chance you’re looking for a new email app, and the clunkily-named Email TypeApp might fit the bill.

The Android app is absolutely packed full of features, such as a unified inbox for multiple email accounts, Android Wear support, a customizable look, account color-coding, configurable menus, read receipts, the ability to unsend emails, and more.

It also has customizable Do Not Disturb days and hours – a feature that’s sadly missing from some alternative apps.

Email TypeApp is also mostly free. A few extra features such as send later and VIP notifications are chargeable, but you can unlock everything for $6.99/£5.99 and chances are you’ll be happy with the free content anyway.

JotterPad

Free + various IAP

If you have an Android tablet with a keyboard you might be considering doing some serious writing, and if you’re considering that then you should definitely consider using JotterPad.

This isn’t a new app; rather, it’s an old favorite of many that’s regularly updated, ensuring it remains one of the best options for writing on Android.

The core of the Android app is a distraction-free text editor, but dig into the menus and there are all sorts of tools and options. There’s Markdown support for example, a word count, cloud storage, a phrase search, a built-in dictionary, a dark theme, a rhyming dictionary, numerous fonts, and more.

Some of this stuff is hidden behind IAP, the main one being ‘Pro’, which costs $14.99/£12.99. That might seem steep, but it’s a one-off payment and if you’re writing an essay or novel on JotterPad then you should easily get your money’s worth.

Writer Tools

Free + $4.99/£4.99 monthly subscription

Writer Tools is a set of tools for anyone who’s setting out to write a novel. The app makes this daunting task a bit more manageable by letting you create characters and locations.

These sections store these details so they’re always readily available, and help you flesh them out. For example, the character creator lets you fill out all sorts of optional details such as their greatest fear and best memory.

Writer Tools also has a built-in thesaurus, lets you jot down ideas and notes, create timelines, set quarterly writing goals, and more. You can also back-up your work to the cloud, so you’ll never lose it.

This is all free, but for a monthly subscription you can get rid of adverts, access all your historic backups, add images to your characters and locations, switch to a night mode, and more. There’s a lot in this Android app, which goes some way to justifying the price, but many users will be fine with the free version.

OfficeSuite

Free + £8.49 (around $11.10) IAP

If you’re looking for office software on Android there are really only a handful of options, and OfficeSuite is one of the best, thanks largely to how feature-packed it is.

You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations or PDFs, and you can start from scratch or use one of numerous templates as a jumping off point.

You can share documents and message contributors from the Android app, save work to the cloud, open two documents and work on them both at once in split-screen, cast presentations across multiple devices, and a whole lot more.

Most of the features in OfficeSuite are totally free, but if you’re using it a lot it’s probably worth upgrading to OfficeSuite Premium, which, among other things, lets you save files in more formats and unlocks more PDF tools, such as the ability to convert PDFs to Word or Excel format, and create and use digital signatures.

Microsoft Word

Free + $6.99/£5.99 monthly subscription

Microsoft Word probably needs no introduction, but if you do much word processing on your tablet (or even your phone) and haven’t tried the Android app then you really should.

You essentially get the full version, allowing you to view, create and edit documents of various styles, including newsletters, brochures and more.

You can change the font, text color, margins, add bullet points and most other things possible from the desktop version of Word, via a slick, polished interface that’s pleasingly minimal most of the time. You can also save your documents to OneDrive, so they’re accessible from other devices.

Many of the features are free, but you’ll need an Office 365 subscription (which starts at US$6.99/£5.99 per month) to unlock the likes of page and section breaks, columns, different page orientations, and the ability to track and review changes in the Android app.

Otter Voice Notes

Free + optional subscription

Sometimes you don’t have time to take notes. Recording audio can come in handy, but often means spending time transcribing it later. Not so with Otter Voice Notes.

The Android app will automatically transcribe what’s spoken using AI, and you can teach it to recognize your voice so it can differentiate between speakers.

Once the audio is transcribed you can read it and correct any mistakes manually. The audio is also recorded, so you can listen back to the recording as well.

The really clever bit though is that Otter will detect keywords automatically, so you can search for a word and the app will find where it appears in any of your recordings. It’s a great feature that makes it easy to find specific information, even if you’ve recorded hours of audio.

