If you aren’t familiar with “Android” then it is likely you do not have a smartphone or a tablet…yet! Android is the popular alternative to the iPhone and is owned by Google. In the computer world you basically have three players: Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, and Linux. It is very similar in the mobile world. Soon Windows will be unveiling its new Operating System that will span across all types of devices. Microsoft owns Windows and Apple owns the Mac OS. The interesting thing about Linux is that the source code is available for anyone to change for their own needs and that is basically what Google did to create Android.
I intended this article to be a “Top 10″ list but it changed into a “Top 20″ with 3 honorable mentions (not counting the social networking apps that I list but don’t count.) It really is hard to narrow this list down because I have a lot of great apps that I’ve found for both my android phone and my android tablet. To start off let me list some free social networking apps that everyone should have and thus I will not include in this list. If you have a smartphone you need to have:
The criteria I used was quite simple. First, “what apps do I use the most?” and second, “what apps are surprisingly free?” And before you get on my case for not including iPhone/iPad apps, we will be having a top iphone/ipad app article coming soon!
1. CardioTrainer – This is an exercise tracking app. It follows you via GPS in whatever activity you want to exercise in from walking to kayaking and everything in between. It has music
integration (with android music player). It is a feature-rich app that I use nearly daily and I highly recommend it.
2. Camera360 – There are many camera apps but most aren’t packed with so many great effects. It used to be a paid program and would still be worth spending the money to be honest.
3. Colornote– I use this note taking app primarily when I’m heading to the local hardware store and need to remember what I need to purchase. It allows me to make a quick checklist and as I’m putting the item in my cart I can check it off my list. I also use it to store information that I may use on a fairly regular basis but don’t care to memorize it.
4. Kindle – Who needs a separate kindle reader device when they can read their books via smartphone or tablet? My kindle is gathering dust in my closet! One of the options I like best is to black out my screen so it isn’t so bright at night when I’m reading and my wife is sleeping next to me.
5. Profile Scheduler – This app allows you to make different profiles for different occasions. For example, if you have meetings throughout the day, you may want to set up a “meeting” profile which would allow you to control the behavior of your phone call ringtones, notifications and haptic feedback. I have three profiles: silent, night, and normal. A great feature it also has is the ability to launch another app when you turn on a specific profile.
6. Kingsoft Office – I love the power of Kingsoft Office along with the easy integration with Box.net which is a 50GB (free) cloud-based storage site. Kingsoft also makes a free Windows version! This android app comes with a word processor and spreadsheet program.
7. Pulse News – Puts all of your favorite news sites in one great looking app. It shows each article in a nice looking image or icon and displays it in a great way that you can read immediately or save for later.
8. Pandora– Listen to internet radio based on your preferences! Just enter your favorite artist or song and Pandora will automatically create a playlist for you.
9. ScoreMobile – This is perfect for sports fans! It offers scores, stats & news in just about any sport that exists in the United States (even Tennis and Cricket).
10. KakaoTalk – There are a few cross-platform chat programs but I keep coming back to this one. It is a great way to chat with people on various smartphones (both android and iphone) without incurring texting charges. It allows you to add photos, videos, and voice notes to your chats. It also allows you to set up group chats which is my favorite feature.
11. Dropbox – No best-apps list is complete without mentioning Dropbox! Dropbox is a GREAT app that gives you free storage. Drop anything from your android into your dropbox and access it anywhere with an internet connection by logging into your “dropbox”.
12. ES File Explorer – If you need a powerful Windows-type file explorer without ads, get ES File Explorer. It also allows you to compress and encrypt files or folders with a password. Another fantastic feature is its ability to easily and quickly connect to Windows networks. Sharing files is a breeze!
13. Lookout Security & Antivirus – Yes even though it is a phone, you need an anti-virus. This is a great anti-virus and malware scanning app. You can schedule scans or do one manually. It also scans each app as you install it into your system. Other great features include a phone finding feature and a phone backup.
14. Google Apps– Google makes an entire slew of apps that are all worthy of a “best app” list so I figured I’d lump them altogether to avoid changing the name to “Top 20 Google Apps for Android.” Here is the list and I hope I don’t miss anything: Books, Maps, Streetview, Search, Translate, Earth, Music, Docs, Wallet, Shopper, Goggles, Reader, Chrome to Phone, and Currents.
15. Gas Buddy – With gas prices on the rise again this is a great app to find the lowest prices in your area. It uses your phones GPS to find locations near you or you can search by zip code.
16. Evernote – I’m a big fan of being able to access stuff from various locations via the internet. Evernote is another app that allows you to do that. You can create notes through the app or attach to your Evernote account for accessing later.
17. Netflix – Access your entire Netflix account via this handy app. Browse movies, add or remove things from your queue, or even watch movies right on your phone or tablet!
18. Urbanspoon – Sometimes even in cities that you are familiar with you may want to eat somewhere new! Use this app to find places to eat based on your GPS location. The great thing is that people who have eaten at these places before you probably voted on if they liked them or not. You are able to use their votes to decide where to eat!
19. Dolphin Browser HD – The default browser is ok especially for the phone. But if you have a tablet I’d highly recommend trying out Dolphin. Once you get used to the change and added features, I have no doubt you’ll be sticking this on your phone too!
20. Tiny Flashlight – You never know when you might find yourself looking for something in the dark. You don’t have a flashlight handy but you do have your phone! This app uses the flash from your camera to light up everything around you!
I like to throw in a few honorable mentions. So if you weren’t satisfied with the above list, try the following 4 out:
- Go Launcher Ex – This is a great “home” app which basically changes your stock display and changes its behavior and style. It comes with thousands of downloadable themes as well. Even though the default look to your android is great, this allows countless changes to be made to fit your preferences. Go also makes add-on programs like Go SMS, Go Contacts, Go Calendar, and more.
- Craigslist Pro – If you are addicted to buying or selling on Craigslist this is a great tool. Search multiple cities at once!
- Cozy Family – This is a great and sharable organizer for your family. You can share calendars, shopping lists, a journal, and a to-do list.
- YouVersion – This should be in my Top 20 list because I do think all should have it, however I realize that all won’t enjoy it! This is the BEST Bible app out there. Not only can you download just about every version out there, but you can highlight verses and take notes. It also has devotionals included that you can download and get reminders sent to you.
Did I miss your favorite app? Let me know what your favorite apps are in the comments section below!