Best free Android apps

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If you have an Android device you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to apps, with the Google Play store being home to thousands of them.

  • What’s the best smartphone of 2015?

The huge quantity of apps doesn’t mean they’re all quality – far from it in fact. To make sure you never install a duff app here’s our selection of the best 50 you should install right now. Each one has been carefully chosen to ensure that you have the best apps on your device.

1. Periscope

Periscope

Periscope, Twitter’s live video streaming app, has made its way to Android and it’s an essential download for anyone who likes the immediacy of Twitter but craves something more visual.

You can easily create your own live streams or watch other people’s, send comments and hearts in real time and if you miss the action there’s a 24 hour window with which to replay streams. In short it’s simple enough to dive straight into but has enough to it that you’ll keep coming back, whether you’re more creator or viewer.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

2. WhatsApp

whatsapp

WhatsApp is one of the most essential apps you can install on your Android device, especially if you have friends and family across the world.

Rather than using up your SMS allowance by sending text messages, WhatsApp lets you send messages over any Wi-Fi or mobile data connection instead. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, and if you’re using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) they won’t cost you any extra to send.

  • Winner of app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

3. Spotify

Spotify

Similar to Netflix, Spotify has been pretty quick to establish itself as the top music streaming service, and the Spotify Music app brings some great features to your Android device, turning it in to a pocket jukebox that delivers your favourite tunes no matter where you are.

Even better you can now listen to Spotify music for free on Android, although if you want to download songs for offline listening and without any ads, then a Spotify Premium account is worth investing in.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

4. Evernote

Evernote

Evernote is an excellent app for your Android device that lets you stash and sync all your text notes, voice memos and files on your phone and access them through a desktop computer.

It’s a brilliant productivity tool that lets you organise and search your notes so you always have exactly what you need at your fingertips.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

5. Timehop

Timehop

For the most part, social media is fleeting, but Timehop is all about digging up precious memories from the past. You link it to whatever social media services you frequent (and your on-device photos) and it shows you what was happening years ago on today’s date.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

6. Pushbullet

PushBullet

Boost your productivity with Pushbullet, which lets you view your Android phone’s notifications and messages directly on your desktop PC. It means if you get a text message you can read it there and then without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag.

You can also quickly send files from your computer to your phone with only a few clicks, and if you regularly find that you email links to yourself just to open them on your smartphone, then you’ll never have to do that again thanks to Pushbullet’s link sharing features.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

7. Snapseed

Snapseed

Snapseed is Google’s own photo editor that’s been designed from the ground up to make tweaking your snaps as easy and fun as possible on a touchscreen Android device.

Although the interface is simple enough to use with just your fingers, there’s also a lot of depth to this app as well. You use tools to tweak and enhance your photographs to make them look the best they ever have, as well as playing around with fun filters that can transform the photos you’ve taken on your smartphone or tablet.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

8. Instagram

Instagram

Instagram is the go-to app for quickly taking photos, adding quirky filters to them and sharing them with the world. Over 300 million people use Instagram and thanks to the social aspects and effortless interface it’s easy to see why it’s such a hit.

You’re not limited to sharing your snaps on Instagram either, as you can easily add your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more with just a few taps.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

9. Google Photos

Google Photos

There are probably hundreds of photo apps around, but Google Photos stands out as it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos, all for free.

That’s reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on Android but on iOS and computers too.

But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it’s well on its way.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

10. Strava

Strava

If you’re serious about running or cycling then you should be serious about Strava. As smartphone fitness tools go it’s one of the best, allowing you to track your performance, set goals and see daily progress updates.

There are leaderboards and challenges to give it a competitive edge and if you’re ever not sure where to run or cycle you can find user created routes on the app, or share your own. All of that comes free of charge, while a premium version adds even more tools.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

11. Pocket

Pocket

Even in 2015 there are still times and places where we can’t get an internet connection, but this doesn’t have to mean you can’t read websites, however, thanks to the excellent Pocket app. It allows you to save articles, news stories, blog posts, videos and much more, letting you read and watch them offline.