You can also create groups, allowing you to share recordings with others, and all of your recordings are stored in the cloud so you can access them on any device and they won’t take up space on your phone.

The only two problems we’ve found so far is that longer recordings can take a while to be transcribed, and the transcription isn’t always perfect. It’s usually good enough that you can tell what it means though, and you can correct any errors so it’s not a big deal.

Chambers Thesaurus

$4.99/£2.99

There are a number of thesaurus apps on Google Play and some are free, but if you’re regularly writing – or looking words up – on your Android device, then Chambers Thesaurus is one of the best options, and worth the outlay.

It has entries for almost 40,000 words, along with around 400,000 synonyms and antonyms, and they’re browsable alphabetically so you can read through the thesaurus if you want, rather than simply searching for a word.

When you do search, you’ll get results as soon as you start typing, and not just for words that fit the spelling, but also similarly spelt words, those that sound similar, and those that are often confused for one another.

You can also bookmark entries and cross reference with the Chambers Dictionary or WordWeb apps (if you have them), or look the words up on Wikipedia, Wiktionary or Google, all with a tap from Chambers Thesaurus.

Data is stored locally, so you don’t need an internet connection to use the Android app itself, and there are all sorts of customization options, letting you change the color scheme, font size and more.

Our favorite Android apps for improving productivity, whether through to-do lists, focus timers or other tools.

Klima - Live carbon neutral

Free + optional monthly donation

There are lots of ways to help the environment, but Klima aims to simplify the whole process and ensure you’re living a carbon neutral lifestyle.

It does this by asking various questions about your lifestyle, including your diet, whether you drive, how often and far you fly, and more, and from that it estimates your annual carbon footprint. From there it then gives you the option to fund initiatives that can offset it, such as planting trees, or funding solar power or social impact projects.

You can fund any or all of them, and the Klima app works out a monthly cost for you to totally offset your estimated carbon footprint.

The app will then track how much you’re offsetting over time, as well as detailing how many trees your money has planted, how many kWh of solar power you’ve produced, and how your money has had a social impact (at the time of writing that means providing clean cook stoves).

The app also highlights the areas where you could lessen your carbon footprint through your own actions, such as by shopping less or going vegan. So whether you spend or not there are tools here to help you help the environment.

Duet Display

$19.99/£19.49

Duet Display is an Android app that lets you use your phone or tablet as a second screen for your PC or Mac. Simply launch the Duet Display Android app as well as the free Duet desktop app, and the latter will detect your phone or tablet and turn it into an extra screen.

You can control your desktop from this second screen using taps and gestures, even if your PC or Mac isn’t touchscreen itself, so it potentially gives you a new way to interact with your computer, and at the very least it gives you more space.

It also works without any wires, though you can use a USB connection if you prefer. It’s not particularly cheap at $19.99/£19.49, but it does something no other app that we know of can.

Twobird

Free

Twobird is a new email app but it goes beyond email by also offering a space for notes, complete with a simple built-in to-do list feature and the ability to easily create tables. You can collaborate on notes too, nest them inside emails, and leave comments for other participants – best of all, those participants don’t even need Twobird.

The email bit is still the focus of Twobird though and it does a good job of that too, with a minimalist interface but various tools tucked away if you need them, such as the ability to set a ‘reminder’ to respond to an email, by having it pop back up in your inbox at a time that suits you.

So the Android app looks good, works well and has more features than you might expect at first glance. It also supports multiple email addresses, though it’s limited to Gmail, which is its one main issue right now. If you use Gmail though, and like the idea of having your emails and notes all in one place, then Twobird is an app worth getting.

Yahoo Mail

Free + monthly or yearly subscription

You probably don’t use Yahoo for your email, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the Yahoo Mail app, as it works with other email services and is impressively powerful.

Highlights include the ability to see every file you’ve ever received all in a single place, as well as being able to view all the mailing lists you’re subscribed to in one place – and easily unsubscribe from any you don’t want with a single tap.

You can also view receipts, or see mail just from people (rather than companies and robots), and there are a number of customization options too, so you can for example change the theme (for each linked email account individually), and customize what swiping left or right over a message will do.

