You already pay enough for your phone, especially with the price of some Android flagships climbing north of $800. (Looking at you, Galaxy Note 8.) 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.
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.
Google's Files Go is less a files management app and more like an assistant that helps you make the most out of your phone's limited storage space by flagging rarely used apps, files, documents, and large folders, which you can then delete or back up to the cloud. The app also comes with cache clearing, the ability to view files by category, local encrypted file sharing, and backup features that let you throw files to the cloud. A full file manager app would still be helpful if you want to be detailed about organizing your files, but for quick operations like clearing out junk or sharing files with friends, Files Go is a light, resource-friendly option.
The newest addition to Google's Go line of slimmed down Android apps designed to provide modern features and design to entry-level phones, Gmail Go brings the email giant's smart categories, filters, and multiple account support to budget devices, while minimizing the app's storage and mobile data footprint. If you're already running a fairly beefy device, Gmail Go will be superfluous, but on an aging or low-spec phone, it's a nice way to reduce storage use without losing out on Gmail's excellent feature set.
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.
CamScanner turns your phone camera into a portable document scanner and OCR tool, allowing you to quickly turn photos of your paper documents into JPG or PDF electronic formats, which you can then save into your cloud storage or share through social media or email. Scan quality optimization and smart cropping let you handle everything from receipts to contracts and even office whiteboards with ease. The app is ad-supported, with watermarks on the free tier, while a premium subscription removes ads and the watermark and adds premium features such as OCR editing, auto-upload, expanded collaboration and more.
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. 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.
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 modern Android launcher apps, 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 Oreo improvements. While many customizations are available, others such as gesture controls are gated behind the premium version.