The best free Android apps can save you a bundle on thee cost of owning a smartphone, whether you've picked up one of the best cheap phones or you pay big bucks for the latest flagship.
And if you do buy the latest and greatest Android phones these days, you're paying more for your device. Both the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 start at $999, and some phones easily blow past the four-figure mark. Throw in a monthly data plan, and it's easy to understand why you'd want to slash spending from your mobile budget.
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Why not start to save money by more carefully choosing the mobile apps you install on your phone? Many of the best options available through the Google Play store are free. The true challenge is sorting the must-downloads from the ones that will just waste space on your phone.
Whether you've got a new Android device to load up with apps or you're just looking for new additions to your old phone, here are some of the best free Android apps we've found on our trips through Google Play.
The best free Android apps you can download right now
Notion aims to be your personal and team productivity hub, allowing users to create custom private or shared workspaces. From there, you add versatile "blocks" that can act like text snippets, bookmarks, images, toggle links, files, code snippets, discussion sections, and more.
This approach means you easily customize your workspace, and you can still drag and drop individual blocks of content to where you need them without disrupting an entire document. Whether you're taking notes, crunching spreadsheets, or building a Kanban board, Notion's powerful building blocks make things a snap to set up.
The free version of Notion allows you to save and sync up to 1,000 blocks of content, while premium subscription plans remove that content limit and add admin tools, permission settings, and other features.
- Download Notion for Android
When the Pixel 4 came out last year, one of the best things to come with it was Google's Recorder app. Recorder not only filled one of the big missing gaps on Pixel phones — which previously didn't feature a built-in voice recorder — but did it in style. Recorder could transcribe your recordings in real-time, even as you were speaking. And all that transcription work was done locally, without sharing your recordings to the cloud.
Recorder was so good, Google didn't restrict it to just the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Late last year, Recorder became available to all Pixel phones. But even if you carry around an Android phone in your pocket, there's a workaround to install Recorder on your Android device. You'll need to be running either Android 9 or Android 10, and some features may not be supported on all phones, but it's still a great way to experience one of the best free Android apps we've ever seen.
- Download Recorder for Pixel
A past Google Play Awards winner, Canva is a quick, user-friendly photo editing app that's designed with social media use in mind.
The app comes with a variety of ready to use templates, filters, fonts, and other tools that you can apply to images in your device's gallery or in Canva's selection of free and premium images, which you can then easily share to your favorite social network or media platform. You can use Canva to quickly set up a cover photo or account avatar for Facebook or create crisp and clean Instagram stories, Twitter banners or the perfect Youtube thumbnails.
There's a wealth of free material and templates you can work with, as well as a selection of premium templates, images, and more that you can access with in-app purchases.
- Download Canva for Android
PicsArt Photo Editor
If you want one of the best free Android apps that's better geared toward proper photo editing, consider PicsArt Photo Editor, another past Google Play Awards winner (from when the app was known as PicsArt Photo Studio.)
PicsArt puts a ton of editing tools straight to the palm of your hand, from standard editing tools that stretch, distort, and crop images, to filters, beautifying tools, cutout tools, collage makers, double-exposure mixing tools, masking selections, drawing tools, and more. In short, it's a collection of tools that's useful for everything from cleaning up quick snapshots to making a share-worthy social media piece.
While you already get a good selection of features for free, a PicsArt Gold premium subscription provides a wider array of tools along with more filters and fonts and video editing; the subscription also removes ads.
- Download PicsArt Photo Editor for Android
The old-fashioned pen-pal gets a modern take with Slowly, a social app that's intended for a slower, more deliberate messaging experience.
In Slowly, Users set up a simple profile with an avatar, location and a list of interests; the app will then match you with users with similar interests. Unlike traditional messaging apps, Slowly adds a time delay element to your messages, encouraging longer-form writing at a more weighty, deliberate pace.
In addition, Slowly has a stamp collection feature, as each message comes with stamps based on the sender's location. There are also special seasonal stamps or premium ones available as in-app purchases. You can share a limited number of photos per day if your pen friend has agreed to receive them.
- Download Slowly for Android
Woebot channels chatbot technology for good, building on proven principles and techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and dialectical behavior therapy to help with emotional self-care and help you process difficult emotions and life events.
Don't confuse Woebot with a good — and human — therapist. Instead, the app aims to help you self-assess your state of mind, checking in with you regularly and helping you practice mindfulness exercises to try to help center yourself and improve your mental and emotional well-being.
- Download Woebot for Android
Because Transit is a fantastic aid to your commute, it earns a spot on any list of the best free Android apps. Transit helps you plan out the fastest public transport routes to your destination.
The app provides routes that combine numerous transportation methods — such as trains, buses, and bike sharing — while also factoring in short walks to each stop and wait times. Transit can provide real-time data on arrival times of your bus or train, compare routes, step-by-step navigation, and notifications for service line disruptions. You can even book an Uber or reserve a car2go from within the app if public transport has failed you.