The Android app gives you all this free, but for $0.99/£0.89 per month or $9.99/£8.99 per year you can get rid of adverts.

Microsoft To Do

Free

Microsoft To Do has progressed slowly, but it has reached the point now where it’s genuinely one of the best list-making Android apps.

It’s now much prettier than it once was, for a start, with full-color customizable backgrounds and the sort of polished overall appearance you’d expect from an app by a company as big as Microsoft.

The list-making part is good too. You can group lists, decide whether completed entries should be hidden or simply struck through, and star important tasks, all of which will then also appear on a separate ‘Important’ list.

There’s also a ‘My Day’ section, helping you focus just on the tasks that you want to get done in the next 24 hours.

Within each list you can choose to sort by importance, due date, creation date, or alphabetically. You can create collaborative lists or share a copy of a list. And if you’re currently using Wunderlist you can import all of your content from that (as Microsoft owns that too).

Expenses: Simple Tracker

Free

Expenses: Simple Tracker is a simple, speedy way to track expenses. Simply tap the ‘Add Expense’ button to add an expense, including the amount, the currency (though you can separately choose a default currency, so you’ll only have to change this when using another), and the date that the expense occurred – with the current date selected by default.

You can also add optional notes and tags, the latter of which you create yourself. You may want to do this to separate your expenses into different categories, such as ‘bills’ and ‘groceries’. You can attach multiple tags to an expense if it fits into more than one category.

The main screen of Expenses: Simple Tracker will then give an overview of your expenses. It initially shows your all-time expenses total, with a list of these expenses below, sorted by date. However, you can also choose just to see expenses from the current day, the week or the month. And you can filter by tags. So if you only want to see what you’ve spent on socializing, you can do that – as long as you tagged the expenses in the first place.

You can’t connect a bank account to the Android app, which is both a blessing and a curse. It keeps it simple, but means you have to manually enter every expense. Still, it’s slick and it’s free – so downloading the app won’t be something you have to add to your expenses.

Checketry

Free + $2.99 (around £2.45) monthly subscription

Checketry is a file and download manager that lets you keep tabs on and manage downloads that are happening on your PC, from your phone.

The Android app can access downloads from Chrome and Firefox (with the appropriate browser plugins installed), manage torrents and even control your Steam downloads.

The free version mostly just lets you view current, queued and finished downloads, but upgrade for a monthly or yearly subscription and you can also pause or cancel downloads and even access some remote desktop tools, such as the ability to shut down your PC from afar.

It’s a great tool if you ever leave downloads running on your PC while you’re not at your desk, and is worth a download even if you stick with the free version.

Crono

Free

If you use Chrome on your computer then with the help of Crono you can very easily get all of your smartphone notifications on your desktop, and even reply to messages.

Simply install the Android app on your phone and the Chrome extension on your computer, then scan a QR code, similar to how you log in to WhatsApp Web, and from there – like WhatsApp Web – your messages will pop up in your browser.

You won’t be limited to WhatsApp messages, though – emails, SMS messages and other chat apps are all supported, as is replying to the messages. You can view calendar notifications, any timers you have running, and pretty much anything else happening on your phone as well.

Crono also lets you reject calls from your browser and ring your phone, which is handy if you’ve misplaced it. And all of the notifications sent through Crono sport end-to-end encryption, so it’s secure too.

Our favorite Android apps for customizing your device and improving its security.

CalenTile - Calendar Quick Settings Tile

$0.99 / £0.59

CalenTile is an incredibly simple app that will be very useful for some people. All it does is create a quick settings tile that will display your next calendar event, along with the time and date it’s scheduled for. You can tap on it to view the full event text, or to go to the entry in your calendar, but that’s it – that’s the whole app.

This however means that you can see what and when your next calendar entry is from any screen on your phone – just swipe down and it will be visible. It’s also a handy alternative to a calendar widget for anyone who doesn’t want to clutter up their home screens.

Given that it isn’t free this absolutely won’t be for everyone, but if it sounds useful to you then there are far worse ways you could spend $0.99 / £0.59.

Shortcut Manager

$0.99 / £0.59

Shortcut Manager lets you take the customization of your home screen to the next level, by allowing you to create shortcuts to your apps with names and images of your choice.