You can also synchronise your saved articles across every device you’ve installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

12. Uber

uber

Uber is transforming the way we travel. You can quickly and easily request a taxi using the app and get picked up within minutes and you can compare rates and get quotes, as well as paying with Google Wallet, PayPal or by adding your credit card to a secure Uber account.

The Uber service is available in over 50 countries, and it’s rapidly growing. Give it a try and you’ll never want to hail a taxi the old fashioned way again.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

13. Citymapper – Bus, Tube, Rail

Citymapper

Arriving in a brand new city is always exciting but it can also be a little daunting, especially if you need to get around using public transport. Citymapper – Bus, Tube, Rail is a brilliant app that brings you real-time information on public transport for cities around the world.

You can easily plan your route using all kinds of transport and you can be kept up to date with any disruptions or cancellations. An essential app for any city-bound traveller.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

14. Google Maps

Google Maps

Google Maps is probably already on your phone, but as the best free mapping option around it’s well worth highlighting.

Transit directions, live traffic updates, voice-guided GPS navigation, Street View and more are all included, making this more feature-packed than even most paid options. Importantly it’s detailed and accurate too, so you’ll never get lost again.

  • Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

15. Launchify

Launchify

Keeping things simple is often key to success and that’s exactly what Launchify does. The app does one thing and one thing only- gives you shortcuts to other apps from your lock screen and notifications bar.

It means you’re never far from your favourite apps, with the ability to add six shortcuts with the free version and twelve if you pay to upgrade.

It’s even a little bit smart, as it can learn which apps you access when and where, to present you with the most appropriate selection at any given time. But if you’d rather just choose which ones it displays you can do that too.

16. Snowball

Snowball

If like us you’ve filled your phone up with hundreds of apps you may find that you’re getting an almost endless stream of notifications, many of which you have little to no interest in. Sure, Android has its own notification management, but Snowball arguably does it faster and better.

With it you can make sure important notifications are always shown at the top, while less important ones are listed below or hidden completely.

Better yet it learns and makes predictions over time and it allows you to reply to many notifications, such as WhatsApp and SMS messages, straight from the notification itself.

17. Twitter

Twitter

A few short years ago if we’d recommended the official Twitter app as the best resource for tweeting from your Android device, we’d have been laughed off the internet.

However a lot of work has since been put into the official app to help it compete and even surpass third party offerings. New features such as being able to embed tweets within tweets for some sort of tweetception shenanigans, as well as uploading GIFs, are all very welcome.

These new features plus a streamlined interface, a lack of superfluous features some of its competitor apps contain and no ads makes this the best app for firing off a quick tweet.

18. VLC for Android Beta

VLC gallery

It might not be quite as glamorous as other media players, but if you want a no-nonsense app that can play pretty much any media file under the sun, then VLC for Android Beta is the app for you.

As the name suggests this app is still in Beta which means there could be the odd bug, but we’ve yet to encounter anything serious and it’s perfectly stable for playing and streaming your media from around your house.

19. Dash Radio

Dash Radio

There are a number of streaming radio apps available for Android but where Dash Radio differs from most of them is that it includes over 60 original stations, with real DJ’s, no adverts and 24/7 content.

It’s not FM so you can listen with or without headphones and there are radio stations covering numerous genres, so it’s easy to find ones you’ll like. It also has daily competitions and supports Bluetooth streaming to external speakers. The overwhelmingly blue interface could use a bit of work but we can’t fault the content.

20. SwiftKey Neural Alpha

SwiftKey Neural Alpha

There’s a good chance you’ve already given SwiftKey a try, seeing as it’s one of the most popular Android keyboards available. SwiftKey Neural Alpha is similar, but with an intriguing addition.

It uses artificial intelligence to predict and correct your typing, theoretically offering smarter suggestions than other keyboard apps as it uses neural networks which are inspired by the structure of the human brain. This allows it to think more like a human and understand complex word relationships and word similarity, as well as being able to analyse context in longer sentences.

In practice so far it feels a lot like the normal SwiftKey, but anecdotally its suggestions seem a little better. As the name suggests it’s in Alpha, which does mean it might not be entirely stable, but it also means it will hopefully get better over time, so it’s worth trying out.

21. Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox is probably the best known tool for syncing and sharing your files, photos and videos across all your devices, and its popularity is well earned. Any files that you save to your Dropbox folder on any of your PCs or devices will appear in the Dropbox app.