- Download Transit for Android
Initially designed as a hub app for Google's Chromecast device, Google Home has since grown into a handy smart appliance command center, offering compatibility with devices like the Google Home smart speaker, as well as smart lights, internet-connected thermostats, home security devices, smart plugs, and more. (We've got a complete look at the best Google Home-compatible devices.)
Rather than having to continually shuffle between dozens of device-specific apps, you can turn the Google Home app into an all-in-one command center and a true central hub for your smart home.
- Download Google Home for Android
Adobe Acrobat Reader
While your Android phone probably has some support for the basics of opening and viewing PDF files, if you want anything more capable, you'll want a dedicated PDF reader app, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The mobile version of Acrobat Reader is a capable reader, with configurable view modes, support for page search, cloud storage, bookmarks and tables of contents. It also includes annotation features for your marginal notes, comments, and even digital signatures. (You can also check out our picks for the best free PDF editors if you need to make more substantive changes.) In-app purchases and subscriptions unlock professional and productivity-oriented features.
- Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for Android
If you need a versatile reader app on your Android phone, look no further than Moon+ Reader. From comics to ebooks, this app can handle it all.
Moon+'s customizable interface is what makes it stand out from thee best ebook reader apps. You have the ability to set font styles and sizes, backgrounds and spacing, while also tweaking paging modes, autoscroll and the view mode to your liking.
There's a paid version of Moon+ Reader that removes ads and includes PDF support. But the free version has enough functionality to make Moon+ one of the best free Android apps you can find.
- Download Moon+ Reader for Android
Microsoft To Do
Born from Microsoft's acquisition of Wunderlist, Microsoft To Do is a smart, no-nonsense to-do list app that presents a sleek and distraction-free interface, while intelligently suggesting tasks based on long-term patterns, upcoming deadlines, or stuff that you weren't able to see to in the past days.
Users can keep task descriptions simple, or add detailed descriptions, color codes, categories, and more. While the app is free, cross-platform, and works perfectly fine on its own, it also plays well with the rest of Microsoft's Office 365 suite of productivity tools.
- Download Microsoft To Do for Android
JetAudio HD Music Player
If you want to amp up the music player on your Android device, give JetAudio HD Music Player a try. The free version of the app features a 10-band graphics equalizer and a number of playback features including crossfading, playback control, and automatic gain control.
JetAudio supports a wide variety of formats including .wav, .mp3, .ogg, .flac, .m4a, .mpc, .tta, .wv, .ape, .mod, .spx, .opus, and .wma (though that last one depends on your device).
For even more features, including a 20-band graphic equalizer, and to ditch the ads that come in the free version, you can upgrade to JetAudio HD Music Player Plus for $3.99, though the free app offers enough features for most users. In fact, this free version isn't just one of the best Android apps, it's also one of the best Android music players available.
- Download JetAudio HD Music Player for Android
Adobe Photoshop Sketch
Adobe Photoshop Sketch is a free app that provides users with a set of expressive drawing tools. Users can choose from utilities that mimic a graphite pencil, ink pen or marker. The app supports a variety of Bluetooth styluses on the market such as those by Wacom and Adonit.
Sketch aims to replicate the analog drawing experience, augmented with a few digital flourishes such as a color picker and an undo history and is best suited for phones with bigger displays.
Users can import assets from other Creative Cloud tools such as custom brushes and colors, and your creations can also be exported into Creative Cloud as layered PSDs to Photoshop, or to Illustrator.
- Download Adobe Photoshop Sketch for Android
Tired of your stock launcher, looking to optimize your home screen performance, or just looking to customize your device's UI? Nova Launcher is among the best Android launchers, offering loads of cosmetic and utility customizations with minimal performance overhead, letting you set your home screen just right without slowing down your phone.
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. The Nova team is never content to rest on its laurels, continuously adding new features, such as Sesame Shortcuts, animations, and other improvements geared toward recent Android versions.
While many customizations are available in this best free Android app, others such as gesture controls are gated behind the premium version.
- Download Nova Launcher for Android
In addition to being a top-notch running and cycling tracker — we think it's the best running app you can download — Strava adds gamified features to give the usual run-tracking recipe a competitive edge, whether you're monitoring your runs, bike rides, or swims.
The app records your running speed, distance traveled, time and course taken, but also combines it with leaderboards, achievements and challenges. Strava supports a variety of running trackers, in addition to Wear OS and Apple Watch.
A premium subscription improves on the formula with filtered leaderboards, the ability to create exercise goals and view more detailed analytics and more. But the free version is enough for basic tracking.
- Download Strava for Android
Podcasting platform Castbox combines a clean and navigable interface, a good selection of podcasts, and powerful podcast audio searching to deliver an excellent mobile podcatcher and one of the best free Android apps.
Users can sign in with Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter, and then search and subscribe to podcasts, download episodes for offline listening and sync their subscriptions across multiple devices. You can stream podcasts through Chromecast or Amazon Echo.
A premium tier of Castbox removes subscription limits, allows for homepage customization, and puts you on priority for customer support and new features.
- Download Castbox for Android
Now that Dark Sky is gone from Google Play, AccuWeather provides Android users with timely and detailed weather forecasts, from 15-day outlooks to the hyperlocal MinuteCasts. Forecasts come with animated weather info, radar maps, detailed summaries, and push notifications for extreme weather alerts in the US.