Changing the name probably isn’t something you’ll want to do much, but can be handy for apps where the full name isn’t displayed as standard, making it hard to find them. And changing the icon can definitely be worth doing if you’re trying to theme your home screens, or just don’t like the official icon for an app.

As well as doing all this for apps, Shortcut Manager also lets you create shortcuts to actions, such as a Bluetooth toggle, or to a specific contact or cloud storage folder. You can customize the name and image associated with these too, and then add them to your home screen.

Given the low one-off cost of Shortcut Manager, and how easy it is to use, we’d say it could be worth a download even if you only plan to use it once or twice.

Clario: Security & Privacy

Monthly and yearly subscriptions

Clario is an all-in-one privacy and security app to make sure your web activity is kept private and your passwords secure.

The app has six core focuses, three of which have a specific tab in the app – there’s ‘Identity’, which alerts you if passwords associated with any of your email accounts are breached, as well as providing additional information on the breach, and in many cases links to the site to change your password.

Then there’s ‘Browsing’, which lets you activate a VPN to keep your browsing activity hidden from your internet provider. You can also say what location in the world you want your web activity to appear to originate from, allowing you to unblock region-locked content, and it has things like anti-malware built in.

There’s also a ‘Network’ section, which is used to encrypt your data via VPN and makes public Wi-Fi networks a lot safer.

They're the main tabs in the app itself, but additionally Clario can secure your financial information, by for example monitoring your credit and debit cards for breaches, and it can block malicious apps, and work to safeguard your files.

Clario is also available on Mac, iOS, and as a browser extension, so the final key benefit is that you can get this security on all your devices, all of which can also benefit from protection from ransomware and other intrusions.

On top of all that, if you have any privacy or security issues there’s also a readily available chat box at the bottom of every screen, letting you talk to real human experts 24/7.

It’s an impressive service, though having all these features it of course doesn’t come free. But there’s a free trial, and you can choose to pay monthly or yearly. At the time of writing you can also get a hefty launch discount that you’re locked into for life if you get Clario in the first month, so it’s worth checking out.

Note that at the time of writing you also have to create an account on Clario’s website to be able to use the app, but we’ve been assured that you’ll be able to create an account from the app itself before long.

ExpressVPN

15 months for the price of 12 and 30-day money back guarantee

It's little wonder that ExpressVPN tops our list of best Android VPN apps - it's an exceptional version of the desktop experience and boasts some of the best security smarts in the VPN game.

So that means encrypted tunnels to ensure prying eyes can't see what you're up to (even on unsecured public Wi-Fi), an integrated kill switch for when your connection drops and genuinely handy 24/7 support for when you do run into trouble.

You can sign up to ExpressVPN and get the app by heading to the company's website.

Cometin

Free + various IAPs

Cometin is really many Android apps in one, but they’re all focused on tweaking and improving your Android experience. What does that mean? Well, Cometin has numerous modules which you can choose to activate, each of which has different functionality.

One for example gives you more control over your screen’s auto rotation, letting you enable ‘full orientation’, which allows you to rotate the screen to 90, 180 or 270 degrees, or to force a specific orientation.

There’s also an ‘Ambient Display’ module, which lets you activate an always-on display or wave over your phone to show the time.

There are several other modules beyond those, with more likely to be added over time. Most of the content is currently free as well, though there a few IAPs, most notably one that lets you activate more than five modules at once.

Vivaldi Browser Beta

Free

Don’t let the ‘beta’ in the name put you off – this Android app is worth getting excited about. Vivaldi Browser Beta is an Android version of the Vivaldi desktop web browser, which is enormously customizable and full of thoughtful features.

The Android version has things like Speed Dial, giving you quick access to your favorite sites whenever you open a new tab, a built in notepad, and the ability to switch search engines from the search bar itself, just by typing the first letter of their name before your query.

Vivaldi Browser Beta also lets you sync your bookmarks, notes, passwords and more across devices (using end-to-end encryption), use private browsing, add searchable descriptions to bookmarks, screenshot entire web pages, switch to a dark mode, and more.

If you’re used to Chrome then the layout might take a little getting used to, but this Android app is well worth the effort.