It took a while for Dropbox to come to Android, and after a shaky start this app is now essential with a number of helpful new features that let you save photos and videos from your device straight to Dropbox, as well as quickly editing your documents from within the app.

22. CloudCal

CloudCal

It’s not easy standing out as a calendar, but if you just want to know when you’re busy and when you’re not at a glance CloudCal does a better job of it than most.

Each day is shown as a clock face, with white space at times when you don’t have any plans, so you can see immediately exactly how busy you are every day of the month and even what times you’re free, all from a single screen.

You can of course dig deeper by tapping a specific day and when adding events to the calendar there are a bunch of options to choose from, letting you put in a time, reminders, notes, locations and more, plus it syncs with other calendars, so it gets the basics right too.

23. Hopper

Hopper

Booking flights can be a minefield, with so many different airlines offering them and prices changing all the time. Flight comparison sites can help a bit but they usually only tell you what the prices are at any given time.

Hopper goes a step further and tells you whether flights are likely to get more or less expensive if you wait to book, as well as giving you a snapshot of which days have the cheapest flights, so you can predict the best time to buy. You can ‘watch’ specific trips too, getting alerts for price drops and warnings before a price is likely to rise.

So if you’re planning a trip it never hurts to stick it into Hopper and see if you can’t save yourself some money.

24. YouTube Gaming

YouTube Gaming

If you enjoy watching games as much as playing them you might want to check out YouTube Gaming. The app includes videos and livestreams, covering reviews, speed runs, let’s plays, trailers and more, from both gamers and publishers.

You can chat and comment while watching videos and the app is easy to navigate, with dedicated pages for every game, plus various video categories and the ability to save your favourite games and channels.

25. Palabre

Palabre

There’s no shortage of news readers around but Palabre stands out, as with multiple display modes and themes, plus the ability to switch categories with a swipe and hide read articles, it’s easy to navigate and possible to set it up exactly how you want.

It’s not quite the most stylish news reader, but it’s not far off and it’s well laid out. More importantly it also has a vast range of sources that you can add to your feed, with more being added all the time.

26. IF

IFTTT

IF was formerly known as IFTTT, which stands for “if this then that” and handily sums up what this app does. It’s a simple ethos that gives you a huge amount of options for making your Android device even smarter.

You can create simple statements such as “if any photo is taken then add them to Dropbox”, or “if my location is home, send a text message to my partner saying “I’m home!”” which can also be shared with other IF users. You’ll be amazed how much you can do with such a simple premise.

27. Nova Launcher

Nova Gallery

One of the best things about Android is how customisable it is, and there are loads of apps out there that can help you change the way Android displays and launches apps to suit your preferences.

Out of these Nova Launcher is the best, giving you complete control over your home screen. You can change the icons, themes, colours, layouts and much more.

28. Skype

Skype

There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Skype, the excellent voice and video service (with instant messaging thrown in for good measure as well). The Android app integrates brilliantly with your device, making it easy to make and receive calls.

Calls to other Skype users over Wi-Fi are free, but you can also make calls to mobiles and landlines as well. You’ll need Skype credit for this, but you could find yourself saving a small fortune, especially if you’re ringing people in other countries.

29. ClickMe – Reminder in a click

ClickMe

The idea behind ClickMe is simple- set up any reminder in just one or two taps, or clicks. You simply tap a contact or select a general reminder, optionally add a picture or text and tap a time that you want to be reminded.

To make things as fast as possible you can even set it to automatically launch after calls end or screenshots are taken, instantly letting you set a related reminder. Once you’ve set a reminder the app automatically closes, saving you another tap and you won’t hear from it again until the appointed time.

When a reminder appears it will also display shortcuts to call or message the relevant contact, keeping the number of taps down yet again. If you find yourself needing a lot of reminders this is faster than most calendar apps or to-do lists.

30. Podcast Addict

Podcast Addict

If you’re more into the spoken word than music then you’re going to want one good podcast player on your phone and Podcast Addict is among the best, made all the better by the fact that most of its many features are free.

