With the Play Store's rich library of Android apps, games and other content, the 'app gap' is clearly something that users don't have to worry about anymore. Once you've snagged must-downloads like Facebook or Kindle, what's next? There are so many apps out there that the real challenge becomes choosing the best apps out there that add great value to your smartphone without wasting your memory or download space. From music apps and media players to smart contact books, games and automation tools, here are 15 of the best Android apps that you should try out today.
Keeping your head in the clouds isn't a bad thing with the help of Evernote, the supremely popular cross-platform cloud note-taking service. Evernote allows users to upload everything from notes, photos, documents, PDF files and audio. Video snippets lets you organize cloud notebooks synched across all your devices. Whether you're taking notes for school, organizing a personal project or keeping track of professional work, Evernote is a versatile, powerful virtual note-taking tool.
Pocket is a versatile offline reading tool that allows you to take the best of the Web's articles, photos and videos and save them for later reading. Multiple view modes and configurable settings let you read whether it's day or night, and users can tag and organize their library of saved articles and files for easy search and viewing. In addition to the easy to use viewer and unlimited storage space, Pocket features desktop browser extensions and an iOS app, allowing you to save and read content on just about any electronic platform.
Contacts+ is an address book replacement that helps organize your contacts and integrates with your social media accounts and communications. The app automatically imports information from linked social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn contacts, allowing you to access them all in one place. Cover pictures can automatically be filled in from Facebook or Google+, and you can view your recent communications from each person. This means you can keep conversation histories for your friends, family and colleagues.
Pushbullet is a handy little app and browser extension that allows users to easily share files, notifications, links and other material between your phone and your computer. Pushbullet can send you your phone's notifications, such as instant messages and calls right to your desktop, and in turn, you can also share notes, links, lists and files across all of your devices. Pushbullet has also introduced a "Channels" feature which sends notifications from a variety of sources such as online deals, news, website newsfeeds and more.
With all the media and data you will undoubtedly stuff onto your Android tablet, you'll inevitably need some sort of file management solution. Some programs include a basic file browser, but if you need something more muscular to copy, paste, delete and archive, we recommend ES File Explorer. Rooted users will get some extra utility, with the ability to view and edit files that require root access, allowing you to keep just one file browser for daily use and root work. In addition to file management, ES comes with loads of other extras such as an app manager and support for Samba and Bluetooth file transfers.
One of Android's hallmarks is its highly configurable interface, which allows you to set your homescreen and UI to your liking. Among the best of Android's custom launcher apps is Nova Launcher, which balances extensive appearance and utility customizations with a minimal performance impact. There are a lot of options to work through, from color themes to icon packs, scrollable docks to app drawer customizations, folder settings and infinite scrolling. Whether you're looking to optimize your home screen or just want to spice things up, Nova Launcher is one of the best launchers out there.
Another Android hallmark is its capacity for back end customization and automation. A great example is Tasker a versatile task automation app for Android phones that lets you create your own automatic task scripts based on a wide variety of actions and customizable triggers. From automatically silencing your phone at work or killing your mobile data when arriving at home or firing up your music app when you plug in your headphones, there are so many possible uses for this that it'd be folly to attempt to describe them all. While Tasker works perfectly fine even without root access, installing it on a rooted phone allows you to utilize even more custom task options. You can even take some of these automatic scripts and publish them in app format with the Tasker App Factory add on.
Uber is the on-demand car service app that's (in)famous for disrupting the transportation industry worldwide due to the ease with which users can call upon the services of an Uber driver. Once you've selected a destination and pickup point, users can track their driver and eta, check out the trip details on a map, and have the app log your trip. Once you get to your destination, the app charges your credit card, PayPal or Google Wallet account, emailing you a receipt with trip details.
Monument Valley ($3.99)
A game that draws inspiration from optical illusions and M.C. Escher prints, Monument Valley is a stylish puzzle game in which players guide Princess Ida through a series of surreal monuments and structures. Navigate through beautifully designed hidden passages and manipulate mechanisms as you carefully make sense of each level's various optical illusions, rotating the map to solve each puzzle. Minimalist styling and elegant gameplay make Monument Valley our favorite mobile puzzle game.
The Comics app by Comixology is a great starting place for a mobile digital comics collection, as the app serves as an all-in-one digital marketplace and comics viewer. Featuring content from major comics publishers such as Marvel, DC and more, Comics lets you purchase and read your favorite titles and sync your content across multiple devices. Guided View features assist readers on a mobile screen. The downside is that it's a closed marketplace. You can purchase and read content, but you can't import an existing comic collection.
Spotify has become synonymous with online streaming music, thanks to its familiar UI, Facebook integration and massive song library of more than 20 million tracks. The Spotify mobile app has been updated to allow for more free music streaming than ever, and a $9.99 monthly subscription allows you to save an unlimited number of songs for offline listening. Factor in Spotify's artist radio stations and Browse function for finding playlists, and you'll likely be hitting Play on this app for a long time to come.
If you're looking for a versatile, all-in-one media player that'll play just about any file format that you can throw at it, then give VLC for Android a spin. A mobile build for the popular desktop media player, VLC is designed to play just about any file format out of the box, from ubiquitous mp3 and mp4 files to more unusual formats such as mkv and flac. In addition to playing local files, VLC for Android also supports network streaming and media library organization.
Google Translate (Free)
Google Translate continues to expand its features, combining its tried and tested text and verbal translations with new visual translations that allow you to use your smartphone camera to translate text and signage between a variety of languages. With voice, camera, keyboard and handwriting input support, Google Translate continues to grow in versatility, with translation support for 90 languages spoken around the world.
If you find yourself wasting a lot of time with repetitive internet tasks, or if you just want to automate tasks on your phone, try IF by IFTTT. The app allows users to create customized "recipes" or tasks built around the structure "If this, then that" (from which the app takes its name). For instance, you could automatically receive your favorite team's recent game score when ESPN posts it. IFTTT employs a wide variety of triggers and actions ranging from websites, apps, to even other devices and peripherals. You can even browse through other people's trending and featured recipes, as well as themed collections and all-time favorites that you can install or modify.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a fun, free and fair digital collectible card game that you won't be able to stop playing. Playing as one of the great heroes (or villains) of the Warcraft universe — such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore or Gul'dan — you'll fight epic duels and summon allies and minions to your side. The simple, easy-to-learn rules work cross-platform among PC, iPad and Android players. You can earn gold that can be spent on booster packs. Plus, in the Arena mode you can play in a special, "sealed draft" format that rewards canny deck building and smart play.
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