You already pay enough for your phone, especially with the price of some Android flagships climbing north of $800. (Or haven't you seen what Samsung's charging you for the Galaxy Note 9?) Throw in a monthly data plan, and it's easy to understand why you'd want to slash spending from your mobile budget.
Why not start with apps? 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. If 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 40 of our free favorites for Android. (Image Credit: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock)
Facebook for Android is quite similar to what you'd find on Facebook.com, but catered to smartphones. Share photos from your Android gallery, post updates on your wall, comment on the posts of your Facebook friends, share links and other media, and much more with the free app. The app is under constant tweaking, with additions such as editing posts and comments continuously being added. The experience wouldn't be complete without the Facebook Messenger app, which handles Facebook's chat and call features.
Transit is a fantastic aid to your commute, helping 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.
Otter Voice Notes is a freemium transcription app that makes taking voice notes a breeze. Otter can record from your phone's internal mic or through a Bluetooth device; it then automatically transcribes your work nearly in real-time, complete with punctuation, speaker ID, and searchable playback of your recordings. Users can edit transcripts to fix any errors, and transcripts can be exported to text or to other apps, or shared with a group or through public, view-only links. The free plan doesn't even hobble the experience, offering users 600 minutes of transcribed audio every month. A $9.99-per-month subscription ups that to 6,000 minutes.
Day One Journal has long enjoyed a powerful iOS fanbase, and it's brought its sleek journal-keeping style over to Android devices. Day One keeps the journal experience light and easy with a simple Markdown editor that also lets you include photos and metadata related to your entry such as location, date, and weather. A reminders and notification system helps you build a daily or periodic journaling habit, and it can also resurface old entries. You can tag your entries for ease of search, mark favorites and search by location, timeline, or photos. A premium tier subscription ($34.99 per year) allows you to keep multiple journals, offers unlimited photo storage, IFTTT integration, and more.
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. 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.
Valve's Steam gaming platform made a big step toward mobile with the beta release of the Steam Link app for Android, which allows you to stream games from your desktop PC to your mobile phone, tablet, or TV, without the need of dedicated hardware. You'll need a Bluetooth-compatible controller (such as the Steam Controller) and fairly good Wi-Fi (a 5 Ghz network is recommended), and of course your desktop gaming rig. Install the app on Android, pair your controller and PC to the app, and you're all set. Steam Link aims to bring low-latency, 1080p gaming at 60 FPS streamed to your mobile device, and while it's still early days as the beta goes live, it's a promising app for gamers looking to stream games at home.
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. In-app purchases and subscriptions unlock professional and productivity-oriented features.