Extra features include AccUcast, a system for crowd-sourced warnings on hazardous weather and road conditions, as well as customizable forecast details, weather-related videos, and Wear OS support so that you can get forecast info at a glance on your smartwatch.
- Download AccuWeather for Android
For a bit more snark with your weather report, check out Carrot Weather. This free Android app delivers the forecast with a hefty side order of biting commentary.
Carrot Weather pulls data from Dark Sky to provide current, hourly, and 7-day forecasts leavened with sarcastic humor to cushion even the gloomiest outlook. Infographics put useful information in quick reach, with more detailed meteorological data available as you tap and swipe. You can even configure Carrot's sense of humor to be friendly, snarky, or murderous, with the ability to set how political the AI's jokes can get.
While you can enjoy Carrot Weather for free, a Premium Club subscription removes ads and unlocks features like a Weather Time Machine and widgets.
- Download Carrot Weather for Android
Waze is a godsend to many motorists, providing accurate, time-saving turn-by-turn navigation that takes advantage of traffic data and crowdsourced incident reports.
You select your destination, and then Waze uses mapping data and traffic information pulled from a variety of sources including official data as well as your fellow Waze users to automatically create a recommended route, complete with turn-by-turn directions. The app is remarkably adaptive, automatically adjusting routes based on the latest traffic info, as well as shifting routes on the fly should you miss a turn. In addition, Waze can display crowd-sourced incident reports, the cheapest gas stations along your route and other extras.
- Download Waze for Android
If you find yourself wasting a lot of time with repetitive internet tasks, or just want to automate tasks on your phone, try IFTTT. The app comes with a variety of pre-built "applets" that automate tasks like backing up photos to cloud accounts, messaging your roommate or family if you're near the grocery, or having your smart lights turn themselves on when you return home from work.
In addition to the pre-built applets in this best free Android app, users can also build custom tasks from these applets and services, combining multiple tasks and triggers in an "If This, Then That" structure (from which the app takes its name).
- Download IFTTT for Android
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. Cross-platform syncing is free to all users, so you can sync your password vaults between your Android phone or tablet and other devices such as your PC, Mac, or iPhone.
- Download LastPass for Android
Looking for something a bit more appealing than the standard emoji that come with your Android smartphone? Bitmoji is the app for you.
With Bitmoji's help, you can create your "personal emoji" that look like you and more effectively communicate whatever you might be thinking or feeling. It's a neat and popular app that works in Snapchat or anywhere else you're communicating with others.
- Download Bitmoji for Android
Mint is one of the most popular personal finance tracking solutions online, and you can take it mobile with this dedicated app from Intuit.
Track, budget, and manage your finances all in one place so you can see where you're spending and where you can save. Keep track of your savings, checking accounts, and credit or debit cards, input transactions, and set reminders for things like bill payments to avoid late fees.
It might feel a little dry and dull itemizing and tracking your expenses and purchases, but it can make a real difference in your budgeting, and the Mint app helps by putting your budget and spending information in clear and readable graphs and charts.
- Download Mint for Android
VLC for Android
The best free Android apps include a versatile, all-in-one media player that'll play just about any file format that you can throw at it VLC for Android is the mobile version of 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.
- Download VLC for Android
The latest version of Snapseed combines the old selective area edits with one-touch edit tools and filters, transform and brush editing tools and a powerful layer for working on your image edits. All told, Snapseed boasts of 29 tools and filters including Healing, Brush, Structure and HDR.
Snapseed works with both JPG and RAW images and delivers the kind of depth and flexibility you normally don't see with free photo-editing tools.
- Download Snapseed for Android
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, its growing interest in podcasts and a Browse function for finding playlists, and you'll likely be hitting Play on this app for a long time to come.
- Download Spotify for Android
Contacts+ is an address book replacement that helps organize your contacts and integrates with your social media accounts and communications. The app, which we include among the best contact apps, automatically imports information from linked social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn contacts, allowing you to access them all in one place.
Cover pictures can automatically be filled in from Facebook, and you can view your recent communications from each contact. This means you can keep conversation histories for your friends, family and colleagues.
- Download Contacts+ for Android
Though it's part of the Facebook galaxy of apps. WhatsApp still deserves your attention as one of the best free Android apps. That's because of WhatsApp's remarkably easy setup, automatic syncing with your phone's contacts and a feature-rich, ad-free experience.
Users can send text, photos, voice and short video messages to their WhatsApp contacts. WhatsApp has been continuously adding to its formula, with updates adding encrypted messaging and video calls, with multi-device and cross-platform compatibility in the pipeline.
- Download WhatsApp for Android
Stuck trying to pick which flick to watch? Letterboxd is the cinefile's diary and social network, and its free Android app enables you to share film reviews and recommendations with friends.
Not only can you keep a log of the movies you've seen, complete with ratings, reviews and tags, you can also follow friends, look up cast and crew data for movies and create shareable lists of favorite flicks and actors.
- Download Letterboxd for Android