Tor Browser

Free

Tor is probably the most secure and privacy-focused web browser available on desktop, and now you can get Tor Browser for Android.

The app uses multi-layered encryption, with your web traffic relayed and encrypted three times. It also blocks trackers, prevents surveillance and resists fingerprinting.

The Android app is, if anything, probably overkill for most people, but the interface – based on Firefox v60 – is fairly slick, so there aren’t too many downsides to using it. And as well as making your online activity more secure, Tor can also bypass many regional restrictions on websites, so it achieves many of the same things as a VPN. It’s also completely free to use.

MIUI-ify Notification Shade

Free + $2.49/£1.99 IAP

Phones are getting bigger, but hands aren’t, which can sometimes pose a problem when it comes to accessing the notification shade, as this typically sits all the way at the top of the screen.

With MIUI-ify Notification Shade you can move it to the bottom, but this is more than just a simple switch of positions. The app also lets you customize the colors and overall look, the size and position of the area you have to swipe over to bring it up, and to pick exactly what shortcuts appear on the shade, among other things.

It works well too, and looks good doing it; the name might be clunky, but in practice MIUI-ify Notification Shade is anything but.

The core Android app is free but many of the customization options require a one-off $2.49/£1.99 IAP, which should be worth it if you plan to use this app.

Betta Fish Live Wallpaper

Free + $0.99/£0.69 IAP

While live wallpapers can be a little harsher on battery than their static siblings, there’s no denying that they often look great, and Betta Fish Live Wallpaper is one of the best examples.

This Android app allows a betta fish (aka a Siamese fighting fish) to swim around your home screen, with beautiful animations and lots of detail. It’s even slightly interactive, as you can block the fish’s path with a tap or swipe on the screen.

That much you get for free, but for a $0.99/£0.69 IAP you unlock the ability to change the colors of both the fish and the background, change the fish’s movement path, turn the bubbles off, and more. We’d say it’s cheap enough that it’s worth the outlay if you like what you see, but either way you can turn your phone into an eye-catching digital fish tank.

Abstruct – Wallpapers in 4K

Free + $1.99/£1.99 IAP

Abstruct is the official wallpaper app of the man behind the wallpapers used by OnePlus phones, and it includes both those wallpapers and many others created by him.

At the time of writing there are over 300 in all and they’re all available in 4K resolution. They’re also absolutely gorgeous. As the name suggests, they’re mostly abstract, but they’re split into galleries that are each distinct from one another.

There’s one that shows real-world landscapes made to look alien for example, and another where all the designs are made up of polygons.

Many of these galleries are free, but access to everything in the Android app requires a one-off payment of $1.99/£1.99. Paying for wallpapers might seem odd when the internet is packed full of them, but these are good enough that if you like their style it’s worth the outlay – this is one of very few wallpaper apps that we’ve spent money on.

App Tiles

Free

If there are any Android apps that you pretty much live inside then App Tiles could be for you, as it makes accessing them even quicker and easier.

It does this by letting you add a shortcut to them on your notifications screen, just like you probably have shortcuts to various settings up there now.

App Tiles lets you assign up to six such shortcuts for any apps on your phone, so rather than returning to the home screen to launch one of them you can do so with a swipe and a tap.

This won’t always be faster, especially if you’re already on the relevant home screen, but it gives you one more way to get into them and is sure to save time on some occasions. We wouldn’t say this is essential for everyone, but it works perfectly in our tests and it’s totally free, so it’s well worth checking out if the idea appeals.

Resplash

Free

Resplash is a wallpaper Android app that uses content from Unsplash – a site full of free stock photos that you can use for anything.

As it’s using content from such a well-established site, Resplash has a massive library, with over 100,000 images, but it’s still easy to find specific styles of photo by searching or browsing by category.

As well as downloading images or setting them straight to your wallpaper, you can also favorite them, so you’ll always be able to find them again, even from a different device. Resplash offers a surprising amount of personalization too, letting you change the theme and the way images are displayed (as a list or a grid, for example).

You can also choose the quality of images when you download them or set them as a wallpaper, with options ranging from ‘thumb’ to ‘raw’. Best of all, it’s completely free, though if you do feel like supporting the makers of the app there is an option to donate.

