So you've just snagged yourself a shiny, new Android smartphone or tablet. Looking for apps to install on your device? The Google Play Store has the best selection of free options around, whether you're looking for a music player, photo editor, file manager, news reader or a mobile office suite. We scoured the market to name the best 25 free Android apps for the new user.
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.
Passwords and login credentials are a peculiarly internet age hassle. Thankfully password managers such as Lastpass can keep that hassle in check, serving as a mobile password vault that encrypts and stores your logins and automatically fills them in when using apps or signing on to websites. In addition to keeping track of your logins, Lastpass can generate strong passwords and store encrypted data; it also supports fingerprint scanners. Subscribers to LastPass Premium gain numerous extra features such as unlimited password syncing, password sharing and priority customer support.
Google Photos is the new stock Android photo manager and it deserves mention for its ton of great features. Google Photos boasts unlimited cloud storage space and cross-device syncing for your photos (with minimal compression), as well as the option to store original quality photos in your Drive space. The app can be set to automatically back up and sync your photos so that your snaps are always safe, and the app displays it all by date. A smart Assistant feature can help you set up albums, collages, grouped photo stories and animated photos. There's even a powerful "visual search" feature that works even on untagged, unlabeled photos.
Snapseed's an old mobile photo-editing favorite, and Google incorporated many of its editing features into the Photos app, but development isn't dead on this old reliable. Snapseed 2 revamped the UI, and combined the old selective area edits with new one-touch edit tools and filters, transform and brush editing tools and layers for working on your image edits.
Remarkably easy setup, automatic syncing with your phone's contacts and a feature-rich, ad-free experience all combine to make WhatsApp Messenger a wildly popular mobile messaging app. Users can send text, photos, voice and short video messages to their WhatsApp contacts, and the app has continuously added new features to its toolkit, such as emoji, and most recently, fully encrypted messaging between WhatsApp users. The app does require phone functionality, so it won't work on all devices. While WhatsApp used to have a subscription fee, it's now gone completely free, though this has led to some concerns about privacy and data sharing with third parties.
An on-demand ride sharing and car booking app, Uber has been a powerfully disruptive force in the public transportation field. Users can easily set up a user account and quickly book anything ranging from a cab, a rideshare or a premium black car service. The fare is automatically calculated and handled through credit card or Paypal.
A neat and beautifully designed app for Android, 1Weather packs a good selection of features into a very nice visual package. It features real-time local weather predictions, ranging from hourly to seven-day extended forecast and precipitation. Condition-based photo backgrounds provide the requisite eye candy, while detailed radar maps, severe weather alerts, sunrise, sunset and lunar phase indicators provide great weather data. You can share data through email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Dashclock integration puts the weather onto your lock screen. 1Weather isn't content to rest on its laurels, continuously tweaking the formula including a new Material Design interface.