The Google Play store no longer plays second fiddle to iOS. More than 1 million apps are available for you to download onto your Android device, covering everything from productivity boosters to apps that turn your phone into a portable entertainment studio.
Best Android apps by category
With so many apps to sort through, finding which ones deserve a place on your Android phone can be a challenge. That's where we come in. We've gone through Google Play to find top Android apps across a wide variety of categories. Whether you want to fill up a new Android phone with apps or just try out something new like a productivity app, fitness tracker or web browser, check out the best Android apps you might have overlooked. (And if you're looking for top first-person shooters, puzzlers and arcade-style throwbacks, check out our picks for the best Android games.)
Best Android productivity apps
Check out these apps if you want to turn your Android phone into another device for getting things done. (For more picks, see our selection of the best productivity apps for mobile devices.)
The best strategy for keeping your data and identity safe is to use good, strong passwords. And there's no better tool than 1Password for keeping those good, strong passwords straight. The app can store many bits of information — logins to apps and websites, credit cards, bank account info, passports, licenses and more — which you protect with a single master password. End-to-end encryption along with encryption keys that never leave your Android device keep things secure. Try out the service for free for 30 days; after that, a $3.99 monthly subscription helps you stay on top of all those passwords you use every day.
You'll find several Android apps that promise powerful automation options, but they're not always so user-friendly. For something a bit more approachable, consider Automate, which uses a visual, flowchart-based interface for making your own custom-designed scripts. This top Android app boasts more than 320 different task building blocks that can include actions, event triggers, loops and more; you can arrange those blocks in a flowchart style to easily visualize your creations. Automate is free, with a $2.99 in-app purchase unlocking a Premium mode for creating scripts that require more than 30 blocks.
Solid Explorer File Manager ($1.99)
Android has a glut of free file explorer apps that let you manage your device's external storage, ranging from excellent tools to freemium bloatware. If you're willing to spend a small amount to get an excellent ad-free and bloatware-free app, check out Solid Explorer, a premium file manager that comes packed with features and a clean, hassle-free interface. Drag-and-drop controls, a multi-tab and multi-pane interface, and support for network and cloud storage and compressed archives cover your basics, while more advanced features like a root explorer, plugin support and batch operations are available for power users.
The iPhone has had Find My Friends (and, as of iOS 13, the Find app) for what seems like nearly forever. Google now offers its own alternative for those living in the Android universe. Google’s Trusted Contacts works similarly to Apple's approach, letting you share your location or see where your contacts are. You can send out or request a real-time location, so you don’t have to share your constant whereabouts. However, Trusted Contacts will automatically send out your location if you’re not able to answer a request, which could be of help in an emergency. (See our guide on how to use Trusted Contacts for more on the app's features.) And yes, there's even an iOS version of Trusted Contacts for iPhone-toting friends and family.
Torrenting apps are one thing you're not likely to see in iOS for a while. In the Android market, Flud is one of the best Android torrent apps out there. The latest version sports a clean Material interface and comes with no speed limits for uploads or downloads. It sports staple features such as selective file downloading and prioritization, magnet link support, sequential downloading support and a Wi-Fi only mode. You can also dig deep into more advanced functions, in case fiddling with router port forwarding is your idea of fun. The free version is fully functional, while a paid version removes advertisements.
Vurforia Chalk (Free)
Not sure why there's all this fuss about augmented reality? Vuforia Chalk can show you the value of AR for mobile apps, as it adds a new dimension to tech support. Chalk sets up a video call between two devices, where the person getting advice points their rear camera at whatever they need explained to them, and the other person draws on their own screen as they provide instructions and advice. The person getting the help sees those doodles live, appearing on their screen, falling on the specific buttons, knobs and other parts of whatever they're looking at, in effect providing live, visual annotations that can help solve problems.
Best Android travel and weather apps
Whether you're heading to the office or a longer family trip, the right apps on your Android phone can help make the journey easier. And a good weather app can make sure you won't get drenched along the way. For more apps like this, check out our picks for the best travel apps and best weather apps for all mobile devices.
Transit is a fantastic aid for commutes, helping plan out the fastest public transport routes to a 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 transit has failed you.
Mobile Passport (Free)
If you're going to be spending time abroad, you can breeze through a few lines with the use of Mobile Passport. It's a U.S. Customs and Border Protection-approved app that helps speed you through lengthy immigration lines by letting you submit your passport control and customs declarations from your phone (assuming you've got a U.S. or Canadian passport). By replacing paper forms and providing faster processing in a number of major US airports that support the Mobile Passport service, the app will save you a good amount of time in line. Just remember to bring along your paper passport, as this app isn't a replacement for that.