SAFE

Free

SAFE is an Android app that’s designed to, well, help you ensure your phone is safe. It guards against intrusion - whether it’s from hackers, viruses or nosy eyes.

It does this by giving your device four scores. One for its configuration, one for connectivity, one for apps and one for the operating system. Each of these scores is out of five, with higher being better and suggesting a greater level of security.

But you get more than just a number. You also get a breakdown of everything that affected the score, with positives in green and negatives in red. If you tap on any of these you can get additional information, complete with help in solving the problem if it’s a red thing.

Bear in mind that you might disagree with SAFE as to what is and isn’t a problem. For example, it will flag having Bluetooth or NFC on as security issues, which technically they are, but they’re also useful (and essential in some circumstances). You probably won’t want to fix everything, but SAFE could end up highlighting some issues you didn’t know about and making your device safer in the process.

Malwarebytes Security

Free + $1.49/£1.19 monthly subscription

While there are various security features already built into Android, you can’t be too careful, so it’s well worth considering adding Malwarebytes Security to your Android app arsenal.

Malwarebytes can scan your device for viruses, adware and malware, but it also offers proactive protection, with real-time ransomware shields, protection from phishing URLs when using Chrome, alerts when there’s a malicious link in a text message, and the ability to block unwanted calls.

Malwarebytes can also conduct a privacy audit on your phone, showing you at a glance what privileges your apps have.

Most of these features are only available in the premium version, which costs $1.49/£1.19 per month or $11.99/£10.99 for a year, but you get a 30-day free trial and if you don’t want to pay you can still scan and clean your phone with the free version.

Our favorite Android apps for planning a holiday, checking the weather and getting around without getting lost.

National Park Service

Free

The National Park Service app is a complete and official guide to the hundreds of US national parks. As such it will primarily be of interest to those planning to visit a national park – but there are aspects that could appeal to anyone.

The app includes events, maps, self-guided tours, information on accommodation, points of interest, restrooms, shopping, things to do, visitor center hours, and more.

It also has accessibility features, such as audio descriptions of exhibits, and – for those who can’t physically get to a park right now – there are also links to the various webcams that give you a live look at parts of the parks.

In all the National Park Service app is feature-packed and comprehensive, and it’s also free to use. Some aspects of it arguably look a bit cheaply made – it’s definitely more functional than stylish, but when it’s as functional as this, we’re okay with that.

Appy Weather

Free + $3.99/£3.99 yearly subscription

It’s not easy to get excited about weather apps, and we can’t claim that Appy Weather changes that, but most of us probably do use one or more of them regularly, and Appy Weather is well worth consideration.

Once a Windows Phone app, it’s finally made its way to Android, where it stands out through an attractive, minimalist and easy to navigate interface that has a look unlike most other weather apps.

Whether you like the style will be subjective, but feature-wise it has got everything most users need, including forecasts for the current day and the next seven days, complete with the temperature, what it ‘feels like’, precipitation, cloud cover, visibility and a whole lot of other details.

Information is largely presented on easy to read graphs and with large, clear text, and the forecasts come from Dark Sky, which is generally accurate in our experience.

A sticking point might be the cost – the free version only lets you search for a forecast five times per day. To remove that limit, get rid of adverts, and unlock widgets, you’ll need to subscribe for $3.99/£3.99 per year.

Subscribing to a weather app might seem unappealing, but most users probably won’t need to. After all, how many times a day do you really check the weather? Plus, the app’s author does a good job of justifying the price, as not only is it a great Android app, they explain that the service used to retrieve the weather isn’t free, so for the app to be sustainable a subscription model is currently necessary.

Culture Trip

Free

Whether you’re heading abroad or just want to get more out of the city you live in, Culture Trip could help.

Search for a place or just use your current location and the Android app will serve up a selection of articles, covering things to see and do, and tips and tricks relevant to the location.

Some of these articles also include videos, and Culture Trip doesn’t stick just with the obvious stuff (for example, a search for New York turned up articles such as The Enchanting Witches of New York City), but there’s plenty of more conventional content too, like lists of the top 20 sights you need to see.