The interface can take some getting used to, but once you do this is a powerful and flexible player, with Chromecast and Android Wear support, widgets, the ability to download or stream content, a car-optimised layout and just but every other feature you might want. Binging on Serial has never been better.

31. S Health

S Health

S Health has been around for a while, but until recently this Samsung-built app was only available for Galaxy devices.

There are any number of other health and fitness apps around, but few as jam-packed full of features as S Health. You can track everything from running, walking and cycling, to food, water and caffeine intake and even things like blood pressure and sleep.

There’s also the ability to set goals and undertake training programmes to run 5K or 10K. So whether you’re gearing up for a marathon or just want to watch what you eat, S Health could help you out.

32. Google Fit

Google Fit

Google Fit is an excellent app for keeping track of your activity and you don’t need any additional fitness trackers; you can just carry your Android phone around with you. If you do have Android Wear-compatible fitness trackers and wearables, then Google Fit gets even better.

Fitness goals can also be set to help you reach the level of fitness you desire, as well as keeping you motivated.

33. Map My Fitness Workout Trainer

MapMyFitness

Map My Fitness Workout Trainer is another great app for keeping tabs on your workout regime. As the name suggests it uses the GPS positioning features of your Android smartphone to log your runs, letting you get an accurate look at your workout regime.

Voice feedback will keep you in the loop even when you’re in the process of working out, giving you information on your pace, the route you’re taking calories burns and plenty more.

34. Slide for Reddit

Slide for Reddit

There’s no shortage of Reddit apps for Android, though curiously there’s also no official one yet, but if there was we’d like to think it would look like this.

Slide for Reddit is one of the most visually pleasing Reddit apps around, making it a joy to use. It’s also customisable, allowing you to change the theme and colours according to your tastes.

It’s not lacking in features either, as you can both read and reply, easily access saved and upvoted content, view user profiles and your inbox, use it in both list and full view modes and much more besides. There are Reddit apps with more features, but none which also look this good.

35. Duolingo: Learn Languages Free

Duolingo

If you fancy learning a foreign language then make sure you download Duolingo: Learn Languages Free, as it’s one of those rare apps that manages to be both educational and fun, ensuring that you’ll keep coming back for more to brush up on your langueage skills.

Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, and English can all be learned, it’s completely free with no ads or hidden fees and it’s one of the best ways you can learn a new language with your Android device.

36. Truemessenger

Truemessenger

If you’re as sick of spam messages as you are of spam calls then Truemessenger could be for you. It’s the SMS counterpart to Truecaller and leverages a massive database of numbers to identify almost any person or company that texts you, even if they’re not in your phone book.

SMS ID is handy for any number of reasons, not least knowing which numbers you should block, but Truemessenger is also smart enough to automatically send most spam messages to a separate folder, so your inbox never gets clogged up with them.

37. Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office? On Android? Don’t worry, you have read that right; Microsoft’s suite of office applications is now available on Android devices and not only is it free, it’s also really rather good.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint are all included, so you can open and edit your documents no matter where you are.

38. Google Drive

Google Drive

If having Microsoft on your Android device feels a little weird, then worry not, as Google Drive has you covered as well. You can view all the files you save to the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as share them with friends and co-workers.

PDFs, photos, videos and much more can be accessed through this handy app.

39. Google Translate

Google Translate

If you need to quickly and easily find out what something means in another language, then there’s no better way than with Google Translate. You can translate between 90 languages and even converse naturally with speakers of other languages and let Google do the translation.

One of the best features lets you use the camera of your Android device to translate real-world objects such as signposts and posters. Just point, shoot and translate!

40. Polarr Pro Photo Editor

Polarr

Considering the basic app costs absolutely nothing Polarr puts a lot of photo editing power in your hands. From cleaning images up with sharpening and noise removal tools to tweaking the exposure, temperature and contrast and adding one of a number of filters.

There are other apps with similar tools, but few which have quite the wealth of options this does and with an in-app purchase of $4.99 / £3.84 you can unlock even more features, giving you the ability to make fine-tuned edits to just certain sections of a photo.

41. Khan Academy

Khan Academy

Fancy brushing up on physics or world history? How about learning the basics of macroeconomics or taking a crash course in Expressionism? For all of that and more Khan Academy has you covered, with over 10,000 videos and explanations split across dozens of subjects.