If you're traveling light and looking to save a few bucks, check out Skiplagged, a neat app that can keep your travel costs down by taking advantage of "hidden city flights," where flyers get off at a layover, instead of at the flight's final destination. Users enter their origin and target destination, and Skiplagged will show you the cost of a direct flight, as well as any cheaper "hidden city" flights that have your intended destination as a layover. The caveat? Stick to carry-on luggage, as any checked-in bags will go all the way to the flight's final destination. Skiplagged also allows you to book hotels, including last-minute deals and special offers.
Dark Sky (Free)
Dark Sky was already a great weather app for your Android phone, but a revamped interface makes it even easier to call up vital weather data. Joining the very accurate hyperlocal forecast is a precipitation map that details what you can expect in the next hour, along with hourly forecasts. Severe weather alerts, customizable notifications, and lockscreen weather digests make for a complete weather app. The free Android version is packed with helpful features (a full 24-hour forecast, plus 7-day forecast, current conditions and weather maps), but we'd encourage you to pay up for the $2.99 annual subscription to get even more detailed forecasts, rain alerts and other premium add-ons.
Best Android health and fitness apps
Need a good workout companion? Or are you more interested in tracking your health? Your Android phone can do either, provided you download the right app. And if you're particularly interested in staying fit, we've found even more of the best workout apps and best running apps for mobile devices.
While there are a lot of exercise trackers and personal fitness apps out there, few focus on holistic body and mind improvement. Enter Fabulous, a self-improvement app aimed at upgrading mind and body to help make you feel... well... fabulous. Based on scientific principles and incubated in Duke's Behavioral Economics Lab, Fabulous starts you out with simple goals like trying to lose weight, get better sleep, or improve your concentration; the app helps with simple exercises, scheduled notifications and activities, and other coaching tools designed to build healthy habits for body and mind.
Sleep as Android (Free)
If you want a better sense of how you’re sleeping at night, Sleep As Android takes a science-based approach to sleep tracking. The app can work with the sensors on your Android device and even with other wearables to monitor the quality of your sleep, finding the optimal time to wake you up in the morning. Integrations with other apps let you control supported smart light bulbs or incorporate captchas or music from Spotify into your morning alarms. The app is free to download, but after a two-week trial, you’ll need to pay $6 for the full version.
It's good to talk to somebody every now and again, even if that someone is a bot. Woebot aims to help you exercise some self-care using techniques that draw on cognitive behavioral therapy. While it's no substitute for a real-live therapist, Woebot offers tools and reassurance for those times when you're feeling anxious or down, helping you to develop the skills to take care of your mental health. The app shines with daily mood augmented by regular check-ins so it can spot patterns that might escape the attention of other people — even you. And the app makers promise that whatever you share with Woebot stays with Woebot.
Period Tracker (Free)
Period Tracker Clue is a useful mobile addition to the tech-savvy woman's reproductive health toolkit. The app serves as an all-in-one period tracker, allowing you to record period dates, flow heaviness, and menstrual products used; you also can log other factors such as sexual activity, birth control use, cervical fluid, and more. With that info, the app provides in-depth info about the menstrual cycle, complete with references. Clue also includes a learning algorithm that can help predict your period cycles, PMS, and related fertility data. To make the most out of that feature, though, you'll need to subscribe to Clue's premium tier, starting at $0.99 per month.
Best Android entertainment apps
Find great shows to stream, podcasts to listen to and things to read with the help of these Android apps.
Your Android phone is a fine device for reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks, and if you know where to go, you don't even need to pay a cent to do so. Libby works with your local library to provide a digital media management platform for borrowing and returning ebooks and audiobooks. Just sign in and connect your library card. After that, you can browse your local library's digital offerings. Libby lets you use multiple library cards, sample books, download or stream content, tag titles, and sync data across devices.
Podcast Addict (Free)
Android isn't exactly hurting for good podcast managers , but when it comes excellent free options, Xavier Guillemane's Podcast Addict is a great choice. It covers the basics with automatic episode updates and downloads, as well as automatic deletion features to save space, variable speed playback, silence skip, volume boosting, a sleep timer and other neat features. A podcast search tool allows you to quickly find individual episodes or search through a variety of databases for new podcasts and trending shows. In addition, the app also supports video podcasts, YouTube channels, audiobooks, streaming radio and other media sources.