You can bookmark things you’re interested in and download content so you can access it offline – ideal if you’re going to be roaming abroad. There are also links to book hotels and the like straight from the app, and with images everywhere and a nice layout, it’s a pleasure to use and get inspired by.

Atmosphere Weather

Free + $3.99/£3.69 annual subscription

Atmosphere Weather aims to stand out from the weather-watching crowd by presenting the forecast like a 24-hour clock. Each hour of weather is presented by a segment on the clock face, giving you a clear way to instantly see the hour-by-hour weather for the next day at a glance.

As well as seeing written temperatures on each hour, there’s also color-coding to represent the different temperatures and how clear the sky is.

You can even get calendar events displayed on the weather clock, and away from that screen there’s also a radar view, complete with wind speeds and directions.

The clock is the main feature though and it’s a genuinely useful and different twist on weather forecasts.

The only downside is that after a two-week free trial of the Android app, you have to either put up with ads or pay a subscription, which will cost you $3.99/£3.69 per year. We'd have preferred to see a one-off payment option, but if you use the app regularly it should be worth the outlay.

Fog of World

$4.99/£4.49

Fog of World is a new, fun take on mapping apps, as it’s inspired by the ‘fog of war’ that you get in some video games (that being fog that obscures areas of a map that you’ve not been to yet) but applies it to the real world.

The Android app gives you a detailed world map, but applies fog to it. Unlike most games the fog doesn’t actually hide the map, it just dulls it a bit. When you’ve been somewhere the fog is removed, so over time you can see all the places you’ve been on a single world map, based on which bits don’t have fog.

To make it more interesting you can level up as you make progress and unlock various achievements, such as for visiting a certain number of countries or crossing the equator. You can also sync your data so it’s available on other devices.

Fog of World isn’t going to replace Google Maps for your navigation needs, but it’s a fun, visual way to see where you’ve been, covering everything from a trip to the local store to your various holidays.

CARROT Weather

Free + optional $3.99/£3.39 yearly subscription

After a long stint on iOS, CARROT Weather has finally come to Android, and if you like a dose of snark with your forecast it’s worth getting excited about.

Because as well as providing accurate forecasts powered by Dark Sky, CARROT Weather is home to an ‘AI’ that insults you and revels in your weather-related misery. This takes the form of more than 6,000 lines of dialogue, each of which can optionally be spoken aloud by its synthetic voice.

With cute illustrations as well and even a game that sees you following clues to hunt down secret locations, CARROT Weather has more personality than any rival app.

The Android app is also good for the important matter of telling you the forecast, as you can see hourly and daily forecasts, complete with humidity, UV Index, wind speed and more.

The core app is free, but for US$3.99/£3.39 per year (or US$0.99/£0.89 per month) you can unlock a customizable widget, animated satellite maps, and get rid of adverts.

Moovit

Free

Moovit isn’t new, but if you ever use public transport it’s an Android app that's well worth knowing about. Simply type a destination and Moovit will give you a selection of ways to get there, using all the public transport routes available.

Tap on a route to get full directions or even a map with live navigation (complete with alerts telling you when to get off the transport you’re on), or further filter your results to minimize walking, use the least number of transfers or cut out certain transport types entirely.

There are also handy features like the ability to save regular destinations and favorite the bus and train lines you use a lot, so you can quickly see their timetables.

Transport timings are real-time where available, so you’ll know if the train or bus is running late, and you can download various maps for offline use. You can also use Moovit all over the world, with transport details for new cities regularly added.

All in all, it’s one of the slickest, most feature-packed public transport navigation apps you can get.

Climendo

$3.99/£3.49 

The problem with weather apps is that, for the most part, they only use one source for their data, but Climendo uses lots, and then works out what the most likely weather at any given time is.

The complete selection of weather providers that it uses includes AccuWeather, Weather Underground, NOAA, Met Office, Foreca, Dark Sky, SMHI, YR and World Weather Online – though only the most accurate ones for your location will be used.

You can see hourly or 10-day forecasts, complete with the likelihood of each being accurate, or you can dig down to the individual forecasts from each weather provider, to see how they vary.

Climendo lacks some of the more detailed information found in other Android apps – such as humidity and UV index -  but if you just want accurate information on whether or not you need an umbrella then this app is up there with the best.

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