Remarkably it’s also completely free of charge and without an advert in sight. You can even download content for continued study when there’s no internet connection. In depth learning is rarely this easy, cheap or accessible, so it’s well worth a look whether you want to learn something completely new or just take a refresher on things you already know.

42. Feedly

Feedly

If you’ve got a huge list of websites and news sources that you like to keep up to date with, then you’ll need to get Feedly. This excellent RSS feed reader collects all the latest news from your favourite sources and brings them together in an elegant interface that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

43. Kindle

Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle app is a great e-reader, which is seamlessly linked with your Amazon account. Support for magazines and newspapers is limited at the moment, with only a handful of niche publications in Android-friendly format.

But for books it’s great, with plenty of screen and text display options to get it looking a way that hurts your eyes the least. Another exciting new way to collect classic novels you’ll probably never get around to reading because there’s the internet now.

44. eBay

eBay

Another app that’s been out there for a while on Android, the eBay tool has also been updated so much that it’s now a credible alternative to the desktop site.

You can list items that you want to sell direct from the app, while there’s a simple PIN system that makes paying for your winnings via PayPal much simpler and less convoluted than it is on the full blown web site.

45. Tinder

Tinder

Tinder is the dating app that’s taking the world by storm, and it’s easy to see why as it lets you view and connect with people nearby, and its simple interface could net you a match made in heaven.

All you need to do is swipe through the photos of people who are using the app nearby and if you like the look of someone swipe right and if not swipe left. If someone likes you back, you’ll be put in contact with them through the app. It’s also compatible with Android Wear devices.

46. Microsoft Translator

Microsoft Translator

Microsoft Translator ensures you’ll always be understood, no matter where you go. You can get a written and spoken translation for any word or short sentence in dozens of languages and it supports both text and speech input.

There are other similar apps, but Microsoft Translator has a slick interface, Android Wear support and most importantly it works well, almost always understanding what you’re saying to it.

47. Javvy

Javvy

Java is the most popular programming language in the world, so it’s a useful skill to have and if you’ve been put off in the past by the thick books and dry websites which typically teach it Javvy could be for you.

It features over 150 interactive bite-sized tutorials, to take you from the basics to more advanced things like HashMaps and classes. Not only does Javvy make it easy to learn at your own pace, but it’s written in a light, engaging way.

You get the first two chapters for free, covering basics and variables, but if you want a more comprehensive Java education you can shell out for the other chapters, either a bit at a time or with a single £7.18/$9.99 in-app purchase.

48. Adblock Browser

Adblock Browser

No-one likes adverts and they can be especially annoying on a smartphone, where they consume both data and battery. Adblock Browser is built expressly to combat them, automatically blocking all intrusive adverts.

As well as saving data and battery life this can also lead pages to load faster and reduce the risk of malware infection, not to mention removing the annoyance of pop-ups. If you want you can set it to block all adverts, but it defaults to allowing non-intrusive ones, so websites can still make their money.

49. Hooks – Alerts for Everything

Hooks

Want to be alerted when your favourite band has a new album out or a new gig in your area? Or how about when a certain Twitter account tweets, or when a new episode of Game of Thrones airs? Perhaps you want to be alerted every time a critically acclaimed game launches for the PS4? Or when there’s a weather warning in your area?

Hooks – Alerts for Everything can do all that and more. Despite the name it doesn’t quite cover everything, but it has options for things as niche as being alerted of when a particular website goes down or when a well-regarded restaurant opens nearby and new alert types are being added all the time.

So just set up alerts for everything you care about and never again worry about missing something or having to hunt for it.

50. Amazon Appstore

Amazon Appstore

There’s a particularly great reason to have the Amazon Appstore on your phone or tablet – free stuff. Amazon is enticing users to stick its alternate Android app store on their devices with the promise of a free app every day, with some classics like Sega’s ChucChu Rocket and World of Goo featuring as previous daily freebies.

The catch is these are unsupported releases, meaning no updates or fixes in the future, but you can’t moan too much about getting some ace freebies every day.

  • Not enough? Check out our list of 50 best Android apps.