Finding an online TV show or movie to stream used to be simple: go to Netflix for almost everything. But as streaming market becomes more competitive and producers and networks scramble for exclusives to make their own streaming service stand out, it can be a pain keeping track of where to go to watch a particular show or movie series. Enter JustWatch, a service that keeps track of the latest offerings from 37 different streaming services, showing you where and when to watch a particular TV show, covering big names like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime Video. You can search for a particular series or browse through what's new. The app also offers latest movie trailers and showtimes, complete with one-click Fandango bookings for your local cineplex.
Best Android music apps
There's life beyond Google Play Music. Check out the top Android music apps to add a little melody to your Android phone.
Turn to Poweramp if you need an Android music player that can support a wide variety of audio formats, while also offering premium features like a 10-band graphic equalizer and support lyrics. The app also includes a tag editor, fast library searching, home and lock screen widgets. You can try out Poweramp for free for 15 days, but it will take $3.99 to upgrade to the full version. It's well worth price for music lovers.
IDAGIO ($9.99 per month)
IDAGIO taps into an overlooked market — high-quality classical music streaming. IDAGIO subscriptions cost $9.99 per month, allowing users to stream lossless FLAC audio of new, exclusive and rare recordings of concerts and opera performances, all searchable by composer, soloist, ensemble or orchestra so that you can easily track down and compare recordings and performances. Users can check out curated playlists or create their own, and they can stream music through Chromecast or Sonos, as well as download music for offline play.
Best Android photo and art apps
A good Android camera app can give you more control over the pictures you take or add terrific effects to what you've already shot. And the art apps available at Google Play can unleash your creative side.
For a feature-packed alternative to the built-in camera app on your Android phone, try Pixtica. You'll find many shooting features and camera controls in a single package. You can fine tune details like ISO, shutter speed and focus using Pixtica's manual camera controls, and you'll also be able to access extras such as live filters with real-time previews, panorama and hyperlapse modes. You can use the app for free if you don't mind ads, but signing up for a Pixtica subscription gets rid of those ads and unlocks all filters and photo resolutions, removes watermarks on live filters and GIFs and lets you record as much video as you want.
Glitch Lab (Free)
Plenty of apps in Google Play promise to add digital glitch effects to your photos. But few do it as thoroughly and simply as Glitch Labs. You'll find more than 100 effects in the app organized into categories such as color, streaking and retro. The app support infinite undos and redos and you can even save images to reuse as masks. Unlock the pro version via a $6.49 in-app purchase and you get even more effects, plus valuable features including higher resolutions and lossless file saving.
Whether you're creating a holiday card or a stirring Instagram story, Canva can help you produce something memorable. The design and video editing app can create just about everything from social media posts to invitations, logos and photo collages. You can start building your creation from scratch or turn to one of Canva's many free templates, and the app has a library of photos and illustrations for your use, assuming you don't want to turn to your own images. When you're done editing images and adding text, you can share your finished work, either via email, WhatsApp or Instagram.
Best Android social media apps
You probably know about Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, but there are other Android-compatible social apps that are well worth your time.
The old-fashioned pen-pal gets a modern take with Slowly, a social app that's intended for a slower, more deliberate messaging experience that might otherwise get lost in our modern age of instant gratification. Users set up a simple profile with an avatar, location and a list of interests; Slowly 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, the app has a stamp collection feature, with each message coming with stamps based on the sender's location, as well as special seasonal stamps or premium ones available as in-app purchases. You can also share a limited number of photos per day if your pen friend has agreed to receive them.
Open Whisper Systems' Signal is a fantastic messaging solution for security conscious mobile users. It is an all-in-one messaging and voice call solution that uses end-to-end military grade encryption. You can send text, voice, group messages, media and attachments. Ease of use and strong, open source, audited encryption makes it a favorite of the security conscious, with accolades from the likes of Edward Snowden and other privacy advocates. It's one of the many top encrypted messaging apps we've looked at for mobile devices.
Unfold is a clean and easy to use creative tool that focuses on creating slick and polished Instagram Stories-ready presentations, with an arsenal of sleek and elegant templates that you can apply to your photos. It's a no-guff approach that focuses on the simple and stylish, eschewing the wacky for the elegant, with 25 free templates and 5 fonts, applicable on photo and video presentations, with more available as in-app purchases.